SciTech

Health Line

Medical costs send Americans abroad

Due to rising health care costs and insufficient insurance plans, more and more Americans become “medical tourists” as they explore health care possibilities abroad.
Moreover, the availability of high-quality medical facilities with U.S. accreditation, coupled with more reasonable rates, make health care abroad a more viable option for Americans.
According to a report issued by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, at least 85,000 Americans prefer being treated at foreign facilities for procedures ranging from minor dental implants to heart valve replacement and bypass surgeries.

Medical tourism is expected to increase because of escalating health care costs and also because certain insurance companies are promoting the practice.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina is one such firm, which has opened a company called Companion Global Healthcare that specializes in helping potential customers who want to go abroad for medical procedures.

Source: The New York Times

Removal of carb gene helps heart

Scientists propose that the suppression of a carb gene, known as DNA-PK, could help overcome the negative, weight-gaining effects of carb-rich foods like pasta, rice, and bread.
Researcher Hei Suk Sool, from the University of California, Berkeley, said that this gene plays an important role in the liver’s processing of excess glucose into fatty acids.
The study was performed on mice whose DNA-PK gene had been removed. After maintaining a high-carb diet, these mice were 40 percent leaner than ordinary mice and had improved blood-lipid profiles, lowering their risk of heart disease. The results of the study were published in the journal Cell.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Virus linked to global warming

A study shows that adverse effects of climate change have lead to a sharp increase in outbreaks of the West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne illness, across the United States.
As a result of higher temperatures, increasing humidity, and rainfall, this virus is quickly spreading to humans via mosquitoes that carry it.
Warm weather increases the length of the mosquito season and also allows the mosquitoes to reach biting age faster.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the West Nile virus led to 43 deaths nationwide in 2008 out of the 1300 infections diagnosed last year.

Source:*Scientific American*

Obesity reduces life span significantly

According to a recent investigation of 57 studies that included almost 900,000 people, obesity can reduce a person’s life span by two to four years.
Extreme obesity can take eight to 10 years from a person’s life. Researchers have calculated that an increasing Body Mass Index (BMI) can not only have direct consequences on humans such as heart disease and diabetes, but can also increase the risk of cancer.

Authors of the study advise people to prevent weight gain instead of taking drastic mesures to reduce weight later.

Source: CNN.com