Sunday, August 23, 2009

Monkeys, Music, & Health Reform

Apologies for the absenteeism. Summer has been filled with passing my PhD Comps (hooray), traveling (e.g. Costa Rica & Panama), and working at AHRQ. No excuses really, but I give them nonetheless...

Here are some of my favorite recent stories from the Summer of 2009:

Eat Less and Live Longer. A team at the University of Wisconsin found that caloric restriction in monkeys was associated with reduced diabetes, cancer, and heart and brain disease. How did they do it? Reduce caloric restriction by 30%, and add a vitamin and mineral supplement to ensure adequate nutrition.

Internet Therapy. A recent study published in the Lancet says internet-based psychotherapy for depression works. Specifically, the used cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) in real time via the web. Will insurers pay for this type of therapy? Although recent trends say a push in therapy trends for depression is heavy on pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy may be more effective or less costly for those receiving treatment.

Pleasure from Music? Not for Depressed. It appears that the lack of interest and pleasure in depressed individuals is actually visible in neural brain activity. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows that individuals with depression have less neural activity than non-depressed, even for simple activities like listening to music.

US Life Expectancy at All-Time High. The CDC's Center for Health Statistics revealed new mortality stats in their National Vital Stat Report. The United States life expectancy is now 78, all all-time national high (Japan, Australia, Italy, Canada all still live longer than us). Women are still living longer (life expec is 80.4 yrs) than mean (75.3 years), but the gap is narrowing. Deaths due to the 8/15 leading causes of death have dropped (e.g. flu, heart disease, stroke, diabetes), but raised for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and liver disease. Not to play devil's advocate to public health and prevention of disease (i.e. promotion of longer lives), but does prevention actually cost us more money in the long run?

Health Reform. Will it occur this year? Questions? Check the facts and falsities behind the bills and debates here.