Secondhand Tobacco Smoke and COPD Risk in Smokers: A COPDGene Study Cohort Subgroup Analysis

Background: Exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS) can be a risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but its role among relatively heavy smokers with potential co-exposure to workplace vapors, gas, dust, and fumes (VGDF) has not been studied. Methods: To estimate the contribution of SHS exposure to COPD risk, taking into account smoking effects and work-related exposures to VGDF, we quantified SHS based on survey responses for 1400 ever-employed subjects enrolled in the COPDGene study, all current or former smokers with or without COPD. Occupational exposures to VGDF were quantified based on a job exposure matrix. The associations between SHS and COPD were tested in multivariate logistic regression analyses adjusted for age, sex, VGDF exposure, and cumulative smoking. Results and Discussion: Exposures to SHS at work and at home during adulthood were associated with increased COPD risk: odds ratio (OR) = 1.12 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.02–1.23; p = 0.01) and OR = 1.09 (95%CI: 1.00–1.18; p = 0.04) per 10 years of exposure adjusted for smoking and other covariates, respectively. In addition, subjects with employment histories likely to entail exposure to VGDF were more likely to have COPD: OR = 1.52 (95%CI: 1.16–1.98; p < 0.01) (adjusted for other covariates). While adult home SHS COPD risk was attenuated among the heaviest smokers within the cohort, workplace SHS and job VGDF risks persisted in that stratum. Conclusion: Among smokers all with at least 10 pack-years, adult home and work SHS exposures and occupational VGDF exposure are all associated with COPD.