If you smoke, your have a 25% chance of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), say British and Danish researchers. COPD is a lung disease in which the lungs become so damaged that it is difficult to breathe – the airways are partly obstructed, making it hard to get air in and out.

You can read about this study in the journal Thorax.

The researchers looked at 8,000 people over a 25-year-period. They were all aged 30-60. 5,280 (66%) were smokers, 1,252 used to smoke, while the other 1,513 had never smoked.

At the end of the 25 years, the researchers found:

— 40% of smokers had some signs of COPD

— 25% of smokers who had no COPD signs at the beginning of the period had clinically significant COPD

— 2,900 people died

— 109 people died from COPD, of which only 2 were non-smokers and 7 were ex-smokers

— 90% of those who died were smokers at the start of the study

— Of the ex-smokers, none developed severe COPD

— Almost 100% of male non-smokers continued to have good lung function

— 60% of smokers continue to have good lung function

COPD is the fourth biggest killer in the world and the fifth biggest killer in the UK. There is no cure for COPD, the damage cannot be reversed.


Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today