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Prevalence of COPD Greater Than Thought
Date:8/30/2007

to differences in smoking habits, the researchers pointed out.

The increasing prevalence of COPD is partly due to the aging population, where the risk of the disease nearly doubles for every 10 years over the age of 40, and also to smoking.

COPD is a lung disease that progressively damages the lungs, making it hard to breathe. The disease obstructs the small airways in the lungs so it is difficult to get air in and out.

The most common cause of COPD is cigarette smoking. In addition, breathing lung irritants, such as pollution, dust or chemicals, over a long period of time also causes or contributes to the condition.

Since there is no cure for COPD, prevention is the best advice Buist has to offer. This means not smoking, avoiding jobs that expose you to pollution and smoke, or wearing protective gear. "It's really cleaning up the air you breathe," she said.

One expert thinks the study highlights a growing public health problem.

"We are beginning to understand that COPD is a major disease burden throughout the world," said Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer at the American Lung Association. "The study also confirms that it's not just smoking, but there are other environmental issues involved."

Edelman noted that smoking and air pollution are important causes of COPD. However, there are other conditions that can contribute, such as uncontrolled asthma. "It's not just smoking and air pollution but other factors, too," he said.

Another report in the same journal says that poor airway function shortly after birth is a risk factor for obstructed breathing among young adults. Therefore, preventing COPD may need to start before birth. One of the culprits could be maternal smoking, the researchers suggested.

Lead researcher Dr. Fernando Martinez, director of the Arizona Respiratory Center at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson, and his colleagues found t
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