Medical Blogs

March 3, 2007

Statement On The Passing Of Congressman Charlie Norwood (R-GA), By John Kirkwood, American Lung Association President & CEO

The American Lung Association's volunteers and staff wish to express our deepest condolences to family of U.S. Congressman Charlie Norwood, DDS (R-GA), who died today after a long battle with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer. A long-time champion for all patients, Representative Norwood inspired lung disease patients across the country when he returned to Congress following his lung transplant in 2004. American Lung Association staff and volunteers fondly remember Representative Norwood's keynote speech to our national conference in May 2002.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a form of interstitial lung disease. When a person has idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, the lung is affected in three ways. First, the lung tissue is damaged in some known or unknown way. Second, the walls of the air sacs in the lung become inflamed. Finally, scarring (or fibrosis) begins in the interstitium (or tissue between the air sacs), and the lung becomes stiff. The American Lung Association supports an array of research into the basic cellular and molecular processes that underlie the inflammatory response in the lungs that precedes pulmonary fibrosis. Our researchers are also examining new ways to prevent the lung scarring that follows this type of inflammation and are looking for new treatments for lungs damaged excess scar tissue formation.

Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the U.S., and the American Lung Association is committed to funding vital research to help fight this devastating disease including our Lung Cancer Discovery Award which is specifically directed at developing improved treatments. Lung cancer may also be the most tragic cancer because in most cases, it might have been prevented. Nearly 90 percent of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking. The more time and amount you smoke, the greater your risk of lung cancer. But if you stop smoking, the risk of lung cancer decreases each year as normal cells replace abnormal cells.

About the American Lung Association

Beginning our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates continue to increase while other leading causes of death have declined. The American Lung Association funds vital research on the causes of and treatments for lung disease. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is "Improving life, one breath at a time." For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA ( 1-800-586-4872) or log on to

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