« Coffee Snorters: Trunk Show Edition | Main | Let The Judgement Begin - It's Twins! Edition »

June 18, 2014

First World Problems, Blessings of Affluence Edition

The 10 leading causes of death in the United States, vs. poor countries:

causeofdeath.png

Note that the majority of leading causes of death in the US are so-called "lifestyle" diseases: in other words, diseases caused by unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, old age, etc.

Posted by Cassandra at June 18, 2014 08:33 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.villainouscompany.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/5185

Comments

Old age is a lifestyle disease, but suicide, accidents, AIDS, and heart disease are not?

Posted by: Texan99 at June 18, 2014 04:35 PM

Tex beat me to it, but I was going to question the Alheimer's. A disease for which we have no clue to the exact beginnings nor a friggin' clue as to where to even start to find a remedy to ease the symptoms, much less a cure, is a lifestyle disease? Is this chart trying to say that nobody else anywhere in the world gets alzheimer's? Just in the US? Or is it just the affluent in the other countries that get it because they have the means to afford that lifestyle?
What a lifestyle, by the way. Sign me up!
0>;~/

Posted by: DL Sly at June 18, 2014 04:51 PM

And how sad is the fact that the number two cause of death in poor countries is simply being born.
*sigh*
And we worry about uttering words like "bossy" and "Redskin" lest some poor withering soul should get their feelings hurt.
pheh

Posted by: DL Sly at June 18, 2014 04:54 PM

+1 Tex and Sly. Every disease is a lifestyle disease to some degree. Accidents is another one: there are some really strange random accidents that happen in spite of all precautions, but mostly they happen because you regularly engage in dangerous things.

Trust me on this one. No smart comments, Sly.

Posted by: Grim at June 18, 2014 05:23 PM

The only thing I can think of for classifying Alzheimer's as a lifestyle disease is that your lifestyle is the only thing allowing you to live long enough to get it. It never said it was a "bad lifestyle" disease.

Heart Disease was classified as a lifestyle disease, but AIDS isn't because BIGOT!

And I wonder if "birth" is truly neonatal mortality (which is rather high in many poor countries) or if they mean the mother's dying in childbirth or both.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 18, 2014 05:48 PM

I have a feeling it's all three combined, YAG, with heavy stats on the mortality rate immediately after birth. And I guess it could be rationalized that being able to reach such an age would be a *lifestyle* thing, but the Japanese, to name just the first one that comes to mind, are well-known for living long lives even before the advent of modern medicine. I'm not sure if they're alzheimer's stats are similar to the US, but I strongly suspect not. However, I'm not a stat's person, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so I may be just wandering in the woods here.

"No smart comments, Sly.

But, but, but.....how will you recognize me?
0>;~]
Easy.
I'll be the one saying, "Here hold mah beer." right before doing the dangerous stunt that will most likely lead to an accident for which I'll have to go see my doctor....again. (see Grim's comment above, Princess)

Posted by: DL Sly at June 18, 2014 07:27 PM

The only thing I can think of for classifying Alzheimer's as a lifestyle disease is that your lifestyle is the only thing allowing you to live long enough to get it. It never said it was a "bad lifestyle" disease.

Bingo.

Posted by: Cass at June 18, 2014 09:29 PM

I'll be the one saying, "Here hold mah beer." right before doing the dangerous stunt....

I'm always happy to hold your beer. I can't be answerable for the condition it is in when you get it back, though. :)

Posted by: Grim at June 18, 2014 09:43 PM

Well, if you've bet against me, there had better be two when I get back.
Otherwise, I'll consider us square.
0>:~}

Posted by: DL Sly at June 18, 2014 09:57 PM

I sort of understand classifying Alzheimer's as a disease of affluence, in the same sense that cancer is a disease of affluence: it afflicts a large percentage of society only if the society is affluent enough to permit the average lifespan to get way up there into the 70's. (Not that cancer doesn't ever strike the young, but the risk increases hugely with age.) But it's the age, not the affluence directly, as far as we know. If some poor-but-virtuous society manages a sharp increase in longevity, I'm pretty sure they'll see Alzheimer's and cancer move to the top of the mortality charts, too.

It seems a little funny to drift from "affluence" to "lifestyle." We usually say "lifestyle" when we're referring to the conscious assumption of unforced risks. We can call lung and colon cancer "lifestyle" issues in the sense that smoking and diet (or maybe refusal to undergo colonoscopies?) are risk factors. But breast and prostate cancer? That's mostly genetics plus age, unless you count the impact of decreasing the number of lifetime pregnancies and perhaps hormone-replacement therapy at menopause. Go far enough down that path, and we might as well call neonatal births and malaria "lifestyle" issues.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 19, 2014 01:02 PM

I sort of understand classifying Alzheimer's as a disease of affluence, in the same sense that cancer is a disease of affluence: it afflicts a large percentage of society only if the society is affluent enough to permit the average lifespan to get way up there into the 70's. (Not that cancer doesn't ever strike the young, but the risk increases hugely with age.) But it's the age, not the affluence directly, as far as we know. If some poor-but-virtuous society manages a sharp increase in longevity, I'm pretty sure they'll see Alzheimer's and cancer move to the top of the mortality charts, too.

I suspect it may be both in a way, but totally agree they're hard to tease out. A lot of cancer is very much diet/exercise related (sugar intake, lack of exercise, drinking, processed foods/fiber). And Alzheimer's seems to have a lot to do with sedentary lifestyles. A lot of health outcomes cited wrt Europe vs. the US have to do with the fact that we eat more, exercise less, and weigh more than most Euro-weenies.

We see the influence of diet in longitudinal studies of immigrants to the US - the first gen has far lower incidences of many of these diseases, then it creeps up as successive generations become increasingly "Americanized" and eat more processed food, more meat, more fat, more sugar.

Of course, their native diets sometimes pose their own risks - Japanese have more stomach cancer than we do (partly higher consumption of smoked/salted/pickled foods, partly other issues unrelated to diet).

I found it fascinating that both birth and premature birth were cited on the poor countries' list. I assume "birth" refers to both maternal/infant mortality as a result of childbirth gone tragically wrong, whereas premature birth... well, I'm not sure.

I wish I had had more time to look over this yesterday.

Posted by: Cass at June 19, 2014 01:16 PM

"I wish I had had more time to look over this yesterday."

Yeah....slacker.
0>;~]

Posted by: DL Sly at June 19, 2014 03:39 PM

By "neonatal births" I meant "neonatal deaths," obviously. :-+

Cancer's a tricky one. Whether it's affluence- or lifestyle-related depends a great deal on the type of cancer. A lot of cancer is strongly associated with poverty, especially the kind of poverty that goes with exposure to certain mutagenic diseases and pollutants. There were some early studies of the cancer effects of high-power electrical lines that got all fouled up by failing to take into account the unequal distribution of poverty in the areas near the lines. And of course, as you say, affluence has its own set of characteristic risks for certain kinds of disease, although I don't think the connection there is nearly as clear for (most?) cancer as it is for things like heart disease and diabetes. (I was going to mention just the Japanese/stomach cancer link you mentioned, too, which is food-preference-based rather than affluence-related. Though it's true that stomach cancer has declined worldwide as people relied more on refrigeration and less on smoking and salting.) But my impression is that most of the change in the cancer profile between rich and poor countries is that the rich countries stop having the cancers that result from rampant oncoviruses like Hep B and HPV and Epstein-Barr, and start having the kind that inevitably kick in if the average person doesn't die younger from something else.

I guess I'm still unpersuaded by any research to date on what the risk factors really are for Alzheimer's.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 20, 2014 05:48 PM

...my impression is that most of the change in the cancer profile between rich and poor countries is that the rich countries stop having the cancers that result from rampant oncoviruses like Hep B and HPV and Epstein-Barr, and start having the kind that inevitably kick in if the average person doesn't die younger from something else.

I don't disagree. I suspect that childhood leukemia is often virus-based. I think that's what killed my nephew Tommy, but of course have no proof.

The whole idea of genes switching on and off in response to environmental stimuli is another thing that fascinates me.

Posted by: Cass at June 20, 2014 07:26 PM

Yes, I've been reading about that, too. There must be all kinds of switching going on, to judge only from the fact that every one of our cells has the complete set of instructions for all kinds of cells, and it's only off-switching that keeps our brains from growing beards and our eyes from producing insulin.

What bad luck about your nephew; I'm sorry to hear it. Childhood leukemia is one of the cancers that has improved the most in treatment in recent decades. I had a friend years ago whose son was cured of leukemia. Unfortunately, this was just before we figured out that HIV was getting into the blood supply, and the young man succumbed to AIDS a few years later.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 21, 2014 02:21 PM

Post a comment

To reduce comment spam, comments on older posts are put into moderation 5 days after the last activity. Comments with more than one link also go into moderation. If you don't see your comment after posting it, try refreshing the screen. If you still don't see it, your comment is probably in the moderation queue.




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)