Racial and gender differences in susceptibility to tobacco smoke among patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Mark T. Dransfield, Jennifer J. Davis, Lynn B. Gerald, William C. Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Background: Although chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been considered a disease of Caucasian men, recent data show mortality rising faster among women and African-Americans. Some have suggested these groups are more susceptible to tobacco smoke. We examined this issue in our own population of COPD patients. Methods: Beginning in March 2003 we prospectively developed a COPD research database to facilitate recruitment for clinical trials. Enrollees are recruited from clinics and paid advertising and their demographics, medical/smoking histories, and spirometric data are recorded. We examined the smoking histories and pulmonary function of enrollees over 45, with {greater than or slanted equal to}20 pack-years of smoking, FEV1/FVC (forced expiratory volume forced vital capacity) <0.70, and a race-adjusted post-bronchodilator FEV1<80%. The primary outcome was the loss of lung function per pack-year smoked, or Susceptibility Index (SI), calculated using the formula: (% predicted FEV1-100)/pack-years. Results: A total of 585 patients enrolled during the study period and 330 met our inclusion criteria. Caucasians were older than African-Americans (63 vs. 58, P = 0.0003) and had more pack-years of smoking (57 vs. 43, P = 0.0003). There were no differences in lung function or bronchodilator reversibility among the racial or gender subgroups. Caucasians had less loss of lung function per pack-year smoked than African-Americans ( SI = - 1.02 % vs. -1.34%, P = 0.007) and men less than women ( SI = - 0.98 % vs. -1.21%, P = 0.001). Caucasian males appeared relatively protected from tobacco smoke ( SI = - 0.93 %), while African-American women appeared most susceptible ( SI = - 1.42 %). Conclusions: There are important differences in racial and gender susceptibility to tobacco smoke among patients with COPD. African-American females appear to be at highest risk and may benefit most from smoking cessation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1110-1116
Number of pages7
JournalRespiratory Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Race
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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