Smokers with Muscle Loss May Be at Greater Risk
Reduced chest muscle mass may be linked to a greater mortality risk in smokers, according to results of a recent study presented at the 2017 conference of the American Thoracic Society. This new research suggests chest muscle loss in smokers increases the risk of death—whether COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is present or not.
For the study, researchers examined chest CT scans from about 7,000 smokers with an average age of 60. About 55 percent of the study participants had COPD. The researchers used the scans to evaluate the chest muscles (pectorals) and the muscles surrounding the spine (paravertebrals). They monitored participants for about 5 years.
According to researchers, smokers with the lowest chest muscle mass had a 120 percent higher risk for early death compared to those with the highest muscle mass. Although people with COPD were more likely to die during the study period, the correlation between chest muscle mass and early death was stronger than the COPD/early death link.