Researchers aim to discover why Stranraer is a hotspot for lung disease

A nationwide survey is being carried out for the first time into chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Thursday, 11th February 2021, 11:19 am
The number of cases of COPD in Stranraer are well above the national average

The online study into the debilitating lung disease is being conducted by Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation Partnership.

Scientists are already working to understand why Stranraer is an unexplained hotspot for COPD where it affects three per cent of the population compared to a UK average of two per cent.

Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson has been actively campaigning to see a centre of excellence established in the town.

He is encouraging constituents to take part in this survey to heighten awareness of it nationally.

Mr Carson said: “COPD merits an awful lot of research to see if there is anything we can do to stop people getting this terrible disease.

“I have campaigned long and hard to see a centre of excellence based in Stranraer and I will continue to press the Scottish Government as I believe it would be a real boost for the region.”

A major study called BReATH (Border and Region Airways Training Hub) has already attracted attention as it aims to establish the factors behind the high rates in Dumfries and Galloway – with around 4,600 sufferers.

Researchers are examining a number of possible links including air quality, levels of ozone, social deprivation, genetic links as well as agriculture and industry in the area.

Led by professor John Lockhart at the University of West of Scotland, he has assembled a team of nearly 50 scientists and researchers.

He believes that it won’t be just one factor causing the high numbers, with neighbouring Ayrshire and Arran also badly affected.

Frank Toner, policy and public affairs officer at Asthma UK, is aware of the alarming rates in Stranraer.

He said: “The survey has not concluded and there is still time for Finlay’s constituents to respond.

“Indeed we would welcome it because the more Scottish data we can get the clearer the picture will be for diagnosis and treatment.”

To take part visit https://auk2016.typeform.com/to/TTbGFsE5.