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Long-Term Lung Function Declines Even for Prior Low-Intensity Smokers

Accelerated FEV1 decline found in former smokers for decades after smoking cessation

TUESDAY, Oct. 22, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Compared with never-smokers, former smokers and low-intensity current smokers have accelerated lung function decline, according to a study published online Oct. 9 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Elizabeth C. Oelsner, M.D., from Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues used data from six U.S. population-based cohorts to examine whether former and low-intensity current smokers have accelerated lung function decline compared with never-smokers. Data were included for 25,352 participants (aged 17 to 93 years) who completed 70,228 valid spirometry exams.

The researchers found that in adjusted models, former smokers showed an accelerated forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) decline of 1.82 mL/year compared with never-smokers; this number was about 20 percent of the magnitude of the effect estimate for current smokers (9.21 mL/year). Accelerated FEV1 decline was seen in former smokers for decades after smoking cessation and in current smokers with low cumulative cigarette consumption compared with never-smokers. For current smokers consuming fewer than five cigarettes per day, the effect estimate for FEV1 decline was 68 percent of that in current smokers consuming 30 or more cigarettes per day (7.65 mL/year versus 11.24 mL/year) and almost five times greater than in former smokers (1.57 mL/year).

“These findings also justify investigation into potential preventive interventions in the rising ranks of former smokers, who remain at increased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease because of ongoing lung function deterioration,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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