Health Team

Top AMA Doctor Credits Preventative Medicine for Cancer Decline

Cancer deaths are on a downward trend because of better cancer screening, healthier lifestyles and reduced smoking, said one of the most prominent medical specialists in the country.

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In this a golden age of medical advances, there are new ways to see inside the body, new drugs, and techniques to treat cancer. There are even tiny implantable mechanical heart pumps for patients with severe heart failure.

The president-elect of the American Medical Association, Dr. Ronald Davis, is a preventive medicine specialist. The AMA is among the most influential groups in health policy in the United States.

Davis said he sees prevention as the best way to fight disease and reduce health costs. However, he also said technology is not the key to a long life.

"People can do more to improve their own health status than all the doctors and hospitals and MRI machines and pharmaceuticals of the world," Davis said.

Davis spoke at the State Health Directors' Conference in Raleigh on Jan. 25, emphasizing disease prevention and promoting personal behavior and public policy. Part of his mission is to discourage smoking and have more states require smoke-free environments.

Davis sited research that suggests that secondhand smoke kills about 50,000 people a year.

"I would urge the policy makers in N.C. to finally pass a law where they could join the other 16 states and ban smoking in all public places and work sites in this state," Davis said.

Sixty-five percent of Americans are overweight or obese, so Davis preaches healthier eating and increased exercise -- habits best learned at a young age. He applauds school systems that include healthier cafeteria menus and remove vending machines selling candy and sugar-filled sodas.

"Those kinds of healthy lifestyles can do more to extend your life expectancy and improve the quality of your life than all the high-tech things that we can do within the hospital or doctor's office," Davis said.

Davis is also lobbying for legislation in Washington to make health insurance more affordable and available to the 45 million people in the U.S. who don't have it.


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