7 Celebrities with COPD

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  • What Is COPD?

    What Is COPD?

    Chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD) describes two lung conditions: chronic bronchitis and emphysema, which make breathing difficult.

    A COPD patient can have one or both conditions, and most cases are caused by smoking. There’s no cure for COPD, but treatments and behavior modification can extend life expectancy.

    Click through the slideshow to discover which well-known people have suffered from COPD.

  • Christy Turlington

    Christy Turlington

    Christy Turlington was an internationally recognized face by age 21. By age 31, she was a COPD patient. Like a lot of young people who want to appear more “grown up,” Turlington began smoking as a teenager. The supermodel tossed tobacco when her father died of emphysema, but she still developed the life-long condition.

    Today, Turlington still models, makes films, and mothers two children. Her example proves that an active, rewarding life is attainable for lung disease patients.

  • Elizabeth Dawn

    Elizabeth Dawn

    British actress Elizabeth Dawn spent 34 years as the character Vera Duckworth on the popular soap opera Coronation Street. She retired from the demanding role when her COPD became too difficult to control.

    Dawn is currently the celebrity ambassador for the British Lung Foundation. Queen Elizabeth knighted her in 2000 in honor of Dawn’s charity work.

  • Grace Anne Dorney Koppel

    Grace Anne Dorney Koppel

    Attorney Grace Anne Dorney Koppel is the wife of one internationally known journalist and the mother of another. She’s also a spokesperson for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

    Koppel was diagnosed with COPD in 2001, after feeling breathless climbing stairs during a trip to Europe. Since then, she’s used her disease as an opportunity to start discussions about healthy aging.

  • Amy Winehouse

    Amy Winehouse

    Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in 2011, but she had been diagnosed with COPD three years before. Cigarettes may have added to her “smoky” voice, but they also put Winehouse at risk for emphysema. Winehouse’s case was defined as mild and treatable without further damage, but she chose not to stop smoking.

  • Johnny Carson

    Johnny Carson

    Johnny Carson, who grew up in an era of smoking, served as the icon of cool for a generation. The face of late night television kept an ashtray on his TV desk for himself and his non-stop round of celebrity guests.

    Like many U.S. Navy veterans, Carson received free cigarettes during his service in World War II. Many veterans of 20th century American wars believe their tobacco addiction began in the service. Sadly, he died from emphysema at age 79.

  • Marlboro Man Eric Lawson

    Marlboro Man Eric Lawson

    You may not know his name, but you probably have seen his face. Eric Lawson’s rugged good looks appeared on billboards, television, and in print ads as a smoking cowboy for Marlboro cigarettes.

    Lawson quit smoking when he was diagnosed with emphysema. He became a staunch anti-tobacco spokesperson and enjoyed many years as a father and grandfather before dying in January of 2014.

  • Coleman Young

    Coleman Young

    Politician and civil rights activist Coleman Young fought many battles. He combated segregation as a pilot in the Army Air Forces in World War II. Later, he pushed back when the House Un-American Activities Committee accused him of communism.

    Coleman then overcame the odds by becoming elected to public office. He served as one of Michigan’s first black state senators and Detroit’s longtime mayor. His final battle was with COPD, which he died from in 1997 at the age of 79.

  • Betty Sue Lynn

    Betty Sue Lynn

    World-famous country singer Loretta Lynn lost her daughter and one of her closest aides, Betty Sue, to emphysema.

    Also an accomplished songwriter, Betty Sue penned the 1960s hits Wine, Women, Song, Before I’m Over You, and The Home You’re Tearing Down for her mother. Despite her diagnosis, Betty Sue continued to work with her mother and care for her family until her death in July, 2013.

  • Not Glamorous

    Not Glamorous

    About 15 million Americans currently report they have COPD. Many of them were influenced to start smoking by the supposedly glamorous smoking habits of celebrities.

    COPD strikes without discriminating between age or celebrity status. Luckily, COPD patients are living longer, more fulfilling lives. Many of the disease’s well-known sufferers are speaking out on prevention and treatment.