Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is a long-term lung disease. The disease affects millions of Americans and is a leading cause of disability and death in the U.S. Common risk factors include:
- environment – inhaling hazardous fumes, air pollution, smoke, dust, chemicals
- alpha -1 deficiency – an inherited gene that affects the ability to produce the protein that protects the lungs
- a history of childhood respiratory infections
Lung cancer happens when cells in the lung change, because known risk factors – smoking and the environment, but lung cancer can also happen in people with no known risks. Cancer cells destroy healthy lung tissue and will spread beyond the lungs affecting other organs of the body. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death in men and women in the US with smoking as the greatest risk factor.
For more information, visit lung.org the official site of the American Lung Association.