Aretha Franklin who died August 16 of pancreatic cancer will live forever in our hearts and brought a huge amount of joy to so many. Nevertheless, this woman who could transcend politics and all manner of social transgressions such as racism can bring important lessons about health that are pertinent to many as a result of her visibility. Ms. Franklin died of pancreatic cancer but suffered from several related diseases for at least 25 years that ultimately lead to her passing.
She was a smoker for much of her life and put on significant weight beginning in the late 1970’s. Her added weight was the massively dangerous abdominal weight gain. A medical college of mine who was on Aretha’s medical team related how she was treated for pancreatitis (an inflamed pancreas which is frequently a precursor to pancreatic cancer) in the late 1990’s.
I also saw Aretha in concert in 2010 at which she had to take a short break mid performance, a victim of simple fatigue. Her smoking, diet, continual weight gain and obvious diabetes were all predisposing factors in her pancreatic cancer in combination with her many other health problems.
What Can Be Learned from Aretha’s Health Issues?
The pancreas has several functions which will all be compromised when pancreatic inflammation or cancer have begun. The most important function of the pancreas is the production of insulin which keeps blood sugar under control. When insulin production is compromised diabetes develops, compromising the entire body. The biggest cause of insulin problems result from excessive, continual consumption of sugar, carbohydrates such as wheat and alcohol. Overconsumption of sugar and carbohydrates is epidemic in our culture (the food manufacturers put sugar in most foods for taste) leading to diabetes and weight gain and ultimately chronic diseases such as cancer.
The other factors that led to Aretha’s death were her smoking from an early age (this is very toxic and it compromised her ability to fight the formation of cancer) as well as her stress which also compromised her immune system and ability to overcome disease. Aretha had 2 children by 15 years of age and together with being a black woman in the mid 1900’s greatly contributed to her ongoing, health compromising stress. The combination of a poor diet, stress, abdominal weight gain and her smoking all contributed to her developing a life threatening disease. For Aretha it happened to be cancer of the pancreas. The same factors in another person may lead to heart disease, liver cancer or a nervous system degeneration such as MS or Alzheimer’s.
What are the health lessons we can take from the death of such an amazing woman? Everyone should realize that no matter what is going on in their life health is the most important treasure. Without health you have nothing and you have control of your health. Specifically a diet low in sugar, carbohydrates and processed foods is critical. My future articles in Immigrants will address diet and nutrition more specifically. Because stress is such a contributor to illness, learning to reduce stress in our everyday lives is critical. This can be done with exercise, meditation, a wonderfully simple technique (learn it on the internet)called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or simply learning how to manage stress internally by not taking life’s daily events so seriously. Avoiding known toxins and carcinogens (cancer causing agents) is critical to maintain a high level of health and performance. These include avoiding smoking, recreational drugs and many of the medications now prescribed with their dangerous side effects. Most drugs have much healthier, equally effective natural remedies.
Learning to protect your health throughout your life will allow you to be joyful and productive as well as add 20 or more healthy years to your life. It is up to you because the information to live a high energy, healthy long life is available. Not only are we left with Aretha’s amazing legacy but we can learn from her death to make ours better. I urge you not to waste the most important treasure we are all given- health.
Enjoy the Journey,
Vital100 Wellness Team