For decades, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been linked to smoking. The link has been both direct and indirect. In some families the person who did the smoking seemed unaffected with symptoms while those who breathed second-hand smoke but never touched a cigarette themselves fell victim to COPD.
Nationally, about 11 million people have been diagnosed with COPD according to the American Lung Association. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts that number at 16 million. These high numbers don’t tell the entire story though. Both the CDC and ALA believe that the numbers are much higher with millions of undiagnosed Americans suffering the effects of COPD.
What is COPD
It is not a disease or a disorder on its own. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, is the umbrella under which other respiratory diseases are contained. What they all have in common is airflow blockage and problems related to breathing. These include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and non-reversible or refractory asthma.
New Information on Genetics and COPD
COPD is among the leading causes of disability and death. Even though there have been no cures for it, many people are still able to live productive lives. Researchers continue to look for a cure and find ways to make living with COPD more tolerable. In the research that’s been done, scientists have discovered a genetic link which may identify people who have an elevated risk for COPD.
The question regarding why some non-smokers develop COPD while smokers in the same environment did not, led to the discovery of genetic variations in the anatomy of the lungs. The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) which is a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The research seems to be suggesting that there may be a genetic pre-disposition for some genes to influence the mechanisms leading to the development of COPD under certain circumstances. If this proves to be correct, there may be methods which can effectively prevent or treat the disease in its earliest stages. The study seems to indicate that a CT scan may be able to measure airway structure and thus doctors could diagnose high-risk COPD patients.
The Importance of Further Research
COPD is the fourth leading cause of death among Americans. With millions of undiagnosed cases waiting in the wings, further study is vital. This progressive disease affects people of all ages, from all walks of life. Continued research makes a cure or prevention more likely.
DM Clinical Research believes in helping people through our clinical trials. You can be part of the clinical studies to find ways to cure or prevent COPD. Contact us for more information and to find out if you are eligible to help save millions of lives by participating in one of our studies.