Oh Canada, people think you’re all “please and thank you,” and maple syrup, but I know the truth:
You’re a fighter and that fight is most obvious in the Canadian statistics for cystic fibrosis (CF).
Not that long ago, CF was a disease to fear. Infants with CF would rarely survive into their double digits, let alone into adulthood. Over the years, that grim prognosis has had a complete turnaround.
Global life expectancy for cystic fibrosis has skyrocketed. Whereas kids were barely making it past their teens in the late 1980s, more than 40% of people with CF in the United States are over 18-years-old today, and the average life expectancy in the UK is 41 years-old and growing.
That’s a drastic change, and the quickness of these scientific advances has infused amazing optimism into the community. One respirologist Dr. Bradley Quon, even believes a cure is firmly within reach.
But Dr. Quon has a particular reason to be confident: he’s from Vancouver. That’s right, he’s from Canada, the Queen Country of CF.
Sounds hyperbolic? Kind of silly? Maybe, but it’s not honestly far off.
CF research and treatment are making amazing strides across the world, but those with the condition benefit from a history and reality in Canada that no other country has quite replicated.
In one of the greatest scientific discoveries from the last century, Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui and his team at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children found the gene that actually causes CF. Because of the increased understanding granted by this finding, scientists have been able to find hope at the bottom of Pandora’s Box.
- Canada is Kicking Butt with Life Expectancy
A few decades since Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui’s discovery and Canada is showing leaps and bounds improvement. Not only has CF life expectancy increased in Canada, their life expectancy is the highest of any country in the entire world. Not by a tiny margin either.
While the United States and UK are seeing average ages into the late 30s and 40s, the average life expectancy is over the hill in Canada, topping out past 50 years-old. And it’s only getting better.
- Adults are Finally Having Their Day
All you need to do is look at Dr. Quon’s adult clinic to see what these medical advances have meant for the CF community. When it opened its doors, there were a total of 20 patients in the clinic and the oldest was 28 years old. Now, there are 270 patients, several of whom are actually over 70 years-old. 70! And this is just one microcosmic example of a major change in the CF landscape: the fact that there are more adults with CF in Canada than there are children.
So what’s behind these statistics? What’s the difference between Canada and the rest of the world?
As for me, I can’t tell you whether or not to start working on your Canadian visa. All I can say is this: Any advancement in the medical community is a plus in my eyes, but if this were a fight, my money would be on Canada.