Posted by Charles II on January 10, 2013
What profiteth a man if he gain the world and cannot even get decent medical care? Sarah Boseley, The Guardian:
America may be one of the richest countries in the world, but its people are less healthy and more likely to die early from disease or accidents than those in any other affluent country, a damning official US report has found.
Even the best-off Americans – those who have health insurance, a college education, a high income and healthy behaviour – are sicker than their peers in comparable countries, says the report by the US National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine.
“We were struck by the gravity of these findings,” said Steven H Woolf, professor of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and chair of the panel that wrote the report. “Americans are dying and suffering at rates that we know are unnecessary because people in other high-income countries are living longer lives and enjoying better health.
The US does badly in nine specific areas….highest infant mortality rate …. does poorly on other birth outcomes, such as low weight babies.
Deaths from injuries and homicides are far higher than elsewhere and a leading cause of death in children, adolescents and young adults. US adolescents have had the highest rate of pregnancies of affluent countries since the 1990s and are more likely to acquire sexually transmitted infections. The US has the second highest HIV rate and the highest incidence of Aids among the 17 countries.
Even taking out drunk driving, Americans lose more years of life to alcohol and other drugs than people in other affluent countries. The US has the highest obesity rate and, from age 20, one of the highest levels of type 2 diabetes. The death rate from heart disease is the second highest in the 17 countries. There is more lung disease and more deaths from it than in Europe and older people report more arthritis and other limitations on their activity than in Europe or Japan.
I’ll be surprised if the Republicans allow Obamacare to be fully implemented. Killing off Americans is so much more in line with what they do!
Posted in health care, health issues, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »
Posted by Charles II on December 5, 2012
A remarkable series of articles on brain chemistry and obesity has been opened to the public by the New York Academy of Sciences.
Kaiser et al. (U. Alabama) give an overview on a hypothesis that, given a perceived deficiency in food availability, the body either adds fat or slows metabolism in a way that lengthens life, depending on whether calories are actually available.
William Banks, VA looks at the role of leptin, a protein that diminishes the desire to eat. In obese people, leptin is, paradoxically, overabundant. This represents a resistance syndrome analogous to insulin resistance. One of the regulators of leptin transport into the brain is triglyceride. In starvation, triglyceride levels rise. Short term fasting increases facilitates leptin transport into the brain, but long-term fasting does the opposite. So fasting can play a positive role in helping to reduce hunger.
Renato Pasquali of Malpighi Hospital in Bologna looks at stress hormones and sex hormones: “stress activates the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), and the sympathoadrenal system” resulting in the rise of cortisol and catecholamines and an activation of blood pressure elevators like renin and its target, angiotensin. During chronic stress, cortisol elevates lipoprotein lipase, which stores fat especially in the abdomen (perhaps that explains the apple/pear dichotomy, with people with waist fat suffering greater health effects). The term allostatic load refers to the damage inflicted by adapting to adversity. In women, abdominal fat seems to be related to a rise in androgens (male hormones), while in men, to female hormones.
Lucassen et al (NIH and elsewhere) look at the relationship of sleep to obesity. Sleep has declined by over 1.5hr over the last 50 years. Slow wave sleep, which diminishes with age, is probably especially important, though it’s still not clear what’s correlation and what’s causation.
There’s plenty more here.
Posted in health issues, science and medicine | Comments Off on Obesity: the brain chemistry behind fat
Posted by Charles II on June 14, 2011
Friday should be called the newsgrave, because that’s where all important stories are sent to be buried.
DemocracyNow did an especially good report today on the release of a report on the cancer causing potential of styrene and formaldehyde and their listing as carcinogens by the Dept. Health and Human Services, the possible connection between the delay of the release of that report and the resignation of David Koch (Koch Chemicals produces formaldehyde) from the board of the National Institutes of Health, the potential for the suppression of an even more important report from the EPA, and the tactics that industry uses to forestall the day of reckoning on the withdrawal of toxic chemicals from the environment.
Now, a quick preface. To have an excessive fear of chemicals is equivalent to industry recklessness in being ethically, morally, and logically indefensible. All “chemicals”–including water and oxygen–cause death if administered wrongly. “Natural” products like plutonium, and “organic” products such as as VX (nerve gas) can be incredibly dangerous. Even some “natural organic” materials include things like botulinum toxin and aflatoxin are far, far more dangerous than most synthetic chemicals. Furthermore, the decision to regulate or, more seriously, withdraw from the market a product can lead not only to financial losses for the producers, but to actual death. To give an example, polystyrene is used not only for plastic cups, but in a host of medical applications. While replacements can be found, simply the process of changeover to a new material can lead to unpredictable effects, and those can include death. Even the simple increase in price of a material with price someone out of the current medical system, leading to injury or death, and that person is disproportionately likely to be poor. For that matter, the substitutes themselves will have their own health risks. And so we have to look at: what are exposures to all chemicals (even “natural” and “organic” ones)? Are there differential responses depending on age or other factors? How do we weigh risks and benefits? If we discover a health risk from a component of manufacturing, what are our alternatives? How do we properly price risk into the marketplace?
It’s important to absorb these facts in order to understand why and how styrene and formaldehyde need to be cut back drastically. If one doesn’t understand these points fully, then one will be susceptible to the Scylla of being persuaded by industry deceptions or the Charybdis of thinking we should ban these chemicals entirely. As the representative of the NRDC pointed out on DemocracyNow, the industry has four dogs with which to counter critics:
My dog doesn’t bite. (the chemical is safe)
OK, my dog does bite, but he didn’t bite you. (only factory workers, not the public is exposed).
OK, my dog did bite you, but he didn’t hurt you. (the public is exposed, but at safe limits)
Well, OK, my dog did bite you and he hurt you, but Hoocoodanode? (we aren’t paying for your suffering)
More below the fold
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Posted in environment, health issues, industry | 1 Comment »
Posted by Charles II on November 24, 2010
An interesting interview on DemocracyNow with Canadian physician Gabor Mate on ADD/ADHD.
The basic thesis (for those readers who have ADD/ADHD or just too much to do) is that many childhood behavioral disorders are a consequence of how society is structured, with–by inference from monkey studies–children receiving insufficient parental interaction to develop a proper level of brain dopamine (this critical insight is missing from the transcript):
AMY GOODMAN: And ADHD means?
DR. GABOR MATÈ : Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. There are about half a million kids in this country receiving heavy duty anti-psychotic medications. Medications such as those are usually given to adult schizophrenics to regulate their hallucinations. But in this case, children are getting it to control their behavior. So what we have is a massive social experiment of the chemical control of kids’ behavior with no idea of the long-term consequences of these heavy duty anti-psychotics on kids.
I know that Canadians statistics just last week showed that within last five years, 43% increase in the rate of dispensing stimulant prescriptions for ADD or ADHD, and most are going to boys. In other words, what we are seeing is an unprecedented burgeoning of the diagnosis…. nearly half of American adolescents now meet some criteria for mental-health disorders. …
AMY GOODMAN: Explain exactly what attention deficit disorder is, and what attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is.
DR. GABOR MATÈ: Specifically ADD [identical to ADHD] is a compound of three categories called, um, a set of symptoms. One has to do with poor impulse control. So, these children have difficulty controlling their impulses. When their brains tells them to do something, from the lower brain centers, there is nothing up here in the cortex- which is where the executive functions are, which is where the functions are that are supposed to tell us what to do and what not to do. Those circuits just don’t work. So there is poor impulse control- they act out, they behave aggressively, they speak out of turn, they say the wrong thing. Adults with ADD with shop compulsively- or impulsively, I should say. And again, behave in an impulsive fashion. So: poor impulse control.
But again, please notice that the impulse control problem is general amongst kids these days…. The second criteria for ADD is physical hyperactivity….And then finally, the third criteria is poor attention skills. Tuning out, not paying attention, mind being somewhere else, absent mindedness, and not being able to focus. …
AMY GOODMAN: … I want to go to the point you just raised about the destruction of American childhood. What do you mean by that?
[Continues below the fold]
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Posted in autism, capitalism as cancer, Fox Noise, health issues, science and medicine | 1 Comment »
Posted by Charles II on November 13, 2010
For those who admire the work of Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health, Sixty Minutes is doing a segment on their work in Haiti this Sunday: here.
Dr. David Walton has been working with “Partners in Health” in Haiti for over a decade and talks to Byron Pitts about the cholera outbreak in the earthquake-stricken country. Pitts reports Haiti this Sunday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Posted in Good Causes, Good Things, Haiti, health issues, international | 3 Comments »
Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 14, 2010
Spocko Tweeted the link to this Palm Beach Post story:
Maggots have been discovered in the eye socket of a 76-year-old man under the care of a Gainesville nursing home with ownership ties to Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, his outraged daughter said.
The Gainesville nursing home is part of a chain that includes Glades Health Care Center in Pahokee, controlled by the family of executive Maxcine Darville of Okeechobee. An investigation by The Palm Beach Post last year found Darville and family members enjoyed salaries above industry norms and spent money on luxury cars and hot tubs while two of three nursing homes in the chain, including the Gainesville home, received the lowest possible one-star rating from state regulators.
A Veterans Administration official confirmed the agency filed a report with the Adult Protective Services unit of the Florida Department of Children and Families.
“Please note that the discussed veteran was not under VA care when this matter occurred at this non-VA nursing home,” said VA spokeswoman Cindy Gaylord in an e-mail. “The veteran was brought to our medical center for care and shortly thereafter, the issue was forwarded to Adult Protective Services, Department of Children/Family Service for investigation.”
Exactly. The problem was only discovered when the man was brought to the VA for treatment.
Posted in health care, health issues, veterans | Tagged: Veterans Administration | 2 Comments »
Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 29, 2009
Unlike what the GOP/Media Complex is telling us, Teddy Kennedy was not going to trade away the public option. He’d already done all the compromising he planned to do, by giving up the push for immediate universal single-payer health care.
David “Kagro X” Waldman suggested that, rather than naming a health-care bill after Teddy, we instead name the one thing he found to be non-negotiable, the one line in the sand he would not cross, for him. Thus, the public option is now “Tedicare”.
Here’s the Tedicare logo, courtesy of the wonderful Rochelle Lesser:
You can order coffee mugs and t-shirts with his image over at CafePress. Proceeds go to support Fire Dog Lake’s fight for the public option.
Posted in health care, health issues, heroes | Comments Off on Tedicare
Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 29, 2009
Now that health-care reform is a possibility, the forces of opposition are gearing up. Anti-reform campaigns with names like Patients United Now, Partnership to Improve Patient Care, and Conservatives for Patients’ Rights are trying to make meaningful reform sound dangerous. Here are five of the worst fears you might hear—and the facts as we see them under the reforms we recommend.
Fear: Health reform will let faceless government bureaucrats come between you and your doctor.
Fact: Private health insurance already comes between you and your doctor. And because each company sets its own rules, it’s hard to imagine a more bureaucratic system. Some insurers decide which doctors you can see, which hospitals you can visit, and what drugs you can take and still be covered. And they may require copious paperwork before approving a treatment you and your doctor want. Health-care reform would standardize claim procedures to cut down on all of that. And it would protect you from other abuses, like being rejected for coverage or paying exorbitant premiums if you get sick.
Fear: Health reform will take away the good coverage from your job.
Fact: If you’re satisfied with your job-based coverage, you would be able to keep it. Employers who don’t offer insurance would either start to provide it or contribute to a fund that helps employees buy it on their own. Some small businesses would be eligible for subsidies to offset the cost. And every policy would offer at least a standard, easy-to-understand, comprehensive set of benefits like those your congressperson now enjoys.
Fear: Comparing the relative effectiveness of treatments and drugs will lead to rationing.
Fact: This issue flared up because Congress recently approved more funding for “comparative-effectiveness research.” The term refers to studies to evaluate which drugs or treatments work best for different medical conditions and different patients. That’s one more piece of information—based on science, not drug-company advertising or sales reps pushing pills—to help your doctor and you decide what’s right. Consumers Union has long argued for better health-care information. For an example of our work, go to ConsumerReportsHealth.org. You’ll find free advice based on comparative-effectiveness research into which drugs work best for some two dozen conditions, ranging from heartburn to heart disease. That’s not rationing. It’s just being smart. And if you suffer from one of those conditions, you may find you could choose a better medicine with fewer side effects and save thousands of dollars a year.
Fear: Health reform means a government takeover of medicine as in England and Canada.
Fact: The system we support would look nothing like those in England and Canada. Both of those countries finance health care out of general tax revenues. England goes even further. The government owns and operates most of the hospitals. We support a specifically American reform that would build on the current employer-based insurance while ensuring affordable comprehensive coverage for those who lack it.
Fear: Health reform will be too costly; it will raise your taxes and could even bankrupt the country.
Fact: The real threat to your finances is the health system the U.S. has now. A recent study concluded that today’s $2.4 trillion annual health-care tab would jump to $4.4 trillion by 2018 if nothing is done to rein in expenses. Consumers Union thinks reform is the best hope for getting costs under control. It would cut down on waste, overhead, and price gouging, and reduce inappropriate care and preventable errors. We fully understand why some people are apprehensive about reform: Any change is scary. But we also see the shameful damage caused by the current system. Americans deserve better than this, and can have it.
There you go.
Posted in health care, health issues | 9 Comments »
Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 27, 2009
It’s called TRICARE, and it works just fine.
[CORRECTION: It’s actually 9.2 million Americans, not 42 million. Post fixed!]
Posted in health care, health issues, HHS, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 23, 2009
Your mission, should you choose to accept it (and you really should) is to whip the Democrats into shape on health care.
Read, then do. It’s the most fun you’ll have that doesn’t involve Crisco!
The beauty of it is that it gets the legislators publicly committed to a public stand — and that makes it harder for industry lobbyists, who depend on us not knowing how our congresscritters will vote:
Legislative vote counts are one of those things that the Web can transform. They’re typically closely held — counting is an insider’s art — and deliberate ambiguity is a key negotiating tactic. Legislators who would prefer to vote no, for instance, might be willing to be the last vote, for a price. So while this has the effect of pushing members toward Obama’s position, it also shines a spotlight on members who might prefer to stay uncommitted, or to wait for details and compromises.
You know what to do.
Posted in health care, health issues | Comments Off on Jane Hamsher Has A Job For You