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There is no magic treatment that will make arteriosclerosis go away and it is unlikely that any cancer treatment will ever be able to eliminate the excess cancer mortality associated with smoking. However, others feel that relative poverty and deprivation are just as important, if not more so.

Cancer treatment may in time be able to cure a growing number of cancer diseases, but many opportunities for prevention have been lost because we have waited in vain for this to happen. Inequality in health While a concern for improving the health of the poor is widespread, it is by no means universally preferred.

Non-communicable diseases include arteriosclerosis, psychosocial diseases, low back pain, infertility, congenital malformations, poor visual acuity, hypertension, psoriasis, diabetes, etc. Marine n-3 fatty acids ingested in pregnancy as a possible determinant of birth weight: a review of the current epidemiologic evidence. In the same vein, the 1984 targets of the WHO Regional Office for Europe (EURO) were expressed in terms of reducing poor–rich disparities.

Some of these diseases may be caused by infection, but most are probably not. ‘By the year 2000’, said the WHO document in which these targets were presented, ‘the actual differences in health status between countries and between groups within countries should be reduced by at least 25 per cent, by improving the health of disadvantaged nations and groups’ (Whitehead 1990).

All of this is intended and desirable, but unfortunately this epidemiological transition is often followed by undesirable epidemics of chronic diseases. Poverty lines of this sort are used in the developed as well as the developing world.