“Prevention is the new revolution to live long”

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Have a long and healthy life. Everyone’s ambition is almost always in our hands. To explain how to reach the goal is Silvio Garattini, founder and president of the Mario Negri Institute, author of book ‘Aging Well’, written with Ugo Lucca, head of the Geriatric Neuropsychiatry laboratory of the same institute and presented in an online event organized by the Irccs Neuromed of Pozzilli.


Aging substantially it depends on three factors – summarizes Garattini – the first is due to genetics: in our DNA there are written things that can happen, such as the predisposition to diseases that can then negatively affect the quality of aging. The second is the lifestyles: eat healthy, do not smoke, do not use drugs, limit alcohol, avoid sedentary lifestyle and overweight, sleep at least 7 hours, do physical and intellectual activity, etc. All very important factors – underlines Garattini – that modern research has revealed us to have the possibility of modifying the genetic part “.

“There are many studies – he notes – that indicate how good lifestyles can mitigate the burden that genetics can have on many diseases and therefore on aging. Then there is the third factor on which we have little chance of influencing: accidents that can happen to us. But it is certain – assures the doctor – that statistically the possibility of having a good aging is in our hands “.

“We are among the countries in the first places for the length of life – remembers Garattini – but if we look at the healthy life span, we are in 15th place because we have an average of 6 years for males and 8 for females in poor conditions. of health “.

“This book – says the author – wants to make a small contribution to the fact that we have to carry out a kind of great cultural revolution that has the name of prevention. That is, we should in some way also as the National Health Service give priority to prevention because that is what counts: more than 50% of chronic diseases (diabetes, heart, kidney, respiratory failure) are avoidable by practicing correct lifestyles. 70% of cancers are avoidable and we still have 160,000 deaths a year in Italy from cancer. Here’s where we must act and we must act in this sense also because prevention is a safeguard of our extraordinary NHS which must be sustainable. This is the general argument – sums up Garattini – which implies all the chapters of the book “.

Give priority to prevention however – explains the founder of Mario Negri – it is not just a medical element, unfortunately doctors are often not a good example because they smoke, drink, are obese. We need the contribution of sociologists, anthropologists, advertisers who are able to convey the importance of prevention in order, in the end, to have a good quality of life “.

However, the pharmacologist admits, “we can’t even hide that prevention has a big conflict of interest which is that of the medicine market. Medicine is a big market, it has great economic interests and if we avoid 50% of diseases we also avoid 50% of the use of drugs. But the market by its nature always tends to expand, it does not accept to shrink, it considers it a failure. If everyone stopped smoking we would have to close most of the thoracic surgeries because we would have much less lung tumors . This – he explains – is the spirit of the book “.

A book that addresses all the factors that come into play in determining, for each of us, what our old age will be like. One of the chapters, the one dedicated to nutrition, was created with the collaboration of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of the Neuromed.

“When we talk about supply in Italy we talk about Mediterranean diet which is not just a list of foods – underlines Licia Iacoviello, director of the Department of Epidemiology and prevention of Neuromed – but it is a philosophy of life, a culture that is handed down that alongside a certain type of diet also posed a convivial style in which sociability and conviviality were something very important. Adopting this lifestyle from early childhood is important to ensure a long life but any age is good to start adopting this lifestyle. Adhering to the Mediterranean diet means – concludes Iacoviello – living better both physically and mentally “.

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