The Earth Day 2022 is over. It is gone, the day has passed, and many have lost the message. Earth Day is a call for action, not just for one day, but for a lifetime.
When you think about the horrible global events we’ve witnessed in recent decades, like wildfires, extreme heat wave, and cataclysmic flooding, you’re likely to conclude that governments must take action, and hopefully the Greta Thunbergs or the Paris AgreementEventually, it will have an impact.
There are also environmental effects that affect our daily health, beyond the obvious consequences of climate changes. These effects are something that healthcare providers see every day in their work. However, they may not be obvious to us because we are trained to see them as a result of lifestyles or genetic predispositions.
We are entering a new era of healthcare, where we must consider more than the biological determinants. Our community, our personal behaviors, psychological factors and environmental exposures all play a significant role in healthcare accessibility and disease risk.
Environmental Exposures are not easily quantifiable
At the University of Chicago Institute for Translational MedicineThese other health determinants have been collectively called the “sociome.” The problem with the sociome (and environmental exposures) is that, unlike biological determinants for disease, it cannot be quantified and may even be questionable in terms of its contribution to disease. It can also be so embedded in communities that it may not be obvious. lead poisoning).
Unfortunately, even when we recognize the contribution of the sociome in a disease, we often ignore it as unchangeable. Because we accept the environment as a fact of our lives, and assume that there is nothing that anyone can do about it, the environment is a particularly well-known one. When you look at any given disease, the data show that environment and personal health are closely connected.
Environment affected by obesity and decreased physical activity
Obesity is, according to all measures, an epidemic. According to Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOver 40% of the US’ population is overweight. Obesity can lead to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers, and worse COVID-19 outcomes.
In this context, there are health disparities among underserved populations that lead to disproportionate obesity burdens. Particularly, in many communities, there is a shortage of healthy food options, which leads to the provision cheap and calorie-dense alternative foods (and yes, even sanitizing). caloriesWhen it comes to obesity, they are important.
A staggering amount of agricultural practices are focused on the production and processing of highly processed foods. One thirdglobal greenhouse gas emissions. The current trend of deforestation to make way for cattle ranching is driven by an increasing appetite for meats. LossAmazon biome
However, obesity is not caused only by food choices and food consumption. Motorized vehicles are associated with a lower level of physical activity, which in turn reduces energy consumption and increases greenhouse gas emissions. One StudyIt was demonstrated that cycling to work, even for just 1 day per semaine, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more then 65%. same effectdedicated exercise times for weight loss or obesity. It’s a win/win situation.
Numerous other diseases are also linked to the environment. Particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in size (known also as PM)2.5) is often used as a quantitative measure of environmental air pollution. Everyone knows that the presence of PM is closely related to the exacerbation or worsening of lung diseases like asthma.2.5The atmosphere.
However, we are often unaware of other conditions or deficiencies that are not usually associated with our environment. Vitamin D deficiency can be an example. Intensely linkedPM2.5 exposure. Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to the ongoing pandemic. More severe COVID-19. Other disorders that are related to PM2.5Low birth weight is a risk factor in obesity later in life.Thyroid disorders InfertilityThink about the alarmingly DiminishingGlobal fertility rates and some types Cancer.
So, where does the connection between health and environment leave us? The sheer impact of the environment on our health can make us feel helpless. It’s a valid feeling. If you care about your health, consider doing your part to reduce your carbon footprint.
If you are a healthcare provider, talk to your patients about the benefits of reducing their carbon footprint. It’s very simple. You could walk or cycle to work one day per week, or you could work from home only once a week. Already, the global impact of work at home policies during the pandemic has been striking. ReduktionIn PM2.5 So we know it works, but at a personal level you know that you are doing your part (not forgetting the health benefits of cycling or walking).
Even though no one is asking you to become vegan, it is worth considering reducing your intake of meat and dairy. A diet that meets the recommendations of the World Health Organization is recommended. ReduceReduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17%
What about leveraging? NontraditionalAre there any sources of protein (insect-based supplements and culture-grown meats)? These options may not be appealing to you today, but your perceptions of them change over time. Some of these interventions may be more difficult for some people than others. We need to consider cultural differences and socioeconomic status. There is always agreement, and framing environmental concerns around personal health often leads to common ground. As we reflect on Earth Day 2022, the theme of “investing in our planet” is both about our current health and about the future.
Raghu Mirmira MD, PhD is a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. He is also the director of the Translational Research Center which focuses on transferring fundamental concepts of health from laboratory to clinic. He is one of the top NIH-funded researchers in obesity and diabetes in the United States. He has published more than 170 scholarly papers on insulin production and its effects upon organ systems. Follow Raghu on twitter: @rmirmira