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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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September 28, 2007

The Unforseen Health Benefits of Scarcity, the Right to Die, and Health Care

By Mark Sisson
5 Comments

Hey, it’s Friday all. I hope your week has gone well. Scanning the headlines this morning a few particularly controversial pieces caught my eye. Both studies are a bit of a testament to the fact that truth isn’t always comfortable – in health or any other area of human endeavor. Add politics into the mix as happens with public health issues and it really gets interesting. So I’d like to hear what you have to say (don’t tell me don’t have an opinion).

First, the unintended consequences of major scarcity and a 40% shrink in the economy in Cuba during the 1990s evidently resulted in a much sleeker and healthier population. Diabetes and heart disease dropped significantly, so on balance, mortality rates declined. Johns Hopkins researchers are calling it a rather positive, if unexpected side effect of the collapsed Soviet pull out, but I’m not so sure the Cubans would agree with that rosy perspective as it required a decade of misery to arrive at. Without intending to diminish that period’s notorious difficulty on Cuban citizens, I can’t help but think about our bloated caloric supply in this country. And we wonder why we’re so disease-addled and obese? What we have are illnesses of depressing excess.

Second, the BMJ has a study that concludes that some arguments against euthanasia – e.g. the “slippery slope” debate and the concerns that vulnerable individuals or the uninsured might be euthanized by health care and government agencies putting efficiency and cost over human life – are unfounded. Whew. That’s a debate that’s not going to be easy, and while it’s not a situation I hope to ever have to think about (does anyone?)…you ought to know what evidence those in medicine and health care are looking at when it comes to establishing practices regarding patient care and terminal illness. If we don’t stay informed they’ll decide for us…

And finally, it’s interesting to see how the 2008 presidential race is shaping up in terms of health care. The plans being presented already are surprisingly detailed. Like it or not, this is going to be a paramount issue in the campaign. I personally believe it’s our most important one, as many of you know, so I’ll be following the various candidates’ plans carefully (read my own health care proposal here). Republicans are focusing on reducing costs, tax breaks, and a movement away from employer-provided coverage, while the Democrats are hammering out various universal coverage plans. Health care will be forced into an overhaul, but just how it will shift remains to be seen…

The Bees will be in later with a terrific piece on the latest developments in cholesterol research (the food pyramid and statins take another hit). So stay tuned. I think we’ve got plenty to talk about for now!

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5 Comments on "The Unforseen Health Benefits of Scarcity, the Right to Die, and Health Care"

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Crystal
Crystal
9 years 1 day ago

Euthanasia-sticky topic. Too many mixed emotions.

I’m glad there is at least some plans being made concerning health care. We’ll see…

Doug Maloclm
Doug Maloclm
9 years 1 day ago

Hi Mark,

Great site.
as a Cuban/American I would caution anyone to take any statistics regarding the health of the Cuban population under Castro with a grain of salt…

BillyHW
BillyHW
9 years 1 day ago

Of course the problem with euthanasia is that it kills people.

Desdemona
Desdemona
3 years 19 days ago

Of course all the people who approve of euthanasia are still alive.

mhikl
mhikl
2 years 8 months ago

Euthanasia is a difficult topic. My uncle was taken off all food and liquids and from what my brother saw, his was a miserable ending. Forsaking food might not be so bad, but water, that would lead the body to fill with toxins and the distress of thirst is akin to torture.

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