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Smoking: The Connection to COPD

According to the American Lung Association, over 11 million Americans are living with COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly 90 percent of people living with COPD are smokers or former smokers - but what is the connection between smoking and COPD?

How Does Smoking Cause COPD?

When you smoke, you inhale microparticles of irritants and smoke into your lungs. These irritants cause damage to your lungs by making your airways (bronchial tubes) swell and become inflamed. What you inhale also causes the body to produce mucus in response to the irritation.

The increased swelling combined with the elevated mucus levels reduces the amount of air you can breathe. It also causes you to cough, in an effort to clear mucus. Over time, coughing and irritation lead to inflammation.

Interestingly, research has shown that women who smoke are more likely to develop COPD than men.

What Else Causes COPD?

Exposure to second-hand smoke for long periods also contributes to the development of COPD because the person exposed is breathing in the same lung irritants as the smoker. This includes small children who are around cigarette smoke. Some researchers believe that smoking while pregnant increases an infant's risk of developing COPD.

Other situations that leave you at risk of developing COPD include exposure to dust or chemicals and fumes in the workplace or in the environment.

Should I Still Quit Smoking If I Have Already Been Diagnosed With COPD?

Yes! Quitting smoking can slow the progression of your COPD. It can also help reduce your symptoms as your lungs heal and inflammation is reduced. When you stop smoking, your risks of developing cancer, heart disease and stroke also decrease. It is never too late to quit smoking. If you stop smoking today, you will:

  • Reduce your COPD symptoms
  • Reduce the rate of losing lung tissue
  • Slow down your COPD getting worse
  • Reduce the risk of developing other illnesses
  • Have an improved quality of life


Another way to reduce your COPD symptoms is through stem cell therapy at the Innovations Stem Cell Center. Call 214-256-1462 today to learn more about the benefits of stem cell therapy for COPD.

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