The Age Of Preemptive Medicine?

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As featured on The Malaysian Insider 

All of us have some health predisposition or other; hypertension and risk of diabetes with a family history of such conditions perhaps. Or ovarian cancer with the possibility that it will spread to neighbouring organs.

Do we take preventive and in particular pre-emptive steps to mitigate these risks?

The recent news about actress Angelina Jolie’s decision to undergo double mastectomy as a pre-emptive measure seems to have taken this to an insane level. The Hippocratic oath that all medical students learn to recite ― Primum non noncere or “First do no harm” ― seems to have been relegated to a quaint notion in medical textbooks.

Jolie’s high celebrity profile means that half the world population or more would probably have heard of her action. In the US, this drastic move actually comes under preventive medicine.

Recently I received a phone call from a woman asking if I was able to perform genetic profiling as she wanted to assess her risk of contracting breast cancer. This was so she could then undertake “preventive” measures.

After an hour of pre-test counselling I realised her motive and declined to perform this genetics profiling. I heard later that she went to the US in order to carry out the profiling.

Studies done on identical twins clearly show that genetic contribution only amounts to between 25 and 30 per cent.

A predisposition does not pre-determine of our fate. We must not forget that we can help downgrade such genetic risks through lifestyle and nutrition.

Epigenetics: The answer to cancer prevention?

The paradigm-shattering research now referred to as epigenetics proves your genetic code is not as predeterministic as previously thought. You actually have a tremendous amount of control over how your genetic traits are expressed.

As it turns out, your genes will express or suppress genetic data depending on the environment in which it finds itself, meaning the presence or absence of appropriate nutrients, toxins, and even your emotions and feelings, which unleash hormones and other chemicals in your body.

The theory is that with the right environment, we should be able to reverse cancer without having to kill ourselves with cytotoxic therapies. This opens up a whole new way of reversing cancer that would be much less assaultive.

Cancer prevention strategies

It is essential to realise that cancer screening does NOT in any way equate to cancer prevention. Although early detection is important, a number of very popular screening methods have been shown to cause more harm than good.

Remember that 70 to 75 per cent of genetic predispositions can be avoided by applying lifestyle and nutrition based on LivingFood principles. Other recommendations for lifestyle can include;

• Avoid electromagnetic fields as much as possible.

• Avoid synthetic hormone replacement therapy, go for bioidentical and natural methods to improve levels.

• Avoid BPA, phthalates and other xenoestrogens. These are oestrogen-like compounds that have been linked to increased breast cancer risk

In terms of genetic testing, ask yourself what you would do with the information should it turn out you’re a carrier of the breast cancer gene. Such a test should ideally result in spurring you to take real prevention seriously.

But even if you don’t have the mutation, lifestyle factors are still a much larger risk factor overall. Remember the percentage of diagnosed breast cancer cases that have the mutated gene is in the low single digits. Something else, primarily your lifestyle, accounts for the remainder.

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