Health: The Fires Within

Inflammation is the body's first defense against infection, but when it goes awry, it can lead to heart attacks, colon cancer, Alzheimer's and a host of other diseases

What does a stubbed toe or a splinter in a finger have to do with your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, suffering a heart attack or succumbing to colon cancer? More than you might think. As scientists delve deeper into the fundamental causes of those and other illnesses, they are starting to see links to an age-old immunological defense mechanism called inflammation — the same biological process that turns the tissue around a splinter red and causes swelling in an injured toe. If they are right — and the evidence is starting to look pretty good — it could radically change...

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