Convincing Doctors to Embrace Lifestyle Medicine

Convincing Doctors to Embrace Lifestyle Medicine
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An editorial by the Director of Yale’s Prevention Research Center on putting a face on the tragedy of millions suffering and dying from chronic diseases that could be prevented, treated, and reversed if doctors inspired lifestyle changes in their patients.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

I talk a lot about numbers and statistics, but as the Director of Yale’s Prevention Research Center put it in a recent editorial, to reach doctors, our fellow colleagues, maybe we need to put a human face on it all.

“We have known…[for at least a decade] that the leading causes of both premature death and persistent misery in our society are chronic diseases that are, in turn, attributable to the use of our feet [exercise], forks (diet…), and fingers (…smoking). Feet, forks, and fingers are the master levels of medical destiny for not just thousands of people on any one occasion [like a tsunami or earthquake] but the medical destiny of millions upon millions year after year.

“We [as doctors, as a medical profession] have known,” [Ornish published 23 years ago] “but we have not managed to care. At least, not care deeply enough to turn what we know into what we routinely do. Were we to do so, we [might be able to] eliminate [most] heart disease,…strokes, …diabetes, and…cancer.”

But, saving millions of lives is just a number. He asks doctors to forget the bland statistics of public health, and ask ourselves if we love someone “who has suffered a heart attack, stroke, cancer, or diabetes….Now imagine their faces, whisper their names. Recall what it felt like to get the news. And while [we’re] at it, [we can] imagine the faces of other[s]…imagining beloved faces.”

“Now imagine if eight [out] of 10 of us wistfully reflecting on intimate love and loss, on personal anguish, never got that dreadful news because it never happened. Mom did not get cancer; dad did not have a heart attack; grandpa did not have a stroke; sister, brother, aunt, and uncle did not lose a limb or kidney or eyes to diabetes. We are all intimately linked, in a network of personal tragedy that need never have occurred.”

“Which leads to what [he’s] asking doctors to do about it: put a face on public health every chance you get. When talking about heart disease and its prevention—or cancer or diabetes—ask your audience to see in their mind’s eye the face of a loved one affected by that condition.” Then… imagine that loved one…among the 80% who need never have succumbed if what we knew [as doctors] were what we do.”

Invoke the mind’s eye, he advises, and then bring a tear to it.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Regina Holliday via flickr. Thanks to Ellen Reid for her image-finding expertise, and Jeff Thomas for his Keynote help.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

I talk a lot about numbers and statistics, but as the Director of Yale’s Prevention Research Center put it in a recent editorial, to reach doctors, our fellow colleagues, maybe we need to put a human face on it all.

“We have known…[for at least a decade] that the leading causes of both premature death and persistent misery in our society are chronic diseases that are, in turn, attributable to the use of our feet [exercise], forks (diet…), and fingers (…smoking). Feet, forks, and fingers are the master levels of medical destiny for not just thousands of people on any one occasion [like a tsunami or earthquake] but the medical destiny of millions upon millions year after year.

“We [as doctors, as a medical profession] have known,” [Ornish published 23 years ago] “but we have not managed to care. At least, not care deeply enough to turn what we know into what we routinely do. Were we to do so, we [might be able to] eliminate [most] heart disease,…strokes, …diabetes, and…cancer.”

But, saving millions of lives is just a number. He asks doctors to forget the bland statistics of public health, and ask ourselves if we love someone “who has suffered a heart attack, stroke, cancer, or diabetes….Now imagine their faces, whisper their names. Recall what it felt like to get the news. And while [we’re] at it, [we can] imagine the faces of other[s]…imagining beloved faces.”

“Now imagine if eight [out] of 10 of us wistfully reflecting on intimate love and loss, on personal anguish, never got that dreadful news because it never happened. Mom did not get cancer; dad did not have a heart attack; grandpa did not have a stroke; sister, brother, aunt, and uncle did not lose a limb or kidney or eyes to diabetes. We are all intimately linked, in a network of personal tragedy that need never have occurred.”

“Which leads to what [he’s] asking doctors to do about it: put a face on public health every chance you get. When talking about heart disease and its prevention—or cancer or diabetes—ask your audience to see in their mind’s eye the face of a loved one affected by that condition.” Then… imagine that loved one…among the 80% who need never have succumbed if what we knew [as doctors] were what we do.”

Invoke the mind’s eye, he advises, and then bring a tear to it.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Regina Holliday via flickr. Thanks to Ellen Reid for her image-finding expertise, and Jeff Thomas for his Keynote help.

Nota del Doctor

What did Ornish publish 23 years ago? See Our #1 Killer Can Be Stopped.

I think I’ve profiled only one other editorial (on Ornish’s Convergence of Evidence), but this one really struck me (so much so I used it to close out my latest live presentation More Than an Apple a Day: Combating Common Diseases).

Why don’t more doctors practice lifestyle medicine? Two theories are offered in The Tomato Effect and Lifestyle Medicine: Treating the Causes of Disease.

For more on the power of our day-to-day choices, see:

In 2018, I published a series that starts with What Is the Optimal Diet? Check it out!

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

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