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Prevalence of COPD Greater Than Thought
Date:8/30/2007

Smoking, air pollution, aging are main causes of spread worldwide, study says

THURSDAY, Aug. 30 (HealthDay News) -- There are more people around the world suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than previously thought, an international team of researchers reports.

Worse yet, those numbers are bound to increase as the world's population continues to age, claims the study in the Sept. 1 issue of The Lancet.

"COPD is much more common than previous estimates would suggest," said study author Dr. A. Sonia Buist, chief of the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. "We did the study, because there is a huge disconnect between the public and the public health perception of the burden of COPD, and the reality."

COPD is under-diagnosed and under-treated, Buist said.

"COPD is a cumulative response of the lungs to the burden of all that's breathed in over a lifetime," she said. "As populations age, the prevalence of COPD and the burden of COPD is going to increase significantly."

In the study, Buist's group collected data on 9,425 people aged 40 and over who hailed from 12 different countries.

They found that the overall prevalence of severe COPD was 10.1 percent. Among men, it was 11.8 percent and for women, 8.5 percent. These figures contrast with another recent study that placed the overall burden of COPD at 4.3 percent, Buist noted.

In the United States, the overall prevalence of serious COPD is 10.1 percent, the researchers reported.

The number of people with COPD varied throughout world. Cape Town, South Africa, had the highest prevalence of COPD, with 22.2 percent of men and 16.7 percent of women affected, while Hanover, Germany, had the lowest prevalence, with 8.6 percent of men and 3.7 percent of women with serious COPD.

The difference in COPD between men and women is mostly due
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