How Is Your State Doing at Preventing Deaths?

Preventable DeathsEarlier this month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report Potentially Preventable Deaths from the Five Leading Causes of Death — United States, 2008–2010.

In 2010, the top five causes of death in the United States were 1) diseases of the heart, 2) cancer, 3) chronic lower respiratory diseases, 4) cerebrovascular diseases (stroke), and 5) unintentional injuries. The rates of death from each cause vary greatly across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. An understanding of state differences in death rates for the leading causes might help state health officials establish disease prevention goals, priorities, and strategies. States with lower death rates can be used as benchmarks for setting achievable goals and calculating the number of deaths that might be prevented in states with higher rates.

I took the numbers from the charts in the report to create this visualization.

The report also included this chart of potentially preventable vs observed deaths.

Preventable Deaths chartTwo things stood out:

  • The regional differences on the map
  • The low number of potentially preventable deaths vs observed in the chart above – especially for heart disease and cancer

The regional differences may have to do with diet and levels of smoking, drinking and lack of exercise. Some have made the case that many of these states with lower rates of preventing deaths in the South, like Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, have made it difficult for low income residents to get affordable health insurance and have not expanded Medicaid (see map below). This makes it more likely that people won’t get preventive care or physicals and wind up in the emergency room with a life threatening chronic illness.

But the most frustrating aspect of all of this is that these chronic diseases – especially heart disease, stroke and cancer – could be drastically reduced by dietary changes. Many doctors – as I’ve pointed out many times – have shown that a whole food, plant-based diet will reduce the risk of these diseases and reverse them if they have already started impacting people.

Our vegan book club is currently reading Meatonomics: How the Rigged Economics of Meat and Dairy Make You Consume Too Much by David Robinson Simon. The title sums up the book, which looks at the way our government (using our tax dollars) is subsidizing and helping to promote the meat and dairy industry, while at the same time other parts of our government (but without the same amount of dollars or clout) are telling us to eat less of these foods. The result is that Americans eat more protein from meat and dairy products than anyone else in the world, and it’s literally killing us. Finally, through Medicare and Medicaid, the government is paying to treat the illnesses caused by eating too much meat and dairy.

Why do we accept the fact that each year almost 50,000 will die from stroke, 300,000 will die from heart disease, and 400,000 will die from cancer? Where is the will – political, social or otherwise – to do all we can to prevent these diseases? Can we save lives and the billions of dollars spent each year on the health and environmental impacts of this unsustainable way of living before it’s too late?


Where the States Stand

Via: The Advisory Board Company

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Animal Protein and Cancer Linked

Animal Protein and Cancer Linked

Image courtesy of The Onion, see below for details

A new study from the University of Southern California found a link between animal protein and cancer.

In a new study that tracked a large sample of adults for nearly two decades, researchers have found that eating a diet rich in animal proteins during middle age makes you four times more likely to die of cancer than someone with a low-protein diet — a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking.

Not only is excessive protein consumption linked to a dramatic rise in cancer mortality, but middle-aged people who eat lots of proteins from animal sources — including meat, milk and cheese — are also more susceptible to early death in general, revealed the study published today in Cell Metabolism. Protein-lovers were 74 percent more likely to die of any cause within the study period than their more low-protein counterparts. They were also several times more likely to die of diabetes.

The USC research looked at other possible factors, but could not link them to cancer.

Crucially, the researchers found that plant-based proteins, such as those from beans, did not seem to have the same mortality effects as animal proteins. Rates of cancer and death also did not seem to be affected by controlling for carbohydrate or fat consumption, suggesting that animal protein is the main culprit.

This research confirms the findings of other studies published by Drs. T. Colin Campbell, Dean Ornish, Neal Barnard and others. They also found the link between animal protein and cancer. Dr. Campbell’s research found that raising the level of animal protein from 5% to 20% was enough to accelerate cancer cell growth.

The study’s main author, Valter Longo, Edna M. Jones Professor of Biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute summarized the findings this way.

“Almost everyone is going to have a cancer cell or pre-cancer cell in them at some point. The question is: Does it progress?” Longo said. “Turns out one of the major factors in determining if it does is protein intake.”

Once again, this confirms the finding of Campbell, Ornish and others who have determined that nutrition, not genes, is the primary factor in cancer prevention and growth.

In other nutrition news, The Onion published a story about another study that “Links Meat, Sugar Consumption To Early Death Among Those Who Choose To Be Happy In Life.”

You can always count on The Onion to tell us the truth – whether we want to hear it or not. Here’s another headline

New Study Finds Nothing That Will Actually Convince You To Change Your Lifestyle So Just Forget It

Luckily, I and millions of others have made changes to our lifestyles to eat a whole food, plant-based diet to improve our health and lower our risk of chronic disease and cancer.

Contrary to The Onion, we’re happy AND healthy.

Do One Thing

The Unhealthy Truth

I discovered the author of this book today and watched her TED talk (see below) about her transformation from a mother who fed her four children the Standard American Diet (SAD) to an activist for healthy, organic food and against the additives and processes – like growth hormones and GMOs –  that are destroying our health.

Her book is called – The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick – And What We Can Do About It – I can’t wait to read it.

Robyn O'BrienRobyn O’Brien‘s journey started the morning her youngest child had an allergic reaction to part of her breakfast. A former financial and food industry analyst, she researched what was happening to the food system and what had caused her daughter’s allergy.

She discovered the additives and processes that are used in the United States, but are banned in Europe, the UK and other countries. She also discovered the impacts of these unhealthy changes – the US has the highest incidence of cancer in the world and we spend the most money on healthcare – with poorer outcomes. Then looking deeper still, saw how our government is subsidizing the companies making the unhealthy products and making it more costly to grow and market organic food.

Robyn founded a nonprofit organization – The AllergyKids Foundation. It’s mission:

Restore the health of American families by addressing the needs of the 1 in 3 American children that now has allergies, autism, ADHD and asthma and the role that additives in our food supply are having on our health.  The Foundation also works closely with those fighting cancer, particularly those with specific dietary needs.

Robyn is passionate about these issues and on a mission to change the current system for the health of our families, economy and nation. Her TED talk ends with a call to Do One Thing. None of us can do everything, but we all can do one thing to make a difference.

For me, this blog is how I am doing one thing to make more people aware of the problems with the current system; the impact of the Standard American Diet on our health and the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet.

What is the one thing you can do today to make a difference?

National Cancer Institute Can’t Find the Link Between Diet and Cancer Right Before Their Eyes

nci-logo-english

Diet quality linked to pancreatic cancer risk

That was the headline that caught my attention. The study done by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and AARP found these results

In a large new study of older Americans, researchers find that people with the healthiest eating habits are about 15 percent less likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those with the poorest diets.

In the analysis of data on more than 500,000 Americans over age 50, men in particular, especially those who were overweight or obese, appeared to benefit most from a high quality diet.

It also found

Among men who were overweight or obese, however, those with healthy eating scores in the top-fifth group were 28 percent less likely than their counterparts in the bottom-fifth to develop pancreatic cancer.

Despite these findings, the NIH researchers could not find a definitive link between diet and cancer.

Lead author Hannah Arem of the National Cancer Institute

It is important to note that our findings are based on overall diet and not individual foods. A combination of many foods contributed to the observed association between greater compliance with the Dietary Guidelines and lower risk of pancreatic cancer

Perhaps she should read Colin Campbell’s book Whole – Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. In his book he shows why researchers need to stop looking at individual foods or nutrients and study the whole process of how our bodies use the foods we eat to slow or promote cancer.

Past studies looking at the relationship between diet and risk for pancreatic cancer have tended to focus on individual foods and found few connections, according to her (Arem) team’s report, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

No surprise there.

The researchers did find that people who ate a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet had better results than others. Another said that eating a healthy diet “has not yet translated into noticeable reductions in the incidence of the major cancers with diet-related etiology”

Maybe this researcher should read the literature published by Drs Dean Ornish or Neal Barnard. Their research shows the positive link between eating a WFPB diet and reducing cancer risk.

It is sad when the scientific community can’t make the connection between diet and disease promotion or prevention.

There are doctors and researchers who have found a positive link between a healthy diet and lowering the risk or reversing cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and more. As Dr. Campbell points out in his book, the top research agencies and disease advocacy groups have been taken over by people who serve the system, not the public. Until this changes more people will get cancer and other chronic diseases because our SAD (Standard American Diet) provides a fertile breeding ground for their growth.