Inflammation & Disease Connection!
- 10 Months ago
Inflammation & Disease Connection!
What do heart patients have in common with sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, periodontitis, gastritis, gingivitis, Alzheimer’s, asthma, cancer, obesity, osteoarthritis, eczema? All these are inflammatory diseases! Coronary artery disease is often referred to as “inflammation of the blood vessels” because that’s what it actually is. And the fact that aspirin (commonly known as NSAID – non steroidal anti inflammatory drug) is prescribed to reduce the inflammation, is proof enough.Chronic inflammation fascinates scientists because it indicates that our bodies may have, from an evolutionary perspective, become victims of their own success.
We evolved as a species because of our ability to fight off diseases via bacteria and other microbial invaders as per Dr. Peter Libby, chief of cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, USA. And the strategies our bodies used for survival were important in a time when we didn't have precautions for food borne diseases or processing plants to purify our water. But now that we are living longer, those same inflammatory strategies are more likely to slip beyond our control. Making matters worse, it appears that many of the attributes of a Western lifestyle — such as a diet high in sugars and saturated fats, accompanied by little or no exercise —make it easier for the body to become inflamed.
Disease - Inflammation connection
Inflammation destabilises cholesterol deposits in the coronary arteries, leading to heart attacks and potentially even strokes. It chews up nerve cells in the brains of Alzheimer's victims. It may even foster the proliferation of abnormal cells and facilitate their transformation into cancer. In other words, chronic inflammation may be the engine that drives many of the most feared illnesses. Problems begin when, for one reason or another, the inflammatory process persists and becomes chronic; the final effects are varied and depend a lot on where in the body the reaction takes hold. Among the first to recognize the broader implications were heart doctors who noticed that inflammation seems to play a key role in cardiovascular disease.For example, usually it is known that people with high cholesterol are at a higher risk of a heart attack. However, half of all heart attacks occur in people with normal cholesterol levels. And the only link that emerges is a high level of inflammation in the body.In the case of diabetes, what has been discovered is a complex interplay between inflammation, insulin and fat — either in the diet or in large folds under the skin. Where inflammation fits into this scenario — as either a cause or an effect — remains unclear. But the case for a central role is getting stronger.
Dr. Steve Shoelson, a senior investigator at the Joslin Diabetes Centre in Boston, bred a strain of mice whose fat cells are supercharged inflammation factories. The mice became less efficient at using insulin and went on to develop diabetes. Hence, Shoelson reproduced the whole syndrome of diabetes just by inciting inflammation on the mice. In the case of cancer, back in the 1860s, renowned pathologist Rudolf Virchow speculated that cancerous tumours arise at the site of chronic inflammation. A century later, oncologists paid more attention to the role that various genetic mutations play in promoting abnormal growths that eventually become malignant. Now researchers are exploring the possibility that mutation and inflammation are mutually reinforcing processes that, left unchecked, can transform normal cells into potentially deadly tumours.An overweight person is almost always likely to have high inflammation levels in the body, proven via blood tests. And weight has a way of sneaking onto the middle-aged frame. For example, a teaspoon of sugar has 25 calories. If you consume an extra teaspoon a day without burning off the calories, a year later, you've gained almost a kilo. Ten years later, you've gained 7-8 kilos. And a few disease-bearing cells. Going on an anti-inflammatory diet helps you knock-off both: the disease bearing cells and the extra kilos!