Researchers at San Matteo Hospital and University of Pavia, Italy, demonstrated that the presence of chronic cough and phlegm among young adults ages 20-44 was an independent and statistically significant predictor of COPD.

The results of the study, which appeared in the first issue for January 2007 of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, looked at a cohort of 5,002 individuals, over 10 years. Of this cohort, 123 were diagnosed with COPD.

Isa Cerveri, MD, chief investigator, stated that the 10-year cumulative incidence of COPD in study subjects ages 20-44 was 2.8%. It was 4.6% in adults aged 40-44.

“This finding points out that COPD is a major health problem even in young adults who are usually not considered to be a risk. In agreement with previous research, we found that the progression towar4d airflow obstruction is a continuous and gradual process, where sudden changes are extremely unlikely,” says Cerveri.

Among the study group approximately 77% of the 123 COPD cases were smokers, in the sample as whole approximately 55% smoked.