Smoking, including passive exposure, is the main cause of COPD. Statistics show that tobacco smoke is implicated in most COPD cases, meaning COPD is largely preventable by not smoking. 


As smoking is the main cause, most people diagnosed are over the age of 40. The course of COPD progression may be slowed if smoking stops, making it very important that people with COPD do not continue to smoke after diagnosis.

A small proportion of people who develop COPD have never smoked. These people may have been exposed to industrial dusts in their work or they may have an inherited genetic deficiency called Alpha-1 Antitrypsin. This deficiency is the only hereditary risk factor known to cause COPD. Severe Alpha-1 Antritrypsin Deficiency is a recessive trait most common in individuals of Northern European origin. In smokers with the deficiency, it is associated with an accelerated development of the disease.

Don't forget to breathe is a guide for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Download your free copy.

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