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A Non-Communicable Diseases or NCD is a disease which is not infectious. Such diseases may result from genetic or lifestyle factors. It might result from hereditary factors, improper diet, smoking, or other factors. Those resulting from lifestyle factors are sometimes called ‘diseases of affluence’.

These conditions cause death, dysfunction, or impairment in the quality of life, and they usually develop over relatively long periods—at first without causing symptoms; but after disease manifestations develop, there may be a protracted period of impaired health. Generally, these conditions or diseases result from prolonged exposure to causative agents.

Non communicable diseases or Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, are by far the leading cause of mortality in the world, representing 60% of all deaths. Out of the 35 million people who died from chronic disease in 2005, half were under 70 and half were women.
Causes of non communicable diseases are divided into modifiable and non-modifiable factors. Chronic diseases result from genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors and the interactions between them. These factors, generally termed ‘risk factors’, produce molecular and structural changes in organs and tissues but produce few if any early symptoms or signs of disease. Risk factors place an individual at a greater likelihood of developing disease, but do not predict disease with absolute certainty. For most chronic diseases, several risk factors contribute.

At the population level, a high prevalence of risk factors can put populations or communities at greater risk and result in more disease. Risk factors for future disease development and early structural changes may be found during the "silent" period before disease becomes manifest.

The Risk factors are classified as Modifiable and Non Modifiable

Non Modifiable Risk Factors

Modifiable Risk factors

  1. Age
  2. Sex
  3. Family history
  1. Food Habits
  2. Physical Activity
  3. Stress
  4. Tobacco abuse (Smoking/Chewing)
  5. Alcohol abuse
Modifiable Risk factors include behavioral choices that are made every day, though many behaviors are habitual. These personal behaviors are extraordinarily important and have been termed the underlying or true causes of chronic disease.

Dietary intake, which includes both the quantity and quality of foods, is highly important in the development of chronic diseases. An intake of calories in excess of what is expended during daily activity leads to obesity and an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and some cancers.

Since much of the industrialized world now has a predominance of inexpensive, calorically dense food and too little requirement for physical activity, it is not surprising that an epidemic of Obesity, and the corresponding increased risk for disease, has occurred.

As low-income countries move toward economic development and industrialization, there are similar pressures toward high caloric intake and decreased physical activity. Dietary patterns have important influences aside from the caloric content. Fruits and vegetables and whole grain products have beneficial effects on health, as does a limitation of fat intake to no more than 30 percent of calories.
Other personal behaviors and circumstances contribute to noncommunicable disease development. Alcohol use has both adverse and beneficial effects. Nonpregnant individuals and groups consuming small amounts of alcohol especially red wine(about one drink per day) experience less ischemic heart disease. However, large amounts (about four or more drinks per day) contribute to chronic liver disease, depression and suicide, and injuries, especially motor vehicular injuries. Any alcohol use during pregnancy carries a risk for impaired fetal development. Illicit drugs are addictive and impair social and occupational functioning and are associated with impaired mental health, notably depression. Both alcohol and illicit drugs can have long-term effects on intellect.

Smoking or tobacco in any form is detrimental to health they are not only addictive but leave the body prone to a host of non communicable diseases.
Tobacco use is one of the main risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including cancer, lung diseases, and cardiovascular diseases. Despite this, it is common throughout the world.

There is evidence that behavioral risk factors are influenced by the availability and affordability of tobacco, foods, and alcohol. When people immigrate to an industrialized country from an area where chronic diseases are less common, their pattern of disease changes to resemble the resident country over several decades of exposure. There has been no genetic change, but the risk factors and disease patterns change as the lifestyle changes. The influence of the new environment is especially marked in younger individuals. While genetic susceptibility is important, the factors of environment and personal behavior are robust, modifiable, and when changed effectively, can reduce disease.
The risk for disease is generally proportional to the level of the risk factors. The identification of these risks has provided a basis for studies to determine the effects of change. There is good evidence that lowering blood pressure and blood cholesterol, stopping smoking, and increasing physical activity can decrease deaths from ischemic heart disease and stroke. It is possible to prevent the development of risk factors through changes in the environment and personal health behaviors.

‘Primary’ prevention of chronic disease is therefore an important goal, as morbidity and mortality may be averted or delayed, and promotion of health, or "primordial prevention," is perhaps the foremost goal.
Prevention seeks to identify risks and to test interventions that modify risk and thereby prevent the disease. Chronic diseases result from multiple factors that often interact in an additive or multiplicative fashion to increase risk, but there are also factors that can decrease disease risk. Because most chronic diseases take years to develop, with overt manifestations occurring in middle to late adult life, there is considerable potential for early identification and modification of risk in childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood.
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