This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Some Good News and Bad News About Health

First the good news. A new study published in the Annals of Oncology and reported by BBC News uses data from the World Health Organization to suggest that death rates from cancer are about to go down in Europe.

Based on cancer trends between 1970 and 2007, they predict there will be 1,281,436 cancer deaths in the EU in 2011 (721,252 men and 560,184 women), compared with 1,256,001 (703,872 men and 552,129 women) in 2007.
When these figures are converted into world standardised rates per 100,000 of the population, this means there will be a fall from 153.8 per 100,000 to 142.8 per 100,000 in men, and from 90.7 to 85.3 in women - a drop of 7% in men and 6% in women - since 2007.
The overall downward trend in cancer death rates is driven mainly by falls in breast cancer mortality in women, and lung and colorectal cancer in men.
"Lung, colorectal and breast cancers are the top causes of cancer deaths, and these are showing major changes," say the researchers.
The bad news comes from the United States, where data suggest that strokes are rising rapidly among younger and middle-aged persons, although they are going down for the older population (so there is some good news mixed in there). Researchers attribute the rise in the incidence of stroke largely to the increase in obesity among younger people.
At the University of California at Los Angeles, doctors are seeing more strokes related to high blood pressure and clogged arteries in younger people, said Dr. Jeffrey Saver, director of the stroke center at UCLA.
Early estimates from 2007 death certificates suggest that stroke is now the nation's fourth leading cause of death instead of the third, partly because of better treatments and prevention among the elderly. "But at the same time we're seeing this worrisome rise in mid-life," Saver said.
Allison Hooker, a nurse who coordinates stroke care at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., said her hospital also is seeing more strokes in younger people with risk factors such as smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, alcohol overuse and diabetes.
"I'd say at least half of our population (of stroke patients) is in their 40s or early 50s," she said, "and devastating strokes, too."

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