May 6, 2014 at 3:01 pm #42414
note: if you are planning to join my 150 Club, it is time to start looking at the mostly likely cause of your early death. The CDC can help you out with their statistics. – Michael
By Dennis Thompson
FRIDAY, May 2, 2014 (HealthDay News) People in the southeastern United States have a much greater risk of dying early from any of the nations five leading causes of death, federal health officials reported Thursday.
Those living in eight southern states Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee endure 28 percent to 33 percent of all potentially preventable deaths from heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke and unintentional injury, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.
This data is yet another demonstration that when it comes to health in this country, your longevity and health are more determined by your ZIP code than they are by your genetic code, CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said during a news conference.
The top five causes of death accounted for nearly two-thirds of all U.S. deaths in 2010, and nearly 900,000 Americans die prematurely every year from these causes, the CDC said.
Death rates for each cause of death vary greatly from state to state. So CDC researchers compared all states against the states with the lowest rates of death to estimate how many deaths could be prevented if those low rates were a national trend.
According to the CDC, it should be possible on a national basis to prevent:
34 percent of premature deaths from heart disease, prolonging about 92,000 lives.
21 percent of premature cancer deaths, prolonging about 84,500 lives.
39 percent of premature deaths from chronic lower respiratory diseases, prolonging about 29,000 lives.
33 percent of premature stroke deaths, prolonging about 17,000 lives.
39 percent of premature deaths from unintentional injuries, prolonging about 37,000 lives.
These numbers are particularly important for the southeastern states, which led the nation with the highest numbers and rates of preventable deaths in all five top causes of death.
The southeastern states have a combination of unhealthy trends that increases the overall risk of premature death, including higher smoking rates, greater obesity rates, lower rates of physical activity and less blood pressure control, Frieden said.
The Southeast has sometimes been referred to as the Stroke Belt. This report confirms that, he said.
This is the first time that the CDC has attempted to estimate the number of preventable deaths from leading causes of death in the United States, he said.
For each of the top causes of death, there are risk factors that people can reduce by changing their lifestyle or addressing chronic health issues, the CDC said.
Modifiable risk factors include:
Heart disease: tobacco use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, poor diet, overweight and lack of physical activity.
Cancer: tobacco use, poor diet, lack of physical activity, overweight, sun exposure, alcohol, and exposure to certain chemicals and other substances.
Chronic respiratory disease: tobacco smoke, second-hand smoke exposure, other indoor air pollutants, outdoor air pollutants and allergens.
Stroke: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, overweight, tobacco and alcohol use, and lack of physical activity.
Unintentional injury: lack of seatbelt use, lack of motorcycle helmet use, unsafe consumer products, drug and alcohol use, and unsafe home and community environments.May 8, 2014 at 1:13 pm #42415
Blood of world’s oldest woman hints at limits of life
23 April 2014 by Andy Coghlan
Death is the one certainty in life a pioneering analysis of blood from one of the world’s oldest and healthiest women has given clues to why it happens.
Born in 1890, Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper was at one point the oldest woman in the world. She was also remarkable for her health, with crystal-clear cognition until she was close to death, and a blood circulatory system free of disease. When she died in 2005, she bequeathed her body to science, with the full support of her living relatives that any outcomes of scientific analysis as well as her name be made public.
Researchers have now examined her blood and other tissues to see how they were affected by age.
What they found suggests, as we could perhaps expect, that our lifespan might ultimately be limited by the capacity for stem cells to keep replenishing tissues day in day out. Once the stem cells reach a state of exhaustion that imposes a limit on their own lifespan, they themselves gradually die out and steadily diminish the body’s capacity to keep regenerating vital tissues and cells, such as blood.
Two little cells
In van Andel-Schipper’s case, it seemed that in the twilight of her life, about two-thirds of the white blood cells remaining in her body at death originated from just two stem cells, implying that most or all of the blood stem cells she started life with had already burned out and died.
“Is there a limit to the number of stem cell divisions, and does that imply that there’s a limit to human life?” asks Henne Holstege of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, who headed the research team. “Or can you get round that by replenishment with cells saved from earlier in your life?” she says.
The other evidence for the stem cell fatigue came from observations that van Andel-Schipper’s white blood cells had drastically worn-down telomeres the protective tips on chromosomes that burn down like wicks each time a cell divides. On average, the telomeres on the white blood cells were 17 times shorter than those on brain cells, which hardly replicate at all throughout life.
The team could establish the number of white blood cell-generating stem cells by studying the pattern of mutations found within the blood cells. The pattern was so similar in all cells that the researchers could conclude that they all came from one of two closely related “mother” stem cells.
Point of exhaustion
“It’s estimated that we’re born with around 20,000 blood stem cells, and at any one time, around 1000 are simultaneously active to replenish blood,” says Holstege. During life, the number of active stem cells shrinks, she says, and their telomeres shorten to the point at which they die a point called stem-cell exhaustion.
Holstege says the other remarkable finding was that the mutations within the blood cells were harmless all resulted from mistaken replication of DNA during van Andel-Schipper’s life as the “mother” blood stem cells multiplied to provide clones from which blood was repeatedly replenished.
She says this is the first time patterns of lifetime “somatic” mutations have been studied in such an old and such a healthy person. The absence of mutations posing dangers of disease and cancer suggest that van Andel-Schipper had a superior system for repairing or aborting cells with dangerous mutations.
Opportunity in mutation
The study is novel because it is the first to investigate the accumulation of somatic mutations within the tissues of an old individual, says Chris Tyler-Smith of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK. “This contrasts to the germ-line mutations [present at birth] measured in previous studies,” he says.
“When there is mutation, there’s an opportunity for selection and some somatic mutations lead to cancer,” says Tyler-Smith. “Now we see the range of somatic mutations in normal, non-cancerous tissues like blood, so we can start to think about the health consequences.”
Tantalisingly, Holstege says the results raise the possibility of rejuvenating ageing bodies with injections of stem cells saved from birth or early life. These stem cells would be substantially free of mutations and have full-length telomeres. “If I took a sample now and gave it back to myself when I’m older, I would have long telomeres again although it might only be possible with blood, not other tissues,” she says.
Next, Holstege hopes to hunt for clues to genes that protect against Alzheimer’s disease by comparing van Andel-Schipper’s genome to that of people who succumb abnormally early to the disease.
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