Declaring that more people live off cancer than die from it," California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. today offered a new approach to health care and called for an end to the dominance of the "medical-industrial complex."

By employing what is called a "holistic" approach, the Democratic presidential candidate said, he would focus on "wellness instead of sickness."

Speaking at Harvard University to a gathering of the American Holistic Medical Association, he said he would open the field of health care to more alternatives such as acupuncturists, midwives and physicians assistants.

He would increase consumer choice and participation, as he has already done in California, by making "at least one-third of the members of all licensing boards consumers or lay persons."

Brown also says he favors tax credits or insurance reductions to those "who, adopt measures that enhance the quality of life" -- for example, a reduced insurance permium to nonsmokers.

Conventional approaches such as those offered by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and President Carter are quantitative, he said -- "just to throw money at something. But the quantitative input will not alter the pattern unless there is a fundamental qualitative change."

It is time to "call a truce in the medical arms race," he said.