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Canadians with cystic fibrosis survive longer than Americans with the disease

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Canadians with cystic fibrosis on average live about 10 years longer than Americans with the same disease, according to a new study publish Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study suggests that access to lung transplants and health insurance may be factors that contribute to the gap. 

Both nations have maintained cystic fibrosis patient data registries since the 1970s, according to CNN.

"We're about finding the best care wherever it is and trying to understand, if Canada's got better outcomes, how do they do that so we can copy it," said Dr. Bruce Marshall of the U.S. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, which funded the study.

More than 30,000 Americans are living with cystic fibrosis, which is caused by inheriting a defective gene from each parent. The disease causes a sticky mucus to build up in the patient's lungs and organs, leading to life-threatening infections.

Just a few decades ago, children with the disease rarely survived elementary school, but now improvements in treatment have helped more patients live into adulthood. 

However, the median age of survival in Canada is almost 51, whereas the median age for U.S. patients is 41. 

"These statistics are sobering," said Dr. Anne Stephenson of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, who led the study.

Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic Fibrosis

Researchers noted that the higher number of transplant in Canada along with the country's universal health coverage could contribute to the country's higher survival rate. 

The survival rate aside, there is still no cure for the disease and "in both countries, there are still people who are very, very young who are dying," Stephenson noted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Canadians with cystic fibrosis survive longer than Americans with the disease

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