Top 2 Prevention Measures Are FREE

Patients I see in the office for medical consultation commonly are seeking advice about measures of health prevention. There are two health prevention measures that stand out as very powerful in maximizing health down the road. And, here's the secret surprise: both are FREE and accessible to everyone.

Most powerful prevention measure #1 - STOP SMOKING.

Before I review a partial list of damaging conditions that result from long-term cigarette smoking, let me present the concept exactly as I do for my patients. (Example, patient John Doe). I explain to John that in my mind I can visualize two John Does, side by side, 20 years from now - one that continued to smoke and one that didn' t. The two Johns will look completely different both in terms of the outer appearance and inner appearance (if we slice up each organ and examine it). The entire body of the John who continued smoking has further tissue damage from smoking, regardless of how much smoking John had done prior to seeing me in the office.

Smoking increases the risk for osteoarthritis, lung and many other forms of cancer (including mouth, esophagus, and stomach), stomach irritation and ulcers, emphysema and bronchitis, stroke, eye damage (macular degeneration), dental disease, foul breath, yellowing of the fingers, and fires.

Smoking is not only harmful to the smoker, but also to others. Smoking harms family members, coworkers, and others who breathe the smoker's cigarette smoke, called secondhand smoke. Among infants to 18 months of age, secondhand smoke is associated with as many as 300,000 plus cases of bronchitis and pneumonia each year. Secondhand smoke from a parent's cigarette increases a child's chances for middle ear problems, causes coughing and wheezing, and worsens asthma conditions. If both parents smoke, a teenager is more than twice as likely to smoke than a young person whose parents are both nonsmokers. In households where only one parent smokes, young people are also more likely to start smoking. Pregnant women who smoke are more likely to deliver babies whose birth weights are too low for the babies' good health.

The benefits of quitting smoking are numerous and include lowering the rate of death. For more, please read the Smoking and Quitting Smoking article.

Most powerful prevention measure #2 - EXERCISE.

Getting healthy" is not a passive event. Research shows that regular exercise (even walking and chair exercise) can help reduce your risk for several diseases and health conditions as well as improve your overall quality of life. Regular physical activity can help protect you from osteoporosis, obesity, back pain, disability, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. Other benefits are improving the way you feel about yourself and reducing stress.

The benefits of exercise for both women and men go beyond the cosmetic and include improved cardiovascular condition, endurance, musculoskeletal stability (especially important in the elderly), and emotional well-being.

During this Olympic Year 2004, the Medical Editors of encourage women and men of all ages to use the inspiration of the amazing athletes of the world and get moving!

Remember to consult your doctor when considering an exercise program.

For more information, please see the Fitness and Healthy Living Centers.

Last Editorial Review: 7/20/2004