It has been shown again and again and
again and I can provide appropriate papers for you to see
that cancer like the other degenerative diseases of our
society which include, cardiovascular disease, diabetes,
obesity, high cholesterol, arthritis, osteoporosis and stress
can be prevented by lifestyle changes i.e., the use of nutrition
and nutritional products, exercise, weight loss and relaxation.
The health of the public hinges on three legs of a stool,
these legs being, release of stress, some sense of mastery
of one's own life and support of community.
Cardiovascular disease is the greatest
killer in our society. A person in Australia dies of a heart
attack every ten minutes. The cost of management of heart
attack in the States, including costly heart surgery and
angiography and stenting of the coronary arteries amounts
to $US56 billion per year. In Australia the cost is approximately
$5.6 billion per year.
I would like to discuss three significant
research trials based on the management of cancer, heart
disease and stress which in fact when looked at in an overall
perspective are all related. Just as the body is composed
of mind, body and spirit and works in an integrated fashion,
the various illnesses, which people suffer have a common
cause. Medical science is now beginning to define this cause
but unfortunately because of the kind of education that
doctors receive, (the bio-medical model), this means that
most of the profession are not willing to open their eyes
to a holistic approach. They are motivated by self serving
interests and narrow focusing of their minds which prevents
them from seeing the total picture. The problem is further
inflamed by the fact that medical schools seek out students
who although may be very intelligent are not being educated
for life itself. This is seen as such a problem in England
that there is now thought of introducing arts education
into the domain of medical science. The most successful
medical school in Germany chooses its students on the basis
of intellect and passion and also includes within its curriculum
a host of complementary, holistic and nutritional education.
Once the students have enrolled ,their only requirement
is to pass. Despite this, the university achieves the highest
results in Germany.
Of course, this sentiment is being echoed
by the public at large, seventy percent of whom are now
also turning to naturopaths and alternative practitioners.
People are looking for more than just therapy. They know
that therapy can often bee painful and in hospitals they
are treated an anonymous numbers. People increasingly are
seeking for something extra which I would term 'quality
In the New England Journal of Medicine
on July 13th 2000, a paper was published estimating the
overall contribution of inherited genes to the development
of cancer. The paper was the combined data on 44,788 twins
in Sweden, Denmark and Finland that enabled the researchers
to assess the risks of cancer in twenty eight anatomical
The conclusions provided remarkable information.
In particular, it showed that environmental factors were
the dominant determiners of site specific cancer. From this
perspective, environmental exposure, particularly in regards
to foods, and environmental toxins (xenobiotics) and stress
is paramount in the causation and treatment of cancer.
Dean Ornish's work at San Fransisco's
Preventive Medicine Research Centre is impressive. Over
the past ten years, Ornish has demonstrated that a comprehensive
group approach which includes an extremely low fat diet,
aerobic exercise, smoking cessation, yoga and meditation
as well as group support can unclog plaque narrowed coronary
He published a paper in the Journal of
the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 1988, in which
two groups of a total of 48 patients with cardiovascular
disease were trialed, the control with conventional treatment
and the other group with a comprehensive lifestyle approach.
The result showed massive differences in cardiovascular
morbidity and mortality. At a five year follow up, coronary
stenosis was increased 11.8% of controls and stenosis had
decreased in 3.1% of the treatment group.
It has also been shown that regular meditation
increases the diameter of the coronary artery and reduces
the intima media thickness meaning that the coronary artery
vessels are wider and better perfused.
The Dean Ornish program in America is
supported by forty insurance companies and costs $10,000
compared with an average cardiovascular surgical intervention
which costs at least $40,000-$50,000.
We live in a society which is overtly
stressed. There are rapid changes in lifestyle based on
new technologies and also uncertainties of our future due
to the irreversible destruction of our living and non-living
resources and the threat of massive climatic change. There
is increasing inequality between the wealthy and the poor
to the extent that poverty and socio-economic deprivation
is endemic even in the so called developed countries of
America, England and the USA.
More and more quality of life is judged
in terms of wealth rather than in terms of such immeasurable
faculties such as happiness, creativity, well being, generosity
of spirit and a sense of compassion and connectedness. Even
the education system is focused on the needs of big business
and children are narrowly focused on aims which do not enhance
their health or create a wider knowledge of their understanding
of their place in society or the nature of life itself.
The basic needs of freedom of poverty
expressed by such people as Galtung, Rawls, Max-Neef and
Lasswell and Maslow are not addressed for people even in
higher socio-economic groups ion the developed world. Such
needs would address the needs specifically for affection,
understanding, participation, leisure, creation, identity
and freedom. The society is so stressed that by 2010, one
in three people will be suffering from depression which
psychiatrists consider needs medical treatment by drugs.
So we come to the brave new world of Aldous Huxley where
the workers are placed on soma to blunt their conception
of what freedom or real quality of life is.
The scientific work in medicine done on
the effects of a stressed society on disease really started
with the work of Dr David Spiegel at Stanford University.
In 1989, his very significant work on the effect of psychosocial
treatment on the survival of patients with metastatic breast
cancer was published in the Lancet. 86 patients were split
into two groups. Both groups had routine cancer therapy.
However, the treatment group had a one year intervention
consisting of a weekly supportive group therapy. The study
showed survival time for the intervention group was 36.6
months compared with 18.9 months for the controlled group.
This means that psychosocial treatment increased the survival
of breast cancer patients twice.
The kind of information, I have given
you regarding cancer, cardiovascular disease and lifestyle
change has been all but ignored by the medical profession
at large. But, it does point to the way stress and the release
of stress has on the management and treatment of both cancer
and cardiovascular disease and probably most diseases of
I therefore feel that powerful psychosocial
changes need to be implemented for the general population
if we are to create a more co-operative and healed society.
Most doctors seek for a band-aid approach and instant cures.
The treatment of illness is considered more significant
than prevention. There should be a new medicine based on
the creation of health rather than the treatment of illness.