The power of prevention

Learn how to minimise your risk of heart disease and cancer

Transcript of Power of Prevention video

Hello, I’m John Cummins the Practice Principal at Executive Medicine. Today I’d like to discuss prevention. Our practice predominantly wants to get you to 85 in exceptional health.

What do we know about prevention?

The key question for you is how long do you want to live, and in what condition? I’d really encourage you just to take a minute to think about that, because these days we believe that typically we can help people get to 85, 90, even beyond that, over the next 20 years in exceptional shape.

To do that you’re going to have to follow a pre-described path. If you think of what you’re trying to prevent here, probably one third of us, up to 40 percent, are going to suffer some sort of, what I call a “plumbing problem,” so it’s a heart attack or stroke. I think what people don’t appreciate is that 90 percent of these are preventable.

The INTERHEART global study looked across the world, and they showed that common variables such as being lean, reducing salt intake, fruit and vegetable intake, and being a non-smoker. Not much alcohol, no diabetes, which is mainly weight-related. No stress or very little stress, or being able to manage your stress. These are all critical indicators in 90 percent of heart attacks and strokes, so this is one thing that we search for within this practice. Are you doing these types of things?

Second thing from a cancer view point is, you’ve got to remember a lot of your lifestyle is linked to your cancer risk. 20 to 30 percent of all cancers are thought to be lifestyle. A bad lifestyle will probably take ten years off your life, according to international studies. I think, for example, most women don’t realize that 200mls of wine a day or more is probably responsible for 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers, just as an example.

We all know about colon cancer in western diet. This type of cancer just doesn’t exist in countries that don’t eat a lot of the foods that we eat. We think that obesity is also linked to, for example, possibly prostate cancer. We know that alcohol affects us in lots of ways that eventually cause cancers.

The third thing I wanted to discuss, so probably just to reiterate, plumbing problems, your heart attacks, strokes, vascular problems, probably 30 to 40 percent of us will be affected. Cancer’s another 30 percent, excluding the non-melanoma skin cancers which are much more prevalent. The other one-third is a whole array of other conditions. A lot of these are inflammatory conditions, for example rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, things like that.

There’s quite a bit of conjecture at the moment, with some good evidence, that our diet may be having a role here. We have certain types of gut flora, gut healthy bacteria. If we eat a poor diet that is not full of natural foods, then the gut flora may be altered such that they produce inflammatory molecules, that then cut across the gut wall into your body, and set up inflammation.

Don’t forget the inflammatory diseases are Alzheimer’s, Osteoarthritis, heart disease is inflammatory, cancer is inflammatory. A lot of diseases have an inflammatory component, and it’s going to be really interesting to see where this inflammatory hypothesis ends up.

The power of prevention is really in your hands.

I think people don’t understand how much prevention is actually in their own hands according to their diet. Whether they smoke or not, how much they drink, whether they manage stress. This is something that we continue to enforce within our practice.

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