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Lung development may explain why some non-smokers get COPD and some heavy smokers do not : Study

New Delhi, 10th June 2020. According to a new study, people with small airways relative to the size of their lungs may have a lower breathing capacity and, consequently, an increased risk for COPD—even if they don’t smoke or have any other risk factors. The study, funded in part by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health (US Government), will publish in the June 9 issue of JAMA. What is COPD Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a debilitating lung condition, often develops as a result of smoking, but researchers have long puzzled over why nearly a third of cases occur in people who never smoked. Now they may finally have an answer—and it may be linked to how lungs develop in certain people. COPD, the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, causes airflow blockage and breathing-related problems that can severely limit a person’s day-to-day activities. Smoking, asthma, or air pollution account for many COPD cases, but up to 30% of cases occur in people who never smoked, and only a minority of heavy smokers develop the disease, suggesting that there are other risk factors at play. More research is needed: James Kiley “This work, stemming from the careful analysis of lung images of COPD patients, shows that an abnormal lung development may account for a large proportion of COPD risk among older adults,” said James Kiley, Ph.D., director of NHLBI’s Division of Lung Diseases. “More research is needed to understand what drives this occurrence and to devise possible interventions.” Previous research offered a clue about a possible cause, finding that about half of older adults with COPD appeared to have low lung function early in life. Benjamin Smith, M.D., a pulmonary physician in the Department of Medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York City, who was involved in the new study, explained the phenomenon. When people breathe, they move air through their airways, beginning with the windpipe or trachea, which branches out to smaller airways called bronchi and bronchioles. As people grow, their airways are thought to…