20 May HOW THE “I FEEL FINE” SYNDROME IS COSTING YOU MILLIONS – PART 1
How could this go on all these years without us discovering diabetes, heart disease, or cancer in your body and not acting? To understand this we just need to ask a person with pre-cancer, early cancer, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, diabetes, or heart disease how they feel. What would they tell you?
As a practicing doctor I can assure you it is almost always the same; “I Feel Fine.”
How could this be? The changes discussed in the first of the Seven Numbers Series describing the changes occurring in our bodies as we begin to develop diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, strokes, and cancer all occur without symptoms. Literally our bodies start to fail, either in the processing of food – metabolic syndrome, in the deposition of fat in the arteries – heart disease and strokes, or in the regulation of cells – cancer, without us feeling a significant difference in our bodies.
On one level this may not be a bad thing. ”Mother Nature” had to make a choice. Should I have people with early conditions “feel bad”, with milder symptoms as conditions begin, and then gradually increasing during the five to fifteen year window before the disease is fully manifest? Or should the pain and suffering be delayed as long as possible, with symptoms beginning much later in the process? Well, for diabetes, heart disease, and early cancer the choice was option B – hold off symptoms as long as possible, even though it is often too late when symptoms finally do appear to completely reverse the illness.
Until modern medicine discovered how these processes occur in our bodies, it was difficult to know where we are in this continuum. This means if we “feel fine” we may be perfectly healthy (and so as not to alarm everyone, the majority of working-age people are functionally healthy), or we may be walking around with a debilitating or terminal condition percolating in our bodies. But that is not the case today. With a few tests like blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and cancer screening (following the USPTSF recommendations) we can substantially increase the odds of knowing whether we are in this situation, though the testing is not perfect. Acting early, to reverse or remove the problem, is not only possible, but it is very likely to lead to arresting or delaying the problem for years. Even better news is that it is not necessary to do this testing daily or even monthly. Annual, bi-annual or even every decade (depending on the guideline) is enough to allow us to discover and keep these nefarious characters out of our bodies, while balancing the risk of being stressed over false-positives that can arise from over testing.
Setting up and encouraging employees to discover whether “I Feel Fine” = “I Am Healthy” or “I have not developed symptoms yet” is vital to preventing further illness and costs for your company.