UK’s largest health research programme calls for volunteers to help tackle growing burden of cancer
Our Future Health aims to transform the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer, and other conditions like dementia, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. With up to five million volunteers right across the UK, the goal is to create one of the most detailed pictures ever of people’s health.
With a cross-section of people across the UK taking part, Our Future Health will help researchers to understand how cancer progresses in people of different ages, ethnicities and levels of income. For example, cancer has a higher incidence rate among people from the most deprived communities*.
Anyone over the age of 18 can join the programme by signing up online at ourfuturehealth.org.uk. Volunteers will have the chance to find out more about their health, including their blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In the future, they will also be offered information on their risk of some diseases.
Some volunteers have already volunteered in the hope that Our Future Health will answer their questions about their own history of cancer. Volunteer Seren Hughes from Manchester was diagnosed with ovarian cancer aged just 19. She said: “I’ve no idea what caused the cancer. The surgeons said it was one of those cases where it just happens.” This motivated Seren to join Our Future Health in 2022: “The level of data that comes from mass studies like this is incredible, it gives people what they need to make big decisions and find new answers. To be able to push research and try to understand these mysteries – I’d love to know why what happened to me happened.”
Chief Medical Officer of Our Future Health, Dr Raghib Ali OBE, said: “By collecting information from millions of volunteers, we have an opportunity to revolutionise how we tackle cancer and other diseases. Large-scale population studies have often been utilised in cancer research – so with the ground-breaking scale of Our Future Health, we can make a huge impact on cancer prevention, detection and treatment.”
Our Future Health is rolling out on a region-by-region basis to invite adults across the UK to join the programme. People who don’t live near a location where Our Future Health appointments are currently available can sign up now and be notified when new appointment locations become available.
New locations will be announced on the Our Future Health website and social media channels.
Dr Matthew Hobbs, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “This World Cancer Day, it’s worth remembering that in the UK a man dies from prostate cancer every forty-five minutes. That’s why it’s vital that we work to transform diagnosis of the disease as quickly as possible.
“With five million people taking part, Our Future Health could be revolutionary. This huge pool of data will be a crucial tool for advancing our future research and giving us a better understanding of how genetics determine a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer. In addition to our own investments in research to improve diagnosis of prostate cancer we look forward to continuing to work with the Our Future Health team, and other partners in this programme, to drive as much benefit for men at risk of prostate cancer today, and in the future.”
Our Future Health is an ambitious collaboration between the public sector, life sciences companies and leading UK health charities including: Action Against Age-related Macular Degeneration, Alzheimer’s Society, Asthma + Lung UK, Blood Cancer UK, Breast Cancer Now, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK, Kidney Research UK, Pancreatic Cancer UK, Parkinson’s UK, Prostate Cancer UK, Royal Osteoporosis Society and Stroke Association.
Interviews available with spokespeople and case studies on request.
Notes to editors:
About Our Future Health
Our Future Health is a collaboration between the public, private and charity sectors. It aims to be the UK’s largest health research programme, bringing people together to develop new ways to prevent, detect and treat disease.
Our Future Health is committed to the highest standards, policies and processes that protect participants’ confidentiality, whilst maximising the opportunity to help researchers to tackle serious diseases. Participants’ data will be de-identified and held securely in trusted research environments that meet strict security criteria. There will be a robust and transparent access process to ensure appropriate research access to Our Future Health data and samples for registered researchers. All researchers will be held to the same standards.
Our Future Health is a member of the UK Health Data Research Alliance, the independent alliance of leading healthcare and research organisations establishing best practice for the ethical use of UK health data for research at scale.
Our Future Health is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (number 12212468) and a charity registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (charity number 1189681) and OSCR, Scottish Charity Regulator (charity number SC050917).
*Cancer Research UK, https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/incidence#heading-Zero. Accessed January 2023.