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April 11 , 2005

Oblivious to suicide

Research shows people who live with self imposed health risks such as smoking and being overweight/ obese have unrealistic ideas about the dangers of their lifestyle habits.

A recent study done by Rutgers University and the National Cancer Institute shows that smokers believe they are only at a slightly greater risk of developing lung cancer than a non smoker. In fact, a smoker risk to lung cancer is 10 to 20 times that of a non smoker, according to this article on the American Cancer Societies web site.

Most smokers also believe that they are at lesser risk to lung cancer than other smokers. Smokers also allow themselves to fall for urban myths that suggest exercise and vitamins can undo the negative effects of smoking.

Those who are overweight show a similar pattern. This survey revealed that overweight people don't see themselves at risk of developing type II diabetes, which is linked to being overweight. Survey - American Diabetes Association

An unconscious defense mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge painful realities, thoughts, or feelings.

Funny thing about denial; when in denial we tend to deny we are in denial.

For those in denial about how their living habits are putting them at risk of death, the outcome isn't funny.

Fake humor

The most common expression of denial I see is trying to be funny when talking about unhealthy food choices and lack of exercise. With a smile and giggles a person will joke about how good fatty food and junk food tastes and they "just can't stop because it's soooo good". Then there are the jokes about "rabbit food". It's heartbreaking to watch an overweight person with high blood pressure and high cholesterol joke about how they "won't eat rabbit food" or "don't want to turn into a fitness nut" by exercising. It's almost surreal to watch a smoker crack a joke about how smoking "hasn't hurt them yet", and their laughing very quickly turns into a horking coughing fit. There's a sight - a smoker trying to laugh about how smoking is ok, but can't laugh because of their smokers cough.

Through overeating and lack of exercise a person may become quite unhealthy, but then make fun of doing the actions required to be healthy, while simultaneously wishing they were healthy. This psychological paradigm does cause pain and turmoil for many in it despite putting up a humorous front to make it seem otherwise.

Things don't get any better when a smoker or overweight person believes that they are at less risk than others in the same condition, and are at only a slightly greater risk than those living healthy.

Too often for many in this condition it takes a tragedy to give them a wake up call, and even then lifestyle habits don't always change.

Poor lifestyle habits like smoking, overeating, and not exercising do cause serious health problems that do lead to an early death, usually preceded by years of reduced physical capacity and often illness. Why do people choose to kill themselves slowly? Why are so many oblivious to the risks even though they know better? Only each individual has the ability to answer these questions for them.

There is a solution though. I'll never get tired of saying "quit smoking" and, "eat less exercise more". It is true that breaking these habits is challenging, but it can be done. I've done it, and so have millions of others.

Use the articles on this web site to get started. Talk to your doctor, go to a dietitian, make an appointment with a personal trainer or coach.

If you are one of those who can't see that they are at risk, it's time for some serious reflection. If you know someone who fits this description, try to find a way to help without nagging.

For more articles on diet and exercise go to the Rhino Fitness home page

2004 - 2005 Cris LaBossiere Rhino Fitness www.rhinofitness.ca



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