You have a choice…
But a lot of people don’t realise this.
Sorry, today the topic is rather morbid - disease and death. I am working on a presentation called ‘You have a choice’ and so I thought I would share the basic idea with you.
Over the years, the things that kill us have changed. 20,000 years ago, our caveman ancestors were killed by predators, accidents and infectious diseases. High infant mortality was almost certainly the #1 cause of death.
Then for a long time, in more recent history, it was wars, poverty, infectious dieases and malnutrition that was killing us.
But through technology, medicine and public sanitation, many of those things have been sorted out.
Now, what kills most humans is NCDs. Non-commincable diseases.
‘Non-communicable’ means they are not infectious, we don’t ‘catch’ them, they ‘develop’ inside us. Worldwide, around 55 to 60 million people die every year. These NCDs account for about 70% of those deaths. The four things that kill most people are heart disease and stroke (circulatory diseases), cancers, diabetes and lung conditions.
What these diseases all have in common, is that they develop inside us, over time. Another word for ‘develop’ might be ‘grow’. They grow inside us, and therefore we have some ability to exert an influence over that growth process.
Of course, some of these diseases are unavoidable. Some people are born with heart problems, some people inherit a genetic malfunction that can lead to a cancer forming at a young age, and some people inherit genes that make them predisposed to certain cancers. But in all, inherited conditions and genetic abnormalities only really account for about 10% or so of cancers, and less than 10% of heart disease.
What of the other 90%? Well, we can exert some influence over the other 90%.
For instance, the #1 preventable cause of cancer worldwide is smoking. Smoking causes heart disease, lung cancer, other cancers and several lung diseases. According to WHO, the World Health Organisation, smoking is the primary cause of death behind roughly 10% of all human death every year.
So there we have a choice - don’t smoke, and you should live a little longer.
See how this works?
You have a choice.
According to Cancer Research UK, and the NHS, approximately 42% of cancer deaths in the UK are caused by smoking, obesity, drinking alcohol, poor diet, lack of exercise, irresponsible sun exposure and exposure to toxic chemicals at work.
Well, you can choose not to smoke, you can choose to eat sensibly, the Mother Nature’s Diet way, you can choose not to drink, or to drink much less, you can choose to eat a better diet, more than your 5-a-day, you can choose to exercise regularly, you can choose to be sensible in the sun, and you can choose not to work in an environment where you may be exposed to toxic chemicals.
Just those things, in that paragraph, that’s almost half of UK cancer deaths taken care of right there. You can choose not to be a part of that statistic.
Now of course, let’s not talk about saving lives. We can’t save lives, we can only prolong them. Personally, I’m all for a longer life! The truth is, we’re all going to die, one day, that’s a fact of life. But average life expectancy in the UK is around 80, so I am saying you can choose, do you want to go at 65, or make it to 95? How you live, can make that difference.
Many of the things that cause cancer, are the same things that cause heart disease. And it just so happens they are also the same things that cause diabetes (type-2) and certain lung diseases. While smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, it is also the leading cause of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and it is one of the leading causes of heart disease.
Poor diet and a lack of exercise are the leading causes of obesity and type-2 diabetes. Obesity in turn is a major cause of heart disease and a direct cause of ten types of cancer, including breast cancer and bowel cancer. Being diagnosed with diabetes takes 10 years off your life expectancy, and diabetes in turn is a leading risk factor for heart disease.
You see, it’s the same things, time and again, causing so much of our ill health.
So today my message is simple: You have a choice.
I find a lot of people just don’t realise it.
We grow up with ‘common knowledge’ like “Smoking gives you cancer” and “Being obese, you’re a heart attack waiting to happen.” but beyond that, I find that most people really don’t realise that if we all just made some smarter choices, we could hold off 50% of deaths in the UK for an extra decade or two, just through some simple healthy living. And heaven knows how this would ease the burden on our beloved NHS.
So now you do know, that you have a choice.
What are you going to do differently?