U.S. Fibrotic Lung Disease Rates Rising

Men get pulmonary fibrosis more often, but it's becoming more lethal in women, study finds

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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 1, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- The rate of deadly pulmonary fibrosis in the United States has increased significantly in recent years and will continue to rise, University of Colorado researchers say.

Pulmonary fibrosis is a disease involving scarring of the lungs.

The researchers analyzed data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. They found that between 1992 and 2003, the age-adjusted death rate from pulmonary fibrosis increased by more than 28 percent in men and more than 41 percent in women. During that period, an increasing number of patients with pulmonary fibrosis died of the disease itself, rather than of coexisting conditions.

Of 28 million deaths studied by the researchers, more than 175,000 were linked to pulmonary fibrosis (PF).

"Rates rise with increasing age, are highest among older people, and are consistently higher in men than in women," the study authors wrote. "However, mortality rates in women with PF are climbing more rapidly than in men."

This may be due to changes in female and male smoking patterns, the researchers said. They also found that the PF-related death rate among whites was higher than that of blacks or Hispanics and that the PF-related death rate among whites was increasing more rapidly than in other racial/ethnic groups.

The study appears in the Aug. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

"Although once considered an orphan disease, our results suggest that PF should no longer be considered a rarity," noted study leader Dr. Amy Olson of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

Current PF death rates in the United States are higher than the death rates for multiple myeloma and bladder cancer.

"These findings indicate an important and growing problem and provide and argument for more resources focused on the pathobiology of, and therapy for, this disease," Olson concluded.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about pulmonary fibrosis.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, Aug. 1, 2007

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