The info below could be the most important medical research result to come along in years, and yet most of us probably haven’t heard about it until now.
A recently published study proves your risk of having of major diseases of aging can be reduced an average of 65% by a simple Lifestyle formula. It is free of course since it is life style. Also this method has no risk, and makes you feel good while you are doing it.
The proof of this great benefit is beyond questioning. It comes from a 35 year study completed by a team of epidemiologist MD’S in England. Here are the details. The study is called the Caerphilly Prospective Study[CAPS]. A total of 2,235 men were chosen at random from voting rolls in 1979 in the area around a the town of Caerphilly. Caerphilly, in southwestern England is close to the medical school of the professors who did the study. No exclusions or admissions for either positive or negative traits in family history, genetics, etc. were made. For the entire 35 years only adherance or nonadherance to four lifestyle choices were charted for each participant.Over against this data, the presence or absence of diagnoses of major diseases of aging was noted. The object of the study was to finally confirm or deny the real value in what everyone generally considers positive lifestyle choices. In other words does any of these lifestyle choices really change the rate at which the diseases of ‘old age’ occur.
Why the need for this study? It may come as a surprise to many, but researchers have known that a study which measures the effects of lifestyle as if lifestyle itself were a single ‘drug’ has not been completed. Until this was done, lifestyle may be a good idea in theory but can it be proven, in a statistically valid study, to actually prevent the onset of diseases. As a doctor for many years I have learned to look for that definitive evidence from a truly objective source before endorsing a method,drug, herb etc. Before this study what we knew of lifestyle is that it can make us feel good, get less fatigue, be more flexible, etc but can lifestyle also, alone, prevent diseases of aging?
Consider what has happened with the recommendation of taking calcium to to build bones before research was done. It seemed like a good reasonable safe idea to doctors and patients alike. But when the results of a definitive Heidelberg study was finally done, calcium supplementation alone was found to be of no help whatsoever for building bones. Zero. Worse, calcium supplements if taken alone almost tripled the risk of heart attacks in women! The news letter on this subject is in the SFPMG web site. Lesson learned hopefully about uninspected assumptions. For all of these reasons, a similar study of Lifestyle really needed to be be done.
Why was it not done before? Lifestyle effects need to be tabulated over a long time to prove or disprove its value. Thus the long term studies are needed. However, long term studies are expensive, very expensive. And remember, there is not pot of gold in the form of a patented drug waiting for a pharmaceutical company even if the study would prove to be positive. These 2 reasons make this type of study the most dificult to get funded. Thus researchers have shied away from even attempting to prove or disprove common Lifestyle recommendations even though such subjects are under constant discussion in the public media.
Why only men? The original funding for the study provided funding only for the monitoring of heart diseases. Since women have a much smaller % of heart disease than men until the age of 60, a much larger population sample would have been required to maintain statistical validity if women were included. The level of funding available for following the larger sample of women was not available. The funding came from the British Health System itself by the way. There is no question among researchers that the same results reported below would have been obtained were a sample of women be monitored..
What were the lifestyle measures evaluated? There were 5 specific criteria:
1. Regular exercise [4x per week ]
2. Non Smoking
3. Normal Body Weight
4. Healthy Diet
5. Low Alcohol Intake
Sounds kind of ‘ ho hum’, right? Nothing extraordinary. But look at the results!
Those participants in the study who followed either 4 or 5 of the above criteria for the 35 year period of the study had the following changes in their risk of the diseases of aging listed below:
1. Heart Disease and Stroke 70% Reduction
2. Alzheimer’s or Severe Cognitive Loss 60% Reduction
3. Adult Onset Diabetes 65% Reduction
4. Cancer 30% Reduction
The levels of reductions speak for themselves and has created quite a stir among researchers.
By the way, a total of 400 published medical articles were generated from the CAPS in medical journals over the 35 years.With so many studies published and such amazingly positive results, why haven’t we read more about it in the media? Simple, once again, new information that appears without a profit making product or procedure that can be sold has largely lost its ability to be integrated into the practice of medicine. The potential value of the information for our health is not the major factor in news getting out beyond the article in a medical journal.
Why this integration does not take place? The attention of both doctors in practice and patients has been ‘ captured’ so to speak by the develpment of a profit driven medical marketing system over the past 40 years. The marketing of profitable products has largely replaced previous avenues of relatived unbiased professional discussions of potential breakthroughs. Lifestyle as a therapy has no profit to make use of this powerful machine of marketing. That profit potential is what funds ads in journals, , free symposiums for doctors, free samples for patients, medical professors from prestigious schools being paid to give positive interviews in media, etc. Also, women and mens magazine articles, and TV programs involving celebrities ‘spontaneous’ use of the therapy etc. Regardless how great its potential research data, that data cannot capture the doctors and public’s attention except fleetingly when the journal article first appears. Doctors by now spend little time looking outside of the information pathways that has been constructed for them to look for ways to heal their patients… In fact it seems the average doctor and patient now would define medical practice as ONLY what is offered to them by these for -profit pharmaceutical companies/hospitals etc. This is truly the age of the Big business model taking over medical care.We as doctors and patients are encouraged to lose sight of the fact that we are receiving almost all our info on disease treatment from businesses which requires us to recommend their products at large enough profits to fund this medical marketing system which in turn captures them….In summary, it is the profit potential not healing potential, of a product which ultimately now drives how likely the doctor and public will become familiar with the research available. This is why the CAPS study confirming that the effectiveness of Lifestyle as a far greater ‘medicine’ than any drug or surgical procedure gets little attention.
All of the above not withstanding,The CAPS study info is out!! We are talking about it. We as individuals can use the results to move forward in confidence as we continue our lifestyle programs. It is official, Lifestyle is not just a ‘feel good’ activity.. It is a safe powerful therapy. When the day of reckoning for the high cost/ low result medical care currently in control of healing comes, will this Lifestyle study receive the attention it deserves? I hope so. I can’t wait! The CAPS study, along with others I have discussed over the years, are hopefully the medical example of a’disruptive technology’ described often in IT circles. Disruptive technology is the sudden appearance of new methods, information so much better that it quickly obviates the methods currently being used. The next 10 years in Medicine should be very interesting and exciting. Lets enjoy the ride. Bye for now, time to go to the gym!