Thursday, April 12, 2007

Annoying stories on the news

Living in my country at the present time means that I am often annoyed by stories on the news. But usually the blood pressure elevators are political and not health-related. This week I heard a story about the new methods health insurers can use to set rates or deny coverage. It seems they may in the future use a family history of disease to increase your premium.

One thing my health and diet research has taught me is that genetics plays a very small part in diseases of excess, such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and even cancer. If a Japanese person relocates from Japan to America and starts eating a standard American diet, he will acquire the same health risks as Americans. His "Japanese genes" won't protect him. The book The China Study by Campbell provides a lot more detail and is a great read. The titular study is the most comprehensive study on diet/lifestyle and disease to date, and has startling conclusions, such as:
--The genes that you inherit from your parents are not the most important factors in determining whether you fall prey to any of the ten leading causes of death.
--Breast cancer is related to levels of female hormones in the blood, which are determined by the food we eat.
--Heart disease can be reversed with diet alone.
--Consuming dairy foods can increase the risk of prostate cancer.
--Type 1 diabetes is convincingly linked to infant feeding practices.

This is a roundabout way for me to say that it's crazy to think that your family history of diseases of excess predicts your fate, unless you eat and live the same way your parents and grandparents did. I wouldn't want to be punished with a higher premium because my grandfather ate half a stick of butter every day.


Katyola said...

Yes, but — a lot of people do have the same dietary and exercise habits as their family members do. It takes a lot to change what you grew up with. Not that I'm for higher insurance premiums, but it seems like a reasonable indicator of a person's future health to look at what their family members died of or suffer from. That said, I think you should be able to appeal to the insurance agency to lower your rates if you do live a healthier lifestyle. Not that that will happen, but it could be a solution.

Amy said...

Yes, you are right. It's hard to break the cycle. I didn't make my point very well, which was that insurance companies don't consider lifestyle factors as much as they should.