GOP or Dems in charge — Americans still get less healthcare, shorter lifespan, for our dollar$

❝ “The Republican Party will soon be known as the party of health care—you watch,” President Donald Trump declared in March. “We’re coming up with plans.” Alas, like many of Mr Trump’s claims, this one proved untrue…

Republican reluctance to embrace health care, despite the president’s best efforts, is understandable. On the one hand, America’s health-care system is woefully dysfunctional: the country spends about twice as much on health care as other rich countries but has the highest infant-mortality rate and the lowest life expectancy (see chart). Some 30m people, including 6m non-citizens, remain uninsured. And yet, though costs remain a major concern—out-of-pocket spending on insurance continues to rise—Americans say they are generally satisfied with their own health care. Eight in ten rate the quality of their care as “good” or “excellent”. Few are in favour of dramatic reform.

Yes, Americans are as ignorant about disposition of their tax dollars as they are about, say, healthful living in general. I doubt that most have any idea about how US healthcare stacks up against our peers. Poisonally, both topics are important to me. They will count towards how I vote in 2020.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Turns out deadly dairy fats is another myth

❝ …Difficult as it may be for Millennials to imagine, the average American in the 1970s drank about 30 gallons of milk a year. That’s now down to 18 gallons, according to the Department of Agriculture. And just as it appears that the long arc of American beverage consumption could bend fully away from the udder, new evidence is making it more apparent that the perceived health risks of dairy fats (which are mostly saturated) are less clear than many previously believed.

❝ A new study this week in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is relevant to an ongoing vindication process for saturated fats, which turned many people away from dairy products such as whole milk, cheese, and butter in the 1980s and ’90s. An analysis of 2,907 adults found that people with higher and lower levels of dairy fats in their blood had the same rate of death during a 22-year period.

The implication is that it didn’t matter if people drank whole or skim or 2-percent milk, ate butter versus margarine, etc. The researchers concluded that dairy-fat consumption later in life “does not significantly influence total mortality.”

You can develop a sensitivity to dairy fats. Especially as you get to be a geezer. Like some allergic reactions, indigestion can be bothersome. There are intermediating OTC pills available. In my own case, I just stick to low-fat cheese, low and non-fat milk products…mostly…though I seem to have no problems with my new favorite cultured butter from Brittany by way of Trader Joe’s.

I don’t feel especially threatened. You don’t die from burps or farts. And I passed what was my projected end-of-shelf-life when I retired – several years ago.

Spokesman for Heart Attack Grill – dies of heart attack

52-year-old John Alleman suffered a heart attack on the street outside the restaurant. The unofficial spokesman of the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas has died from a heart attack he suffered last week Monday.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, John Alleman, 52, suffered a heart attack on the street outside of the restaurant last week and was taken off of life support on Monday.

The owner of the restaurant, “Doctor” Jon Basso said in an interview with the Sun that Alleman “lived ate and breathed the Heart Attack Grill” and “lived a very full life.”

Alleman, a local security guard, was a famous regular at the restaurant who ate there almost every day. He was nicknamed “Patient John” and was featured in a picture on the menu…

According to Yahoo! News, this is the second time one of the restaurant’s unofficial spokesmen has died in two years.

The restaurant is known for it’s overly-fattening menu, one that features a “quadruple bypass burger” that pushes 10,000 calories. Last year, a man suffered an apparent heart attack in the restaurant while eating the restaurant’s “triple bypass burger.”

The saying goes, “you are what you eat”. That apparently includes dumb – on the way to being dead.

Better health behavior could save Medicare $1.1 trillion by 2050

Forty years ago, Americans could expect to live slightly longer than Europeans. This has since reversed: in spite of similar levels of economic development, Americans now live about a year-and-a-half less, on average, than their Western European counterparts, and also less than people in most other developed nations. How did Americans fall behind?

A study in the July 2011 issue of Social Science and Medicine is the first to calculate the fiscal consequences of the growing life expectancy gap over the next few decades. The study also pinpoints the crucial age at which U.S. life expectancy starts to deteriorate.

Specifically, researchers from the University of Southern California and colleagues at RAND Corp. and Harvard School of Public Health find that health in middle-age – around the age of 50 – is overwhelmingly the main contributor to disparities in life expectancy between Americans and Europeans.

In the first half of the last century, average life expectancy increased by saving more babies, explains author Dana Goldman…”But now it is reduction in mortality among the elderly, rather than the young, that propels increases in life expectancy…”

Accounting for levels of socioeconomic diversity in the United States and predicted future demographic estimates, the researchers found much of the life expectancy gap would disappear if the United States lowered prevalence of middle-aged obesity and obesity-related chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension to European levels…

Released in January 2011, Crimmins’ research looked at life expectancy over the last 25 years and found that smoking – and to a lesser extent obesity – were the two major reasons why U.S. life expectancy has fallen short of other high-income nations in the past.

Improving American health during middle age in the future to increase life expectancy would increase later-life pension benefits. But this expenditure would be offset by a significant decrease in health care costs – at least $17,791 per person, the researchers estimate.

Though the transition to better health initially raises expenditures, the researchers estimate that by 2050 health care savings from gradual middle-age health improvements could total more than $1.1 trillion…

Learning about good nutrition, exercise, changing your lifestyle is going to do you more good and cost society less than passing more legislation.

The follow-on question, of course, is will our bureaucrats ever have enough confidence to let go of the nanny state? Will we ever get it together enough to justify less “management”?

Tree-dwelling mammals rise to the heights of longevity

The squirrels littering your lawn with acorns as they bound overhead will live to plague your yard longer than the ones that aerate it with their burrows, according to a University of Illinois study.

Scientists know from previous studies that flying birds and bats live longer than earthbound animals of the same size. Milena Shattuck and Scott Williams, doctoral candidates in anthropology, decided to take a closer look at the relationship between habitat and lifespan in mammals, comparing terrestrial and treetop life. They published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The two hypothesized that, like flight, treetop or arboreal dwelling reduces a species’ extrinsic mortality – death from predation, disease and environmental hazards; that is, causes other than age.

“One of the predictions of the evolutionary theory of aging is that if you can reduce sources of extrinsic mortality, you’ll end up exposing some of the late-acting mutations to natural selection, and therefore evolve longer lifespans,” Williams said.

Williams and Shattuck found that for arboreality, the theory holds. Mammals who spend the majority of their time up a tree enjoy longevity over those who scurry along the ground. The pattern holds consistent both on the large scale among all mammals, and also in specific classes the pair studied, such as tree squirrels versus ground squirrels…

This arboreal ancestry may partially explain why humans have such a long lifespan relative to other mammals. As primates descended from the trees, they had to develop new strategies for survival on the ground. Terrestrial primates, including humans, tend to be larger and more social, providing some security from predators and environmental obstacles.

We learned to make better weapons.

Half of babies now being born in wealthy lands – will live to 100

More than half of babies now born in the UK and other wealthy nations will live to 100 years, researchers say. The study, published in The Lancet journal, also says the extra years are spent with less serious disability.

Data from more than 30 developed countries shows that since 1950 the probability of surviving past 80 years of age has doubled for both sexes…

Professor Kaare Christensensaid: “The linear increase in record life expectancy for more than 165 years does not suggest a looming limit to human lifespan.

In 1950 the probability of surviving for between 80 and 90 years of age was, on average, 15 to 16% for women and 12% for men.

In 2002, these figures had risen to 37% for women and 25% for men.

The study points out that until the 1920s, improvements in infant and childhood survival contributed most to the increase in life expectancies. Since then the increases have been fuelled by progress in the survival of the elderly, which has been particularly evident since the 1970s.

The researchers said that man could now be regarded as having four stages of life – child, adult, young old age and old old age.

Way cool. I’m working my way towards old old age.

RTFA. Information, ideas, there are even countries which consider questions about this to be reasonable and thoughtful.

Compound extends lifespan of old test mice 28 to 38 percent


Does it make your nose bigger, too?

The giant monoliths of Easter Island are worn, but they have endured for centuries. New research suggests that a compound first discovered in the soil of the South Pacific island might help us stand the test of time, too.

On July 8, the journal Nature…reported that the Easter Island compound – called “rapamycin” after the island’s Polynesian name, Rapa Nui – extended the expected lifespan of middle-aged mice by 28 percent to 38 percent. In human terms, this would be greater than the predicted increase in extra years of life if cancer and heart disease were both cured and prevented.

The rapamycin was given to the mice at an age equivalent to 60 years old in humans

Discovered in the 1970s, rapamycin was first noted for its anti-fungal properties and later was used to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients. It also is used in stents, which are implanted in patients during angioplasty to keep coronary arteries open. It is in clinical trials for the treatment of cancer…

“We believe this is the first convincing evidence that the aging process can be slowed and lifespan can be extended by a drug therapy starting at an advanced age,” said Randy Strong, Ph.D., who directs the NIA-funded Aging Interventions Testing Center in San Antonio.

“In addition,” Dr. Z. Dave Sharp said, “the findings have immediate implications for preventive medicine and human health, in that rapamycin is already in clinical usage…”

The original goal was to begin feeding the mice at 4 months of age, but because of a delay caused by developing the new formulation, the mice were not started until they were 20 months old – the equivalent of 60 years of age in humans. The teams decided to try the rapamycin intervention anyway.

“I did not think that it would work because the mice were too old when the treatment was started,” Dr. Richardson said. “Most reports indicate that calorie restriction doesn’t work when implemented in old animals. The fact that rapamycin increases lifespan in relatively old mice was totally unexpected.”

Added Dr. Strong: “This study has clearly identified a potential therapeutic target for the development of drugs aimed at preventing age-related diseases and extending healthy lifespan. If rapamycin, or drugs like rapamycin, works as envisioned, the potential reduction in overall health cost for the U.S. and the world will be enormous.”

The looneybirds will be offering capsules stuffed with Easter Island dirt within the month. As seen on TV.