There are many risks that come along with the Western diet. So much salt, sugar, and cholesterol can lead to heavily publicized issues like an increase in the obesity rate, diabetes, and heart problems. These are serious issues that countries across the world are struggling to deal with.
Another disease that often slips by the press when discussing these issues is inflammatory bowel disease or IBD. Inflammatory bowel disease (which includes the better known Crohn’s Disease) comes with many difficult symptoms, such as (according to GastroCare LI):
- severe diarrhea
- weight loss
- unexplained weight loss
- decreased appetite
- bloody stool
- abdominal pain
- abdominal cramps
Perhaps the fact that these symptoms are only severely uncomfortable and not life-threatening explains why IBD gets so little exposure as a serious problem. Yet, it affects a large percentage of this country and others. 3 million Americans suffer from IBD, which is about 1 percent of the country. And now, these issues are beginning to spread from the Western world to the rest of the planet. According to Science News, many countries aren’t prepared to deal with these diseases the way the West is, and more needs to be done to prepare for a massive outbreak of cases in more remote locations.
At the same time, the number of people suffering from IBD in America is also growing. That number of 3 million is more than double some previous estimates and suggests either the cases are underreported or they are increasing rapidly.
According to Live Science, these numbers are surprising for multiple reasons. Not only are there more cases, the cases aren’t associated with the same groups as before. More people over 45 are being diagnosed. That is surprising because it was once assumed that cases were usually found in those under 35. Among the groups most affected were Hispanics, Caucasians, and adults with less than a high school education.
One of the frustrating parts of IBD is how little is known about its cause. While it is clear that there are dietary and environmental causes (which are now spreading further and further across the globe), exactly which elements of those two trigger the response has yet to be determined. If science could pinpoint the exact cause, more might be done to not only treat the problem but to delay or stop it spreading further.
For now, medical communities are concentrating on getting the word out and preparing more parts of the world for outbreaks of this disease.
The Western lifestyle comes with many advantages, which for a long time, much of the world has been eager to enjoy as well. Unfortunately, those advantages also sometimes come with risks. IBD, the world will soon find out, is one of them.
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The fire in Grenfell Tower in London shocked the world in June. A building set right in the middle of a flourishing metropolis burned up before people’s eyes, leaving at least 80 dead. The tragedy is horrible on a number of levels, but perhaps the worst is this: it could happen again.
Grenfell Tower used what was, in fact, an illegal form of insulation that was highly flammable. A small fire in one apartment led to the whole building blazing up. Unfortunately, these circumstances could happen in many places and not just Britain.
To start with, many countries don’t even outlaw the type of insulation that caused the fire. Luckily, that is not the case in America, but that doesn’t mean that construction companies are not still cutting corners. That tactic can be found all over the world. The insulation, after all, was used primarily because it was cheap.
The best way to ensure the safety of everyone in buildings like Grenfell Tower is to have regular, rigorous checks to make sure the whole building is in compliance. More money should be invested in training up a league of experts who can scour buildings across every city to check not just for insulation but for alarms, cleared exits, and safe stairs. Remember, the next tragic fire is likely to look somewhat different from Grenfell. It could be the ventilation next time.
The next step is to make stricter regulations for construction companies. Now, this is certain to raise costs, but in the high-cost world of metropolitan construction, a little extra money on extra safety is well spent. There may even be potential government cost-sharing programs to develop in order to ease the burden for the first few years while construction companies get used to new regulations. Not only should we expect better than Grenfell, we should expect better than what we have now with apartment buildings. Unless there is an impetus to develop safer living standards, construction companies are sure to get sloppier and sloppier to save money. More regulations would reverse this trend.
The final important step is to raise the punishments for those who don’t comply with regulations. New or old, if a construction company doesn’t comply with one of the regulations, the punishment has to be severe. Fines should be heavy, not a tap on the wrist. If mistakes were intentional and put people at risk, there should be certain jail time for those responsible. A company willing to risk the death of others to save a dollar does not deserve to be in business.
It is an unfortunate fact that fires in apartments and office buildings are fairly common. In order to make sure those fires are localized and the disaster is contained, more has to be done on every front by local and federal governments. The ability is there to make safe buildings, and we must stop just assuming people are making the most of that ability. Those who lived in Grenfell assumed that, and they paid for it in the end.
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