Friday, October 11, 2013

Delayed aging is a better research investment than that into cancer or heart disease

At some point, plastic surgery, restoring the look of youth, may play a role for those who live longer. For now, this story about research into actually slowing aging is interesting.

Slowing aging would have no initial health returns, but it would have significant benefits over the long term. With even modest gains in our understanding of slowing aging, an additional 5 percent of adults over the age of 65 would be healthy rather than disabled every year from 2030 to 2060

The same study showed lower returns from continuing the current research that seeks to treat fatal diseases as they occur, versus understanding aging, which is the cause of frailty and disability.

A reduction in the incidence of cancer by 25 percent in the next few decades would improve the health of the population only slightly versus doing nothing at all, according to the analysis. The same would be true for the leading cause of death worldwide, heart disease. It appears the number of older adults alive but disabled in 2060 would be the same regardless of continuing to try to find cures for heart disease and cancer as separate diseases. Earlier research suggested that curing cancer completely would increase life expectancy by only about three years.

“Even a marginal success in slowing aging is going to have a huge impact on health and quality of life. This is a fundamentally new approach to public health that would attack the underlying risk factors for all fatal and disabling diseases,” said corresponding author S. Jay Olshansky of the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois-Chicago. “We need to begin the research now. We don’t know which mechanisms are going to work to actually delay aging, and there are probably a variety of ways this could be accomplished, but we need to decide now that this is worth pursuing.”
The study showed that major advances in the treatment of cancer or heart disease, would lead to a 51-year-old living about one more year. A small improvement in slowing down aging could double this to two additional years; years that would be much more likely to be in relatively good health. 

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Penicillin apparently won't do it anymore

I remember not too long ago if someone was developing early signs of a cold he or she would say, "I’m gonna go to the doctor today and get a shot of penicillin."  For many, it worked. But those days should be over.  

A recent report from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta said there are over 2,000,000 infections every year from “super” bugs or drug resistant bacteria.  

These infections kill over 23,000 people a year!  So we need to be very cautious and judicious in our use of antibiotics.  Perhaps a simple aspirin and hydration would be better.

If you have a question about infections, please feel free to call my office or visit my website to send me a message via my "Ask the Doctor" form.

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