Doctor's Note

This is the video I mentioned about how we wildly overestimate the efficacy of pills and procedures as well: The Actual Benefit of Diet vs. Drugs.

Here’s a link to the live presentation I mentioned: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death. That’s about avoiding our deadliest diseases. More Than an Apple a Day addresses some of our most common, and From Table to Able, some of our most disabling.

For more background on how scandalous our handwashing history has been, see my Q&A: What about Semmelweis and medicine’s shameful handwashing history? It’s truly an unbelievable story.

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

To post comments or questions into our discussion board, first log into Disqus with your account or with one of the accepted social media logins. Click on Login to choose a login method. Click here for help.

  • rajkhosla

    First comment from me… :)

    Oh yes! … great video as welll… very insightful! :)

    • Adrien

      Well done ! Me too I was in the race ;) The video btw, is just astonishing !

      Just thinking that diet and preventive medicine could save millions of people by avoiding disease which in fact will make them avoid hospital and prescriptions drug that will greatly reduce hospitals error and side effects and just by that can save another three hundred thousand people from unnecessary death – because the third cause of death is actually modern medicine – is absolutely astonishing ! Big Problem though, Big Pharma would not allow that to happen, nor Big Meat, Dairy and Eggs.. Why ? Because of the system that created them ! A system where short term profit is more important than human life and well being. That is in fact the real problem here.. Is there solution ? Yes, but will required a Big Revolution in our way of thinking human life on this planet..

      • soy food

        Any revolution would help right now. My husband who has been a vegan for over 35 years, was just diagnosed with bladder cancer and surrounding areas called a squamous cell cancer! Now trying the reishi fungi treatment hoping the mycelium will take out the cancer cells. The next step will possibly be a colostmy buying time for radiation to shrink the cells unless the mycelium gets there first. He has been fit, playing tennis daily, eating well, inventing a new process for making tempeh…..For all the years that we have known about cancer and not to have a cure that can actually go after the correct one, I think there are about 200 kinds of cancer, says that there is way too much money for the drug companies to keep us healthy.

        • gouligo

          An example that a Vegan diet is not a promise of no disease. Sorry for your husband

          • We have lots of people sending good thoughts, etc. It’s interesting how the spiritual ends up being similar to magic, miraculous, a miracle, etc. At this point we will take all the help we can get since I think he can make a recovery from a colostmy…..

      • aishwarya sitaram

        does your husband smoke? because it is a risk facto for cancer.. also how old is he?

      • Dominic

        It will also require a change in how most Americans
        define good health. I hope this recent
        experience will clearly explain my point.

        I was recently screened as part of a Health Evaluation
        Program provided by my employer. As part of the program, participants are given
        a personal health score based on a health index developed by the wellness
        company that conducts the screening.

        The score is designed to help each participant understand
        where he/she stands for future risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) and type
        II diabetes – leading causes of premature death and disability in the US. The
        score is comprised of five modifiable risk factors: tobacco use, blood glucose,
        blood pressure, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol – all potential causes of
        serious health problems. The stated purpose of the health score is to help
        participants identify medical risks that can be improved, therefore increasing
        chances for a healthy future.

        This seems reasonable. Yes?

        The stated objective is for each participant to keep
        his/her personal health score between 0 and -20 (the lower the score the

        I was delighted, though not surprised, to receive a score
        of -20. Although it’s very difficult to precisely quantify individual risks for
        chronic disease, I initially thought that the criteria included in the health
        index can be expected to provide a reasonably accurate assessment of future
        risk for developing CAD and/or type II diabetes.

        However, upon further reflection, I realized that this
        health index has one major flaw – it does not include information on
        medications taken by participants.

        The best way to illustrate this flaw is by creating a
        hypothetical situation where another 54 year old guy (John Doe) was screened on
        the same day as me and his screening results were identical to mine. This guy
        would have also received a health score of -20. Therefore, if this was a
        competition, he and I would have tied. This guy would have achieved his -20
        score even if he was taking a gorilla dose of a statin drug, some diabetes and
        blood pressure medications and perhaps some other common medications, such as
        meds for gastroesophogeal reflux, constipation, depression etc.. Therefore, he
        required chemical assistance to achieve the illusion of health. By definition,
        he cannot remotely be considered healthy. Yet he would have received the
        highest personal health score possible.

        What’s wrong with this picture?

        My thoughts:

        My competitior’s high personal health score is the result
        of a twisted view of what constitutes health – a view that appears to be held
        by the majority of Americans. This shouldn’t be surprising as most visits to a
        physician usually result in the patient leaving with a prescription. If the
        prescription is for a drug meant to treat a chronic disease, it’s often a drug
        that the patient is told that he/she will have to take for the rest of his/her
        life. This fact, and the current reality of Americans being constantly urged to
        ask their doctor about the latest miracle drug advertised on television and in
        magazines, has successfully created a distorted view of health in America.

        Most Americans are told that in order to be healthy, you
        must schedule various tests/screenings based on recommended guidelines. If
        these tests reveal a diagnoses of CAD , Cancer, or type II diabetes, the magic
        carpet ride of drugs, surgeries and procedures begins. Health is rarely
        recaptured – what results is a patient who remains sick and gets used to
        carrying around what eventually becomes an increasing number of medications.
        Medications are often added to treat new symptoms created by the initial

        Is this the best we can do? I don’t think so. The
        paradigm for preventing and treating chronic disease has to change to treating
        the cause of disease rather than the symptoms.

        The main cause of the chronic diseases that afflict
        Americans is what they eat on a regular basis – a diet dominated with animal
        and highly processed foods.

        The paradigm of promoting people to:

        · transition to a Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) diet
        · begin or maintain a reasonable exercise regimen and
        · avoid unhealthyhabits

        is the focus of lifestyle medical doctors. As more and
        more physicians begin specializing in lifestyle medicine, more and more
        patients will be informed that they can truly recapture their health and will
        be encouraged to do so.

        I’m afraid this paradigm change will take a long time to
        occur. The medical and pharmaceutical industries that benefit from the current
        treatment paradigm of drugs and procedures do a masterful job at keeping the
        known benefits of WFPB diets from the public. The economic might of these
        industries is hard to fight and is the main reason the American philosophy on
        health is so warped.

        This philosophy allows a wellness company to use a health
        index that can conclude that John Doe has the same personal health score as me.
        If my employer offered a monetary prize for all 50 to 54 year olds who achieve
        the highest possible health score, but the money came from a pool from which
        all perfect scorers would share, I’d be ticked off.

      • Carol Demas

        Luigi Fontana has shared some data from a large dataset of Italian patients seen by general practitioners through the National Health Search Network. It shows that excess body weight is associated with large increases in health-care costs. The figure is here.

        • HelperVeg

          Hmm interesting, maybe the threshold for being of too low a weight should be lowered as this chart shows people with BMIs of 17 need some of the least medical care.

  • BB

    This video is meaningful as I have a family member who is having aggressive treatment for a cancer all logic and statistics say she won’t survive. I think most of the family know this is true, but they are all riding the treatment train with her and following the doctor’s encouraging recommendations. After two treatments, she has been in and out of the hospital twice to treat side effects, is bald and this week is gravely ill from an immune-boosting drug. All of this is to prep her for surgery to remove the cancer. They don’t really know where it has spread, but will find out in surgery. Before the treatments, she was in a little pain, but could go to lunch with friends. Now, when not in the hospital she is in bed or laying in a recliner barely able to eat. When the disease does take her, the doctors will say how they extended her life. People accept this course of treatment as normal because they are given the hope of recovery. Knowing the truth about the effectiveness and possible damage of treatments would give patients a clearer picture to make choices. .

    • Ray Tajoma

      She is being “Milked” by the surgeons, hospital and doctors for her insurance MONEY.

      • gouligo

        If you look at the surgeons fees they average about 300 dollars per hour. Out of that they have an over head of over 50%. Heck my plumber makes more per hour. I think you project your poor ethics on others.

        • Ray Tajoma

          Yes I have very poor ethics, I am vegan atheist and proud of it. My personal experience with Doctors and hospitals is extremely negative. They always prescribe the MOST expensive (safest, worst case scenario) route. They are masters of “Scaring Patients” & manipulating them into submitting their wallet. Always ask for 2d, 3rd and 4th opinion. If I had submitted to their prescription I would by now have an unnecessary eye and back surgery, in poor health and bankrupt.

  • Liisa

    Dr. G, this is very depressing to me, as a cancer survivor of going on 14 years now. I changed my diet after reading “The China Study” and at this point, although I’ve had lots of x-rays in my life, I don’t know what else I can do, diet-wise, although I am sure I am at risk from the x-rays.

    • Filipe Coimbra

      Live your life to the fullest, eat a whole food plant based diet, move your body, have a positive attitude, smile and love! Forget the cancer that you have and believe me that he (the cancer) also will forget about you. Have a nice ride! :)

      • BruK

        Are you qualified to give out medical advice? I’ll bet you’re tying to be helpful, but how do you know what it is this person needs to hear? Forget about the cancer may not be applicable or received from her in the same way you meant it. Sorry, but I think unless you have some medical experience, and have been in the same situation you don’t know if you are helping or not. Liisa, I can only wish you well. From what I’ve heard 14 years is a pretty good record.

        • Mike Quinoa

          Sounds more like life advice to me. Medical science isn’t exactly batting 1000 on cures for cancer (although promises have been made since 1971). A very interesting book on attitude and belief is “Mind Over Medicine,” by Lissa Rankin, MD. This book scientifically demonstrates how the mind can positively or negatively affect medical outcomes.

          • largelytrue

            Filipe was implying that if only we don’t worry about the cancer and take a variety of actions other than seeking medical treatment, then surely any cancer we have will go away. That is not well evidenced at all. That is quackery, however important a positive attitude may be to bodily health.

          • Mike Quinoa

            I don’t think Filipe’s post indicates that he feels we should necessarily preclude all medical treatment outright. From the book I mentioned in my previous post, it seems that the body must reside in a parasympathetic mode to heal, and not in a sympathetic or “fight-or-flight” mode. Your state of mind has a lot to do with what mode predominates—that is, try not to worry.

          • largelytrue

            His post suggests that medical treatment isn’t necessary for a total cure of any cancer. Even adding in conventional medical treatment to his list, it would still be a quackish idea. There is no good evidence of a totally curative regime for any and all cancer.

            And again, this is true even if it helps a great deal not to worry. Saying that a “parasympathetic mode” is necessary to heal looks a lot like gross overstatement to me. Depressed people still recover from colds, angry shouting bosses still recover from paper cuts, and so forth.

          • Mike Quinoa

            Depressed people also get more colds to recover from, but I do agree healing, though perhaps somewhat compromised, does de facto occur in stressed individuals. Lissa Rankin, MD, puts it this way regarding optimal healing:

            “In my medical training, we were not taught that the body knows how to heal itself. It is equipped with natural self-repair mechanisms that repair broken proteins, kill cancer cells, fight infections, prevent aging, and maintain the homeostasis of the body. When the body gets sick, whether from the common cold or something more serious, like heart disease or cancer, it’s almost always because the body’s self-repair mechanisms have broken down, usually because of stress.

            When the nervous system is stressed, as it is during the “fight-or-flight” stress response that is so commonly triggered in modern day life, these self-repair mechanisms are disabled and the body is at risk for disease. Only when the counterbalancing relaxation response is activated, when the sympathetic nervous system is turned off and the parasympathetic nervous system is turned on, can the body heal itself.”

            Your use of the words “implying” and “suggests” regarding the intention of Filipe’s post don’t of themselves constitute strong evidence for what you’re saying. Perhaps Filipe himself could expand on what he meant by his original post.

          • largelytrue

            The passage you quote shows the obvious dichotomous thinking that you seem to have picked up from her but have perhaps started to back away from. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems don’t “turn off” or toggle from one to the other. Both systems are active to some extent at pretty much all times. She claims that she was not taught about homeostatic mechanisms or infection-fighting processes in her medical training, which is absurd. People usually learn the beginnings of this stuff in high school.

            Suppose I said, “just drink water and eat balanced meals, and you’ll pass chemistry for sure”. By omission, I’m implying that a studying well is either not necessary or important, or that the issue of studying is already settled somehow by the context so that talking about it is unimportant. In context, it actually does matter that the issue of medical treatment isn’t necessarily settled in the mind of either of Filipe’s audiences: directly, the person he is addressing, and secondly, everyone involved in the public forum discussion. There actually are people who say or think that by avoiding medical care and smiling and so forth, cancer will go away.

            When we talk about what someone says, we often have to talk about what is implied. Intentions matter, but the quality of a statement is judged by what it could reasonably imply to readers. I can recognize that there are at least a few ways in which a general audience might interpret a phrase while still pointing out that the statement very reasonably allows for a bad interpretation, and is hence a bad statement.

          • Mike Quinoa

            Not sure if you have read Dr. Rankin’s book (“Mind Over Medicine”), but the science in her book is well-referenced. Her father was a hard-nosed evidence-based physician as well. But there’s a lot more to being or becoming well than solely the medical science aspect. And medicine’s success rate with cancer has been particularly dismal.

            If Filipe doesn’t further elaborate on his post, then we will have to agree to disagree on our individual interpretation thereof. It’s just as reasonable to assume he meant avail yourself of available medical technology, but maintain a positive attitude as well, as your interpretation that he meant, “Just smile, and all will be okay.”

          • largelytrue

            Again, we can allow that a statement could be interpreted many ways while still claiming that it doesn’t do enough to exclude a relatively straightforward, bad interpretation.

            And again, I don’t dispute the importance of low stress to overall health, given that much of what plagues society at present is chronic disease. For example, systemic inflammation is good over the short term against many forms of infectious disease, but is a bad thing in the etiology of heart disease and seems to make the body more susceptible to infection if sustained over the long term. But I do dispute extreme views to the effect that the relaxation response is all that matters, which is the same reason why I don’t present the view that chemo and surgery is all that matters, either. We are in a video that discusses the value of taking preventive measures against disease before it gets to the point where a cure is unlikely. I agree with that general idea wholeheartedly, even if it’s quite unlikely that we can prevent cancer completely through lifestyle.

          • Ray Tajoma

            So eating lots of fruits & vegetables is “Quackery”, but following the medical advise is not “Quackery” as evidenced by scientific study of # of deaths associated with hospital, doctor errors and wrong diagnostics ? Not to mention intentional errors for MONEY.

          • largelytrue

            No, eating fruits and vegetables is not quackery. Nor is following medical advice in treating a particular form of cancer when evidence backs the treatment.

            Saying that eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, smiling, and moving your body is guaranteed to cure any cancer is quackery, full stop. Why? Because evidence doesn’t indicate that this would be the outcome of the treatment.

          • Ray Tajoma

            Yes, BUT a lot of medical advise and treatment is Quackery (it’s FRAUD to steal money from patients to enrich Doctors and Hospitals). A lot of evidence is Quackery – like “Milk does the body Good” government propaganda and Lies. At least smiling and moving your body does not damage your wallet, enrich a doctor, torture an innocent animal nor put your health at risk.

          • largelytrue

            Which is why it should be GOOD evidence and people should be careful about making universalizing claims.

      • pranic Roger

        thank you Filipe, great advice.

    • Michael

      Hi Lisa, it is true that we live in a very toxic environment. In early 1900’s around 1/100 men were expected to develop cancer. Today it is 1/2 in their lifetime. The body is incredibly designed and is constantly fighting off cancer, so the best thing to do is put the best quality food and supplements into it, enjoy different types of exercise weekly, cut out as much refined sugar and processed foods as possible, and take steps to boost our immune system. Many great natural treatments out there for boosting immune system and I would recommend talking to doctors / more natural physicians about options. It sounds like you are doing a great job already! There is much we can do to help our bodies so never stop learning.

    • Micheline

      It definitely can be frustrating but it is important to do things that make you feel good. Science is always changing and we never have direct answers otherwise we would all be living until we are 300 years old. The important thing is to eat a well-balanced diet, get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water, and exercise daily. Preventing disease starts with a healthy lifestyle first!

  • Filipe Coimbra

    An inconvenient truth :s

  • ThomasG

    Dr. Greger: I greatly admire your candor. The first step toward solving a problem is to admit the existence of the problem, but most doctors are so full of themselves and think they can do no wrong. If I went to a doctor, noticed that he hadn’t washed hands before touching me, and asked him to wash his hands, how would he react?

    • Dommy

      When my aged mother was in the hospital (NYC 1990’s) I put a small sign on the wall above her bed which simply said “PLEASE WASH YOUR HANDS FIRST.”
      Someone on staff kept ripping it down.

  • Arjan den Hollander.

    Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean my doctor isn’t out to get me. I just knew I was right! :)

  • VegCoach

    Whoo-hoo! You hit the ball out of the park with this one Dr. Greger. Thank you so much! What a concept – Prevention. Don’t get sick in the first place. The video makes an excellent case supporting this.

  • Kitsy Hahn

    “Only people on medications are killed by medication errors of side-effects. You have to be in the hospital to be killed by a hospital
    error, and the most common reasons people are on drugs and in hospitals for diseases that can be prevented with a healthy diet and lifestyle.” Good one, Dr. G. :-)

  • BruK

    This is a really important thing to tell people. We are so used to watching these amazing TV doctor programs and dramatic shows like “Marcus Welby” or “House” that we have very few facts in our heads when we talk or think medicine and health care. No wonder health care is the number one cost in our country and is rising steadily even with ObamaCare.

    Then lately to back that up we keep hearing about celebrities that say they have cancer and then beat it. Who knows that the real truth is about this, or is it just more fakery and giving advanced extra care treatments to some to sell others on these treatments for cash.

    This mental attitude is killing the economy and the country. Very important video.

  • TC

    If side effects from prescription drugs are the 6th leading cause of death in the US why is that not listed in the CDC’s leading causes of death table? What is the source for that astonishing number?

    • Source is here. Note that’s just in hospitalized patients. Adverse effects of medical care in outpatient settings may cause an additional 199,000 deaths. Read Dr. Starfield’s tragic report for all the details.

      • unTimely

        Why use a 2000 report in 2015?

        • Adrien

          Maybe because it’s the best report so far ?

        • Filipe Coimbra

          I think that it has been even worse since 2000…

      • TC

        Thanks for the reference source.

      • Thanks for the link to Starfield’s editorial. It contains excellent information but would I disagree with one comment and add an additional perspective. Many authors tend to fall back on the “factors for poor health are multifactorial and complex”. In this physician’s opinion it isn’t even all that complicated. The science is relatively consistent… avoiding chronic disease is helped by eating a whole food plant based diet with adequate Vitamin B12 intake, regular exercise, maintaining a “normal” body weight, not smoking and minimizing alcohol consumption. The two reports by the IOM, To Err is Human and Crossing the Quality Chasm showed the problems with errors in tertiary prevention (i.e. the use of drugs and procedures). It is clear as others on this blog have stated that if if you maintain health where you don’t need drugs or procedures you can avoid these errors. If we hold the medical industry responsible not only for preventable errors but also for not giving patients the best information about preventing and reversing chronic conditions you can easily make a case for medical care being the leading cause of death in the country. A good reason to stay tuned to for the latest in science… you never know when some new science will help you improve your health or that of a family or friend.

  • In France, I learnt prevention when I was in medical school. Respect for body care and food is included in French lifestyle , may be it is part of the so called “French paradox”

    • Adrien

      Quand je parle de prévention en France, on me renvois souvent au plaisir de la table et à la culture française. Et vu le matraquage médiatique absurde et mensonger sur les risques de carences, ça risque pas de changer. Heureusement que j’ai du sang froid et de la réparti :) . En réalité, je suis très souvent bien accueillis et les gens apprécient mon discours, mais tout le monde n’est pas prêt à changer.

      Ici un exemple frappant d’absurdité :

      Le pire c’est que ce nutritionniste sait très bien qu’il raconte n’importe quoi :

      • Brigitte

        Merci Adrien pour ce lien ( dailymotion) qui me sera bien utile pour rassurer mon entourage non anglophone!

        • Adrien

          Tout le plaisir est pour moi :)

      • Je crois avoir connu Jean Michel Cohen , quand il etait etudant. Il est vendu en super marche et ne publie pas dans la presse a comite de lecture. Il le pouvoir de convaincre et a pu ainsi devenir aise. Mon experience , la prevention ne marche que quand il y a obligation . Il y a des familles francaises et americaines qui depuis des generations prennent soin de leur sante pour soigner leur image de marque, ceux qui ont des professions ou l’apparence importe. les autres en minorite sont averties d’une affection de carence, et la sont en face d’un probleme vital. Tous les autres ne prennent la nourriture et la sante que comme tres secondaires dans leurs ambitions, d’ou les resultats actuels.

  • Les Horne

    Dr. Greger
    I notice that all of the citations for this video were dated from 2000 to 2005. Does more recent research show any improvement in these trends?

    • gouligo

      I agree… The medical profession has made a tremendous push in hand care with alcohol gel at every room.

  • Irene

    Cannabis oil v organic hemp seed oil for curing cancer??

    • If it was real we will know it by now

      • Adrien

        Well we can say the same thing for heart disease and a plant based diet, the fact that very few people know about it does not mean that it’s not true.. Think about that: how many thousand of years we believed that the earth was flat ?
        That being said, Cannabis actually possess proven cancer fighting property, indeed. But so does garlic, onion, mushroom, green leafy vegetable, beans, berrys, citrus fruits and so on.. Cannabis should be in our arsenal for fighting cancer, just like everything that have a scientific basis and is proven to work (including modern medicine of course), but this should not be the only one thing we do. Like I said nutrition can be powerful.

        • Thank you for this presentation. It is extremely interesting to open new opportunities for treatment and may be for prevention. A very well balance nutrition in a healthy lifestyle is still general and accurate

  • I fully agree with the statements of my colleague dr Greger that the combination of unhealthy food with often used medications is a disaster and aggravate many afflictions on later life. So called chronic diseases of our modern lifestyle.

    Voluntary dietary restriction will probably never gain popularity as a life extension strategy in humans. More acceptable will be a diet with less methionine. Vegetable proteins – especially those from vegetables or nuts – are lower in methionine content than diets containing animal protein. Several animal studies of the plant-based diets have been shown in cell growth inhibition of cancer cell cultures and extend the life span of the experimental animals healthy.

    When everyone is eating more and more meat …

    shall soon die out the chimpanzee. see also

    The population explosion and the famine on earth has also led to the breeding of animals solely for consumption. Genocide, the accelerated extinction of species, and Ecocide, large environmental damage are the consequences.

    • Arjan den Hollander.

      We have the technology and knowledge to support a population of a 100 billion with a lower footprint that we make today.
      But that would require us all getting involved in making smarter choices instead of more profitable ones, that’s not how the dice get rolled nowadays. We need a revolution for that, it will come, I mean its in the name right?

      • fred

        I disagree. The fact that humans cannot and won’t try to control population increases precludes any possibility that they will manage anything else of any real effect.

        Would you ask a bacteria in a petri dish for it’s opinion about bacterial population growth…no…it’s too busy overpopulating and using up limited resources. Some bacteria even have religious and political beliefs.

        The end result is always the same….a crash.

        • Arjan den Hollander.

          Its pessimism, expecting huge loss of life, uncertainty of future wealth and security that has traditionally fueled population growth.
          Populations all over the world have stabilized after reaching a certain level of health care, education and wealth.
          If you give people these things growth slows down to a crawl, stops or goes negative, people opt for a lower number of offspring.

          On the other side, famine need not exist at all. Switching to growing algae and fermenting yeasts and what not, do a little tweaking here and there and you can generate an almost limitless amount of food. It requires some space but not a lot, it would allow us to hold on to the very best farmlands and return most back to nature. I do not understand why all the doom and gloom,
          take in even a little history and you’ll see there has never been a better time to live in than right now.

          • Adrien

            Fred is right. That’s called to overshoot the carrying capacity of your environment. Whether you are some bacteria in a petri dish, caribous on an island, worms on a dead body or human on earth, it’s the same thing. It goes as follows, when energy (resources such as food) are plentiful, population growth is exponential until it collapse due to energy reserve being exhausted. The population graph look like a bell curve. The human population grew exponentially since we discovered fossils fuel, and today there is 10 calories of hydrocarbon in every calories you and I eat, in the industrial world. But we have passed the pic and energy resource will collapse in the not so distant future and exotic extracting method (technology) won’t change a thing (conventional oil had already passed his pic), except buying us some time while polluting our environment even worse. Now back to the population graph, the predicted outcome will be that the human population will severely shrink due to food scarcity. I sincerely hope that I’m wrong. The future is not written indeed, but the laws of the physique are ! And the human race is not on top of them. Beleiving the opposite is just human arogance. Soon or later though, we’ll need to figure it out that nature is a dictatorship not a democracy.. Prosperity come from being in line with nature not fighting it.
            It’s not a pessimist worldview but rather a realistic one, we need to face the truth whether we like it or not..

            Is there solution ? Short answer, Yes. Basically we got two choices to make, in order to keep the population level and continue to live in a high energy society (and hence more civilized..) we need to switch energy production from fossils fuel towards liquid fluoride thorium reactor (up to 10,000 years of energy available and the capacity to produce carbon neutral liquid fuel for combustion engine – renewable are not up to the challenge, they simply can’t replace fossils fuel and never will. Period.), if we don’t, we are probably going back into the dark age, as social institution like slavery will be back to fill the void (remember every american got hundreds of slave worth of energy thanks to fossils fuel..) and the second thing is to change the whole economic paradigm for a sustainable one (good luck for that !).

          • Arjan den Hollander.

            That’s why it is such a shame a project like ITER only gets 15 billion in a world where we spend a few trillion a year fighting each other.

    • ak017

      ..”Voluntary dietary restriction will probably never
      gain popularity” – very good point. Without subsidies 1 hamburger would
      cost >20$, similar with dairy. Cutting these subsidies, that make the
      western societies sick, would make an immediate difference.

      I love this webpage and I appreciate the work of Dr Greger
      very much. The idea of promoting healthy eating habits using evidence based
      approach is just great. Thank you for this.

      Dr Greger, why focus on medical errors as causes of death, isn’t it
      a bit out of topic? It is a complex issue and you are not able to discuss it in
      a 4min video. Even with a perfect diet you can get sick; would you
      like to be given diurectics if you come to a hospital with symptomatic left
      ventricular failure due to myocarditis? Probably yes, but there are no trials to confirm its
      efficacy. Neither for this, nor for many other procedures, see

      Why don’t you discuss, for example, the extensive literature
      on ginseng instead? ;)

  • Nigel Oswyn

    That article on the iatrogenic penile glans amputation was false. Urology is not the primary field that practices the procedure of “circumcision,” it is the quack OBGYN industry that illegally performs this. It is not performed commonly at all in Europe, and men internationally, 85%, are intact and living proof that it isn’t needed. In fact its a downright lie. It is illegal to perform an unnecessary procedure on anyone, especially minors, and “they” have known its unnecessary for decades. Some will even admit this claiming that “its icing on the cake, or candy in the pocket” monetarily.

    The narrative focused upon seems to always end up with “most commonly performed surgery,” or “practiced for thoooouuusands of yeeeears.” So what, on both of those statements. It isn’t surgery because it doesn’t repair any deformity, or fix and/or prevent anything that can’t be prevented or fixed without it. I know because I’m an educator on this subject for 20 years and have heard the rhetoric about UTI, HIV, STD, “we don’t like the way it looks” BS. Also, it is NOT commonly practiced on the scale of the world’s standard as 85% of men worldwide are intact. Its only common in America, and these articles always seem to mislead any American into believing that America is the only standard for male genitalia. The commonality of it in America is as a result of the ease of the insurance companies to reimburse for this fraudulent and unnecessary procedure. “Doctors” have confessed to me that it is financial “icing on the cake.” But that is in fact medical abuse and fraud.

    “Circumcision” IS one of the unnecessary procedures that is highlighted earlier as causing death at around 200-300 annually. They go unreported in the media, and noted as other causes because the medical industry doesn’t want you to know that genital cutting can lead to death. And just how many deaths have to happen before its considered dangerous? Airbags killed 6 children in 1996 and the government stepped in to tell the auto industry it had to revise the device. What is wrong with this dysfunctional, twilight zone-esque picture?

    The article goes on the describe that “‘circumcision’ in unprofessional hands can have major complications impacting the emotional and sexual life of patients.” Well this is true, but all “circumcisions,” the euphemism for genital mutilation, can and do lead to a negative impact on the emotional and sexual life of men, either conscious or unconscious. Notice how I used the word “men” in lieu of “patients.” One hundred percent of them end up in some degree of damage because natural penile skin is necessary for functional and proper sex. If subtraction of Meissener’s corpuscles, mucosa tissue, venous structure, and dartos muscle in exchange for a scar isn’t damage, I don’t know what is. Losing one’s glans is bad, and its never reparable, but cutting the genitals of an individual under the age of consent is abhorrent especially when that child can lose his entire organ, or at least grow up and wish he’d been born in Europe so he could have the autonomous choice as an adult for HIS OWN BODY.

    • Arjan den Hollander.

      Could be dangerous pushing Muslims and Jews into such legislation.
      And I’m not talking about the gun toting nut bags that are crying for so much attention nowadays.

      I’m talking about added peer pressure within social groups. Increased indoctrination during the formative years in order to achieve greater compliance in having the procedure at the age of consent. This would have its own human toll, I would not be surprised at all if it outweighs the number you mentioned. If not in deaths than certainly in misery suffered.

      • Psych MD

        Somehow this discussion has gone from iatrogenicity to anti-semitism. Interesting.

        • Arjan den Hollander.

          What I’m anti-Semitic because I use the word Jew? You are joking right?

          • Merio

            The term “semitic” is broad, quoting from the Jewish encyclopedia:

            In modern times the highest criterion of kinship between nations is the possession of a common language, or languages which have a common derivation. This criterion is not infallible; but when checked by other tests, kinship in speech is most important evidence of kinship in race. When determined by this test, the catalogue of Semitic nations differs somewhat from the Biblical list. It includes the North-Arabians, South-Arabians (Minæans, Sabeans, etc.), the Abyssinians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Arameans (consisting of many widely scattered tribes extending from the Persian Gulf to Lebanon and the Hauran), the Phenicians, Canaanites, and Hebrews, together with the kindred of the last-named, the Moabites and the Edomites. The list in Gen. x. classes the Phenicians and Canaanitcs with the Hamites; but the linguistic and historical evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of their kinship to the Semites.


      • Nigel Oswyn

        They are welcome to return their countries of origin and abuse all the children they want once the laws are passed to formally outlaw male genital mutilation, although technically its already illegal when reading the 14th amendment to the constitution.

    • Treehouse in Paradise

      I so agree! Keep up the fight with all you know. As an older mom now, I made that mistake when my baby boy was born. The doctors made me feel that he had a better chance of getting cancer if kept intact…Makes me sad.

      • Nigel Oswyn

        You have something in common with Marilyn Milos who had three boys who met with the doctors “advice.” She is one of the founders of NOCIRC. Its unfortunate, but we can go forward with breaking the cycle of medical and religious abuse.

    • pranic Roger

      poor Nigel. I can hear your pain and suffering. Circumcision is a religious and not a health practice. Those doctors who tell you so are misleading you and the public. As for “normal” sexual functioning being affected by circumcision for boys, this is patently false. The emotional scar seems to be far deeper for those who feel it has been an assault upon an unwitting child. The physical scar is the sign, and the loss of foreskin the evidence. However feeding the emotional wound doesn’t allow it to heal. Acceptance and surrender to the reality will promote emotional and mental health going forward. Don’t focus on what is missing but what gratification can be had from even an uncircumcised penis.
      Blessings of peace, love, and joy.

      • Nigel Oswyn

        Are you assuming I have a loss or suffering? Poor pranic Roger. I can hear your pain, suffering, and denial from your obvious loss. Do you know who I am? I’ve been re-educating on this subject for 20 years.

        “Circumcision” is NOT a religious practice, although Jews and Muslims like to think this. Many Scandinavian and Russian Jews don’t practice genital cutting, which includes some American Jews who are opting for the alternative brit shalom. Their children are intact and still quite Jewish. It is the cycle of sexual abuse when performed on non consenting minors because the only ones doing it are the ones with the scars. Religion is not an excuse to abuse children.

        Acceptance and surrender to the reality that in nature ALL BOYS are born intact for a reason. Eighty five percent of men internationally are, as well as the majority throughout history have been, intact. This fact is living proof that this barbaric holdover from ancient superstitions is a lie, and your defence of male genital cutting is proof of your status as the minority.

        If you are so confident in the idea of religious justification for this act, and for the scar on your own penis, then why are you here attempting to counter me? Do you think you will have any power in convincing me otherwise? Why are you assuming I am in the minority? Why didn’t you simply ignore what I wrote? It obviously hit your regret nerve.

        The majority of the most highly receptive nerve functions are in the prepuce tissue called Meissener’s corpuscles. The glans is an internal organ requiring moisture to retain sensitivity, especially the coronal ridge.

        Regardless to what you would like to believe to quell your loss, every boy has the right to grow up and experience an unedited version of maleness. Considering the hundreds of deaths, and a few dismemberments, would you have liked to have lost your entire penis? How about the ones who have died as a result of this unnecessary phenomenon? How many before you can consider it wrong? C’mon, what’s the magic number?


    From the very first time you posted that drug side effects were the defacto 6th leading cause of death, I have been waiting for you to use the 225,000 number and say doctors are the #3 killer. If you include those outpatient numbers, the medical profession shoots up to #1. Going to the doctor is literally the leading cause of death in the USA. I would be interested if you could dig into the disability numbers and see if doctors are the leading cause of death AND disability. I would hope that non-medical causes of disability are higher, but if the reverse is true, that would be a pretty astounding statistic to tell people about.

  • Omar

    UNDERSTATEMENT: in this video Dr. Greger cites the figure that 106,000
    people are killed by prescription medicines taken as prescribed, “making
    medical care the 6th leading cause of death…” This is incorrect; it
    makes prescription medicines the #6 cause of death. If you add in
    hospital infections and doctors’ and hospital errors thefigure is closer
    to 180,000, making medical care the #3 cause of death in the United
    States. (Per the book Whole, articles in JAMA, Forbes, NYT, and the CDC
    data if you add them up.) This is REALLY sobering!

    • b00mer

      Did you watch the video? From the transcript:

      “[…] side-effects from prescription drugs kill an estimated 100,000 Americans every year […] Another 7,000 deaths from getting the wrong medicine by mistake, 20,000 deaths from other errors in hospitals. [..] An additional 80,000 of us die from hospital-acquired infections. More recently estimated at 99,000 deaths. […] And 12,000 die from surgeries that were unnecessary […] In an outpatient setting, adverse effects can send millions to the hospital and result in perhaps 199,000 additional deaths. […] deaths from medical errors may kill up to 98,000 Americans. That would bump us up to 284,000 dead, but even if we use the lower estimate,

      the medical profession constitutes the third leading cause of death in the United States.”

  • Treehouse in Paradise

    Thank you Dr. Greger. A few years ago, after gaining a lot of weight, I had started losing with a plant based plan. I went to a new doctor to ask if I’m in good enough shape to exercise. I asked if he could work with me as a raw vegan which I was practicing at the time. After some discussion and orders for blood tests etc, he said that prevention is the most important thing I can do to stay away from doctors and to stay out of the hospital. He said that they will kill you. I was pretty impressed.

    • val

      Wow, some awesome candor there by your doctor! And YES, this is one of Doc’s most impressive videos…! What we *choose* to eat every day can keep us from becoming ill. I never miss an opportunity to tell someone about if they even *mention* feeling tired all the time or aches or pains. Even if only ONE person checks it out and then changes to healthier eating, it’s worth it!

  • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

    First time – in medschool – I heard of NNT (Number Needed to Treat) I nearly fell of my chair, especially when I heard the numbers for “popular” drugs against lifestyle induced diseases. 50, 100, 200 – meaning that you have to treat 50 or 100 or 200 and only one patient would benefit !!! This was NOT what I expected from modern medicine…..I bet that serious lifestyle changes works better…. From a medical point of view, the good news is that the sicker you are, the lower the NNT gets – meaning that medicial drugs are for sick people, not something you can use to correct bad lifestyle choices before you get sick. A cheeseburger and a statin drug wont help you….

  • Merio

    Does anyone know how many persons are saved by Medicine is US each year ?

    Is it possible to make such calculations ?

  • pranic Roger

    ER’s are useful if you’ve broken a limb and need a cast, cut yourself and need stitches, of course you better hope your medical professionals washed their hands and their equipment. Drugs and their side effects and mis-use or accidents in administration are realities in hospitals. So like the author says: be preventative, eat better so you don’t get high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease and avoid visits to the ER.
    Sugar,gluten and salt- our three main assailants of health. And if you add meat, well that means there’s little hope for most of us from avoiding hospitals. atherosclerosis, smoking, and stress are killers. Let’s focus on eating greens and fruits and mostly raw. There’s still hope.

  • Goulligo

    Steve Jobs tried Lifestyle medicine and didn’t get his surgery as recommended by his doctor. Look where he is now. This video is very misleading. If you compare the number of lives saved vs the number of medical errors… the doctors win by a long shot. (there are millions of doctor encounters every month in this country) If you all believe this video, I dare you to eat spinach the next time you are ill and not go to the emergency room. Car accident.. eat cabbage. Lung cancer…. eat an apple. Remember that Dr Pritikan who started all this Vegan stuff died of Leukemia in his 60’s. (actually he committed suicide because of the pain of the leukemia) I believe in a healthy lifestyle. But what are you going to do if you get a cataract… stay blind? Break a hip…. get a wheel chair for life. Doctors perform complex and difficult procedures when they open you up. Crap happens. most of the time everything goes well. Doctors are the brightest and the best of the human race (try to get into medical school) and undergo 12-18 years of education and have constant continuing medical education with recertification. No other profession is as well policed and as dedicated as doctors. They are on on call day and night for emergencies. I agree with Dr Greger on lots of topics. Everyone has a stupid moment and this is his.

    • largelytrue

      “If you compare the number of lives saved vs the number of medical errors… the doctors win by a long shot.”

      A point that probably needs to be made, though part of the complexity is that the cause of death can be labeled in a number of ways. When doctors fail to advocate lifestyle enough, does that lead to lives killed?

      Part of the issue is that you are criticizing him as if he explicitly said what he doesn’t actually say. He does not advocate eating spinach as an alternative to acute care or being crippled as an alternative to hip prosthesis, so your challenge is perhaps better targeted to those who believe certain comments in the comment section.

      Acute care has probably saved my life about 2 times: once at birth and once or twice with appendicitis — though complications with an abscess after appendectomy might be attributed to the hospital, so there’s some give and take there. I can agree that Greger is not being upfront about his position about the positive aspects of the medical system, which are legion, and that he may be choosing ambiguity so that he can appeal to an irrational anti-med constituency.

      That said, simply claiming that doctors are the best of the human race because it is hard to get through medical school is absurd. The content of continuing education, the qualities needed to pass the program, and the reasons driving doctors’ behavior all matter; how many people do you think are strongly incentivized to become specialists because of the money? Refusing to wash your hands when going from patient to patient despite obvious evidence that it can help prevent serious infections is quite reasonably an example of the lack of professional ethics that can be found within the medical profession. It doesn’t matter that they now do a better job of it after the introduction of more convenient alcohol gels, if indeed a little extra discomfort and meniality to the task was all that it took to make many doctors fail to keep their patients’ interests at heart.

    • Thea

      Goulligo: Steve Job’s diet did him a world of good. He lived with what is normally a very fast growing cancer for years and years. By the time doctors recommended surgery, it was already far too late. And the doctor’s should have known or already knew this. To learn more, check out the very interesting and powerful talk from Dr. McDougall called: Why Did Steve Jobs Die?

      I actually agree with parts of your argument. No amount of eating healthy will grow a cast on my arm if I should break the bone. At the same time, there are very serious diseases, including cancer, for which risk can be greatly lowered by eating a healthy diet. Through numerous videos, this site gives the evidence backing this idea. Here’s a start for you:

  • Goulligo

    Question… How many family visitors wash their hands before they bring the patient the McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese and a shake after their heart attack? How about the hospital’s therapy dog?? After it licks it’s rear, it licks the patient. How about the visitors on the elevator picking his nose and touching the buttons? How many people wash their hands after using the rest room (doing number 2)? I have watched over 1/2 the people coming out of the restroom not going near the sink. If they do wash their hands, they sprinkle some water on their hands and wipe it off. NO soap for these people. Maybe we all need to follow this rule including the doctors.

    • Lauren Bateman

      Very good point Goulligo: as a nurse for 33 years, I am vigilant to remind, model and show proper handwashing :)

  • Psych MD

    Here is a link to an excellent article that really gets to the heart of the health crisis in this country. It relates to a topic discussed previously by Dr. Greger, ie. hormesis, though in this discussion the author explains how half a century of “anhormesis” is reversing millions of years of evolutionary adaptation.

    Here is an excerpt:
    “Intermittent fasting, regular exercise and consumption of dietary phytochemicals can have a major positive impact on health by bolstering adaptive cellular stress response pathways that protect against and counteract a range of major diseases. Why then are these pillars of health crumbling in many industrialized countries? Unfortunately, the United States has been the major source of the epidemics of obesity, diabetes and associated chronic diseases (cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancers, neurodegenerative disorders and others). Compared to all other countries, the US spends more money on health care and yet has poorer outcomes (US Burden of Disease Collaborators, 2013). Most of the poor outcomes are the result of “anhormesis”, a lack of hormesis resulting from unchallenging diets and lifestyles. Among the US States, and within large cities, there is a strong association of diet and lifestyle (and socioeconomic status) with the incidence of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Technological advances have greatly reduced the need for exercise in the workplace, as well as the need to walk or ride a bicycle to work.”

    Focusing on that last sentence, I would take it a step further. Societal “advances” have reduced the need for the workplace, period. Whereas earning a living at one time meant if you wanted to live you had to earn it, now that is no longer the case. Thanks to our “safety net” work is optional. SSI and disability are very viable alternatives, effectively attenuating intelectual stress along with the aforementined biological stress.

  • Barbara Wagner

    Yes! Excellent video! Lifestyle medicine is the answer! It is so much simpler too! Less likely of a need for complicated interventions for disease if you eat simply whole plant foods, sleep well, get regular exercise and spend time with friends and family!

  • Vidal Pierre

    Prevention is better than cure! :-)