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

Penticton Vees recognized on and off ice success

The awards were given out following their Saturday night win.

Dale family was prominent in Summerland’s past

Ruth Dale taught for many years

Penticton Vees comeback for overtime win to end regular season

The Vees were down 3-0 to start the third before putting together an epic comeback.

PHOTOS: Celebrating diversity in Penticton

Seventh annual OneWorld Festival celebrates the worlds of different cultures in the South Okanagan.

Fiery collision involving truck closes Highway 1 at Three Valley Gap

Drivers should expect major delays and congestion; estimated time of re-opening is 2 p.m.

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Kelowna Firefighters douse suspicious hedge fire

A 30’ section of cedar hedge burned prompting an RCMP investigation.

Kelowna RCMP make arrest in fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Elijah Beauregard

An 18-year-old woman is in police custody facing a manslughter charge.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Most Read