The August 2010 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives includes a review on breaking patterns of environmentally influenced disease. It is worthy of comment.
The authors postulate that diseases and conditions such as childhood asthma and other allergic diseases, various autoimmune conditions (e.g., type 1 diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune thyroiditis, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis), neurological tissue disorders (e.g., autism, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease), and metabolic and cardiovascular disorders (e.g., childhood obesity, cardiac disease, atherosclerosis) follow a sequence. A summary.
- Child exposures to environmental risks– biological, chemical, physical, physiological
- Immune insult and dysfunction-vulnerable prenatal and natal immune maturation steps.
- Onset of entryway diseases-allergy, autoimmunity, inflammatory, and infections
- Elevated risk of secondary diseases linked to entryway diseases-comorbidities
- Onset of secondary diseases-triggering of symptoms
As an example, environmental disease agents such as allergens, bioaerosols, particulates, and volatile organic compounds can cause or aggravate childhood asthma. This entryway disease elevates the risk of onset of secondary diseases. These include atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, otitis media, increased respiratory infections, behavioral diseases, olfactory disorders, obesity, and lung cancer.
The review includes reference that “[m]ost of these diseases have at least three features in common: early-life exposures to environmental risk factors (i.e., chemical agents or pathogens) are thought to be important in disease risk; immune-inflammatory insult or dysfunction is evident; and the disease itself and/or early biomarkers of later-life disease are prominent in previously exposed children.”
The authors believe this sequence is important for a number of reasons.
First, environmental risk factors can affect as much as 25% of the pediatric population in some developed countries.
Second, it suggests that preventing the underlying immune dysfunction leading to the childhood entryway disease is the single most effective option to minimize one or more chronic secondary diseases later in life.
According to a commentary on the review, “[t]he authors say patterns of disease can be used to better predict, prevent, and treat diseases associated with an immune-related pattern of diseases, and may also serve as the basis for environmental protection and testing to prevent exposure to developmental immunotoxicants that may contribute to multiple interconnected diseases.”
This review advances an important medical approach to preventing and managing diseases caused or aggravated by environmental disease agents. A quote from Ben Franklin signals his agreement…
“He’s the best physician that knows the worthlessness of the most medicines.”
Frank Hagie is the President & CEO of Allergen Safe Homes, a health care company. Its allergen avoidance medical therapies enable more effective prevention, sustaining remission, and management of allergic asthma and respiratory allergies. He can be reached at 916-870-2996, or at email@example.com