Friday, January 2, 2015

Staying Cancer-free

When I write about discipline, I emphasize the relationship between health and lifestyle.  When I write about critical thinking I remind readers to be skeptical about research that shows links between one factor and another, looking instead for firm statistical evidence that one causes the other.

Here is an article from the BBC that talks about both.  The headline reads:  “Life choices 'behind more than four in 10 cancers'.”  A charity in England makes that claim based on research from 2007 to 2011.  The lifestyle choices showing the most serious links to cancer are, in this order:  smoking, unhealthy diets, obesity, sun damage to the skin and lack of physical activity.  It should receive more credibility than normally associated with studies that rely on the words “linked to,” only because these are the same lifestyle choices that have been cited by so many reliable sources including Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins.  It’s the same old story that we have heard so many times.

A large amount of evidence points to the dangers of smoking; it’s more than just a link.  They use the link to tie specific cases of cancer to the suspected causes.  Likewise, evidence continues to build on the dangers of obesity, linked not only to cancers, but also to diabetes and other serious health problems.  The same holds true for sun damage, lack of exercise and the rest.  Lifestyle does affect health.

When I write about economic understanding, I remind readers that their health is no longer their problem alone.  The old fallback of “It’s my body and I can do what I want” no longer holds water with the advent of Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, and other government health programs, along with private insurance.  In this new healthcare world, the cost of everyone’s health is pooled.  The choices I make affect your premiums or the amount of our tax dollars the government must use for subsidies to make insurance affordable to all.

When I write about responsibility, I remind readers that when we don’t do what we ought to do in areas like healthcare that have become a societal problem due to cost sharing, others try to step in and help.  This help, like prohibition in the last century, usually has some serious unintended consequences and the problem is not fixed.  Freedoms are eroded because we failed to fix the root cause, behavior.

Finally, perspective helps us appreciate that Americans in this century have the longest life expectancy ever, but that great advance in medical care can easily be undermined by bad choices.  Behavior has consequences.

This one short article provides a great deal of food for thought about how real solutions to our problems, related to health and in many other areas, can be found only in appropriate behavior within the 5 key dimensions.  No need to look anywhere else!

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