Please consider this post in light of a preventive perspective targeting multiple etiologies and not correlations. This is not meant to disrespect all the great work public heath has been and is currently providing*
The major causes of disease and death (DaD) in the 21st century have never been scientifically proven although outcomes have been correlated and mistakenly identified as causes. This is one of the greatest mistakes in public health and medicine today (Taubes, 2012). It can be speculated that major causes of DaD are the standard American diet (SAD), iatrogenic comorbidity (Starfield, 2000), and toxic environmental factors (Walsh, 2010). Perhaps the greatest influence is our biological mismatch (Kruse, 2012). Our lives no longer synchronize with the Earth’s cyclical rotations affecting great influence on our collective behavior. Hormone, immunity, and metabolic functional alterations can result from mismatches with natural circadian rhythms (O’Connor, 2012), food availability cycles (Kruse, 2012), and seasonal sunlight temperature fluctuations all correlating with DaD (Hastings Maywood & Reddy, 2003).
Public heath has made great strides reducing pathogenic morbidity. Unfortunately, the factors mentioned above are not considered when attempting to moderate major diseases resulting from these influences. As a result, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and respiratory infections are free to develop and reveal themselves as top killers in our country (Leading Causes of Death, 2012). Public health and modern healthcare can provide invaluable service to their constituents by targeting pathways that optimize immunity, increase longevity, and improve health status by replacing methods that facilitate further disruption of our physiologic mechanisms. The disturbing effects on our homeostatic ability (MacDonald & Monteleione, 2005) in addition to perpetuating a dysfunctional healthcare system (Starfield, 2000) needs serious consideration.
One public health strategy used to reduce pathogenic disease is to regulate food production and distribution. Preventive practice in this area has fallen through the cracks. Animals and plants mass produced for consumption are now adulterated with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modifications. These are all factors influencing our epigenetic predisposition. Autism is now found in 1 of 54 boys and 1 of 252 girls (CDC, 2012). Genetics can only take so much responsibility. Environmental influences that predispose us to disease and death should be a major consideration for public interest. How public health choses to move forward must include looking backward. What we consider causes are often merely symptoms.
MacDonald, T. and Monteleione, G. (2005). Immunity, inflammation, and allergy in the gut. [Abstract]. Science. 25(307) pp.1920-1925. DOI: 10.1126/science.1106442
O’Connor, A. (2012). Really? The Claim: Your Body Clock Can Determine When You Get Sick. New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2012 from well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/27/really-the-claim-your-body-clock-can-determine-when-you-get-sick/
Starfield, B. (2000). Is US Health Really the Best in the World? The Journal of American Medical Association. 284(4):483-485. doi: 10.1001/jama.284.4.483