Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I Blame Global Warming

Science is a wonderful thing.  As time moves on, in a single direction,  Science, as an endeavor, discovers new things and improves our lives.   Sometimes though, things get better, and we don’t know why.

That’s the news from Gina Kolata,  Health & Science reporter at the NY Times, in an article dated JULY 8, 2016, titled A Medical Mystery of the Best Kind: Major Diseases Are in Decline. [ here ].

The Good News:

“…Hip fractures, [incidence]… rates have been dropping by 15 to 20 percent a decade over the past 30 years.”

“The exemplar for declining rates is heart disease. Its death rate has been falling for so long — more than half a century — that it’s no longer news. The news now is that the rate of decline seems to have slowed recently.”,

“Dementia rates, too, have been plunging. … a 20 percent decline in dementia incidence per decade, starting in 1977.”

“Until the late 1930s, stomach cancer was the No. 1 cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Now just 1.8 percent of American cancer deaths are the result of it.”

“Rates of disease after disease are dropping. Even the rate of ‘all-cause mortality,’ which lumps together chronic diseases, is falling. And every one of those diseases at issue is linked to aging.” [which is increasing as the baby Boomers age].

The cause of this news?  In each case, the definitive answer is:
“Dr. Steven R. Cummings of the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute and the University of California at San Francisco. When asked [regarding hip fractures] what else was at play, he laughed and said, “I don’t know.”
That answer, a basic “we don’t really know”,  is the same for each of the declining diseases – medical advances just don’t fully  explain the declines.
Usually, in biological sciences, answers are just not that clear, and the question of which of many possible factors is causing an effect can often be best answered by "all of them."

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