An Ounce of Prevention . . .
Canada's much vaunted health system is hanging by a thread" - Dr. Grant Hill, August 11, 1997

Heart Attack: What to
do if you are alone
Stroke - act fast
Stroke has a new indicator
   By Tony Copple

Prevention is better than cure. Conventional doctors would be in less demand if we paid more than lip service to this wisdom. They'd be retraining as "lifestyle medicine" practitioners, whose clients (not patients) would be healthy people wanting to reach and maintain optimum health. Unfortunately, in western "civilization", many people do not yet realize that it is they who largely control whether they get fat, whether they lack energy, whether they are always off sick, and whether they'll die from heart disease or cancer, the biggest killers in the west. This is not the case in remote parts of the east, where advanced eating habits such as donuts, hamburgers, processed foods and dairy products are rare. Tragically, the world's largest restaurant chains are working hard to bring them such modern wonders, and supplant the diets that have sustained them for millennia. Hence the appalling statistics for diabetes among the Inuit.

If you need to know why you should do more to protect your health, particularly since the health services are under severe strain, visit a geriatric home. Stop by and talk to the elderly souls who will occupy such homes in ever increasing numbers in our aging society. Examine the quality of their lives, and resolve that you will seek out everything in your power to prevent the gradual decay over twenty years to the grave.

Your aim instead should be a vital active life until age somewhere around 100, and then to switch off like a light bulb, and not one controlled by a dimmer switch.

Science fiction? We have the knowledge today to achieve it, yet in the face of this our young people seem hell bent on destruction through tobacco and other addictions. Longevity is no longer a medical challenge; its a socio-psychological challenge.


Early detection is not prevention

Whenever I hear a doctor or government health official discussing preventative strategies, they talk about mamograms, pap smears, sigmoidoscopy, and other early detection procedures. This is too late! If you detect cancer at an earlier age, it just means you have cancer sooner than was expected. Is your chance of a cure much better? Only with certain cancers like Hodgkin's disease. The history of researching the cure for cancer has been a disaster in terms of results, in which more are now employed on the search than have the disease.

Prevention in my book means taking steps to avoid cancer (or heart disease, or diabetes, etc), early or late. That's not to say I'm against early detection, but that then leads to the field of curative medicine, which is not the prime subject under discussion here.



So what can you DO?

You need basic knowledge and you need continual sources of information. Basic knowledge is all around; surprisingly easy to come by. Next time you shop in the grocery store, look around you. You'll see overweight people buying fatty products like potato chips and red meat. You'll see slim people buying vegetables, rice and bread, and no higher than 1% milk. 75% of the goods on the shelves are fattening and may promote illness. Watch for government health warnings in a few years time on many of these goods. In the checkout counter you may see a copy of Prevention magazine, and The Doctors' Guide to Bible Healing Foods, ($1.19). Buy them both, read them and do what they say, and you'll be well on your way to preventing disease in your life and your family's. For regular purchases, buy foods which have less than 20% of their calories from fat. On the label, multiply the number of grams of fat by 10, and this figure should be less than 20% of the total number of calories.


Where can you find
continual information?

Lifestyle medicine is a young science, with few practitioners. Dr. Dean Ornish has become well known since his lifestyle-changing regimes have been shown to be very effective in reversing heart disease. Since you use the Web, you'll find lots of information there, including on this Site. Information on the web is up to date; nobody takes the trouble to write up old information in HTML. All the good information in the Wellness section of this Site applies equally to preventing disease. An optimally well body will shrug off infection very fast.

The secret is to make 4 decisions:

  1. Never use tobacco
  2. Take antioxidant vitamins every day of your life
  3. Eat a low fat low sugar high fiber diet
  4. Exercise regularly

There is continual debate about the relative importance of these. Recent research suggests a fatty diet is more significant than (second-hand) smoke in lung cancer.

In his fine book The Art of Aging, Dr. Sherwin B Nuland argues strongly for seniors to take up regular resistance training with weights, to slow the physical and mental effects of aging.

A few more suggestions

Exercise doesn't have to be aerobics. A 20 minute walk twice a day should suffice. If you get out of breath and can't talk to someone while you are doing it, you're working too hard.

For information on antioxidants, visit Nutrition. Smoking is a prime source of free radicals. Breathe clean air and drink clean water.

The sun is good and it's bad. Cancer levels rise the further north you go, since sunshine is necessary to synthesise Vitamin D in the body, but you can get it from supplements and milk. Melanomas are caused by over-exposure to sun, and you need sensible clothing and moisturizing sunscreen to protect you.

Your skin and hair indicate your apparent age; look at a smoker's skin. Skin needs moisturizing and antioxidants to counteract aging. Most skin care products on the market contain cheap ingredients like mineral oil, petrolatum and lanolin that give temporary relief and do long-term harm. Seek out a range of skin and hair products that contain only beneficial ingredients.

Suicide has become a leading cause of death, particularly of the young, in our society. If by any chance you are suicidal, get help: Mental Health help Line, Ontario: 1-866-531-2600. Speak to someone about your despair. In the UK, Samaritans have provided phone counselling for decades. Canada has been slow to offer adequate help. Following the death of Carleton University student Nadia Kajouji in 2008 at age 18, her brother Marc Kajouji has become an ambassador for YourLifeCounts.com, which has lobbied Parliament for a national suicide prevention strategy. Maybe there is a cause-effect connection between the demise of Christian upbringing and suicide. Christianity majors on life's purpose and meaning. If you are a victim of sexual abuse, visit The Living-Room for comfort and courage.

If you live in Ontario, the provincial government has set up Telehealth Ontario - 866-797-0000 - to provide 24 / 7 access to a registered nurse for any type of medical question.