Terrorism vs. Disease

The country has been hit recently with what appears to be another terrorist attack. In all, fourteen people were killed, and the candidates for president are falling all over themselves trying to show who will be the tougher on terrorism.

I don't want to make light of the situation. It is tragic that fourteen people lost their lives in this unfortunate event. But that pales in comparison to the 610,000 people who die from a heart attack every year. And that's a preventable disease according to Dr. Kim Williams, president of the American College of Cardiology and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn of the Cleveland Clinic. Add to that an equivalent number of cancer deaths as well as 29 million Americans with diabetes and it seems like we have a serious issue there.

So, where are all the tough-talking politicians? Why aren't they talking tough about preventing and reversing heart disease, cancer and diabetes? Our odds of being killed by a terrorist are almost nonexistent. Our odds of being killed by heart disease, cancer or diabetes long before we would die otherwise are huge. I've done risk management exercises during my working years, and the risk I see here is one of western diseases killing us.

But it's not even an issue during the presidential campaigns. Why not? Why aren't our candidates asking why so many Americans die prematurely of diseases that are preventable and reversible? Why aren't our candidates talking about how the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases and thus to global warming is animal agriculture? Why aren't politicians who will pass laws to protect dogs and cats from abuse also willing to protect other animals like horses, cows, pigs and chickens from abuse? Are there rational answers to these questions?

Yes, terrorism is a serious problem. But even moreso serious is how we are dying at our own hands. And how we are killing the planet as well at the same time. Our response to that devastation should be strong, even stronger than our response to terrorism. Where are the presidential candidates on that serious issue? What is their policy for turning the situation around?

If they can get tough on terrorism then they can get tough on improving public health. Our lives are dependent on it.