A-Z of diseases

Masked lady COVID-19

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. They are so-called because the virus looks like it is covered with pointed structures surrounding it like a crown. 

Zoonotic diseases - Masked lady in city

Animals can sometimes carry harmful germs that can spread to people and cause illness – these are known as zoonotic diseases or zoonoses. Such diseases may be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites or fungi. They may be mild or serious, and in some cases may cause death.

Cholesterol is a type of fat made by the liver and present in every cell in an animal’s body, including humans. Cholesterol is only found in foods of animal origin – meat, dairy, eggs, fish, shrimps, prawns and shellfish - and is particularly concentrated in organ meats and eggs.

The routine use of antibiotics in modern factory farms has led to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as ‘superbugs’. Strains of the infamous methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) were established in UK pig farms and cephalosporin-resistant E.

Cardiovascular disease (such as heart disease and stroke) occurs when there is a build-up of fatty deposits (plaques) on the inside walls of the arteries.

The World Health Organisation says that red and processed meat increase the risk of bowel cancer. They also report links between red meat, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer and processed meat and stomach cancer.

The global distribution of prostate cancer is similar to that of breast cancer; countries with high levels of one tend to have high levels of the other.

Constipation is when you go to the loo less often or you have to strain when you do go – caused by stools being hard and small. Common symptoms include stomach ache, cramps, feeling bloated, nausea, feeling over-full, headache, loss of appetite, fatigue and depression. It can be caused by:

Pancreatic cancer is another cancer linked to diet, specifically Western-style diets rich in meat, dairy foods and refined cereal products (white bread, white rice and white pasta) as well as sugar.

Ovarian cancer occurs most in wealthy countries, where the diet is dominated by meat and dairy foods. There is some evidence that cholesterol and eggs may increase the risk too.


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