This is an image that is all about Lifespan. Until the late 1800’s and the discovery of how infection really worked, this was what we all feared. Your child could be well in the morning and dead that night. Entire cities could die in weeks. Most children did die. We have found ways of avoiding this. But actually it was not a drug but public health. It was not medicine but medical knowledge that has extended our Lifespan.
This is our modern equivalent. It shows what is behind the “Healthspan” crisis of our time. When our children are exposed to a number of environments that will cause them to lose their health earlier and earlier and condemn them to a life of illness. They will live but more and more will reach a stage in life where they are so ill that they cannot function as full citizens. Medicine has found no way of preventing this. But it has found a way of keeping us alive – at great cost – when we get these diseases.
You have a greater chance today than 30 years ago in getting – Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, Kidney failure, depression, dementia, arthritis, CFS, IBS, Crohns and many other chronic illnesses. When you get these diseases your ability to work, to look after your self, to be a parent all erode to the point of failure. When you get these diseases the costs to you, your family, your employer and the state are rising so fast that all risk bankruptcy – even the state itself. And the rate of incidence is rising too. More and more of us are going to get these diseases.
“Consider that a National Cancer Institute study projects a 39 percent increase in cancer costs between 2010 and 2020. That figure represents in great part our success in extending the lives of those already afflicted with the disease. Kidney dialysis also has become an economic quagmire. A 150 percent increase in the number of such patients is expected over the next decade. The cost of Alzheimer’s disease is projected to rise from $91 billion in 2005 to $189 billion in 2015 to $1 trillion in 2050 (twice the cost of Medicare expenditures for all diseases now).” (link)
This is a global issue – look at cancer rates in the UK – it is estimated that 42% of Brits will get cancer. (link)
“There are currently 2 million people living with cancer in the UK and that number is doubling to 4 million over the next 20 years. Yet no one thinks the country can afford to double its spending on cancer,” Devane said.
So what to do? That is the point of this site and the sister site to this The Missing Human Manual
I thought today it is time to make all of this more personal. For in the end this is not about statistics, it is about you and me. Many of these diseases oppress my family and so affect me directly too. It must be the same for you. Who does not have a friend with heart disease, or cancer or depression? You may have them yourself.
So in this series I will make it all about us.
To start, please think about how do you feel about your Healthspan? Have you lost it already? Has a loved one lost it? Do you see signs, as I did, that you are at risk of losing it? Have you done anything for yourself to prevent you from losing your health?
In this context, I will go back with a personal lens and talk about:
- How do we get these diseases?
- Why they are all linked – they are in fact the same
- What is the role of Medicine?
- What can you do?
But I would like to hear from you? How much Healthspan do you think you will have?