Risks & Rewards

Risk reward

Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones project study indicated that human body life capacity is ninety years. However, average life expectancy in the United States is 76 years (2022 data), leaving fourteen potentially good years on the table. How do we get those extra good years?

Doing nothing is not the answer.

What is safe and worth the time and effort?

What is the risk of losing health or life on immature unproven solutions?

Risks of Quackery

Throughout history, there have been many “health practices” which have turned out to be quackery and dangerous. In 2023, cupping, much of traditional Chinese medicine, the anti-vax movement, The Wellness Company and such crazy products as Nose Slap, Soul Slap and magic jewelry were exposed as quackery.

How can you avoid fake science and doctors who aren’t up to speed on the latest advances?  In China they used to pay their doctors as long as they were healthy and stop paying when they became sick! Value-based healthcare in the United States is helping to improve medical practices and outcomes. However, as the patient who has the most interest in the outcome, you still need to be as informed as possible.

Trusted Evidence-Based Health Websites

So, with quackery running rampant, where can you go to make sure your physician is prescribing current best practices, to check out suspiciously hyped products and to research questionable health recommendations from friends and family? Here are a few highly reputable sites:

  1. The National Institute of Health’s website MedLinePlus offers reliable, up-to-date health information. (free)
  2. Consumer Reports Health provides the latest in-depth ratings, reviews, and buying advice on personal care and health products (monthly subscription)
  3. Consumer Lab provides independent test results, reviews, ratings and comparisons of vitamins, supplements, herb and nutrition products.  (monthly subscription)

Causes of Disability and Death

To protect yourself and increase your odds of a longer and healthier life, see the list of top 20 causes of disability and death from the 2010 NIH study. Here are the 2023 causes of death as well, although less nuanced. Which of these can you avoid by making different lifestyle choices and pursuing the 24 key health factors for 2024?

risk reward graph

Surprisingly, high blood pressure is tops and on average causes people to live 7% of their life with disabilities. Smoking and alcohol drop healthy years by 6% each. Even consuming a diet low in fruit has over a 4% reduction in healthspan. Low physical activity reduces your healthy years by 3%. Some of these risks are easier to control than others.

When we reduce our risks by following good evidence-based health practices, then we significantly increase our chance to enjoy the rewards that come with keeping good health later in life.

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