An estimated 5 percent of the world’s population has COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and in the U.S., COPD is the third leading cause of death after cancer and heart disease. For black men, COPD could be a double whammy death risk according to one recent study.
Researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston found that COPD is a much greater lung cancer risk factor for Black men than for White.
African Americans are more likely to develop and die from lung cancer than any other racial/ethnic group.
The lung cancer risk assessment designed specifically for African Americans confirms that COPD presents unique lung cancer risk factors for African Americans.
“The one size fits all risk prediction clearly does not work,” said Carol Etzel, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Black men with a prior history of COPD had a more than sixfold increased risk of lung cancer. This is approximately two-fold higher than the risk typically seen from COPD among whites.
10 things black men need to know about COPD
Startling research and statistics are a great place to start talking about COPD, but to keep the conversation going (and hopefully preserve lives), here are 10 COPD facts Black men need to know now.
1. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a blanket term for lung damaging disorders that make breathing difficult. There are two types of COPD: chronic bronchitis (the most common) and emphysema.
2. Smoking is the greatest risk factor for COPD, accounting for 80 percent of all COPD deaths.
3. Other causes of COPD include: environmental toxins (e.g., biomass fuels), recurrent lower respiratory tract infections, second hand smoke, severe asthma that may evolve into COPD and family history.
4. Nearly 12 million Americans with COPD don’t know they have it.
5. Chest tightness, frequent shortness of breath and coughing, difficulty sleeping, wheezing, weight loss and chronic fatigue can all be symptoms of COPD.
6. If you are exhibiting any symptoms associated with COPD, see your doctor immediately. Your doctor will perform lung function tests and prescribe medications if COPD is the diagnosis.
7. There is no cure for COPD.
8. To decrease your risk of COPD or slow its progression, quit smoking if you are a smoker and if you don’t smoke never start.
9. Daily exercise, improved nutrition and following your doctor’s treatment plan are all ways to manage your COPD and improve your well-being.
10. One in five Americans over the age of 45 years old has COPD.