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Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine

 
Risk factors


Most scientists agree that these things affect the risk of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Some may apply to you, but others may not.
Age
Fruits and vegetables
Cigarettes
Air pollution
Workplace exposures
Alpha -1-antitrypsin deficiency




 
Age
The risk of chronic bronchitis and emphysema goes up with age. Rates of the disease are low in people under 40; they then increase significantly from age 40 on.

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Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and other substances that can not only protect against chronic bronchitis and emphysema but also lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and certain cancers.

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Cigarettes
Smoking cigarettes massively raises your risk of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Cigarette smoke contains chemicals that can irritate the lungs. Even those who smoke just a small number of cigarettes a day still have a higher risk of chronic bronchitis and emphysema than non-smokers. The more you smoke, the higher your risk. But soon after you quit, your risk begins to drop.

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Air pollution
Living in a large city for 10 or more years slightly raises your risk of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Pollutants in the air -- like car exhaust and factory emissions -- are probably the cause.

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Workplace exposures
Protecting yourself from workplace chemicals can help lower the risk of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. This is because some chemicals can irritate the lungs, causing damage over time. Some workplace chemicals linked to chronic bronchitis and emphysema include cadmium, gold dust, coal dust, other mineral dusts, as well as welding fumes.

Properly protecting yourself from workplace chemicals can also lower the risk of lung cancer and bladder cancer.


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Alpha -1-antitrypsin deficiency
Alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is a rare genetic condition that can greatly increase the risk of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Most people aren't routinely tested for AAT deficiency, but some people with a strong family history of chronic bronchitis/emphysema or who have symptoms of the condition may be tested. Talk to a doctor for more information.

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