Jethro Tull leader Ian Anderson revealed his “days are numbered” after being diagnosed with the incurable lung disease COPD.

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He said the problem has been relatively well contained for the past 18 months, but that eventually he’ll struggle to find breath on a daily basis. The situation is certain to affect the 72-year-old’s famously aerobic stage performances.

“I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told anybody in public before,” Anderson told Dan Rather on a new episode of AXS TV’s The Big Interview. “Since it’s you, I will take this moment to say I am suffering from an incurable lung disease with which I was diagnosed a couple of years back. ... I do struggle; I have what are known as exacerbations – periods when I get an infection, it turns into severe bronchitis, and I have maybe two or three weeks of really a tough job to go out there onstage and play.”

You can watch the clip below.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a group of illnesses including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Symptoms include the progressive reduction of lung capacity as a result of inflammation in reaction to irritation, which is irreversible. More than 175 million people are thought to be suffering from the illness around the world.

Anderson reported that there hasn't been an exacerbation for some time, thanks to medication and ensuring he spent time in pollution-free environments. He asserted that the illness was caused by spending 50 years onstage with smoke machines. “Today they’re referred to as ‘hazers,’ as if they’re somehow innocent and not damaging to your lungs," he noted. "I really do believe that’s a very significant part of the problem that I have.”

He added that "my days are numbered. It’s not yet at the point it affects my day-to-day life – I can still run for the bus!” He also explained his approach to living with the disease: “Fight it all the way. Keep using as much of your lung power as you’re lucky enough to have. Push it to the limit all the time. The minute you sort of settle back and go, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ it’s a slippery slope.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Anderson discussed the reason he ended up playing the flute, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and his upcoming album. The episode of The Big Interview airs on AXS TV on May 13 at 8PM ET.


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