July 12, 2005
|Life Extension Update Exclusive |
U.S. tops the world in health care spending
A report published in the July/August 2005 issue of the journal Health Affairs (www.healthaffairs.org) revealed that Americans spend more on health care than any other country, with expenditures that are 140 percent above the $2,193 per capita spending of the median industrialized country.
Utilizing data provided by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, researchers at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health reviewed health care spending in 30 countries during the year 2002. They found that U.S. citizens spent an average of $5,267 per capita on health care, which is 53 percent higher than Switzerland, a country that had the second highest per capita health care expenditure of $3,446. Explanations that have been offered for the difference are the waiting lists for certain procedures in some countries and the cost of malpractice litigation in the United States, yet Dr Anderson and colleagues found that the former accounted for only 3 percent of the difference, and the latter was comparable to other major developed nations.
The authors suggest that defensive medicine may be part of the reason for the discrepancy, but conclude, “The two most important reasons for higher U.S. spending appear to be higher incomes and higher medical care prices.”
Lead author Gerald Anderson PhD, who is a professor at Bloomberg School of Medicine’s Department of Health Policy and Management commented, “As in previous years, it comes back to the fact that we are paying much higher prices for health care goods and services in the United States. Paying more is okay if our outcomes were better than other countries. But we are paying more for comparable outcomes.”
Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by severe muscle pain. The term fibromyalgia means pain in the muscles and fibrous connective tissues (tendons and ligaments). Fibromyalgia is associated with poor-quality sleep and is often accompanied by depression and anxiety. It is also referred to as a syndrome because fibromyalgia is a group of symptoms. It shares some of the features of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), with 70% of patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia also meeting the diagnostic criteria for CFS.
Fibromyalgia is associated with elevated levels of proinflammatory cytokines. At the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Francisco (June 22, 2002), researchers reported that sleep deprivation markedly increases inflammatory cytokines (Vgontzas et al. 1999). This finding may help explain why pain flare-ups occur in response to lack of sleep in a variety of disorders, including fibromyalgia.
Melatonin is the most effective antioxidant yet studied because it easily penetrates cell membranes (especially in the brain) to provide protection against free radicals throughout all of our cells. Melatonin also crosses the blood-brain barrier very effectively. It appears to protect the central nervous system against injury, disease, and aging better than any other substance. Melatonin is used to induce drowsiness and improve sleep patterns and more physicians are recommending melatonin as a safe and effective insomnia therapy (Shochat et al. 1998). Melatonin not only helps most people sleep better, but it has been shown to alleviate pain (Jeong et al. 2000; Yu et al. 2000; Dauvilliers et al. 2001; Gagnier 2001; Pekarkova et al. 2001).
|Life Extension magazine July 2005 issue |
While chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain (fibromyalgia) has been recorded since antiquity, only in the past two decades have researchers conducted significant medical and experimental studies on the subject. According to recent findings, 1.3-4.8% of the populations of Western industrialized nations suffer from fibromyalgia, and 80-90% of those affected are women. Approximately 6 million Americans (including 4 million women) suffer from fibromyalgia, which most commonly occurs between the ages of 30 and 60 years.
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