Harvard Women's Health Watch

COPD rates rise in women

Research we're watching

Decades ago, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was far more prevalent in men than in women. Now, the gender disparity has reversed. Today, women are 37% more likely than men to have COPD—which includes two lung conditions, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Women also account for more than half of COPD deaths each year.

According to a recent report from the American Lung Association, the reason for the switch is the increase in smoking rates among women, which started in the 1960s as tobacco companies began to aggressively target our gender (including the 1968 Virginia Slims "You've Come a Long Way Baby" campaign).

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »