In China, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in people over the age of 40 is much more prevalent than previously thought, according to researchers in Guangdong.
Their findings appear in the second issue for October of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society. The investigators administered spirometric tests and questionnaires to a cross-sectional population in seven provinces/cities in China. Of the more than 20,000 who completed these materials, 8.2% of respondents over 40 met the criteria for having COPD.
Men were more than twice as likely to have COPD as women. But while smoking was, and is, a significant risk factor for COPD in China, only 24% of the females with COPD were smokers, as opposed to nearly 82% of males, suggesting that womens risk might be more strongly associated with the use of biomass fuels, especially for cooking in poorly ventilated areas.
Although China has experienced remarkable modernization over the past two decades, in many rural areas residents continue to use wood, charcoal or coal for fuel, leading to significant biomass exposure, especially in women, who perform most of the cooking duties, wrote Don D. Sin, M.D., and Wan Tan, M.D., of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, in an editorial in the same issue of the journal.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first large-scale, population-based epidemiologic study on COPD prevalence in China, wrote Nanshan Zhong, M.D., of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases at The First Affiliated Hospital in Guangzhou Medical College, and lead researcher.
According to an estimation by the World Health Organization, COPD ranks first among the burdens of diseases in China and accounts for one million deaths and five million disabilities each year.
The researchers selected provinces and cities from a wide range of geographic areas with
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American Thoracic Society