Black smokers appear to get sicker faster than Whites
PHILADELPHIA - Black smokers who suffer from a disease that slowly robs them of breath appear to get sicker faster than Whites, according to a study at Temple University.
Researchers looked at 160 people referred to Temple's lung clinic with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, an umbrella term for lung damage caused by two respiratory illnesses, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The group was split evenly among Blacks and Whites and men and women, and all had what was classified as "moderate to severe" COPD.
Black smokers with COPD started smoking later in life and smoked less, yet developed the disease at a younger age. The study appears in the current issue of the journal Chest.
"The findings were somewhat surprising because COPD has been seen as a disease of Whites," said the author, Dr. Wissam M. Chatila of Temple University School of Medicine. "Traditionally, the prevalence and mortality rates have been higher in Whites than Blacks."
COPD is the nation's No. 4 killer, taking more than 123,000 Americans in 2001.
"The real finding here, and it's going to need lots of confirmation, is that cigarettes seem to have a greater deleterious effect on Blacks," said Dr. Norman H. Edelman, of the American Lung Association.