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.
- If you are a smoker, STOP SMOKING. Quitting smoking is the single most important thing a smoker can do to live a longer and healthier life. The American Lung Association has many programs to help you quit for good.
- If you don't smoke, don't start. Smoking causes COPD, lung cancer, heart disease and other cancers.
- Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Make your home smokefree. You'll not only protect yourself, but your family too. Learn about your rights to a smokefree environment at work and in public places.
- Be aware of other dangers. Take care to protect yourself against chemicals, dust and fumes in your home and at work.
- Help fight for clean air. Work with others in your community to help clean up the air you and your family breathe.
Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed December 23, 2017.
Page Last Updated: March 13, 2018