Will is a Launceston Chiropractor. He opened his talk by asking those present what is the leading cause of disability in Australia—the answer is lower back pain.
The leading cause of death in this country is cardio-vascular disease, followed by cancer. Current life-expectancy in Australia is 79.3 years for men and 83.9 years for women. Negative influencers on life expectancy are poor hygiene and poor diet. Most health care costs are incurred in the last ten years of a person’s life. Will said that 80% of people with poor health suffer from multiple chronic diseases and 27% of children suffer from chronic disease—mostly obesity. 1.4 million people in Aus-tralia have a cardio-vascular disability and $8 billion is spent each year on that disease. Will pointed out that 90-95% of cancer cases are caused by environmental factors and only 5-10% by heredity. The key contributors are stress, tobacco, obesity, infections, environmental pollution, radiation and physical inactivity.
There has been an increase in the incidence of cancer in Australia recent years, much of it due to earlier diagnosis. $2 billion per year is spent in Australia on cancer treatment.
Diabetes is the third most common disease in Australia. 900,000 people are diagnosed each year and it is estimated that an additional 900,000 are undiagnosed. Will said that by 2040, 40% of Australia’s population will suffer from this disease—it is currently the fastest growing disease in our country.
Another startling fact Will revealed is that Australia ranks fifth in the world for obesity. Obesity is the major contributor to arthritis, diabetes and colorectal cancer. Major contributors to obesity are poor nutrition, inactivity and smoking– lifestyle factors.
Environmental influences are becoming and increasing problem for human health. Will said that it has been estimated that people today are exposed to 80,000 chemicals, including 40,000 industrial chemicals. Such acquired contaminants can be passed on to succeeding generations, causing birth defects and infertility. Plastic pollution has reached extreme proportions. Research indicates that each person consumes 57kg of plastic each year—90% of it being single use items. In Tasmania we are fortunate to have some of the cleanest air in the world.
The federal government has a $1 trillion annual budget. 10% of this is spent on health. Only 1.8% of this is spent on prevention.
Will posed the question, “What can we do about our bourgeoning health problems?“ About half of our health expenditure could be avoided by lifestyle changes such as better nutrition, more exercise and dealing with addictions to tobacco, alcohol and drugs. Will stressed that any exercise we undertake needs to be enjoyable and preferably outdoors.
Will had a few comments about lower back pain. He said that the first line of defence is to be active—the best exercise being walking. The second defence is spinal manipulation, massage and acupuncture and third is anti-inflammatory drugs.
Will summed up his talk by saying that the best antidote for poor health is happiness and contentment.
His final quote was from Valerie Malka, an Australian health researcher, who wrote: “There is none better than modern medicine, when it comes to surgery or emergency trauma, but for almost everything else, traditional natural, or alternative medicine is far more effective, particularly for chronic illness, which modern medicine is unable to treat or cure.”