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Why youre more likely to die of cancer in Europe than America

Europeans are way, way more likely to die of cancer than Americans.

Its a fact that many people fin..

Europeans are way, way more likely to die of cancer than Americans.

Its a fact that many people find surprising. Given all the (true) stories we hear about the ranks of uninsured Americans facing bankruptcy when they get sick, and reams of stats about higher health care costs for worse results than other rich countries, how can it be possibly true? And yet, in 2018, there were an estimated 280 deaths per 100,000 in Europe, compared to 189 per 100,000 in the United States, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

The mortality gap between the U.S. and Europe is one of the central questions weve been trying to answer in the POLITICO Global Policy Lab: Decoding Cancer, our exploration of this growing public health crisis.

One of the difficulties: People had trouble believing the numbers. “The difference is probably based on some statistical trick,” one expert at a policy brainstorming session in Rome declared.

To some extent, the expert is right. Depending on which statistic you use, the gap can appear less dramatic.

But there are some real ways the U.S.s health system makes up for its many flaws. And, when it comes to cancer, that translates into saved lives.

Here are four reasons why Americans are less likely than Europeans to die of cancer.

Age

The first reason is somewhat of a statistical trick. Cancer is a disease of the elderly. An estimated 60 percent of cancer cases are diagnosed in people over 65; that age group accounts for 70 percent of cancer deaths. Put another way, the incidence of cancer in people above 65 is 11 times higher than in those below that age. Europes elderly population is considerably bigger as a proportion of the population: About 19 percent of the EU population is over 65, compared to around 15 percent in the U.S. Thats the top explanation for why the so-called crude mortality rate is so much lower in the U.S.

But it doesnt tell the whole story. Even using a process called age standardization, where you imagine every country has the same distribution of ages, the mortality rate in the U.S. — 91 per 100,000 — is better than all but a few EU countries: Sweden, Luxembourg and Finland. How on earth is the U.S. performing at the same level as those relatively homogenous, rich, famously socialized health systems?

Socialized medicine à laméricaine

Part of the reason again comes down to age.

The reason the U.S.s strong performance on cancer comes as a shock is because access to care in the country is notoriously unequal. But, it turns out, thats far less true of the elderly.

Age 65 is when virtually everyone in the U.S. qualifies for Medicare — Americas national, taxpayer-subsidized, government-run (dare we say socialized), comprehensive health insurance program.

The public insurance scheme, which has an extra layer of financial help for the poor, has a huge influence on how hospitals and other health care providers do their work. In contrast to another high-performing EU country, Italy — where regional administration of health systems means quality of care varies depending on where you live — the U.S. can use Medicare to enforce nationwide standards.

While its far from perfect and can still involve some significant out-of-pocket costs, Medicare coverage makes it easier for people to actually pay for their care, boosting the likelihood that theyll go to the doctor both for preventive checkups and when something seems wrong. Free screenings for some of the most common cancers are a perk.

Medicare also covers cancer drugs “generously — vastly more generously than Europeans do,” said Amitabh Chandra, a health economist at Harvard. “Its fashionable to beat up on U.S. health care, and while there are many reasons to do that, we should also remember that it covers medical innovation liberally,” he added in an email. Indeed, Medicare covers things like immunotherapy and clinical trials. “This increases health care spending, butRead More – Source

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‘Exhilarating’ implant turns thoughts to speech

Scientists have developed a brain implant that can read people's minds and turn their thoughts ..

Scientists have developed a brain implant that can read people's minds and turn their thoughts to speech.

The team at the University of California, San Francisco says the technology is "exhilarating".

They add that their findings, published in the journal Nature, could help people when disease robs them of their ability to talk.

Experts said the findings were compelling and offered hope of restoring speech.

How does it work?

The mind-reading technology works in two stages.

First an electrode is implanted in the brain to pick up the electrical signals that manoeuvre the lips, tongue, voice box and jaw.

Then powerful computing is used to simulate how the movements in the mouth and throat would form different sounds.

This results in synthesised speech coming out of a "virtual vocal tract".

Why do it like that?

You might think it would be easier to scour the brain for the pattern of electrical signals that code for each word.

However, attempts to do so have only had limited success. (more…)

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Health

Measles: Half a million UK children missed jab

More than half a million children in the UK were not given a crucial measles jab between 2010 and 20..

More than half a million children in the UK were not given a crucial measles jab between 2010 and 2017, an analysis by children's charity Unicef reveals.

It comes as NHS chief Simon Stevens warned measles cases had almost quadrupled in England in just one year and urged families to get the vaccine.

He said people rejecting vaccines was a "growing public health time bomb".

Globally, the report shows, 169 million children were not given a first dose of measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017.

'Alarming'

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can lead to serious health complications – including infections of the lungs and brain – and is sometimes fatal.

Health experts say children should have two doses of the vaccine to fully protect against the disease.

But, according to Unicef, a mixture of complacency, misinformation, scepticism about immunisations, and a lack of access to jabs has led to inadequate vaccination rates globally.

The report shows that between 2010 and 2017:

  • The US topped the list for the number of unvaccinated children in high-income countries, with 2,593,000 missing the first dose of the vaccine
  • The comparable figure for France was 600,000
  • The UK came third, with 527,000 children not getting their first dose of the vaccine over the seven-year period
  • In Nigeria, four million children under one did not get the first dose of the vaccine

Figures for the second dose of the measles vaccine "were even more alarming", Unicef said.

It found 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa had not introduced a second dose, putting more than 17 million infants a year at a greater risk of getting measles as a child. (more…)

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No sedentary screen time for babies, WHO says

Babies and toddlers should not be left to passively watch TV or other screens, according to new Worl..

Babies and toddlers should not be left to passively watch TV or other screens, according to new World Health Organization guidelines.

Sedentary screen time, including computer games, should not happen before a child is two, the WHO says.

The limit for two- to four-year-olds is an hour a day and less is better.

The UK has no plans to update its own advice on screen use, which sets no time limits, although it says children should avoid screens before bedtime.

The UK's Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health insists there is little evidence screen use for children is harmful in itself.

The new WHO advice focuses on passive viewing – youngsters being placed in front of a TV or computer screen or handed a tablet or mobile phone for entertainment – and is aimed at tackling child inactivity, a leading risk factor for global mortality and obesity-related ill health.

It is the first time the WHO has made recommendations on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under five.

As well as warning against passive screen time, it says babies should not spend longer than an hour at a time strapped into a buggy, car seat or sling.

The guidelines will be presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow on Sunday.

The advice

For babies: (more…)

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Health

Why youre more likely to die of cancer in Europe than America

Europeans are way, way more likely to die of cancer than Americans.

Its a fact that many people fin..

Europeans are way, way more likely to die of cancer than Americans.

Its a fact that many people find surprising. Given all the (true) stories we hear about the ranks of uninsured Americans facing bankruptcy when they get sick, and reams of stats about higher health care costs for worse results than other rich countries, how can it be possibly true? And yet, in 2018, there were an estimated 280 deaths per 100,000 in Europe, compared to 189 per 100,000 in the United States, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

The mortality gap between the U.S. and Europe is one of the central questions weve been trying to answer in the POLITICO Global Policy Lab: Decoding Cancer, our exploration of this growing public health crisis.

One of the difficulties: People had trouble believing the numbers. “The difference is probably based on some statistical trick,” one expert at a policy brainstorming session in Rome declared.

To some extent, the expert is right. Depending on which statistic you use, the gap can appear less dramatic.

But there are some real ways the U.S.s health system makes up for its many flaws. And, when it comes to cancer, that translates into saved lives.

Here are four reasons why Americans are less likely than Europeans to die of cancer.

Age

The first reason is somewhat of a statistical trick. Cancer is a disease of the elderly. An estimated 60 percent of cancer cases are diagnosed in people over 65; that age group accounts for 70 percent of cancer deaths. Put another way, the incidence of cancer in people above 65 is 11 times higher than in those below that age. Europes elderly population is considerably bigger as a proportion of the population: About 19 percent of the EU population is over 65, compared to around 15 percent in the U.S. Thats the top explanation for why the so-called crude mortality rate is so much lower in the U.S.

But it doesnt tell the whole story. Even using a process called age standardization, where you imagine every country has the same distribution of ages, the mortality rate in the U.S. — 91 per 100,000 — is better than all but a few EU countries: Sweden, Luxembourg and Finland. How on earth is the U.S. performing at the same level as those relatively homogenous, rich, famously socialized health systems?

Socialized medicine à laméricaine

Part of the reason again comes down to age. (more…)

Continue Reading

Health

‘Exhilarating’ implant turns thoughts to speech

Scientists have developed a brain implant that can read people's minds and turn their thoughts ..

Scientists have developed a brain implant that can read people's minds and turn their thoughts to speech.

The team at the University of California, San Francisco says the technology is "exhilarating".

They add that their findings, published in the journal Nature, could help people when disease robs them of their ability to talk.

Experts said the findings were compelling and offered hope of restoring speech.

How does it work?

The mind-reading technology works in two stages.

First an electrode is implanted in the brain to pick up the electrical signals that manoeuvre the lips, tongue, voice box and jaw.

Then powerful computing is used to simulate how the movements in the mouth and throat would form different sounds.

This results in synthesised speech coming out of a "virtual vocal tract".

Why do it like that?

You might think it would be easier to scour the brain for the pattern of electrical signals that code for each word.

However, attempts to do so have only had limited success. (more…)

Continue Reading

Health

Measles: Half a million UK children missed jab

More than half a million children in the UK were not given a crucial measles jab between 2010 and 20..

More than half a million children in the UK were not given a crucial measles jab between 2010 and 2017, an analysis by children's charity Unicef reveals.

It comes as NHS chief Simon Stevens warned measles cases had almost quadrupled in England in just one year and urged families to get the vaccine.

He said people rejecting vaccines was a "growing public health time bomb".

Globally, the report shows, 169 million children were not given a first dose of measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017.

'Alarming'

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can lead to serious health complications – including infections of the lungs and brain – and is sometimes fatal.

Health experts say children should have two doses of the vaccine to fully protect against the disease.

But, according to Unicef, a mixture of complacency, misinformation, scepticism about immunisations, and a lack of access to jabs has led to inadequate vaccination rates globally.

The report shows that between 2010 and 2017:

  • The US topped the list for the number of unvaccinated children in high-income countries, with 2,593,000 missing the first dose of the vaccine
  • The comparable figure for France was 600,000
  • The UK came third, with 527,000 children not getting their first dose of the vaccine over the seven-year period
  • In Nigeria, four million children under one did not get the first dose of the vaccine

Figures for the second dose of the measles vaccine "were even more alarming", Unicef said.

It found 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa had not introduced a second dose, putting more than 17 million infants a year at a greater risk of getting measles as a child. (more…)

Continue Reading

Health

No sedentary screen time for babies, WHO says

Babies and toddlers should not be left to passively watch TV or other screens, according to new Worl..

Babies and toddlers should not be left to passively watch TV or other screens, according to new World Health Organization guidelines.

Sedentary screen time, including computer games, should not happen before a child is two, the WHO says.

The limit for two- to four-year-olds is an hour a day and less is better.

The UK has no plans to update its own advice on screen use, which sets no time limits, although it says children should avoid screens before bedtime.

The UK's Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health insists there is little evidence screen use for children is harmful in itself.

The new WHO advice focuses on passive viewing – youngsters being placed in front of a TV or computer screen or handed a tablet or mobile phone for entertainment – and is aimed at tackling child inactivity, a leading risk factor for global mortality and obesity-related ill health.

It is the first time the WHO has made recommendations on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under five.

As well as warning against passive screen time, it says babies should not spend longer than an hour at a time strapped into a buggy, car seat or sling.

The guidelines will be presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow on Sunday.

The advice

For babies: (more…)

Continue Reading

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