Chronic Disease: A Self Inflicted Pandemic?

Harvard School of Public Health recently developed this handy & insightful infographic titled, The Dollars and Sense of Chronic Disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one out of every two Americans suffers from a chronic disease, defined as a noncommunicable disease (NCD) prolonged in duration, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Chronic diseases are the number one cause of death in the U.S.

The Death of the American Lifestyle

The World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of all heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, as well as more than 40 percent of cancer, would be prevented if Americans would stop using tobacco, eat healthy, and exercise.

Honestly, this is where the world is mostly wrong. I applaud WHO’s recognition blaming diet as the primary source for disease, however, 40% is way too low for the cancer number. Very little Cancer today is genetic, maybe 10%, so let’s assume 90% of cancers is caused by diet, lifestyle & environmental factors. Yes, you are what you eat as the adage goes.

How is this possible and what are people doing to cause such a self inflicted pandemic? For starters, Diet. Let’s take a look at the 50 Jawdroppingly Toxic Food Additives we highlighted recently. Sodium nitrate for example is the worst offender and linked to cancer in humans. It’s added to processed meats to stop bacterial growth. Artifical sweetners such as Saccharin is a carcinogen found to cause bladder cancer in rats, also a worst offender. Artifical food colorings is another one to avoid. Red #40 is found in many foods to alter color. All modern food dyes are derived from petroleum. A carcinogen that is linked to cancer in some studies. Also can cause hyperactivity in children. Banned in some European countries. Blue #1 is commonly used in bakery products, candy and soft drinks. Can damage chromosomes and lead to cancer. Speaking of Soft drinks, what is it’s primary ingredient? Sugar which can be sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose in general, is the worst offender of all. See GMO’s

According to a US based study in the journal Cancer Research headed up by Anthony Heaney, M.D.,Ph.D. at UCLA, Cancer cells slurp up fructose.

Although it’s widely known that cancers use glucose, a simple sugar, to fuel their growth, this is the first time a link has been shown between fructose and cancer proliferation, said Dr. Anthony Heaney, an associate professor of medicine and neurosurgery, a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher and senior author of the study.

“The bottom line is the modern diet contains a lot of refined sugar including fructose and it’s a hidden danger implicated in a lot of modern diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and fatty liver,” said Heaney, who also serves as director of the Pituitary Tumor and Neuroendocrine Program at UCLA. “In this study, we show that cancers can use fructose just as readily as glucose to fuel their growth.” 

Sources of fructose in the Western diet include cane sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a corn-based sweetener that has been on the market since about 1970. HFCS accounts for more than 40 percent of the caloric sweeteners added to foods and beverages, and it is the sole sweetener used in American soft drinks.

Reverse Unhealthy Habits

So what can you as a consumer of the American diet do?

  • Avoid fast food period
  • Avoid soda and sugary drinks
  • Limit Orange and fruit juices
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables and grains
  • Eat more fiberous foods
  • Avoid excessive preservatives
  • Supplement with Vitamin D3
  • Avoid high fructose on labels
  • Know about harmful food additives
  • Know about harmful sweeteners
  • Know about artificial colors
  • Reduce Exposure to GMO’s
  • Read the ingredients
  • Always know what you’re eating!

I realize this is an impossible request for the 45 Million people in the US alone living in poverty but something needs to give. If you couldn’t understand why New York city Mayor Michael Bloomberg wanted to Ban large soda, does it make sense now? I see the New York City Soda Ban as a great start for this country and I applaud his efforts despite the backlash. I see California and other ‘healthier’ states following suite in the coming years. Drinking sugar is no different than smoking cigarettes, they both cause disease.

The True Cost of Our Lifestyle

47 Trillion? So who is helping cause this economic toll on our country? How about some of the same corporations fueling the jobs, profits & GDP in this country. You guessed it, Big Food & Big Soda. Guess who waits in the wings with a magic pill to help treat your ailment? Yes, Big Pharma. They flood our airwaves nightly with subconscious undertones of ‘there’s a pill for that’, then ‘Talk to your Doctor’ because he is also waiting to prescribe you something you probably don’t need and could fix with a simple change in your Diet. Remember there is no money in cures, only in treatment.

Conclusion

The goal is of this article was to simply shed light on why chronic disease is so chronic. After all this is a worldwide public health pandemic and it’s just now starting to gain a touch of traction with the Soda ban. The world is a vicious place. Some of the same companies profiting from our country, are simultaneously killing it. It’s sad really. However, the same Darwinian principles apply to avoiding cancer and other non-communicable disease. The strong (knowledgeable) will survive. If Charles Darwin were around today, he’d likely have the same uncomfortable heart palpitations he had when his doctors urged him to ‘knock off all work’ and live in the country for a few weeks. Or would his doctors prescribe him a pill instead?

Videos on Sugar & Fructose You Should Watch

Additional Discussion on Soda, Disease and Unhealthy Diets: