LONDON (Reuters) - One in three people born in Britain in 2015 will develop dementia, according to an analysis commissioned by the charity campaign group Alzheimer's Research UK.
The study, conducted by the Office of Health Economics, shows "a looming national health crisis as the UK population ages", the charity said, and underlines the need for global efforts to develop treatments for the brain-wasting condition.
Dementia already affects some 850,000 people in Britain, and a total of 35.6 million worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
It is caused by brain diseases, most commonly Alzheimer's disease, which result in the loss of brain cells and affect memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, and since age is the biggest risk factor, the number of people with dementia is likely to rise as life expectancy increases.
"It's wonderful news that each generation is living longer ... but it’s important to ensure people can enjoy these extra years in good health," said Matthew Norton, Alzheimer's Research UK's head of policy.
Mark Dallas, a neuroscientist at Britain's University of Reading who specialises in Alzheimer's, said that as well as the size of the potential problem, this study also highlighted the gaps in research efforts and funds
"The startling numbers of people born this year that will be affected by dementia (put) it on a par with other life-changing diseases," he said. "However for every one dementia researcher there are five researching cancer. We must invest in innovative research to redress the balance."
(Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)