Dealing with symptoms, not disease

“Dealing with symptoms, not disease.” By  Dennis Raphael, The Spectator (Canada).

I recently wrote a piece in The Hamilton Spectator chastising the major disease associations for neglecting research findings that adverse living and working conditions are the primary causes of chronic disease during adulthood (Why are Canadians not being told the truth about disease?, March 11, 2014). I pointed out that decades of research indicated adverse living conditions — especially during childhood — are much better predictors of chronic diseases such as heart disease and stroke and adult-onset diabetes than the behavioral risk factors we hear so much about.

In response to that piece I was invited to meet with staff from the Heart and Stroke Foundation in Toronto. Reviewing their recent materials, I pointed out that the Foundation continues to neglect the direct effects upon health of adverse living conditions — especially poverty — and maintain the mantra of how eating fruits and vegetables, exercising and giving up tobacco would guarantee a heart disease-free future. They do so in spite of the evidence these behaviors play far less of a role in the onset of heart disease and stroke than adverse living conditions.

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