A 3-part series examining why traditional medicine has failed to promote lifestyle changes as a pathway to preventing disease and mortality. Based on a News & Perspective article published on April 22, 2015, in Medscape Internal Medicine by Christopher Labos, MD CM, MSc. Research Fellow, Division of Cardiology, McGill University Faculty of Medicine; Staff Physician, Groupe Médical Jean-Talon, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Part I – Lifestyle Modifications Are Effective
From ancient times physicians touted the benefit of healthy lifestyles. The Greeks wrote that “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.” Multiple studies in recent times suggested that successful modification of four lifestyle interventions resulted in nearly 80% reduction in risk for all-cause mortality. The four important factors were regular exercise, healthy diet, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight. The INTERHEART study estimated that modifiable risk factors account for 90% of the population-attributable risk for heart disease in men and 94% of the risk in women. According to Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center and president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, “A very short list of lifestyle practices has a more massive influence on our medical destinies than anything else in all of medicine. There’s almost nothing in all of medicine that has the vast, consistent, and diverse evidence base.” He remarked that no pill or combination of pills can ever reduce the burden of chronic disease in the way that healthy lifestyle factors can.
If lifestyle practices have such great potential to reduce risks for disease and mortality, why don’t U.S. physicians use lifestyle modification as a primary care tool?
Stay tuned for part 2 – “The Medical Myth that Lifestyle Interventions Are Futile”
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