COPD is most
often caused by smoking. Most people with COPD are long-term smokers, and
research shows that smoking cigarettes increases the risk of getting
Some studies show that up to
half of long-term smokers older than age 60 get COPD.3
Smoking both tobacco and marijuana increases the risk of COPD more than smoking either one.1
COPD is often a mix of two
chronic bronchitis and
emphysema. Both of these diseases are caused by
smoking. Although you can have either chronic bronchitis or emphysema, people
more often have a mixture of both diseases.
Other possible causes of COPD
Long-term exposure to lung irritants such as industrial dust
and chemical fumes.
Preterm birth that leads to lung damage (neonatal chronic lung disease).
Inherited factors (genes),
alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. This is a rare condition in
which your body may not be able to make enough of a protein (alpha-1 antitrypsin) that
helps protect the lungs from damage. People who have this disorder and who smoke
generally start to have symptoms of emphysema in their 30s or 40s. Those who
have this disorder but don't smoke generally start to have symptoms in their
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this