Microscopy & Microtechniques

What is the Biggest Killer in England and Wales?

Nov 28 2016 Read 1165 Times

With the average life expectancy growing, you might think medicine is doing the trick. And in most cases, you would be right. Medical research is constantly making new breakthroughs and curing more life-threatening diseases. But there are some issues that are yet to be dealt with, and – with that in mind – new research has been conducted to find the biggest cause of death in England and Wales. So what is it?

60,000 deaths per year

Lung cancer? Heart disease? Stroke? No. Actually, the biggest cause of death in England and Wales is dementia. Accounting for over 60,000 deaths per year, the disease has overtaken the likes of heart disease and lung cancer – previously the top candidates. It’s a shocking 11.6% of the total 529,655 deaths in 2015.

Why? It’s actually linked to the previously mentioned growth of life expectancy. More research into the big diseases like lung cancer has caused their mortality rates to decrease, opening up the possibility of something else taking over. On the flip side, the aging population as a result of this medical prowess has meant dementia is actually more becoming more prevalent.

While it’s not an inevitability as people get older, it does become more likely. And because it was not previously considered life threatening, the levels of research into the disease have been low in comparison with typical ‘killer’ illnesses.

Making an impact

The research, which was conducted by the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS), considers different forms of cancer as different diseases. Together, they would be the biggest cause of death – with 27.9% – and there are some specific cancers that are still the most fatal on their own for certain groups. Breast cancer is still the leading cause of death for women aged 35 to 49, for instance. But it’s dementia – including Alzheimer’s disease – that has led to the most deaths overall.

Now that we have confirmation of how deadly dementia can be, there’s no doubt we need more research and better treatments for the disease. Stem cell research is one potential avenue for researchers, if they get the necessary funding, as discussed in ‘Stem Cell Promise – Research Brings Autograft Revolution Closer’. “We urgently need treatments that can stop or slow the diseases that drive this devastating condition… Dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing, it’s caused by diseases that can be fought through research, and we must bring all our efforts to bear on what is now our greatest medical challenge,” said Hilary Evans of Alzheimer’s Research UK.

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