The relative social and genetic isolation of Jews from other communities, which was much more marked in the past than now, has led to the belief that they are unusually prone to a variety of illnesses. Until the last few decades assessments of the incidence of various diseases among them were usually based on impressions rather than planned surveys or careful analyses, and many misconceptions still persist. It is proposed to consider the present state of knowledge as well as to indicate the historical and social basis for any tendencies for Jews to suffer from, or perhaps to resist, some diseases. No attempt has been made to analyse every single report in which Jewish pre-disposition to various diseases is mentioned; attention will be focused on those conditions that have received greater attention or from which it is possible to draw meaningful conclusions.
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