TUESDAY, Nov. 9, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Past or present smoking increases the risk of death among people with severe early-onset chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a new study says.
But the study also found that patients with severe early-onset COPD who quit smoking are less likely to die sooner than patients who continue to smoke.
The research by scientists at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston appears in the Nov. 9 issue of CHEST.
Researchers analyzed data from 139 people, all younger than 53, with severe, early-onset COPD for up to eight years. The study found the risk of death for these patients increased 20 percent for every 10 pack-years of smoking.
Patients who continued to smoke during the study period were three times more likely to die than patients who didn't smoke.
"This study, for the first time, highlights the impact past and present smoking history has on patients with severe, early-onset COPD. Our study results demonstrate that even in patients with severely damaged lungs, there can still be a significant benefit of quitting smoking," study senior author Dr. Edwin Silverman said in a prepared statement.
"This study's results provide health workers with additional evidence to encourage their patients to stop smoking to prevent death from this disease," added study author Dr. Craig P. Hersh.
It's estimated that about 16 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with COPD and another 14 million are undiagnosed. COPD, the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, refers to lung disease with chronic airflow obstruction.
The American Medical Association has more about COPD.