The Defy Aging Newsletter

Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness

a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.

April 24, 2008 Number 186

This issue:

What's Good About Disease


Rather than see disease as an enemy, try to consider disease as blessing that helped your ancestors survive. With this more positive perspective, consider how best to treat or prevent the trade offs that came with the disease.


Most of us view disease as bad. We get sick and protest how unfair it is or see the disease as an enemy we need to nuke with pills, lasers, or a surgical strike. I recently interviewed Neurogeneticist Dr.Sharon Moalem on my Ageless Lifestyles show on Dr. Moalem views disease as history lesson in how our ancestors adapted to survive plagues and climate changes. He believes these history lessons can help us be healthier.

For example, 13,000 years ago Northern Europeans with diabetes had higher glucose levels in their blood, which served as “antifreeze” to protect them from the snap ice age that suddenly occurred. Each disease is an adaption that has trade offs in vulnerability to other adversities. Many were short-term solutions when the issue wasn’t to live to 100 or longer, but to survive a life threatening challenge.

Dr. Moalem describes dozens of history disease history lessons in his New York Times best seller, Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease. Or you can hear the interview by going to and selecting Show Hosts/Ageless Lifestyles/podcasts.

If we view disease as an enemy we become more vulnerable to depression and feeling life is unfair. If we see disease as a blessing, we are likely to have a more positive outlook, a healthier immune system, and a better chance of preventing or overcoming diseases. I know it seems like a huge stretch calling diseases a blessing. We use metaphors to describe diseases, e.g., an enemy, and invader. I like to judge metaphors by their results. Considering diseases a blessing results in a better understanding of how our world works and a more harmonious relationship with our world. And it results in a healthier, more resilient response to disease.


It is much more important to know what sort of patient has a disease than what sort of disease the patient has.

~William Osler

The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.



First the doctor told me the good news: I was going to have a disease named after me.

~Steve Martin

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