Bernard Lown, MD The Lost Art of Healing Boston New York Houghton Mifflin Company 1996
Medicine in the United States is widely regarded as the best in the world*. Hardly a day passes without a major scientific breakthrough. Many formerly fatal diseases are now curable. People are healthier and live longer than ever. Still, patient dissatisfaction with doctors has rarely been more acute. Although physicians are increasingly able to cure disease and prolong life, the American public is suspicious, distrustful of, even antagonistic to, the profession. Doctors, uneasy, astonished, resentful, and angry, universally acknowledge a crisis in health care. With the focus on colossal medical expenditures, amounting to a trillion dollars annually, most of the numerous solutions involve containing runaway costs….
Medicine’s profound crisis, I believe, is only partially elated to ballooning costs, for the problem is far deeper than economics. In my view, the basic reason is that medicine has lost its way, if not its soul.
* And yet, depending on the Agency that sponsored the study on longevity, America ranks either 27 or 30th , in the world in terms of mortality. Countries like Malta and South Korea have longer life expectancies than individuals in the U.S.
Next week the United Nations will hold a unique Summit, the first one focusing on the worldwide chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart, and lung disease. These are also the major diseases that challenge Americans.
And it has become increasingly obvious that uncontrolled immune inflammatory responses are major contributors to disease. Inflammation results in illnesses of many types, and vice versa. For example in the case of cancer and inflammation, there is “cross talk” between immune and tumor cells with inflammatory responses playing major roles during different stages of tumor development.
The key to health is immune balance, immune homeostasis. Immune homeostasis is a state where the level of inflammatory cytokines, is inhibited by anti-inflammatory cytokines and other immune factors. The right ratio of these cell messages restores the body’s delicate immune balance, and lessens the likelihood that one will become ill. Controlling inflammation is a primary approach to decreasing chronic disease.