What the Top 10 Causes of Death Say About the Usual Ideas of Illness & Health
Posted on Wednesday, August 14th, 2019
Earlier this summer, the Department of Health and Human Services released their latest rankings of the top 10 causes of death here in the US. Unsurprisingly, heart disease and cancer once again appeared in the top two spots, accounting for 44.3% of all deaths in 2017.
In fact, the whole list was pretty familiar, though there were a couple of twists.
Reflecting trends we’ve blogged about before, suicide made the list, coming in at #10. Also, accidents jumped from the five-spot to #3.
Here’s the whole list:
- Heart disease
- Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
- Chronic lower respiratory disease
- Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke)
- Diabetes mellitus
- Influenza & pneumonia
- Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, & nephrosis (chronic kidney diseases)
Now, that list isn’t all that different from back in 2011 when Dr. V was writing about the historical shift in health across the 20th century in our free quarterly newsletter Biosis. In fact, the most notable difference is what suicide displaced on the list: yet another infectious disease.
This is a far cry from how things stood at the start of the last century, when roughly half of the leading causes of death were infectious diseases. As hygiene, sanitation, and diet began to really improve for the masses, such conditions became far less prominent.
Today, the list is dominated by diseases of modernity – chronic inflammatory conditions; conditions that are largely preventable through our lifestyle choices.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for this state of affairs, but one critical factor is that, despite what we know of causes, the medical establishment continues to focus on treating symptoms, creating the appearance of – but not the conditions for – optimal health.
“Conventional Western practice,” wrote Dr. V back then, “understands very little about the mechanisms involved” in the development of chronic illness. But German biological or regulative medicine, he noted, “tells us a lot.”
Founded on solid science, German biological medicine shows that by stimulating the
immune system – the living matrix – to remove bioaccumulations of toxins, the body can self-regulate and return to healthy homeostasis. The toxins come from both external sources (e.g., pollution, diet, drug use, infection) and internal (e.g., byproducts of metabolic processes). The body’s reaction to them – all its attempts to remove them, successful or not – triggers the cell aging associated with chronic disease.
By the time that process has begun, the terrain is already very disordered and polluted. Its attempts to self-regulate appear as pathological reactions – like mistakes or malfunctions. But in fact, it’s behaving exactly as we’d expect, as I discuss in detail in my e-book How Illness Happens: An Introduction to the Biological Terrain.
It’s not just about clean eating or using homeopathics or botanicals instead of drugs or doing periodic cleanses in hopes of getting well. It’s about changing your understanding of why illness or dysfunction arises in the first place so we can finally get to the root of the problem.
Only by first addressing the health of the extracellular matrix or biological terrain, which drives illness and health alike, can anything like real healing occur.
Image by Adrian Clark, via Flickr