The medical field has made major leaps in its ability to diagnose, treat and cure illnesses during the last 100 years.
Doctors and scientists have discovered how important vitamins and minerals are to the human diet. They’ve developed vaccines for polio, tuberculosis and the flu. And they’ve created medicines to provide relief to millions in pain.
These things are all commonplace today. Yet at one point, each was the major medical breakthrough of its time.
And it wasn’t that long ago that they didn’t exist at all.
What we’ve accomplished in just the past hundred years is significantly more than the previous thousands of years combined.
Some examples …
1928: Scottish bacteriologist Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin.
1937: Bernard Fantus started the first blood bank at Cook County Hospital in Chicago.
1953: James Watson and Francis Crick at Cambridge University described the structure of the DNA molecule. This has led to our ability to map out the entire human genome. And that can help scientists use genetics to custom-treat diseases.
These are just a few of the thousands of major medical innovations made in the recent past. And each year, these advancements compound at a rate we’ve never seen before.
Here in 2017, we’ve arrived at a point where once-outrageous concepts like 3D-printing organs … building bionic limbs … and editing single genes in cells will soon become routine procedures.
With all these advancements, though, I can’t help but wonder why there are so many new health epidemics in America.
One in three people is considered obese … nearly 50% of adults have diabetes or pre-diabetes … and one in four Americans will now die of heart disease.
And it’s not just the United States.
The World Health Organization believes the global burden of cancer will grow by 70% over the next two decades. This could mean an estimated 22 million new cases and 13 million deaths each year by 2032.
By mid-century, though, things may look a little different …
Around the year 2050, researchers believe cancer will be overtaken by antibiotic resistance as the world’s deadliest disease.
This is where all the cures we’ve discovered over the past 100 years suddenly stop working.
|Image credit: World Health Organization|
That’s because the bacteria in our bodies figure out how to morph and adapt to the disease or disorder that the treatments were designed to target in the first place.
The issue here is a question of life span vs. health span.
With today’s modern technologies, hospitals and doctors can keep people alive much longer (life span).
But that doesn’t necessarily mean someone’s quality of life will be good or even tolerable during that extended time (health span).
Life span is how long you are technically alive. And health span is the length of time you are truly healthy and thriving during that time.
Ideally, you want your life span to equal your health span.
Yet, as a society, we obsessively seek to extend our life spans … without considering the consequences.
A study suggests that longevity-increasing genes might not significantly increase a healthy life span. This study came from scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
The findings, which were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, point to the need to measure health as part of aging studies going forward.
Heidi A. Tissenbaum Ph.D. was the principal investigator of the study. In her words …
“Our study reveals that, if we want to find the genes that help us remain physically active as we age …
“The genes that will allow us to play tennis when we’re 70 similar to when we were 40 …
“We have to look beyond longevity as the sole criteria.
“We have to start looking at new genes that might play a part in ‘health span.’”
Tissenbaum is a professor of molecular, cellular & cancer biology and the program in molecular medicine at UMass Medical School.
The implication for scientists, she says, is that the set of genes that influence longevity may be distinct from the genes that control our health spans.
“This study suggests that there is a separate and unexplored group of genes that allow us to perform at a higher level physically as we age.
“When we study aging, we can no longer look at life span as the only parameter; we also have to consider health as a distinct factor of its own.”
Here at Uncommon Wisdom Daily we started this weekly health column to accomplish just that. To arm our readers with the knowledge and tools to not just live longer, but also live healthier and at a higher quality of life.
We hope you have gained some valuable insight so far, and we look forward to providing you with even more exceptional information about your health and your wealth.
We would love to know the most effective health and lifestyle changes you’ve made in your own life as well.
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Happy and healthy investing,