Obesity, possible cause of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, even in non-smokers

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a pulmonary disease characterized by airway obstruction, usually progressive and irreversible, and its main symptom is a reduction in respiratory capacity with wheezing or chronic cough, which progresses slowly. It causes significant deterioration in the quality of life of the patient, since it can produce complications of significant severity, such as cardiac disorders, pneumonias, pneumothorax and even premature death. According to the World Health Organization, in 2030 it could become the third cause of death worldwide.

The most common conditions of COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It especially affects people exposed to tobacco smoke. In fact, smoking is at the top of the list of factors causing COPD, it is estimated that between 20% and 25% of smokers develop the disease. However, approximately 25% of patients suffering from this disease are people who have never smoked, which clearly indicates the influence of other factors, so a team of specialists from the University of Toronto conducted a study aimed at determining which these factors could be, the evidence obtained strongly points to obesity as one of the main causes of the development of COPD in non-smoking patients.

From Torres-PicónFoundation, we share this note in the framework of our preventive health promotion activities and regarding the serious problem that obesity represents throughout the world.

In this study, the results of which were published in the Journal of Obesity, data from some 110,000 people aged fifty years or more were analyzed, compiled through surveys conducted by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which was carried out by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States, in 2012. Among non-smokers surveyed, in women COPD was present in 13.40% of obese women compared to 3.50% of non-obese women; in men, 7.60% obese suffered it, while of non-obese only had it 2.50%.

In both women and men, the existence of an association between COPD and other factors, such as advanced age and less favored socioeconomic conditions, was determined. Specifically among women, a possible relationship of the disease with height and educational level was also found. However, the biggest factor was obesity, by far.

The researchers point out that despite the evidence the data obtained are not enough to establish the mechanisms by which obesity can be considered a risk factor for COPD. In this sense, they express that it is necessary to deepen the studies, taking into account other factors associated with both pathologies, such as chronic inflammation, as well as studying the effect of obesity on the mechanism of respiration. In any case, they recommend that doctors pay special attention to the respiratory health of their obese patients, whether they are smokers or not.

The spokesman and director of our NGO, Pedro J. Torres, internationally focused on the task of preventing both childhood obesity and overweight, and promoting art, culture and education as tools for the improvement of children and youth, He reiterated that the world is facing a serious problem, to face it and control it requires decision, more participation, new ideas and a lot of perseverance, but stressed that always attending to the criteria, recommendations and opinions of health professionals.


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