A new report issued from the European Respiratory Society (ERS) reveals that conditions of the lung cause 1 in 10 deaths in Europe, with mortality as a result of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) expected to rise in the future.
The report, called The European Lung White Book, draws from the latest research and statistics to provide burden, cost and risk information about respiratory diseases.
According to the findings, direct and indirect costs from lung conditions cost European countries an estimated 390 billion Euros (USD 511 billion) each year.
Additionally, there are four respiratory disease categories, which are responsible for one in six deaths, that appear in the top 10 causes of mortality worldwide:
COPD, a lung disease causing shortness of breath and coughing, costs €6,147 (USD 8,059) on an individual basis.
The report notes that the major burden of lung disease is due to smoking and respiratory infections, which are potentially preventable.
Although tobacco smoking rates have fallen since the 1970s in countries that have the highest mortality from respiratory diseases - such as Denmark and the UK - long-term effects of high smoking rates from the past continue to result in more lung cancer and COPD cases today, the report shows.
On the economic burden front, results reveal that the total health and societal cost per case of lung cancer in Europe is over €360,000 (USD 472,000).
Cases of COPD and asthma create an even greater burden because they are so common. Each individual case of COPD costs €6,147 (USD 8,059) each year, while individual cases of asthma cost €7,443 (USD 9,756).
Professor Francesco Blasi, president of the ERS, says:
"Although asthma causes few deaths, it is an important cause of disability. There are no well-informed projections of the future burden of asthma, but [...] asthma is likely to remain a major burden on European societies for decades to come."
Preventing lung conditions
Researchers from the report note that there are preventative measures for many of the respiratory conditions included in the study, but they need to be more widely used. The most preventable cause, they say, is smoking.
Other causes, however, are not immediately preventable. The study authors say that a major contributor to respiratory disease is poor air quality, and many countries' standards for indoor and outdoor air fall short of the standards recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Preventing and controlling respiratory infections through immunization programs and careful use of antibiotics are other ways to help prevent and control respiratory infections, the authors suggest.
Prof. Blasi adds:
"Both the prevention and treatment of lung diseases will need to be improved if their impact on longevity, quality of life of individuals and economic burden on society are to be reduced in Europe and worldwide."
The burden of lung disease, in particular, is as large today in Europe as it was in 2000, notes the report, and it is projected to stay this way for the next 20 years. Though a decrease in deaths from lung infections will occur, it will be followed by a rise in lung cancer and COPD mortality.
November is National COPD Awareness Month, an opportunity for people and organizations to become more aware of the disease, which the American Lung Association says is the third leading cause of death in the US.
According to the organization, over 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, while an estimated 12 million others have the disease but have not been properly diagnosed.
Medical News Today recently reported that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new inhaler for COPD patients.