Danish scientists have found out that the fatal lung disease; Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) will affect at least one in four long-term heavy smokers.
Chronic bronchitis and emphysema constitute COPD, which is the major cause of death across the globe. Cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and subsequent difficulty in breathing due to lung damage are the symptoms.
The scientists at the Hvidovre Hospital in Denmark conducted a 25-year study on 8,000 people. They found that 25% of the smokers suffered from COPD.
"The absolute risk of developing COPD among continuous smokers is at least 25 percent, which is larger than was previously estimated," said Dr Peter Lange, a member of the research team.
This study was conducted on both smokers and non-smokers. Their lung function was tested at the beginning of the study and also throughout the study.
The results revealed that constant smokers were at 6 times higher risk of developing COPD than the non-smokers.
In the study, there was a decrease in the risk of COPD in those who quit smoking in the beginning of the study and those who gave up smoking did not develop severe COPD.
2,900 deaths were recorded during the study of which, 109 were due to COPD.
"Our finding is quite simple: the longer people smoke, the higher the risk of developing COPD," said Lange.
COPD is becoming a major cause of death in many countries. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) data, by 2020 COPD will become the third major cause of death across the globe.
COPD affects persistent smokers of the age above 40 and also plays a role in other diseases like pneumonia, heart disease and stroke. COPD cannot be treated. However, research is in progress to find treatments to relieve the symptoms and slow down its advancement.