9 Places Have NO Disease … Why?

9 places have NO disease … why?

9 places have NO disease … why?

By: Craig Cooper

Despite the significant amount of research that has been and continues to be conducted on common diseases, experts are still relatively uncertain about their causes. One reason for this uncertainty is the fact that both genetic and environmental factors are involved, and the range of contributing possibilities in each disease category is enormous.

Surprisingly though, there are some places in the world where common diseases actually rarely occur. Below are nine places where the prevalence of certain common diseases is extremely low. While experts have speculated on why this is so, let’s just say the jury is still out, although there are some theories and maybe also some principles to live by that we can all adopt from these countries.

Beijing residents rarely get osteoarthritis

Compared with elderly whites living in the United States, their counterparts in Beijing have an 80 to 90 percent lower prevalence of hip osteoarthritis. In a study appearing in Arthritis and Rheumatism, the authors reported that among adults age 60 and older, hip osteoarthritis was found in 0.9 percent of women and 1.1 percent of men in Beijing. In a later study, the prevalence of hip osteoarthritis collectively among whites and blacks in the United States was reported to be 29.5 percent among women and 25.4 percent among men aged 45 or older. That’s a huge difference, most likely related to the lower rates of obesity and weight related joint disease in China compared to America.

Copper Canyon, Mexico residents don’t have high cholesterol

High cholesterol is an important risk factor for the number one killer in the United States: heart disease. The percentage of US adults with high cholesterol is 12.9 percent and those with high bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) is 31 to 32 percent. Yet among the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico’s Copper Canyon region, high cholesterol and heart disease are nearly nonexistent. This benefit is likely associated with their diet, which is extremely low in cholesterol and saturated fat, and consists mainly of native foods, such as whole corn, beans, pinole, tortillas, cumin, and squash.

Japan’s residents have extremely low rates of depression (maybe)

A study by Australia’s University of Queensland on the topic of clinical depression around the world yielded some, well, depressing findings. Depression is the second main cause of disability around the world. If you live in Afghanistan, more than 20 percent of people suffer from this mental health condition, while less than 2.5 percent are affected in Japan. Some suggested reasons for this wide disparity is that areas with high depression rates are engaged in conflict and/or have to deal with epidemics while places like Japan are economically well off and have better established healthcare systems. My take is a little different. I think the low rates in Japan may be more a result of men not actually reporting their depression, given Japanese male cultural and other influences. It’s probably higher than the “official” statistics report.

Rural Northern Indians have low rates of Alzheimer’s

While more than 5 percent of adults older than 65 are affected by Alzheimer’s disease in the United States, an area in rural northern India has a rate of only 1 percent. While it’s possible that this extremely low percentage is the product of poor diagnostic methods or genetics, other explanations come from Dr. Andrew Weil, who has suggested the liberal use of turmeric in the diet may have a role; and Dr. Michael McGregor, who notes that the diet of this population is high in carbohydrates, grains, fats, and beans and low in meat.

Niger has one of the lowest cancer rates in the world

This African country can boast a cancer (all types) rate of 63.4 per 100,000. Why this country (and those that follow closely behind it) has this distinction is not fully understood. However, generally, studies show that the lower a country’s Gross Domestic Product, the lower the risk of developing any type of cancer. Granted, 63.4 cases per 100,000 may not qualify as rare in everyone’s mind, but when you compare that cancer rate with those in Denmark (338.1, the highest in the world) and the United States (318.0), the difference is significant.

Sardinia has the highest rate of 100 year-old living residents

This category is a little different: death before age 100. On the Italian island of Sardinia (one of my favorite places in the world), the approximately 1.6 million inhabitants have the world’s highest documented percentage of people who have lived longer than 100 years. The secret is likely a combination of diet (they eat mostly fruits and vegetables, olive oil, garlic, fresh dairy, and tiny amounts of meat only once or twice a week), lifestyle (people typically work into their 90s), and genetics. In fact, a research team discovered a gene in the Y chromosome that can significantly reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack in men in Sardinia.

China has the lowest rates of prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men around the world. While the disease affects 227.1 per 100,000 men living in France (Martinique), males in China fare exceptionally better: 1.7 per 100,000. The death rate from prostate cancer also is exceedingly low in China: 1.0 per 100,000, followed by Japan at 5.7. Could the reasons for these low rates be diet (including lots of green tea), hard work, genetics, lack of sufficient screening, or some of all of the above?

Egyptians rarely get Parkinson’s disease

The lowest rate of death from Parkinson’s disease can be found in Egypt (which ties with Thailand) at 0.12 per 100,000 population. Coming in at third and fourth from the bottom are Georgia and Singapore at 0.16, while the top four countries are Finland, Iceland, Senegal, and the United States at 4.66, 4.56, 4.55, and 4.51 per 100,000, respectively. It’s not clear what these two very different lists tell us about the disparity between death rates for Parkinson’s, although one significant risk factor for the disease appears to be exposure to pesticides and chemicals used in metal processing, which corresponds to the prevalence of these contaminants in parts of the United States where the disease is most common.

Muslim countries rarely get skin cancer

Generally, the populations living in Muslim nations rarely get skin cancer because of three factors: they have higher pigmentation, they mostly wear traditional clothing that shields them from the sun, and they don’t engage in sunbathing. Therefore, heavily Muslim countries with high sunlight exposure such as Maldives, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Somalia have very few cases of skin cancer. 

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