What is Personalized Medicine? A New Way Of Looking at Health Care

Greetings to you—the women, the men, the health warriors and advocates—who follow my good friend and colleague, Sara Gottfried, MD.

I am Dr. Jeff Bland and there is a very good chance this is the first time you have heard my name (and that’s okay).

But I’m not new on the scene, believe me—the medicine scene, the wellness scene, the nutrition scene, and more. In fact, I have been very active in these fields for four-plus decades in many ways—as a scientist working in a laboratory, as a professor teaching university students, as a businessman, as an author. But my most important role—the one I’ll always bring up first and talk about most—has been as an educator, traveling around the world, giving lectures and seminars to doctors and health care practitioners about nutrition, about lifestyle and environment, and about personalized medicine.

“Personalized Medicine”

What is Personalized Medical Way_ A New Though of Looking at Health CareHave you heard this term before?

Probably so, because over the last ten years it has come into frequent use, both in the medical field and in the mainstream media.

But what does “personalized medicine” mean?

Actually, there is no single definition. If you ask ten doctors, or ten scientists, or even ten random people to define it, each will probably give a different answer. But it is also likely that each answer will have four elements in common: genes, environment, lifestyle, and treating patients as individuals.

People will probably also tell you that personalized medicine is the future of health care. I agree, and this is why I have written my latest book, The Disease Delusion: Conquering the Causes of Chronic Illness for a Healthier, Happier, and Longer Life.

Right now we call the practice of medicine “health care,” but consider these facts about what is actually—if you really think about it—a “disease care” system:

  • Almost 50% of adult Americans—133 million of us—suffer from at least one chronic illness (obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, heart disease, and many more…).
  • The management of chronic illness constitutes nearly 80% of our health care expenditures, but occupies close to zero time in the training of physicians.
  • Health care spending for a person with one chronic condition is almost three times greater than spending for someone without a chronic condition. Spending is seventeen times greater for someone with five or more conditions.
  • A 2011 study by the World Economic Forum projects that by the year 2030, the cost of chronic illness treatment worldwide will exceed $47 trillion. This represents the kind of economic impact that can bring countries to their knees.

Why The Disease Delusion? Am I trying to say diseases do not exist?

Not exactly.

Disease is a delusion because…

  • What we call a “disease” is a result of imbalance in one or more of seven core physiological processes.
  • Imbalances result from the unique interaction of an individual’s genes with his or her lifestyle, diet, and environment. Imbalances derive from multiple causes (genes are not in and of themselves the cause of chronic illness).
  • No two people have the identical form of what we call a disease.
  • Studies indicate that lifestyle, environment, and diet therapies personalized to the individual are a safe and effective approach to managing chronic illness.
  • You need to know if your doctor is specialized in health care or disease care.

Genomics, the science of sequencing and analyzing individual DNA, has opened the door to a revolution. Our understanding of why and how interactions among our genetics, environment, and lifestyle can alter our physiology and erode our health is what requires us to find a new approach to treatment—one that can reverse the dysfunctions that are making us feel sick. We presently have the solutions to the epidemic of chronic disease, but they must be tailored to the individual’s needs to be successful.

You can begin your path to personalized medicine today by taking a health assessment questionnaire on my website. For further details on Functional Medicine and the future of health care, preorder your copy of The Disease Delusion here.

jeffrey_bland_phdJeffrey Bland, PhD

Jeffrey Bland, PhD is known as the “Father of Functional Medicine,” which is a medical approach that focuses on the personalized prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. Over the past 35 years Dr. Bland has traveled more than 6 million miles teaching more than 100,000 health care practitioners in the USA and Canada and more than 40 other countries about Functional Medicine. He has been a University biochemistry professor, a research Director at the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine, the co-founder of the Institute for Functional Medicine in 1991, and the founder/President of the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute. He has authored more than 100 scientific publications and 10 books for the health professional and health consumer. He lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife Susan and his three sons and their families while pursuing his hobbies of boating, surfing, scuba diving and a life-long passion for learning.