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November 22, 2007
Growing social and economic burden of lung disease underscores need for action: The Lung Association
New report highlights risk factors and impacts of lung disease

(Ottawa) - The Lung Association said today that the release of an important new report on lung disease in Canada demonstrates the growing burden and deadly impact of lung diseases including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), sleep apnea and lung cancer.  "Life and Breath: Respiratory Disease in Canada" released today by The Public Health Agency of Canada, highlights the most recent data available for certain major lung diseases.  As well, the Report cites the important risk factors of tobacco and the environment, and their impact on the lung health of Canadians. 

"This report provides Canadians with a snapshot of the burden that lung disease is placing on them socially and economically," said Nora Sobolov, President and CEO of The Lung Association, "As The Lung Association and stakeholders nationwide continue to move forward on building Canada's first-ever Lung Health Framework, research such as this serves to underscore the very real need for concrete action to decrease incidence of lung disease in our country".

Among the highlights of the Report:

路 Respiratory diseases place a considerable economic burden on the health care system, accounting for approximately 6.5% - $12 billion - of total direct health care costs ;

路 Asthma rates continue to climb, increasing among both sexes and in every demographic;

路 Both indoor and outdoor air quality are recognized as significant contributors to respiratory diseases.  This underlines the very real need to address air quality issues in order to lower the increasing rate of lung disease in Canada;

路 The increase in smoking among women over the last 50 years has resulted in an increased prevalence of diseases such as lung cancer and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) among women;

路 Tobacco usage remains the most important preventable risk factor for chronic lung diseases, demonstrating the need for active smoking cessation policies and programs designed to reduce tobacco-related lung diseases such as lung cancer and COPD.

The Respiratory Disease Report states that five serious respiratory diseases affect over three million Canadians - asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, tuberculosis (TB), and cystic fibrosis.  However, because comparable national data is unavailable for other conditions such as influenza, pneumonia, bronchiolitis and Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS), the total number affected by respiratory disease is much higher.  In the case of COPD, recent studies - including Lung Association research released on November 20, 2007 - have indicated that self-reported diagnosis may underestimate the prevalence of COPD by at least 50% in individuals 40 years of age and over.

The Respiratory Disease Report was done as a collaborative effort between the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Institute of Health Information, Health Canada, The Lung Association and Statistics Canada.

Established in 1900, The Lung Association is one of Canada's oldest and most respected health charities, and the leading national organization for science-based information, research, education, support programs and advocacy on lung heath issues.  

View the full report- "Life and Breath: Respiratory Disease in Canada"

For further information or to arrange an interview, media representatives may contact:

Cameron Bishop
Director of Communications and Government Affairs
The Lung Association
(613) 569-6411, ext. 223
cbishop@lung.ca