For centuries, disease was viewed as the result of harmful external agents acting on the body. Many of the ancient physicians shrewdly guessed that there were invisible living creatures which could cause illness. The very name malaria arose from a belief that environmental influences were causal. With the technical advances of microscopy and the advent of the scientific method, it was possible to document and describe scores of infectious agents responsible for illness. With this came the awareness that disease could also be produced by completely inanimate yet toxic physicochemical influences. Recognition of the dangers of lead and arsenic, followed by a demonstration of the health hazard of legions of toxic industrial chemicals, culminated in the full realization of the spectrum of radiation disease. A third major advance came with the view that disease might represent a lack of certain critical compounds in the diet. Chemical advances rapidly
SHELLEY WB. The Autoimmune Mechanism in Clinical Dermatology. Arch Dermatol. 1962;86(1):27–34. doi:10.1001/archderm.1962.01590070033004
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