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Our Future Health: Study seeks 5 million volunteers to map UK’s health and better fight diseases

The study will involve as many as 5 million people from the UK
The study will involve as many as 5 million people from the UK   -   Copyright  Canva   -  
By Luke Hurst

Millions of people in the UK have been invited to join what will be one of the largest health studies ever conducted.

The Our Future Health research programme aims to find new ways to prevent, detect, and treat different diseases.

More than 3 million letters are being sent out to members of the British public this autumn, inviting them to join the study.

Ultimately the study will have as many as 5 million people involved, making it the largest health research programme in the UK.

The study will provide new insights into a range of diseases, and has been welcomed by health chiefs across the UK.

Dr Chris MacDonald, the head of research at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said the data gathered by the study “will provide valuable insight into the health of the nation over time, enabling us to learn more about a wide range of diseases, including pancreatic cancer, and study the signals present in blood samples even many years before diagnosis”.

“This is particularly exciting for us as pancreatic cancer is frequently detected too late for treatment, with over 80 per cent of people diagnosed in the late stages. The insights gained through Our Future Health will be invaluable and will doubtless help to improve early diagnosis and save lives”.

Building a picture of health nationwide

The study will analyse health data and blood samples from the volunteers who join up.

This means there will be data on millions of people, who will be given the option to get future feedback on their health, including their risk of common diseases, which could be determined through their health data and analysis of their DNA.

They will also have the chance to see results of blood pressure and cholesterol measurements.

Researchers will be able to explore the uses of genetic risk scores in healthcare, and how they could improve screening programmes, diagnostic tests, and targeted treatments.

Ultimately, the study could help healthcare providers more accurately predict who is at higher risk of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, dementia and stroke.

Due to the number of volunteers who will be involved, those running the study believe it should accurately reflect the UK population and include people who have previously been under-represented in health research, including people from black, Asian, and other ethnic backgrounds.

Dr Raghib Ali, Chief Medical Officer of Our Future Health, said: “Today, millions of people spend many years of their life in poor health and too often we are only able to treat diseases when our patients start showing symptoms.

“Volunteering to join Our Future Health is an opportunity to change that. With the help of up to five million people, we’ll be able to dramatically improve our understanding of how to detect and prevent diseases so in the future everyone can live in good health for longer”.

Currently people over the age of 18 in the regions of West Yorkshire, West Midlands, Greater Manchester and Greater London are being invited to take part.

Those who volunteer will give consent for the programme to access their health records, and they will complete a questionnaire and book an appointment to have some tests and measurements taken.

People outside of those regions can join the programme immediately, and will be able to book an appointment when more locations are added in the next few months.