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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is the cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

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    Lung Foundation Australia was established in 1990 by a group of thoracic physicians concerned about the chronic shortage of funds for research work in respiratory … View Profile

    In Australia, cigarette smoking is the single largest cause of COPD and is responsible for around 75-85% of cases.
    Other known causes of COPD include:

    • Passive smoking, especially during infancy when the lungs are still developing
    • Exposure to occupational dusts and chemicals.  Miners and livestock farmers are at heightened risk of COPD.
    • Environmental agents, including indoor and outdoor pollution, however this is more a problem in the developing world.
    • A small proportion of COPD is as a result of a genetic deficiency of the protein alpha-1 antitrypsin

    Women may be at greater risk of COPD than men due to the fact that they generally have smaller lungs and more sensitive airways.

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