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Diseases of civilization, today and tomorrow

  • W. Kuryłowicz
  • J. Kopczyński
Giam VII Papers

Summary

The term ‘diseases of civilization’ that would have represented many scourges of the past, now applies to chronic conditions, still of obscure origin, which have replaced them as dominant health problems of the more industrialized countries. The reasons for their emergence include the decline of major epidemic diseases and associated social troubles, and the various consequences of economic development. Both groups of factors are increasingly relevant to the situation in many developing countries, where the expectation of life has been increasing spectacularly for many years, and where changes in the biological, physical and social environment are in progress. The incidence of cardiovascular diseases, cancer and other diseases proceeds gradually and inexorably, and may be hastened by the interaction of old and new risk factors that happen to coexist in some newer industrialized countries. These include: accumulation of environmental pollution, overcrowding in continually growing cities, increase in cigarette smoking, alcohol and fat consumption, and disintegration of the social infrastructure. The interaction of these factors may result in increased incidence, prevalence and mortality from ‘disease of civilization’ in the now developing world in a few decades to come.

Keywords

Cardiovascular Disease Cigarette Smoking Environmental Pollution Chronic Condition Social Environment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Résumé

Le terme de maladies de civilisation, qui pouvait correspondre dans le passé à bien des fléaux; s'applique aujourd'hui à des affections chroniques d'origines encore inconnue qui ont remplacé les anciens fléaux comme problèmes dominants de la santé dans les pays les plus développés. Les raisons de leur émergence comprennent d'une part la disparition des grandes épidémies et d'autres conséquences des vicissitudes sociales, et d'autre part l'interaction de divers sousproduits du développement économique. Ces deux groupes de facteurs concernent un nombre croissant de pays en voie de développement: depuis plusieurs années, la durée de vie moyenne de leurs populations s'est allongée de façon spectaculaire et leur environnement biologique, physique et social est en cours de changement. De ce fait, les maladies cardiovasculaires, le cancer et d'autres affections progressent graduellement et inéluctablement, et cette évolution peut être hâtée par l'interaction des vieux et des nouveaux facteurs de risques qui coexistent chez certains nouveaux venus à la civilisation industrielle. Ces risques comprennent: l'accumulation de la pollution dans l'environnement, la sur-population des mégalopoles qui ne cessent de croître, la consommation accrue de tabac, d'alcool et de graisses, la désintégration de l'infrastructure sociale et bien d'autres facteurs encore. L'accumulation de ces agents agressifs peut conduire à accroître dans les prochaines décennies l'incidence et la prévalence des ‘maladies de civilisation’ et leur taux de mortalité dans le monde présentemment en cours de développement.

Resumen

El término arriba mencionado, que hubiera descrito en el pasado a muchas enfermadades epidémicas, se refiere ahora a estados crónicos, de origen todavía oscuro, que las han reemplazado como principal problema de tipo sanitario en los países más industrializados. El declive de las enfermedades epidémicas de mayor importancia, con todos los problemas sociales que estas generaban, junto con algunas consecuencias del desarrollo económico, se cuentan entre las causas de este cambio. En los países en vías de desarrollo dos factores tiene una importancia determinante en la evolución de este proceso: el espectacular aumento de la esperanza de vida y los cambios en los entornos biológico, físico y social. Como con consecuencia de todo ello la incidencia de enfermedades cardiovasculares, cáncer y otras enfermedades va incrementáńdose inexorablemente, acelerándose su aparición debido a la interacción entre factores de riesgo viejos con los nuevos, que coexisten en los países de in industrialización reciente, entre los que cabe incluir: la acumulación de polución ambiental, el hacinamiento en ciudades de constante crecimiento, el incremento en el consumo de cigarrillos, alcohol y grasas, y la desintegración de las estructuras sociales tradicionales. En las próximas décadas, la interacción entre todos factores, puede conducir a un aumento en la tasa de mortalidad por ‘enfermedades de la civilización’ en el hasta ahora denominado mundo en vías de desarrollo.

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Copyright information

© Oxford University Press 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Kuryłowicz
    • 1
  • J. Kopczyński
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology, Institute of Social MedicineWarsaw Medical AcademyWarszawaPoland

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