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Importance of Lifestyle Medicine

by Dr. Jamesh Meschino on

December 14, 2023 in

Source: Medscape – February 15, 2017
Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update (February 23, 2017)

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) periodically publishes data briefs, which provide statistics on current public health topics.

One such brief includes mortality data in the United States for the year 2015. A total of 2,712,630 deaths were registered in the United States in 2015. The 10 leading causes of death (heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, unintended injuries, stroke, Alzheimer disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide) accounted for 74.2% of all deaths.

The report shows a slight 0.1-year reduction in life expectancy from 78.9 to 78.8 years. This data brief also tells us that the total age-adjusted mortality rate for 2015 in the United States increased over 2014 by 1.2%.

How to improve health and prevent the leading cause of death?

I think this is a sign of things to come. When you consider that as of 2014, 70% of US adults are overweight or obese, and that approximately 38% of young people under 20 years of age are also overweight or obese, it suggests quite strongly that the average lifespan is likely to decline over the next few decades.

Presently many of the diseases that cause death to occur are strongly linked to faulty dietary and lifestyle factors. For example, there were 50,000 colon cancer deaths in 2015. One woman out of eight, who live to age 80, will get breast cancer – and prostate cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death in men.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that to improve health and reduce death rates, efforts must focus on preventing the leading causes of death. Screening and early detection of cancer or heart disease are important but will not make as big an impact as preventing these diseases in the first place. 

As such, avoiding tobacco, increasing physical activity, and eating healthier could prevent about 900,000 deaths of 2.7 million), or about one-third of all deaths annually in the US.

Why is diet and lifestyle now considered a powerful medicine?

As they state, it is easy to focus on screening and pharmacotherapy, but the real impact on health will come when patients understand the dramatic role that lifestyle plays in actual health outcomes. Along with actions such as screening mammography, colonoscopy, PSA testing, pap smears, and the judicious use of medication, doctors are now being encouraged to educate patients and model in their own lives on the positive impact of exercise, healthy eating, smoking cessation, and morbidity & mortality.

The message becomes clearer with every year that passes. Making prudent changes to one’s diet, getting in those 120-150 minutes of endurance exercise each week, keeping body fat in the ideal range – with a waist circumference of under 36 inches for males, and under 34 inches for females – not smoking, and using alcohol judiciously, are all key factors that determine how long one will remain healthy and disease-free, in the majority of cases.

All the experts are coming to the same conclusion, and that is, Lifestyle Medicine is Powerful Medicine – and is something over which you have complete control.

I have provided the links to this data in the text below:




1. Xu, J., Murphy, S.L., Kochanek, K.G., Aria,s E., Mortality in the United States, 2015. NCHS Data Brief, No. 267. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2016.

2. Kochanek, K.G., Murphy, S.L., Xu, J., Arias, E., Mortality in the United States, 2013. NCHS Data Brief No. 178, December, 2014. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, 2014.

3. National Cancer Institute: Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program. Cancer Stat Facts: Colon and Rectum Cancer, accessed January 23, 2017.


4. National Cancer Institute: Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program. Cancer Stat Facts: Female Breast Cancer, accessed January 23, 2017.


5. National Cancer Institute: Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program. Cancer Stat Facts: Prostate Cancer, accessed January 23, 2017.


6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Up to 40% of annual deaths from each of five leading US causes are preventable, accessed January 30, 2017.


Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great!

Dr. James Meschino

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