Lifestyle Versus Genetics
H. Robert Silverstein is Medical Director of The Preventive Medicine Center, a non-profit organization that offers advice on living healthier. He has had articles published by Self Health Networker and the American Journal of Cardiology. Maximum Healing: Improve Your Immune System and Optimize Your Ability to Heal, his 2007 book, offers suggestions on how to treat and prevent various diseases. Silverstein received his B.A. from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and his M.D. from Ohio State University, Columbus.
Question: What lifestyle changes can we make to improve our overall health?
H Robert Silverstein: If I gave one piece of advice to the world about how to avoid diseases, I would say have clear lines of definition and demarcation. And that makes it sound like I’m recommending exercise as number one, because I want the absence of fat under the skin. I think that is the single most powerful generator of most diseases. It affects cholesterol. It affects triglycerides. It affects diabetes – therefore dialysis; therefore blindness; therefore amputations. It affects cancers and so on. So the best way to do that is, of course, to put diet and exercise together.
As far as immunizations, frankly that’s a question. In our culture that is mostly immunized, those people who choose not to get immunized are sort of living off the benefits of those who did, because the disease incidence is low. But there have been several studies to show that whooping cough epidemics have begun to occur in those populations who have not been immunized, or adequately immunized, or recently enough been immunized. And whooping cough is nothing to fool around with. Frankly my children are grown, and I don’t know what I would do if the question were asked me now, “Do you want your kids immunized for all of the things they’re doing?” I will say this. I would spread it out a little bit. I don’t think you need to jump in the first week or month and start the immunization process.
As for seat belts and, you know, avoiding too much sun and enhanced melanoma, you should be in the sun. Vitamin D levels are very low in our culture. You should be in the sun before 11 o’clock or after 1:30. And you need a great deal . . . You need a high vitamin D level. You should not avoid the sun. You should be in the sun. What’s happened if you’ve already developed a skin cancer of some variety? Then you really need to think about taking vitamin D as a supplementation. In our western culture, I think virtually everybody should probably be on vitamin D. I’ve never seen one person who had a 25 hydroxy vitamin D level of 80, which is considered more or less the best level. Everybody in my practice of thousands of patients is below that number. So I think just across the board people need vitamin D. I’ve seen a few people in the seventies, but not many.
Question: How do genetics affect personal health?
H Robert Silverstein: Everybody has a genetic predisposition to develop multiple disorders. But those disorders occur if and only if the person does what’s necessary to express that weakness. So those people who are exercising adequately . . . Virtually everyone who follows an organic, unprocessed, whole foods diet at the 87.5 percent level, and who exercises and hour a day is going to have the kind of physique that I’ve just recommended. And of course that’s a lot of time and people say, “Who has the time?” Pay me now or pay me later. Do what you’re supposed to, and then you’ll find out that you’ll avoid diseases, doctor visits, high co-pays, high health insurance, being rated by your insurance, having surgery and so on and so on. So if you put the time in now . . . It’s sort of like an education. If you put the time in now, you get the benefit down the road.
Question: How can we keep serious diseases at bay?
H Robert Silverstein: Men over 40 should get a rectal examination for cancer of the prostate. I think thermography is a better way for women to go than mammograms. It’s a heat registering technique that gives no radiation. There is a time and a place for a mammogram. There is a time and a place for an MRI. And of course now the big, hot news about CAT scans and so on is that they are cancer generating in about one in 500. So people over the age of 50 should get a colonoscopy. People should be doing stool blood for globin – G-L-O-B-I-N – or what’s called __________ blood to detect cancers of the bowel. If you have stomach distress and intolerance, you might need to be checked for a bug in your stomach called ___________ or wheat allergy called Celiac disease. So these are some of the kinds of things. But everybody should get their cholesterol checked. Everybody should get their diabetes checked. There are 25 diabetes tests called an A1C. They should get cholesterol, which should be less than 150; triglycerides, which should be less than 100; A1C, which should be less than 5.5; 25 hydroxy D3, which should be right around 80. And those are some of the biochemical tests that might be of interest for people. But we’ve mentioned a colonoscopy, mammogram, rectal examination, Pap and pelvic for women. I do think that as much as I have hesitancy about the injection of foreign proteins called immunizations, if I had a daughter I probably would want her immunized for HPV. But again I wouldn’t rush into it. But once she became sexually active, I would certainly wanna have a discussion until she made a final decision. Now whether or not it should be my decision at this point she doesn’t have a voice in, that is a different discussion.
A healthy lifestyle has the power to keep genetic predispositions to diseases at bay.
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