So what exactly are lifestyle diseases? I’ve heard the term mentioned so often during the past few years I decided it was time to find out once and for all.
When did lifestyle disease first begin to emerge? Before we can answer that question let’s first look at which diseases fall under the lifestyle disease banner. Well how about this for a “hall of disease fame” line-up:
Cancer..Heart Disease..Alzheimers..Parkinsons..Osteoporosis..Diabetes and
Osteoarthritis. That’s just for starters. It’s quite a scary “cast of characters.” And the scariest part is, they have been on the increase since the early 1940’s.
Speaking with those experts who deal with disease for a living, there are a number of factors. What “floored” me was this following explanation:
“The increase in the incidence of the above-mentioned diseases would be associated with supposed improvements in people’s lives.”
What! An improvement in people’s lives. You mean people’s lives have got better yet they’ve become more susceptible to some of the most devastating diseases known to man.
How could lifestyles possibly bring about the onset of cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes etc. Well, one of the main culprits has been the deterioration in nutritious levels of food. More high fat and high sugar foods; food preservation techniques; and improved farming methods have all contributed in one way or another to the lack of proper levels of nutrition in food. Add to this low cost food, more processed foods to satisfy commercial needs rather than seasonal fresh foods, less physical exercise, increased leisure time, and continued improvements in modes of transport and it begins to take it’s toll.
Up until the late 19th. and early 20th. centuries, communicable diseases such as pneumonia, influenza and tuberculosis accounted for between 60 to 70 per cent of human deaths in the western world. Improved medical techniques and breakthroughs gradually brought this figure down. Then, enter the new breed – what we know as degenerative disease. It’s particularly deadly because it forms over time… sometimes degenerative or lifestyle diseases don’t surface for years. In some cases, it can take up to half a century for someone to be diagnosed with cancer but the process would have commenced many years before.
Since the 1940’s, lifestyle disease has been on the rise and by the time we reached the new millennium, it would account for over 60 percent of all deaths in western society.
So what’s the bottom line? I’m not going to suggest any cures in this article but getting the proper levels of nutrition would be a good start. People appear to be dying longer and living shorter.
And what does the next 100 years hold in store for us? Let’s hope a huge turn around in lifestyle disease incidence.