Health: The myth of degenerative diseases

A column to Black Press from CHIP HealthLine Solutions

In our last column we dealt with the belief that we now live 25 to 40 years longer than our contemporaries 100 years ago. This increase in the average life expectancy is largely related to the drastic reduction in the high infant mortality due to conquest of the infectious diseases. Around 1900, every sixth baby died before reaching the first year of life. However, some 50 years later these rates had precipitously dropped thanks to the advances in public health and medicine.

Degenerative Diseases — a Misnomer

Another myth centers around the concept of “Degenerative Diseases” which has given rise to the assumption that we have so much more of these diseases because our ancestors died while still too young to experience the diseases of “old age.” But the expression “degenerative disease” is really a misnomer. For years people fatalistically accepted the idea that circulation-related diseases, such as coronary heart diseases and stroke, as well as diseases such as cancer, diabetes, diverticulosis, arthritis and other ailments were diseases of old age and therefore to be expected.

Nothing could be further from the truth, because in Western society 100 years ago:

  • Most circulation-related diseases were virtually unknown. The first description of coronary artery disease and “heart attacks” appeared in the medical literature in 1910. Today these diseases are responsible for every third death.
  • Cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, and lungs were virtually unknown. These cancers now claim one out of every four American lives.
  • Similarly, very few diabetics were known then. Yet today diabetes rates are increasing with frightening speed. Diabetes and its complications now represent one of the most frequent causes of death.

Lifestyle-related Diseases

These diseases are actually not “degenerative.” They are not necessarily the result of growing older. The fact that an increasing number of younger people are suffering from them refutes this as does their increase to near-epidemic proportions despite everything medical science can do.

Modern epidemiology (the study of disease differences in different environments and populations) is unraveling the mystery: most of these modern killer diseases are largely lifestyle-related. They are basically diseases of affluence—too much eating and drinking, too much smoking and stress, and too little exercise and sleep. In the absence of effective treatments and cures, the best medical science can do with these lifestyle-related diseases is to treat and manage the symptoms. Perhaps it is time to confront the causes — how we live.

Dr. Hans Diehl is the director of the Lifestyle Medicine Institute of Loma Linda, California, who promotes a lifestyle changes to reverse diseases. He founded CHIP, the Complete Health Improvement Program, in 1988 after conducting a four-week lifestyle change program in British Columbia in a community of about 5,000 people. About 400 people took the challenge on and became part of the first CHIP program.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Dr. Hans Diehl is the director of the Lifestyle Medicine Institute of Loma Linda, California.

Just Posted

Campaign promotes Syilx/Okanagan language and culture

To support initiative, Nsylixcen t-shirts and water bottles are being distributed across Okanagan

Casinos butt heads over table games at Kelowna council meeting

Chances will soon offer table games, despite opposition from Playtime Casino

District of Lake Country receives financial reporting award

This is the fifth consecutive year that the district has received the award

Interior Health leading the way with innovative therapy for stroke patients

Percentage of ischemic stroke patients who received treatment has risen dramatically

VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en supporters vow to keep protesting at B.C. legislature

Supporters say they will continue ongoing action to hold government accountable

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Volunteers share amazing memories of Vancouver Olympic games

A decade ago this month, Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics. Approximately… Continue reading

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

B.C. city rebrands with new logo, cheeky slogan

‘Langford, where it all happens’ is the City’s new slogan

Most Read