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The U.S.: We Are Number 27 in Health!

Christopher J. L. Murray et al.: The State of US Health, 1990-2010: Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors.

Austin Frakt writes:

The state of US health ain’t so good: There’s a ridiculously fantastic manuscript over at JAMA that you should go read right now…. This study specifically looked at the burden of disease, injuries, and risk factors in the US versus other countries. The methods are amazingly detailed. So how did we do compared to other countries? Not well. Between 1990 and 2010, among the 34 countries in the OECD, the US dropped from 18th to 27th in age-standardized death rate…. Things don’t look so good for the US. There’s an awful lot of red there. A little bit of yellow. One green. Best in the world, my ass.

Some of you will feel the urge to blame this on the racial or ethnic makeup of the US. I encourage you to look at the variety of causes of years of life lost. They don’t favor just one group. They’re all over the place. And we do pretty badly in most of them…. What we have here is a prioritization issue. We spend a lot of time worrying about colon cancer. It’s ranked 11th in 2010. We spend a lot of time worrying about breast cancer. We have walks, and ribbons, and whole months dedicated to it. It’s ranked 13th. Prostate Cancer? Men are obsessed with it. It’s ranked 27th. But more years of life are lost to lung cancer than to prostate cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer combined. Ischemic heart disease causes four times as many years of life to be lost each year as prostate cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer combined. Stroke is 3rd. COPD is 4th. Traffic accidents are 5th. Suicide is 6th. None of these things get the national attention, or resources, that they deserve. We could have the best health care system in the world. We’ve got the money and the necessary pieces to get really, really good outcomes. But we need to be much smarter about it if we’re going to do so.

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