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Health Trends

10% of healthcare spending on prevention: Just 10 percent of America's current spending on healthcare goes toward prevention, says Dr. Cristina Beato, assistant secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But the federal government aims to change that. In 2003, President Bush, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona all promoted prevention as the desired model for healthcare and self-responsibility as the desired public attitude towards health.

Caring for elders: A 1997 National Alliance for Caregiving/AARP survey revealed that 22.4 million American households were involved in caring for adults ages 50 and above. That number could rise to 39 million by 2007. The economic value of services provided by family caregivers has been estimated at $257 billion annually. This figure is more than double the $115 billion spent on nursing home and home care combined. The increasing longevity of Americans means more adults in their 50s, 60s or 70s care for parents or other family members, while studies have shown that caregivers often become ill due to stress and lack of time to care for their health

One more reason for men to stay active: For years, health promoters have been racking their brains trying to come up with persuasive reasons for Americans to be more physically active. Well here's a new one that's sure to get some attention: Men who exercise are less likely to experience sexual dysfunction as they get older. Analyzing data from surveys of nearly 32,000 men age 53 to 90, researchers concluded that men who were the most physically active were least likely to become impotent. According to Eric B. Rimm, an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, men who ran at least three hours per week appeared to have the sexual functioning of men two to five years younger. But even moderate activity proved beneficial: Men who briskly walked for 30 minutes, most days of the week, had a 15 to 20 percent reduction in the risk of erectile dysfunction. (Source: Annals of Internal Medicine, 2003; 129, 161-168)

Weight loss and activity: Women trying to lose weight can benefit as much from a moderate physical activity as from an intense workout, according to a new study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Prior studies had focused on short-term weight loss: Data were lacking about the optimal degree and amount of physical activity for long-term weight loss. The study -- "Effect of Exercise Dose and Intensity on Weight Loss in Overweight, Sedentary Women: A Randomized Trial" -- appears in the September 10, 2003, issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Physical activity and breast cancer: The study related to physical activity and breast cancer, based on data from the Women's Health Initiative's Observational Study, found that increased physical activity was associated with a reduced risk for breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Longer duration physical activity gave the most benefit but the physical activity did not need to be strenuous to reduce breast cancer risk. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), September 10, 2003.



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