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Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: 0ver half of patients non-smokers

Smokers are not the only ones at risk of contracting Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease as usually believed.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
August 30, 2009 11:46:24 pm

Smokers are not the only ones at risk of contracting Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) as usually believed. More than 50 per cent of COPD patients are non-smokers,according to Pune-based researcher from the Chest Research Foundation,Dr Sundeep Salvi,who was recently invited by The Lancet to write a review on the research done on COPD.

The review has been published in the web edition of The Lancet on August 29 and the issue has been devoted to COPD as a prelude to the European Respiratory Society’s annual congress at Vienna to be held from September 12 to September 16. The major reasons for non-smokers getting COPD are indoor air pollution,improperly treated asthma,TB and occupational hazards like mining,Salvi told Newsline.

According to WHO estimates,210 million people worldwide have COPD. The number could be higher because many with COPD often go unreported as they seek medical help only when the disease worsens. COPD is now an umbrella term to cover emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It is the fourth leading cause of death in the world but by 2030 it is expected to be the third,behind ischaemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease.

Salvi,along with Prof Peter Barnes from the National Heart and Lung Institute,Imperial College,London,UK,has pointed out that until recently it was believed that only smokers were at risk of getting COPD. Recent studies indicate that other risk factors are associated with COPD. A study conducted by the Chest Research Foundation had earlier demonstrated that over 50% of the COPD patients had never smoked.

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Three billion people worldwide are exposed to biomass fuel as compared to 1.01 billion smokers,indicating that exposure to biomass fuel smoke is a bigger risk factor for COPD than tobacco smoke,says Salvi.

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First published on: 30-08-2009 at 11:46:24 pm

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