Title: Prevention is Better than Cure

Key words:

Date: Oct 2000

Category: Food and the environment

Type: Article

Author: Dr Mark Draper


Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Sadly, most research today is concentrated solely upon the success or otherwise of various treatment strategies for specific conditions. It is inevitable, therefore, that we will address specific diseases and assess the impact of nutritional strategies in dealing with them. However, the main challenge is to develop guidelines that will assist in keeping people well. The evidence for these approaches will be drawn from many diverse areas and may be epidemiological (based on populations) rather than individual.

An obvious example is the link between smoking (a discrete subsection of the population) and an increased risk of developing certain cancers, especially the throat and lung, and heart disease.

There is a trend to attribute more and more illnesses to lifestyle e.g. acquisition of HIV and this is undoubtedly an important consideration because we should be in a position to influence behaviour by informing people of the risks. It has become apparent that certain dietary choices (often made without knowledge of their longer term health implications) may predispose to certain illness. e.g. low intakes of fruit and vegetables may increase the risk of developing heart disease and cancer (perhaps because the salicylate, mineral and/or vitamin intake is lower). Certain foods such as cabbage or broccoli may provide nutrients for our natural bowel bacteria which then produce anti-cancer substances (e.g. fatty acids) that decrease the risk of developing colon cancer.