August 08, 2007
5 Measures To Reduce Mortality Rates?
An organization called Partnership for Prevention claims 5 preventive measures could save over 100,000 lives per year
- 45,000 additional lives would be saved each year if we increased to 90 percent the portion of adults who take aspirin daily to prevent heart disease. Today, fewer than half of American adults take aspirin preventively.
- 42,000 additional lives would be saved each year if we increased to 90 percent the portion of smokers who are advised by a health professional to quit and are offered medication or other assistance. Today, only 28 percent of smokers receive such services.
- 14,000 additional lives would be saved each year if we increased to 90 percent the portion of adults age 50 and older who are up to date with any recommended screening for colorectal cancer. Today, fewer than 50 percent of adults are up to date with screening.
- 12,000 additional lives would be saved each year if we increased to 90 percent the portion of adults age 50 and older immunized against flu annually. Today, 37 percent of adults have had an annual flu vaccination.
- 3,700 additional lives would be saved each year if we increased to 90 percent the portion of women age 40 and older who have been screened for breast cancer in the past 2 years. Today, 67 percent of women have been screened in the past 2 years.
I'm skeptical of the wisdom behind the first claim about aspirin use. The evidence on aspirin use for low risk patients is ambiguous. Though prolonged aspirin use might lower the risk of cancer. Also, I'm surprised to see the claim about flu vaccines. Influenza vaccination might not reduce mortality in the elderly. (more here) Though if everyone got vaccinated then the elderly would face less risk of getting exposed to an infected person. The best vaccination strategy depends on the transmissibility of each strain.
Screening for cancer is probably a net benefit. Cancers caught and removed sooner are cancers less likely to have metastatized before removal. So their cancer recommendations (at least for colonoscopy) are probably at least approximately correct. What would really benefit us: implantable cancer detector devices. Detect cancer every day with embedded sensors that could use radio waves to report to an external computer whether a cancer has been detected.
For your heart my advice is to improve your diet and get more exercise. Exercise and better diet are more assured methods of reducing heart disease risk. Eat like an ape man.
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