Our Impact | American Lung Association

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Our Impact

Breathing is essential to life. From our first breath to our last, every breath counts. That's why the American Lung Association is dedicated to supporting healthy lungs and clean air, making an impact in your community and across the nation.

Working to Defeat Lung Cancer

Targeting a Gene Involved in Lung Cancer Drug Resistance

Supported by our Lung Cancer Discovery Award, Phuoc Tran, M.D., PhD is studying a gene that causes targeted therapies for certain lung cancers to become ineffective over time. Understanding how this gene causes drug resistance could help improve the effectiveness of certain lung cancer treatments.

Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer of both women and men in the United States, and approximately two-thirds of people diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked or are former smokers. In the last 39 years, the lung cancer death rate has risen 94 percent among women, while falling 32 percent among men.

LUNG FORCE, our public awareness and fundraising initiative, calls on all Americans to raise their voices to defeat this devastating disease. Our "Team Turquoise" is now more than 108,000 voices strong and growing every day since its inception in 2014.

The American Lung Association has committed to funding $10 million specifically for lung cancer research with a focus on projects designed to find cures, and prevent and relieve suffering associated with lung cancer.

Simultaneously, we are continually developing and improving support resources for lung cancer patients and their caregivers. Through LUNG FORCE Expos and Walks, online support resources and advocacy efforts, we are making a difference for the more than 500,000 Americans currently living who have ever been diagnosed with lung cancer and the more than 100,000 women who will be diagnosed every year.

Improving the Air We Breathe

Healthier Air for Kids with Asthma

American Lung Association healthy air advocate Laura Kellogg has good reason to fight for healthier air—her three children with asthma. She and her family were featured in a nationally-shared video by the Environmental Protection Agency highlighting the impact pollution has on children's health, and got to stand with President Obama when he announced the Clean Power Plan, a national effort to clean up power plant pollution and address climate change.

Air pollution poses a serious threat to our nation's health by harming our lung tissue and increasing our risk of lung disease. The American Lung Association works to protect public health from unhealthy air pollution by supporting the Clean Air Act and defending the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's authority to ensure that all Americans have air that is safe and healthy to breathe. This includes encouraging more protective limits on ozone pollution, reducing power plant carbon emissions, and cleaner gasoline and vehicle standards. Our annual State of the Air report analyzes data from official air quality monitors to easily compare and understand the air quality in your community, and what can be done to help improve the air we breathe!

Reducing the Burden of Lung Disease

More than 32 million Americans live with a chronic lung disease like asthma and COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Through education and support programs for those living with a lung disease, their caregivers and those that love them, the American Lung Association is continually working to reduce the burden of living with a lung disease.

Out of every dollar the American Lung Association receives, 87 cents goes to mission services, and in 2016 we provided nearly $6.5 million for researchers seeking treatments and cures for lung diseases, including asthma, COPD and lung cancer.

Asthma makes breathing difficult for 24 million Americans, including over 6 million children. While there is no cure, asthma can be managed and treated, helping those with the disease lead a healthier life. Through Asthma Basics, we share a comprehensive and clear overview of asthma and a full suite of tools and resources for those living with asthma, their caregivers, families and healthcare professionals.

About 8.5 million American adults have been diagnosed with COPD, an obstructive lung disease that over time makes it harder to breathe. However, this number may be much higher because more than 18 million adults have evidence of impaired lung function, and may have undiagnosed COPD. Through our local Better Breathers Clubs, patients and their caregivers are able to come together for an in-person support group and learn more about the free tools and resources that the American Lung Association provides, to help COPD patients manage their disease and lead healthier, more active lives.

The American Lung Association is the premier resource for any lung-related question from the common flu to lung cancer, pneumonia to smoking cessation help. Our national Lung HelpLine is staffed by registered nurses, respiratory therapists, certified tobacco treatment specialists and counselors, and fielded over 120,000 callers in 2016.

Our quest to find cures, and new and improved treatments for lung disease includes our Nationwide Research Program that has been a cornerstone of our organization for more than a century, and our Airways Clinical Research Network, the nation's largest not-for-profit network of clinical research centers dedicated to asthma and COPD treatment research.

Eliminating Tobacco Use and Tobacco-related Diseases

Every year, close to half a million people in the U.S. die from tobacco-caused disease, including more than 41,000 from exposure to secondhand smoke. Tragically, each day thousands of kids still pick up a cigarette for the first time. The cycle of addiction, illness and death continues. Through the American Lung Association's Freedom From Smoking® program, we have helped over a million Americans on their quest to live smokefree lives.

We are also working to strengthen laws and policies that protect everyone from secondhand smoke and the deadly effects of tobacco use. Our State of Tobacco Control report tracks progress at the state and federal level and offers solutions to reduce tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure across America. We are happy to report that 28 states and the District of Columbia have passed comprehensive laws prohibiting smoking in almost all public places and workplaces. But we won't stop until everyone in all 50 states can enjoy clean, smokefree air where they live, work and play.

Learn More

The American Lung Association is a highly trusted organization, committed to transparency and accountability. Learn more about our organization, and our impact, through our Annual Report.

Last updated July 27, 2017.

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