Obesity, large waist size risk factors for COPD

Obesity, especially excessive belly fat, is a risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to an article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Excessive belly fat and low physical activity are linked to progression of the disease in people with COPD, but it is not known whether these modifiable factors are linked to new cases.

A team of researchers in Germany and the United States looked at the relationship of waist and hip circumference, (BMI) and to new cases of COPD in a large group of men and women in the US. They looked at data on 113 279 people between the ages of 50 and 70 years who did not have COPD, cancer or heart disease at the beginning of the study (1995­–96). During the 10-year follow-up period, COPD developed in 3648 people. People with large waist circumference (110 cm or over in women and 118 cm or over in men) had a 72% of COPD.

"We observed a stronger positive relation with abdominal body fat than with total body fat and COPD," writes Dr. Gundula Behrens, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany, with coauthors. "In particular, overweight as measured by BMI emerged as a significant predictor of increased risk of COPD only among those with a large waist circumference."

A large waist was a robust predictor of COPD in smokers as well as in people who had never smoked.

Pollution, smoking and toxic particles in workplace dust are thought to cause COPD through chronic inflammation and impaired ability to heal injury to the lungs. "Increased local, abdominal and overall fat depots increase local and systemic inflammation, thus potentially stimulating COPD-related processes in the lung," write the authors.

People with a large and who were physically active at least 5 times a week were 29% less likely to experience COPD. Exercise can reduce inflammation, oxidative stress and enhance healing.

Underweight people had a 56% increased risk of COPD. Possible reasons include malnutrition and reduced muscle mass leading to increased COPD susceptibility and progression through inflammatory processes and impaired lung repair capacity.

"Our findings suggest that next to smoking cessation and the prevention of smoking initiation, meeting guidelines for body weight, body shape and level may represent important individual and public health opportunities to decrease the risk of COPD. Physicians should encourage their patients to adhere to these guidelines as a means of preventing chronic diseases in general and possibly COPD in particular," conclude the authors.

More information: Canadian Medical Association Journal, www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.140025

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

COPD patients at significantly higher risk of heart failure

May 18, 2014

As if increased risks of high blood pressure, respiratory infections, lung cancer and even depression weren't enough, researchers say patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have another complication to ...

Recommended for you

Sierra Leone bans Christmas parties amid Ebola

9 hours ago

Alice Marke and her family aren't celebrating Christmas the way they used to: The deadly Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone means no festive parties at the beach, no carolers singing at night.

Fourth UN staff contracts Ebola in Liberia

11 hours ago

A fourth member of the UN mission in Liberia, the country hardest-hit by the Ebola epidemic, has been hospitalised after testing positive for the virus.

Tuberculosis avoids and subverts host immunity

Dec 23, 2014

An ancient disease, tuberculosis (TB) continues to be one of the major causes of disability and death worldwide. The recent TB cases in Quebec among the Inuit community has underscored the need to find new avenues to eradicate ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.