For centuries humans have experienced a shortening of their life’s potential due to infection and trauma – in most cases the end being brutal and fast. In the Western world through various changes to public health, medicine and diplomacy, these risks have significantly reduced – and until recently, were viewed with complacency.
Rather, the wealthier and developing countries have extended lifespan and morbidity time frames, by leading lifestyles that kill us less dramatically, but erode capability and function through the development of non-communicable diseases (NCD). This has created a modern risk profile where NCD burden meets infection that care, and medical expertise has struggled to compress to a more familiar profile. Read the rest of this entry »
The year ahead is of course simply a continuation of the prior year, nothing magical occurs on the 1st day of January that creates a clean slate. Our actions, intent and social structure simply roll over, albeit that the Christmas or festive season creates a host of familial challenges, but on a global scale the world marches on. Read the rest of this entry »
The human immune system possesses immense individual-to-individual diversity, and also has specialised compartmentalisation. (Which means many variations in response, local tissue activity, recovery and outcome on every challenge).
Immunity is intrinsically variable, because it is controlled by the most polymorphic (occurring in several different forms) genes and is shaped by highly sensitive, modifiable environmental sensors that can push immunity into myriad functional configurations. Read the rest of this entry »
A proposed test to measure inflammation, from which an ‘inflammatory age’ may be determined has recently become available. The test involves the drawing of a blood sample and then assessing the levels of various markers of inflammation using artificial intelligence. This is then used to determine whether someone is at risk of developing age-related disorders such as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease. The clock measures ‘biological age’, which takes health into consideration and can be higher or lower than a person’s chronological age. The researchers who developed iAge hope that, because inflammation is treatable, the tool could help doctors determine who would benefit from intervention — potentially extending the number of years a person lives in good health. Read the rest of this entry »
Agnotology (the study of deliberate spreading of confusion)
Throughout the pandemic, it has been saddening how science has been hijacked. Arguments around herd immunity exemplify this: proponents claimed that acquiring immunity by infection was fine for most people and also that communities were well on their way to achieving herd immunity. The messages supporting this approach downplayed the dangers for those with high risks of exposure or severe illness. Herd immunity reduces the risk of contracting a disease but does not prevent it for non-immune people, or those previously exposed, vaccinated or both. That is, the generation and sustaining of herd immunity carries a substantive element of risk that needs to be managed. Rather, the term ‘herd effect’ is proposed, defined as: “the reduction of infection or disease in the unimmunised segment as a result of immunising a proportion of the population”. Read the rest of this entry »
By 2030, the number of people aged 60 and older will grow by more than 50 percent, from 900 million in 2015 to 1.4 billion. That is just over 8 years away at the time of writing this piece! Read the rest of this entry »
An Oct 2021 paper in BMJ Nutrition Prevention and Health explored the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and mental wellbeing in school children[i]. This timely research, bearing in mind the progressive increase in childhood mental health problems, highlighted the direct association between fruit and vegetables consumed over breakfast and lunch and their related impact on mental wellbeing. Read the rest of this entry »
A koan (a Zen Buddhist derived a paradoxical anecdote or riddle without a solution) for pandemic times:
‘If a microbe silently and inconsequentially copies itself in a tissue, and the body doesn’t notice, did it actually infect?’ Read the rest of this entry »
The obvious answer is NO, otherwise no one would suffer immune related illness and death.
The ability of your immune system to respond, repel and return to homeostasis after insult has many influencing factors. Yet our long history of survival as a species indicates that our immune response is adaptive and sustaining, subject to its challenges being manageable. This incredible plasticity involves ‘immunological trade-offs’ and shapes disease outcomes at individual and population scales. These ‘trade-offs’ mainly exist at a cellular level and impact the survivability of every organism. They may also be intentional behaviours that impact daily decisions or carefully mediated, innate behaviours. Read the rest of this entry »
As circumstances have demanded, the attention of our health-related recommendations over the last few months has been on the role of lifestyle and environmental impacts on immunity and the ability to resist or respond to viral infections, especially Sars-Cov-2.
The focus, prior to Covid-19 was on non-communicable diseases and the related slower, but equally damaging effects on human health and wellbeing. Whilst infectious risks have obviously been highlighted, at present, one of the most significant discussions among scientists worldwide is the interdependency of escalating environmental risk factors and the increasing rates of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), which are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Read the rest of this entry »