Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Illness and Death are Not Optional

Prevention doesn't work! Prevention does work! Which is it? It turns out that an article in American Medical News entitled "Keeping Prevention in Perspective" confirms what I have believed for a long time. That is that prevention is oversold, mainly by scaring fundamentally healthy people. At the same time some prevention is undersold and should be used more. While some preventive steps are extremely helpful to maintaining an active, happy lifestyle, only a few have been shown to statistically decrease mortality. The difficulty is knowing which measures are really critical and which are more discretionary. Here are some key bits of advice:
  1. The most important thing one can do to stay healthy is to pick your parents carefully. What, you say that you can't pick your parents? Then you are stuck with your parents genes and you have to act to make the most of what you have.
  2. Make sure that you have a primary care doctor who will take the time to discuss prevention with you so that you can really understand requirements and options
  3. Listen to the messages through the media but don't overreact to the scare tactics or under react to the important messages.
  4. Do your own research, talk to your friends and if you are really ambitious, look at the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations to read what your doctor is reading (or should be reading)
  5. Lastly, just live your life in moderation and don't focus too much on your health. After all, life is a uniformly fatal disease and it should not be wasted by worrying.