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Smoking cigarettes produces changes in the lungs that are similar to those seen in cystic fibrosis patients, according to a new study.

Like cystic fibrosis, smoking leads to the production of sticky mucus that causes infections and dry cough. The researchers say treatments for cystic fibrosis might one day be used to treat smoking-related diseases, HealthDay reports. Drugs to treat smoking-related diseases also might be helpful to cystic fibrosis patients, the researchers note.

The researchers found that smoking, like cystic fibrosis, interferes with the movement of salt and water in the cells that line the lungs. This traps bacteria in thick mucus and can lead to potentially deadly infections.

In the study, published in the FASEB Journal, the researchers looked at how cigarette smoke affects a protein called CFTR that helps the lungs stay hydrated. They found people exposed to cigarette smoke had a 60 percent reduction in CFTR activity compared with people exposed to only clean air.

The researchers also found when lung cells that were exposed to cigarette smoke were treated with a cystic fibrosis therapy called hypertonic saline, the amount of mucus in the lungs was reduced.


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