….And The Survey Says!!….

066 part III took a survey today that was designed to determine an individual’s risk for developing cancer. To provide  you with some background, I am 56 years old. I have exercised regularly (approximately 5X/week mixing 5 days of cardio and 4 days of strength training) for the last 38 years. I track all my foods in a computer program and have done so since 1995 (except for vacations.) I drink 130-150oz. of water daily. I get 7-8 hours of restful sleep daily. I do not take any medications and have not used an OTC drug in 35 years. I enjoy my friends and enjoy spending time travelling with my wife. ⇒ ⇒ ⇒ ⇒ ⇒ ⇒
I have learned to channel stress in various positive manners. I have recently retired from my career as a physician and truly enjoy life and all the craziness that accompanies it.
The purpose of providing all this information is NOT to get pats on the back nor suggest everyone follow my way of living, but rather to provide a profile on how I live and the efforts I take to create a healthy outcome. With all this said, the results according to the survey revealed I was at HIGH RISK FOR CANCER!

Baby surprised

This picture is not intended to be disrespectful or reduce the seriousness of cancer or any other disease. It is intended to remind all of us that surveys may provide more humor than reality. It is probably safe to say the average person unlikely spends the quantity of time and effort I invest taking care of their personal healthcare needs, so what do you think the survey would reveal about their risk of developing cancer?
It is my opinion that the purpose of this survey was certainly laudable, but does it truly provide a tool of value to help people adjust their lifestyles in a realistic fashion? It is likely this survey will simply scare people into INACTION. If a physician who follows the “rules of health” to a high standard can’t rate better than “high risk” for cancer, many people will think to themselves, why even bother trying?
It is important to realize the limitation of many surveys. Often they are designed to market services or products to the public. The science behind some of these surveys is questionable at best. Sometimes we simply need to use common sense when surveys reveal findings that are inconsistent or require unrealistic lifestyle modifications. We must realize that FACTS and TRUTHS constantly change as new FACTS and TRUTHS are discovered.
The following are five examples of questions found in the survey I took.
  1. Do you cook with non stick cookware?

  2. Do you use canola oil, olive oil or coconut oil to cook with?

  3. Do you wear a cellphone on your body?

  4. Do you fall asleep with the TV on?

  5. Do you fall asleep with your house lights on?

Looking at the typical person and prioritizing adjustments to lifestyles leading to better outcomes, one must question the relevance of these five examples when evaluating the BIG PICTURE and the possible causes of cancer. It is my opinion that poor food choices are likely to have a greater impact on a cancer diagnosis, than falling asleep with your lights on. As of October 5th, 2015, I have been unable to find anyone that has taken the survey with a better outcome than “high risk.”
Instilling fear in and of itself is not a useful approach to help people live healthier lives. It is easier to adapt to healthy changes when pleasure and other positive experiences act as the rewards. Don’t get me wrong; I am NOT saying we should ONLY do what “feels” good. Good health is about BALANCE. I believe each of us needs to create our own customized pyramid of priorities” to attaining a healthy and fulfilling life. Incremental progress using realistic criteria is more likely to reduce one’s chances of cancer and every other disease than wearing a cellphone on your pants.
The moral of this story is to LIVE LIFE to its fullest by focusing your efforts on lifestyle changes you are willing to make FOREVER. Don’t let pseudo-scientific surveys be your source of knowledge or fear. Don’t let another day of procrastination prevent you from experiencing the benefits of healthier living.
  1. Have health surveys played a positive or negative role in your life?

  2. Are you more likely to change your lifestyle based on fear and pain or desire for increased pleasure and quality of life?

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23 comments

  1. Florida Life Minimalist · · Reply

    Is there a link you could supply for the survey?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad you asked. Let me know how you make out after taking the survey. The following link should get you to the site for the survey: http://cancerquiz.org/?a_aid=560ffc5728c31&a_bid=e7d96cf0

    Like

  3. I got the higher risk category. I agree, there are more pertinent questions to ask in such a brief survey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know how hard you work to maintain your quality of life. This is why I raised the question regarding this survey. I believe it is more detrimental than beneficial. Awareness of risk factors is important; realistic lifestyle modifications are equally important. A compromise needs to be reached with each and every person to help them achieve the changes they are willing to incorporate to reach the quality of life they seek. In my opinion, the answer is not black and white.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. WOW! I can’t stop looking at your photo!! Was there a post? Lol. Your wife looks great, too. I love how you…um, it’s hard to concentrate now :D….how you state that balance is important and to live life to the fullest. It’s so easy to be so extreme in our lives and pay too much attention to what’s trending (like pseudo-scientific surveys you mention).

    Thank you, Dr. J! For the excellent post once again, and that photo sure is wonderful, as well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the compliment. I probably should have footnoted somewhere that I superimposed my face on Jack LaLanne’s body! 🙂 In addition, finding that lovely woman to play my wife was no easy task. Cost me a Benjamin Franklin. 😀

      Seriously, I hope sharing these words help unlock some barriers creating a sense of freedom for people wanting to fulfill their desired destiny. Life is not easy, yet offers unlimited possibilities. Recognizing the entities we attach the greatest “value” to often require the greatest effort, some sacrifice or compromise, and a good deal of persistence. Some call it “hard work.” I call it “PASSION and DRIVE!” For me, these words seem to create a positive attitude and make the undertaking less onerous.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Good read and a good laugh! We all remember the government’s food pyramid and what a joke that turned out to be, or how the help pamphlets that went with chemotherapy suggested one eats white bread instead of whole wheat, at the same time medical associations warnings that white flour causes cancer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Since the perception of reality is constantly changing, we must be willing to open our minds to new truths. People (in general) like status quo. Change can result in undesired outcomes OR better opportunities. As new ideas are heard over and over, acceptance becomes possible. I hope my articles help unlock barriers allowing people to experience positive changes (if they desire.)

      Thank you for sharing your experience with cancer therapy and the current void that exists regarding nutrition and its effects on cancer. Those who call themselves specialists have an ethical obligation to either learn the role that nutrition plays in addressing cancer or refer patients to those with expertise. Treating cancer effectively is NOT limited to surgery, chemo and radiation. Each person has the right to choose the course of care they feel is in their best interest. Currently, additional viable options are not typically offered by traditional oncologists. This will change in time.

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  6. My lifestyle choices are always based on desire for increased pleasure and quality of life. They are hard choices at times, as you would know, but over time, they are the only choices for me. I am very grateful each day for good health.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Those willing and able to make the hard choices usually achieve the best end results. There are certainly no guarantees in life (regarding increased longevity or quality), but the odds are in your favor if you follow a course designed to strengthen the body physically, mentally and spiritually. After reading many of your articles, I am certain you have great appreciation and respect for life and have significantly benefited from the path you follow.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lumping any kind of bread (even my 100% WW wi relatively little salt) along with potato chips as “processed food” is yet another example of the survey’s eagerness to label people as hi-risk.

    The survey is indeed ludicrous, and the final display about only revealing the result after giving them my e-mail address suggests to me that selling stuff may be the website’s main priority. I did not bother to confirm that I am also hi-risk by their standards.

    Your remark about the danger of *scaring people into inaction* is really important. I remember seeing many popular press stories a few yrs ago that enthused about getting at least 30 min of exercise at least 5 days per week and hinted (sometimes even said) that anything less was bupkis. Of course, deliberately parking the car well away from the entrance to the store is nowhere near as good as the ideal. But it is better than zilch and can be the 1st small step in a journey to a healthier lifestyle. Any advice with an all-or-nothing tone is dangerous.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are some comedians that “create” humor and believe they accentuate their art by cursing every other word. Some comedians simply tell real life stories that people identify with and laugh as a result. Both comedians “sell” humor, but the delivery seems less stressful in the story teller. An additional significant difference between these two types of comedians can be measured in the frequency the jokes and stories are retold by audience members. In other words, audience participation after the show has ended.

      As a doctor I have always chosen to “tell a story.” Forcing “intelligence” and knowledge onto a patient to achieve a beneficial outcome may or may not succeed. “Telling a story” and working with people on a level they can relate to increases the chances for patient satisfaction and patient compliance. I believe this approach is less stressful for the doctor and patient. Helping people move forward at a pace they can handle is an important key. I have vowed to buy myself a golden tortoise to wear around my neck to emphasize that winning in life doesn’t require speed, but rather patience and forward progress.

      I completely agree with your sentiments. The concept of all-or-nothing commonly results in status quo. In my opinion, doctors need to better understand their patients and their patient’s needs. It may require extending the office visit, but the benefits and the changes people will successfully achieve will be worth every minute. It’s about removing the barriers causing status quo. Doing one’s job by making sure all boxes on the checklist have been completed will never be enough to cause change. Looking the patient in their eyes, sharing your commitment to them, and demonstrating compassion and understanding will do more to remove barriers than all the credentials in the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I just took the quiz, but I didn’t want to provide my contact information, so I have no idea what my score was. Given the fact that the website was trying to sell something, I have a feeling I can guess what I would have received as my risk rating.

    I have done cancer quizzes before, but I did them on the Government of Canada website. My risk level was actually quite low and I was told that I could further reduce my risk of certain cancers by having children (I feel my mom somehow snuck that comment in there).

    I don’t believe in diagnosing yourself on the internet and I don’t think a quiz with 13 questions can give you an accurate picture of anything. The quizzes I took were 50+ questions and actually took me a long time to complete. I’m not sure how accurate they were either though.

    To answer your questions, I am someone who actually CAN be motivated by fear…fear of death, disease, illness, etc. all drive me to try and be healthy. At the same time, I’m also driven by wanting to live a long, happy, and healthy life with my husband.

    I can be scared into action and I do find that the threat of something going wrong motivates me to break the status quo more than thinking about benefits I *might* enjoy if I change my lifestyle. So, really, both positive and negative thinking work together to drive me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I certainly agree with you that positive and negative can create change. I always say the two words in the English language that motivate behavior is PAIN and PLEASURE. I can only say from personal experience that PLEASURE (with a beneficial outcome) requires less energy and removes fear from the equation in many cases. PAIN certainly motivates, but why put oneself through this negative experience if pleasure can produce the same outcome? (ex. Why eat oneself into high blood pressure and or diabetes (painful motivators) and become diseased (and fearful)first, if one’s goals in life center around happiness, fulfillment, travel, family, etc… (pleasurable motivators) which in turn will help guide a person to live the lifestyle they have chosen for themselves? If we know a behavior will likely cause disease, why do we first need the lab report to confirm what we already know before changing this destructive behavior? Experiencing PAIN from a learning experience is one thing (and likely beneficial), but knowing the behavior is damaging and continuing until the damage reveals itself is a type of PAIN I believe people would be better off not “needing” to experience. Just sharing my opinion with a young(almost ??, I’ll keep it quiet)lady I have a great deal of respect for.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think for me, the fear factor is the unknown. I have been checked for everything under the sun by my new (and very motivated) GP and while I do have some issues going on that I need to resolve, I am not facing anything super serious. It’s the potential that I could that scares me.

        I would never advocate waiting until you get a painful diagnosis before you make changes. You’re right – with all we know today and the information that is available, we can benefit from the experience and knowledge of others and make changes before we have to face scary test results.

        I came across a blog that was written by a terminally ill person who was sharing his life lessons. He had several heart attacks and pulled through, which he thought was him “winning” and showcasing how tough he was.

        He wasn’t motivated to make changes until the day the doctor told him that it was too late. It really is a heartbreaking blog to read and it serves as a reminder that in the case of our health, ignorance is not bliss and we can’t just push topics away because they are uncomfortable to think about.

        I have so much respect for you and how you live your life, and especially the fact that you are so willing to help others. I wish you were still practicing and would come be my doctor! Also, I am going to stay young for a long time (regardless of what my pesky birth certificate says).

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Man, I totally admire your commitment to your health and well-being! I bet it is a true inspiration to ALL and I am glad to be amongst those you share your life message with! Survey, Shmurvey!
    Light and Love, Shona

    Like

    1. I appreciate all your kind words always. I think it is important for all healthcare providers to live by the words they share. How credible are health suggestions coming out of the mouth of an individual that clearly doesn’t practice what they speak? I believe we owe it to our patients and ourselves to live by a standard that promotes good health; physically, mentally and emotionally. Setting poor examples simply provides people “ammunition” to avoid changing their life habits. I have heard on many an occasion, “if giving up smoking, losing weight, exercising, etc… was so important, why doesn’t my doctor make these changes to his or her life?” It’s time health providers remove this excuse by practicing healthy standards.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my! You are so right, I am certainly no physician but you just gave me marching orders as I go forward as a health coach! I mean I was already planning to make sure my game was on point, but what you just said was convicting- wow! You are so right and I feel grateful to have read this at the beginning of this particular journey! Thanks Dr.Jonathan- as usual! Light and Love, Shona

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I got higher, as I figured. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The sad part is, I have a lot of respect for what this organization promotes. There sales and marketing methods are a little questionable for my taste. Seeing the LOL comment, I assume the survey hasn’t caused loss of sleep. Your new approach to life is more important than any survey and will result in positive changes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! I know the goals I have in mind. I try to eat clean. Very little processed foods for me. Lose weight, exercise, reduce stress, etc. Unfortunately, there are things such as genetics and environment that are out of our control. I’m pre-diabetic, however, so that’s my real worry. Trying to get my A1C down from 6.1 to 5.6. Am having blood drawn again sometime in November, so sure hope the number comes down. I hope that losing weight, eating better and exercising 5 times/week will be the key.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. 1) Neither.
    2) Desire for increased pleasure and quality of life. But fear is a huge motivator. But I think “REAL” fear, not a survey fear.

    I took the survey, but didn’t submit because I am not going to give my info out.

    Like

    1. I don’t blame you. I only posted the survey when a reader asked for it. It seems more people claim to be motivated by PAIN. It’s a shame; PLEASURE (in many cases) can produce the same end result without the negative repercussions. Doing the “right thing,” however, does require more discipline and self control.

      Like

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