Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I might consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of House Resolution 1149, commemorating April 2008 as National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, tens of thousands of Americans nationwide are afflicted with this disease. However, currently, there is no cure, no definitive identification of exactly what causes sarcoidosis, no known measures to prevent it, and many people who have sarcoidosis do not exhibit any symptoms. So one might ask the question, what is sarcoidosis?
Sarcoidosis is characterized by the inflammation associated with the production of tiny lumps of cells in various organs of our bodies called granulomas because they look like grains of sugar or sand. These grain-like cells grow and clump together in an organ, affecting how the organ works.
The increase of these growths can inflame vital organs like the lung, brain, skin, eyes and nervous system, causing seizures, blindness, disfiguring lesions, heart failure and sometimes even death.
Sarcoidosis is overrepresented among African Americans compared to other races and ethnic groups, and afflicts African Americans more severely than other races in this country.
By documenting the prevalence of sarcoidosis among fluorescent light bulb workers in the 1940s and among U.S. Navy deck grinders, and recognizing that sarcoidosis disproportionately affects factory workers and was the first diagnosis for an overwhelming majority of rescue workers in New York after the September 11, 2001, attacks, researchers at the American Lung Association have uncovered a link between certain types of occupations and this disease.
More careful monitoring of a sarcoidosis diagnosis can dramatically improve public health, including the health of civilian and military workers. It is my hope that by passing this legislation, we will promote more careful examination and investigation of sarcoidosis diagnosis, and lead to the reduction of morbidity and mortality of workers, as well as reduce costs.
By supporting House Resolution 1149 designating April 2008 as National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month, we as the House of Representatives of these United States of America will demonstrate our acknowledgment of and commitment to the importance of raising awareness for the purpose of uncovering the causes of sarcoidosis disease, environmental and otherwise, and the promotion of strategies to support and protect our thriving workforce. I urge passage of this resolution.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. PLATTS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H. Res. 1149, expressing support for the designation of the month of April 2008 as National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month to bring attention to this disease, its potential causes, and the need for research on the causes and potential treatments.
Sarcoidosis is a noncontagious systemic disease of unknown origin that causes inflamed, microscopic growths called granulomas that often affect one or more systems in the body, including the lungs, skin, eyes, and nervous system. This disease is sometimes difficult to diagnose.
The American Lung Association reports that more than 90 percent of the people diagnosed with sarcoidosis experience some degree of problem with their lungs which may reduce their ability to absorb oxygen. Because of scarring caused by the inflammations, between 20 and 30 percent of people with pulmonary sarcoidosis end up with some degree of permanent lung damage. Although death is relatively uncommon, mortality can occur due to lung failure or if the disease causes serious damage to a vital
organ other than the lungs.
It has been observed that the disease occurs throughout the world in all races and both sexes, although gender and ethnicity may have an impact on the risk of developing sarcoidosis and its severity. Women and people of African descent, along with those of Scandinavian, German, Irish and Puerto Rican descent, are particularly prone to the disease and its more chronic and serious manifestations. The reasons for this are yet unknown.
The cause or causes of sarcoidosis remain a mystery. Our best medical evidence to date has not discovered the extent to which lifestyle, environment, or heredity affects the development, severity, or length of this disease.
The American Lung Association reports that most researchers believe that the disease involves an altered immune system. Some studies suggest sarcoidosis is caused by a respiratory infection triggered by bacteria or a virus, or even by exposure to burning wood. Others suggest possible occupational or environmental risks. And some studies also show that sarcoidosis may run within families, suggesting a genetic link.
Medical science has developed treatments that manage the symptoms of the disease, but no treatment is clearly effective for a prolonged period, and there is no cure.
Considering the broad reach of this disease, across people of different genders and ethnicities throughout the [Page: H2906]
world, and the lack of scientific evidence as to its cause or a cure, it is important to acknowledge the efforts of individuals and organizations to observe National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month and work on promoting awareness and the search for the cause and effective treatments. I am pleased, therefore, to stand in support of this resolution
and ask for a ``yes'' vote.
I reserve the balance of my time.