Furred-up arteries. Diabetes. Eye disease. Dementia. Depression. Why doctors now believe they could all be triggered by one SILENT KILLER
By LINDA GEDDES FOR THE DAILY MAIL
- Sprained ankle or an infected splinter can bring on inflammation
- We recognize its heat, swelling and discomfort – but it’s not just skin deep
- Low-level reaction is recognised as being at heart of most chronic diseases
- Include atherosclerosis, age-related macular degeneration and dementia
Whether it’s the result of a sprained ankle, an allergic reaction to pollen, or an infected splinter, we all recognize the heat, swelling and discomfort that inflammation brings.
But while these complaints may seem relatively trivial, inflammation is far from being just skin deep. Increasingly, a low-level form of this reaction inside the body is recognized as being at the heart of most, if not all, common chronic diseases.
From diabetes to atherosclerosis, the eye condition age-related macular degeneration and even dementia, inflammation may be the silent killer that links them all.
Although clues about the importance of chronic inflammation have been there for a long time, it wasn’t until 15 years ago that scientists really started taking it seriously.
‘Even diseases which we have traditionally thought of as degenerative, such as dementia, are turning out to have a major inflammatory component,’ says Professor Paul Morgan, an immunologist at Cardiff University.
The good news is that this could prompt a whole new approach to treating such illnesses using anti-inflammatory drugs. Better still, many of these drugs already exist; you probably even have some of them in your bathroom cabinet.
Under normal circumstances, inflammation is an extremely effective way of clearing up infection and promoting healing.
‘Inflammation gets turned on by the immune system when trouble is spotted, whether it’s due to infection or tissue damage,’ says Graham Rook, emeritus professor of medical microbiology at University College London. ‘It has three jobs to do: kill off the infection, clear up the mess, and help to repair the damage.’
The body brings about inflammation through the release of chemicals that summon immune cells to sites of trouble, and make the blood vessels leaky enough to enable these cells to infiltrate the damaged tissue. This is what causes the swelling and redness associated with inflammation. The immune cells then kill off the infection by releasing further chemicals, or gobbling up the invading virus or bacteria…………