Damage to the brain’s outer layer caused by smoking may be reversible after quitting, but it could take years, a study said.

Brain scans of 500 Scottish septuagenarians confirmed a link between smoking and an acceleration of age-related thinning of the cortex—the outer layer of grey matter, researchers reported.

But they also pointed, for the first time, to potential for recovery after quitting.

The cortex of ex-smokers in the group “seems to have partially recovered for each year without smoking,” the multinational research team wrote in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

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