The Death Rate Is Rising for Middle-Aged Whites – By BETSY MCKAY Nov. 2, 2015 4:24 p.m. ET


Addiction and mental-health issues largely drive a reversal of decades of longevity gains

A syringe along West Main Street in downtown Austin, Ind., earlier this year. A new analysis of government data shows white middle-aged Americans are dying at an increasing rate, largely driven by suicides, alcohol and drug overdoses.

A syringe along West Main Street in downtown Austin, Ind., earlier this year. A new analysis of government data shows white middle-aged Americans are dying at an increasing rate, largely driven by suicides, alcohol and drug overdoses. Photo: News and Tribune/Associated Press

White middle-aged Americans are dying at an increasing rate, a new analysis of government data shows, a startling turnaround suggesting a rising toll of addiction and mental-health issues is reversing decades of gains in longevity.

Suicides, alcohol and drug overdoses, and death from chronic liver diseases largely drove the reversal, which occurred between 1999 and 2013, according to the analysispublished Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The turnaround occurred primarily among men and women between the ages of 45 and 54 with no more than a high-school education, but rates of those causes of death rose for wealthier middle-aged whites as well as whites in other age groups, according to the study.

By contrast, death rates declined for blacks and Hispanics in that age group over the same period, the study found.

No other rich country has experienced a similar turnaround in mortality rates, said the authors, Anne Case and Angus Deaton, who are economics professors at Princeton University. Mr. Deaton won the Nobel Prize in economics this year for work that has involved improving the rigor of data on consumption, poverty, health and other measures that underpin public policy.

The findings reveal an under-examined public health crisis and illustrate tragic ways in which many people are responding to physical and mental pain, adversity and changing life situations, the researchers say. The behaviors they have turned to—drinking, drugs and suicide—are so widespread that they have offset declines in other major causes of death in midlife, such as lung cancer, according to the study.

“What we see here is a group that’s in quite a lot of distress,” said Ms. Case, an expert in development and health economics.

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http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-death-rate-is-rising-for-middle-aged-whites-1446499495

 

The latest advance in 3D printing: replacement teeth – Dominic Basulto for the Washington Post Saturday 31 October 2015 07.00 EDT


Bacteria-fighting plastic could be the future of dentistry

3D-printed teeth

This dental replica was made using a 3D printer. Researchers are now working on ways to make 3D-printed teeth resistant to bacteria. Photograph: Stratasys

The latest 3D printing innovation could change the way you think about your visit to the dentist. That’s because Dutch researchers at the University of Groningen are working on the creation of a 3D-printed tooth made of an antimicrobial plastic that kills the bacteria responsible for tooth decay on contact.

Imagine teeth that remain white and pristine over time, without all the accumulation of bacteria that cause dental problems. While the thought of having a 3D-printed tooth inside your mouth might not sound so great, is it really any worse than dealing with the constant toothache from a decaying tooth?

For the Dutch researchers, the key step in developing the bacteria-fighting tooth was being able to find the right material to put inside the 3D printer. In this case, the researchers embedded antimicrobial quaternary ammonium salts inside existing dental resin polymers. Once this mix is put into a 3D printer, it can be hardened with ultraviolet light and used to print out 3D replacement teeth.

To test the bacteria-fighting tooth in a lab environment, the researchers coated the material with human saliva and exposed it to the bacterium that causes tooth decay. The anti-bacterial tooth killed more than 99% of all bacteria and showed no signs of being harmful to human cells.

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http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/oct/31/3d-printing-plastic-replacement-teeth

 

Why is breast cancer becoming deadlier for black women? – Molly Redden Saturday 31 October 2015 08.00 EDT


The American Cancer Society’s report on rising rates among black women have researchers searching for answers in obesity, medical care and the environment

breast cancer mammogram

Why is breast cancer so much deadlier in black women than in white women? On the heels of an alarming new report that black women have caught up with their white counterparts in breast cancer rates, the question has taken on a fresh urgency.

But the answer is elusive.

The report, which the American Cancer Society released on Thursday, is a warning that breast cancer will cause an increasing loss of life for black women, who are already hit hardest by the disease. Black women are less likely to die of breast cancer today than they were 25 years ago. But a vast racial disparity in mortality rates has continued to widen: in 2012, black women were 42% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.

Researchers have known for decades that breast cancer takes a deadlier toll on black women. “Hundreds of studies have looked at the differences in incidence and mortality rates between black women and white women,” said Linda Blount, CEO of the non-profit Black Women’s Health Imperative. “Hundreds. We can tell you it exists – the ‘what’. What we don’t know is the ‘why’.”

Thursday’s report points to several possible explanations for why the incidence of breast cancer is rising in black women. (In white women, the rate has remained flat for a decade.) Obesity is on the rise in black women, and black women are having fewer children, later in life. Susan Brown, who directs health education programs for the Susan G Komen breast cancer foundation, added that black women breastfeed at comparatively low rates. All are risk factors associated with breast cancer.

Other researchers have pointed to disparities in comprehensive access to competent medical care to explain both the incidence rate and mortality rate. A 2014 analysis of morbidity rates in the country’s 50 largest cities found that black women in Los Angeles were 70% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. In New York, that number was 19%, leading researchers to believe that the city’s superior hospital and transportation system could be factors.

Article continues:

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/oct/31/breast-cancer-black-women-american-cancer-society-report

 

How the Deceptive Videos Attacking Planned Parenthood Are Hindering Cures for Deadly Diseases – —By Becca Andrews | Mon Oct. 26, 2015 6:00 AM EDT


People with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other afflictions will pay a price, scientists say.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at Oct 27, 2015 1.54

Since July, an anti-abortion group’s deceptively edited videos targeting Planned Parenthood for allegedly profiting off sales of fetal tissue appear to have prompted at least four arson attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics. And even though the allegations were bogus, the vilification of the women’s health organization has done additional damage: Violent threats and a political chill in the wake of the videos have begun to undermine potentially life-saving research on diseases including diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Fetal-tissue donation programs essential to such research have been shut down, supplies of the tissue to labs have dwindled, and legislation is brewing in multiple states that could hinder cutting-edge scientific studies.

“It’s anti-progress,” says Gail Robertson, a veteran researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who uses cell lines derived from fetal tissue to study heart disease, including sudden cardiac death, the largest cause of natural death in the United States. “We’re in a fight for the future of cures to the diseases that will affect us all.”

Since the 1990s, Robertson and her colleagues have developed pharmaceutical technology using cells from embryonic tissue known as the HEK line—research credited with saving lives from fatal heart disease. “If lawmakers were to say, ‘You can’t use HEK cells because they come from fetal tissue,’ it would be impossible to continue my work in my lab,” Robertson says. “It’s something we use every single day.”

“The CEO of StemExpress should be hung by the neck using piano wire and propped up on the lawn in front of the building,” one person threatened.

According to Theresa Naluai-Cecchini, a scientist at Birth Defects Research Lab at the University of Washington in Seattle, the political controversy has hurt the work at her lab, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health and also supplies other scientific researchers with fetal tissue. “We are in the last year of funding, and if we are unable to supply tissue to the research community we would have to close,” she says. “We may be able to obtain an extension, but the climate in DC does not look favorable in an election cycle.”

Naluai-Cecchini told the Seattle Times that over the past year her lab has distributed 1,109 tissue samples to more than 60 researchers elsewhere who are working on solutions for spinal cord injuries, eye disease, cancer, and HIV. That supply line relies on about two to three samples per day coming into Birth Defects Research Lab, which has long been the lab’s norm. But over the past month, Naluai-Cecchini told Mother Jones, only five specimens in total have come in. If that trend continues, she says, “promising research would stop until a commercial alternative is found. The cost of research would increase dramatically, and new findings would take considerably longer.”

 

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http://www.motherjones.com