(TORONTO) -- COPD: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It's a disease that affects your air passages, causing difficulty breathing, and now a new study suggests COPD is a greater threat than heart disease or cancer.
COPD covers a range of diseases that restrict the function of your lungs, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Symptoms include difficulty breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chronic coughing that produces mucus. It is sometimes mistakenly thought to be a "smoker's cough."
A new study in the medical journal Lancet shows that one in every four people 35 and older are likely to develop COPD in their lifetime, comparable to diabetes and asthma.
Researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto followed 13 million Canadians for up to 14 years.
They found the risk of getting COPD was double that of congestive heart failure, three to four times greater than breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men and more than seven times the risk of other cancers.
By 2030, COPD is projected to be the third-most common cause of death worldwide.
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