"Although previous studies have shown a definite link between wood smoke exposure and the development of COPD, those studies were case-controls and case series of patients with similar disease or health profiles," study lead author Carlos Torres-Duque, M.D., director of research at the Fundacion Neumologica Colombiana in Bogota said.
"This new data derives from a population-based study that looked at wood smoke exposure and the overall prevalence of COPD, as well as the characteristics of the disease and those who suffer from it," he said.
About 40 percent of the world's population uses solid fuels - especially wood - for cooking or heating, he said.
For this study, Dr. Torres-Duque and his colleagues used data from the PREPOCOL (Prevalencia de la Enfermedad Pulmonar Obstructiva Cronica en Colombia) study which evaluated the prevalence of COPD among the adult residents of five Colombian cities.
After adjusting for specific factors including age, active and passive tobacco smoking, education level, history of TB and altitude, the researchers found that wood smoke exposure of 10 or more years posed a significant risk factor for developing COPD in both men and women and those with both wood and tobacco exposure had poorer lung function scores and more phlegm and coughed more frequently than those who had exposure to only one type of smoke.
Among the COPD population, those who were exposed only to wood smoke tended to be women, to have higher BMIs and to be shorter than those exposed to tobacco smoke or to a combination of wood and tobacco smoke.