A six year follow up study of 750 aluminium smelter workers was undertaken to evaluate the relationship between the leucocyte count at the start of the study and the rate of decline in lung function. An inverse relationship between the leucocyte count and the forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) was present cross sectionally irrespective of cigarette smoking habit. The initial leucocyte count was also significantly related to the mean annual decline in FEV1 in smokers (p = 0.04) but not in former smokers or those who had never smoked. These observations suggest that the leucocyte count is a factor influencing the annual decline in FEV1 in smokers.
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