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Our lifestyle is a chronic disease in itself
Among the ten top lifestyle diseases, heart ailments, stroke and diabetes are the most demanding ones and they are expected to eat away the country’s gross national income to the tune of $200 billion by the year 2015: a whooping 900,000 crores!

MEDICAL BILLS are on the rise. Healthcare has become a thriving industry. Life insurance is what gives our lives meaning and security. Comfort and conveniences are much more important than health and longevity. Hedonism is a qualification and avarice and selfishness are attributes of the modern Renaissance man. Our modern lifestyle, marked by the above factors, itself has become a disease. And no wonder we are suffering from our own individual diseases, and we ourselves have to find remedy for our personal illnesses.

Past and present:

Life in the past was governed more by common sense than by convenience. Today the story is different. No matter what a particular lifestyle practice brings about, that which decides our being what we are today is not our roots, culture and inherent interests, but our obsession with the alien. A rare virus called avarice affects us and the same is capable of inhibiting everything innately human. We have all ceased to be humans, and external forces and pressures dictate our modern existence. Man’s natural instincts and inherent intelligence do not have any role to play. These pressures could be from profession, society, family, peers, false pride and petty prestige.

Today’s 24/7 world order leaves us little room for entertainment, social life, exercise and regular eating and sleeping patterns. Time is being converted into money and personal priorities take back seats as corporate interests and personal ambitions take center stage. Human beings are corporate robots doing things as programmed. It is not in the agenda of anyone that they should find time to be with themselves at least for a while a day. And the times they do something on their behalf is only when they fall sick; sick of their job, routine and rut life.

Only when our body starts showing signs of fatigue and inability, we look at our daily routine and how the same impacts our personal lives. By the time we realise that we are under the hold of diseases generated by our own ways of life, it will be too late, and there is no remedy for our unique disease conditions. Medical fraternity is vying hard to meet the demands of such patients, and the modern human society stands shell shocked at the way a whole generation takes to its doom. This is happening on a daily basis, and there seems to be no U turn. We are in the rut, and bound to be moving in it.

Major diseases:
There are roughly ten top lifestyle diseases. Among them, stroke can be considered as the most deadly. This is a medical condition emanating out of lack of oxygen to the brain. This may cause irreversible or reversible paralysis. And this may due to old age, high blood pressure, poor blood flow, smoking, family history of strokes, use of birth control pills, lack of exercise, over weight and high cholesterol. Second position goes to Cancer, which is caused by uncontrolled growth of cells. This has been the number two cause of death in the US since 1900. But by the break of the 20th century, it came to hold the eighth position. This is considered the disease of the civilization because there are more than 150 different types of cancers, of course, with different causes and effects.
Statistics show that the top five cancers that claim the most severe concerns are prostrate, lung, colorectal, bladder and non-Hodhkins lymphoma among men, and breast, lung, colorectal, uterus and ovary among women.

Non-Hodhkins Lymphoma

The third most powerful killer lifestyle disease condition is heart disease. This can be any of the several abnormalities that affect the heart muscle or the blood vessels of the heart. This has been in the forefront of all killer diseases causing mortality and morbidity in most of the US since 1900. Fourthly, it’s diabetes. It is a disease affecting sugars used by the body. There are four types of diabetes: Type I or insulin dependant diabetes, type II or non-insulin dependant diabetes, Type III is also called gestational diabetes which occurs in women during pregnancy and type IV may include other types of diabetes linked to diseases of pancreas, hormonal changes, genetic defects and side effects of drugs.

Other major life style diseases are Alzheimer’s Diseases: a form of brain disease leading to memory loss and reversal of memories. Arteriosclerosis: A generic term for several diseases in which the arterial wall becomes thick causing loss of elasticity. Chronic Liver Disease/Cirrhosis: any of a group of liver disorders. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): a disease characterized by slowly progressing, irreversible airway obstruction and finally, Nephritis/CRF: Any disease of the kidney that is marked by swelling and abnormal functions.
An Indian perspective:

Among the ten top lifestyle diseases, in an Indian context, heart ailments, stroke and diabetes are the most demanding ones which are expected to eat away the country’s gross national income to the tune of $200 billion by the year 2015;an whooping 900,000 crores!

It is estimated that India’s death rate owing to cardio vascular diseases in people in the latter half of their life, say, 35 and 65 years, is one of the majors in the world. By 2040 the loss in productive years from India is expected to be 17.9 million years!

“Deaths from chronic diseases would register a sharp increase from 3.78 million in 1990 to 7.63 million in 2020, accounting for 66.7% of all deaths.” In 2005, heart disease, stroke and diabetes accounted for almost 53 per cent of all deaths in India and 44 per cent of disability-adjusted life years.”

By the year 2020, chronic diseases will claim almost three quarters of all deaths of the world taken together. Among them more than 70 per cent of deaths due to cardiac disease, 75 per cent due to stroke, and 70 per cent because of diabetes will be in developing nations, says WHO. “On a global basis, 60 per cent of the burden of chronic diseases will occur in developing countries. Indeed, cardiovascular diseases are even now more numerous in India and China than in all the economically developed countries in the world put together.”

Pharmaceutical side:
How this alarming medical catastrophe that looms over poor naitons is going to influence the pharmaceutical indisutry? The figures are really alarming. For example, the Indian cardiovascular drug market, which is estimated to be Rs 2,500 crore a year, is currently 10% of the total Rs 25,000 crores. The market for diabetes drugs is estimated to be worth over Rs.1,000 crore. These are the two fastest-growing segments with annual growth rates of 15 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively.

The way out:

Where does the way out lie by the way? It’s all in our attitude. What is picked up can be discarded. What is not needed can be abandoned. That which spoils our life needs to be shunned. Happiness needs to be dictated by personal health indices and not by personal wealth and its parameters. Who does not know that it is ill-health that makes all humans much more miserable than any anomaly in life, even death! All genuine prayers are just for good health and peace of mind.

Death is fine. Lack of wealth is finer. But a disease, how ever ‘dignified’ it may sound to others, can never make a human being comfortable. A simple fever shatters our daily expectations. Imagine about a permanent lifestyle ailment. Think of your going invalid thanks to your own way of life. Visualize a situation in which your life is at the mercy of doctors and your dear ones. No such scenario is less miserable.

The lures of life:

Most men are unable to resist the temptation of junk dishes and a few pegs in the evening. We devour them, fairly regularly, and go to bed straight away. And, instead of sleeping sumptuously in the shortest hours of the night, we go out jogging in Turtle necks and striped pantaloons on the streets to be chased by dogs and run over by liner trucks. Many of us proudly say; I go jogging everyday.

Toxic cocktail partying, consummate obsession with shopping, workaholism, sedentary living environment, intellectual inertia, blunted imagination, blind pleasure psychosis, suffocating dispositions, mammon worship, exchanging conscience and faith with wealth, consumption-based happiness indices, absence of regular sleep, leisure, socialising, taking metric kilos of fat for food, and finally the mad march against indomitable time make modern man doomed. The remedy lies in the lifestyle amends we are prepared to make. We need to control our senses, freshen up our common sense.


So lifestyle diseases are our own creation. We are intelligent enough to identify the pitfalls and potholes in our normal life. But we feign ignorance. This imposed ignorance is the breeding ground for this alien lifestyle virus. Once stung by it, one is doomed to be its host, and the parasite slowly takes over and the process comes to a close when the host stops to exist. The irony is that the virus gets transmitted like a contagion. Lifestyle itself is a disease.

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