WRONG_WOEID WRONG_WOEID

Bad Genes or Bad Lifestyle - Which Kills More

Bad lifestyleAt the age of 59, my mother died of kidney cancer. A few years before that, her sister died of kidney cancer. Some of my friends with whom I have shared this information are always concerned about my kidneys, especially those who are doctors or into science; they quote from the genetics textbook why I am at greater risk of dying of kidney cancer.

To be honest, I am concerned about my kidneys too, but not because my mother and aunt died of kidney cancer. I am concerned about my kidneys when I do not take care of my body the way I should.

As one who did just about every available genetics course in my university days, I do not deny the importance of genetic diseases. However, when it comes to the diseases that kill us in Antigua and Barbuda today, I not only deny, but will defy the bad gene syndrome. In other words, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, stomach and intestinal ulcers and even most mental illnesses are determined more by our lifestyle than the genes we may or may not inherit.

Let us take a hard look at cancer. The ones that seem to be more prevalent in our society are cancers of the breast, cervix, prostate, colon, and kidney (not necessarily in that order). Although genetics does play a role in the development of these diseases, by far the most important factor is the way we live.

Studies show, for example, that Japanese women living in Japan have a very low incidental rate of breast cancer. However, in the United States the rate of breast cancer among Japanese American women is practically equal to the high rates seen among Caucasian American women. While in Japan, the lifestyle involves more exercise and a diet that consists of fish, vegetables, whole grains, and little fat and refined foods. The American lifestyle is more sedentary, and consists of a diet more like that of a Babylonian king. Interestingly, in areas of Japan that are adopting a more Western lifestyle, the incidence of breast cancer is increasing.


These findings are not isolated. In a study carried out recently by New Zealand scientists, it was shown that as countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa adopt a more Western lifestyle, the incidences of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, gastric and intestinal ulcers, and tooth decay are becoming ever greater. For the first in a very long time, it is projected that the life expectancy in the United States will decrease as the incidences of childhood obesity, diabetes and hypertension increase.

In an extensive study known as the Danish Twin Studies, it was established that genetic factors play less than a 25 percent role in how long or healthy a person lives. This should be seen as very good news as we can control the 75 percent-factor through lifestyle.

In his study of the the so-called Blue Zones (areas in the world where people live the longest and healthiest), Dan Buettner explored why these people live longer and healthier than the rest of the world. In Ikaria, Greece, the people drink a herbal tea that lowers blood pressure. In Sardinia, Italy, the wine they drink is loaded with powerful disease-fighting antioxidants. In Nicoya, Costa Rica, the Meso-American diet of beans, squash, and corn tortillas propel people there to reach their 90's at a rate four times greater than in the United States.

In Loma Linda, California, the Seventh Day Adventists live an extra decade compared to the rest of the American population. They follow a diet inspired by the Bible - Genesis 1:29. This is the concept, where the Creator gives us for food every plant bearing seed and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. Like the Rastafarian Ital Food, it is a diet that consist of food that is pure, wholesome and from the earth. It avoids artificial additives and foods produced using artificial chemicals_ pesticides and fertilizers.

On average, people living in the Blue Zones reach 100 years of age at rates 10 times greater than the general American population.

Buettner found several principles that were common to the Blues Zone regions. If applied to our lives, they could make a huge difference, not only in how long we live, but in the quality of our existence.

He started by saying we need to move naturally; be active without thinking about it. Exercise not for the sake of exercising, but find an activity you enjoy and make it fun.


He continued by admonishing us to eat less. Follow the principle of "hara hachi bi" of the Okinawans. That is, stop eating when the stomach is about 80 percent full. Eat more plant products and less meat, and if you drink a little red wine - no more than two servings per day. But don't abuse alcohol.

Determine your purpose in life, but don't kill yourself with work and responsibilities. Find time to relax. (Even God rested on the Sabbath day).

Participate in a spiritual community. Take time to pray, meditate, reflect, and at least once weekly, fellowship. Put loved ones first and spend quality time with your family circle and extended family.

Finally, be surrounded by  people who share positive values of healthy living. At times, it may be necessary to move from where you are to a more conducive environment. But what is your life worth?

The quality of your life and health is determined more by the choices that you make than the combination of genes you inherited from your parents. I especially like the way Dr Ben Lerner, who has coached numerous Olympic champions, puts it. He says, "By putting nutrition, exercise, and stress and time management together with the wisdom and love of God, I put all the necessary pieces of the puzzle together to create wholeness."

Kidney cancer may run in my family, but it is not a death sentence for me.

Dr Jerry Simon (NSA Medical Surgical Rehab Centre, 462 0631, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ).

Dr. SimonDr. Jerry Simon ( NSA Medical Surgical Rehab Centre, 462 0631, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ).

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10 Comments In This Article   

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JR part 2

#10 P » 2010-09-20 05:10

Same goes in reverse you might want to be a great musician and you practice very hard no matter what you do you will likely never be know as that great musician because genetically you are not. no matter how much i expose you to music, you might practice hard ( expose your self to music or for that fact toxin's that may give you cancer) does not mean you will get it .See it depends on both and you can only effect one thats your environment or life style your genes are set what you do with it depends on your actions.
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P

reply to JR

#9 P » 2010-09-20 05:09

JR lets say that genetically you are a great musician and composer it is in your genes your father was and so was his. Yet you never came across a musical instrument or never picked one up.
It is reasonable to say that unless you come in contact with a musical instrument it is unlikely you will ever write or play any music,. as a matter of fact you might not even know that you could have been a great composer genetically.If you have the genetic ability it may show in time . you might not be aware but won't recognize it.
So i say exposure to the right environment will likely trigger your genetic ability in most cases ,same goes for a genetic predisposition to a disease.
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P

Does Smoking cause long cancer?

#8 JR » 2010-09-19 15:43

Dr. Simon, I am confused when I see persons living a healthy life style and die from a stroke or heart attack. My grand father smoked his pipe untill he was ninety nine and not one day sick. However I stopped smoking because of the treath of long cancer. I cannot understand why one thing goes for one person and not for another. Some people eat like a pig and never get fat others can't even enjoy a kentucky. I say this to say that I believe everything is still genetic. I would like for sience to one day tell us exactly what each individual can and cannot do. That way you have pre-knowledge of things.
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JR

replying to JTS

#7 Dr. J Simon » 2010-09-19 14:26

There is no doubt that the genetic factor is important. And there is no doubt that some people who live very healthy lives succumb to inherited disorders. But for the majority of people and majority of illnesses the lifestyle factor weighs more.
Even infectious diseases have some much to do with our lifestyles_ habit of hand-washing or not, sexual practices, food preparation, the quality of the environment etc.
But I do welcome your comment.
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Dr. J Simon

#6 JTS » 2010-09-19 13:12

Great Article, A must read by all, however not been a doctor,i am prepared to take the bold step and say i disagree with one aspect of the Authors writing,and that been Lifestyle plays a greater role, with all due respect sir,i think Genetics plays the greater role, i have know of persons who have taken Exemplary care of their bodies and only to see them struck down by an illness that had claimed other relatives before, Cancer/Diabetes/ Hypertension # 1 on that list, and lets not forget although not terminal,Mental illness is also very much inherited.
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JTS

Thumbs up!

#5 Morris » 2010-09-19 12:54

Great article doc. I think that this article should be a mandatory read for many of our young folks; many do not realize that by failing to adopt a healthy lifestyle their bodies are just like a painted house that is already structurally weak from termite infestation.
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Morris

Tremendous article

#4 Human » 2010-09-19 05:12

Excellent Dr. Simon, excellent. For years, I have been admonishing the 20- and 30-year-olds in my circle of friends and online communities to start NOW to make healthier choices in the foods we eat, and to consume less than our cultures have erroneously imbued in our minds as normal or necessary. Usually, my urgings and rants fall on deaf ears. Our generation is sadly going to make the same mistakes as the one before: to start taking our diet seriously when it is already too late, i.e. after the onset of diabetes, high blood pressure, and the like.

Hopefully at least one set of eyes out there will heed your call while there's still time.
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Human

Dr.Simon

#3 Susan » 2010-09-19 04:21

Dr. Simon this a very powerful peice of articale very informative, you drive home some very good points, I just hope that more Antiguans will take control of their health, I am a vegetarian, I eat only Organic vegetables & fruits in the summer I grow my own vegetables. We are what we eat, I think that all sinkness is reversable, it all depends on our mind set, our atitude and our diet and eating habits.

I have read all of your articles that you have written, how about a book on health? keep up the good work.

GOD BLESS!!!!
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Susan

good points

#2 tenman » 2010-09-19 01:51

Doc as usual I find your articles educational. The portion that spoke about exercise stood out to me. We need to be active, find activities we enjoy, so its not a case where we simply do it for a short while but instead make it a lifestyle choice. One concept I have tried to employ is to try and do at least 10K steps a day. This equates to about a 5 mile walk. It does not all have to be done at once and some of it can be done while still watching tv.

..
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tenman

so true

#1 Nasheta » 2010-09-19 00:14

You just need to walk out and take a look at all those fat women that probably think fat is good, to realize they never heard how those 'bad habits' heart your health.
Thank you for a great article Doc.
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Nasheta

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Dr. Jerry Simon

Dr.Jerry Simon,a general physician, is a graduate of the University of the West Indies and Villa Clara (Cuba) Medical School. He has previously worked in Internal Medicine and Psychiatry. Presently he is Medical Director of the NSA Medical Surgical Rehab Centre and is a certified member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

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