Or search by category: Back to Living Better Living Better newsletter. Here are four of the deadliest silent killers of men: Heart disease is so deadly because it causes few to no symptoms in its early stages. Could you have a thyroid disorder? How quickly the liver can repair itself.
View all related stories. Athens, GA Columbus, GA But to the immune system, it looks very much like a wound that needs to be fixed. Sometimes the reason for the initial inflammatory cycle is obvious — as with chronic heartburn, which continually bathes the lining of the esophagus with stomach acid, predisposing a person to esophageal cancer.
Scientists are exploring the role of an enzyme called cyclo-oxygenase 2 COX-2 in the development of colon cancer. COX-2 is yet another protein produced by the body during inflammation. Over the past few years, researchers have shown that folks who take daily doses of aspirin — which is known to block COX2 — are less likely to develop precancerous growths called polyps. The problem with aspirin, however, is that it can also cause internal bleeding. Then in , researchers showed that Celebrex, another COX-2 inhibitor that is less likely than aspirin to cause bleeding, also reduces the number of polyps in the large intestine.
So, should you be taking Celebrex to prevent colon cancer? Clearly COX-2 is one of the factors in colon cancer. If so, the ensuing inflammatory reaction was doing more harm than good. Blocking it with anti-inflammatories might limit, or at least delay, any damage to cognitive functions. The most likely culprits this time around are the glial cells, whose job is to nourish and communicate with the neurons. Researchers have discovered that glial cells can also act a lot like the mast cells of the skin, producing inflammatory cytokines that call additional immune cells into action.
You get chronic glial activation, which results in an inflammatory state. It appears that some people are more sensitive to plaques and tangles than others. Perhaps they have a genetic predisposition.
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Or perhaps a long-running bacterial infection, like gum disease, keeps the internal fires burning and tips the balance toward chronic inflammation. Unfortunately, most of these preventive measures need to be started well before any neurological problems develop. No doctors have more experience treating chronic inflammation than the physicians who specialize in rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus and other autoimmune disorders.
For decades these diseases have provided the clearest example of a body at war with itself. Over the past few years, powerful drugs like Remicade and Enbrel, which target specific inflammatory cytokines, have worked wonders against rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders. But as often happens in medicine, the drugs have also created some problems.
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Patients who take Remicade, for example, are slightly more likely to develop tuberculosis; the same inflammatory cytokines that attacked their joints, it seems, also protected them against TB. Inflammation may be more of a problem in the earlier stages of autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.
So much tissue is eventually destroyed that nerve damage becomes permanent. It could take decades to figure that one out. After all, the air we breathe is full of germs, viruses and other irritants. Since half of the 17 million Americans with asthma are hypersensitive to common substances like cat dander or pollen, it stands to reason that their allergic reactions trigger the chronic inflammation in their bodies. Everywhere they turn, doctors are finding evidence that inflammation plays a larger role in chronic diseases than they thought.
That may soon change. Researchers are looking beyond aspirin and other multipurpose medications to experimental drugs that block inflammation more precisely. Any day now, Genentech is expecting a decision from the FDA on its colon-cancer drug, Avastin, which targets one of the growth factors released by the body as inflammation gives way to healing. Millennium Pharmaceuticals is testing a different kind of drug, called Velcade, which has already been approved for treating multiple myeloma, against lung cancer and other malignancies.
But there is a sense that much more basic research into the nature of inflammation needs to be done before scientists understand how best to limit the damage in chronic diseases. In the meantime, there are things we all can do to dampen our inflammatory fires. Some of the advice may sound terribly familiar, but we have fresh reasons to follow through. Losing weight induces those fat cells — remember them? So does regular exercise, 30 minutes a day most days of the week. Flossing your teeth combats gum disease, another source of chronic inflammation.
Have you ever been sitting down for a while and had a leg fall asleep? Nerves get pinched from prolonged sitting and impaired oxygen and blood flow. Something similar happens in your gut, which is lined with nerves, muscles and various tissues.
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I can assure you most people suffering from some form or various forms of structural dysfunction have digestive issues to go along with it. They go hand in hand. Various studies have linked too much sitting to potential risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic diseases, cognitive impairment, kidney, liver, cardiovascular health and early death.
There is plenty you can do right now. But you can limit the damage it causes to your body by following these simple tips. Those are just a few suggestions. Find any excuse to get up and move. Being aware of the harmful impact of sitting, the silent killer, has on your body is an important first step to finding any way possible to get up and move! If your posture is deficient so is your digestion. Start by working on your posture. Try yoga or Pilates at a nearby studio and have someone guide you along with your process and see where you are deficient in your posture.
Anything is better than nothing. Replace a chair with wheels with a chair without them.
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