COPD stands for “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease”. It is actually two lung diseases fall under the category of COPD: bronchitis and emphysema. Both conditions are largely caused by smoking and often occur together. A study was published in Lung (2006; 184(2): 51-5). The subjects of the study included 30 smokers who were free of diagnosable disease, 30 healthy nonsmokers, 71 patients with stable COPD and 31 COPD patients who were experiencing exacerbation of their symptoms. The study looked into the antioxidant status of these subjects. The amount of plasma malonyldialdehyde (MDA), and the amount of superoxide dismutase (SOD) in the red blood cells was measured. MDA is a measure of lipid peroxidation (giving an indication of oxidative stress). SOD is an antioxidant enzyme.
MDA, the measure used to determine oxidative stress, was lower in smokers than it was in nonsmokers. MDA was higher in patients with COPD than it was for healthy nonsmokers. SOD activity was considerably higher in the subjects experiencing COPD exacerbation than it was in any of the other groups. The authors concluded that smokers and patients with COPD have an antioxidant imbalance when compared to healthy nonsmokers. Addressing oxidative stress may help prevent COPD.