The Cost of Increased Life Expectancy in a Medicalized Society: We're Living Sicker Longer
Geriatric medicine will have us believe that more people are living healthier into old age with fewer disabilities than ever before. Like most claims from modern medicine, this one is also false. Life expectancy at birth rose by 4.7 years for men and 3.5 years for women in the last two decades of the 20th century. This has come at an enormous cost in the quality of life of our elders, for they are suffering with more pain and greater disability than ever before in last 15 years of life. People globally are living longer but chronic debilitating conditions are becoming more prevalent, according to a massive new global report.
The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 involved 486 authors in 50 countries who aimed to offer a comprehensive update on diseases and injuries since the last such report in 1990.
The study was led by the Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation at the University of Washington. It also describes causes of death and disability across age groups and sexes for 187 countries around the world, including 291 diseases and injuries and 67 risk factors.
What's interesting about the study is that the leading risk factor accounting for the disease burden in most developed nations is diet. Despite this fact, our modern food industry filled with processed and junk foods continue to litter the isles of grocery retailers. A team of scientists from the U.S and Germany recently showed that excess refined and processed salt may be one of the environmental factors driving the increased incidence of autoimmune diseases.
The very powerful pharmaceutical industrial complex has plenty to gain by ensuring that the aging demographic
of baby boomers does not experience an early death, but remains sick and disabled for as long as possible. It's one of the reasons vaccinations, medications, radiation, chemotherapy and dozens of other toxic medical treatments still exist.
"There's a series of diseases that don't kill you very often but cause an awful lot of disability," Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, where the report was co-ordinated.
"What ails you isn't necessarily what kills you," he told a news conference in London.
By 2025 the number of obese people is expected soar to 333 million. "I suspect that within a short period of time we will begin to see a reduction in life expectancy because of the twin epidemics," said Professor Claude Bouchard, president of the International Society for the Study of Obesity (IASO).
The disabling diseases include mental illnesses, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal injuries like back, shoulder and neck pain, joint pain such as arthritis, headaches, loss of vision and hearing and anemias.
According to the report, heart disease continues to be the top cause of death worldwide, followed by stroke. Together they accounted for around one in four deaths worldwide in 2010, nearly 13 million.
Diseases such as diabetes, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease moved up the list. However, the actual cancer and cardiovascular rates of disease are another story and the official statistics are neither accurate nor reflect the true state of these killer diseases among the population. Both of these diseases are huge money makers for the pharmaceutical industry so the incidence, diagnostic rates and deaths are all geared around propaganda more than anything else.
The western world devotes more resources to medical care than other countries. Most of this investment leads to more diagnoses, a trend that has become an epidemic.
This epidemic is a threat to your health...the medicalization of everyday life. Most of us experience physical or emotional sensations we don't like, and in the past, this was considered a part of life. Increasingly, however, such sensations are considered symptoms of disease. Everyday experiences like insomnia, sadness, twitchy legs and impaired sex drive now become diagnoses: sleep disorder, depression, restless leg syndrome and sexual dysfunction.
Perhaps most worrisome is the medicalization of childhood which is leading us to illness if adulthood. If children cough after exercising, they have asthma; if they have trouble reading, they are dyslexic; if they are unhappy, they are depressed; and if they alternate between unhappiness and liveliness, they have bipolar disorder. While these diagnoses may benefit the few with severe symptoms, one has to wonder about the effect on the many whose symptoms are mild, intermittent or transient.
Constantly Changing The Rules To Acquire More Clients For Big Pharma
The rules are always changing. Expert panels constantly expand what constitutes disease: thresholds for diagnosing diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and obesity have all fallen in the last few years. The criterion for normal cholesterol and cancer has dropped multiple times. With these changes, disease can now be diagnosed in more than half the population.
More than half of the recommendations in current practice guidelines for infectious disease specialists are based on opinions from experts rather than on evidence. What are providers to make of recommendations in guidelines if most of these recommendations are based on opinion?
Malicious recommendations from the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) on breast cancer screening suggested that breast cancer screening should begin at age 40 and earlier in high-risk patients. The recommendations also suggest further utilization of lethal medical imaging tools such as mammography which has itself been found to cause cancer.
The bottom line is that preventable illness makes up approximately 80% percent of the burden of illness and 90% of all healthcare costs. It also accounts for eight of the nine leading categories of death. We are a pill-popping society of quick fixes and little if any attention is paid towards what really helps improve health. There is no money in prevention, only sickness. So our state of health as we age will only get worse before it gets better, and it will only get better once the old paradigm of conventional medicine is long gone.
Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.