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Huyen Bui

The causes of diseases in human

There are various causes of diseases in human; however, all of them can be categorized as one of three main types: pathogenic causes, lifestyle and genetic causes. A pathogen is a microorganism which gains entry to the host, then colonises the tissues of the host, resists the defences of the host and causes damage to the host tissue. It can get into the body through the gas-exchange system, the digestive system or sexual intercourse. Pathogens include bacteria, viruses and fungi; they affect the body in one or both main ways: damaging host tissues, for example: viruses and producing toxins, for instance: the cholera bacterium. The cholera bacterium, Vibrio cholera, gains entry to the body through digestive system, when the water or food ingested is contaminated with faecal material containing it. Almost all the bacteria ingested by human are killed in the acidic environment in the stomach. The surviving bacteria, once reach the small intestine, produce a toxin that causes the ion channels of the cell surface open so that the chloride ions contained within the epithelial cells are released into the lumen of the intestine. As a result, a water potential gradient is established and water, therefore, flows from the cells to the lumen. Besides, the loss of ions from the epithelial cells also establishes a concentration gradient, making ions from surrounding tissues, including the blood diffuse to the epithelial cells. This, in turn, establishes a water potential gradient and hence, water moves by osmosis from the blood and other tissues into the intestine. The loss of water from the blood and tissues causes diarrhoea and dehydration, which arte symptoms of cholera.

Different from the cholera bacterium, the pulmonary tuberculosis bacterium, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium bovis, enters the body through the gas-exchange system. A large amount of bacteria is released into the air when infected individuals cough, sneeze or talk. As it takes long time of contact rather than short contact to transmit the disease, the patients friends, colleagues and family members have highest risk of infection, especially in crowded and poorly ventilated conditions. Because M.bovis can infect cattle, TB can transmit from cow to human through the gas-exchange system, when the infected cow coughs or sneezes or through infected milk. Some disease caused by bacteria can be cure with antibiotics. However, in some cases, some bacteria with antibiotic-resistant genes may survive after the cure course. The genes can be obtained in three main ways: mutations, vertical gene transmission or conjugation (horizontal gene transmissions). Mutations arise when the DNA molecule is not copied exactly during replication. Vertical gene transmission occurs when genes are passed down from one generation to the next one and conjugation takes place when one bacterial cell transfers DNA to another bacterial cell. Due to these processes, antibiotic-resistant genes can be obtained and make diseases more serious. An example is MRSA (methicilin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), strains of Staphylococcus aurenus that are resistant to antibiotics. Usually, Straphylococcus aurenus causes only minor symptoms and can be treated with antibiotics; however, MRSA can be resistant to one or more kind of antibiotics and therefore be more difficult to treat. Furthermore, as MRSA is prevalent in hospitals, where many types of antibiotics are used, strains of MRSA can easily develop resistance to multiple antibiotics as well as transmit from one patient to others. Besides, lifestyle is another cause of various diseases in human. According to scientific researches, diet that low in fibre, high in fat, overweigh, lack of physical activity, too much exposure to sunlight and the habit of smoking, all can bring about higher risk of cancer. Importantly, both smokers

and people who passively breath tobacco smoke have increased risk of cancer. Furthermore, smoking also increases the risk of CHD (Coronary heart disease) from two to six times. Other factors affecting CHD consists of diet and physical activity, which help lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol level as well as avoid obesity, those that influence the risk of CHD. The higher the percentage of salt and fatty acid in daily meals, along with the less physical activity a person does, the more he becomes vulnerable to CHD. Sometimes, suffering from a disease may lead to other relating disease. An example is CHD; once a person has atheroma, he also has higher risk of thrombosis, which, in turn, results in higher risk of aneurysm and myocardial infarction, commonly known as heart attack. Another cause of diseases in human is genetics. On a DNA strain, even the smallest change in the base sequence may lead to the change in the DNA strain and hence, the RNA strain synthesized with the DNA strain as the template is also changed, this lead to the change of the protein synthesized and if the protein functions as an enzyme, that enzyme, due to the change in structure, may malfunction or not function at all. This, obviously, may lead to various diseases. Lifestyle is not the only carcinogenic factor, another factor is genetics, or to be exact, a growth disorder of cells although in many cases it is the lifestyle that leads to the disorder. Briefly, the growth disorder of cells is the result of damage to the proto-oncogenes, which stimulate cell division by attaching to the receptor protein on the cell-surface membrane and activate the genes needed for DNA replication via relay protein. Damage to the the proto-oncogenes may transform them into oncogenes, which permanently activate the receptor protein so that the cell division is kept constantly going. Besides, oncogenes also code for a growth factor that is produce in excessive amount and hence, stimulating the cell division.

Last but not least, hereditary factor affects the risk of some diseases, for instance, asthma and pulmonary fibrosis. While the cause of asthma, a localized allergic reaction are various allergens, the exact cause of pulmonary fibrosis is unclear, even though evidence suggests that it is the consequence of microscopic lung injury; however, both tend to run in families, which means that some people are genetically more vulnerable to asthma or lung injury than others. The three main causes of diseases in human: pathogen, lifestyle and genetics work with different mechanism. While diseases caused by pathogens and bad habits in daily life can be prevented, those caused by genetics cannot.