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Our ancestors of yore were plagued by recurrent bouts of malaria, deadly tuberculosis infections, constant syphilis outbreaks and bacteria-laced wounds that never healed. But armed with vaccines and antibiotics, modern-day humans can now avoid or be treated for these and many other communicable diseases — illnesses caused by infectious agents that can be transmitted between people or from animals to people.
Nowadays, most people don't die from communicable diseases but rather those that cannot be passed on to other people. About 41 million people worldwide die each year from cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease, diabetes or another chronic illness; noncommunicable diseases account for more than 70% of all deaths globally, according to the World Health Organization.
Definition - Diseases - Combination - Factors - Bacteria
By definition, noncommunicable diseases are thought to arise from a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors rather than being transmitted by bacteria, fungi or viruses. In recent years, however, scientists have realized that the collection of microbes crawling in and on the human body — known as the microbiome — has a large influence on our health. Could it be that noncommunicable diseases can actually pass between people via the mighty microbiome?
Some scientists think the answer is yes.
Humans - Bacteria
Related: Could Humans Live Without Bacteria?
An interesting hypothesis
Communities - Microbes - Abode - Body - Research
Communities of microbes make their abode in the human body, and research suggests that these bugs help direct the function of various physiological systems, including metabolism, digestion and immune defense. Scientists don't yet fully understand what distinguishes a healthy microbiome from an unhealthy one, but certain diseases do seem to be linked to a bacterial imbalance in the body.
For instance, people with diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and cardiovascular disease tend to host a different collection of bacteria in their guts than those without the diseases, according to a report published Jan. 16 in the journal Science....
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