The story on cancer summarized from one study:
Using sophisticated modeling techniques, the researchers argued that less than 30 percent of the lifetime risk of getting many common cancers was because of intrinsic risk factors, or the “bad luck.” The rest were things you can change.
and from another study:
About 82 percent of women and 78 percent of men who got lung cancer might have prevented it through healthy behaviors. About 29 percent of women and 20 percent of men might have prevented colon and rectal cancer. About 30 percent of both might have prevented pancreatic cancer.
Over all, though, about 25 percent of cancer in women and 33 percent in men was potentially preventable. Close to half of all cancer deaths might be prevented as well.
From the diabetes article:
The trial was ended early because the results were so compelling. Those in the medication arm had a 31 percent reduction in the risk of developing diabetes. More important, those in the lifestyle intervention saw a 58 percent reduction in their risk. Moreover, if you were 60 or older at the beginning of the study, your reduction was 71 percent.
About heart disease, the cancer article writes
As a physician, I have encountered many people who believe that heart disease, which is the single biggest cause of death among Americans, is largely controllable. After all, if people ate better, were physically active and stopped smoking, then lots of them would get better.
I’m glad that people are spreading the news about diet, exercise, and behavior, but I don’t like how they implicitly define what is normal and what is a change.
Instead of calling what you can change as preventing disease, I see what you have already changed as promoting disease. My model works better for me. Then I see each cookie, glass of orange juice, and slice of white bread as promoting disease, not normal.
I don’t see cabbage as medicine. I see it as normal.
Why see disease-causing food and behavior as normal?
Instead of saying people have a certain risk for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease and that if they eat healthier they can prevent them, I call eating healthy normal and deviating from it raises your risk.
Fresh vegetables, fruit, legumes, mushrooms, and water are normal, if you ask me. Packaged and fiber-removed foods are deviant, weird, and prone to cause disease, if you ask me.
Why is refining an addictive white powder that destroys your body from beets and cane more legal than refining addictive white powders that destroy your body from poppy and coca?
Most “food” products aren’t healthy. Whole Foods is a disaster zone for packaging and has tons of unhealthy food. Our food system is not normal. It causes disease.
Not exercising isn’t normal either, at least historically speaking. Humans have never sat around without raising their heart rates like we do today.
Sugary foods that didn’t exist in nature became available only to royalty generations ago. By my grandparents’ childhoods they were rare treats. By my parents’ childhoods they were readily available. In my childhood they were easy enough to get that we needed rules to prevent us having too much. Now kids eat for breakfast what we weren’t allowed to eat at all.
The majority of the country may view sugary and fiber-less foods as normal for their breakfast, lunch, dinner and increasing common yet horrifying to me second breakfast, second lunch, and second dinner, and the occasional broccoli as a desperate hoped-for medicine. I see fresh vegetables, fruit, legumes, and mushrooms as normal, which don’t cause disease. Deviating from normal causes disease, no matter how you like the crispety-crunchity sweetness and marketing campaign.
The majority of the country may approach one hour of exercise per year as normal, but I will never see it that way. I don’t think it’s healthy.
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book