Environmental Determinants of Disease and Health
Presented by Professor Michael Depledge, European Centre for Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter Medical School, England
Current medical research and practice focus primarily on the identification, diagnosis and treatment of disease. Around the World, people are generally living longer, but this is often associated with a rise in chronic illnesses. Lifestyles and an ageing demographic are key drivers of this pattern which is placing an enormous burden on healthcare services.
The role of environmental factors in the development of disease is now widely recognised. For example, epigenetic effects can play a role cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, cancers, metabolic disorders and many other illnesses. Concurrently, the value of outdoor environments in fostering improvements in health and wellbeing, and thereby increasing resilience to disease threats, is being explored.
In this lecture the importance of rapid changes in the global environment will be examined as drivers of human health issues. Climate change has been identified as the greatest threat to health and wellbeing in the 21st century yet receives little attention in conventional medical practice. Also, body burdens of chemical pollutants may be strongly influencing global patterns of disease, but are similarly neglected. Currently, very great concern has emerged regarding antimicrobial resistance in healthcare settings, but this too may have its origins in the environment.
Case studies relating to coastal communities will be discussed in which the significance of environmental threats are considered in relation to the health and wellbeing benefits offered to those living by or close to the sea coast, and to seaside visitors. Finally, the potential for delivering an improved infrastructure for fostering health and wellbeing will be outlined.
A light lunch will be provided over discussion after lecture.
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