Adults who start smoking at age 21 have increased risk of developing chronic lung disease

A new study examining the intake of dozens of chemicals typical of cigarette smoke per cigarette has found that air-damaged adults who started smoking before age 21 have increased risk of developing the chronic lung disease chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), assistant professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School said.

Dr. Marjorie Sheahan, who conducted the study, said students and faculty at the medical school would like to thank Wilmar Andersson, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who helped them prove the link between cigarette smoke and COPD.

“Among the 5,735 young people who were assessed for drinking alcohol as reported by the health agency, 393 developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” Sheahan said. “That compares to 5,628 of the young adults assessed for using alcohol as the primary cause, and the COPD group was a nearly identical 56 to 64% to increase odds of developing this chronic illness.”As Allheter and colleagues have previously reported, many smokers produce toxic levels of nicotine and other common pollutants for a short time before quit smoking, and they become somewhat vulnerable to developing COID. The current study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Medicine, shows that once young people start smoking, they are at a higher risk of developing COPD than never-smoking adults. “We need to revisit our models,” Allheter said. “From the beginning, we have asked we wanted to know exactly how much of the complex exposures we identified in the study are relevant to the development of COPD. When we looked at individual-level exposures, the impact was quite small.”