Canadian researchers found one in four people over 35 is likely to develop COPD.
They say the risk for developing the disease surpasses heart failure, breast and prostate cancer.
The team analyzed data on 13 million people over a 14 year period. Scientists discovered the average 35-year-old is more than three times as likely to get COPD than breast cancer in women, and prostate cancer in men.
The study also pointed out that males, people in rural areas and the poor have a greater risk of developing the disease in their lifetimes.
Findings appear in a special European Respiratory Society issue of 'The Lancet' Medical journal.