New research is uncovering evidence that ethnicity may influence the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.
One recent study, for example, found that among patients with advanced COPD, the African-Americans had equally severe disease as did the white Americans, even though they were younger, had started smoking later in life, and had smoked less. This finding is at odds with the prevailing view that COPD tends to be more severe in whites. “Our data may reflect a genuine biological difference in the effect of smoking on African-Americans and whites, or they could be artifactual,” acknowledged lead author Wissam M. Chatila, MD.
“More research will be needed to confirm our findings,” said Dr. Chatila, an Associate Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia. In an interview, Dr. Chatila said that he is certain his study pertains to COPD and that it is highly unlikely that undetected asthma could have influenced the results. “We retrospectively identified patients who were evaluated for lung volume reduction or lung transplantation—procedures used to treat COPD but never asthma,” he explained.