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Health Promotion v.s Disease Prevention

In an article printed in the BMJ (BMJ 2008;337:a399), Dr. Butler et al, are presenting a theory that is so revolutionary, so unbelievably insightful and paradigm shattering that it may signal an evolutionary shift in how medicine will be practiced for the next millenium:

The promotion of health and longevity may be more successful at preventing disease and improving both the quality and quantity of our lives than attacking individual diseases.”

I like to call this the “An Apple a Day keeps the Doctor Away” theory.

But seriously folks, the authors of this study believe that a shift towards health promotion and disease prevention could pay off with social, economic and health benefits for present and future generations. We’re talking improved quality and duration of life. It’s a win-win.

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In the study, the researchers note that since we all have biochemical mechanisms that influence how quickly we age, and that through lifestyle changes or possibly even genetic alteration, it is possible to extend lifespan by postponing or even eliminating aging-related processes and diseases.

To Recap:

Health promoting activities – eating healthy, exercising, nutritional supplements, meditation, etc may not only be more successful at preventing disease and improving the quality & duration of our lives than the current medical practice of attacking diseases as they crop up, it might just improve the social & economic health for us and for our kids.

How awesome is that?

 

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17 thoughts on “Health Promotion v.s Disease Prevention

  1. According to http://www.livingto100.com/

    My calculated life expectancy is 98 years.

    And here is the feedback the site gave me to increase my life expectancy:

    Add years to your life!

    Lifestyle Category

    + 0.5 years by:

    Minimizing or cutting out your caffeinated coffee consumption completely could provide you with about half a year more in life expectancy

    Unlikely, I need my morning coffee ritual

    + 0.5 years by:

    Ultraviolet rays present in sunlight and tanning beds greatly increase your risk of skin cancer, including melanoma. They also increase wrinkles. It is good that you are already decreasing your sun exposure. Doing so consistently could add half a year to your life expectancy.

    I could be more consistent with my sunscreen

    Nutrition Category

    + 0.5 years:

    Osteoporosis (brittle bones) is a terrible disease that becomes more common with older age. Among the important ways to prevent osteoprosis, it is important to have adequate amounts of calcium in your diet. Add more dairy products to your diet or take 1500 mg of calcium a day. Doing so could add a half a year to your life expectancy.

    They want me to take more calcium – There is calcium in my multi, I eat lots of veggies (broccoli, cauli, asparagus, carrots) high in calcium and I expose my bones to lots and lots of compressive forces due to my weight lifting. This encourages new bone growth. So, I doubt that I will be adding any additional calcium supplementation.

    Medical Category

    + 0.25 years

    It is wise to keep a record of your laboratory tests and other health data that might be hard for you to remember. Doing so could add a quarter of a year.

    OK, I do tend to miss my yearly check-up

    + 0.5 years

    Getting your blood sugar checked could add half a year to your life expectancy

    OK, seems simple enough

    Anyone else want to take the test – no cheating

  2. I just began reading “The China Study”, based on the largest study ever done about how much health and disease is influenced by our diets. I may do a review about it when i’m done.

    I took the test… 95!

    I got all of the same stuff you did. But apparently I should floss and take aspirin everyday to add two years, and checking my blood pressure added another 1.5 yrs for me.
    Also, increasing my workout days from 3 to 7 a week added 5 yrs! I need to get my butt in the gym, or on the bike.

  3. Living healthy…it’s not a great secret on disease prevention, better health, and longevity.

    We can mentally ma*turbate this topic to death, but it’s really, really simple. The problem is everyone wants what they want, and they want it now, and they really don’t want to sacrifice…hence gastric bypass.

    My sister-n-law had this done about 12 years ago…after about a year, she started suffering health problems…teeth cracking, unexplained numbness, etcc… she died about a year ago at 39 years old.

    Experimental processes circumvent the life-changes that need to be made to ensure long-term changes in one’s health. And there are absolutely zero long-term studies on the ramifications of these types of “short-cuts” to better health.

    We need life-coaches that can not only help individuals find their own path to a better life, but that understand it’s their job to help each individual find their OWN way to health…not canned approaches…

    No P.E. in schools any longer…health classes are generally electives, and parents are ill-equipped to deal with the pressures of being a teen today…and the wider varieties of garbage available for consumption, and the marketers that have gotten so much better at getting their junk in the stomachs of today’s kids…

    Let’s start at the school level…P1…and revolutionize the educational process..

    Good eating, good exercise, sleep, vitamins and mineral supplements. Taking our time to do it right, and make changes…will take time…eliminate the short-cuts…

    Peace

  4. I like the ancient Chinese approach. Apparently a family would retain a doctor to keep them healthy. If a member of the family became ill, they would STOP PAYING the doctor until health was restored.

    Our doctors get wealthy on our ill health rather than on our good health.

    What do you think?

  5. Charlie,

    Pay for performance. hmmm, nice idea

    I live in Canada, so I have a mediocre health system with long waits, but at least we are all in the same boat, rich or poor.

    Well, not exactly. Through my business, I can get tests and visits to specialists much, much faster than Joe Public.

    Or, like my client, who is married to a doctor. When one of her friends needs some special attention, all it takes is one phone call. Instant appointment with the head of the department.

    In the U.S., we can replace gov’t controlled health care with insurance company controlled health care.

    Same result, just a different bureaucrat telling you that you and your cancer will have to wait or make due with an antiquated treatment.

    I guess it all comes down to money.

    If you have it, you can buy whatever treatment you need. That’s fair.

    But if you don’t have the money…your problems are just beginning.

    In regards to paying doctors based upon their performance, how many people have the resources to be able to voluntarily stop paying the doctor’s bills.

    They don’t have the money in the first place and as a result, we generally shut up and take what the HMO/Gov’t healthcare is willing to give us.

    Is it true that medical expenses are the number one cause of personal bankruptcies in the U.S.A.?

  6. Hi DR

    I’m in the UK, it sounds like your Canadian health system is similar to our National Health Service where (like you say) rich and poor are treated with equal contempt🙂

    I would say that our NHS has gone downhill over the last decade as it has gone away from the central funding to independent Trusts. The first problem is when they get in an expensive administrator who looks to cut medical jobs to pay for his/her own job.

    I still think that is better the US system though for the reasons you outline above. At the risk of lowering the conversation with politics, it looks like if Obama gets in, he might finish what Hilary Clinton started.

    Regards

    Charlie

  7. I can’t find it right now, but didn’t I read something recently about you Brits being the least satisfied (amongst European nations) with your health care system.

    Big change in confidence and not for the better.

    We live in a world run by bureaucrats.

    How sad…paper pushers tell the doctors how to heal the sick

  8. I couldn’t agree more about the paper pushers.

    You’re right about us Brits losing confidence in our health service. The basic idea is great, but it is not applied very well.

    Also, nurses are not paid too well. In the UK we have lots of nurses from Asia and Africa working here (and we need them too). I think it is a shame that our nurses are not more appreciated by their employers.

  9. Personal

    + 0.25
    You noted that you don’t manage your stress as well as you could. Do a better job and you could add a quarter of a year to your life expectancy

    + 0.5
    Cutting back on your hours at work, approaching, if you can, 40 or fewer hours, could add half a year to your longevity

    Lifestyle

    + 2.0
    If it is ok with your doctor, taking an 81 mg aspirin every day improves your hear and brain health and could help you delay or escape a heart attack or stroke. Taking an aspirin each day, perferably in the evening, could add 2 years to your life expectancy.

    + 1.0
    Ultraviolet rays present in sunlight and tanning beds greatly increase your risk of skin cancer, including melanoma. They also increase wrinkles. Minimizing your sun exposure could add a year to your life expectancy

    Nutrition

    + 0.5
    Osteoporosis (brittle bones) is a terrible disease that becomes more common with older age. Among the important ways to prevent osteoprosis, it is important to have adequate amounts of calcium in your diet. Add more dairy products to your diet or take 1500 mg of calcium a day. Doing so could add a half a year to your life expectancy.

    + 2.0
    Changing your daily dietary intake so that you get to and maintain a healthy weight could add two years to your life expectancy

    + 1.0
    Iron is likely an age-accelerator and increases risk for age-related diseases. Stopping your iron supplement could add a year to your life expectancy

    Medical

    + 0.5
    Increasing the frequency of your bowel movements to at least once every two days could add half a year to your life expectancy.

    + 1.0
    Examining yourself for cancer could add a year to
    My calculated life expectancy is 85 years. healthvsdisease.com
    your life expectancy

    + 1.5
    Getting your blood pressure checked annually could add a year and a half to your life expectancy

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