Medical Definition of Arctic health

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/21/2018

Arctic health: Health in the vast geographic region widely surrounding the North Pole, an area that encompasses all or portions of Alaska, Canada, Greenland/Denmark/Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. The populations of these countries, including their indigenous inhabitants such as the Aleut, Inuit, and Saami, have to cope with extreme climatic conditions and are subject to a unique set of health and environmental challenges. The word "arctic" is derived from "arktos," the Greek word for bear.

Threats from environmental contaminants, particularly persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals, and their potential bioaccumulation in the food supply, play an important role in the dietary health of countries where hunting and fishing are widespread. Cancer, liver disease, and alcoholism are among the prevalent chronic conditions affecting many inhabitants of the Arctic. Emerging infectious diseases are an ever present danger, and the thinning of the ozone layer over the Northern Hemisphere puts people's skin and eyes at increased risk.

Health matters of special concern in arctic health include the following (in alphabetical order): AIDS/HIV. alcohol and other drugs, cancer, depression, diabetes, domestic violence, environmental health, exercise, eyes & vision, FAS (the fetal alcohol syndrome), food safety, hepatitis and other liver diseases, herbal medicine, hypertension (high blood pressure>, immunizations, nutrition, oral health, otitis media (middle ear infection), smoking & tobacco, suicide, and tuberculosis.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018