Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 14;14(1):8297. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-44047-8.
Smoking is the leading risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) worldwide, yet many people who never smoke develop COPD. We perform a longitudinal analysis of COPD in the UK Biobank to derive and validate the Socioeconomic and Environmental Risk Score which captures additive and cumulative environmental, behavioral, and socioeconomic exposure risks beyond tobacco smoking. The Socioeconomic and Environmental Risk Score is more predictive of COPD than smoking status and pack-years. Individuals in the highest decile of the risk score have a greater risk for incident COPD compared to the remaining population. Never smokers in the highest decile of exposure risk are more likely to develop COPD than previous and current smokers in the lowest decile. In general, the prediction accuracy of the Social and Environmental Risk Score is lower in non-European populations. While smoking status is often considered in screening COPD, our finding highlights the importance of other non-smoking environmental and socioeconomic variables.