What diseases have we acquired in the 21st century

A horrific plague epidemic that caused the death of over 100 million people. Cholera, the number of victims of which is in the tens of thousands. Smallpox and poliomyelitis, the new cases of which, although no longer recorded, but at one time they also caused many deaths.

Some of the diseases that have killed people for centuries are now a thing of the past. But this does not mean that in the modern world there are fewer diseases. On the contrary, over the past 20 years, many new diseases have appeared, and some of those that were previously diagnosed only in the elderly now affect the very young.

Causes of new diseases

There are many factors that determine where, why and how a disease occurs. Among them are genetic predisposition, lifestyle, nutrition, exposure to toxins and microorganisms, trauma. But recently, speaking about the causes of new diseases, scientists are increasingly mentioning epigenetics (changes in genes that occur under the influence of external factors).

As a rule, in order for significant changes to occur in the genes, a process of natural selection must go through, which can last for centuries. But at the same time, some proteins, influencing genes, can change their expression (the process of converting the hereditary information of a gene into RNA or protein) in one generation. Epigenetics has made it possible to explain how changes in gene expression can be passed from one generation to the next without actual changes in DNA.

Scientists are aware of many conditions that can cause epigenetic changes. For example, nutritional deficiencies can lead to neurological disorders that can be passed on to future generations. Not the least role in the emergence of new diseases is played by chemicals commonly used by modern man. Air pollutants can also affect overall health.

Mental disorders are not least the result of changes in social life. People who have experienced childhood trauma can pass on PTSD to their offspring. Chronic stress can affect the biochemical processes in the body, thereby causing disturbances in the functioning of the immune, hormonal, and neurological spheres.

But there is another explanation for the emergence of new diseases in the 21st century. The point is the rapid development of diagnostics, research medicine. Modern equipment and techniques available to doctors and researchers have made it possible to better study the human body, to diagnose conditions that specialists had not even suspected before. But still, many diseases that were not known to people 100 years ago are the result of chronic stress, malnutrition, a sedentary lifestyle and bad habits.

New diseases of recent decades

Metabolic syndrome

Even in the last century no one heard about this disorder. A sedentary lifestyle, the abuse of sugars, fatty and unhealthy foods led to a violation of carbohydrate metabolism. In people with metabolic syndrome, fat is deposited mainly in the waist and in the internal organs. Against the background of such a condition, cardiological problems and diabetes mellitus develop. The danger is that the syndrome is increasingly being diagnosed in young people.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Pathology also called carpal tunnel syndrome, manifested by pinching of the median nerve at the level of the wrist. This is an "occupational" disease of PC users. The cause of the violation is the characteristic position of the hand while using a computer mouse. When the hand comes into contact with the table, pressure is exerted on the blood vessels, blood flow worsens, which ultimately leads to a pinched nerve.

As the syndrome progresses, numbness of the hands, weakness of the hands appear, it becomes difficult to hold even light objects. At later stages, pain appears, spasms at night. Tellingly, it is a disease of the young. In persons who did not work for a PC, the syndrome does not occur.

“Rejuvenated” diseases

Type 2 diabetes mellitus

Even 30 years ago, this disease was diagnosed mainly in people over 50 years of age. Today it is a very common disease among young people. One of the reasons is a sedentary lifestyle and malnutrition.


Previously, it was believed that the violation of purine metabolism, which is the cause of this disease, is characteristic only for people of advanced age. Nowadays, pathology is increasingly affecting younger people. What is alarming: in many young patients in the absence of clinical symptoms of gout, blood tests confirm disorders of purine metabolism (elevated levels of uric acid). The situation has worsened in the last 5-10 years.


For a long time, the main cause of this ophthalmic disorder was considered heredity, as well as age-related changes. But today, for many, the disease is acquired. Now the main cause of visual impairment is working with gadgets that are too close to the eyes.

For proper operation, the visual apparatus needs training in the form of changing the focal length. In people who work at a computer every day, spend many hours with a tablet, read or play games on the phone, the eye muscle does not relax, which causes myopia.

Neuroses and other disorders of the nervous system

Stress, information overload, an increase in the speed of life have led to the fact that modern people are constantly in a state of increased anxiety. Due to the fact that the nervous system is in a stable tension, neuroses develop. But if earlier such a disorder affected only adults, now the disease is diagnosed even in adolescents.

In addition, in the last 20 years, conditions such as depression, panic attacks, psychosomatic disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome have ceased to be something out of the ordinary. Although a few years ago these diseases occurred in isolated cases.