For many years, I have posted a Saturday listing of Interesting Stuff - internet items that piqued my interest that I think you too might like.
Although the topic of this blog is ageing and what it's really like to get old, that's not required for Interesting Stuff. Sometimes I include one or two pieces related to age, but only if they can be explained in a paragraph or short lead-in to a video.
Longer and more complex stories related to ageing are better suited to weekday posts when there is room for more detail but now I see that there is a third category I have neglected: items too long for Saturday, too short for an entire blog post.
So expect to see Interesting Ageing Stuff here now and then. Today is the inaugural edition.
DOLLARS FOR DOCS
Although doctors have long denied it, there is now evidence that physicians who are paid by pharmaceutical and medical device companies for promotional talks, research and consulting prescribe more brand-name medications than those who do not.
”Doctors who got money from drug and device makers - even just a meal - prescribed a higher percentage of brand-name drugs overall than doctors who didn’t, our analysis showed,” reports ProPublica.
“Indeed, doctors who received industry payments were two to three times as likely to prescribe brand-name drugs at exceptionally high rates as others in their specialty.”
For nearly a decade, non-profit Propublica has been turning out investigative journalism in the public interest and in 2010, became the first online news source to win a Pulitzer Prize.
(FYI: The 2016 Pulitzer Prizes are being announced today. You can watch live at the Pulitzer Prize website at 3PM Eastern time, 12N Pacific time.)
As ProPublica explains, pharmaceutical and medical device companies are now required by law to release details of their payments to a variety of doctors and U.S. teaching hospitals. ProPublica is never anything but scrupulously fair in their reporting:
”ProPublica’s analysis doesn’t prove industry payments sway doctors to prescribe particular drugs, or even a particular company’s drugs. Rather, it shows that payments are associated with an approach to prescribing that, writ large, benefits drug companies’ bottom line...
“Among internists who received no payments, for example, the average brand-name prescribing rate was about 20 percent, compared to about 30 percent for those who received more than $5,000.”
According to the data, the company that paid out the most to physicians is Genentech, Inc.: $388,000,000. The physician who has received the largest total payments is Sujata Narayan, a family medicine specialist in California: $43,900,000.
THE EFFECT OF EXERCISE ON BONE STRENGTH
When I got serious about devising a daily exercise routine a few years ago, I made a point to include a fair amount of strength training to help maintain bone density and to prevent falls.
It turns out that I, along with many internet health websites, exercise experts, professional medical societies and more, are wrong. Osteoporosis researchers have known that for ten years, reports Gina Kolata in The New York Times:
”The answer came a little more than a decade ago when scientists did rigorous studies, asking if weight bearing exercise increased bone density in adults.
“Those studies failed to find anything more than a minuscule exercise effect — on the order of 1 percent or less, which is too small to be clinically significant...
“[Other] Studies have found that older people who did weight bearing exercise decreased their risk of fractures. But this seems to be more likely explained by the fact that exercise leads to stronger muscles that in turn made falling less likely.
Further, osteoporosis drugs like Fosamex slow the rate of bone loss but do not build bone. All that is the bad news. Here's the good news:
”There is a glimmer of hope for those who have put their faith in exercise. Perhaps, osteoporosis researchers say, even though bones do not get stronger with exercise, exercise might make bones healthier in terms of a mysterious property called bone quality.
“No one knows exactly what it is but it may help explain why some people with bones that look strong get fractures while others with bones that look fragile do not. Maybe those microscopic changes in bone make a crucial difference, but it is too soon to say.”
Even so, on the strong muscle theory, I won't be slacking off on my strength training. You can read the entire story here.
50+ VOTERS, THE 2016 ELECTION AND SOCIAL SECURITY
AARP hired Hart Research Associates and GS Strategy Group who surveyed 1659 registered voters – with an emphasis on blacks and Latinos - in February and March this year about Social Security and other issues.
Here are some of the Social Security responses:
• More than eight in ten (82%), including 85% of African Americans and 83% of Hispanics, say that having a plan for Social Security is a basic threshold for presidential leadership.
• More than nine in ten (95%) voters ages 50+, including 96% of African Americans and 97% of Hispanics, say that it is important that presidential candidates lay out their plans to update Social Security for future generations.
• Seven in ten voters ages 50+ say that it would be “very helpful” in their vote decision to learn about a presidential candidate’s plans for Social Security, including 82% of African Americans and 72% of Hispanics.
Let me know if you think an occasional Interesting Ageing Stuff post is useful or interesting to you.
Interesting Ageing Stuff is an occasional listing of items I like that are too long for Saturday's Interesting Stuff and not quite important enough for a full blog post.
You are all encouraged to submit age-related-only items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.