In May 1983 when we arrived at the little mission hospital on the Navajo Reservation in Monument Valley, I was surprised and dismayed to learn Navajos had type 2 diabetes four times as frequently as Anglos -- white people.
Now I am troubled and dismayed by the prediction by the experts that if present trends continue, not too long in the future one out of every three people in the U.S. will have type 2 diabetes. Many will be younger people unfortunately. Imagine what that will do to the health care system and health care costs.
Diabetes increases the risk of arteriosclerosis, which can cause heart attacks and strokes. These two things are respectively the leading and third-leading causes of death in the U.S.
Is there anything that can be do to turn this around? The answer is a resounding yes! The details of how this can be done are given in the film "Forks Over Knives," which was shown recently at the Walla Walla General Hospital to an audience of about 50 people.
Because of the important message in this film it will be shown in the near future in at least one other location in the Walla Walla Valley. The film is primarily about the great work of T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., author of the book "The China Study," and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.
Former President Bill Clinton gives these two men credit for getting him on a program that will greatly reduce his chance of having another heart attack. He also lost significant weight on that program.
It was my privilege in 2005 -- the same year "The China Study" was published -- to hear Campbell and meets his wife and son. At that same meeting Esselstyn spoke.
If folks were to follow the program espoused in the film many people would never develop diabetes and many who already have it could get off their medication.
Also many folks could delay getting heart attacks and strokes. And in a significant number of cases arteriosclerosis could be reversed.
Many other degenerative diseases wouldn't happen or would be delayed. It appears that some cases of cancer could be prevented. In Campbell's book he tells how the typical diet in this country promotes Alzheimer's disease. In some of the less-developed countries where the diet is very different there is significantly less Alzheimer's disease.
The time and location for the next showing of the film, which is an hour-and-a-half long, hasn't been announced yet. I recommend you put this film on your must-see list.
Dr. Don Casebolt of College Place is a retired physician who is passionate about preventive medicine. He spent four years as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy, the last 21/2 years as a flight surgeon. He also worked on the Navajo Reservation for 22 years.