How climate change is affecting our health

April 26, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

As a follow-up to our Earth Day post last week, let us explore further the association between climate and our health. A healthy environment supports a healthy population. A sick environment, however, results in a population that is unfit. If Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory were to be true, then we might have to ask ourselves, are we fit enough to survive climate change. A recent report by an interagency group led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) underlines the significant impact of climate change on human health. The report entitled A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change identified 11 categories of human diseases that are affected by climate change, namely:

  • Asthma, respiratory allergies, and airway diseases
  • Mental health and stress-related disorders
  • Cancer
  • Neurological diseases and disorders
  • Cardiovascular disease and stroke
  • Waterborne diseases
  • Foodborne diseases and nutrition
  • Weather-related morbidity and mortality
  • Heat-related morbidity and mortality
  • Vectorborne and zoonotic diseases (like malaria, which can be transmitted from animals to humans)
  • Human developmental effects

According to Dr. Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP), whose institute led the interagency initiative

“This white paper articulates, in a concrete way, that human beings are vulnerable in many ways to the health effects of climate change. It lays out both what we know and what we need to know about these effects in a way that will allow the health research community to bring its collective knowledge to bear on solving these problems.”

Climate change goes beyond than just the weather. It changes the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat. It even changes the sun rays that touch our skin. It is no wonder that it has a great impact on our health.

According to Dr. Howard Koh, assistant US Secretary for Health

“Increasingly, studies including some co-funded by NIEHS, recently published in The Lancet, have shown us that by understanding how climate change, human health, and human activities intersect, we can prevent some of climate’s worst impacts while providing huge benefits to human health that actually offset the costs of mitigation and adaptation. The white paper integrates these new data in a framework that is a new way of looking at this complex and critical problem.”

Are our environmental transgressions coming back to haunt us and the generations to come?

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.