What kind of lifestyle will really hurt you compared to air pollution?

Silhouette young woman practicing yoga on the beach at sunset

If the magic lamp gives you 10,000 yuan a year and then tells you that the money can only be used for your health, what do you do with the money for living in China? Will you buy an air purifier or buy a gym membership card? Organic food delivery service card, or a daily massage service? Maybe we should reorganize this question: "Which kind of consumption is worth the money for health?" To answer this question, you should first understand which lifestyle is harmless and interesting. It is harmful.

Air pollution: Is there room for choice?

Many people living in China are subconsciously convinced that air pollution is the primary threat to health, but is this correct? Now is the time for us to take a small step in wisdom and knowledge. In my opinion, air pollution is an option, in other words, a risk factor that can be changed. If you don't believe it, please pretend to recognize my claim and try to compare the “fatal risk factor” of air pollution with other more mediocre factors – such as obesity, smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet and other unhealthy lifestyles. .

Then, let's look at it from a different angle. According to the American Heart Association, a healthy lifestyle includes four ideal health behaviors:

do not smoke
 Not overweight
Medium-intensity exercise for more than 150 minutes per week
Three or more servings of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet
The American Heart Association also lists three ideal health indicators: total cholesterol levels below 200 mg/dl; systolic blood pressure less than 120 mm Hg, diastolic blood pressure less than 80 mm Hg; and fasting blood glucose below 100 mg / Split.

Please tell me now, how many of these seven indicators can you meet?

Don't worry too much, only 1% of the 7622 people surveyed by the American Heart Association met all seven requirements. However, the most important point is that for those who meet the requirements of five or more of the indicators, the risk of all-cause death is 78% lower than those who are unqualified for the seven indicators, and died of cardiovascular disease. The risk of systemic disease is 88% lower. Think about it carefully. Now, we need to find out which of these ideal health behaviors are better for health. In addition, what is the result of their comparison with air pollution?

Relative risk is the key

I am a data mad, although the hospital I work for advocates "medicine is an art," but I feel that the real numbers make me feel more comfortable. In the face of comparison of health outcomes, my favorite use is the relative risk data, which is the ratio of disease incidence in the health risk environment and non-health risk environment. The calculation method is simple: the numerator (risk environment) divided by the denominator non-risk environment), you can get this ratio, your "relative risk". If the result is greater than 1, it is a positive risk, and a value less than 1 is a “negative” risk, ie a benefit.

We use air pollution and smoking as the first example. As I mentioned in the previous article, waiting in Beijing for one day is equivalent to pumping 1/6 cigarettes. Many of my readers think that the amount of 1/6 cigarettes is too low to meet their psychological expectations. It sounds like "paganism." Ladies and gentlemen, I feel very embarrassed, but this is true, and you can check out the data published by Dr. C. Yaden Popper in a study in 2011. Based on this study, we can calculate the relative risks of air pollution, smoking, and secondhand smoke for lung cancer:

Air pollution (according to the American Cancer Society and Harvard University): relative risk is 1.14 to 1.21
Air pollution in Beijing: relative risk is 1.49
Second-hand smoke victims: relative risk is 1.21~1.28
3 cigarettes a day: the relative risk is 5.6
Half a pack of cigarettes a day: the relative risk is 7.7
One pack of cigarettes a day: the relative risk is 12.2
Two packs of cigarettes a day: the relative risk is 19.8
According to the data, smoking three cigarettes a day is far more dangerous than air pollution living in Beijing. Dr. Pu is the author or co-author of almost all of the most important environmental research papers. I started to write this article from the winter of 2012. Since then, my passion for air pollution has gradually turned into an academic curiosity. It seems that all the societies in developing countries embraced the Western way of life with great enthusiasm. While taking advantage of this lifestyle, they also inevitably absorbed the worst of them, and these bad things are taking these societies. Made a mess.

Among them, I am particularly worried about obesity, which is the most common problem in the modern era, and has set off an astonishing crisis in my hometown of the United States. I will return to my hometown once a year, and every time I will be shocked by the "great" American adults and American children. I have lived outside the United States for many years, and now I can finally calmly conclude that Americans do not know how much public health disaster they are facing.

At present, more than half of Americans are overweight in the strict sense, and their body mass index has reached 25, which is the critical value of “normal” and “overweight”. A body mass index of 25 will increase the risk of diabetes by a factor of six, doubling the risk of high blood pressure, and this is only for people who are slightly overweight; 35% of Americans are strictly obese, their With a body mass index of more than 30, the risk of developing diabetes increased by forty times. Obesity also increases the risk of cancer: a study of obesity and cancer shows that for people with extreme obesity (body mass index over 40), the relative risk of death has reached 1.52 to 1.62.
Shanghai Skyline in thick Fog
After all, how do you spend that 10,000 yuan?

In terms of the disease burden of countries around the world, China is not much different from most countries. Chronic diseases in people in developed countries also afflict the Chinese. Therefore, the Chinese should also adopt the same common-sense preventive measures in life as people in other countries in the world.

Many of the patients I met spent huge sums of money on imported air purifiers (the profits of these purifier dealers are amazing, they should be whipped in public), but the problem with these patients is that they are overweight and they pass "Walk" to exercise, or eat only one or two servings of vegetables a day. I hope they realize that they have spent their energy and money in the wrong place. The same is true for children, if their parents are still arguing about whether they should use Blueair or IQAir, and their children’s weight has reached the upper limit, then It is necessary for me to seriously talk to this parent about the problem of contempt. And, for God's sake, even if you are just a smoker who is “not big”, please forget what air purifier, push out the fitness card, and then go to the smoking cessation drug for 3 months!

So how do I spend this 10,000 dollars? The expensive imported air purifier at home has already made me feel good, not to mention that I have to constantly buy consumables (the cost is still too high). I am satisfied with the three health indicators of the American Heart Association, which is somewhat smug. As for the ideal health behavior proposed by the association, I don't smoke, so I only have weight and exercise problems - this is the source of pain in modern society. My body mass index is between 24 and 25, and the 33-yard waistline has been a bit hard to bear the size of the abdomen for years. Is it that the water in Beijing is so hard that my pants are shrunk after washing? I have to admit that I am slowly giving up and fighting against weight - most men in their forties are like this. I am also very good at hypocrisy, because I often confess to the patient to perform 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, but I am not much better than those patients in sports.

So this year, I took my electric bike and started cycling to the hospital most of the time, even during the harsh winter season in Beijing. Exercise has become part of my daily life, and it doesn't become a burden as much as trying to get to the gym. In terms of weight loss, I have started making coffee every morning so that I don't have to be tempted by Starbucks muffins to buy his own tartare latte (with whipped cream).

My health risk is relatively small (too lucky), so my goal is relatively simple and cheap. I can't spend 10,000 yuan, because I will use this money to buy material enjoyment only in China: two-hour massage; three-hour karaoke; a hot spring in the local area. It is these inconspicuous things in China and these accumulated, cheap pleasures that really make people feel physically and mentally clean. In China or anywhere else, the health of the mind is as important as the health of the body.

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