Scientists and researchers from 22 institutions have united to point to inflammation-related diseases as the cause of 50 percent of all deaths worldwide.
Inflammation is a naturally occurring response by the body’s immune system that helps fight illness and infection. When inflammation is chronic, however, it increases the risk of developing potentially deadly diseases. These include persistent and severe inflammation in the body leading to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders.
According to the study, future research should focus on identifying ways to better diagnose and treat severe chronic inflammation. While treating inflammation may not lengthen life spans, it will improve the quality of patients lives and reduce chronic disease worldwide.
Senior author George Slavich, director of the UCLA Laboratory for Stress Assessment and Research, said it is important to make people aware of the risk factors for chronic inflammation, which include obesity, physical inactivity, social isolation, chronic stress and inadequate or poor sleep.
“Chronic inflammation is influenced by many social, environmental and lifestyle factors,” said Slavich, who is also a research scientist at the Norman Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at UCLA. “If we make people aware of these risk factors, our hope is that individuals will reduce the factors that apply to them.”
“It’s also important to recognise that inflammation is a contributor not just to physical health problems, but also mental health problems such as anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, self-harm and suicide,” Slavich said. “This is a substantial public health crisis.”