October 23, 2010

IGNORANCE IS HEALTH:

The risk of being too aware: There have been many advances in the fight against breast cancer. But don't forget that too much disease awareness may not be good for your health either. (H. Gilbert Welch, October 20, 2010, LA Times)

Breast Cancer Awareness Month serves as a prototype for "disease awareness" campaigns. Too often these morph into campaigns to find things wrong with healthy people. Our medical care system is extremely capable in this regard. We can detect miniscule abnormalities in the body's anatomy and its chemical milieu. And, as if that's not enough, we increasingly change the rules to narrow the definition of "normal": Lower blood pressures have become hypertension, lower blood sugars have become diabetes.

Many interests are served by this behavior. But that may not include yours. That's because health means more than the absence of abnormality. Health is also about how people feel; it's also a state of mind. And it's hard to feel good when things are constantly being found wrong. Pursuing health, ironically, may require that we not pay too much attention to it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 23, 2010 6:54 AM
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