The best-known risk factor for COPD is smoking, but one-quarter of COPD patients have never smoked
A recent study has established the fact that obesity is strongly associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in never-smokers.
The research, conducted by the University of Toronto, has been published in the Journal of Obesity.
COPD is a group of progressive lung disorders that make breathing difficult, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The best-known risk factor for COPD is smoking, but one-quarter of COPD patients have never smoked, said researchers.
"COPD is much more common among never-smoking older women who are morbidly obese (having a body mass index of 40 or higher) than among their female peers in the normal weight range (13.4 per cent vs 3.5 per cent, respectively). Morbidly obese older men who have never smoked also had a much higher prevalence of COPD than never-smoking men who were normal weight (7.6 per cent vs 2.5 percent)," said the lead author Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson.
"Surprisingly few studies have focused on never smoking COPD patients," stated co-author Senyo Agbeyaka. "We wanted to address this gap in the literature by examining which factors are associated with COPD among never smokers aged 50 and older," he added.
Co-author Lilia Fuller-Thomson said that in addition to obesity, older age and lower income were associated with COPD among both men and women. Among women, but not men, height and education level were negatively associated with COPD, but being married was associated with higher odds of COPD.
"These findings highlight the importance of health care professionals routinely screening their older obese patients for COPD, even when the patients have no history of smoking," said Fuller-Thomson.