THE owner of Cebu Doctors University Hospital in Cebu, Philippines, and my cardiac team in Northwest Indiana established the Cebu Cardiac Center at CDUH in November of 1997. I shuttled between Cebu and Northwest Indiana every couple of months as Chief of Cardiac Surgery to do open-heart surgery in both cities.
Before I returned to the United States from Cebu, Philippines to retire on September 28, 2010, I was interviewed by Sky Cable in Cebu. Besides the topic about heart attack and stroke, and lifestyle in general as a preventive regimen in warding off diseases, the discussion also touched on cancer.
One of my statements alluded to the fact that most of the diseases known to man, including cancer, in my opinion, “are man-made, self-induced, brought on by us to ourselves thru unhealthy lifestyle, whether we realize it or not, inadvertently or otherwise.”
Smoking (first- or second-hand), alcohol abuse, ingestion of “killer” processed foods, high-fat, high- cholesterol foods, trans-fat, absence or lack of vegetables, fruits, and high-fiber items like nuts and lentils in our diet, drinking soft drinks (which poison our body), exposure to environmental pollution (air and water) were among the factors and culprits I cited. This unhealthy situation is rampant, an “epidemic” in the Philippines.
While poverty is a factor, most Filipinos are literate, many well-educated and well aware of medical facts, but upbringing, the way of life, and culture, greatly factor in this environment, making them disregard healthy lifestyle. The thinking “whatever will be, will be,” and “God will protect me,” or “I want to enjoy life,” self-encourages the unhealthy behavior and lifestyle.
I also stated that while genetics (good or bad genes) play a role in all this, our environment and our lifestyle (particularly diet and exercise) appear to outweigh the hereditary factor. The more disciplined siblings, who opted to live a healthy lifestyle unlike their parents, did not necessarily fall victims to their elders’ common illnesses. Even their longevity was improved. So, the impact of environment and lifestyle do, indeed, outweigh genetics in general.
The human factor includes the carcinogenic fumes from cigarettes, carbon monoxide/dioxide from engine emissions, chemical contamination from the household agents (soaps, bleaches, tile and toilet cleaners, etc.) we use daily, factories polluting our atmosphere and dumping of toxic waste products into our rivers and lakes, deforestation and destruction of our greeneries, invasion of the original habitats of animals and disturbing the natural order of things, and the environmental insults that urbanization brings with it in general.
Greek medical writings hardly mentioned cancer and among these mummies (from the Ptolemaic period) only two (worldwide) were detected to have histological evidence of cancer. Obviously, cancer, in adults or children, was extremely rare during those times, and not because their life expectancy was shorter compared to ours. The mummies studied were persons with arteriosclerosis, osteoporosis, Paget’s disease, illnesses found in seniors, who were old enough to develop cancer. Logic tells us that the carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) we inhale, eat, or expose ourselves to today, were not present in ancient times. The environment then was pristine, not polluted as it is now.
Then came the Industrial Revolution and the massive environmental pollution. This was followed by the explosion of the incidence of cancer, especially childhood cancer, not to mention other diseases now known to man, cardiovascular, metabolic, even infectious.
Professor Michael Zimmerman, a visiting professor at the KNH Centre, who made the first ever histological diagnosis of cancer in an Egyptian mummy stated, “In an ancient society lacking surgical intervention, evidence of cancer should remain in all cases. The virtual absence of malignancies in mummies must be interpreted as indicating their rarity in antiquity, indicating that cancer-causing factors are limited to societies affected by modern industrialization.” It has also been pointed out that all the mummies at the museums in Cairo and Europe showed no evidence of cancer at all.
The research, which was published in NATURE, reported that “Evidence of cancer and medical procedures, such as operations for cancers does not appear until the 17th century…Scientific literature depicting distinctive tumors have only been about for the last 200 years, when data started to be documented about chimney sweeps with scrotal cancer in 1775, nasal cancer in snuff users in 1761, and Hodgkin’s disease in 1832.”
It is lucidly clear from all those medical facts from thousands of years ago that cancer, and most of the diseases afflicting mankind and the damages to our environment today, are man-made and self-induced.
In my book of healthy lifestyle and disease prevention at the DNA level (entitled Let’s Stop “Killing” Our Children, available at amazon.com; preview at www.philipSchua.com), I pointed out that we, humans, seem to be bent on hurting ourselves, with our lack of discipline and unhealthy behavior. The result is most of us have arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, which we falsely label “normal diseases of aging.” But this is not true. There are millions of people without these ailments in their ripe old age; minimal, if any. If we started to live a healthy lifestyle starting from the crib, with the aid of our parents, and follow though as teenagers and as adults, we do not necessarily have to be afflicted with those chronic illnesses. These are self-inflicted.
The vital question is: What do we do about this masochistic, self-destructive, and almost suicidal behavior of our species on this wonderful planet earth?
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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.
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The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.
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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, Health Advocate, newspaper columnist, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. He was a recipient of the Indiana Sagamore of the Wabash Award in 1995. Other Sagamore past awardees include President Harry Truman, President George HW Bush, Muhammad Ali and Astronaut Gus Grissom (Wikipedia). Websites: FUN8888.com, Today.SPSAtoday.com, and philipSchua.com; Email: [email protected].