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10:13 PM on 08/10/2009
Part 1 --

There is no doubt that the life I have lived -- an alternative lifestyle of using cars as little as possible -- walking and biking instead, going for trail walks, eating fresh organic foods as much as possible and shunning antibiotics, prescription drugs and over-the-counter chemical remedies is the reason that, at 48, I have a healthy blood pressure and heartbeat, and never get sick beyond occasional pollen allergies in the spring.

My wife, likewise, is very healthy. She plays tennis regularly and is even more food-conscious than I am. She gets a cold maybe once a year, and that's about it.
10:12 PM on 08/10/2009
Part 2 --

Many commenters on HuffPo are seeming to want to disassociate lifestyle choices from the healthcare reform debate. This is because they fear that by adding this aspect, they will get less than what they are looking for. Let me say, I'm right there in the front when it comes to advocating single-payer healthcare.

But, the fact of the matter, we (collective "we") give the health insurance and big pharma the power they have over us because as a culture we have swallowed hook, line and sinker the consumerization of our entire lives. We believe we can pay for an external solution (medicalization) to the entire human life experience.

It is just like with our energy economy, we realize that by being addicted to oil is costing us huge treasury and lives by fighting wars and paying for global petroleum. And so, people are motivated to go green -- not as much for global climate change as for their own pocket book. If people could make the connection, they'd see that their lifestyles empower the moneyed interests to keep us from having single-payer healthcare.

It's the elephant in the room that everybody needs to notice. It is as much the Ghandian approach as it is anything.
02:40 AM on 08/11/2009
Well gosh - you do ALL the right things don't you?

And despite all those things, when your wife feels that lump in her breast, or you get your prostate exam and find out you have prostate cancer, and your health insurance company (I'm assuming you have health insurance?) figures out some way to deny your treatment because you didn't report having seen a doctor for acne as a teenager or some equally ridiculous B.S. like that), then all of those glorious lifestyle choices won't mean squat.

Yes, we need to take a completely different approach to health and fitness and diet in our society, starting all the way back in grade school. But it's not ONE OR THE OTHER. I'm tired of seeing the arguments on right OR left that just say all it takes is ONE OR THE OTHER.

WE NEED TO DO BOTH. The health/fitness/diet side of it AND a single-payer health care system that excises the malignancy of the private, for-profit health insurance companies that truly are the LARGEST cause of our dysfunctional health care system.
08:48 AM on 08/11/2009
Agreed, it is both that are needed -- healthy lifestyle and single-payer. No doubt about it.
10:06 PM on 08/10/2009
Excellent article! Should be mandatory reading for all interested in health care issues.
12:01 AM on 08/11/2009
Especially DOCTORS! I hope that you submitted this to the JAMA Dr Ornish. Where I live patients are like people waiting for a hair cut. They are allowed 15 minutes to do the job. Doctors seem to be allowed 10 or less. What ever drives that policy is hurting we the patient. It seems if you have an "oh by the way doc" he rolls his eyes and hopes that he can add a pill to your script for that too. Doctors do not/ or cannot take time to listen to the patient. Or ASK why have you gained 30 pounds since you were last in or bother to look for anything other than the problem at hand. If you have a cough he sticks the cold stethoscope up the back of your shirt rather than making you take the shirt off so he can spot that scaly itchy patch on your back and possibly catch the early stages of skin cancer. I have been going to this practice for 13 yrs. If he is busy you get a PA who maybe has never seen you before. Reform needs to begin in the exam room.
If the guys at the local Jiffy Lube were doctors I would go there. At least they give your car a 10 point inspection on every visit! Maybe they would do the same for me.
10:05 PM on 08/10/2009
“In other words, the debate on prevention often misses the point: the mortality rate is still 100%, one per person. So, it's not just how long we live but also how well we live.”
Amen! Several studies have shown that there are five key factors associated with living long and living well during that long life.
1. Abstaining from smoking,
2. Weight management,
3. Blood pressure control,
4. Regular exercise,
5. Avoiding diabetes.
Individual do have some control over their destiny in terms of what they can do to improve the probability that not only might they live a long time, but also have good health and good function in those older years.
After controlling for other variables, smokers had double the risk of death before 90 compared with nonsmokers, diabetics increased their risk of death by 86 percent, obese men by 44 percent, and hypertensives by 28 percent.
Compared with men who never exercised, those who did reduced their risk of death by 20 percent to 30 percent, depending on how often and how vigorously they worked out.
Other studies show that a large proportion of people who lived past 90 and lived with minimal or no assistance did so despite long-term chronic illness. In other words, instead of delaying disease, they delay disability. Old age and chronic illness are no reason to stop providing thorough treatment. We should look at the individual in making treatment decisions, and not base our decisions solely on chronological age.
10:02 PM on 08/10/2009
"The Take Back Your Health Act gets doctors and patients invested in the success of treatment, since doctors won't be paid unless their patients actually get better."
This apparently sounds better on paper than it will in practice, because what will happen is that the hard cases will be refused treatment. That’s backdoor rationing! Why will I, as a healthcare provider, waste my time on poorly motivated patients who won’t take care of themselves while knowing that I am just donating my time and will not be paid? Where is my incentive to work with the morbidly or even moderately obese individual? Or the nicotine addict?
I agree that prevention needs to be at the top of the list, but don’t punish me because others are unmotivated and/or irresponsible!
09:46 PM on 08/10/2009
Is the AMA in bed with the pharmaceutical and insurance companies? I think the AMA should encourage doctors to practice medicine as they see it fit. Not by some norm of practice establish by the AMA influenced by drug and insurance companies.

I think Jesus Christ was one of the biggest socialist there ever existed. I would go as further to say that the new testament encourages communism.
12:08 AM on 08/11/2009
No, there's a huge difference between charity and socialism. Jesus never held a gun to someone's head and forced him to pay into a system.
09:43 PM on 08/10/2009
Is anyone commenting even aware of Dr. Ornish's long time commitment to health through prevention and lifestyle changes? He is not a Johnny-come-lately and has helped so many people and created so many helpful programs you should really understand where he's coming from instead of getting so damn emotional. BTW, breasts should be used for nursing and that helps prevent breast cancer. It's a fact.
We are the Many. They are the Few.
09:42 PM on 08/10/2009
Senator Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, says it best. What we need today is "health care for all now."

No greedy health "insurance" company, no venal for-profit doctor, no gouging pharma or medical device company, no turn-away patients hospital, no dishonest lawyer cashing in on the disfunctional system -- "health care for all now". We're paying for it. Why are we not getting it?
10:54 PM on 08/10/2009
Bernie's right. But, why are we not getting it?
Because "we" hand that power over to them.
12:06 AM on 08/11/2009
Are doctors supposed to work for free now? What do you mean by 'for-profit doctor'?
We are the Many. They are the Few.
10:55 AM on 08/11/2009
johna --"for-profit doctors" are those who, besides practising, also own laboratories, hospitals, clinics, and then direct patients to use those facilities, often "for profit". I think doctors are entitled to decent pay, but not to also gouge patients. It used to be against the law for physicians to have a financial interest in pharmaceuticals or facilities that they could prescribe, for the obvious conflict of interest.
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09:40 PM on 08/10/2009
Excellent article, Dr. Ornish. Thank you!
09:36 PM on 08/10/2009
Actually a recent study revealed that those of us who take care of themselves and live the longest cost the health care system the most. So indulge in that Big Mac, rediscover Smoking, gain Weight, Stress Out, and DON'T EXERCISE. It's your patriotic duty.
08:49 PM on 08/10/2009
You lost me when you referred to breast cancer as "largely preventable".

Really? Are you referring to the increased risk of breast cancer in overweight individuals and smokers?
Yes... those studies are out there.

But "largely preventable"??? I don't think that there's any evidence to support that statement. If you have a way to prevent breast cancer please pass it along to all those thin, nonsmoking women out there.
Political agnostic
08:33 PM on 08/10/2009
The next time someone bad mouths Socialism you should sit them down and point out that is is Socialism that keeps the human race going. To be put in solitary confinement is the quickest way to destroy a human being. We are social animals. There is no debate on this as this is a truth. mankind survived this long because it is a social animal. Cities are social establishments built to provide shelter, safety and welfare for the occupants. We are in the middle of an experiment in government. The experiment is not over so to say we have the best form of government is a bit premature. What this country is going through now is a huge test for our experiment. If the rights of free speech are denied by loud mouthed, uniformed biggots we lose. If the right to peaceful assembly is thrown out we lose. If we, the people, do not stand up to these traitors and put them in their place they will bring down the greatest experiment in human governence of all time. If our government fails it will be because of this type of attack from within not a rag tag group of so called terrorists who can not hurt this country.
We are the Many. They are the Few.
09:34 PM on 08/10/2009
Dosadi -- Bravo! I think that restoring the notion of "the commons" which our anglo-saxon-franks ancestors agreed was the best way to organize ourselves at the village level, is still the best way to govern ourselves. Not the "me" society, but the "we" society. Hey, it's ancient, and it worked for a whole lot longer than this greedy "I've got mine" society. History, reading, living frugally, listening to the elders, have disappeared from our civic space to great detriment to our society.

Read The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.
12:05 AM on 08/11/2009
Mankind is plenty social without socialism, which is simply a form of slavery.
06:11 AM on 08/11/2009
So there are Canadian slaves? Last time I was in Toronto, it felt pretty free, hardly slave-like. My Canadian husband laughs everytime he hears an American try to define "socialism."
08:31 PM on 08/10/2009
"prostate/breast cancer are largely preventable and even reversible by changing diet and lifestyle."

Oh, so women with breast cancer just didn't take care of themselves. If they had eaten right and changed their lifestyle--what? What kind of claptrap is this from a doctor? Ever heard of genetics?

Oh, I get it. The new health care plan is that we will not NEED insurance because we will all take care of ourselves. And for those of you losers who get sick, well, you just weren't trying hard enough to alter your lifestyle.

This is an affront to cancer patients and their families.
Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
09:02 PM on 08/10/2009
No, this really is not an affront to anyone. People can choose to learn from or ignore facts. Sounds to me like you are reacting from emotion to a doctor sighting data. I truly beieve that people should do everything possible to be healthy. My mother, father, uncle and aunt died from cancer. I could smoke, lay out in the sun, eat too much fat and not exercise or I can choose to eat healthy, abstain from smoking, use sunscreen and exercise.

I have chosen the later course for myself. I have decided to do everything in my power to try to not get cancer. I have decided to listen to what those who know more than I.
09:17 PM on 08/10/2009
Actually, it IS an affront to many cancer patients and their families.

Congratulations to you for choosing a healthy lifestyle and "doing everything in your power to not get cancer". Guess what... there are hundreds of thousands of cancer patients out there who lead a very healthy lifestyle (shockingly some of those even more healthy than your own lifestyle) and still developed cancer.

The implication that cancer patients must have done something wrong or didn't "listen to those who know more" is reprehensible to me. And I didn't see much data "sighted (sic)" in this article to support an argument to the contrary.
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09:29 PM on 08/10/2009
Try really reading the article. You obviously missed the passage about how things in our diet trigger genes or shut them off. If, for example, you eat a lot of processed food with nitrates and preservatives and so on you're going to be turning on those genetic switches. People don't like hearing that all their favorite brand name foods and personal care products are full of garbage that's bad for them. "How can it be if it doesn't make you drop dead instantly and the government lets these companies sell it?" Wake up and stop being so overly sensitive. Do you really think Big Medicine--which includes Pharma and Insurance and yes, even organizations who solicit your $ for a cure--really truly WANT a cure? It's a twisted, heartless racket that puts continued large profits over human lives.

check out (breast cancer prevention site)
10:32 PM on 08/10/2009
Ummm... yeah... I'm pretty sure that the Susan G. Komen organization wants a cure for breast cancer. Maybe you know something that I don't?

I did read the passage about "things in our diet triggering genes". I am a huge proponent for healthy choices, but I completely challenge the assertion that breast cancer can be "mostly prevented" by changes in one's diet.
08:31 PM on 08/10/2009
Simply put "Health is Wealth".
Healthy country is wealthy country.
prevention is better than cure.
An apple a day
We don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow
08:27 PM on 08/10/2009
We cannot let the obstructionists prevent this debate. It is too important to ALL of us!

Sign this petition to have paid health care removed from our representatives in Congress until such time as they reform health care - to include a strong public option - for 'we the people' who they are supposed to represent. Then spread the word to anyone and everyone you know!