What Is Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis is the most common fatal genetic disease among Caucasians in the United States. An inherited chronic disease, it affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the U.S. and 70,000 worldwide. A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections. This same mucus obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food. To combat these issues people with CF depend on many drugs and supplements to survive.

In the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school. Today, advances in research and medical treatments have further enhanced and extended life for children and adults with CF. Many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond, but obviously this is far short of a normal life expectancy and more is left to do.

About 1,000 new cases of cystic fibrosis are diagnosed each year. One in 29 whites and one in 90 Asian-Americans carries the recessive gene that leads to the disease when matched with another defective gene. One of 3300 whites, one of 9,500 Hispanics, one of 15,300 African-Americans, and one of 32,000 Asian-Americans have cystic fibrosis.

About the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation:

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is the leading organization in the United States devoted to cystic fibrosis. It has more than 80 chapters and branch offices nationwide and funds and accredits 115 CF care centers across the country, including 94 adult care programs, which provide patients and families with vital treatment and other CF resources. In addition, 54 affiliate programs provide multi-disciplinary care for CF with Foundation support.

The Foundation is one of the most efficient organizations of its kind. In 2006, nearly 90% of every dollar of revenue raised was available for investment in CF research, care and education programs. The National Institutes of Health and many prominent publications, including Forbes and USAToday, have heralded our innovative business model, which fuels drug discovery and development programs.

Most of the information on this page was taken from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation web site.


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