Focus on “risk factors”— is missing the whole point!

Another huge example of “confusion over clarity”

Notice that the geniuses at the American Heart Association didn’t even have a “plaque-building diet” in their top ten risk factors for heart disease.

A quick internet search this morning revealed that according to the World Health Organization, there are a total of 12,000 diseases, and all of them have multiple risk factors. Let’s take heart disease for example. According the American Heart Association, there are ten “leading” risk factors:

    • Age: More than 83% of people who die from coronary heart disease are 65 or older.
    • Being male: Men have a greater risk of heart attack than women do.
    • Family history. Those with parents or close relatives with heart disease.
    • Race: Heart disease risk is higher among African Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians, and some Asian Americans.
    • Smoking: Cigarette smoking increases your risk of developing heart disease by two to four times.
    • High cholesterol: As blood cholesterol rises, so does risk of coronary heart disease.
    • High blood pressure: High blood pressure increases the heart’s workload.
    • Sedentary lifestyle. Inactivity is a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
    • Excess weight: People who have excess body fat—especially if a lot of it is at the waist—are more likely to develop heart disease even if they have no other risk factors.
    • Diabetes: Having diabetes seriously increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. About three-quarters of people with diabetes die from heart disease.

Sadly, the implication for the casual reader is that if they have none of the top ten risk factors, they can chow down on all of the burgers, steaks and ribs that they want— and they won’t get heart disease. Wrong. Speaking of diet; did you notice that it didn’t make it into the top ten.

Yet Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. McDougall enjoy a 95%+ success rate in reversing heart disease with nothing more than a changing the patient’s diet—to whole, plant-based foods. Another tragic case of confusion over clarity from our health authorities.

And what about the other 11,999 diseases? Let’s take breast cancer. On the American Cancer Society website, I found one page entitled “What are the risk factors for breast cancer?” (See link below)

That single page had over 4,000 words—about a half hour of reading for most people. Incredibly it included things like night work, wearing bras, and using antiperspirants. And here’s what they had to say about diet. Incredibly, the “dietary” information was found under this heading:

Factors with uncertain, controversial, or unproven effect on breast cancer risk

Diet. Many studies have looked for a link between what women eat and breast cancer risk, but so far the results have been conflicting.

Some studies have indicated that diet may play a role, while others found no evidence that diet influences breast cancer risk. Studies have looked at the amount of fat in the diet, intake of fruits and vegetables, and intake of meat. No clear link to breast cancer risk was found.

Your very best source of confusion about cancer

Talking about confusion over clarity! We know that cultures who consume mostly whole plant-based foods have cancer levels approaching zero. And we know from The China Study (Dr. T. Colin Campbell) that the leading cause of cancer (of all kinds) is our toxic western diet.

Meanwhile, back to the risk factors. How many are there for all diseases? If we have 12,000 different diseases and ten or more risk factors for each of them, we only need to keep track of roughly 120,000 risk factors if we wish to remain disease free.

But there is a better way. We call it CLARITY. It’s all about getting real clear about exactly what we should be doing to promote vibrant health. And, unlike the 4,000 words to describe just the risk factors for breast cancer, we only need two words to describe the most important thing that you need to promote vibrant health: Whole Plants.

By simply deriving most of our daily calories from whole plants, we could reduce our total cost of healthcare by up to 80%. And, many of those 12,000 diseases would simply disappear—along with their 120,000 risk factors. And a lot less money would be made by the 30 million people in this country whose livelihood depends on us remaining sick.

The original source of my oft-used phrase, “confusion over clarity.” Dr. Campbell of course favors the latter.

Believe it or not, this blog was inspired by a 6-22-12 headline in Medical News Today, that read: “Does Psoriasis Increase Type 2 Diabetes Risk?” My response was “Enough already!” I am sick and tired of hearing about the 12,000 diseases and all the risk factors that go along with them and talking with your doctor about which drug is right for you. It is time for some clarity!

Want to enjoy vibrant health without juggling thousands of risk factors, many of which you can’t control anyway? Consider making our 4 leaves of health a permanent part of your life—beginning with a 4Leaf diet-style that derives over 80% of its calories from whole plants. Click here for my most recent post about those 4 leaves of health: diet, exercise, sleep and mental attitude.

Don’t want to juggle 120,000 risk factors? Then take charge of your health now.

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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Blogging daily at…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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5 Responses to Focus on “risk factors”— is missing the whole point!

  1. J. Morris Hicks says:

    A comment from T. Colin Campbell, Phd., author of The China Study:

    Jim, You are right on!

    You probably know or suspect that ACS primarily is an MD-based society. And MDs are not trained in nutrition. But a more significant fact is that it fully represents what modern medicince is all about–drugs, drugs, drugs. That statement of theirs on diet comes from an organization that not only represents Western medicine but also an organization that finds no problem with partnering with the American beef industry. Keep ’em sick with beef and make ’em well with drugs. A great money making machine! Best, Colin

  2. MikeR says:

    I’ve been mulling this blog entry around in my head for most of the day. I think the big disease bureaucracies won’t admit that eating a plant-strong diet will prevent of cure the disease is because that would end their whole purpose of being. They are more interested in protecting the bureaucracy than they are in ending whatever disease their fighting.

    • J. Morris Hicks says:

      Mike, your words ring true, yet it’s a difficult thing to say about single person working in the “system.” The fact is that they’ve all drunk the Kool-Aid from our meat & dairy industries and have rationalized in their own minds that their work is essential to finding the eventual cure for their particular disease—even though they all ignore the “blinding flash of the obvious” solution to at least 80% of all the cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. WE’RE EATING THE WRONG FOOD! Best, Jim

      PS: Everyone should take a look at the video below that Leo posted. Unfortunately, most people still think of plant-based therapies as alternative medicine that you seek occasionally when you get sick. We still haven’t connected the dots that if we eat an optimal diet ALL the time—all those diseases never appear in the first place.

  3. Leo S. says:

    “Diet. Many studies have looked for a link between what women eat and breast cancer risk, but so far the results have been conflicting.”
    Meet Sharlene. Share her story.

    • Leo S. says:

      Here is another story to show what whole plant-food diets can do. In part 3 he discusses the experience of a diabetic who was to have his foot cut off.

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