“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” ~Thomas Edison 1847-1931~
Edison was a pioneer of his time. An inventor, scientist, businessman. And lived to the age of 84 years old. That was an impressive age considering the average lifespan of his era at birth was only 37 years old. Looking at the aforementioned quote, his sustained health and vitality is likely a result of his views on medicine, health and wellness.
Over 100 years ago, the leading causes of death were infectious diseases like tuberculosis, influenza and pneumonia. Water-borne illnesses such as cholera and typhoid were of equal concern but chronic illness was uncommon as a major cause of death.
Fast forward nearly a century and in the time since great innovations as the practical incandescent electric light bulb and the phonograph average lifespans of Americans slowly advanced alongside advances in medicine, health, science and technology. Unfortunately though, all good things eventually come to an end.
In a CDC report (Kenneth D. Kochanek, 2017) and for the first time in nearly 60 years, average life expectancy in the United States has declined again, for the second year in a row. It’s quite shocking to learn that with all of the technology, resources, and information that we have available that as a society we’re literally starting to kill ourselves.
The Cleveland Clinic reported a startling fact that lifestyle choices are the root cause of chronic disease. And statistics show that chronic disease is on the rise, at epidemic levels high enough to impact our average lifespan. Lets look at some of the major areas in which we’re failing.
1. Heart Disease: The number 1 cause of death in the United States. You would think as the #1 killer we would be doing whatever we can do as a society to mitigate and reduce this. New Federal reports clearly indicate that after several years of decline, deaths attributable to heart disease have been on the rise in recent years.
4. Stroke: Our #4 killer in the US is also on the rise, taking over 5% of Americans yearly.
5. Alzheimer's disease: Though there is still much that is unknown about Alzheimer's disease, what is known is that it’s on the rise, and that avoidable factors are at play.
8. Obesity: In the US alone, we pay $147 billion yearly on healthcare related to obesity and an additional $117 billion yearly on additional costs that arise from inadequate activity. That’s $264,000,000.00 yearly. Obesity is a main contributor for most chronic diseases and conditions, yet as a society we’re getting fatter and fatter.
9. Autism: Rates have been increasing drastically in recent years. Some point to advances in diagnostics rather than an increase in the incident rates however there are now cases that have been linked to chemical, drug, heavy metal and contaminant exposure during pregnancy. Just in the years from 2000-2014 rates increased from 1 in 150 to 1 in 59, that’s nearly a 300% increase and some of those may have been avoidable.It’s important to point out that many factors with all of these conditions are completely unavoidable, like genetics and age as previously mentioned. That being said, as a society we are failing ourselves and our future generations by not getting to work on the areas we can control. Diet, exercise, lifestyle, smoking, sleep, hydration, all controllable and we as a people need to start holding ourselves to a much higher standard than we have in the past several decades.