Tag Archives: alcohol

Health Care Reform

6 Nov

It’s an election year, and one of the hottest, most controversial political topics is always health care. Whether you support ObamaCare or would prefer to repeal and replace it, there always seems to be a massive discrepancy between the two major parties’ views on how to reform the health care system.

The fact of the matter is that health care is always going to a pressing political issue. The United States population will always need health care professionals to serve them and their needs. Rather than debate a dicey political topic, I wanted to take the “pressure” off the big wigs. I want to put the pressure on you.

The honest truth is that health care starts with you. I don’t know about you, but I’m not very comfortable leaving the fate of my health in someone else’s hands. And, I don’t necessarily mean that I want to be able to choose my own health care provider.

I’m saying that I want to take care of myself to the best of my abilities, and I want you to do the same for yourself. That’s not to say you’ll never have to visit a doctor — you will. Rather, I want to share with you some staggering statistics and information that illustrates just how much control you have over your own health. If you take care of your health, you don’t have to worry about who is determining your health care.

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the US. As a matter of fact, chronic diseases account for an unbelievable 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year. Among the five most prevalent, preventable diseases are:

  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Lunge Disease
  • Diabetes

Here are some mind-numbing facts about chronic disease:

  • More than 50% of deaths each year can be attributed to heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
  • In 2005, one out of every two adult Americans had at least one chronic illness.
  • It is estimated that one in every three adults is considered obese. If that doesn’t sicken you, how about this? Nearly one in every five youths between the ages of 6 and 19 is obese. These numbers are on the rise.
  • Nearly one-quarter of those people with chronic disease conditions have at least one daily activity limitation.
  • Arthritis, another chronic disease, is the most common cause of disability — nearly 19 million Americans report activity limitations as a result of arthritis.
  • Diabetes is a rampantly growing disease and is the leading cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic lower-extremity amputations, and blindness among adults aged 20 – 74.

Now that I’ve got your attention, how do we prevent these diseases? How do we institute health care systems in our own lives and those of our loved ones? The CDC has narrowed it down to FOUR modifiable risk factors that are single-handedly responsible for much of the illness, suffering, and early death related to chronic diseases.

  • Poor Nutrition. Where do we start with this one? We eat an embarrassingly low number of vegetables and fruits — less than 25% of adults eat 5 servings a day. Yet, we consume shocking amount of sugar — it’s estimated that the average America consumes 100 pounds of sugar per year. What!?! In 1822, the average American consumed the equivalent amount of sugar found in a can of soda over the course of 5 days — we eat that much in 7 hours.
  • Lack of Physical Activity. More than one-third of adults do not meet the minimum guidelines for aerobic physical activity based on the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. And that’s the bare minimum. Move it or lose it, people.
  • Tobacco Use. Approximately one in five Americans (over 43 million) smoke. Lung cancer is the leading cause of all cancers. One guess as what causes nearly every case: cigarette smoking. Beyond lung cancer, cigarette smoking also causes cancers of the larynx, mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, and stomach. Oh, that’s just for the smoker. We haven’t even gotten to how many lives have been taken by second-hand smoke.
  • Excessive Alcohol Consumption. This is the fourth-leading preventable cause of death in the US, behind the aforementioned factors. Excessive alcohol consumption contributes to over 54 diseases and injuries, including cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast, liver diseases, and other cardiovascular, neurological, psychiatric, and gastrointestinal health problems.

Now, that’s quite a pill to swallow. Ironically, you may not have to swallow a single pill to deal with any of these preventable chronic diseases if you take care of your own health. And, now that your eyes are opened, that’s what we’ll focus on in future articles.