Health and Health Conditions

The Origins of Lactase Persistence in Europe

Lactase persistence (LP) is common among people of European ancestry, but with the exception of some African, Middle Eastern and southern Asian groups, is rare or absent elsewhere in the world.

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Diverticulosis, defined simply as the presence in the large intestine (colon) of small saccular outpouchings, termed diverticula, is extremely common in “developed” countries and increases dramatically with age (Image 1 below). It affects approximately 5% of the population under 45 years of age and increases to almost 80% in those older than age 85 (1). Diverticula develop most commonly in the descending (“left-sided”) and sigmoid colon, however, there is geographic variability. In Asia and Africa, the ascending (“right-sided”) colon is more commonly involved, but the overall rate is much lower, at approximately 0.2%. Despite the prevalence of diverticulosis, about 70% of all people remain asymptomatic throughout their lifetime; 5-15% develop complications of diverticular bleeding, and 15-25% develop diverticulitis and associated complications.

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Hernias of the Abdominal Wall

The human body is divided into various compartments such as the thorax (chest), abdomen, skull, etc. The word hernia is derived from the Latin word for "rupture," and occurs when an organ normally contained in one of these cavities protrudes through the lining of that cavity. The term hernia is therefore very broad, as hernias can occur almost anywhere in the body. For example, a protrusion of an intervertebral disk of the spine into the spinal canal is called a herniated or ruptured disk; a protrusion of brain tissue, usually because of a head injury, through a natural opening at the base of the skull (called the foramen occipitalis) is referred to as an Uncal hernia. However the vast majority of hernias involve the abdominal cavity and therefore this article will concentrate specifically on this type of hernia.

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