Androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness, is an extremely common disorder affecting both men and women. In men, hair is lost in a well-defined pattern, beginning above both temples. Hair also thins at the crown of the head. Often, a rim of hair around the sides and rear of the head is left.
The condition may progress to complete baldness. In women, the hair becomes thinner all over the head, and the hairline does not recede. Androgenetic alopecia affects roughly 50% of men and women older than 40 years. Androgenetic alopecia is a genetically determined condition. Hormones called androgens are connected with androgenetic alopecia.
Androgens are needed for normal sexual development before birth and during puberty. It is essentially a cosmetic disorder. While many people with male pattern baldness choose to accept the condition, there are baldness treatments that can reduce or halt hair loss, and in early stages or in rare cases, reverse it entirely.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a form of dementia that gradually gets worse over time. It affects memory, thinking, and behavior. In AD, the brain shrinks and the number of nerve fibers and the amount of some chemicals that help to send messages between brain cells gradually reduces.
Also, tiny deposits or "plaques" form throughout the brain. Symptoms range widely, including loss of memory for recent events and personality changes. Many people with dementia are not aware that they have dementia. Unexplained falls or unexplained weight loss may be the first indication. Dementia usually affects older people.
The cause of AD is not entirely known, but is thought to include both genetic and environmental factors. Genetics determine partially the risk of developing AD. The risk of developing late-onset AD is connected to common variants in two genes. Currently, there is no cure for AD, but drug and non-drug treatments may help with both cognitive and behavioral symptoms. Cognitive stimulation and regular physical activity are thought to slow down the progression of AD.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is caused by disruption of the normal functioning of the electrical system in the two upper chambers of the heart (atria). In AF, the atria are stimulated to contract very irregularly and rapidly. The atria essentially fibrillate instead of contracting.
Symptoms include rapid, fluttering, too slow, or irregular pulse, palpitations, fatigue, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, fainting, dizziness, and light-headiness. It is uncommon in younger people unless you have certain heart conditions. Causes and risk factors might be high blood pressure and some heart or lung conditions.
Less common causes are hyperthyroidism, pericarditis, viral infection, excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption, certain medications, and stress. Genetic variants are known to contribute to the risk of AF. Up to a third of patients with AF have a family history of the disease. The disorder is usually controllable with treatment.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common skin cancer. BCC tumors typically appear on sun-exposed skin, are slow growing, and rarely metastasize. Symptoms include an open sore that bleeds, oozes, or crusts; a reddish patch or irritated area; or a shiny bump or nodule that may be translucent or any other color.
Tiny blood vessels may develop on the surface or scar-like white, yellow, or waxy areas. The highest rates of skin cancer occur in areas that receive high amounts of UV radiation. The exact cause of basal cell carcinoma is unknown. Environmental factors that are believed to predispose patients to BCC include exposure to sunlight or artificial UV, overexposure to x-rays or other forms of radiation, immunosuppression, and fair skin. There are genetic variants that confer a significant risk of developing BCC.
Almost all BCCs can be treated and cured, mostly with a simple operation or other simple technique. People who have had one skin cancer have an increased risk of developing another one in the future.
Bladder cancer is a cancerous tumor in the bladder. In most cases, the bladder cancer develops from the transitional cells that line the inside of the bladder. Most of the symptoms of bladder cancer can also occur with non-cancerous conditions and there may be blood in the urine or painful, involuntary, or frequent urination.
Other symptoms that can occur with this disease are abdominal pain, anemia, bone pain or tenderness, lethargy, or fatigue. In many cases, the reason why a bladder cancer develops is not known. Most bladder cancers occur in people over the age of 50. Also, it is four times more common in smokers than non-smokers. Substances used in the rubber and dye industries have been linked to bladder cancer. Genetic factors also contribute to the risk of developing bladder cancer.
The outlook for early stage cancers is fairly good. The choice of treatment depends on the stage of the tumor, the severity of the symptoms, and the presence of other medical conditions.
Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that has developed from cells in the breast. Usually, breast cancer either begins in the cells of the milk-producing glands or the ducts. Breast cancer is by far the most common cancer affecting women worldwide.
Early breast cancer usually does not cause symptoms, which is why regular breast exams are important. Genetic factors contribute significantly to the risk of developing breast cancer. High risk but quite rare variants in BRCA genes are associated with breast and ovarian cancer. There are several more common genetic variants that play a role in a much larger proportion of breast cancer cases, but carry less risk than the BRCA1 and BRCA2 variants.
The outlook is best in those who are diagnosed when the cancer is still small and has not spread. In general, the more advanced the cancer (the more it has spread), the less chance that treatment will be curative. Treatments include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone treatments, and Trastuzumab (Herceptin).
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing nutrients. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.
The symptoms of celiac disease can be different and may include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, indigestion, constipation, or diarrhea. The cause of celiac disease is still a mystery. Early first exposure to gluten and repeated rotavirus infections in infancy may favor the onset of celiac disease in predisposed individuals.
The strongest known risk factor for celiac disease is genetics. It is recommended that individuals with a family history of celiac disease be tested. If you do not have the risk variants, it is almost impossible to develop celiac disease. The only treatment is following a lifelong gluten-free diet that heals the damage to the intestines and prevents further damage. Medication is not normally required.
Colorectal cancer starts in the large intestine (colon) or the rectum (end of the colon). It usually develops from a polyp that has formed on the lining of the colon. Many cases of colon cancer have no symptoms. Symptoms may include lower abdominal pain, blood in the stool, intestinal obstruction, narrow stools, unexplained anemia, and weight loss.
Risk factors for colorectal cancer include old age, colon diseases for more than eight years, obesity, and some rare inherited disorders. Lifestyle factors like little exercise, drinking a lot of alcohol, and diet high in red or processed meat also increase the risk. Up to 30% of colorectal cancers may be due to genetic factors.
Having a close relative diagnosed at early age increases the risk significantly. Treatment depends partly on the stage of the cancer. When treated at an early stage, most patients survive at least five years after their diagnosis. However, the five-year survival rate drops considerably once the cancer has spread. If the colon cancer does not come back (recur) within five years, it is considered cured.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a major cause of death and disability worldwide, but mostly in developed countries. It is the disease of heart vessels — coronary means "the blood vessels of the heart" - when blood vessels narrow due to plaques that form from fatty substances in the blood.
The outcome is that less blood gets to the heart muscle or the plaque breaks free and blocks the blood flow entirely. CHD is the most common cause of sudden death and the most common cause of death among men aged over 65. Men are also 10 times more likely to develop CHD than women. Many people who have CHD live healthily for many years before they have any symptoms.
One symptom is chest pain that occurs regularly with activity. CHD accounts for one third or more of all deaths in individuals over age 35. The fixed risk factors for CHD are age and gender; modifiable risk factors are smoking, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. A healthy lifestyle lowers the risk considerably. Genetic factors influence the risk as well.
Glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions that lead to damage to the optic nerve, which carries visual information from the eye to the brain. In many cases, damage to the optic nerve is due to increased pressure in the eye, also known as intraocular pressure.
There are different types of glaucoma, but exfoliation glaucoma is the most common identifiable cause. It is caused by a disorder in which flaky white material accumulates in the eye. Most people have no symptoms until they begin to gradually lose peripheral (side) vision. About 10% of people over the age of 50 show signs of exfoliation glaucoma and 8% of them go on to develop glaucoma.
Risk factors include diabetes, nearsightedness, regular long-term steroid/cortisone use, previous eye injury, a family history of glaucoma, extremely high or low blood pressure, and high eye pressure. Genetic markers have been identified that show increased risk. Early diagnosis before optic nerve damage and management of the fluid pressure within in the eye with medication or other treatments help prevent blindness.
Gastric cancer is cancer that starts in the stomach. Several different types of cancer can occur in the stomach. The most common type is called adenocarcinoma. When a stomach cancer first develops and is small, it usually causes no symptoms.
Initial symptoms vary a lot and may include dark stools, difficulty swallowing, excessive belching, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, premature abdominal fullness after meals, unintentional weight loss, vague abdominal fullness, vomiting blood, and weakness or fatigue. Many people develop stomach cancer for no apparent reason. However, certain risk factors increase the chance that stomach cancer may develop.
Most cases are in people over the age of 60. A diet rich in salt, pickled and smoked foods, smoking, helicobacter pylori infection, removal of part of the stomach, and obesity may also contribute. Stomach cancer is twice as common in men as it is in women. Genetic risk factors are also involved in some cases. A genetic variant has been identified that increases the risk for gastric cancer. Treatment depends on the stage of cancer and it’s positioning in the stomach.
Graves' disease is an autoimmune disease wherein the body produces antibodies to the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor, causing the thyroid to produce more hormones than needed. It causes the thyroid to enlarge to twice its size.
Symptoms include increased heartbeat, weight loss, increased appetite, muscle weakness, disturbed sleep, and irritability. It may cause bulging eyes. As thyroid hormones affect the body's metabolic activity, other organs are affected too: skin, heart, and the circulatory and nervous systems. Risk factors are female gender, other autoimmune disorders, stress, pregnancy, and smoking.
It affects up to 2% of the female population, affecting women seven to eight times more often than men. The reason for autoantibodies' production is unknown, but there appears to be a genetic predisposition. Currently, there have been about 20 genetic polymorphisms identified, including thyroid-specific genes and those that regulate autoimmune response. Treatment usually involves antithyroid drugs, radioiodine treatment, and surgical excision of the gland.
A brain aneurysm is an abnormal widening or ballooning of a section of a blood vessel in the brain. It may be present from birth or it may develop later in life. They can occur in any blood vessel that supplies the brain and are caused by injuries to the blood vessel wall.
Aneurysms usually cause no symptoms unless they rupture and cause bleeding into the brain; then the symptoms are severe, ranging from sudden, severe headaches with nausea or vomiting to speech impairment and vision changes. A ruptured cerebral aneurysm is an emergency condition. Genetic factors play a recognized but not yet fully known role. About one in every 10 patients with a subarachnoid hemorrhage has a family history of intracranial aneurysms, and those who have a family history are usually younger at the time of diagnosis and more commonly have multiple and large aneurysms.
Other risk factors are anomalous vessels, alcohol abuse, smoking, and high blood pressure. Ruptured cerebral aneurysms are often deadly. Neurosurgery is the main treatment for cerebral aneurysm.
There are two main types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer (most common) and small cell lung cancer. If the lung cancer is made up of both types, it is called mixed small cell/large cell cancer. Many people do not have symptoms in the early stages, and lung cancer may be diagnosed when a chest x-ray is performed for a different reason.
First symptoms may be persistent cough, coughing up blood or bloodstained sputum, mild chest pains, shortness of breath or wheezing, and frequent lung infections. Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world. Smoking is the most important risk factor; approximately 90% of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking. Exposure to asbestos, radon, or second-hand smoke increases the risk. Genetic factors also contribute to the risk of developing lung cancer. Lung cancers in non-smokers are usually genetically distinct from smoking-related lung cancer.
Treatment is only effective when started at early stage. Lung cancer is a deadly disease: nearly 60% of people with lung cancer die within a year, but some people are cured and live many years.
Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect different parts of the body. It is an autoimmune disease. It can lead to the damage of many organs (commonly kidneys and heart) and most often to joint swelling and pain. Symptoms vary a lot and may include fatigue, weight loss, or skin rash.
It is very common for a person with lupus to get a "butterfly rash" on the face when exposed to sunlight. The cause of lupus is unknown. Lupus risk is probably inherited from one or both parents, and then a person develops the disease when exposed to a trigger (sun exposure, infection, surgery, pregnancy). People who get lupus at a young age are more vulnerable to alopecia, skin rash, and ulcers, and the disease is more acute. Older people with lupus have less severe manifestations of lupus, but the mortality rate is higher.
Women who are of childbearing age are more at risk, because sex hormones play a role in the development of lupus. There is currently no cure for lupus, but the symptoms can be kept under control with treatments. Exercise, balanced diet, and immunizations help to keep the immune system strong.
Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It involves cells called melanocytes, which produce a skin pigment called melanin. Melanoma can also involve the colored part of the eye. A typical melanoma starts as a small dark patch on the skin.
A melanoma is often different from a mole in one or more of the following ways (summed up as ABCDE): Asymmetry - the shape is uneven. Border - the border or edges are uneven. Color - the color is not uniform. Diameter - the size is usually larger than 6 mm. Evolving - any change in size, shape, color, elevation, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching, or crusting may be due to a melanoma. Some melanomas are not typical in how they look.
Melanoma is more common among people with fair skin. The risk factors are long-term exposure to strong sunlight, use of tanning devices, one or more blistering sunburns during childhood, and the presence of certain types of moles or multiple birthmarks. Most cases of stage one melanoma are cured with a minor surgical operation to remove the tumor. If the melanoma has spread beyond the skin, it is usually not curable.
Migraines are chronic headaches that can cause significant pain for hours or even days. They may occur with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. In many people, a throbbing pain is felt only on one side of the head. Migraines usually begin in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood.
A migraine is caused by abnormal brain activity, which is triggered by stress, certain foods, environmental factors, or something else. Most medical experts believe the attack actually begins in the brain itself, where it involves various nerve pathways and chemicals. Genetics and environmental factors both seem to play a role in the development of migraines. People who have close relatives who suffer from migraines are more likely to develop them themselves.
Migraine treatment consists of two main aspects: preventing the attacks by avoiding triggers, and medications that are taken on a daily basis if the attacks are frequent and severe. For many patients, common painkillers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen are effective. Migraine headaches generally represent no significant threat to your overall health.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease in which the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Myelin is like the insulation on electrical wires. The outcome is that the communication between the brain and the rest of the body gets disrupted.
Symptoms depend on what nerves and how much they are affected, and may include numbness or weakness in limbs, vision problems, tingling or pain that occurs with neck movements, tremors, slurred speech, fatigue, dizziness, and digestive problems. The disease is more common in women and usually starts at the age of 20-50. It is unknown why MS develops in some people, but it has been shown that genetics and childhood infections may play a role.
Smoking and low vitamin D levels are also risk factors for developing MS. The risk grows when you have relatives with MS, but it is not considered a hereditary disease. Currently, there is no cure for MS, but treatment helps to speed recovery from attacks and manage symptoms.
Obesity is a term used to describe body weight that is much greater than what is considered healthy. If you are obese or overweight, you have an increased risk of developing various health problems. Body mass index (BMI) is a good estimate of how much of your body is made up of fat.
It relates your weight to your height. You can work out your BMI by dividing your weight (in kilograms) by the square of your height (in meters). Adults with a BMI > 25 kg/m2 are considered overweight, BMI > 30 kg/m2 obese, BMI > 40 kg/m2 morbidly obese. Increased health risk is greater when the extra fat is mainly around the waist. Main risk factors for obesity are consuming more calories than you burn and not getting enough exercise.
Twin and adoption studies have shown that genetic factors play an important role in obesity. Treatment for obesity is losing weight. Medicines and surgery are less common options.
Open-angle glaucoma (also primary chronic glaucoma) is one of the most common forms of glaucoma, making up about 90% of all cases. It means that the angle where the iris meets the cornea is at normal width. Open-angle glaucoma is caused by increased eye pressure that is caused by clogging of the drainage canals.
It develops slowly and is often asymptomatic until some vision loss occurs. It is a lifelong condition, but early treatment can avoid vision loss. Some risk factors are elevated intraocular pressure, low central corneal thickness, female gender, history of migraines, older age, family history, African ancestry, myopia, and some diseases such as diabetes or hypertension.
It has been shown that smoking also contributes to the risk of developing glaucoma, because it has an overall negative impact on health. Also, genetic and environmental factors and their interactions are important for developing glaucoma. There have been identified two major genes that contribute the disease. Treatment usually involves lowering intraocular pressure with eye drops or oral medications.
Peripheral vascular disease is a condition of the blood vessels that leads to narrowing and hardening of the arteries that supply parts of your body other than the heart or brain. This decreases blood flow, which can injure nerves and other tissues. It is caused by atherosclerosis, a condition wherein fatty substance builds up in the blood vessels.
The classic symptoms are pain, achiness, fatigue, burning, or discomfort in the muscles of your feet, calves, or thighs. These symptoms start during exercise and go away after several minutes of rest. Other symptoms are a marked decrease in the temperature of your lower leg or foot and foot or toe wounds that won't heal or heal very slowly.
Risk factors include smoking—smokers may have four times the risk of it than nonsmokers—obesity, diabetes mellitus, physical inactivity, high blood cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Many genetic variations play a role, each with a small or modest individual effect on disease development. Treatment includes lifestyle changes and medications.
Prostate cancer is a cancer that forms in tissues of the prostate (a gland in the male reproductive system). Prostate cancer usually occurs in older men. A man with prostate cancer may not have any symptoms.
For men who do have symptoms, the common symptoms are various urinary problems, difficulty having an erection, blood in the urine or semen, and frequent pain in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs. Although the exact cause is unclear, certain risk factors increase the chance that prostate cancer may develop. Diet is possibly a risk factor.
As with other cancers, a diet high in fats and low in fruit and vegetables may increase the risk. Exposure to the metal cadmium may be a risk. Prostate cancer is most closely linked to genetic risk factors of all cancer types. There are more than 20 genetic variants that are known to increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. The outlook for prostate cancer is very variable. If detected early, more than 90% of cases are cured.
Psoriasis is a common skin condition that typically develops as patches of red, scaly skin. The redness is most often seen on the elbows, knees, and trunk, but can appear anywhere on the body. Once you develop psoriasis, it tends to "come and go" throughout life.
Up to 30% of people with psoriasis may also have arthritis. Other symptoms may include genital lesions in men, joint pain or aching, nail thickening, yellow-brown spots, dents on nail surfaces, and severe dandruff on the scalp. It can first develop at any age, but it most commonly starts between the ages of 15 and 25. As an autoimmune disorder, the exact causes are not known.
It seems to be an inherited disorder of skin cell growth, and attacks may be triggered by different factors such as infections, dry air or dry skin, and injury to the skin (cuts, burns, insect bites, sunburn). Stress, too little sunlight, too much alcohol, and smoking make you more susceptible to the disease. With appropriate treatment, it usually does not affect your general physical health. Treatment aims to clear the rash as much as possible. Most cases of psoriasis are treated with different ointments and creams.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes chronic inflammation in the small joints of the hands and feet. The inflammation causes painful swelling and results in joint deformity. About 2 in 100 men and 4 in 100 women develop rheumatoid arthritis.
It usually begins after age 40, but can occur also at earlier ages. It is estimated that two-thirds of the risk for rheumatoid arthritis is genetic in origin. The genetic makeup does not really cause the disease, but it makes a person more susceptible to environmental factors.
The triggers for rheumatoid arthritis may be bacterial or viral infections. One of the major risk factors is smoking. Rheumatoid arthritis cannot be cured; the treatment aims at reducing the number and severity of flares (worsening of symptoms) and preventing long-term damage to the joints.
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a form of diabetes wherein the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is needed to convert sugar into energy. The body destructs the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, resulting in high blood and urine glucose levels.
It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and only 5-10% of people with diabetes have this form. Common symptoms of diabetes are feeling very thirsty, the need to urinate often, feeling very hungry even when you have just eaten, fatigue, vision problems, slow-healing bruises and cuts, and weight loss. Twin studies have shown that when one twin has T1D, then the other has a 50% chance of getting it, so there are environmental and genetic factors.
Environmental factors might be early childhood diet (T1D is less common among people who were breastfed), living in a cold climate, and viruses. If the father or sibling has T1D, the risk for a child is 10%, and 4% if the mother has it and was aged 25 or younger when the child was born. Treatment involves insulin therapy and diet, with which even young children can manage and live healthy lives.
Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder that is characterized by high blood glucose in the context of insulin resistance. It usually develops after the age of 40. Many people have diabetes for a long period of time before their diagnosis is made, as the symptoms vary and are vague.
The most common symptoms are being thirsty a lot, passing large amounts of urine, tiredness, weight loss, blurred vision, and frequent or slow-healing infections. The major risk factor for type 2 diabetes is obesity. Others are type 2 diabetes in a first-degree relative, history of previous impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose, high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, history of gestational diabetes mellitus, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Genetics play an important role in developing type 2 diabetes. Although diabetes cannot be cured, it can be treated successfully with lifestyle changes, diet, and medication if needed.
The term "venous thromboembolism" is used to collectively describe deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, and is a condition wherein a blood clot forms inside a person's vein. If the vein affected by a blood clot is deep inside the body, the condition is referred to as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which most often occurs in the veins of the legs or pelvis.
Patients with DVT are in danger of suffering a pulmonary embolism that can cause permanent damage to the affected lung, heart failure, and death. Symptoms may include pain, tenderness, and swelling of the calf below the knee, breathing problems, and chest pain and collapse. Risk factors are immobility (due to operation, illness, injury, long journeys, etc.), which causes blood flow in the veins to be slowed, damage to the inside lining of the vein, contraceptive pills and hormone replacement therapies that contain estrogen, pregnancy, and obesity.
An inherited risk factor can be identified in over half of the patients with DVT without identifiable cause or thrombosis at a young age. Main therapy is with anticoagulation drugs that avoid the formation of new blood clots.