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Lifestyle diseases emerge as silent killers
The World Health Organisation has warned that more than 270 million people are susceptible of falling victim to diseases linked to unhealthy lifestyles. Most of these people are thought to come from China, India, Pakistan and Indonesia
AS THE name suggest, lifestyle diseases are a result of the way we lead our lives. These are also named as diseases of longevity or diseases of civilization. Lifestyle diseases are the result of an ill-relationship of people with their environment.
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These diseases are widespread, as countries become industrialised and people live longer. The way these begin is dangerous. It takes years to develop and then becomes so much a part of our lives that it cannot be easily cured even with allopathic medicines. The fact that our diet is changing day by day, from high nutritional food, we move towards junk food, has contributed to the era of lifestyle diseases.
 
Reduction in physical activity and exercise has also added to the scenario. Substance abuse, especially tobacco smoking and alcohol drinking may also increase the risk of certain diseases later in the life. But unlikely other diseases, lifestyle diseases can be barred, as its influence can be weakened by changing our lifestyles, improving diet and making the environment healthier.
 
The deaths from an entirely new category of diseases, that is, lifestyle diseases surfaced in the 1940’s. Prior to that, deaths were mostly caused due to infectious diseases like malaria, typhoid, pneumonia, etc. In 1900, the top three causes of death in the United States were pneumonia/influenza, tuberculosis, and diarrhea / enteritis. Back then communicable diseases accounted for about 60 per cent of all deaths. In 1900, lifestyle diseases like heart disease and cancer were ranked number four and number eight respectively. Since the 1940’s, most deaths in the United States have resulted from heart disease, cancer and other lifestyle diseases. And, by the late 1990’s, lifestyle diseases accounted for more than 60 per cent of all deaths.
 
To tackle with the situation faced due to communicable diseases, modern science improved medical treatments, vaccinations, sanitation, awareness etc. But lifestyle diseases have again challenged the science. They take away the time from you. People die at an early age. Various lifestyle diseases, now-a-days, include Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, asthma, cancer, chronic liver disease or cirrhosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, nephritis or chronic renal failure, osteoporosis, acne, depression, obesity, heart disease and stroke.
 
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that more than 270 million people are susceptible of falling victim to diseases linked to unhealthy lifestyles. Most of these people are thought to come from China, India, Pakistan and Indonesia. China and India are the emerging economic superpowers. With prosperity have come cushy, but sedentary jobs requiring long hours of work with no time left for exercise. Added to this is the fact that the diets are becoming increasingly focused on ready-made junk food.
 
Professor Paul Zimmet, a director of the International Diabetes Institute in Australia says that the world appears to be more concerned about big diseases like AIDS and now bird flu, "There has been a preoccupation with AIDS and more recently bird flu, but diabetes has been escalating. It’s a time bomb.”
 
The world is just not spending enough money to tackle with the lifestyle diseases despite the fact that these are the cause for most of the deaths in the world as compared to any other disease.
 
In a little over a decade from now, chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, cancer and AIDS would account for over 65 per cent of deaths in India compared to 53 per cent in 2005. By 2020, chronic diseases are expected to claim 7.63 million lives in India, compared to 3.78 million in 1990, a study said.

India that is already home to the largest number of diabetes patients is projected to have 30 million diabetics by 2020, of which 6.6 million or 22 per cent would suffer from complications such as diabetic nephropathy. Similarly, stress both at work and at home is going to take a further toll with the number of people suffering from hypertension estimated to rise 213.5 million in 2025, compared to 118.2 million in 2000 representing an 80 per cent rise in a span of a quarter century.


A recent study had estimated that nearly 11 per cent of India’s urban population and three per cent of rural population above the age of 15 have diabetes. The WHO estimates that mortality from diabetes and heart disease cost India about $210 billion every year and is expected to increase to $335 billion in the next 10 years.
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