Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Gift To Our Friends Who...

Happy New Year... Lynnda and I hope this new year, 2009, will be a great one for all of our friends. For some of those friends, and perhaps for someone you know, this article from the Associated Press may help to make a difference in your life.

I have been careful not to go over the line relative to smoking, but as I think of the best I can do for a gift this year, I have to say this comes close. I know it is hard to quit, so if you are a smoker, I hope you will at least try. There is also information here that may give non-smokers pause to consider who and where they spend their time... second hand smoking is very dangerous...

The second gift I give is one we all can is HOPE. I hope for all of us that we have a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2009. I hope that we will positively impact the world in every situation we can. And I hope that we will have an OBAMA presidency that is successful, that we can all support... and that we will remember that we need to push for success in everything we try, because SUCCESS NOURISHES HOPE

Smoking ban leads to major drop in heart attacks

Smokers can sue over 'light cigarettes': US Supreme Court AFP/File – A man smokes a cigarette. In a ruling which could pave the way towards huge lawsuits against tobacco …

ATLANTA – A smoking ban in one Colorado city led to a dramatic drop in heart attack hospitalizations within three years, a sign of just how serious a health threat secondhand smoke is, government researchers said Wednesday. The study, the longest-running of its kind, showed the rate of hospitalized cases dropped 41 percent in the three years after the ban of workplace smoking in Pueblo, Colo., took effect. There was no such drop in two neighboring areas, and researchers believe it's a clear sign the ban was responsible.

The study suggests that secondhand smoke may be a terrible and under-recognized cause of heart attack deaths in this country, said one of its authors, Terry Pechacek of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At least eight earlier studies have linked smoking bans to decreased heart attacks, but none ran as long as three years. The new study looked at heart attack hospitalizations for three years following the July 1, 2003 enactment of Pueblo's ban, and found declines as great or greater than those in earlier research.

"This study is very dramatic," said Dr. Michael Thun, a researcher with the American Cancer Society.

"This is now the ninth study, so it is clear that smoke-free laws are one of the most effective and cost-effective to reduce heart attacks," said Thun, who was not involved in the CDC study released Thursday.

Smoking bans are designed not only to cut smoking rates but also to reduce secondhand tobacco smoke. It is a widely recognized cause of lung cancer, but its effect on heart disease can be more immediate. It not only damages the lining of blood vessels, but also increases the kind of blood clotting that leads to heart attacks. Reducing exposure to smoke can quickly cut the risk of clotting, some experts said.

"You remove the final one or two links in the chain" of events leading to a heart attack, Thun said.

Secondhand smoke causes an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths and about 3,000 lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers each year, according to statistics cited by the CDC.

In the new study, researchers reviewed hospital admissions for heart attacks in Pueblo. Patients were classified by ZIP codes. They then looked at the same data for two nearby areas that did not have bans — the area of Pueblo County outside the city and for El Paso County.

In Pueblo, the rate of heart attacks dropped from 257 per 100,000 people before the ban to 152 per 100,000 in the three years afterward. There were no significant changes in the two other areas.

"The need for protection from secondhand smoke in all workplaces and public places has never been clearer," said Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in a prepared statement. He is president of the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization.

But the study had limitations: It assumed declines in the amount of secondhand smoke in Pueblo buildings after the ban, but did not try to measure that. The researchers also did not sort out which heart attack patients were smokers and which were not, so it's unclear how much of the decline can be attributed to reduced secondhand smoke.

One academic argued there's not enough evidence to conclude the smoking ban was the cause of Pueblo's heart attack decline.

The decline could have had more to do with a general decline in smoking in Pueblo County, from about 26 percent in 2002-2003 to less than 21 percent in 2004-2005. If there were stepped-up efforts to treat or prevent heart disease in the Pueblo area, that too could have played a role, said Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor of social and behavioral sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health.

"I don't think it's as clear as they're making it out to be," Siegel said.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dog Gone Snow Crazy

Occasionally we all come across things that are really special on the internet. A friend of Lynnda's and mine in Colorado, Helen Lind sent us this peice about a dog in the snow. Before I give you the link, I want to tell you a story...

Several years ago, we were sitting around telling skiing yarns... one of the yahoos there told us about a bunch of telemark skiers who would get into the steep-and-deep champagne powder at Steamboat Springs in Colorado. The snow was sometimes so good, and deep that they used to ski with snorkels so they could breath when they were too deep in the snow for normal human function... I never saw them do it... but after seeing this dog, I know it is possible...

Take a look at this dog in the powder... just click here, and you are under the powder...

Learning Late In Life

When I was 16 years young, I started delivering flowers for a florist in Truro, Nova Scotia, my home town. Mrs. Chase had owned this shop, Suckling and Chase on Prince Street for about thirty years at the time, and she gave me the job to help Winston Embree, who was the driver and a few years older than me. In time, I would follow Winston and become a driver, especially for Christmas... a very busy part of the year.

One of the things I learned back then, was that in order to make Poinsettias bloom, you had to keep them in the dark for several months before Christmas... and you had to be really careful not to let them get cold, or break a stem. The stem thing was really bad... they would bleed a latex like substance... bleed to death!

Well, even though I learned a lot about flowers there, even some arranging, it took until Lynnda and I moved into our digs here in Florida that I learned that sometimes things you learn early, don't hold-up in real life... the poinsettia story for example.

When we arrived here in late October we started working on our gardens. We got to know our neighbors, Bill and Martin. They have beautiful gardens, and we watched as various things started blooming... looking for cool things to put into our gardens... one week, a series of red blooms began to appear in their front garden... and they continued to bloom, and bloom... and then we realized that they are an it... a very large Poinsettia!

Turns out, they had a plant for a Christmas decoration... and didn't want to throw it out. They stuck it in the ground a few years ago and now it is a WOW!

A few days later, mysteriously, a couple of blooms broke off our outside display of poinsettias mixed with white chrysanthemums. Lynnda just took the broken branches and stuck them in the ground, in similar light to that at Bill and Martin's. They wilted for a couple of days... then perked up... and now we have the start to what will be a Christmas regular... Poinsettia.

Sooooo, what did I learn... well, turns out that you get the poinsettia up there in cold country, but they keep them in the dark in order to keep them blooming through Christmas, not to make them bloom. Also, I learned that the "bleeding to death" isn't true... they seal off and thrive, if you can get them to Florida in time. Also, if you put them in a warm house, with light... they start to pass on, relatively quickly.

So, if you have one, keep it away from the heaters, and keep it moist... it will last a long time... but if you put it outside... up north, it won't!

Conspicuous Consumption and New Year's Resolutions

As I posted a week or so ago, I am interested in the concept of conspicuous consumption... some times it is very obvious... others, not so...

Our good friends Larry Kronick and Sonia Kulik took us out on their new boat on Sunday... the boat was someone else's, but is new to Larry... new it would have cost over $100K, he bought it for $7,000. The boat is beautiful, but because Larry waited for the market to come to him, it clearly is not conspicuous consumption (CC).

Soooo, we did the In-Land Waterway, first to the north from his home on the ILW, then out onto the ocean headed south and then back into the ILW and back north to Larry's place. On the way, I took some pictures that will show CC...

The first turn out of Larry's place we headed past the Island Marina... this sixty foot boat (above), with bow-thrusters, did a u-turn in front of us. It wasn't the first or the last big one we saw... but it was a lasting first impression.

As we continued toward the ILW, there were continuous homes like these (yes, and like Larry's) that had boat docks with lifts... check out this 35 foot out-board on the lift below... yes... that adds up to 900 horsepower... we saw several, but again, it was a lasting first impression. We chuckled a lot, knowing that these boats probably had the equivalent of a mortgage on them, and we were in Larry's 35 foot, $7000 boat... upon which we were having a great time... lots of great food, imported beers, all served with a smile, on board.

I thought that you would enjoy seeing what the beach strip has turned into between Hollywood and Miami Beach... with the exception of a few private home stretches where a lot sells for an average of $11million (although I understand that there are a lot of homes on the market these days), and a "very few" public beaches, there are continuous condos and hotels... and these are the first thing a hurricane sees when it is deciding where to hit! The condos often sell for several hundred thousand dollars... for 900 sq. feet!

It wasn't until the Madoff Ponzi game hit the press that I really began to understand CC. Several years ago, my rabbi, Maynard Garfield (no, I am not Jewish, but he is my Rabbi anyway) told me that you needed at least 10 times your salary in net worth in order to retire with the life style that you are in... and live another 20 years. I believed, like him, that any more was a waste. What I didn't realize was that many people make a lot more than that... and we found out last week what they do with their money... they have so much, they don't even have to be careful with it... instead, they can give it to guys like Madoff... good on them!

CC happens all the time, and I am a part of it, unfortunately. While we try to cut back, we see others doing the opposite. I look at the BMWs, Porsches and Mercedes... all cars I have owned and still value. The difference today between owning them as a good investment and CC is that today they are still being driven at 80 mph with <15mpg...>

Friday, December 19, 2008

Conspicuous Consumption

This post is about how we look at the same things, differently. As the title indicates, my thinking lately has been about conspicuous consumption. Several postings will come this next couple of weeks, through the Holiday Season about this... but let's look first at how we all seem to look at things differently... perhaps because we have different perspectives (from where we stand, we see altogether different things and even when we are standing together we will see the same thing differently.

The two blooms in the picture above are from Lynnda's collection of hybridized hibiscus... the gold(ish) flower is known simply as 'Path'. This was the first time we had seen Path, it is a nine inch wide bloom, and has been out for three days, as I write this. The purple(ish) bloom is 'Nightfire'. We have had this plant in Nova Scotia where we keep it inside eight months a year. Both these plants demonstrate how we view things differently... people in Nova Scotia might look at them as too much work, but they grow around the yard here in Florida. Lynnda likes to compare blooms, I like to look deep into the bloom near the stamen base to see the color, strength and character of the bloom.

The next two pictures demonstrate how you can look deeper and deeper into a bloom, and the third, Nightfire, how you can see in its depth, the strength and character of the bloom.

Of course, the plant is showing off for the insects, and has a completely different perspective... than what we have as we click on the pictures to enlarge them, to see more clearly the structure and color of the bloom. I am not certain I am getting anywhere with this analogy, so why don't I just hope you like Path and Nightfire... we have lots more different hibiscus and hope to display them, occasionally, here.

This past few weeks have had a dramatic impact on my thinking about what is important in our society... and how different people believe differently; and sometimes have disparaging beliefs about what is important to others. Like many, we have been looking at the gyrations of the economies of Canada and America in their schizophrenic relations with currencies, oil, trade, regulations, and even a Ponzi Master.

I sometimes wonder if the collective 'WE' learn anything from these cycles... anything enduring, that is.
Will we learn anything that endures long enough to help our legacy population survive, and perhaps with learning, thrive?

What I have learned is that conspicuous consumption and greed have a lot in common. These two phenomenons seem to often coexist. And they are not pretty. Think about it, I will come back to this.

Hope you like the blooms.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Great Website... Oldtime Winters

Recently, a friend, Murray Wilson, from Halifax Nova Scotia who recently retired from Saint Mary's University sent me a fantastic series of art from the following website. At least one of the paintings I suspect was a Christmas Card that I used several years ago... but all are worth visiting.
Hope you enjoy...

If I haven't said it to you already... Happy New Year

BRuce and Lynnda

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Winter Day To Remember

Lynnda and I had a visitor this week, so we spent a day showing him around. Mike Carson, from Corona, in southern California came to South Florida to do a presentation to an audience from Central and South America that work for one of the world's best companies to work for... Emerson. They are a global technology company with around $25 Billion in annual revenue, and Mike's company, Carson International is their corporate training partner.

Mike had the spare day, so Lynnda and I took him to the American Orchid Society home office and toured the green houses and spectacular gardens. Then we went to the Green Cay, a naturalized area just across the street from our development... it is basically like the Everglades, but in our neighborhood!

I took a few pictures with Lynnda's pocket camera, and these are keepers... the bird above is called a Green Heron. It isn't a true heron, but that's its name. This one appeared as we were watching an alligator, and I guess he was a little embarrassed that we could see him... so he decided to start a campaign of hide and seek.

While he kept his eye on me, he moved up the reed a little and blocked me out... peeking occasionally to see if I was still there... or so it seemed.

Then he poked his head behind his wing, above... when that didn't work... he pulled his wing completely over his head. Of course the truth of the matter was that he was completely bored with us, and started preening, allowing me to take the pics, and tell this little tale.

Next we came upon this Great White Egret. You might remember the pictures I took and posted here a few weeks ago, of the GWE in our yard hunting for Geckos. This guy was hunting, but what ever it was was below the surface. As he stared into the water, we need to realize that this is in the wild, and the alligators are there... Lynnda actually saw one catch a bird later on this nature walk. I decided to keep the lens on the bird, as he slowly stretched to his full neck length and got closer to his prey... like a pointing setter...

His concentration was amazing... this took place over a few minutes, and you can see his neck now coiled, like a rattle snake when about to strike... then he does!

It is at times like this that you would want a high speed drive on your camera, but I am thankful that Lynnda's little Canon was quick enough to at least capture the forward drive of this Egret. His head was fully submersed when he caught the minnow and up-in-the-air with it to swallow... the part when the camera was saving this image below to disc, so I didn't get it...

Apparently satiated and oblivious to me on the board walk above him, he started walking to a new hunting location. This is a fairly large bird, and while in these next three pictures, he may appear to be swimming, he was actually walking (Egrets are shore birds, and do not swim). There were a few clouds in the sky above us, and his reflection gave us some views that you might like... hope so.

There is a lot to see here in Florida... like at home in Nova Scotia. When seen through a lens we get to remember as our mind's eye fades. The story of Green Cay is even more interesting when we realize that just five years ago, this nature preserve was actually farm land that had been reclaimed from the Everglades! A farming family, the Winsbergs donated it to the county of Palm Beach... it is an amazing area and well described here

The county has a large water reclamation program that is also close by our home. There, they collect all the sewage and storm drain water, filter it and purify it... and then it is used to water lawns, flood and maintain the Green Cay, and other similar areas... and many other things. This is an amazing demonstration of how, if we are committed to saving the planet, we can recycle everything from water, to plastics, paper and so on.

Associated with the website listed above, there are several other examples of what is happening here in Palm Beach County. In a way, it reminds us of the efforts Nova Scotia is making with recycling household waste through computers...

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Well, we keep headed in interesting directions in the international community, the investment, commodity and banking businesses and the transition to the Obama Presidency. It is very hard to understand the right things to be doing in any one area, let alone all of them that impact personal life.

I have grown very tired of watching our investments shrink in comparison to what we had understood was the safe level to have at retirement... while still safe, I sense that we understand better today, just how tenuous life would be in a world without stable markets for our goods, and invesetments. I have never been known as a conservative... of this I am sure... but I can assure my friends that I am one conservative dude with our lifestyle today. I strongly support the need for everyone to reduce consumption; be mindful that no matter what an individual has, if we don't have enough to go around, none of us will have anything.

The stock markets are down, the commodity prices (including the most obvious one, oil) are down, and all of this is hitting the Canadian Loonie hard. It is a double whammy for anyone living in the USA, but invested in Canada... I used my Canadian Mastercard in error last week for a $103.00 charge; the bill came through on Mastercard as $135.55! If you are coming south this year, bring cash and travellers cheques!

Based on the valuation of the Loonie, I can't figure out is why Canada is not getting any credit for its financial stability over the past fifteen years. The country has not had a deficit in all that time, including 2008. The USA on the other hand will be over a Trillion Dollars in the hole at the end of the year! A Trillion!!! Yet the Loonie is below $0.79US as I write this. Further, there have been no bank failures in Canada. None of the USA businesses and banks that are owned by these Canadian banks... TDBank, Scotia Bank, BMO Harris Bank, RBC Dain Rauscher and the CIBC holdings... have had any failures. They are not standing on Wall Street with their collective hands out.

Add to that, there are no sub-prime Canadian mortgages coming home to roost. In fact, the real estate industry is doing quite well, across the country. There will be a slow-down in housing, partly because of the USA's problems causing lay-offs in the auto industry in Canada, and a reduction in metal commodity orders. It makes no sense to me that Canada is being brushed with the same ink as the USA... red! Successive liberal and conservative political parties have lead the country very well, and it is the only G8 country not begging forgiveness from its population for poor financial regulations, and general mis-management of its economy.

I would like to say "good on ya, Canada!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cancer... Considering Prevention

Lynnda and I have long been active bird watchers, albeit just around our homes. We haven't been binocular toting 'birders' out in the wild looking for the long lost Oicle... naaaa, that's not really a bird, but I can't remember any long lost bird names... In South Florida, where it is essentially tropical or a growing zone of 10 for those of you used to measuring weather by what type of plants will grow, we can be used to seeing Great Egrets. But here, instead of seeing a sparrow, or robin out the window, we can literally see Great Egrets hunting, out our window.

The photo above, I took after noticing out the kitchen window, this big guy standing on one of our hedges, hunting Geckos. I watched as he harpooned one that ultimately wriggled free when I took these pictures above and below. The bird stayed until he finally realized that he had frightened off all the Geckos that live in that particular hedge...

I have on several occasions posted on cancer prevention and why we don't take precautions to reduce our personal potential for getting one of the 215 types of the disease. In the blog that I posted earlier today, that will be found after this one, I spent time trying to give readers a sense that this disease in omnipresent and if we don't at least 'try' to avoid it, we will end up dead, or at a minimum badly scarred... like me!

It is 'for sure' that we can't avoid all cancers. Many of us are born with a predisposition to cancer through our genetic make-up. But even people with a genetic code for a cancer can reduce his/her chances of contracting the disease. It is a matter of not only being aware of methods of avoiding it... but of participating in activities designed to reduce the risky activities that can contribute to cancer.

Among these factors are smoking cigarettes; long term, excessive imbibing of alcohol; obesity; exposure to known carcinogens; and not getting asymptomatic diagnostic testing done when there is a known predisposition to certain cancers. These are all well documented and well communicated... but clearly not well understood and/or reacted to by the general public.

But today, there are nearly 2 billion people using the internet and things are capable of changing, if we re-communicate, using the internet to accomplish what we have not done in the past. And it is time that not only the highly educated population get the message, so we have to do it using layman's terms.

It is amazing to me that we know how to avoid some cancers, but we don't... if fact, sometimes we legislate activities that can contribute directly to people getting cancer. For example... when we fill our cars with fuel, some states, like California, require the fuel delivery system to be a closed system... the fuel is delivered through a nozzle that lets little or no fumes escape into the atmosphere. California recognizes that automobile fuel is a carcinogen, which causes increases in healthcare costs... and requires 100% of the fuel nozzles to comply with a law that reduces the potential hazard. Why then do not the rest of the states and provinces do the same?

In fact, several states, and certainly Nova Scotia legislate that there is not a need for a closed system and the person fueling the car "must have their hand on the nozzle while fueling takes place"... there is no clip on the nozzle to keep it open while fueling. This causes the person to be in close proximity to a carcinogen for protracted periods! WHY? Can the government not see that the cost of cancer in Nova Scotia is 'killing the province's budget' as well as it's population? Perhaps it will some day do the right thing, and put this simple legislation in place, and give the gasoline dealers several years to also comply with a requirement to have a closed system on the fumes.

Let's look at smoking as another example of how cancer can be eradicated through disciplined legislation. Smoking causes cancer! Smoking causes heart and cerebral diseases! Smoking is a plague on the planet that can be eradicated. Certainly if cigarettes were to be introduced today as a new dietary supplement, no government would approve it. So why don't we treat it like what it is... a killer, and legislate against it.

We could put the legislation into place that says... if you smoke, you will not be treated for cancer or other disease caused by smoking! Further, legislation could be put in that a person wanting to quit, but can't afford the drugs can get the drugs on the dole... but if caught smoking, they will lose their right to health care. This would render smoking to being a bad habit, not an addiction, and therefore reduce the rate of death by cigarette dramatically... allowing the healthcare system to stay viable financially.

The graph below shows how forty-three years ago, 52% of men smoked. That has reduced to around 30%. Why should we accept the remaining 30% as a drag on our financial viability, particularly in Canada where all healthcare costs are born by the taxes we pay... in the USA it is an issue, since many of the sufferers are over age 65 and therefore on Medicare... or are poor and on Medicaid.

My position on this issue would be humorous if the data were not so pervasive and sad. To think that someone who favors Barack Obama and liberal human policies could be arguing healthcare based on the financial security of our countries is ridiculous. Except that, if we can't keep our Medicare systems financially stable, people of all ilks will die from all causes, at a much higher rate!

Perhaps if I switch to a subject closer to the North American public's awareness... OIL. A few months ago, speculators drove the price of foreign oil (and domestic) to over $147.50 per barrel. We have to do something to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, I agree... but I will also argue that it is even as, or more important to reduce our dependence on domestic tobacco! Think about it... health care in America costs $1.4 trillion a year... quit smoking and we could cut the costs by as much as $300 billion soon, and over ten years by several trillion dollars! That's a hell of a lot easier than Drill, Drill, Drill!

The American Cancer Society, from whom I garnered these slides on a web site where you too can visit... here is the link which is from their presentation of 2007 data:

has for years promoted data that proved that a person could reduce their chances of getting certain cancers by simply eating certain foods. It is clear to me that this is an easy thing, at least for those who can afford it. But I can 't believe the number of people with whom I come into contact that are 'meat and potato' people... or worse! The graphic below shows how we have not adhered to the recommendations of the ACS... BTW, the Canadian Cancer Society have posted similar recommendations to all of this...

In this day and age, if we can't get more than 24.4% of our population to eat five servings of vegetables a day in order to reduce the chances of cancer, we are pathetic. Think of the impact on our farmers if suddenly 258,750,000 people started eating five vegetables a day... up from a measly 86,250,000. We would have less cancer and less obesity! Why can't we get to this, or at least to 150,000,000? Because we don't really want to...

So let's look at that obesity issue that the cancer societies also say in-and-of-itself is a cause of cancer... from 1962 we have gone from 13% of the adult population being obese to a 'whopping' 33%. Not only is this causing cancer, but we are having to live with huge increases in diabetes, weight related injuries, breathing problems, and chronic joint damage requiring prosthesis in knees and hips. And all because we are 'accepting' one another getting over-weight... horribly over-weight. Collectively it is a tragedy for the countries...individually it is a tragedy for the individuals. So there, I have done what I have been told is not PC... I didn't vote that way either!

OK, so we can't do anything about our own weight... and we accept living with it... what about our responsibility to our children... I REPEAT... OBESITY CONTRIBUTES TO CANCER... add it up, we have gone from 14% overweight to 50% of our kids under 19 being above the 95 percentile for BMI (body mass index)

I lifted the following from the website from the Centers for Disease Control here in the USA

The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity

Research has shown that as weight increases to reach the levels referred to as "overweight" and "obesity,"* the risks for the following conditions also increases:1

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
  • Stroke
  • Liver and Gallbladder disease
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
  • Gynecological problems (abnormal menses, infertility)

*Overweight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher; obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher.

Their website is

See, I wasn't kidding, with my short, off the top of my head listing a few paragraphs ago, when you wanted perhaps to argue my points.

Now, let's look at the numbers for those young people who we can give a healthy start to, even if we can't control our own situation. 50% of the kids are overweight... 14% of those under 5 years of age! That should be an example of parental abuse! Those kids will have to live with heart disease in their twenties! Diabetes in their teens! Do you accept responsibility for such things? If you do, what will we do about the situation?

Cancer may be hard to beat, but I don't think we as a population has really started fighting it. I think we are leaving it to the doctors to treat it; to the researchers to find the magic bullets to stop it or prevent it... but we need to look at the data below (in the posting below, there is a lot of data on prevalence) for the truth... we have to look at what we are doing.

Cancer... Start With Understanding Prevalence

During the period just prior to leaving the Oyster Pond to go to South Florida for the winter, we were blessed with some spectacular weather and sunsets. It gave us memories like this picture which has natures pallet of color... and the rays from the sun through the atmosphere give substance to its otherwise invisible energy.

While watching such brilliance from the deck, Lynnda and I often discuss ways that we can better manage our lives. Among issues that come up are our efforts to minimize our need for healthcare by better caring for ourselves. Because both of us have spent our lives in the healthcare industry (Lynnda was at the McMaster University Medical Center, heading the clinical lab in the Premature Children's Clinic when I met her), we have had opportunities to understand our health options that perhaps others don't have access to... at least until the internet made it available to practically everyone.

Knowing it is available, we also know that many of us don't avail ourselves to it. Many that do, don't live by the obvious options that are clearly open to us in the 21st century. As a result, many of our friends and the general population don't take the opportunities available to avoid many of the diseases that are prevalent in our lives. Among these are cardiovascular and cerebral-vascular diseases (heart and brain attacks), peripheral vascular diseases (PVD), and many cancers.

In the past I have posted on these, but I want now to really try and make the case for us taking personal responsibility and action toward preventing these diseases in ourselves. And, if we don't have the personal drive to do it for ourselves, we should at least make it part of our legacy to ensure that these insidious blights on our past, not remain part of our children's future. Perhaps if you read these posts, you will consider passing them to others, if you think they are beneficial.

First, let's look at what can be done when there is a focus on disease. I have decided to utilize data from the American Cancer Society... Cancer Statistics 2007. Here I will highlight only a few slides in a fantastic presentation that can be viewed at the following link (you can simply click on it)

Years ago, people were dropping like flies from heart attacks and stroke. The American Heart Association and others took up the battle to find ways to save people from the devastation from what in the fifties was almost certain death... heart attacks and strokes. They went after them as separate diseases initially, but found recently that a two part attack could have a huge impact... prevention and intervention on both... and they were similar tactics. Since I want today to focus on cancer, and am only using heart disease and stroke as examples of what can be done with the right focus, I won't go into the tactics... but let's take a look at the results...

This chart shows us that based on the focus applied to heart disease and cerebral vascular disease, there has been a massive reduction in both in the American population (I have not found the offsetting data from Canada, but suffice to say that it is likely close to the same as the US data). There is a stark difference however in the data for cancer from 1950 to 2004... even though we have been throwing money at it at seemingly the same pace as with the heart and brain diseases.

There is little doubt that the 215 or so cancers (see earlier posting with a listing of the known cancers) are a more complex set of causes and cures. But given their costs to society in both money and human suffering, isn't it appropriate to try and change what we have been doing, to perhaps get a different outcome in the next fifty years.

The next two slides demonstrate that (let's extend the US data to include North America for arguement's sake)
men in North America stand a 1 in 2 chance of getting a cancer of one form or another and women a 1 in 3 chance!

I note that these data do not include any simple skin cancers other than melanoma. It would boggle one's mind to add in Basel Cell Carcinoma data... and the costs in dollars and long term human suffering from these yet to be diagnosed and treated "minor cancers".

Following are data that describe the incidents and deaths from the non-skin cancers over the period from 1975 to 2003 separated male from female and the combined.We can see that there are slight decreases in the years after 2002 which was the first year in recorded cancer data that there were fewer deaths from cancer... in 2003 there were around 3,000 fewer deaths than in 2002. But the stark reality is that we are still far above the cancer rates from 1975 when the real comparative rates of cardiovascular disease started to free fall... why?

This next slide breaks the rates above into male and female over the same period, and breaks them into site specific cancer rates. So let's go back to the first two slides and look at the 1 in 2 and 1 in 3 male and female chances of getting cancer... here we can suggest which we are potentially going to get.

I like the graphics because we can easily see the changes over time in the prevalent cancers. For example, look at the data on Lung and Bronchus Cancer... it is going up in women! This after years of inference that smoking has a direct impact on the potential for getting lung cancer. We still allow our children to smoke, and young females are smoking at increasing rates! Why can't we get to them? We hear so much about breast cancer, yet if you look at the two slides blow you may note that while breast cancer will be 26% of the new cancer cases, it will be 'only' 15% of the total deaths... where as Lung Cancer will be 26% of the deaths. There is little we can do to prevent breast cancer... yet the Pink Ribbons are practically ubiquitous in our society. Yet cancer of the lung and bronchi kill far more people and we don't hear anything about it. Why?

Ok, enough about the data... how about the part about what can we do about it? It is the nature of this blogspot, that one has to upload graphics and pictures before writing. So, I am going to sign off on this posting and start the next, that will appear ahead of this. Some day I will figure this out...


My photo

Grad. Saint Mary's University, 1975, got into the medical device business initially in sales, then various management positions up to president, all in Medical Devices. I prefer therapy products over diagnostic, but they are all fun, and in a way have defined my life. I have now evolved, with help from my 35 year partner Lynnda with whom I now share every hour. I am into staying healthy, photography, kayaking, bicycling, gardening and two books a week. I wish I had gotten to this stage earlier!