Chronic diseases are considered non-communicable, last a very long time, are progressive in nature or are permanent. These are the types of diseases that have reached the number one causes of death throughout the world. In fact, chronic diseases account for 63 percent of deaths, which amounted to about 36 million people in 2008.
Which are the main chronic diseases: These include kidney disease, heart disease, obesity-associated diseases, diabetes, allergic diseases, asthma, autoimmune diseases, seizures, and cancer. Among children, 43 percent of US kids have at least one of 20 known chronic diseases and this number increases when you include developmental delays and obesity to 54 percent. One in six kids have some type of developmental disability.
As the population ages, it is of no surprise that the incidence of chronic diseases is increasing. Statistics on asthma show that asthma deaths were stable until the 1960s and then increased after that. In the United Kingdom, asthma’s prevalence has increased 2-3 times what it was in 1955. Hay fever has increased by 260 percent and cases of eczema have increased by 150 percent during the same time period.
Anaphylaxis has markedly increase so that hospital admissions have increased by 700 percent and food allergy admissions have gone up by 500 percent, all in the last 50 years or so. It seems all allergies have been increasing of late.
In some countries, cancer makes up one fourth of all deaths so that cancer deaths could increase by another 50 percent, leading to an extra 15 million new cases of cancer. The causes of these chronic diseases have several potential causes. The first is an increase in environmental chemicals and pollutants. Only around 1 percent of all pollutants have been assessed for their human effects. The rest are complete unknowns.
The diet has increased to include more animal proteins and fats along with more refined carbs. This can cause an increase in heart disease, hypertension and cancerous conditions. Trans fats seem to be mostly related to problems in our diet. The other problem is that, although we are eating less fat, more people are obese than ever so this can’t be the entire problem. Eating less fruits and vegetables has been implicated in cancer and other poor health conditions.
Certainly smoking is a cause of heart disease, emphysema and certain cancers. You have a 24 percent increase in lung cancer if you smoke and a 25 percent increase in heart disease. Children of smokers have a greater incidence of asthma, especially in kids under age 5.
Antibiotic use in the first year of life increases the risk of developing asthma in childhood. Doctors need to prescribe fewer antibiotics, especially in children less than 6 months of age.
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