I 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!
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.
Do you cook with non stick cookware?
Do you use canola oil, olive oil or coconut oil to cook with?
Do you wear a cellphone on your body?
Do you fall asleep with the TV on?
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.
Have health surveys played a positive or negative role in your life?
Are you more likely to change your lifestyle based on fear and pain or desire for increased pleasure and quality of life?