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What Is Preventive Medicine And Does It Work?
12.January.2021

What Is Preventive Medicine And Does It Work?

The way traditional medicine tends to operate is reactively. Medical professionals treat an ailment after person falls ill. But this reactive approach can have negative impacts on the entire population, as well as putting an unnecessary strain on medical resources.

A different approach to healthcare has been gaining traction in recent years because of its more proactive way of doing things. Instead of waiting for lifestyle-driven illnesses to take hold, the avoidance of them altogether is the focus. This type of medicine is called preventive medicine.  

What does preventive medicine mean?

Preventive medicine is a health initiative that aims to prevent the onset of disease, stall or halt its progression, or avoid risky complications that can occur when a person falls ill. Take harmful lifestyle factors such as smoking, for example. We all know that smoking can lead to cancer – but in a preventive medicine model, the aim isn’t to treat the cancer once it arrives, but rather ensure a person avoids smoking altogether.

Preventive medicine can be implemented through government agencies that offer health programs and other community health initiatives; by doctors and primary care physicians who focus on healthy lifestyles as opposed to treatment measures; and by individuals wishing to lessen the risk of developing chronic disease.

Types of preventive medicine

There are three types of preventive medicine that can be established to tackle health issues at different levels.

Primary

Primary preventive medicine involves the avoidance of the onset of disease altogether. A lot of different health conditions are directly linked to lifestyle choices people make over the course of their lives. Things such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer may all be avoided with primary preventive medicine intervention. This intervention aims to change the way people approach their life choices and to alter unhealthy or unsafe habits before they lead to negative health effects.

This can be done by implementing government legislations against dangerous activities; providing education to all people regarding health and lifestyle choices that could lead to adverse health effects; and immunizing against disease.

 

Image by Brooke Lark on Unsplash: Good nutrition falls into primary preventive medicine, which is one of three types of preventive medicine.

 

Secondary

In the case of secondary prevention, the impact of the disease that has already occurred is of the utmost importance. Secondary preventive medicine uses early detection techniques and treatment options that can slow or stop the progression of the illness.

This stage also involves the use of personal strategies so that the illness doesn’t return or progress further. Screening tests, diet and exercise programs, and modified work strategies are all part of secondary preventive medicine.

Tertiary

The final type of preventive medicine aims to lessen the impact a chronic illness has on a person. Through disease management techniques and rehabilitation programs, tertiary preventive medicine can help to increase quality of life in cases where disease is unavoidable.   

The type of preventive medicine used for any individual will vary on their own health factors, but each type has a significant role in improving the health of the population at large.

What is an example of preventive medicine?

The best example of preventive medicine falls into the primary category and revolves around diet and nutrition. According to the World Health Organization, over 60% of health can be chalked up to lifestyle choices. This number proves how important it is to focus on good nutrition in order to stay healthy.

The body needs a set of specific components for it to function properly. Some examples include antioxidants, which keep free radicals balanced so that oxidative stress doesn’t occur throughout the body; good bacteria, which is needed to help keep the microbiome and gut health in check; and vitamin C, which can help boost the immune system. (The latter is particularly important – when the immune system works properly, overall levels of health tend to be better. Supplementation is widely available to help boost immune support, including GenBoost’s new range.)

To utilize preventive medicine through diet, people must understand exactly what they need to put into their body and why it’s important. There is a symbiotic relationship between the human body and the nutrition it receives through diet. When that relationship is not at its best, and a person is not giving themselves everything they need, inflammation occurs, the risk of disease increases, and lifespan can be significantly reduced.

Nutrition also has the power to stabilize certain chronic conditions. This is a form of secondary preventive medicine. For example, one study found that taking the supplement omega-3 could actually reverse biopsy-proven parental nutrition-associated liver disease. The same can be said for other vital nutrients and supplements in relation to other diseases, such as coronary artery disease, arthritic conditions, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

 

Image by Jenny Hill on Unsplash: Does preventive medicine work? Initial studies have shown positive results. 

 

Does preventive medicine work?

The efficacy of preventive medicine isn’t highly studied, but this is likely due to the way it has been considered in the past. Many professionals look at it from more than a health standpoint, considering financial implications as well. If there is no disease to treat, expensive medications and procedures will be needed less by the general population.

To put it in more perspective, there are over 400,000 deaths each year in the United States caused by tobacco use, while 300,000 deaths can be attributed to a lack of good nutrition and exercise. That’s hundreds of thousands of deaths that could have been avoided had the primary type of preventive medicine been utilized.

Preventive medicine may not be the first line of care in the United States, but if government, medical professionals, and communities worked together towards the common goal of overall health, it could lead to a healthier and happier population overall.

Featured image by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

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