How to Live to 110, a guide for all ages on how to stay healthy and live a long life.

Your comprehensive guide to a healthy life

Buy book or eBook

Prev: cancer

Protect your lungs

How we damage our lungs

(Avoiding emphysema, bronchitis and other lung disease)

It is important to keep your lungs in top working order.

The oxygen they bring into your body powers everything you do. If you damage them, they cannot be repaired, and you will be less able to keep active. Badly damaged lungs can make old age a living hell for years on end, leaving people constantly breathless, coughing and barely able to walk.

Your lungs are easy to damage

Lungs are fragile and vulnerable. If you open them out they’d cover the whole of a singles tennis court, but they'd mostly be far thinner than tissue paper. Every day, 10,000 to 20,000 litres of air passes over this thin membrane, with all the pollutants, germs and dust it contains.

It’s no surprise that the most common day-to-day diseases we suffer from are coughs, colds and ‘flu – all diseases of the lung.

Some types of dusts and chemicals can damage your lungs if you breathe them, and most work environments now take precautions against these.

A far more serious problem, though, is smoking. Tobacco smoke contains 70 chemicals known to cause cancer. Many more irritate the lung, leaving it inflamed and leading to bronchitis, with the sufferer constantly coughing to clear the mucus that builds up.

The inflammation can break down the walls of the minute air sacs in the lungs, a condition called ‘emphysema’, and can damage the airways, leaving them narrowed and less effective. All this makes breathing very difficult and uncomfortable.

Some of the things you can do

If you smoke, the sooner you give up, the less damage your lungs will suffer. Even a single cigarette a day is harmful.

At work and home, take seriously the instructions and advice when handling chemicals.

Try to avoid catching colds and coughs, as repeated infections can damage your lungs.

What the book covers

The book explains in more depth

Prev: cancer


Selected references for the book


Lung structure


Lung defences

Nicod LP

Lung defences: an overview

Eur Respir Rev 2005;14:45-50


Olivieri D Scoditti E

Impact of environmental factors on lung defences

Eur Respir Rev 2005;14:51-56


Nicod LP

Pulmonary Defence Mechanisms

Respiration 1999;66:2-11




Upper respiratory infections; coughs, colds and sore throats


Bronchial asthma

Dodge RRBurrows B

The prevalence and incidence of asthma and asthma-like symptoms in a general population sample.

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1980;122:567-75.


House dust mite


Chronic emphysema


Chronic obstructive lung disease

Celli BR et al

Standards for the diagnosis and treatment of patients with COPD: a summary of the ATS/ERS position paper

Eur Resp 2004;23:932-946


Litmanovich D Boiselle PM Bankier AA

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Comparison Between Conventional Radiography and Computed Tomography

European Radiology 2008;19:537-551


British Lung Foundation ‘Breath Test’


Harms of Smoking and Health Benefits of Quitting


Occupational lung disease


Blanc PD Torén K

Occupation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic bronchitis: an update

Int J Tuberculosis Lung Dis 2007;11:251-257,






How to Live to 110: Longevity, living longer and the steps to take for a healthy old age