Changing Health and Changing Culture: The Yemenite Jews in Israel

By Michael A. Weingarten | Go to book overview
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6
Diseases of Civilization

The term "diseases of civilization" implies that these diseases are brought about by special features in the environment of civilized societies, and these diseases were first defined their absence in preindustrial societies ( Burkitt 1973; Inglis 1981). In all of the descriptions of the health of the Yemenite Jews before or around the time of their immigration, there is no record of peptic ulcers, appendicitis, gall stones, atherosclerosis, 1 hypertension, cancer, or diabetes; neither are these often seen in Yemen today ( Fleurentin and Pelt 1982; Rosser and Moxay 1982). To take coronary heart disease as just one example, of 635 new cardiological patients examined at the Taiz French Hospital in 1980, only 80 had coronary disease, and some of these were foreign residents. Most of the cardiology seen was still valvular disease ( Brunet 1983; Dumas 1983). Yet today the commonest chronic diseases among Yemenite Jews in Israel are the same as those for other Israelis (Table 6. 1).


Table 6.1

Leading causes of chronic illness in Rosh Haayin and in Israel (1988)
Rosh Haayin Israel
1. Diabetes 1. Hypertension
2. Hypertension 2. Ischaemic heart disease
3. Chronic lung disease 3. Diabetes
4. Ischaemic heart disease 4. Chronic lung disease
5. Mental illness 5. Mental illness
Source: compiled by author

-69-

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