Non-communicable diseases: is their emergence in industrialized societies related to changes in neuroendocrine function?
Med Hypotheses. 2000 May;54(5):825-8. PMID: 10859694
Department of Surgery, Royal Victoria Hospital, Independence Drive, Banjul, The Gambia. email@example.com
This hypothesis suggests that industrialization alters the human neuroendocrine system. The neuroendocrine changes come about because of changes in environmental stimuli. It is further proposed that changes in neuroendocrine function can account for the contrasting pattern of non-communicable diseases in traditional and industrialized societies. The hypothesis is based on subtle clinical differences in traditional and industrialized societies, and the evolving concept of neuroendocrine regulation of physiological processes. Compared to traditional societies, individuals from industrialized communities tend to have lower pain tolerance, slower gastrointestinal transit-time, and a greater chance of having a calcified pineal gland. These changes parallel the increasing incidence of non-communicable diseases in industrialized societies. There is sufficient reason to suspect the variations in pain tolerance, gastrointestinal transit-time and pineal gland calcification represent changes in neuroendocrine function. Programming of the neuroendocrine system by environmental events early in life is one possible mechanism whereby these changes might be effected. Understanding the physiological changes that occur with industrialization, and how environmental stimuli interact with the developing neuroendocrine system might lead to new strategies for the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases.