As far as health is concerned, we are living in interesting times.

As I make my way through papers and other clutter, I ran across an article I wrote on December 26, 1985 and it set me wondering. We were living in IL and I was writing for the Metamora Herald.  That seems like a lifetime ago but this column seems as relevant today as it was then—maybe more so.  Perhaps I have been wasting my time and energy writing weekly columns for altogether 23 years.  I hope we are making more progress toward better health than I am thinking right now.  From 1985:

            Once more it is time to look forward to a new year and contemplate the changes that have taken place in the old one.  As far as health is concerned, we are living in interesting times. 

            In the news, the biggest story about health has been its cost (or rather the cost of trying to regain health once it’s lost).  Sickness is big business and it gets bigger every year.  It is becoming clear that the only way to avoid the high cost of being sick is to stay well.  Hospitals have started advertising as they compete for us in our sickness.  It makes one a little uncomfortable to realize that the system you count on to get well depends on you being sick to stay solvent.  I once heard a doctor who was being interviewed on the radio, say if everyone in America quit smoking, started eating mostly fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and began taking a walk every day, it wouldn’t be long before the health care system would be doomed to financial ruin.  We are still waiting for a cancer cure.  For thirty years (now it has been over 50 years), millions (probably been more like billions now) of dollars have been spent on this project and little progress has been made.  Each year we get a trickle of information about using the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.  Perhaps this new path will bring results, eventually.

            A few weeks ago the news was full of what was termed a cancer “breakthrough”.  It made use of some complicated (and expensive) procedure to make the immune system cure the disease. 

            The news died down quickly and there was a rumor that someone died from the treatment.  This is nothing new in the toxic methods commonly accepted for treating cancer.  Perhaps it will become widely known in 1986 that the body’s immune system can be strengthened by natural, non-toxic (inexpensive) methods, which cannot only prevent cancer, but can activate the body to heal itself. 

            The real news in the health field usually doesn’t make the headlines.  The breakthrough is that Americans are finally starting to take their health into their own hands.  Lights are being turned on in heads by the thousands, “No one can make me healthy except ME!” 

            We are walking more, doing aerobics, yoga—all kinds of exercising.  We’re throwing away the cigarettes.  In fact, smoking is quickly becoming socially unacceptable.  It is no longer considered macho or sophisticated---instead, it’s a pitiful addiction. 

            Bookstores are flooded with health self-help books and there is usually at least one on the best seller list.  The newest one I have started reading is Fit for Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond.  I still can’t believe that this popular book talks about food combining, detoxification and natural hygiene.  These are subjects that just a very short time ago you wouldn’t dare mention to just anyone for fear they might lock you up.  Dr. Walker, Herbert Sheldon, and others tried to inform people about these basics to good health.  They were considered radicals and crackpots and their books never made it past the health food stores.  Now I hear that even sporting goods stores are carrying Fit for Life.  If these principles become widely accepted, we are in for a new era where people will be healthy and robust.  Medical bills will cease to be a problem!

            I look forward to 1986 with positive feelings.  It seems we are waking up from a long sleep.  Those who have ears to hear are surely hearing a lot already.  The truth is like a snowball rolling downhill.  Once it starts, there’s no stopping it, and it will grow and provide information that will help us become a healthy nation—it is our responsibility.

            Folks, here we are almost 34 years later and that snowball is rolling mighty slow.  In fact, sometimes it seems to be going uphill.  Cancer rates have increased until one woman in two is expected to get cancer and one in three men while we look for expensive cures and virtually ignore prevention.  We have done little to clean up our food supply by removing cancer causing additives, pesticides, etc.   Americans seem unaware that what they eat has anything to do with their health; fast processed food, and drug industries thrive while the rest of us don’t do so well.

(Janice Norris lives in Heber Springs, has a B.S. in home economics from Murray State University, owned and operated health food stores in Illinois and Heber Springs, and wrote a weekly column in Illinois for 15 years. She can be reached at