Smokers or reformed smokers with severe early-onset chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) face an increased risk of death, according to the results of a study reported in Chest (November 9, 2004). On the other hand, the investigators also found that patients with severe early-onset COPD who stopped smoking were less likely to die sooner, compared with individuals who continued to smoke. The findings were based on data from 139 individuals, younger than age 53, with severe early-onset COPD for up to 8 years. The results of the study indicated that the chance of death for these participants jumped by 20% for every 10 pack-years of smoking. The patients who also continued to smoke during the study were 3 times more likely to die, compared with nonsmokers.
"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," said study senior author Edwin Silverman, MD, PhD.