Monthly Letters to Pulmonary Patients by Thomas L. Petty

Thomas L. Petty, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, 
University of Colorado

Chairman, National Lung Health Education Program (NLHEP)


National Lung Health Education Program
A collaborative project with



HealthOne Center
1850 High Street
Denver, CO 80218
Phone: 303 839 6755
Fax: 303 832 8137

Common Sense and Health

December 1999
Second Wind
Lomita, California

     Dear Friends:

     Decision making in a complex society is becoming more difficult than in years past. Even though we have more medical knowledge than ever before, we have huge healthcare problems which elude solution. Today we spend 1 trillion dollars on so-called healthcare. We are really spending this incredible sum on disease care. A major portion of medical care expenditures occur during the last years of life, indeed, the last months of a person’s life. It is estimated that by 2008 we will spend 2 trillion dollars on disease care management. But the extension of life over the past 20 years is only 1% to 2%. Are we wasting our money?

     The responsibility of each individual for their own health seems obvious. Governments don’t force people to smoke, drink excessively, over eat, or drive irresponsibly. We are not encouraged to become “couch potatoes” and succumb to the inevitable deterioration that age and inactivity dictate.

     A common sense approach to health, particularly in those who are getting older should be: 1) do not smoke or quit smoking. Do not let environmental tobacco smoke invade your body. 2) Do not drink to excess. Drinking a little alcohol helps cholesterol, but a lot can be disastrous. 3) Get your weight to a normal level, not too fat and not too thin. 4) Exercise every day to increase the energy level of your body (Bioenergetics). 5) Eat good low fat food with fiber. Take antioxidant vitamins.

     The secret to health and happiness can be boiled down (distilled) into common sense. But, "Common sense is not common.” - Voltaire

I will be in touch next month and in the 21st century.

Your friend,

Thomas Petty, MD

Last update:
23 Feb 2002