Alzheimer’s Research UK launch

The Alzheimer’s Research Trust became Alzheimer’s Research UK at the House of Commons

Posted on 8th February 2011

Alzheimer’s Research UK launches as public dementia fears spiral

The Alzheimer’s Research Trust became Alzheimer’s Research UK at a launch at the House of Commons on 9 February 2011. The launch arrives at a time when new UK public polls reveal that we fear dementia more than cancer and other serious health conditions. In spite of the massive public concern around dementia, research into the condition, which affects 820,000 people, is still desperately underfunded.

The new YouGov polls of over 2000 people were designed to gauge public perceptions of dementia. The polls revealed the extent of our concern:

  • 31% of respondents feared dementia most, with 27% fearing cancer most and 18% fearing death most.
  • Dementia fears extend to all ages. Over half (52%) of UK adults aged 30-50 fear dementia for their parents, compared to 42% fearing cancer and 33% heart attack.
  • Among retirees, 34% worry about health the most, and more than other issues, such as money (33%). When asked specifically which conditions they worry about, 52% worry about dementia, 33% worry about cancer and 30% worry about stroke.

Research is the only answer to dementia and UK scientists punch well above their weight on the world stage, but new figures from Alzheimer’s Research UK reveal a bleak picture of UK research capacity. For every research UK scientist working on dementia, six work on cancer.

Dementia research funding is far behind spending on other serious diseases, yet dementia costs the UK economy £23bn, more than cancer (£12bn) and heart disease (£8bn) combined.

With dementia research capacity and funding bottom of the pile, Alzheimer’s Research UK is appealing for public support and Government action to boost the UK’s research response to the dementia crisis.

Speaking ahead of the charity’s re-launch, Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Chief Executive Rebecca Wood said that “public concern around dementia is at an all time high, yet dementia research is still the poor relation in both capacity and investment. We have such brilliant research talent in the UK which could make real inroads into defeating dementia with more support – our brains depend on theirs.”

The call to action was echoed by Alzheimer’s Research UK Patron Sir Terry Pratchett who said that “Alzheimer’s is a large number of small tragedies usually played out behind closed doors, so in spite of the numbers living with it, the world still doesn’t take much notice. When the world was shocked by HIV in the eighties, we saw a crash programme of research which has helped tame it enormously. We need the same kind of aggressive action on dementia now.”

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