• Follow us

Health

Humility Is the First Step toward a Healthier World

This month, the world saw the first-ever image of a black hole. The picture was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope, a network of radio telescopes operated by a global team of scientists. The black hole is 53.49 million light-years away, at the center of the Messier 87 galaxy. Taking a picture of such a distant object was an immense feat of science and engineering. The roots of this achievement stretch from Einstein’s first theorizing about the existence of black holes, all the way to the creation of cutting-edge technology that allowed us to finally see one.

Such stories are reminders of why it sometimes feels like science can do anything, from exploring the cosmos, to peering into the distant past, to blurring the boundary between life and death. And that feeling often extends to the science that informs our health. On that front, the 20th century brought a host of major discoveries, from penicillin to the double helix. As the Digital Age ushers in new advances, it is as easy as it has ever been to imagine that science really can solve all our health problems one day.

Our behavior suggests we may even hope that, through the power of science, we can one day innovate our way out of the human condition—the inevitability of age and death. Consider: the United States spends far more on health care than any other country in the world. The vast majority of this spending goes to the drugs and treatments that are the fruits of scientific discovery. With this sky-high spending have come sky-high expectations.

We eagerly await the drugs that will cure dreaded diseases like cancer and AIDS. We are fascinated by the evolution of precision medicine, with its possibility of tailoring treatment to an individual’s specific lifestyle and genetic code. And we thrill at the notion that technology might extend life indefinitely, that we can someday “hack” mortality, if we can only get the science right.

These hopes inform a spirit of exploration, one that we should nurture. Yet unbounded confidence in science can also distract us from the core forces that underlie our lives and health—forces far larger than any theorem, technology or cure.

Each day, we are deeply influenced by the social, economic and environmental conditions that surround us. These conditions are at the heart of how our lives unfold, deciding whether we are sick or well. We must have the humility to acknowledge the influence of these forces. When we do not, we open the door to hubris, and risk undermining the very goals we accumulate knowledge to pursue.

There are ample examples of how we have neglected the foundational forces that shape health, even as we have poured resources into developing new treatments. Take asthma. If a child has asthma, science can indeed provide her with medicine for her illness. But why does she have asthma to begin with? Could it be because she is a child of color, a demographic with a higher asthma risk? Or because she grew up in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood, located near a pollution center like a major roadway, as such neighborhoods often are?

Or could it even be because of political decisions to build the neighborhood in such an inopportune location? We are less likely to ask these questions when we think that the only action we need take to address an illness like asthma is to design ever-better treatments for it. While we often do not think of health in this way, we are effectively letting six million children live with a preventable disease like asthma because we are distracted by the flashy potential of high-tech science, at the expense of solutions that are at hand. 

What about the continued existence of HIV, a disease for which we have excellent treatments, but which nevertheless persists in some countries due to the forces of poverty, stigma and political negligence? In such cases, our medical advances are simply not enough. We need the humility to recognize that we cannot end these diseases without tackling forces that exist outside the realm of scientific innovation, whose influence can only be checked by collective effort and the application of political will.     

There is nothing wrong with making better medicines. A cure for asthma or HIV would indeed be welcome. But would it not be better to live in a world where these diseases no longer exist? To get this world, we must have the humility to see that there is more to health than our capacity to cure disease and extend life. Health emerges from our shared context—from the air we breathe, the water we drink, our economy, politics, schools, workplace safety laws, corporate practices and other large-scale influences.

I discuss these influences in my new book, Well: What We Need to Talk About When We Talk About Health. Engaging with them, to improve health, means first recognizing their scope, how they are bigger than any one person, and that they can only be properly addressed when we work together, with humility.

Take another look at the black hole image. It is a ring of light against vast darkness. This sliver of light, framed by the dark of space, is a useful metaphor for the relative smallness of what we know compared to the tremendous scope of what we do not. Our health, like our universe, is shaped by forces that dwarf even our most brilliant advances and discoveries. It is only by having the humility to recognize this that we can begin to move, collectively, towards a healthier future.

Read More



Leave A Comment

More News

Scientific American: Health

The Polycystic Sisterhood 2019-05-21 07:00:00Infertility is on the rise, but one major cause—polycystic ovarian syndrome—gets too little attention -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.c

Cannabis Compound Eases Anxiety and Cravings of Heroin 2019-05-21 06:45:00Cannabidiol reduces levels of stress hormone and blunts urge to use opioids -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

I Hate the Month of May 2019-05-20 14:00:00It will forever remind me that ALS took my mom away -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Health Researchers Must Work <em>with</em> Communities, Not <em>on</em> 2019-05-20 12:00:00So how should they go about it? -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

The Next Wave of Immuno-Oncology 2019-05-20 07:00:00A cutting-edge therapy currently used for blood cancers is now being adapted to fight solid tumors -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

The Ethical Quandary in Health Care Reform 2019-05-17 07:00:00Freedom of choice is an American value—but people without resources don’t have much of a choice -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Smartphone App Screens Kids for Ear Problems 2019-05-16 15:45:00Parents can use a digital tool at home to detect fluid behind the eardrum -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Can You Prevent Pregnancy with the Pullout Method? 2019-05-16 13:30:00An investigation into one of the biggest misconceptions in male fertility -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Autism May Be Diagnosed by Age Two 2019-05-16 12:30:00New study suggests that early screening may benefit some children -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Could a Single Live Vaccine Protect against a 2019-05-16 08:00:00A controversial theory holds that one immunization, given properly, can protect against many diseases besides its target -- Read more on ScientificAme

Brain-Controlled Hearing Aids Could Cut through Crowd Noise 2019-05-15 14:30:00A prototype detects whom you are listening to and amplifies only that speaker’s voice; a potential solution to the “cocktail party problem

Can Knowing Your Genetic Risk Change Your Physiology? 2019-05-15 10:30:00We now have unprecedented amounts of information on our own genetics, thanks to at-home DNA testing kits. But what does all of this information do to

MedicineNet Daily News

Putting Your Child to Sleep in a Car 2019-05-22 03:00:00Title: Putting Your Child to Sleep in a Car Seat Can Be DeadlyCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/20/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/21/2019 12:0

TV Not a Good Sleep Aid for Young 2019-05-22 03:00:00Title: TV Not a Good Sleep Aid for Young KidsCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/20/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/21/2019 12:00:00 AM

Vienna Beef Hot Dogs Recalled 2019-05-22 03:00:00Title: Vienna Beef Hot Dogs RecalledCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/21/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/21/2019 12:00:00 AM

AHA News: Stress From Work, Home Can Harm 2019-05-22 03:00:00Title: AHA News: Stress From Work, Home Can Harm Women's HeartsCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/20/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/21/2019 12

Earlier Bedtimes Help Kids Fight Obesity 2019-05-22 03:00:00Title: Earlier Bedtimes Help Kids Fight ObesityCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/21/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/21/2019 12:00:00 AM

Computers Detect Lung Cancer on Scans as Well 2019-05-22 03:00:00Title: Computers Detect Lung Cancer on Scans as Well as Docs DoCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/20/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/21/2019 12:

Why So Many Older Women Develop UTIs 2019-05-22 03:00:00Title: Why So Many Older Women Develop UTIsCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/20/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/21/2019 12:00:00 AM

Nearly Half of Juul Twitter Followers Are Teens, 2019-05-22 03:00:00Title: Nearly Half of Juul Twitter Followers Are Teens, Young Adults: StudyCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/20/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5

Could CBD Treat Opioid Addiction? 2019-05-22 03:00:00Title: Could CBD Treat Opioid Addiction?Category: Health NewsCreated: 5/21/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/21/2019 12:00:00 AM

Complete Tumor Removal in Dogs Cuts Risk of 2019-05-22 03:00:00Title: Complete Tumor Removal in Dogs Cuts Risk of Cancer's Return: StudyCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/20/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/

Melons Are Powerhouses in Taste, Nutrition 2019-05-22 03:00:00Title: Melons Are Powerhouses in Taste, NutritionCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/21/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/21/2019 12:00:00 AM

Health Tip: Escaping Rip Currents 2019-05-22 03:00:00Title: Health Tip: Escaping Rip CurrentsCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/21/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/21/2019 12:00:00 AM

Santé

Certains anxiolytiques augmentent le risque de fausse couche, 2019-05-17 11:16:00La prise de certains anxiolytiques pourrait augmenter le risque de fausse couche, selon une nouvelle étude à laquelle a participé

Rougeole: le Collège des médecins rappelle l'efficacité du 2019-05-17 06:27:00Le Secrétaire du Collège des médecins du Québec, Yves Robert, publie sur le site web de l'organisme un texte qui rappelle

Crise des opioïdes: le Canada au deuxième rang 2019-05-17 06:00:00Les morts dues aux opioïdes sont en hausse dans le monde, et le Canada arrive au deuxième rang des pays les plus touchés, tout just

Deux cas de rougeole à Montréal : la santé 2019-05-16 14:53:00La Direction de la santé publique de Montréal lance un appel à tous afin de retrouver des personnes ayant fréquenté

Hausse des intoxications au cannabis des enfants 2019-05-16 14:00:00Le nombre d'enfants intoxiqués au cannabis a bondi depuis la légalisation de la substance au Canada en octobre dernier, a préven

La dépression post-partum existe aussi chez le père 2019-05-16 11:55:00La dépression post-partum se manifeste aussi chez le père, mais le problème demeure mal connu et risque de passer sous le radar,

L'indice de grippe en baisse au Québec 2019-05-16 06:46:00Bien que la première moitié du mois de mai soit franchie, ce n'est que depuis quelques jours à peine que l'indice d'activit&ea

Imagerie médicale: le quart des appareils du Québec en piètre état 2019-05-16 05:00:00Le quart des 3600 appareils d'imagerie médicale au Québec - servant à réaliser des radiographies, sca

Cellules souches: des thérapies «qui mettent la vie en 2019-05-16 05:00:00Thérapies « non autorisées », allégations « non fondées », « r

Santé Canada donne son feu vert à l'héroïne 2019-05-16 05:00:00L'héroïne d'ordonnance et l'hydromorphone injectable peuvent maintenant être utilisées au pays pour le traitement des

Le diabète de type 1 diagnostiqué trop tard 2019-05-15 12:40:00Le diabète de type 1 est souvent diagnostiqué tardivement chez les enfants au Québec, alors qu'ils sont déjà aux p

Opérations en clinique privée: le projet pilote prolongé 2019-05-10 11:06:00Le projet expérimental permettant à trois cliniques privées de procéder à des opérations dans la régi

Global News : Health

How safe are breast implants? Women warn of 2019-05-19 08:00:52Canadian women are complaining of symptoms they say are connected to their breast implants.

This Toronto doctor helps people get more money 2019-05-19 06:00:58For Dr. Gary Bloch's patients, having more money has a bigger effect on their health than just getting a prescription.

‘End the shame’: Abortion bans in U.S. prompt 2019-05-17 13:23:14Abortions rights activists are seeing a spike in support and say, “Alabama was a tipping point."

Calgarian helping tennis star Maria Sharapova get back 2019-05-16 17:15:24Calgary massage therapist and conditioning coach, Marcin Goszczynski, has helped many high profiles recover athletes from injuries and now his focus

Snakebites kill around 100,000 per year worldwide. A 2019-05-16 10:37:34A charity is trying to increase the worldwide supply of antivenom and find new treatments for snakebite.

Rescue dogs from other countries can carry disease, 2019-05-16 09:35:48Imported dogs can transmit diseases to humans, according to a B.C. doctor.

Half of Americans admit to using a swimming 2019-05-16 06:00:36You should really shower before getting in the pool.

‘202 holes in my heart:’ Halifax family reeling 2019-05-15 18:10:05"How do you qualify your love for an animal, particularly one who helps your child so significantly?"

N.B. mother honours her late son’s dying wish 2019-05-15 16:42:59The announcement of the new registry comes seven years after her son's death.

Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper recalled in 2019-05-15 16:02:15There have been more than 30 reports of infants dying in the United States since 2009.

Cancer patient was cut off from work disability 2019-05-11 06:00:39Phillip Fitzsimmons had group disability benefits, but two years into his battle with cancer, he found himself living on just $1,000 a month.

‘It shouldn’t have happened’: Baby allegedly strangled to 2019-05-10 15:02:18Experts vehemently warn against the use of teething necklaces for babies, citing the dangers of strangulation and choking.

Santé

Consentement médical: des femmes traumatisées inutilement par leur 2019-05-20 11:52:30Certaines femmes vivent avec des traumatismes graves après avoir subi des traitements à leur insu lors de leur accouchement.

Les crèmes solaires faites maison sont dangereuses, indique 2019-05-20 07:31:34Deux tiers des recettes de crèmes solaires faites maison trouvées sur internet n’offrent pas une protection suffisante contre les

Cancer rare: une douzaine d'artistes chanteront pour le 2019-05-20 00:00:00Dans son combat contre une forme très rare de cancer, le petit Laurent, sept ans, peut compter sur le soutien d’un groupe hors de l&rsquo

CNESST: des centaines d’expertises réalisées par seulement 5 2019-05-20 00:00:00Cinq médecins experts ont fait près de 40 % des expertises médicales demandées par la CNESST en 2017, une situation qui &l

Les tiques de retour au Québec 2019-05-20 00:00:00Le retour des oiseaux migrateurs signifie le retour des tiques dans la région de Québec et les autorités de santé publique

Les craquelins sans gluten au banc d’essai 2019-05-19 20:39:42Les craquelins sans gluten sont de plus en plus populaires.

Paralysée à cause de l’erreur présumée d’un médecin 2019-05-19 01:00:00Une mère et sa fille poursuivent un médecin de la Montérégie pour 370 000 $.

Des formations gratuites sur le défibrillateur dans les 2019-05-19 00:00:00Préoccupés par quelques cas d’arrêt cardio-respiratoire en milieu scolaire, quatre résidents en médecine d&rsq

Deux frères apprennent à vivre avec la fibrose 2019-05-19 00:00:00Une famille de Boischatel s’implique afin d’amasser des fonds pour la recherche sur la fibrose kystique qui frappe deux des trois enfants

L’insomnie affecte la mémoire 2019-05-18 01:00:00L’insomnie chronique, qui touche environ 1 adulte sur 10, entraîne des pertes cognitives importantes, comme des trous de mémoire, s

La cocaïne populaire au Canada malgré les risques 2019-05-17 10:20:00Plus de 36 000 personnes provenant de 36 pays ont été sondées, dont 1960 Canadiens.

Mal trié aux urgences, un homme accouche d’un 2019-05-17 08:22:32Le triage des patients à l’hôpital ne devrait plus nécessairement reposer sur la race ou le sexe d’une personne.


Disclaimer and Notice:WorldProNews.com is not responsible of these news or any information published on this website.