Preventing COPD | American Lung Association

Preventing COPD

COPD Risk Factors

Smoking is the biggest risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It increases your risk of both developing and dying from COPD. Approximately 85 to 90 percent of COPD cases are caused by smoking. Female smokers are nearly 13 times as likely to die from COPD as women who have never smoked; male smokers are nearly 12 times as likely to die from COPD as men who have never smoked.

Other risk factors for COPD include:

  • Exposure to air pollution
  • Breathing secondhand smoke
  • Working with chemicals, dust and fumes
  • A genetic condition called Alpha-1 deficiency
  • A history of childhood respiratory infection

5 Steps to Reduce Your Risk for COPD

If you are concerned about getting COPD, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.


    Approved by Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed November 1, 2016.

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