Respiratory symptoms in Greenlanders living in Greenland and Denmark: a population-based study

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Knowledge of respiratory diseases in an arctic population with increasingly westernized lifestyles provides the opportunity to obtain new information in this field.


To investigate the influence of environment and lifestyle on the presence of respiratory symptoms in a genetically homogenous population sample living under widely differing conditions.


Greenland is a part of Denmark, but its climate is mainly arctic, as opposed to the temperate climate of southern Denmark. A random sample of Inuits who had immigrated to Denmark and Inuits from 3 towns and 4 remote settlements in Greenland were studied. Of the 6,695 invited Inuits, 4,162 (62%) completed a questionnaire concerning respiratory symptoms and risk factors.


Of the 4,162 Inuits, 847 (20%) had respiratory symptoms. Bronchitis was more frequent in the areas of Greenland than in Denmark (26% and 20% vs 13%; P = .001), whereas the pattern of asthma was contradictory (6% and 9% vs 10%; P = .057). Bronchitis was associated with living area (P = .01), tobacco consumption (P < .001), and asthma (P = .001), whereas asthma was related to living area (P = .03), hay fever (P < .001), low intake of whale (P = .04), years in Denmark (P = .09), and bronchitis (P < .001).


Inuits' prevalence of bronchitis and asthma differed, with a higher frequency of bronchitis and a lower frequency of asthma in Inuits living in Greenland compared with Denmark. Living conditions or areas, diet, tobacco use, climate, and atopy are important for the presence of symptoms.


Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2004;93:76- 82.

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