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In many cases of human sickness there are factors, other than the direct clinical cause of the sickness, which are influential in its onset and particularly its development. For instance, whilst it is now generally appreciated that a common cold is not caught simply by being exposed to a cold or wet atmosphere, there is little doubt that the effect of unfavorable conditions aids the development of such a complaint should the appropriate germs be present. This is a reasonable expectation because the lowering of resistance can be linked to the reduction in both the physiological and psychological condition of the person concerned. On the other hand, it is believed that a person who is physically and mentally fit tends to suffer less from an illness than someone who is run down and depressed to start with.

Stress factors
In addition to unfavorable climatic circumstances there are other factors which can create a stress condition in the human being. Emotion -joy, misery, depression, or anxiety -also a stress factor. Stress is now widely recognized as being a very important consideration in arthritic disorders. It may be involved in causing the disorders, and it is certainly involved in the aggravation, and perhaps the recurrence of rheumatoid arthritis.
There is more than one way in which stress can play a part. Firstly, it can act to lower the resistance of a person, the climatological effect is in fact a type of stress effect. Secondly, it can influence hormonal activity to the extent that the physiology of the body is changed. To clarify this a little, it can be said that we adapt to a disease or an emotion, such as fear or anger, by chemical changes within the body. In some instances the adaptive process will involve the development of anti-bodies to combat a specific antigen. In other instances it may be a hormonal stimulation, such as the release of cortisone by the adrenal gland. These adaptive processes are generally involuntary, i.e. the person involved does not make a conscious effort to invoke them. Under stress conditions, however, it is possible that such processes are influenced in a manner which makes resistance or adaptation to the disease condition less effective
In the case of hormonal roles it is possible that this is due, at least in part, to a change in the activity of the hormones. This may not be associated with a change in the concentration or amount of hormones present.
Environment can be a stress factor in that it can involve emotion and anxiety in both humans and animals. It is therefore possible for a person’s adaptive or resistive processes to be influenced by such a thing as the transfer of their home to, say, a high rise block from a small but friendly row of terraced cottages in a familiar neighborhood.
Sufficient has been said about stress to bring the reader’s attention to the possible influence this may have on the course of a particular disease.

Obesity is considered by authorities to be particularly significant in the progression of an arthritic disorder. In his book Arthritis Can Be Cured, Dr Aschner devotes a chapter to this subject. It is not unreasonable to assume that obesity can be an adverse influence in arthritic complaints. In general, the obese person would place more strain on his joints, more effort on muscles, and would probably exercise less. These would all seem to be aggravating factors. Dr Aschner goes further than this, however, and suggests that the presence of a surplus of waste products in an overweight person can actually cause arthritis. He suggests that a clinically controlled reducing therapy, involving diet, is particularly successful in effecting relief of symptoms. Although it is well known that to be overweight is not good for general health, the cause of the condition is not always that of over indulgence. Nor need it be due to illness. Many overweight people are so because of glandular malfunctions, and in fact they may eat very little. Whether a reducing diet would have any helpful effect in such cases or not is open to doubt.

Gouty arthritis and shellfish
Just as a final word on this topic, it is generally accepted that people with gouty arthritis should not eat shellfish. The reason for this is that shellfish contain a fairly high level of purine nitrogen in their biochemical make-up and purine nitrogen is a precursor (i.e., starting point) for uric acid. Thus, theoretically, the eating of shellfish by people with gout; would seem to be tempting fate. There has been some research done to see if deliberate changes in uric acid compound levels, in the system actually do influence attacks of gout. What can be said is that there are many people who are gout sufferers and can eat shellfish without any adverse effects at all. There are others, however, who, if they eat shellfish, can almost guarantee that an attack will follow the meal.

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