An interesting point to consider

According to WDDTY, modern medicine is dangerous, modern life toxic, and going back to “natural” methods will help you live longer.

There is of course no way of telling whether that would work, or of unpicking it from the generic effects of excess calorie consumption and sedentary lifestyles, but we can infer some things from a review of historical figures.

Life expectancy England

A couple of points spring out from this pretty clearly. First, the assertion that modern health outcomes are primarily due to good sanitation, is clearly wrong. The Victorian sewerage improvements evidently were associated with a significant improvement, but there was steep and sustained improvement from 1900 right up tot he present. I’ve averaged out for 1940-42 because the figure is missing, I believe there was some sort of administrative disruption at the time.

The biggest improvement is over the period from 1900 to 1950. A lot happened over this period. Better sanitation, yes, also clean air acts and the like. But also:

We’re told that medical progress on cancer has been negligible, and that medicine is losing the so-called “war on cancer” (always a political, not a medical battle).

surv_10yrtrends_selectcancers

Ten year survival by year of diagnosis

Since 1970 the five-year survival rate has roughly doubled, now standing at 51%. Ten year survival is up from below 10% to around 45%. You still don’t want to get cancer, but if you do, you now stand a much greater chance of surviving it – and being a disease mainly of old age, you may well die of something else. Nobody’s yet found the secret to eternal life.

But perhaps the most graphic illustration of the fallacy of going back to “traditional” methods comes from the pen of Neil Bennett:

appeal-to-tradition

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