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Lung Association and Canadian Thoracic Society begin building lung health research agenda for Canada

November 25, 2009

Research into lung disease requires better investment, focus: Lung Association
Lung Association and Canadian Thoracic Society begin building lung health research agenda for Canada

(Ottawa) Recognizing the need to position Canada as a global leader in the fight against lung disease, the Canadian Lung Association together with the Canadian Thoracic Society have launched the development of a national research agenda that aims to prioritize areas of significant need as it relates to the treatment and management of lung disease. The groups will begin outlining the strategy in a two-day conference beginning November 26, 2009, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

A national research agenda that prioritizes the fight against lung disease is critical if Canada is to make progress in fighting diseases such as asthma, COPD and other respiratory diseases, said Heather Borquez, President and CEO of The Canadian Lung Association.

The following key statistics underscore the need for a national research plan aimed at developing innovative solutions that help Canadians breathe easier:

- At least 6 million Canadians one out of every five people suffer from asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), lung cancer, sleep apnea and other forms of lung disease;
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Canada has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world, including 15.6% among children aged 4 to 11 and 8.3% of Canadians 12 years of age or older;
- Research by The Lung Association indicates that 3 million Canadians may have COPD the WHO estimates that, by 2030, COPD will be the third leading cause of death in the world;
- Tuberculosis rates among Aboriginal peoples are more than 25 times higher than those of other people born in Canada;
- COPD affects 4.8 percent of women and 3.9 percent of men and since 2000, female COPD mortality rates have risen at double the rate of breast cancer;
- Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of lung disease in Canada yet, each year, 37,000 Canadians die as a result of tobacco-related diseases. This represents 16.6% of all Canadian deaths;
- In 2008, the cost of air pollution in Canada was estimated to be $10 billion and will lead to approximately 21,000 premature deaths.

What these statistics dont reveal is the tremendous economic impact of respiratory disease on the Canadian economy and health care system. The estimated total economic burden of direct and indirect costs of respiratory diseases in Canada is over $12 billion annually.

While Canada has some of the best researchers in the world in the area of respiratory health, we have come up short in investing in lung research, technologies and treatments that could be of benefit to Canadians. Since 1999, the federal government has invested only 3.9% of total federal research dollars into the causes and exacerbations of lung disease. By comparison, diabetes research has received 22.6% of funding, cancer 14.8%, cardiovascular 14% and HIV/AIDS 4.6%.

Our aim is to build a national research agenda that will lay the groundwork for sustainable funding into the causes, treatments and cures for lung disease, said Dr. Denis ODonnell, President of the Canadian Thoracic Society, Canada needs more clinician scientists in Respirology and more lung health research to find innovative ways to treat, cure and manage lung disease. A national research agenda for lung disease simply can not wait.

The need to stimulate research in lung health and disease is a cornerstone of the recent National Lung Health Framework, which has prompted an initial investment of $10 million by the federal government.

Working with the federal government we have made tremendous progress in the fight against lung disease, adds Anne Van Dam, Director of Research for the Canadian Lung Association, The development of a national lung health research agenda is another step forward in improving the lung health of all Canadians.

About The Lung Association
Established in 1900, The Lung Association is one of Canadas 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.

About The Canadian Thoracic Society
The Canadian Thoracic Society (CTS) promotes lung health by supporting the respiratory community through leadership, collaboration, research, learning and advocacy, and promoting the best respiratory practices in Canada.

For more information, media representatives may contact:
Cameron Bishop
Director of Government Affairs and Media Relations
The Lung Association
613-569-6411, ext 223

For more information contact:
Cameron Bishop
Director of Government Affairs and Media Relation
Canadian Lung Association
Phone: 613-569-6411, ext. 223

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