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The Addiction is Winning

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Photo of Richard Pryor.

Photo of Richard Pryor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Smoking is so addictive. I remember a show I saw as a kid that showed a man who was dying of cancer from smoking. He had a wife and kids. They caught him in the garage sneaking a cigarette. Even when we know we are dying from it … we continue with the addiction.

Richard Pryor Was smoking in his death-bed. We try hard to solve this horrible addiction that kills so many people worldwide but the addiction is winning. Being on a death-bed and smoking also causes stress, another bad thing for our health.

We now Understand How Smoking causes Lung Cancer and Emphysema

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Correlation between smoking and lung cancer in...

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Dr. Farrah Kheradmand, professor of medicine and immunology at BCM said, “DNA is written in pen,” said Kheradmand, using a metaphor. “Epigenetics is written in pencil. If you have enough genes affected by epigenetic factors strung together, it can tip you over into lung damage and emphysema. The inflammation that drives emphysema could also drive cancer development, a testable hypothesis that we have begun to pursue.” We are getting clearer maps of how the environmental factors cause epigenetic changes. If enough of our genes are changed, things can happen like lung cancer or emphysema. As we study epigenetics more, we will be able to build better road maps for all diseases and map them back to changes in our lifestyle. This is a clear case where if you have lung cancer you need lots of drugs and operations but it usually ends with the patient dying. Preventing the cause by not smoking prevents the illness, the drugs, the operations and the premature death.

Can We Reduce Health Insurance Costs

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I was reading an article on reducing health insurance costs and was amazed that diet didn’t show up. Are we really so sold on the fact that getting sick is part of aging? Yes some diseases increase with age but there are plenty of seniors in better health than people half their age. This article did however mention mental outlook as a way to stay healthy. I offer my book and seminars to companies interested in reducing their healthcare costs. The bottom line is we ARE getting sicker. If we can reduce the amount of diseases in a group, the health costs will be reduced as well. No one is focused on this fact. We did learn that cigarettes were harmful and as a nation reduced the amount of cigarettes consumed. This drastically reduced the illnesses associated with smoking and the costs of treating those illnesses. Unfortunately we substituted other diseases and costs are increasing overall.

Lighting Up Bad Genes

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For the first time UK scientists have found evidence of epigenetic changes from smoking that causes cancer. The results were reported at the 35th Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) in Milan, Italy. We all have known that cancer was linked to smoking but now we can actually see the methylation caused by cancer and compare them to the cell methylation of a normal non-smoker. Smoking introduces a foreign toxin to the body that triggers epigenetic changes in our cells that can turn ON cancer cells. I find it shocking to see how many young people are smoking again.

Greed, Money & Healthcare

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Remember when we started to advertise how bad smoking was for you? The end result took years but millions of Americans don’t smoke now. This saved millions of lives from cancer. Had we developed a drug to fight cancer it would not have been as affective. People would have smoked, got cancer, taken the drug, recovered, and smoked some more, got cancer again and so on. Our healthcare is a lot like this. We don’t really look at what is causing illness but what drugs can alleviate the symptoms. Nothing is cured it is slowed at best. Suffering still happens. We must fight to have sciences like epigenetics and nutrigenomics used to find the root causes of illness and educate Americans, just as we did with smoking, to change their lifestyle habits. We don’t need more instant partial fixes through drugs. Why can’t we cure anything anymore? The answer, unfortunately, is greed and money.