What is emphysema?

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

15 Aug 2001, 05:28 #11

Thanks for the invite Joel. I found this great article entitled "Living with COPD, The Human Story". Since I have beginning emphysema it really hit me hard. If I did this right you should be able to get there by clicking on the picture. Hope this helps.


If it doesn't work, please delete.
Last edited by Hal(Gold) on 06 Apr 2009, 10:22, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:29

15 Aug 2001, 11:02 #12

Thanks Zep and Joel... Mitch here. Twas I who asked to learn more about emphysema. Since I quit over 3 months ago, I've had bronchial asthma (had that when I was a kid), hay fever and recently a shortness of breath. I attribute it all to...smoking had masked these symptoms.

But... I find that I'm stressed out lately and hoving hyper tension...you know...hyperventilating...not being able to get enought oxygen...then it goes away...poof...everythings fine.

After reading and talking to others, I was a little paranoid about the possibility of having emphysema. It's just that the quit had made my lungs, smell and attention so acute...every little thing is noticed.

I'm fine...nothing like a little flyfishing to relieve the stress. I'm breathing like a champ today, deep breaths...no worries.

One thing that's really came home to me is that breath is the connection to life. How fragile it is. I'm really loving breathing lately.

Thanks yall for everything. I'm 4 months into my quit. Mitch

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

15 Aug 2001, 19:51 #13

As you've already know, Mitch, the most important thing is that you've stopped the destruction of healthy lung tissue. My mother had emphysema and spent the last year and a half of her life on oxygen, my younger sister Pat (who started smoking at age 12) has it, and yes, even I was told that I had very eary signs, as well. I'd had pneumonia for two Januarys in a row, my cough, constant throat clearing and wheezing sounds were chronic, and still I sucked down three packs a day. Two years + later, I feel great! I have more energy then I've had in years! The noises are all gone too! I have not had a single breathing illness, flu or cold either!

Oh, I'm not kidding myself! I know that later in life I'll probably pay a price but I know I've lowered it bit by quitting now, and so have you! Mitch, I found this article on emphysema surgery, that was published yesterday, which only makes this new life we've gifted to ourselves all the more important.

Enjoy the fishing and listen to your doctors! I hope you're feeling better soon. YQB Zep : )

Study: Emphysema Surgery DangerousBy Jeff Donn
[/size]Associated Press Writer
[/size]Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2001; 6:42 p.m. EDT[/size]BOSTON -- An increasingly common operation for emphysema that involves cutting away part of the lungs is dangerous - and even deadly - for many patients in advanced stages of the disease, researchers say. Sixteen percent of the very ill patients who had the surgery were dead within a month, according to the latest findings from an ongoing national study of the procedure coordinated by the National Institutes of Health.

Those who survived showed limited benefit from the procedure.

Researchers immediately halted more surgery on patients with the same characteristics of advanced illness. They are now confining their testing to more than 1,000 other emphysema patients because the surgery may still help them.

The investigators will publish the findings Oct. 11 in The New England Journal of Medicine but released them Tuesday to alert doctors and patients immediately. The disease, which is tied largely to smoking, strikes about 2 million Americans each year.

The surgery has stirred much excitement over the last five years, and some studies have suggested it can give at least a reprieve to many patients.

"There has been a prevailing view - that I think unfortunately surgeons have contributed to - that this operation may be a temporary cure for your disease, and it's clear that it's not for this subset of patients," said one of the researchers, Dr. Steven Piantadosi of Johns Hopkins University.

A pioneer in the surgery, Dr. Joel Cooper, downplayed the findings. He said they were predictable because patients reported in the latest findings suffered from disease that was widely spread around their lungs. He said they were bad candidates for the surgery in the first place.

Cooper said his team dropped out of the five-year study in 1997 over this and other disagreements, including a condition that all participating surgeons stop doing the surgery outside the study.

He also said administrators at the federal Medicare program for the elderly, which is funding the study, are seeking justification to limit, delay or deny coverage for the surgery, which typically costs from $25,000 to $40,000.

"Medicare has used the trial for its own purposes," said Cooper, a lung surgeon at Washington University in St. Louis.

An official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the agency didn't interfere with the scientific decision-making. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, which is agency policy.

Dr. Gail Weinmann, project officer for the study at the National Institutes of Health's Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, said surgeons agreed to forgo surgery outside the study because they saw a need for systematic research.

"There was a concern about the spread of the procedure so quickly, and that it could be doing harm," she said.

The surgery was first tried more than 30 years ago with disastrous results. Improvements in anesthesia, surgical methods and postoperative care revived it in the 1990s. It is based on the idea that smaller, but healthier lungs can work better after the operation.

The technique became so widespread in recent years, with around 8,000 operations now performed, that researchers had trouble finding patients for the study. They said some candidates feared they would be assigned to comparison groups taking normal treatment, which includes diet, exercise and drugs.

In the latest findings, though, none of the 70 patients in the normal treatment group died within a month. The surgery left 11 of 69 patients dead.

Over three years, surgery patients were four times more likely to die than the others. Also, surgery survivors gained only limited benefit in better breathing or quality of life.

Weinmann defended the decision to operate on patients included in the latest findings, saying they were an important group to study and there is little medicine can do for them.

Lung specialists outside the study said patients with broadly spread disease were suspected to be relatively poor candidates for the surgery. However, they said the findings are valuable because they underscore the potential danger for some patients who may be overly eager for the surgery.

"In these patients ... someone needs to have a serious talk with them," said Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, a lung specialist who is also editor-in-chief of the journal.

"My guess is that most physicians will heed this warning," added Dr. Norman Edelman, scientific consultant for the American Lung Association.

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:34

15 Aug 2001, 21:41 #14

Hello Joel, Zep and everyone..

I am doing ok, but this disease is a killer for sure. I have gotten to the point I have trouble breathing when we travel to large cities with a bad smog level. People really need to understand how horrid it is. Slow suffocation is all it is... and its terrible.


Six months, two weeks, five days, 8 hours, 41 minutes and 12 seconds. 12021 cigarettes not smoked, saving $1,442.30. Life saved: 5 weeks, 6 days, 17 hours, 45 minutes.
Last edited by saharanne on 22 Jul 2010, 20:56, edited 3 times in total.

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:29

16 Aug 2001, 02:46 #15

Thanks yall...Mitch here. Wow...that's some nasty %$#@ emphysema. Really don't like the operation route...really glad I don't smoke anymore...AND...really glad I just have hypertension, something I can do something about.

The definition of hypertension...picture a cat in a room full of rocking chairs during an earthquake. Anyway...all I needed was more rigorous exercise...and to stop worrying about imaginary things that I make up and can do nothing about anyway...no worries.

Geez Zep...3 packs a day...****...that's one smoke every 18 minutes. Boy am I glad you cancelled that habit...and thanks for the support and concern.

Yeah lungs are precious. Deep breaths are a gift...no more abuse ever again. 4 months now. I never even knew some Dahlias have a fragrance and I'm a Dahlia freak. Wow...life is awesome.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

02 Feb 2002, 04:29 #16

I've been visiting a few lung transplant sites on the net and I found it interesting that many require smokers to quit smoking BEFORE surgery. For example, these are the online posted transplant requirements of the University of Penn. Transplant Center -

Who is a candidate?

Last edited by John (Gold) on 06 Apr 2009, 10:10, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

14 Apr 2002, 01:02 #17

Probe, as you can see from this thread, emphysema is the actual destruction of individual air sacks which not only ends their use for removing carbon dixoide from the body but also for taking in new oxygen. Congratuations on four days of awesome healing! Baby steps to glory! John
Last edited by John (Gold) on 06 Apr 2009, 10:27, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

01 Jul 2002, 09:48 #18

Stuart, as I believe this thread indicates, emphysema is primarily an environmental disease and not one that spreads like an infection or cancer. You've stopped inflicting damage by destroying additional alveoli from smoking. If concerned you can see a pulmonologist and not only get all your questions answered but also get a second opinion.

I too have been told I have early emphysema. I try to remember to wear a mask when digging in dirt (gardening) or mowing the grass. I can run like wind for the first time since I was 15, Stuart. What's done is done. By quitting we've turned off the burner. We've put our lungs in a condition where they'll age naturally, from their current state, from here on out. It's the best thing we could have done.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

29 Aug 2002, 08:59 #19

Click to Enlarge
Last edited by John (Gold) on 06 Apr 2009, 09:41, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

12 Nov 2002, 10:47 #20

This is emphysema

Last edited by John (Gold) on 06 Apr 2009, 09:39, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:29

13 Nov 2002, 13:08 #21

It was my doctor telling me I have emphysema that finally got me off my butt and quitting. My paternal grandfather died of E in his early fifties. My dad was scared to death that he had E and would die like his dad did, and quit when he was 35.

It was rather cold the way they told me I had it. After a yearly physical including blood work and chest X-rays the doc's nurse calls me up a few days later. "your cholesterol is high. your red blood cell count is high - thats from smoking. your liver enzymes are good. Oh, and by the way, the radiologist reading your Xrays has determined you have emphysema."

Well. From the way the message was delivered one would think "Ah, no big deal. Hemmoroihds, tonsillitis." Well, no. A bit of research on the web brings up word like irreversible, progressive, and fatal.

So I called my doc back and said "Tell me about this diagnosis" He says "It's really no surprise, given that you've smoked 2 packs a day for 30 years." I say "What now ?" He says "Well, you can keep smoking and in 5-8 years you'll be on oxygen 24-7, or you can quit now and it won't get any worse."

I'm not in that bad shape now. I can charge around our oversized block, with fairly significant hills, with my wife who has never smoked and not be any more out of breath than she is.

We had an extended damp period a week or so ago, and I noticed the slightest shortness of breath at rest then. That scared the ****** out of me. The weather dried out and things returned to normal.

Last week I had an appointment and "bragged" to my doc that I had quit for six weeks and was planning on staying that way forever and what could I/he/we do to keep the E from getting worse ? So he gave me Advair, which is a combination bronchodialator and steroid in inhalable powder form. My research on the web indicates that it is typically prescribed for asthma sufferers, but it can certainly help with E as well.

So far, so good. As the weather has stayed dry since getting the script I can't say for sure that the advair is for sure the thing that is doing the trick, but it has been better.

What I've found from researching E on the web : Bottom line : if you live long enough you will get emphysema. It's part of the natural deterioration of the body with age.

Smoking causes onset at a much earlier age. Much earlier. And once you have onset continued smoking accelerates the progress.

If you have onset and quit, it is my understanding that progress of the disease continues from there at the normal aging rate. That's what my doc tells me, and that's what I'm banking on.

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 20:16

26 Nov 2002, 07:46 #22

This is part of message number 9 pasted. I have a question that I hope somebody can answer for me. I spent quite a bit of time last night cruusing the internet looking for more information on COPD. I didn't find anything that specifically addresses this part. And I do admit I did get a bit sidetracked looking at other aspects. The part I am curious about is the part I bolded. Does this mean that with emphysema you can get more lung function back?

Thank you for any answers.

"Zep, being a nurse who works with the elderly patients, a lot of them with COPD which includes emphysema and asthma, who continually need respiratory treatments. I see respiratory techs all the time...and after I was told that I had beginning emphysema, I have questioned all of the techs...this is what they tell me in short... the parts of the lungs that are dead will never recover...but the tissue in the lungs that is a sleep, (meaning coated) will wake up when the damaging sorce is stopped being put into the lungs....this is not a progressive disease unless you continue to put into the lungs the sorce that is doing the damage...sorces include smoking, chemicals, etc....."

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

26 Nov 2002, 22:40 #23

Hello Anastazia:

The underlying lung tissue which is destroyed cannot regenerate. In a sense then, the loss of lung elasticity cannot come back. But the lining tissue of the wind pipe does regenerate. This tissue, primarily the Cilia is key to sweeping out the lungs, keeping the airways open and making breathing easier. So by this tissue being repaired, even though you don't get back the lungs elasticity, it keeps the airways cleaner and makes it easier for the remaining lung tissue to work without small airway obstructions. Added to this is the bonus of the blood's ability to carry much larger amounts of oxygen than when poisoned by carbon monoxide from tobacco smoke. Again, the lungs as well as the heart's workload is decreased when the blood carries the extra oxygen.

See articles:
Smoking's Impact on the Lungs
Smoking and Circulation

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

27 Nov 2002, 01:46 #24

Anastazia, I saw this post yesterday and spent a bit of time before bed exploring the question you raised in the highlighted portion. I think you have the same question that I've had all along with the subject of emphysema. As Joel says, clearly those alveoli (air sacs), among that 300 million that we started with in each lung, that have been destroyed will remain destroyed. But, in talking about emphysema being a "progressive" disease, does it remain progressive even after we quit smoking?

Although you'll find some research in the area of regeneration, I don't think you'll find any info at those sites suggesting that there is any hope of ever regenerating any dead alveolus - the research appears aimed at generating (growing) new alveoli.

As for the progressive nature of the disease, most literature I've been able to locate makes statements like this -
"Those patients who smoke should stop smoking immediately; this is the most important step patients can take to stabilize their disease and guard against further lung damage." 

Creighton University Medical Center

"The emphysematous patient must stop smoking to retard progression of the disease."

Canadian Lung Association

This is the portion of the above post you highlighted ..."but the tissue in the lungs that is a sleep, (meaning coated) will wake up when the damaging source is stopped being put into the lungs...."

Anastazia, I have yet to read anything contrary to above statement and much of Joel's wonderful post about the beauty of cilia healing I'm sure applies to all still living cells coated knee-deep beneath any chemical build-up.

What I would like to think is that because I stopped pumping the 4,000+ chemicals delivered into my lungs with each puff, that my emphysema will never ever grow any worse than it is right now, so long as I never take another puff. I wish it was true. Clearly I've brought an abrupt halt to smoking's intentional destruction of my remaining capacities but those remaining capacities are still subject to both the normal aging process, other environmental agents aside from cigarette smoke, and any genetic susceptibilities to emphysema that my deceased mother (advanced emphysema), my sister (moderate) and I (light) have already demonstrated exist in our family.

Will quitting smoking help substantially increase overall lung function for every person with emphysema? I'd love to hear an emphysema expert's answer to that question as it would seem to me that to one degree or another the elasticity and performance of every still living alveolus must be enhanced by not having to fight the 3,500+ particles and 500+ gases arriving with each puff. I can't speak for everyone but I can for my sister and I and in our cases we've noticed tremendous improvement in both breathing capacities and endurance.

Last edited by John (Gold) on 22 Jul 2010, 20:49, edited 3 times in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

27 Nov 2002, 23:04 #25

Yesterday I emailed a friend at the American Lung Assocation posing the following two questions. The response I just received follows:
How much does quitting smoking halt the progression of the disease?

Does every person with emphysema experience an overall increase in their remaining lung function capacities when quitting?
John - this was from the pathologist. One thing to add into the mix is the
degeneration due to ageing.

> In most cases, the progression of the disease stops when the smoking
> stops. In the rest of the cases, it usually slows down. However, there
> is no repair of the lung that has dissolved.
> Large and small airways diseases are also caused by smoking and
> contribute to the symptoms. Much of this is reversible. Cough and
> phlegm usually intensify for a few days to a few weeks, then get better
> and go away. Along with this, the larger airways open up some and
> airflow gets better. There's a lot of variation from person to
> person.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

02 Feb 2003, 05:32 #26

Added the following after noticing the use of bronchodilators for the treatment of emphysema above. My question, would it be reasonable to expect that symptoms of emphysema could be masked by the bronchodilators in cigarette smoke?... would it also, then, be reasonable to conclude that the symptoms of emphysema could seem worse after quitting, due to the lack of those bronchodilators?

Not looking for medical advice, of course, but I think it's a worthy discussion issue given the potential for someone to blame their quit for a worsening of their pulmonary function.

From: GrumpyOMrsS (Gold) Sent: 3/2/2002 6:10 AM

Just a note to John concerning the additives in your Vantage cigarettes and all other brands as well.....the first two you mentioned, licorice and cocoa are the vehicles put in the cigarettes not only to enhance the taste and smell, but they are actually the bronchodialors in cigarettes. those are the two ingredients added to cigarettes to make sure that our bronchii are open and able to accept the nicotine for faster delivery to the brain. Cocoa contains theopholine, the chemical used in inhalers for asmatatics and others suffering from COPD, as well as the licorice which contains, Glycyrrhizin. This explains in part why many people reach for chocolate or black licorice after quitting smoking. By the way, besides many calories for both chocolate and licorice, the glycyrrhizin in licorice, if ingested in larger than normal quatities, has the ability to raise one's blood pressure according to my pulmonologist. So this must be watched too.

below the findings in the tobacco hearings:

3.4.3 Cocoa and theobromine

Widely used as an additive, cocoa contains alkaloids, which may modify the effects of nicotine and have a pharmacological effect in themselves. Cocoa also contains about 1% theobromine, a 'bronchodilator' - encouraging expansion of the airways and facilitating increased smoke and nicotine intake.

The following quotes are from scientific and medical papers held by Philip Morris:

"Theobromine: The principal alkaloid of the cocoa bean which contains 1.5-3% of the base... bronchodilation effect in asthma."51

"The bronchodilator effect of a 10mg dose of theobromine was compared with that of 5mg of theophylline in young patients with asthma.... In this single dose study the bronchodilatory effect produced by theobromine was clinically and statistically significant.... improvement in all pulmonary function tests was noted after the ingestion of theobromine or theophylline."52 The addiction of these chemicals, in many cases, may mask an underlying problem when smoking. Stop smoking and take away these additives and a person who does not know he has asthma or emphsema or other symptoms of COPD is at once faced with a difficulty breathing from lack of broncodiators. This is how I found out I had asthma. Of course keep on smoking and you're liable to end up with much, much worse.

3.4.4 Glycyrrhizin

An ingredient of liquorice - another commonly used additive, glycyrrhizin also acts as a bronchodilator.

"What does a bronchodilator do? The bronchodilator makes it easier for you to inhale, so obviously if you are having difficulty putting smoke in your lungs, it's good to have a bronchodilator in there. Now I was asked recently whether I knew whether the glycerizon being delivered is delivered in adequate concentration to cause that to happen. I do not know the answer to that question. It would be interesting to know whether that has been studied by the industry. If they have studied it, it would seem that that is the kind of information that should be shared with regard to ingredients. The point is, however, that we know it can happen, it is a bronchodilator. The probability that it happens is very high, but that would be related to studies that should be done."53 (Farone WA 1997)


2 years free
Last edited by OBob Gold on 22 Jul 2010, 20:52, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

07 Mar 2003, 22:52 #27

Thanks for bringing up this thread, Joanne. I had never read it because I didn't think it applied to my life. Unfortunately I think we are all affected one way or another by smoking-related conditions.

There is a very dear, sweet lady whose office is next door to mine, and she was a heavy smoker for over 30 years. She has emphysema, asthma and chronic bronchitis, yet she continued to smoke until about a month before I quit. She quietly quit (didn't tell a soul until people started noticing) with a nicotine patch and was still on it for about a month after I had quit. Once she withdrew from the patch she was OK and seemed to understand the concept of the Law of Addiction. I guess I just assumed she was listening to me talk about Freedom, since we had something in common. It was wonderful not to hear that constant racking, phlegm-y cough and I often asked her how she was feeling since she'd quit, and she'd answer that she hadn't felt this good in years.

However, over the last few weeks I've caught her smoking twice (she doesn't know this). I printed out a few articles and left them around where she'd see them, and found them in the trash. Now, that horrible cough is back, and she's back to calling in sick once or twice a week. Sometimes she's just too weak to get in her car and drive to work. It breaks my heart that she's relapsed, that she's killing herself again. As I type this I can hear her struggling to breathe. I don't guess there's much else I can do, but it sure felt good to get this off my chest. Thanks for listening.


9 months, 1 week, 1 day

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:06

04 Feb 2006, 09:44 #28

My dad suffered from this disease for 20 years before he was diagnosed with lung cancer and 14 months later died from that. I am not afraid of picking up a nicotine delivery device again and DYING.....I'm afraid that I'd pick it up and live the way he did for 20 years. His whole life was compromised by the disease. And still he smoked until 4 days before he died. If that isn't addiction, I don't know what is! And sadly, I smoked with him and continued for 10 years after he died.

I am now quit for 28 days (and the rest of my life, one day at a time) and my sister is quit for 8 days. I think my dad has interferred with our lifes and, somehow, gave us the insight to be able to break this chain. I am 58, my sister 50 and it's taken us this long to get the message!! But got it we did and we are on our way to living happy, joyous and free of any substance. All we have to do is NTAP!!!

sandy -a nicotine addict who hasn't used nicotine for Twenty Eight Days, 23 Hours and 15 Minutes, while extending my life expectancy 1 Day and 12 Hours, by avoiding the use of 435 nicotine delivery devices that would have cost me $65.26.

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:06

04 Feb 2006, 12:27 #29

Such scary stuff. I need to read it, to remember it, to reject the drug that causes it. Thanks to Freedom

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:06

17 Apr 2006, 23:58 #30

I have a brilliant friend -- a writer, actor, and teacher -- who is maybe 62 years old, and I find myself avoiding her because it is soo painful to be in her house, where it's so hard to breathe through all the cigarette smoke, and then, through a cloud of smoke, watch her labored breathing. A couple of years ago, I took a walk with her and was stunned with fear and sadness at how much lung capacity she was losing to emphysema. Thank you for bringing this thread back, Sal.
I thank my lungs every day for supporting my life, and now, I can only hope that all of us have quit in time.

best, joanne, free for 97 days

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

21 Jul 2006, 09:28 #31

My dad smoked filterless cigs or roll your own for nearly 60 years. After hauling him and his oxygen tank around to doctor appointments today....this one seemed like a good one to bring up.
6 months +

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

22 Aug 2006, 09:01 #32

A point of clarification: I read today in a journal that COPD is an easier way of saying Emphysema.

Emphysema is but one of the forms of COPD. There are several different and very distinct diseases (contracted usually by extended direct use exposure to tobacco smoke) that are grouped under the term COPD. It is important that what we all post here be factually correct.

JoeJ Free - GoldClub

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:22

22 Aug 2006, 10:48 #33

Great information!

Never Take Another Puff!
Elizabeth - Free and Healing for Thirteen Days, 11 Hours and 18 Minutes, while extending my life expectancy 1 Day and 4 Hours, by avoiding the use of 337 nicotine delivery devices that would have cost me $101.09.

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:32

15 Sep 2006, 07:45 #34

Boy did I need to read this ...
Hit with a crave as I sat down to eat dinner after a long, hard day.
How 'bout inhaling a mouthful of emphysema?
My junkie had no reply ...

Thanks for this.
Thanks very much.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

23 Sep 2006, 08:21 #35

Much lung disease 'undiagnosed'
BBC News - Sept. 20, 2006

Four out of five adults with long-term lung disease do not know they are ill, research suggests.
The condition, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

It is strongly associated with lung cancer because both arise from long-term damage to lung tissue, which can be caused by smoking.

The study of 8,215 adults by the charity Cancer Research UK is published online by the journal Thorax.

Researchers studied the results of saliva and lung function tests.
  • It is estimated that 13.3% of Britons over 35 may have developed features
  • Between 600,000 and 900,000 people in the UK have been diagnosed with COPD
  • COPD is the sixth most common cause of death in England and Wales killing more than 30,000 a year
They identified 1,093 people with COPD based on impaired lung function, but more than 80% said they had not received diagnosis of any kind.

Even among those with severe COPD more than half had not been diagnosed.

More than one third of those with the condition were still smoking and a further 35% were ex-smokers.

Sufferers were more likely to be older, manual workers, male and more socio-economically deprived.

Little motivation

The study also found that smokers who had COPD showed higher levels of dependence on cigarettes and smoked more cigarettes a day than smokers without the disease.

But those with COPD were no more motivated to quit than smokers without the disease.

Lead researcher Professor Robert West, director of tobacco studies at Cancer Research UK's Health Behavioural Unit, said: "It is crucial to identify smokers with COPD and take urgent action to support them in stopping smoking because the most effective way of halting the progression of the disease is to stop smoking.

"Many smokers feel that they will 'get away with it' and not be affected in a serious way by their habit.

"For smokers with COPD that doubt is removed. Every day they continue to smoke will make things worse."

Professor West said many smokers thought the symptoms of COPD - such as a smokers' cough or becoming breathless during exercise - were normal.

"They do not realise that they can be the beginnings of a disease which, in many cases, will leave them disabled or dead if they do not stop smoking.

"It only requires a simple lung function test to find out whether they have COPD and this can be done by their GP."

Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said: "Smokers run the biggest risk of COPD but we also know it can affect people who have never smoked as well as those who have given up smoking.

"There is a real need to increase public awareness of this insidious disease."

Dame Helena Shovelton, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, welcomed the research, and said the charity would be launching a campaign in October to raise awareness of COPD.

Published: 2006/09/20 23:07:14 GMT

Thanks for this find, Sallie!