COPD and smoking in the Mainland China published by Dove Medical Press

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In Mainland China, adult smokers, particularly ex-smokers who had quit because of illness, had significantly higher prevalence of chronic respiratory disease.

The International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease has published the original research “COPD and its association with smoking in the Mainland China: a cross-sectional analysis of 0.5 million men and women from ten diverse areas”.

As corresponding author Professor Zhengming Chen says “Chinese men now smoke ~40% of the world’s cigarettes, but the substantial increases in cigarette consumption among them is, however, yet too recent for the full eventual health consequences to be seen. CKB is the largest prospective study ever established in China and will continue to monitor the emerging risk of COPD and other diseases in the coming decades.”

As Dr Richard Russell, Editor-in-Chief, explains “This study was performed by a multi-national group who studied over 500 000 individuals. This in itself is a remarkable work, which may only be possible in China.
The group researched in depth how smoking is currently affecting the respiratory health of people in China and compared 10 geographically distinct areas. The researchers invited members of the population to come for assessment and performed an in depth interview of respiratory health as well as spirometry, which assesses lung function and the ability of an individual to breathe.

Currently the vast majority of men in China smoke, (74%), and only 3.2% of few women smoke. Smoking was strongly associated with the finding of airflow obstruction on spirometry and this lung function abnormality was more common in those who started to smoke earlier and have smoked more tobacco. Unsurprisingly those who had given up work, due to ill health, had smoked more and had worse lung function and suffered from more respiratory illness.

The major limitation of this study was that it looked at all comers and thus many of the participants were relatively young. Too young and with too short a smoking history to have yet developed smoking related lung disease.”

Dr Russell continues “The study’s findings are remarkable as they demonstrate the reduction in health that cigarette smoking is currently causing in China. Moreover there are two significant warnings in the data for China and other developing countries.
1. Cigarette smoking causes lung disease and the longer you smoke then the more disease you will get, especially as the population ages.
2. Significant efforts must be made to stop women smoking as at present only a minority do smoke and this number will increase and mimic the western experience as women gain financial independence.
There is an opportunity now to stop men smoking and to prevent women from beginning to smoke. Otherwise I fear China will reap a very bitter harvest as the population ages and increases in affluence.”

The International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is an international, peer-reviewed journal of therapeutics and pharmacology focusing on concise rapid reporting of clinical studies and reviews in COPD.

Dove Medical Press Ltd is a privately held company specializing in the publication of Open Access peer-reviewed journals across the broad spectrum of science, technology and especially medicine.

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Angela Jones
Dove Medical Press
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