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Report: Smoking Affects Women Much More than Men

A new report by the American Lung Association says millions of women may have undiagnosed lung problems, and that they are more susceptible than men to the effects of tobacco smoke.
A new report by the American Lung Association says millions of women may have undiagnosed lung problems, and that they are more susceptible than men to the effects of tobacco smoke.
June 7, 2013

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A report from the American Lung Association says women are 37 percent more likely to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, than men – and that millions of women have symptoms that have gone undiagnosed.

Dr. Steven Brown, a pulmonary specialist who has practiced for 25 years, says smoking is a huge issue. He says the first wave of women with COPD was during World War II, when women began smoking at work.

"And these are women who were, unfortunately, duped by tobacco marketing during the 1960s,” he says, “where tobacco was linked to the women's movement, very inappropriately."

The report says since 2000, COPD has claimed the lives of more women than men, and Brown says women now account for 60 percent of the patients he sees.

The number of deaths among women from COPD has more than quadrupled since 1980.

COPD is now the nation's third-leading cause of death, according to the American Lung Association.

Brown says women are more susceptible than men to the problems associated with tobacco smoke because their lung size is smaller.

"A pack of cigarettes in a woman is going to be spread out over a smaller area and therefore, is going to be more concentrated," he explains.

Brown says the best way to combat this problem is with education. He adds states also need to continue to legislate against the effects of second-hand smoke.


Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA