Some diseases may be tied to where we live. We see higher rates of cancer in families that live close to power plants. We see an increase in a wide variety of autoimmune disorders in people who live near polluted waters. Now, Canadian scientists have found a lack of Crohn’s disease in people who live in rural areas. The other interesting part of the report is that people who live in rural areas in the first five years of life are less likely to develop Crohn’s disease later on.
In America, over 1.5 million are affected by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and 70,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. With no cure, the information Canada has for us could help slow the progress of the disease while we continue to look for a cure. To date, no one really knows what causes Crohn’s disease or any of the other form of IBD. However, there are common factors that we are starting to pick up, most notably the genetics, the immune system, and now the environmental factors. What is it about the rural vs urban living that lends to the development of Crohn’s disease?
While this is purely speculation, one can assume that it has several factors within rural living that provide for healthier immune system and environmental factors. One can argue that there are fewer external stressors when living in a rural area. Work will either consist of a commute into the nearest town, running a local business, or even farming the property. With rural living, there tends to be less light and sound pollution, which allows people to decompress more easily after a hard day’s work. Most people don’t even realize how much noise and unnatural light they are subjected to once they are living in an urban setting. Additionally, more people in rural areas tend to grow their own food. Not only does this save them money on groceries and fuel, it saves them time. More people who tend to their land, whether that is on a fully functional farm or a small garden in the backyard, tend to find a calming peace in that sort of work. This also means fewer genetically modified and processed foods enter their bodies. There is typically less air and land pollution as well. Water is cleaner, the land is cleaner, and the air people breathe is cleaner.
The biggest problem is how physicians and pharmacists can help the patient with Crohn’s disease. Once diagnosed, we cannot suggest a complete overhaul in life and assume it will change their situation. However, we can certainly suggest that they talk to their doctor about finding ways to lower stress and improve their diets while using the medicines they are prescribed. As we learn more, we will be able to help the patients more and educate the masses to avoid these kinds of health issues.