Moving the goalposts
September 5th 2013, 14:06
We're living longer, but we're not necessarily better off for it, at least not according to modern medicine. Several months ago, the UK's International Longevity Centre released a statement announcing that less than a third of us will reach the typical retirement age of 65 years in a healthy state.
In the US, where one of every five Americans (or 72 million) will be 65 or older by 2030, and the 85-pluses are the fastest growing segment of the US population, Americans are older than ever before, but not necessarily healthier. Some 14 million people over age 65 have reported some sort of disability, mostly linked to chronic conditions like heart disease, which translates into one in five who are impaired with major illness.
At least, that's the story doctors tell us, but their statistics rely entirely on how 'health' and 'illness' get defined. As editor Bryan Hubbard discovered in our Special Report this month, the goalposts in many areas of medicine have been moved of late and definitions of disease in all major categories have become far tougher. Millions of people-a full third of all those under medical care-who would have been considered healthy a generation ago are now categorized as ill and in need of one or more drugs, tests or surgical procedures.
To cite just one example, in the US alone, 42 million additional Americans were determined to be at risk of high cholesterol and in need of statin drugs when medical boards decided to lower the level of cholesterol considered harmful from 240 mg/dL to 200 mg/dL. As 200 mg/dL is the average level of cholesterol among the population, all these millions of otherwise healthy people have been diagnosed as ill literally overnight at the stroke of a pen.
If you're taking medicine, there's a reasonable likelihood that you could be one of the 30 per cent caught in the medical net by new (and largely arbitrary) definitions, so check out our Special Report to find out if you or a loved one are the victim of over-medicalization (page 24).
And speaking of ageing, there are plenty of natural ways to do it gracefully; you don't have to resort to Botox to keep your skin wrinkle-free. Check out our Natural Doctor's Casebook to find a load of tips for keeping your skin young (page 44 of September issue of WDDTY Magazine), and if you like your skincare free of the usual nasties, we've done your homework for you with five wrinkle-fighters that are clear of chemicals (page 84 of September issue of WDDTY Magazine). Besides young skin, another key to the fountain of youth is keeping your bones healthy, and our Food as Medicine columnist Dr Annemarie Colbin offers the definitive word on which foods will keep your bones strong (page 66 of September issue of WDDTY Magazine).
Staying healthy and young is a balancing act-literally, according to our exercise expert Paul Chek, who shows you four essential exercises to help improve balance, which will enhance your sports and exercise regime (page 40).
'Tis the season to return to school, and if you have a school-age child or grandchild, he or she will be facing a tougher new curriculum with the government's new programme coming into force. But you can boost your child's brain power and IQ-whatever his age-by following seven simple steps and avoiding five kiddy brain killers (page 34). For those of you whose children suffer from ADHD, our movement expert Anat Baniel offers an amazing, and amazingly simple, method for getting your hyper child to instantly slow down (page 51).
For dog lovers, autumn often means the season to head to the vet to deal with all the pests your pooch has accumulated throughout the summer months, but our natural vet Paul Boland shows you how to get rid of all manner of worms without resorting to dangerous drugs (page 56).
And for the men folk, the most dreaded words you'll ever hear are 'you've got prostate cancer', a pronouncement made to 40,000 men in Britain and 230,000 American men every year. Invariably your doctor will get you in line for a radical prostatectomy, but before you agree to go under the knife, read our feature first, as it tells you who can avoid surgery and what to do instead (page 59).
Check out our new section, 'Your complete guide to good nutrition', to determine whether you're suffering from a nutritional deficiency and in need of more vitamins (page 90), and consult our feature on dirty electricity to find out if you need to clean yours up (page 18).
And don't forget to take the best natural remedy of all-a close connection (page 68). As one scientist discovered, if you join just one social group this year, whether a book club or church group, you halve your chances of dying. No remedy, conventional or alternative, can quite make that claim.