The lungs: Quick facts
Did you know…?
Medical words relating to the lungs derive from the Latin word pulmonarius, meaning "of the lungs", or with
pneumo- (from Greek πνεύμω "breath")1.
Your lungs are breathtaking…
• They can propel a sneeze at over 100mph (160 km/h)2.
• The surface area of the lungs is roughly the same size as a tennis court3.
• We lose about half a litre of water a day through breathing4.
• We breathe an average of 8 litres of air per minute, even when sitting – this is the equivalent of 4 average sized
bottles of coca-cola5.
• The lungs breathe about 400 cubic feet of air each day.
• The lungs are the only organ in the body that can float on water6.
• There are over 600 million tiny air sacs or ‘alveoli’ in your lungs7.
• Over 10,000 litres of air go in and out of your lungs everyday8.
• [Insert locally relevant interesting fat about lungs as appropriate]
But they need to be taken care of…
• More than 1.4 million cases of lung cancer are diagnosed each year worldwide9.
• Every 30 seconds someone, somewhere in the world dies of lung cancer. This is equal to 3,000 people every day
• If diagnosed early enough, lung cancer may be curable11.
• [Omsert locally relevant fact about lung cacer
Pushing the limits of the lungs
• The 1968 Olympics were held in Mexico City at an altitude of 7300 feet – where the average air pressure is 25%
lower than at sea level. This may explain why four of the five endurance track events held there were won by men
who came from high altitudes12,13.
• With practice, the lungs can hold a breath for up to 10 minutes – this was demonstrated recently by the free diver
Tom Sietas, who held his breath underwater for 10 minutes and 12 seconds14.
• The women’s free diving world record was recently set by New Zealander Kathryn McPhee who broke the record
on 9 August 2008, swimming to a depth of 151 metres in 2 minutes and 48 seconds – a greater depth than the
height of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome14.
• The Guinness World Record for the most powerful lungs is held by Manjit Singh, from the UK, who managed to
inflate a meteorological balloon to a diameter of 8 feet, in 42 minutes15.
New hope for living with lung cancer
• There are currently almost 1,000 clinical trials taking place in the world studying treatments for lung cancer16.
• Today there are more than 20 phase III trials ongoing evaluating potential drugs for the treatment of lung cancer16.
• The past decade of biomedical research has provided an enormous amount of information about lung cancer and
its molecular processes. About 50 different components of molecular function are being targeted by for the
treatment of lung cancer, including currently available drugs and those being tested in clinical trials, offering great
new hope for patients17.
• Over [insert local statistic] treatments for lung cancer have been approved in [insert country name] during the last
• Roche is committed to developing new medicines to treat lung cancer [to be used if appropriate].
Locally relevant facts
We recommend supplementing these facts with local statistics relevant to your market and campaign. The International
Agency for Cancer Research webpage (http://www-dep.iarc.fr/) is one useful source of oncology data. Once on the site click
on the Globocan 2002 link on the right-hand side of the page to find disease statistics in your country.
1. Wikipedia – the lungs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lungs
2. Washington Post. Anatomy of a Sneeze. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/health/interactives/cold/
3. British Lung Foundation: The way your lungs work. http://www.lunguk.org/you-and-your-lungs/you-and-your-
4. Amazing facts about the human body. http://www.thetech.org/bodyworld/humanbody_facts.pdf
5. How stuff works: http://health.howstuffworks.com/question98.htm
6. Habits of the Heart: The Lungs. http://www.smm.org/heart/lungs/top.html
7. Looking at your Lungs. http://www.kidshealth.org/kid/body/lungs_noSW.html
8. Your lungs – take a deep breath, Australian Dept of Veteran Affairs.
9. Parkin, DM, et al. Global cancer statistics 2002. CA Cancer J Clin, 2005; 55: 74-108.
10. WHO factsheet: Cancer: key facts. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/index.html.
11. Stewart BW and Kleihues P. World Cancer Report. IARC Press, Lyon, pp.183-7, 2003.
12. The tech.org: http://www.thetech.org/exhibits/online/everest/about/physiology.htm
13. Air Pollution in Mexico City: http://www.sbg.ac.at/ipk/avstudio/pierofun/mexico/air.htm
14. AIDA http://www.aida-international.org/
15. Guinness World Record most powerful lungs:
16. Clinical trials.gov: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?term=lung+cancer&recr=Open
17. Research and markets: http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reportinfo.asp?report_id=316584