Deaths due to smoking-related disease among women increasing
MADISON -- More than five times as many Wisconsin women died of a disease often caused by smoking at the end of the 1990s than at the end of the 1970s, a new report says.
The report on the death rates from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was released Monday by the Wisconsin Public Health and Health Policy Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School and the American Lung Association of Wisconsin.
The report said the disease's death rate grew from 6.3 per 100,000 deaths in 1979 to 27 per 100,000 deaths in 1998.
In 1979, 154 women died because of the disease, compared to 893 women in 1998.
The death rate among men has begun to decline, from 37 deaths per 100,000 in 1979 to a peak of 53 deaths per 100,000 in 1991 and down to 49 deaths per 100,000 in 1998.
COPD refers to common illnesses, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, that prevent air from flowing properly. There is no cure.
The American Lung Association estimated about 85 percent of COPD deaths are caused by smoking.
"The public health burden from smoking and COPD is substantial yet few people talk about it," said Dr. Patrick Remington of the UW Medical School.
Researchers suggested the increased popularity of smoking after World War II among women and the popularity of low tar and low nicotine cigarettes may have led to the increase in COPD deaths among women.
"Smokers smoke a cigarette for a dose of nicotine," Remington said. "With a low tar, low nicotine cigarette, you actually smoke more and individuals will inhale deeper and hold the smoke longer."