Eight out of ten future diseases will be lifestyle related

“It is estimated that 80% of the diseases in the future will be associated with cancer, cardiovascular and degenerative diseases,” said Ramon Gomis, director of research in the field of medical sciences at the UOC (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya), who will take part on Wednesday, 26 June, in the UWellbeing UOC negotiations on food, physical activity and e-health, organized by the Open University of Catalonia in Vigo. And he warns that people’s lifestyle affects the prevalence of these diseases.

Therefore, experts predict the growth of cardiovascular diseases, which today are one of the main causes of death. Diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypertension or obesity, one way or another associated with nutrition and sleep, can cause problems with the heart and blood vessels.

In addition, degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, conditions associated with immunity or respiratory problems, certain types of allergies, etc. They can also be accelerated by environmental factors such as excessive pollution.

For cancer, its incidence depends on environmental factors, and not only on genetic factors. Excluding tobacco or reducing pollution and using diesel fuel or other pollutants significantly reduces the risk of developing various types of cancer.

Even if he is considered active and passive, he remains true: a good diet and an active life not only prolong life, but also improve it. For example, in countries such as Spain, people are lucky to have easy access to one of the healthiest diets in the world, as many scientific studies show. “The Mediterranean diet reduces the incidence of cancer, diabetes and coronary heart disease,” says Anna Bach Feig, a professor at the University Master of Nutrition and Health and a researcher in the FoodLab UOC group.

However, this expert on physical activity and health warns against a growing rejection of the Mediterranean diet, “due to the effects of unhealthy diet and foreign customs.” “Obesity is considered an epidemic of the 21st century, especially in children. Cardiovascular diseases remain the main cause of death, and metabolic syndrome and diabetes are a problem of global importance in developed countries. These facts seem to go hand in hand with giving up the habits that put the Mediterranean diet on the axis of longevity among the countries of the Mediterranean basin, “he insists.

Another fundamental axis to live better and better is exercise. According to WHO, a sedentary lifestyle is one of the leading factors in premature death worldwide. “Sport is health,” confirms Anna Bach Feig. Moderate physical activity for at least half an hour five days a week or intense exercise for at least twenty minutes three times a week reduces the risk of death by 31%. However, according to WHO, a quarter of the population is engaged in poor physical activity that threatens their health. Spain is the fourth most inactive country in Europe, according to the EuroHeart II project “Nutrition, physical activity and prevention of cardiovascular diseases in Europe”. The study showed that 42% of people over the age of 18 did not develop physical activity during the week,

Smartphone applications will play an increasingly important role in the prevention and treatment of diseases. In fact, health workers will prescribe them (some already do), as if it were a cure. “Applications can be useful for patients and specialists. Typically, patients do not discuss the applications they use with doctors, because they believe that they are not part of a therapeutic strategy, but related. And vice versa: there are professionals who recommend applications that have not been validated and whose potential impact is unknown. As a result, there is great uncertainty about what may or may not be good, and there is still a lot of work to be done, ”says Carme Carrion, a professor of medical sciences and principal investigator. from eHealthLab to UOC.

For Carrion, the future of healthcare applications will depend on the customization of their services. We are moving towards an individualized drug, and applications must offer personalized services to increase their effectiveness: “Today, very few people continue to use applications three months after they are loaded,” he said. said “Recently, applications developed by interdisciplinary teams, not just technology developers, have been developed,” explains Carrion, and much more needs to be done, such as gamification, social networks, social networks, and more. 

Another important aspect is the verification of healthcare applications, says Carrion. Just as the drug validation protocol is consolidated and ensures its effectiveness, the researcher believes that more regulation is needed in the field of applications used to prevent or treat diseases. In this sense, the UOC online center is working on the development of EVALAPPS, an application that will allow professionals and patients to evaluate the quality of applications for controlling overweight and obesity.

The UOC seeks to create and transfer knowledge generated by the University in the field of digital health. The specialized university “Center for e-Health” was born in 2017 to use this knowledge in the service of society and, in particular, to train and expand opportunities, using technology, citizens and industry professionals, so that they can lead to a change in the health paradigm. The Center wants to contribute to the progress and well-being of society, relying on research, training and counseling in this area. 

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