Are we doomed to age sickly?

Sport, healthy lifestyle habits, good nutrition, moderation in all things… all these injunctions are amply documented and exert a sneaky feeling of guilt on us.

The question of protective health factors has been with me for a long time, surely influenced by the death of my mother, who died of cancer much too early, or by my father whose serious stroke suddenly interrupted his active life, his life in health. He certainly didn’t spend the last years of his life as he would have liked! Normal, inevitable? Probably not. Help yourself and heaven will help you, say the proverb… and science.

Let’s look at some facts with the Dr Martin Juneau, cardiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute (ICM), specialist in prevention.

Martin Juneau has fought (the word is not an exaggeration) his entire career to convince governments, the population in general and his patients in particular of the importance of adopting healthy lifestyle habits. Not out of stubbornness or whim, but because he is inhabited by deep convictions based on the greatest and most serious scientific research in the world.

The statistics that Martin Juneau gives me on the quality of life during our last decade of life send shivers down my spine! Are you young, sedentary, you don’t eat very well, you have a slightly larger waistline and you consume too much alcohol? Well, you risk seriously hampering your last 10 years of life!

Instead of dying on average around 80 years old in good health if you do the right thing, you will live your last 10 years diminished by chronic illnesses.

So yes, we die older than before, but in what state?

Martin Juneau has alarming figures on the consequences of not taking charge. He led the ICM’s EPIC center for many years and conducted cutting-edge research to prove that we can, and must, turn the tide on chronic disease risk factors.

Yes, pills can treat us, reduce our symptoms, delay our death, but why risk a poor quality of life when research shows very well that we can prevent obesity, diabetes, a large part of cardiovascular diseases, multiple cancers and delay dementia by adopting these habits at any time of your life? Martin Juneau has been killing himself repeating it in all possible variations for almost 40 years.

I question him. Have your battles achieved anything? What have the governments that you have tried to raise awareness of all these years responded to you? His response is direct: “It didn’t do much. »


The Dr Martin Juneau, cardiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute

Government spending on prevention represents a drop in the bucket on a budget of 50 billion. Prevention measures will never benefit from the same government priority as pharmaceutical or technological treatments.

The Dr Martin Juneau, cardiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute

The benefits of preventive measures are felt in the medium and long term, so there is very little political payoff. Medicines are good, but they are very expensive when we could devote a fraction of this money to hiring kinesiologists, nutritionists and psychologists in all family medicine groups (GMF).

Don’t you think this speech resembles that on climate change? A short-term view, the fear of measures that are too difficult to apply, the postponement of problems until later, and presto, one day, we find ourselves with a heart problem, or diabetes, or cancer, or forest fires , floods and extreme heat records all over the planet!

The shift towards prevention applied to our own health does not happen automatically. During my intense years of political life, I suddenly decided to take charge of myself, get back to my healthy weight, stop drinking alcohol completely, train seriously and you know what? I have never felt so fit and in full possession of my means.

Where did I find this motivation and determination? In truth, I don’t really know. A feeling of urgency in the face of the years that pass too quickly, the sick people we meet or the dead loved ones who, like my father, experienced this poor quality of life during their last years of life.

What creates this motivation in us often remains nebulous, but if we dare to take the first step in getting back into shape, we see that the pleasure grows with use!

Does this prevention make us invulnerable? Of course not, but at least we are maximizing the conditions to be able to enjoy our last decade in health.

Martin Juneau is categorical: developed societies are heading into a wall, into a wall of denial and complacency. To the point where for the first time in more than a century, young Westerners born in the early 2000s will live shorter time than their parents, particularly due to the obesity epidemic.

Martin Juneau has given his all for 40 years in terms of prevention. Don Quixote before the eternal? Perhaps, but his voice must resonate even louder and for a very long time so that we can, as a society, improve not only our life expectancy, but above all our life expectancy. in health !

What do you think ? Participate in the dialogue


Leave a Comment