The Number One Cause of Illness Is That So Many People Choose Badly

The wellness movement has been going full tilt for half a century. If there is one single message that everyone associated with it would agree upon and would almost surely have communicated in every speech or article written, it is this: lifestyle matters. The choices we make concerning habit patterns, such as how often and how vigorously to exercise, what kinds of foods to eat, what practices to follow or avoid re drinking and so on, affect quality of life as much as or more than any of the other key determinants, namely genetics, environment and medical care.

Now comes a headline story at the BBC Health News website (December 7, 2011) by reporter Michelle Roberts entitled, "healthy habits reduce risk of cancer."

Wow. What a revelation. Notice that the emphasis is on cancer suffered from bad behavior, not optimal well-being enjoyed due to healthy lifestyle choices.

In the BBC article, reporter Roberts notes that about half of the UK's cancer cases are related to ill-chosen lifestyles, specifically, unwise health-destroying choices of a behavioral nature. These erroneous ways include but are not limited to smoking, excessive drinking and food choices that increase the incidence of illness and disease. Tobacco use, too little consumption of fruits and vegetables and excess weight are the leading agents of dysfunction. In addition to the BBC piece, this news was also seen as newsworthy enough to be included in the British Journal of Cancer.

How, you may wonder, did the BBC or study organizers decide that this obvious fact, long acknowledged by those familiar with health issues, was headline worthy? The answer is simple: While all the experts know that lifestyle choices, if ill-made, cause illness (and, if wisely made, promote positive well-being), the masses still don't get it. Or at least it can be asserted that the public is assumed not to realize this self-evident fact, based upon the way most people live - and suffer. The top scientist who led the study that proved the obvious said as much in an interview with the BBC reporter:
"Many people believe cancer is down to fate or 'in the genes' and that it is the luck of the draw whether they get it. Looking at all the evidence, it's clear that around 40% of all cancers are caused by things we mostly have the power to change."

Don't you want to shake these people? I do, but I can't. There are too many of them.