Public Health

People who drink three to five cups of coffee per day are less likely to die prematurely from some illnesses than those who don't drink or drink less coffee, according to a new study. Drinkers of both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee saw benefits, including a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, type 2 diabetes, and suicide.

A new analysis of maternal mortality worldwide conducted by the United Nations found that the maternal mortality ratio saw a relative decline of 43.9 percent during the 25-year period of 1990-2015. Details appear in an early online issue of The Lancet.

The study analyzed levels and trends in maternal mortality in 183 countries and found that the maternal mortality ratio declined from 385 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 216 in 2015. They also saw great variability in progress toward reducing mortality. 

In previous posts, I've discussed the concept of protein leverage. This is an idea, put forward by two Australian scientists, Stephen Simpson and David Raubenheimer that many species, including humans, regulate appetite with a higher sensitivity to protein than other nutrients. We each need some amount of calories, carbohydrate, fat and protein each day. Simpson and Raubenheimer showed through a host of experiments that it seems we are willing to overeat energy (excess carbs or fat) in order to get enough protein.

An estimated 12 million people in the United States experience diagnostic errors annually, when including a missed diagnosis, the wrong diagnosis, or a delayed one, all of which can lead to harm from delayed or inappropriate treatments and tests.

In an opinion piece published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Hardeep Singh of Baylor and Dr. Mark L Graber of RTI International in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina said the recent Institute of Medicine report on "Improving Diagnosis in Health Care" requires individual and collaborative action from all health care stakeholders nationwide. 

Right now, in any American hospital, about half of the patients have a prescription for an acid-reducing drug called proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) to reduce heartburn or prevent bleeding in their stomach and gut. 

But that well-intentioned drug may actually boost their risk of dying during their hospital stay, a new study finds, by opening them up to infections that pose more risk than bleeding would. 

A new study finds that at least 16.8 million Americans could potentially benefit from lowering their systolic blood pressure (SBP) to 120 mmHg, much lower than current guidelines of 140 or 150 mmHg. The collaborative investigation between the University of Utah, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Columbia University, will be published Nov. 9 online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).

The body's circadian clocks coordinate behaviors like eating and sleeping, as well as physiological activity like metabolism, with the Earth's 24-hour light-dark cycle. There's a master clock in the brain, as well as peripheral clocks located in individual organs. When genetics, environment or behavior disrupt the synchrony of these clocks, metabolic disorders can develop.

Inflammatory processes sound bad, but they actually occur to promote healing after injury. However, when too active, these inflammatory processes can damage the body and perhaps contribute to heart disease.

Stress is a contributor to inflammation in the body. So is sleep disturbance, according to some, and insomnia, one of the most common sleep disorders, is correlated with increased risk for depression, medical comorbidities, and mortality. A new study in Biological Psychiatry reports that treatment for insomnia, either by cognitive behavioral therapy or the movement meditation tai chi, reduces inflammation levels in older adults over 55 years of age.

Decades of public health messages have encouraged us to drink milk to strengthen our bones and reduce the risk of fractures as we age.

But dairy products have recently come under fire – and not just from paleo dieters and animal welfare supporters. Researchers have linked high milk intakes to bone fractures, cancer and premature aging.

Higher-spending physicians face fewer malpractice claims, and it is believed the reason is because they run a lot of tests to cover every possibility - all to keep lawyers at bay in case anything at all goes wrong for the patient.

Nearly three-quarters of physicians report practicing this "defensive medicine", which is broadly defined as the ordering of tests, procedures, physician consultations and other medical services solely to reduce risk of malpractice claims. Defensive medicine is estimated to cost the U.S. as much as $50 billion annually and that number is only going to go higher in an Obamacare world, where health care can now bring the full force of federal prosecution down on any mistake.