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Could Blood Test to Detect Early Lung Disease Help Smokers Quit?

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Despite evidence that smoking damages the lungs, people continue to smoke. But a new blood test may be more definitive proof that it's time to quit, say researchers.

Lung disease covers a range of disorders from asthma and influenza to COPD, TB, and cancer. Some of the warning signs include chronic coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing up blood or chest pains.

But this blood test may detect the early onset of the lung disease emphysema.

According to a report in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, researchers identified a specific physical trait in the blood of smokers with early lung disease.

That same biomarker was present in the blood of smokers who were not sick, but it was not found in the blood of non-smokers.

The authors concluded that the presence of this biomarker could be an early indication of emphysema.

They suggest that a blood test showing smokers are developing lung disease may be a stronger incentive to kick the habit than the threat of being at risk of getting the disease.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

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