This western disease is infiltrating developing countries

BY OLIVIA MILTNER

Adrian Bulfon was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease when he was 16. Since then, he’s figured out where he can go, what he can do and what he can eat, though now he eats pretty much whatever he wants, knowing that most foods will bother him. And just as the disease was a part of him, it was closely identified with the developed world of which Canada, Bulfon’s country, is a part. But not anymore.

IBD, a general term for diseases causing chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, has largely been isolated to North America and Western Europe since it was first formally discovered in 1932. Though the severity of Bulfon’s case is rare, IBD affects about a half-percent of Canada’s population. The rate in the U.S. is even higher; 1.3 percent of adults were diagnosed with IBD in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But now, as countries across Asia, South America and Africa industrialize and become more urban, they are also starting to see IBD emerge as an increasingly common chronic and burdensome disease.

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