Monday, April 28, 2008

Reversal in life expectancy for some Americans

Ok, ok, I'll spare you the suspense: it's poor women, mainly.

According to a study published last week in PLoS Medicine, available here, life expectancy for some people--and particularly women in the Deep South and Appalachia--has actually decreased since the 1980s. According to the lead author, Dr. Majid Ezzati, "The finding that 4 percent of the male population and 19 percent of the female population experienced either decline or stagnation is a major public health concern." Yeah, you could say that. The main culprits are identified as chronic diseases related to smoking, overweight and obesity, and high blood pressure.

Life expectancy has long been regarded as an indicator of the effectiveness of a country's health and social systems. The fact that we seem to be moving backward, particularly in poor parts of the country, is bad news. You can read more at the NYT.

And because I can't help it on a Monday, here's a big fat helping of irony for you: Linda's link to Art Caplan's commentary on the ethics of extending life (ie, there's nothing wrong with us "haves" choosing to extend our lives) and this MSNBC feature, on the crazy things some women are doing to their faces in hopes of looking younger (having outlived their dewy complexions, presumably).

Social justice, anyone?

Photo credit: Shelby Lee Adams for the NYT

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