lung disease

By now, anyone even slightly versed in health issues understands that cigarette smoking can irretrievably damage the lungs — whether via lung cancer or other disease processes, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). It's also true, however, that even people who have never smoked may develop these conditions, and it's not always clear who is at the greatest risk. A recent study indicates that never-smoking women are more likely to develop COPD than never-smoking men.

COPD includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis — both of which impair breathing, but by different mechanisms. Emphysema is a disease in which the tiny air sacs at the ends of the bronchial tree are damaged and collapse. This collapse...