C Force from Creators Syndicate https://www.creators.com/read/c-force Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Wed, 18 Jul 2018 16:19:43 -0700 https://www.creators.com/ http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss C Force from Creators Syndicate https://cdn.creators.com/features/c-force-thumb.jpg https://www.creators.com/read/c-force eb7f122d18e4c7a02f2f3736a2a66215 Opioid Overdose Deaths and Sky-High Deductibles for 07/13/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/07/18/opioid-overdose-deaths-and-sky-high-deductibles Fri, 13 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, in 2015, more than 20,000 overdose deaths in this country were directly related to prescription pain relievers. Given all the media attention on this subject, you may not be at all surprised by such statistics. As bad as this news is, it is likely underestimated.</p> <p>Recent research by a team at the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Public Health revealed that many drug overdoses are so broadly classified that they are not being counted properly as opioid-related.</p> <p>As stated in the report published in the journal Public Health, "Potentially 70,000 opioid-related, unintentional overdose deaths from 1999 through 2015 have been missed because of incomplete reporting, indicating that the opioid overdose epidemic may be worse than it appears." The University Of Pittsburgh findings support other recent studies that show opioid overdoses as undercounted.<p>Updated: Fri Jul 13, 2018</p> c8ea6ab2b40567b92d7f9bbc00ccb14e Danger Sign At The Speed Of Life for 07/06/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/07/18/danger-sign-at-the-speed-of-life Fri, 06 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Last week I reported the news that deaths by suicide in this country are up 25 percent since 1999. According to federal data, deaths attributed to opioid overdose and alcohol abuse are now at the highest rate in 35 years. Life expectancy in the United States has dropped two years in a row, marking the first downturn in more than two decades. </p> <p>The reasons for this surge appear complex and hard &#8212; if not impossible &#8212; to fully explain. One social scientist has recently suggested that we are suffering from "a crisis of meaninglessness." Meanwhile, our status since the 1960s as a global leader in the length of life of its citizens continues to take a hit. The new adjusted average life expectancy for Americans stands at 78.7 years. We now trail developed countries such as Canada, Germany, Mexico, France, Japan and the U.K.</p> <p>Yet, according to a recent report published in the journal Science, there may be some good news for those who can weather such recent trends to make it to the "golden years." According to the study, a human's maximum fixed lifespan has yet to be reached and human longevity is actually increasing.<p>Updated: Fri Jul 06, 2018</p> 05408b1fe915efa520b9f3a11bb5c3da Suicide and The Loss of Life's Meaning for 06/29/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/06/18/suicide-and-the-loss-of-lifes-meaning Fri, 29 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>The statistics are staggering and the recent high profile cases make them impossible to ignore. Deaths by suicide in this country are up 25 percent since 1999. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide in 2016. It is the 10th leading cause of death in America. It is the second leading cause of death for young people.</p> <p>No clear answer has yet to emerge as to why this crisis is happening. Many argue it is a crisis of mental health care and a lack of needed services. Yet, as pointed out by behavioral scientist Dr. Clay Routledge in a recent New York Times Opinion piece, this crisis is advancing even though suicide prevention treatments for depression and anxiety have become more available and the number of people seeking treatment is increasing.</p> <p>"An additional explanation seems to be needed," Routledge concludes. Based on his research, he is convinced that our nation's suicide crisis is in part "a crisis of meaninglessness," brought on by recent changes in American society &#8212; changes in the direction, of greater detachment and a weaker sense of belonging, which leads to increased risk of despair.<p>Updated: Fri Jun 29, 2018</p> b32486bcf2d9a8eeb80b2e01b1c0899d Robot Bees Are Coming -- Be Afraid for 06/22/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/06/18/robot-bees-are-coming-be-afraid Fri, 22 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Last week I discussed a movement now afoot &#8212; one that my wife Gena and I support &#8212; calling for the ban of certain agricultural insecticides known as neonicotinoids that scientific review has shown bear much of the blame for the catastrophic global loss of bee populations over the last decade. <span class="column--highlighted-text">According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, of the 100 crops that account for 90 percent of the food eaten around the globe, 71 rely on bee pollination.</span></p> <p>I ended this report with a quote by Dave Goulson, a biologist at the University of Sussex in Brighton, cautioning people not to let the elimination of one insecticide bring on the replacement by a similar or more harmful compound. This is a cycle that has become all too familiar. Goulson's concluding recommended action bears repeating &#8212; to make this a call for a movement toward farming methods that minimize pesticide use, encourage natural enemies of crop pests and support biodiversity and healthy soils.<p>Updated: Fri Jun 22, 2018</p> 06c05589176f54b2f7f137f8d71a2dba Pesticides and the Death of Honeybees for 06/15/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/06/18/pesticides-and-the-death-of-honeybees Fri, 15 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>You might say my wife, Gena, has a bee in her bonnet.</p> <p>For a while now, we have been raising honeybees on our Texas ranch. We are among the estimated 115,000 to 125,000 beekeepers in the United States, the vast majority of them hobbyists like us. We know the value and importance of bees. As far as important species in this world go, they are top of the list. </p> <p>As the great Naturalist John Muir once said, "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world." Bees are at great risk right now and that is what has Gena (and me) so worked up. As they go, so goes the world's food supply. In 2007, the United States was struck by a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Worker bees that left the hive in search of food would simply not return. A third of all honeybee colonies in the US were wiped out. To a great extent, hobbyists (beekeepers with less than 25 hives) are what have been keeping honey bees alive. For years, Colony Collapse Disorder was not fully understood. At the same time, the global bee population continued to decline; some say by as much as 40 percent a year. <p>Updated: Fri Jun 15, 2018</p> d2c4328d650c1dd5b7e2203d668839d5 When Saving Lives Brings on Medical Bankruptcy for 06/08/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/06/18/when-saving-lives-brings-on-medical-bankruptcy Fri, 08 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating, chronic condition that affects more than two million people worldwide. Its exact cause is unknown and its symptoms include paralysis, tremors, pain and fatigue. Its symptoms can be managed with treatment. Without it, they can become progressive, severe and incapacitating. As recently detailed in a Kaiser Health News report, after two drugs previously tried failed to control MS symptoms or to prevent repeated flare-ups, an Ohio patient found a third option that enabled her to walk comfortably, see clearly and return to work. The problem is, the drug is expensive, about $90,000 a year. There is no generic alternative. She was relieved that she had health insurance and a copay plan in place to cover much of the cost. The operative word was "had." </p> <p>After three years on the medication, this year, she got a shock. Her health plan changed the way it handles these payments, and the money no longer counted toward her deductible. A deductible she now cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket. She is one of a growing number of consumers taking expensive medicine who make such a discovery. </p> <p>Faced with such a situation, the AIDS Institute is among 60 HIV organizations that have sent letters to state attorneys general and insurance commissioners across the country asking them to investigate the copay assistance program changes in employer and marketplace plans. A reason for their concern &#8212; Daraprim, for example, which is used by AIDS and transplant patients, runs around $375 per pill when paid out-of-pocket.<p>Updated: Fri Jun 08, 2018</p> 845573d9b27ee29b8d2cffac75a3ee17 A Price We Pay for the Things Medical Insurance Does Not Cover for 06/01/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/05/18/a-price-we-pay-for-the-things-medical-insurance-does-not-cover Fri, 01 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>The price of healthcare in the U.S. is the highest in the world. Yet, we as a nation are not getting our money's worth when it comes to affordable health care &#8212; far from it. Many folks blame the high prices charged by doctors and hospitals as the heart of the problem. They have a point. Until recently, less scrutinized was the role insurance companies play in spiking our health care bills, as well as their profits, in their role as the intermediaries between patients and those providers.</p> <p>Adding insult to injury are all those things that private medical insurance does not cover. Consider the following example. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it affects nearly 48 million people in this country. Its onset can begin as early as in our 20s, but most people will either be unaware of it, or in denial of it. The World Health Organization warned in 2015 that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults around the globe are at risk for developing this condition.</p> <p>This is a condition linked to many other conditions, such as cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, clinical depression, diabetes, heart disease, anemia, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, sleep apnea and more. Yet it is not officially considered a disability. If it were, it would rank as the largest disability class in the country.<p>Updated: Fri Jun 01, 2018</p> 71cd9b46f34d40734c15d36f2d9a363d What Elevates a Major Health Concern to an Emergency? for 05/25/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/05/18/what-elevates-a-major-health-concern-to-an-emergency Fri, 25 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When categorizing public health problems, the word "epidemic" is often applied to emphasize those of great impact. It is no longer merely associated with the rapid and widespread advance of infectious diseases, but has become a common part of "wakeup language" to give an issue a sense of priority. When the president declares a health issue a "national emergency," as he did with the opioid epidemic, it takes it to another level. It sends a message of the issue's priority and opens access to resources and different tools in response to the emergency.</p> <p>When we create such a major platform to discuss eradicating the deadliest drug overdose crisis in U.S. history, it is hoped the discussion will not eclipse, but heighten the opportunity to highlight other public health issues that are taking a similar toll. <p>Updated: Fri May 25, 2018</p> 8b70af2e6eb02683eed7ccbc01904a1d Major Depression and Anxiety Levels are on the Rise in America for 05/18/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/05/18/major-depression-and-anxiety-levels-are-on-the-rise-in-america Fri, 18 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Feeling a bit depressed or in a state of high anxiety? Do you have the feeling that you are not alone when it comes to being racked by such feelings? You may be on to something. </p> <p>According to a newly released report from Blue Cross Blue Shield of America, major depression is on the rise among Americans. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Meanwhile, a separate report from the American Psychiatric Association reveals that most Americans experienced increased anxiety levels during the past year.</span><p>Updated: Fri May 18, 2018</p> 9db1aa588516218ebbe5f5fc9f58ed3d Walking All Over The Rights Of The Ambulatory Disabled for 05/11/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/05/18/walking-all-over-the-rights-of-the-ambulatory-disabled Fri, 11 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In a byline story published in 2017 in the publication Higher Ed, Valerie Piro recounts her experiences as an incoming college freshman exploring options among her top picks of colleges to which she had applied, all of which had accepted her. She applied to all her picks as if she were able-bodied. She quickly found this to be a mistake. For the past year-and-a-half, she had to rely on a wheelchair to get around following a spinal cord injury that paralyzed her from the chest down.</p> <p>She was working under the impression that every higher education institution was wheelchair accessible. Visiting her first pick, a large research institution, she learned the error of such thinking. As she writes, the visit was a disaster. "Multiple entrances to the main campus included staircases, and I had to circle around the campus before I found a flat entrance," she recalls. "Once I made it to the main campus, I wheeled over an unstable wooden plank placed over a short staircase. This, a tour guide explained, was a ramp."<p>Updated: Fri May 11, 2018</p> 5e886060505936fa27f7cb136cf1a437 Seeking Answers To Medical Problems While Setting Pills Aside for 05/04/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/05/18/seeking-answers-to-medical-problems-while-setting-pills-aside Fri, 04 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>As pointed out in a recent report by CNN's Erin Gabriel, color permeates all aspects of our lives. It shapes how we perceive the world and is an essential part of our cultural identity. Yet how often do we think of how a spectrum of color can benefit our health and mind?</p> <p>We may love the spectacular colors of the outdoors or a backyard garden, but still feel reluctant to bring these vivid colors inside the home. Yet color specialists remind us that a simple color can have a significant impact on our lives.<p>Updated: Fri May 04, 2018</p> b259905fb8acd92e16e2710f69e62215 Has the Opioid Epidemic Begun to Turn a Corner? for 04/27/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/04/18/has-the-opioid-epidemic-begun-to-turn-a-corner Fri, 27 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Wouldn't you know? No sooner do I come out questioning the effects of the recent commitment by policymakers and the medical establishment to upping the ante in addressing the nation's opioid epidemic than a new report appears pointing toward signs of success. This report, authored by IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, suggests the various measures undertaken to fight the opioid epidemic appear to be having an impact. The report says that in 2017, retail opioid prescriptions declined by 10.2 percent. In addition, the number of patients who received opioid prescriptions for the first time fell by 8.7 percent last year. On average, prescription opioid volume has decreased every year over the last five years in all 50 states. </p> <p>Before we get too carried away with the news, it should be noted that at the same time, the number of new monthly prescriptions for medications that treat opioid addiction nearly doubled over the past two years. While these medications may help temper cravings, they do not necessarily lead to kicking the habit. As pointed out in a recent New York Times report, "although the number of people taking medications to combat addiction is rising, it remains a small fraction of the roughly 2.6 million people believed to suffer from 'opioid use disorder,' or addiction." There is also no way of knowing from the data whether the prescriptions came with behavioral therapy and other support.<p>Updated: Fri Apr 27, 2018</p> 16437e8fcd6172abeb325d2f5456044a The Importance of Lifestyle Changes and Immunotherapy for 04/20/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/04/18/the-importance-of-lifestyle-changes-and-immunotherapy Fri, 20 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>After being declared an official public health emergency in 2017, it is fair to ask, where are we today in regards to the opioid crisis that grips this country? I would venture to say not very far. A recent study shows that approximately a third of Americans live with chronic pain, and far too many of these sufferers continue to become dependent on the opioids prescribed to treat it. Meanwhile, <span class="column--highlighted-text">a growing consensus among pain specialists says that a low-tech approach focused on lifestyle changes needs to be emphasized as a more effective solution.</span></p> <p>Recently, Dr. Erin Krebs, a primary care physician and researcher at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, published the first long-term randomized trial examining opioids as a treatment for chronic back pain and arthritis. As reported by NPR, for the vast majority of patients, the study found opioids to be no better than nonopioid medications in addressing the problem of chronic pain. <p>Updated: Fri Apr 20, 2018</p> c0dbf62d60131f8e7eb0ecde5450bc33 From Lonliness to Stress and Depression for 04/13/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/04/18/from-lonliness-to-stress-and-depression Fri, 13 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Loneliness is a very powerful trigger. It can trigger stress and it can trigger depression, or a depressive episode. All of these reactions, when drawn out, come with negative health consequences. For clinicians addressing these problems, it can be difficult to untangle the influence of one on the other.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Putting loneliness aside for a moment and looking at the bigger picture, what is clear is that more Americans than ever before are stressed, depressed and anxiety-ridden</span>. Though the word stress was coined only more than 50 years ago, it still lacks a definition that everyone agrees upon. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 8.3 million American adults suffer from serious psychological distress. This equates to approximately 3.4 percent of the U.S. population. Serious psychological distress is an umbrella term for a condition that runs from general hopelessness and nervousness all the way up to diagnosable conditions such as depression and anxiety.<p>Updated: Fri Apr 13, 2018</p> 54f68d8aca1e46ea8f1aa16076fbd48a The Fight Against Loneliness for 04/06/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/04/18/the-fight-against-loneliness Fri, 06 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Along with the isolation of our seniors, many experts believe that an across-the-board loneliness epidemic is developing in the United States. It is worth looking at what such an epidemic could mean. While research on loneliness in the U.S. remains scarce, a 2012 study found that between 20 and 43 percent of American adults over the age 60 experience "frequent or intense" loneliness. The study concluded that feeling lonely can increase a person's risk of dying early by 26 percent.</p> <p>Research on young adults and loneliness in this country is also sparse. What does exist suggests loneliness as a health crisis knows no barriers. A UCLA Berkeley study published last year found that even though adults between 21 and 30 had larger social networks, they reported twice as many days spent feeling lonely or socially isolated as adults between 50 and 70.</p> <p>Research also shows that it can be difficult for men to hold on to friendships as they age. It is a problem that begins in adolescence. In a podcast of the Hidden Brain, New York University psychology professor Niobe Way, who has spent decades interviewing adolescent boys, says that half the population &#8212; those on the male side &#8212; get the message from an early age that needing others is a sign of weakness and that being vulnerable is unmanly.<p>Updated: Fri Apr 06, 2018</p> 7bebed404f8d9a11ee7320d8495910dd Aging In Place In America for 03/30/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/03/18/aging-in-place-in-america Fri, 30 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>There is a movement afoot in this country. Some call it revolutionary. More than 110 new age "Villages" have cropped up in the United States. There are another 120 in development according to the Village to Village Network. You probably have not heard of this grassroots movement because it is the work of old people &#8212; senior citizens.</p> <p>"It's a grass-roots movement on the part of older people who did not want to be patronized, isolated, infantilized," one participant recently told NPR. "That's what we felt was out there for us. And we felt quite competent in taking care of ourselves."</p> <p>The village community model combines aging in place with an interdependent support network. This arrangement helps make aging alone possible as members progressively age and need more assistance. Older members of a neighborhood or group of neighborhoods are linked with one another as well as with a network of volunteer and paid services. It is this interdependence component that separates Villages from traditional assisted living.<p>Updated: Fri Mar 30, 2018</p> 04389a67ab5b268868b60f05db31794c New Research Shows Exercise Can Restore an Aging Heart for 03/23/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/03/18/new-research-shows-exercise-can-restore-an-aging-heart Fri, 23 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>According to the Arkansas Heart Hospital, within the average human, about 2,000 gallons of blood travel daily through about 60,000 miles of blood vessels. Because of its vastness and essential nature, the cardiovascular system is most prone to disease and a major factor in why cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.</p> <p>As we age &#8212; even if we do so in good health &#8212; the heart becomes less flexible and not as efficient in processing oxygen as it used to be. For most people, the first signs of this change begin to show up in their 50s or early 60s. What if you could take this 50 year-old heart and transform it to that of a 30- or 35-year-old merely through exercise?</p> <p>As reported by NPR, according to recent findings published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, cardiologists at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have demonstrated this possibility. They also discovered that for even a mid-lifer who has not been an avid exerciser, getting in shape now could head off decline and help restore an aging heart.<p>Updated: Fri Mar 23, 2018</p> 38abafe9a3518b6f326086123f957f3f We Are What We Eat for 03/16/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/03/18/we-are-what-we-eat Fri, 16 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>This week, on a tributary of the Amazon River deep in the jungle of Bolivia, we end our trek around the globe examining those places where people live longer and healthier. Here lives a group of approximately 16,000 indigenous people known as the Tsimane. They walk, ride bikes or canoe everywhere. Their staple foods are homegrown rice, plantains and corn. They have no electricity or running water. They catch whatever meat they eat. If they want meat, the average hunt for dinner lasts eight hours and covers 11 miles.</p> <p>According to researchers from Arizona State University, they have the lowest reported levels of coronary artery disease of any population ever recorded. According to an NBC News report, an 80-year-old Tsimane has about the same heart and artery health as the average American in his or her 50s.</p> <p>The Tsimane have been studied periodically since 2002 running scans of their arteries, testing their blood for cholesterol and glucose and measuring blood pressure. Researchers looked specifically for calcium in the blood vessels, a signal that artery-clogging fat has built up and hardened. These plaques can break off and cause heart attacks and strokes. Nearly all those studied had no evidence of calcification at all in their arteries and those who did had very little.<p>Updated: Fri Mar 16, 2018</p> a9966842a9b26feeeaf87d7faddecd45 Learning From Those Who Live Long and Well for 03/09/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/03/18/learning-from-those-who-live-long-and-well Fri, 09 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Last week I talked about the villagers of Tianna. Located in central Sardinia, their remarkably low mortality rates and high life expectancies have resulted in a percentage of centenarians three times greater than in the rest of region. Sardinia is one of five identified "Blue Zones," a registered term that applied to areas around the globe &#8212; five in all &#8212; that stand out for their extraordinarily long-living populations. While these areas are geographically diverse and seemingly disconnected, there are common denominators in the lifestyles of those living in a Blue Zone.</p> <p>They are all areas where people move naturally, where physical activity for all is part of a daily routine. These routines also include rituals that serve to reduce stress. Life in these zones also includes some form of a plant-based diet. They are communities of people where loved ones come first and are kept close; where a social network of friends surrounds them. People in these zones are connected by faith and a religious community in which centenarians are an important part.<p>Updated: Fri Mar 09, 2018</p> cb3612df3d6ca045eeeeb201a6a697c1 Thoughts On Living Long and Well for 03/02/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/c-force/03/18/thoughts-on-living-long-and-well Fri, 02 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>According to the Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School, this particular molecule is one of the most important molecules for life to exist. Take it away and you are dead in 30 seconds. The property we are talking about is a compound called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or what is referred to as "NAD+." It is a molecule found in all living cells and is critical for regulating cellular aging and maintaining proper function of the entire body. </p> <p>Scientists know that levels of NAD+ in both people and animals significantly diminish over time. What if an anti-aging pick-me-up of NAD+ could be formulated to increase or restore the body's cellular levels of NAD+? Might it be our ticket to the fabled Fountain of Youth? There are many products already entering the market touting NAD+ and selling this very concept. None at present stands up to medical scrutiny.</p> <p>The results of one randomized control trial were published in November 2017 in the journal Nature. Researchers found that people who took a daily supplement containing NAD+ had a substantial, sustained increase in their NAD+ levels over a two-month period. The process of securing U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for this product as a drug to be prescribed by a doctor or purchased over the counter is considered years away. Part of the problem is that the federal agency with oversight does not consider aging a disease. Various versions of products containing NAD+ are currently being sold as a supplement. <p>Updated: Fri Mar 02, 2018</p>