Spontaneous smoking cessation may be an early symptom of lung cancer, research suggests

FILE - In this Oct. 21, 2009 file photo, Camel cigarettes, a Reynolds American brand, are shown in Philadelphia. Reynolds American reports quarterly earnings on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Longtime smokers who unexpectedly quit smoking shouldn’t celebrate right away. A study published by the Journal of Thoracic Oncology found that spontaneous smoking cessation could be an early symptom of lung cancer.

In the study, despite previous failed attempts at breaking the poor health habit, most patients who quit with ease did so before noticing any of the oncoming symptoms of cancer. The findings challenge the common notion that lung cancer patients typically quit smoking as a result of disease symptoms.

Lead researcher Dr. Barbara Campling, professor in the Department of Medical Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University, believes these patients were able to successfully quit smoking due to the introduction of a substance interfering with nicotine addiction that is secreted from the tumor.

Sciencedaily.com explains how the research was conducted:

Researchers interviewed 115 lung cancer patients from the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, all of whom had been smokers. Fifty-five (48%) had quit smoking before diagnosis, and only six of those (11%) had experienced symptoms of lung cancer by the time they quit. Patients with lung cancer who quit were as dependent on nicotine, when their smoking was at its highest point, as those who continued to smoke. Yet 31% reported quitting with no difficulty.

"There is a danger that this study could be misinterpreted as suggesting that heavy smokers should continue smoking," Campling told Science Daily. "We emphasize that all smokers must be strongly encouraged to stop."