Puffing cigarette does not affect everyone the same way

June 5th, 2009 - 1:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, June 5 (IANS) Cigarette smoking does not affect everyone in the same way, according to a new study.
Puffing induced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disease that causes severe breathing difficulty and is the fourth leading killer worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

However, the mechanisms why some smokers develop COPD and others evade the disease have not been well understood.

Manuel Cosio from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), in collaboration with Italian and Spanish scientists, found that an auto-immune mechanism, compounded by a genetic pre-disposition to COPD, would explain the progression of the disease in some smokers and the evasion in others.

COPD has a family connection and the next of kin of patients with COPD have a much higher chance of developing the disease, a characteristic of autoimmune diseases.

Although smoking is the primary risk factor for COPD in the western world, open fire pollutant cooking and heating fuels in the home is an important risk factor for the development of COPD among women in developing nations.

“Smoke can play an important role in auto-immune diseases such as COPD, and other diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, because it accentuates genetic pre-dispositions to the disease,” warns Cosio.

But contrary to previous scientific beliefs, COPD does not progress in the same way in all smokers. The authors describe three steps in the potential progression to COPD in smokers.

“COPD does not go from stage one, two and three in all people,” Cosio says. “Depending on their personal balance between immune response and immune control some people would stop at stage one, others at stage two, and some will progress to stage three, full auto-immunity and lung destruction.”

“Hopefully investigators will now see the disease in a totally different way,” Cosio stressed, according to a MUHC release.

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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