KEY TAKEAWAY: As many as 40 percent of cancer cases, and half of cancer deaths, come down to things people could easily change, researchers said Thursday. What does this say about “empowered patients”?
A team at Harvard Medical School calculated that 20 to 40 percent of cancer cases, and half of cancer deaths, could be prevented if people quit smoking, avoided heavy drinking, kept a healthy weight, and got just a half hour a day of moderate exercise. So the million dollar question is “why?”.
There are many reasons why Americans are so unhealthy. We work too many hours, spend too much time sitting in our cars and in meetings and we just don’t have the time or energy to eat healthy and exercise. However, doctors and employers also share responsibility.
There was a time when doctors would have the difficult conversation with patients about their weight and lack of exercise, but most doctors just don’t have the time to treat people as opposed to health conditions.
Pharma companies, as marketers, have found opportunities in Americans poor health habits. The first line of treatment for high cholesterol is prescribing a statin as opposed to telling patients to change their diets. Most ED is due to lack of exercise and poor weight control, but it’s easier to just ask for an Rx for Cialis.
Insurers for the most part have focused on reducing the cost of care rather than prevention. Customers of health insurance should be offered incentives to lose weight, lower bread pressure and exercise despite the potential political ramifications. Pharma companies are demonized by the media and zealots, but the best way to get back at these companies is for patients to do everything they can to ensure they don’t need high cost drugs.
If the AMA wants to really impact health they need to stop focusing on DTC and need to focus, instead, on how our lifestyles are literally killing us. It needs to be a comprehensive initiative that integrates wellness with employers, insurers and doctors.