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Wednesday 26th October 2016

More bad news for smokers

17th October 2006

18072006_femalesmoking1.jpgA new study has suggested that a quarter if all long-term smokers will develop the incurable lung condition chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

COPD describes a range of conditions, including bronchitis and emphysema, which make it difficult for people to breathe.   The condition kills more than 30,000 people a year in England and Wales and is the sixth most common cause of death in the UK.

Over 8,000 people aged between 30 and 60 were studied by UK and Danish researchers for 25 years in the Thorax study.  5,280 of the people studied were smokers, 1,513 had never smoked and 1,252 were ex-smokers.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that at least 25% of the smokers without any initial symptoms of the disease had "clinically significant" COPD, while up to 40% had some signs of the condition.  Over the 25 years, 2,900 people died, with 109 dying from COPD.

Nine out of 10 of those who died were smokers at the start of the study, while just two non-smokers died of the disease.  The risk of COPD was reduced in those who gave up smoking early on in the study, none of the ex-smokers developed severe COPD and only seven died.

After 25 years, the lungs of almost all the male non-smokers continued to function well.  However, four out of 10 of those who continued smoking had lung impairments.  Around nine out of 10 female non-smokers had lungs that functioned well at the end of the study compared with only seven out of 10 female smokers.

Professor Stephen Spiro, from the British Lung Foundation, said: "This is an important study showing that people are even more at risk of COPD than we previously thought. It should act as a further wake-up call to smokers to get their lungs tested and to get help to stop."


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