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Genetic ancestry and the relationship of cigarette smoking to lung function and per cent emphysema in four race/ethnic groups: a cross-sectional study
  1. Rhea Powell1,
  2. Duncan Davidson1,
  3. Jasmin Divers2,
  4. Ani Manichaikul3,
  5. J Jeffrey Carr4,
  6. Robert Detrano5,
  7. Eric A Hoffman6,
  8. Rui Jiang1,
  9. Richard A Kronmal7,
  10. Kiang Liu8,
  11. Naresh M Punjabi9,
  12. Eyal Shahar10,
  13. Karol E Watson11,
  14. Jerome I Rotter12,
  15. Kent D Taylor12,
  16. Stephen S Rich3,
  17. R Graham Barr1,13
  1. 1Department of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York, USA
  2. 2Department of Biostatistical Sciences, Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA
  3. 3Center for Public Health Genomics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA and Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
  4. 4Department of Radiology, Division of Radiological Sciences, Wake-Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA
  5. 5Department of Radiology, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, California, USA
  6. 6Department of Radiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA
  7. 7Department of Biostatistics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  8. 8Department of Preventative Medicine, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  9. 9Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  10. 10Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA
  11. 11Department of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA
  12. 12Medical Genetics Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA
  13. 13Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr R Graham Barr, Department of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, PH 9 East - Room 105, 630 West 168th St., New York, NY 10032, USA; rgb9{at}


Background Cigarette smoking is the major cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema. Recent studies suggest that susceptibility to cigarette smoke may vary by race/ethnicity; however, they were generally small and relied on self-reported race/ethnicity.

Objective To test the hypothesis that relationships of smoking to lung function and per cent emphysema differ by genetic ancestry and self-reported race/ethnicity among Caucasians, African-Americans, Hispanics and Chinese-Americans.

Design Cross-sectional population-based study of adults age 45–84 years in the USA.

Measurements Principal components of genetic ancestry and continental ancestry estimated from one million genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms; pack-years of smoking; spirometry measured for 3344 participants; and per cent emphysema on computed tomography for 8224 participants.

Results The prevalence of ever-smoking was: Caucasians, 57.6%; African-Americans, 56.4%; Hispanics, 46.7%; and Chinese-Americans, 26.8%. Every 10 pack-years was associated with −0.73% (95% CI −0.90% to −0.56%) decrement in the forced expiratory volume in 1 s to forced vital capacity (FEV1 to FVC) and a 0.23% (95% CI 0.08% to 0.38%) increase in per cent emphysema. There was no evidence that relationships of pack-years to the FEV1 to FVC, airflow obstruction and per cent emphysema varied by genetic ancestry (all p>0.10), self-reported race/ethnicity (all p>0.10) or, among African-Americans, African ancestry. There were small differences in relationships of pack-years to the FEV1 among male Chinese-Americans and to the FEV1 to FVC ratio with African and Native American ancestry among male Hispanics only.

Conclusions In this large cohort, there was little to no evidence that the associations of smoking to lung function and per cent emphysema differed by genetic ancestry or self-reported race/ethnicity.

  • COPD epidemiology
  • Tobacco and the lung
  • Emphysema

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