Wired had an article about Kaiser Permanente starting a study
into the complex interplay of genetics, environment and lifestyles that cause many common diseases.
Don't misunderstand me. The more we know about the interplay of these three factors, the better off we will be. But do correct me if I'm missing something. Why does most, if not all, research about human health have to focus on disease. Has anyone ever funded a study in which the participants are totally healthy to find out their genetic, environment, and lifestyle backgrounds to see which factors seem to lead to greater health. It seems to me that if medicine wants people to be truly healthy, it would look for what to do right, not what to avoid.
For example, select a population who have similar habits in terms of smoking, diet, exercise. Divide this population based on psychological factors such as an internal/external locus of control, or general level of contentment with their life. Will one group show up healthier than the other? Doing experiments such as this may get more to the point of what factors lead to health.
Research such as this may be more to the point since many of the most disabling disorders in the industrialized nations are degenerative disorders that you cannot point to one thing and say - "This is the cause." Even in cases where you can, other factors enter in to the equation. Flu, generally acknowledged to be caused by an external organism, can strike one person in a household and leave the next alone. Same environment, same genetics, yet one person gets sick and the other doesn't.
All human behavior is the pursuit of pleasure or the avoidance of pain. The medical profession defines health as the absence of disease. It focuses on the avoidance of pain end of the spectrum. Health is not just an absence of disease. Health is a positive expression of physical, emotional, and spiritual life. How about we put a fraction of the time and money we spend on medical research into pursuing pleasure and not just avoiding pain.