A new review and analysis of past research is saying that running may be the single most effective exercise to increase life expectancy. According to the study, runners tended to live about three more years than non-runners, regardless of other factors such as weight, lifestyle, or running style. The study mentioned here is featured in this New York Times article and is compared to past studies that have taken place. One of the most interesting calculations done by researchers in this new study found that “hour for hour running statistically returns more time to people’s lives than it consumes.” Check out the article for more!
Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals is one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of the highly addictive painkiller oxycodone. In 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration targeted Mallinckrodt in an effort to combat the rising opioid epidemic in what would end up being the largest prescription-drug case ever pursued by the DEA. Despite allegations of violating laws that are meant to prevent legal narcotics entering the black market, the company ultimately reached a “tentative” settlement with prosecutors. This is an example, from this Washington Post article, which shows the difficulty the government has in holding drug manufacturers responsible for the repercussions of the drugs they produce.
Check out the article mentioned above to read more details about what happened with Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and the importance of holding manufacturers accountable. As always, we love to hear your thoughts!
The federal government will spend an estimated $192 billion on disability payments this year, which is more than what will be spent on food stamps, welfare, housing subsidies, and unemployment combined. The significant rise of the number of people on disability over the last two decades has further highlighted the gap between urban and rural America. Rural America experienced the most rapid increase in disability rates over the last decade, according to an analysis discussed in this Washington Post article.
“What drives people to [apply for] disability is, in many cases, the repeated loss of work and inability to find new employment,” said David Autor, an economist with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has studied rising disability rates. “Many people who are applying would say, ‘Look, I would like to work, but no one would employ me.’ ”
Read the article here and share your thoughts with us in the comments section.
An article in Fortune cited that 2016 may be remembered as the year that the image of sugar officially turned. “Sugar is the new tobacco” in the minds of the public, says David Turner, a global food and drink analyst. Despite this, sugar is still being excessively consumed by Americans, and Big Food is running into the problem that their industry is built on sugar “making it a more than $100 billon market.” So what now? The quest to find low-calorie sweeteners has ultimately failed to find or create anything as good as real sugar. Stevia recently looked to be the answer, but it’s still not quite the same and thus hasn’t taken hold of the market. There is some very interesting science happening in order to get to the bottom of how we can find a or make a sugar alternative that consumers will actually like as much as sugar, but that won’t cause the health problems the nation continues to face.
The obvious solution seems to be that Americans just need to eat less sugar. The more you move away from sugar, the less expectation you will have for something to be sweet. Like any change on a large scale, however, this is not as simple a solution as it seems. Read the article and let us know your thoughts!
In an eye-opening New York Times Magazine article, the terrifying reality of indecipherable medical bills is discussed, along with what happens if you are caught off guard by a life threatening medical emergency and do not have insurance. We are introduced to Wanda Wickizer, a generally healthy 51-year-old woman who experienced a medical emergency that she thankfully recovered from, but her survival came at a cost.
“In other countries, when patients recover from a terrifying brain bleed — or, for that matter, when they battle cancer, or heal from a serious accident, or face down any other life-threatening health condition — they are allowed to spend their days focusing on getting better. Only in America do medical treatment and recovery coexist with a peculiar national dread: the struggle to figure out from the mounting pile of bills what portion of the fantastical charges you actually must pay. It is the sickness that eventually afflicts most every American.” — New York Times Magazine
Medical interventions come with a complex system of billing and coding. These bills sometimes become indecipherable when the rationale for why the charges add up the way that they do is difficult to follow. The article explores the history of the disease classification system now called the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Injuries and Causes of Death (ICD), and how that system and its codes became the basis for our current system. This gets quite complex. Wanda Wickizer’s story is shared as a firsthand account of how much manipulated hospital bills can affect someone’s life and the extent of what may need to be done. Please share your thoughts with us at MCN on this or other blog posts.
An expensive new drug that radically lowers cholesterol levels has proven to also significantly reduce the chances of a heart attack or stroke in high risk patients. This is according to the results of a study recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Amgen, the maker of the drug, Repatha, paid for the nearly $1 billion study and hoped to legitimize their expectation that the drug would do more than just lower the levels of LDL cholesterol – and it was proven. According to this New York Times article, Dr. Eugene Braunwald, a cardiologist at Harvard Medical School, believes that this new class of drugs have the potential to “improve the health and longevity of millions of Americans with heart disease.” Considering heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans, this is very good news. However, the challenge here is cost. These new drugs have a list price of $14,523 a year. Check out the article to learn more about this financial barrier and the reluctance of insurance companies to pay for this class of drugs before the new data was released.
It turns out that despite numerous studies done over many decades, alcohol is a topic that still remains controversial in terms of weight loss or gain. This article, published in The New York Times, discusses a 2015 review that examined cross-sectional studies to thoroughly assess the science behind the true relationship between drinking and weight management. It also looks at prospective studies, which are considered more rigorous. The results of prospective studies have been varied and do not paint a clear picture of the relationship between alcohol and weight, whereas the cross-sectional studies found something different.
Check out the article to learn more and let us know what you think of the different studies and conclusions presented.
Jet lag is common and, for anyone who has experienced it, often miserable. A fascinating article in The New York Times this month also examines how jet lag can sometimes make people mentally ill. A disruption in your circadian rhythm can cause changes in mood, depression and mania – but, the right amount of sleep and sunlight at the right time can make all the difference. The article states that most people have a natural cycle that is longer than our 24-hour solar day. This means that without the external cues of sunlight, we can quickly get out of sync. Our internal clocks have evolved to be tied to the solar day, so without the daylight cycle, our circadian rhythm gets easily thrown off.
Check out the article for more on this fascinating topic! Even pick up some pointers on the fix for jet lag like: “Travel east and you’ll need morning light and evening melatonin; go west and you’ll need evening light and morning melatonin.” As always, we love to read your comments.
The Charlotte Observer published an article last month discussing why in some cases doctors are refusing to operate on patients who smoke. In recent years, research has shown that smoking inhibits the healing of wounds because it decreases blood flow. Studies have shown that smokers who have joint replacements have an 80 percent higher chance of needing repeat surgery than non-smokers. Surgeons are asking patients to quit smoking before performing these surgeries, and if they refuse to quit then surgeons are refusing to perform the operation. Overall, operating on smokers in some cases puts the situation at high risk with the potential that there may be expensive complications from the surgery which could “hurt the bottom line for physicians.” According to the article, the refusal to operate until a patient is able to quit smoking is similar to refusing to operate on a patient who is overweight or has diabetes until they get those particular issues sorted out through weight loss or glucose control.
Last month, the American College of Physicians published updated guidelines regarding making recommendations for treatment of lower back pain. The guidelines are officially saying that doctors should recommend to patients with back pain that they try alternative therapies such as exercise, acupuncture, massage therapy, or yoga. These guidelines also address prescribing opioid painkillers for relief of back pain saying it should be avoided, as should steroid injections, which are not helpful. These new recommendations come as the opioid epidemic in the United States rages on.
An article on the topic, published in The New York Times, asks a loaded question, “Will the new guidelines be adopted?” There is still the added problem of the incentives encouraging doctors to prescribe medication and urging patients to take it. Dr. James Weinstein, a back pain specialist and chief executive of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System, asserts that pills are not going to make people better. He says, “What we need to do is to stop medicalizing symptoms. I know your back hurts, but go run, be active, instead of taking a pill.”