Britons are officially three times more likely to die of the incurable lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), than in a road accident. Despite this, the disease is so unheard of and underfunded in research doctors still don’t know what causes it.
It was revealed earlier this year that more than twice as many people are living with IPF (32,500) than figures from the Department of Health suggests. As a result, the British Lung Foundation (BLF) has now announced it will spend a quarter of its entire research budget on the condition. The announcement has been made at the start of IPF Week, a worldwide week of awareness raising.
Though most people have never heard of it, IPF claims 5,300 lives every year, more than road deaths at 1,732, and major cancers including ovarian cancer, skin cancer and leukaemia. The condition has no known cause, no cure, and average life expectancy after diagnosis is just three short years. Despite this, research into IPF is drastically under-funded.
The BLF has now taken the decision to put £300,000 into IPF research over the next 12-18 months, a quarter of the £1.2m on average it spends on research a year.
Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive, British Lung Foundation said:
People tell us how difficult life can be, becoming breathless doing the things we do every day, like getting dressed, and knowing there is no cure. That’s why we’re giving £300,000 to IPF research – to find effective treatments and give people hope.
We’re also urging people not to ignore its main symptom - breathlessness. If you get out of breath doing everyday things, take our online breath test to see if you might need to see a doctor.
Along with organisations across the world this month, the BLF are encouraging people to show their support, so that this disease can benefit from the huge rise in awareness and research donations that has led to real progress being made in other deadly diseases, such as HIV and breast cancer.
Dr Toby Maher, Leading IPF Researcher and Trustee of the British Lung Foundation said:
As a researcher in IPF, I am thrilled that the British Lung Foundation continues to be one of the UK’s largest funders of research in this field. As with all research more funds are needed to bring laboratory findings to clinical trials. Finding the causes of pulmonary fibrosis and trying to identify how and why people respond differently to treatment is something I am currently researching. It is vital that the BLF continues to encourage more researchers to work towards finding better treatments for this awful disease. Especially as IPF causes 8,000 hospital admissions a year and significantly reduces quality of life as the disease progresses.
Summary of facts about IPF
- IPF causes progressive scarring of the lungs making it increasingly difficult for a person to breathe
- Around 32,500 people are living with IPF, and around 6,000 new cases are diagnosed a year
- IPF claims 5,300 lives, equating to almost one in 100 UK deaths a year
- There is no known cause or cure, and current treatments only slow down the progression.
If worried about breathlessness, listen to your lungs and join the 140,000 people who have taken the charity’s online breath test www.blf.org.uk/breathtest
To donate to help the charity fund more research text ‘IPF’ to 70500 to donate £5.