HOW DOES THE ENVIRONMENT CONTRIBUTE TO HEALTH?
In addition to genetics, environmental factors and age dramatically affect a person’s risk for particular diseases. Environmental factors include diet, pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, chemical exposures, and stress. Examples are shown in Table 1. All of these together, along with one’s genome and physical activity such as exercise, contribute to one’s health in a complex and poorly understood fashion.
Table 1. Examples of Environmental Contribution to Disease
|Environmental Condition||Increased Disease Risk|
|Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection||Cervical and throat cancer|
|Infection by unknown viruses||Type 1 and perhaps type 2 diabetes|
|Hepatitis C infection||Liver cancer|
|Smoking, air pollution||Many diseases: for example, cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes|
|Stress||Type 2 diabetes|