, Volume 153, Issue 1, pp 1-20

Epidemiology of intrathoracic sarcoidosis in the Federal Republic of Germany

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Abstract

From a total group of 782 cases of intrathoracic sarcoidosis, detected in the German Forces (Deutsche Bundeswehr) from 1965–1969 (incidence 28 per 100,000), the 205 youngest cases of about 20 years of age were compared with 1519 unaffected control soldiers of the same age.

The regional distribution did not reveal differences between the North and the South of West Germany. Comparatively low rates of industrialized regions (Nordrhein-Westfalen, Saarland) and big cities (Hamburg, Bremen) can only partly explain the observed regional differences. The highest rate was found for Bayern (49.8 per 100,000), the lowest for Saarland (11.2 per 100,000).

Communities of more than 50,000 inhabitants show about half the incidence of small communities, suggesting a rural factor in the etiology. Low rates in communities of less than 500 inhabitants and peak rates in communities of 10,000 – 20,000 inhabitants in the birthplace and life-time residence studies point to a hypothetical urban triggering influence in the development of the disease.

Farmers show rates twice as high, and cabinetmakers three times as high as the average rate. Farmers seem to be exposed more to a sarcoidosis agent, whereas in the case of cabinetmakers a facilitating action of wood dust most probably has to be considered.

Morbidity rates in the various-sized communities and different professions of another group of patients (92 females and 102 males) of the sanatorium Tönsheide, Schleswig-Holstein, diagnosed from 1955 – 1970, confirmed the results obtained by the Bundeswehr study.

In cooperation with: Sanitätsamt der Bundeswehr, Bonn-Beuel Institut für Wehrmedizinalstatistik und Berichtswesen (Head: Oberstarzt Dr. Bestelmeyer) Lungenheilstätte Tönsheide, Schleswig-Holstein (Head: Leitender Medizinaldirektor Dr. Stecher)