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Concept: Western world


Upper gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding is one of the most common, high risk emergency disorders in the western world. Almost nothing has been reported on longer term prognosis following upper GI bleeding. The aim of this study was to establish mortality up to three years following hospital admission with upper GI bleeding and its relationship with aetiology, co-morbidities and socio-demographic factors.

Concepts: Central Europe, Western Europe, Surgery, Western culture, Gastrointestinal bleeding, Western world, Gastroenterology, Upper gastrointestinal bleeding


The incidence of food allergy has increased dramatically in the last few decades in westernized developed countries. We propose that the Western lifestyle and diet promote innate danger signals and immune responses through production of “alarmins.” Alarmins are endogenous molecules secreted from cells undergoing nonprogrammed cell death that signal tissue and cell damage. High molecular group S (HMGB1) is a major alarmin that binds to the receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE). Advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) are also present in foods. We propose the “false alarm” hypothesis, in which AGEs that are present in or formed from the food in our diet are predisposing to food allergy. The Western diet is high in AGEs, which are derived from cooked meat, oils, and cheese. AGEs are also formed in the presence of a high concentration of sugars. We propose that a diet high in AGEs and AGE-forming sugars results in misinterpretation of a threat from dietary allergens, promoting the development of food allergy. AGEs and other alarmins inadvertently prime innate signaling through multiple mechanisms, resulting in the development of allergic phenotypes. Current hypotheses and models of food allergy do not adequately explain the dramatic increase in food allergy in Western countries. Dietary AGEs and AGE-forming sugars might be the missing link, a hypothesis supported by a number of convincing epidemiologic and experimental observations, as discussed in this article.

Concepts: Western world, Protein, Western Europe, Immune system, Nutrition, Asthma, Food, Allergy


Over 1 million residents in the USA and 2.5 million in Europe are estimated to have IBD, with substantial costs for health care. These estimates do not factor in the ‘real’ price of IBD, which can impede career aspirations, instil social stigma and impair quality of life in patients. The majority of patients are diagnosed early in life and the incidence continues to rise; therefore, the effect of IBD on health-care systems will rise exponentially. Moreover, IBD has emerged in newly industrialized countries in Asia, South America and Middle East and has evolved into a global disease with rising prevalence in every continent. Understanding the worldwide epidemiological patterns of IBD will prepare us to manage the burden of IBD over time. The goal of this article is to establish the current epidemiology of IBD in the Western world, contrast it with the increase in IBD in newly industrialized countries and forecast the global effects of IBD in 2025.

Concepts: Middle East, Public health, Europe, Western world, Western culture, Epidemiology, United States, Asia


The prevalence of dementia in the Western world in people over the age of 60 has been estimated to be greater than 5%, about two-thirds of which are due to Alzheimer’s disease. The age-specific prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease nearly doubles every 5 years after age 65, leading to a prevalence of greater than 25% in those over the age of 90 (ref. 3). Here, to search for low-frequency variants in the amyloid-β precursor protein (APP) gene with a significant effect on the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, we studied coding variants in APP in a set of whole-genome sequence data from 1,795 Icelanders. We found a coding mutation (A673T) in the APP gene that protects against Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline in the elderly without Alzheimer’s disease. This substitution is adjacent to the aspartyl protease β-site in APP, and results in an approximately 40% reduction in the formation of amyloidogenic peptides in vitro. The strong protective effect of the A673T substitution against Alzheimer’s disease provides proof of principle for the hypothesis that reducing the β-cleavage of APP may protect against the disease. Furthermore, as the A673T allele also protects against cognitive decline in the elderly without Alzheimer’s disease, the two may be mediated through the same or similar mechanisms.

Concepts: Western world, Amyloid precursor protein, Dementia, Protection, Gene, Peptide, Death, Alzheimer's disease


Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) was discovered in the early 1980s when the virus had already established a pandemic. For at least three decades the epidemic in the Western World has been dominated by subtype B infections, as part of a sub-epidemic that traveled from Africa through Haiti to United States. However, the pattern of the subsequent spread still remains poorly understood. Here we analyze a large dataset of globally representative HIV-1 subtype B strains to map their spread around the world over the last 50years and describe significant spread patterns. We show that subtype B travelled from North America to Western Europe in different occasions, while Central/Eastern Europe remained isolated for the most part of the early epidemic. Looking with more detail in European countries we see that the United Kingdom, France and Switzerland exchanged viral isolates with non-European countries than with European ones. The observed pattern is likely to mirror geopolitical landmarks in the post-World War II era, namely the rise and the fall of the Iron Curtain and the European colonialism. In conclusion, HIV-1 spread through specific migration routes which are consistent with geopolitical factors that affected human activities during the last 50years, such as migration, tourism and trade. Our findings support the argument that epidemic control policies should be global and incorporate political and socioeconomic factors.

Concepts: Iron Curtain, Central Europe, World War II, Western world, Eastern Europe, Cold War, Western Europe, Europe


Intent and mitigating circumstances play a central role in moral and legal assessments in large-scale industrialized societies. Although these features of moral assessment are widely assumed to be universal, to date, they have only been studied in a narrow range of societies. We show that there is substantial cross-cultural variation among eight traditional small-scale societies (ranging from hunter-gatherer to pastoralist to horticulturalist) and two Western societies (one urban, one rural) in the extent to which intent and mitigating circumstances influence moral judgments. Although participants in all societies took such factors into account to some degree, they did so to very different extents, varying in both the types of considerations taken into account and the types of violations to which such considerations were applied. The particular patterns of assessment characteristic of large-scale industrialized societies may thus reflect relatively recently culturally evolved norms rather than inherent features of human moral judgment.

Concepts: Assessment, Extent, Judgment, Central Europe, Morality, Western world, Sociology, Western culture


Genetic and fossil data often lack the spatial and temporal precision for tracing the recent biogeographic history of species. Data with finer resolution are needed for studying distributional changes during modern human history. Here, I show that printed wormholes in rare books and artwork are trace fossils of wood-boring species with unusually accurate locations and dates. Analyses of wormholes printed in western Europe since the fifteenth century document the detailed biogeographic history of two putative species of invasive wood-boring beetles. Their distributions now overlap broadly, as an outcome of twentieth century globalization. However, the wormhole record revealed, unexpectedly, that their original ranges were contiguous and formed a stable line across central Europe, apparently a result of competition. Extension of the wormhole record, globally, will probably reveal other species and evolutionary insights. These data also provide evidence for historians in determining the place of origin or movement of a woodblock, book, document or art print.

Concepts: Switzerland, Europe, Evolution, Central Europe, Printing, Fossil, Western world, Western culture


Bisphenol A (BPA) has been associated with adverse human health outcomes and exposure to this compound is near-ubiquitous in the Western world. We aimed to examine whether self-moderation of BPA exposure is possible by altering diet in a real-world setting.

Concepts: Western Europe, Health, Diet, Western culture, Western world, Nutrition, Bisphenol A, Human


The “Beijing” Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) lineage 2 (L2) is spreading globally and has been associated with accelerated disease progression and increased antibiotic resistance. Here we performed a phylodynamic reconstruction of one of the L2 sublineages, the central Asian clade (CAC), which has recently spread to western Europe. We find that recent historical events have contributed to the evolution and dispersal of the CAC. Our timing estimates indicate that the clade was likely introduced to Afghanistan during the 1979-1989 Soviet-Afghan war and spread further after population displacement in the wake of the American invasion in 2001. We also find that drug resistance mutations accumulated on a massive scale in Mtb isolates from former Soviet republics after the fall of the Soviet Union, a pattern that was not observed in CAC isolates from Afghanistan. Our results underscore the detrimental effects of political instability and population displacement on tuberculosis control and demonstrate the power of phylodynamic methods in exploring bacterial evolution in space and time.

Concepts: Cold War, Western world, Tuberculosis, Uzbekistan, Antibiotic resistance, World War II, Soviet Union, Russia


With a growing world population and increasingly demanding consumers, the production of sufficient protein from livestock, poultry, and fish represents a serious challenge for the future. Approximately 1,900 insect species are eaten worldwide, mainly in developing countries. They constitute quality food and feed, have high feed conversion ratios, and emit low levels of greenhouse gases. Some insect species can be grown on organic side streams, reducing environmental contamination and transforming waste into high-protein feed that can replace increasingly more expensive compound feed ingredients, such as fish meal. This requires the development of cost-effective, automated mass-rearing facilities that provide a reliable, stable, and safe product. In the tropics, sustainable harvesting needs to be assured and rearing practices promoted, and in general, the food resource needs to be revalorized. In the Western world, consumer acceptability will relate to pricing, perceived environmental benefits, and the development of tasty insect-derived protein products.

Concepts: Western culture, Soviet Union, World population, Western world, Insect, Food security, Agriculture, Biodiversity