Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsMedicine · 1 decade ago

What are the mechanisms of disease and the risk factors for disease?

1 Answer

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
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    Genetic mechanism - altered or mutated genes that can cause abnormal proteins to be made. These abnormal proteins often do not perform their intended function, resulting in the absence of an essential function. On the other hand, such proteins may perform an abnormal, disruptive function. Either case may be a threat to the constancy of the body's internal environment.

    Pathogenic organisms and particles - many important disorders that are caused by pathogenic (disease-causing) organisms or particles that damage the body in some way. An organism that lives in or on another organism to obtain its nutrients is called a parasite. The presence of microscopic or larger parasites may interfere with normal body functions of the host and cause disease. Besides parasites, there are organisms that poison or otherwise damage the human body to cause disease.

    Tumors and cancer - abnormal tissue growths or neoplasms that can cause a variety of physiological disturbances.

    Physical and chemical agents - agents such as toxic or destructive chemicals, extreme heat or cold, mechanical injury, and radiation that can affect the normal homeostasis of the body.

    Malnutrition - insufficient or imbalanced intake of nutrients that cause a variety of diseases.

    Autoimmunity - some diseases result from the immune system attacking the body (autoimmunity) or from mistakes or overreactions of the immune response.

    Inflammation - common response of the body to disturbances, known as the inflammatory response. The inflammatory response is a normal mechanism that usually speeds recovery from an infection or injury. However, when the inflammatory response occurs at inappropriate times or is abnormally prolonged or severe, normal tissues may become damaged. Thus some disease symptoms are caused by the inflammatory response.

    Degeneration - breaking apart, or degeneration, of tissues by means of many still unknown processes. Although a normal consequence of aging, degeneration of one or more tissues resulting from disease can occur at any time.


    Genetic factors - There are several types of genetic risk factors. Sometimes, an inherited trait puts a person at a greater than normal risk for developing a specific disease. For example, light-skinned people are more at risk for developing certain forms of skin cancer than are dark-skinned people. This occurs because light-skinned people have less pigment in their skin to protect them from cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation. Membership in a certain ethnic group or gene pool involves the "risk" of inheriting a disease-causing gene that is common in that gene pool. For example, certain Africans and their descendants are at a greater-than-average risk of inheriting sickle-cell anemia - a deadly blood disorder.

    Age - Biological and behavioral variations during different phases of the human life cycle put us at greater risk for developing certain disease at certain times in life. For example, middle ear infections are more common in infants than in adults because of the difference in ear structure at different ages.

    Lifestyle - The way we live and work can put us at risk for some disease. People whose work or personal activity puts them in direct sunlight for long periods have a greater chance of developing skin cancer because they are in more frequent contact with ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Some researchers believe that the high-fat, low-fiber diet common among people in the "developed" nations increases their risk of developing certain cancers.

    Stress - Physical, psychological, or emotional stress can put one at risk of developing problems such as headaches, chronic high blood pressure (hypertension), depression, heart disease, and cancer. Conditions caused by psychological factors are sometimes called psychogenic ("mind-caused") disorders.

    Environmental factors - Although environmental factors such as climate and pollution can cause injury or disease, some environmental situations simply put us at greater risk for getting certain diseases. For example, because some parasites survive only in tropical environments, we are not at risk for diseases caused by those particular organisms if we live in a temperate climate.

    Preexisting conditions - A preexisting disease, such as an infection, can adversely affect our capacity to defend ourselves against further attack. Thus a primary (preexisting) condition can put a person at risk of developing a secondary condition. For example, blisters from a preexisting burn may break open and thus increase the risk of a bacterial infection of the skin.

    Source(s): Anatomy & Physiology Notes from a few years back.
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