The Facts

Modern Plagues

In Martin J. Blaser’s book Missing Microbes, Dr. Blaser notes that we are growing sicker as a society, despite great medical advances. He calls increasing accounts of obesity, childhood diabetes, asthma, food allergies, acid reflux, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and autism “modern plagues.”

Obesity is the most obvious disease to see because it is visual. We see a growing number of overweight children and adults in airports, trains, planes, and supermarkets. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2016 the number of overweight children under the age of five, was estimated to be over 41 million. And according to the CDC between 2015 and 2016 approximately 39.8% (or 93.3 million) of US adults–were considered obese. 2017 statistics show that 20% of adults in each US state are obese. This number is rising and it is a global, not just a national, issue.

As of 2016, the WHO estimated that over 422 million adults have Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes, also called Juvenile Diabetes, has been doubling every twenty years.

As of 2018 Asthma affects nearly 339 million people worldwide. In 2016 approximately 8% of children had Asthma.

Food allergies are on the rise with many children suffering from immune responses to various foods including nuts, dairy, gluten, etc.

Why are so many of these conditions on the rise? Is it coincidence? Some present a unique theories to explain each unique autoimmune disorder. Others present a theory that we are over-sanitizing our environment. Dr. Blaser, suggests a different theory that we look more closely at the diversity of our microbes–or microbiome. His concern is that we are losing some of our ancient microbes and diversity of microbes that fight off disease. Read more about our microbiome in jeopardy.

Every outbreak across the globe today stems from a descendant of the medieval plague.

Hendrik Poinar

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