Posts Tagged ‘critical illness insurance’

Cheap E&O Insurance Now Available With Free Membership

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

A new program provides low-cost E&O insurance to life and health insurance agents nationwide.  According to the program sponsor the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance agents can also save because the organization continues to waive membership fees for 2012.

“The E&O program is available in all states and offers extremely competitive premiums for agents who can successfully answer eight simple online questions,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the trade organization.  The association’s sponsored E&O product provides a $1 million limit of liability for each claim with a $1,000 deductible per-claim.

Coverage under the program is also available for new agents with options for agencies and their staff.  “We are committed to helping to build critical illness insurance sales in the United States,” Slome declares, “as a result, we are continuing to offer free membership to insurance agents and brokers who wish to learn more about marketing and selling critical illness insurance protection.”

Open enrollment for the group policy has started with premiums for the full year of coverage starting at $515.   “An agent can sign up at any point for coverage and will pay the pro-rated premium which can be as low as $103,” Slome explains.  The program offers instant online approval and certificates are immediately available.  “The program even accepts credit card payments, ideal for those who like to accumulate points,” Slome adds.

For additional information call the Association at (818) 597-3205 or visit their website http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/eo to access free online consumer information guides.

Critical Illness Insurance Claims Often Begin Prior To Age 55

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Just under half (47%) of new critical illness insurance claims in 2011 began prior to age 55 according to the 2012 Buyer & Claimant Study conducted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance (AACII) and General Re Life Corporation.  This marks a significant increase in claims by younger policyholders compared to the prior year’s analysis.

The percentage of claims that occurred before age 45 grew compared to 2010.  Some 13 percent of male policyholders and 12 percent of female policyholders who received benefits were younger than 45 according to the data from 10 leading critical illness insurers.  “The increase in younger claimants is likely due to an increase in younger buyers of this relatively new form of insurance coverage,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the recently formed critical illness insurance trade group.  “With higher health insurance deductibles and more restrictive plans, critical illness insurance is starting to gain traction among buyers in their 30s and 40s.”
The study found a pronounced year-to-year increase in the number of claims paid to policyholders between ages 35 and 44.  Some 8 percent of new claims by men and 10 percent women occurred at these ages in 2011, versus four percent reported by the prior year’s study.   The greatest decline in claims occurred after age 55.

The study revealed that cancer remains the leading cause for new individual claims accounting for 61 percent of new claims.  Heart attacks accounted for 11 percent and stroke for 18 percent of new claims.

Researchers analyzed data for over 57,000 purchasers of individual critical illness insurance policies as well as claims reported by leading insurers for the time period January 1 to December 31, 2011. The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance is the national trade association providing information to consumers and insurance professionals.  Free access to the organization’s online learning, marketing and sales center is offered to insurance and financial professionals.  For further information, visit the Website:  www.aacii.org/ or call (818) 597-3205.

Light Drinking Boosts Breast Cancer Risk

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

A newly published review of research reveals that even one alcoholic drink a day can boost a woman’s risk of breast cancer by as much as five percent.

Scientists from three leading European countries reported that heavier drinking, which they defined as having three or more drinks a day can increase risk up to 50 percent.

The findings attributed some two percent of breast cancer cases in Europe and North America to light drinking alone, and about 50,000 cases worldwide to heavy drinking.

“The research seems to confirm the expert advice for women to minimize drinking,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.   Critical illness insurance pays a cash, lump sum benefit upon diagnosis of a critical illness such as cancer.

Healthy women at average risk of breast cancer should not consume more than one alcoholic drink a day, the study’s authors said.  The connection between breast cancer and alcohol was first suggested in the early 1980s, the researchers noted. To update the research, they searched for more than 3,400 studies and narrowed their focus to 113 that examined the effects of light drinking on breast cancer risk.

Scientists note that alcohol is thought to increase estrogen levels, in turn, perhaps, increasing the risk of breast cancer. Several studies have found alcohol more strongly linked to cancers known as estrogen receptor positive, which require estrogen to grow.

Seitz said the team’s research controlled for various other factors that might affect risk, such as obesity.

The American Cancer Society guidelines say, for overall health, if you don’t drink, don’t start.  If you do, it’s best to limit your consumption to one drink a day if you are a woman.

For more information on critical illness insurance, visit the Association’s Consumer Information Center .

American Association for Critical Illness Insurance
3835 E Thousand Oaks Blvd
Westlake Village, CA 91362

Critical Illness Insurance Sales Tend To Be Small

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

More than half (53%) of men and 54 percent of women purchased individual critical illness insurance policies providing benefits of $20,000 or less, according to the 2012 Critical Illness Insurance Buyer Study conducted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance (AACII) and General Re Life Corporation.

For the second consecutive year, researchers analyzed data from 10 leading critical illness insurers, which accounted for over 57,200 purchasers of individual critical illness insurance policies made between January 1 and December 31, 2011.  “People increasingly understand they have some financial risk as a result of higher health insurance deductibles or lost income resulting from a dread disease and are selecting nominal amounts of CI coverage because they believe it is both sufficient and affordable protection,” explains Jesse Slome, AACII executive director.

According to the 2012 National Critical Illness Insurance Buyer Study some 29 percent of male buyers and 31 percent of female buyers purchased benefit levels of $10,000 or less.   Fewer than one in 10 male buyers (9%) and only eight percent of female buyers purchased over $50,000 in protection.

According to the Association’s online Critical Illness Insurance Price Calculator, a 40-year-old male non-smoker will pay about $20 monthly for $20,000 of CI protection.  Females pay less, Slome notes.

Critical illness insurance pays a tax-free, lump-sum cash benefit generally upon diagnosis of a covered critical illness such as cancer, heart attack or stroke.  Sold in 54 countries worldwide, the first policies became available in the United States around 1996 and today over one million individuals have such protection in the U.S.

The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance is the national trade association providing information to consumers and insurance professionals.   For further information, visit the Association’s Website:  www.aacii.org/ or call (818) 597-3205.

For long term care insurance information and costs visit our sister organization, the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance.

Critical Illness Insurance Buyers Younger Than 45

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Roughly half (49%) of men and 46 percent of women who purchased individual critical illness insurance policies in 2011 were younger than age 45, according to the 2012 Critical Illness Insurance Buyer Study conducted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance (AACII) and General Re Life Corporation.

Researchers analyzed data from 10 leading critical illness insurers, which accounted for over 57,200 purchasers of individual critical illness insurance policies made between January 1 and December 31, 2011.  “While the majority of critical illness insurance sales continue to be made in the worksite setting, sales to individuals are increasing as awareness grows,” explains Jesse Slome, AACII executive director.

According to the 2012 National Critical Illness Insurance Buyer Study some18 percent of male buyers and 17 percent of female buyers were between the ages of 25 and 34.   Fewer than one in 10 buyers were age 25 or less and just over one in five buyers were age 55 or older.   This year’s study found that buying ages for men and women were more closely aligned compared to last year notes Stephen Rowley, Vice President for Gen Re.

Critical illness insurance pays a tax-free, lump-sum cash benefit generally upon diagnosis of a covered critical illness such as cancer, heart attack or stroke.  Sold in 54 countries worldwide, the first policies became available in the United States around 1996 and today over one million individuals have such protection in the U.S.

The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance is the national trade association providing information to consumers and insurance professionals.   For further information, visit the Association’s Website or call (818) 597-3205.

Height Plays Role In Heart Failure

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Men who are six feet tall or taller have a significantly lower risk of having heart failure according to new research.

Heart failure affects nearly five million Americans according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade organization.   Heart failure is defined as a condition when the heart is too weak to pump blood and oxygen to the body’s organs.

Researchers analyzed data from over 22,000 male doctors who were divided into four categories based on their height.  The scientists found that the tallest doctors, those who were between six feet and six feet eight inches saw a 24 percent drop in the risk of developing heart failure compared to the doctors in the shortest category.  These doctors were five feet seven inches tall or shorter.

“Heart disease and heart failure is no longer an immediate death sentence but the financial ramifications are enormous forcing many Americans into bankruptcy,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade organization.  “Some 60 percent of bankruptcies are due to medical bills and 78 percent of these individuals had health insurance when the health incident first occurred.”

“Heart disease is one of the leading critical illnesses impacting men along with cancer,” Slome explains.  There were 780,000 new coronary attacks this year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org report.  “Today heart attacks are survivable but  medical expenses are now a leading cause of financial bankruptcy,” Slome adds.  “Even the best insurance policies no longer cover every cost associated with treating cancers and families face huge expenses.”

Individuals interested in receiving a cost quote for critical illness insurance from a designated American Association for Critical Illness Insurance professional can complete the organization’s free quote request form accessible at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org or obtain information by calling the Association’s offices.

Mammograms Cut Breast Cancer Deaths By Half

Friday, December 9th, 2011

According to a new study, women who undergo routine mammograms can lower their risk of dying from breast cancer by nearly half.

Researchers in the Netherlands tracked nearly 800 patients who died from breast cancer between the years 1995 and 2003.  These were compared with some 3,700 or more control patients who were matched by age and other measures.

The study found that women who underwent screening reduced their risk of dying from breast cancer by 49 percent.  For women between the ages of  70 and 75, the reduced risk of dying from breast cancer was even higher; 84 percent.   For younger women, those specifically between the ages of 50 to 69, the reduction was smaller, though still significant at 39 percent.

Among the women with breast cancer, nearly 30 percent of tumors were found as a result of the screening and about 34 percent were identified between screens. Nearly 36 percent of these women had never had a mammogram.

“Mammography screening, including the best age to begin, is being debated in the United States,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  “Some experts believe women should start getting them at age 40 while others recommend routine screenings begin at age 50.”

The study findings add to the body of evidence supporting the fact that mammography improves detection and survival.  However, medical researchers noted that is was not clear whether the women who died of cancer got less aggressive treatment or refused treatment. That could have affected survival, of course.

“Heart attack, cancer and stroke are the three leading critical illnesses impacting millions of families each year, ” Slome adds, “which is why we have mounted a campaign to educate individuals between ages 30 and 50 about critical illness insurance protection which pays a lump sum cash amount upon diagnosis of a major condition.”

 

For more information on critical illness insurance, visit the Association’s Consumer Information Center at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/learning-center/.  For information on long term care insurance, visit the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance’s educational website http://www.aaltci.org/long-term-care-insurance/ – long term care insurance.

Low Vitamin D Levels Linked To Heart Disease

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Individuals with low levels of vitamin D in their blood are at significantly higher risk for a variety of heart diseases.

According to a new study increasing levels of vitamin D with supplements reduced a person’s risk of dying from any cause.  The significant reduction was compared to someone who remained deficient in the vitamin.

Researchers at the University of Kansas analyzed data on more than 10,000 patients and reported that 70 percent were deficient in vitamin D and these individuals proved to be at significantly higher risk for a variety of heart diseases.

The scientists reported that D-deficiency also nearly doubled a person’s likelihood of dying.  The study authors note that when individuals corrected the deficiency with supplements they lowered their risk of death by 60 percent.

“Other studies have discussed the importance of vitamin D to good overall health,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org. “It is very valuable to see that there is such a strong relationship between heart disease and vitamin D deficiency.”

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a range of illnesses, but few studies have demonstrated that supplements could prevent those outcomes.

Among the individuals tested more than 70 percent of the patients were below 30 Nano grams per milliliter, the level many experts consider sufficient for good health.  After taking into account the patients’ medical history, medications and other factors, cardiologists discovered that those individuals with deficient levels of vitamin D were more than twice as likely to have diabetes, 40 percent more likely to have high blood pressure and about 30 percent more likely to suffer from a diseased heart muscle,  as people without D deficiency.

Previous research has indicated that many Americans don’t have sufficient levels of vitamin D, however. The latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimated that 25 percent to 57 percent of adults have insufficient levels of D, and other studies have suggested the number is as high as 70 percent.

Nearly one million Americans will have anew coronary attack this year according to AACII and heart attack, cancer and stroke are the three leading critical illnesses impacting millions of families each year.  “Few families are financially prepared for all the uncovered and related expenses,” Slome adds, “which is why we have mounted a campaign to educate individuals between ages 30 and 50 about critical illness insurance protection which pays a lump sum cash amount upon diagnosis of a major condition.”

For more information on critical illness insurance, visit the Association’s Consumer Information Center at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/learning-center/.  For information on long term care insurance, visit the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance’s educational website http://www.aaltci.org/long-term-care-insurance/ – long term care insurance.

Women Diagnosed With Cancer Are Less Likely To Die

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Women diagnosed with cancer are less likely to die from the disease than men.  Experts acknowledge that the higher rate for men is due to a higher initial risk and later detection. 

According to research reported by the National Cancer Institute he highest male-to-female mortality rate ratios for cancers are lip cancer, where 5.5 men died for each woman patient, and esophageal, where 4 men died for each woman patient. 

The study examined over 30 different types of cancer examining data from 1977 to 2006.  When examining lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women, the scientists report 2.3 male deaths for each female death. 

“Men are more at risk of developing cancer to begin with,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade organization.  “The average lifetime chance that a man will develop lung cancer is about 1 in 13, compared to 1 in 16 for a woman.” 

Researchers noted that men are more likely to have advanced disease conditions by the time their cancer is diagnosed.  They noted that 28 percent of men do not visit the doctor regularly.

“Cancer is one of the leading critical illnesses impacting men along with heart disease,” Slome explains.  There were 1.5 million new cancer diagnosis  in the United States according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org report.  “Today cancer is survivable but  medical expenses are now a leading cause of financial bankruptcy,” Slome adds.  “Even the best insurance policies no longer cover every cost associated with treating cancers and families face huge expenses.” 

Individuals interested in receiving a cost quote for critical illness insurance from a designated American Association for Critical Illness Insurance professional can complete the organization’s free quote request

form accessible at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org or obtain information by calling the Association’s offices.

Eat Extra Servings Of Fish Linked To Reduce Stroke Risk

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Adults who eat fish several times each week are slightly less likely to suffer a stroke.  The findings of a new study report the lowered risk compared to those who only eat a little or no fish at all. 

Researchers analyzed over a dozen studies.  Each study asked people how frequently they ate fish, then followed them for between four and 30 years to see who suffered a stroke. 

Fatty fish such as salmon and herring are especially high in omega-3s. The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fatty fish in particular each week. 

Some 600,000 Americans will suffer their first stroke this year according to annual data published by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  “Stroke impacts the health of millions and results in both medical and long term care expenses,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the national trade groups.

Fish provides a beneficial package of nutrients, in particular the omega-3s, that explains the lower risk explains a Harvard School of Public Health epidemiologist whose research was included in the analysis. 

Smoking, drinking, being overweight and having high blood pressure and cholesterol are all linked to a higher risk of stroke.  Dr. Susanna Larsson and Dr. Nicola Orsini of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden wrote in the journal Stroke that omega-3 fatty acids in fish might lower stroke risk through their positive effects on blood pressure and cholesterol.

Vitamin D, selenium and certain types of proteins in fish may also have stroke-related benefits, the researchers added.  Data for the analysis came from close to 400,000 people age 30 to 103. The studies were done in the U.S., Europe, Japan and China. 

Eating three extra servings of fish each week was linked to a six-percent drop in stroke risk, Slome noted after reviewing the study.  That translates to one fewer stroke among a hundred people eating extra fish over a lifetime.  And the people in each study who ate the most fish were 12 percent less likely to have a stroke that those that ate the least. 

Fatty fish such as salmon and herring are especially high in omega-3s. The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fatty fish in particular each week. 

Individuals interested in receiving a cost quote for critical illness insurance from a designated American Association for Critical Illness Insurance professional can complete the organization’s free quote request form accessible at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/free-quote/ or by calling the Association’s offices.

Those interested in learning more about long term care insurance cost can contact the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance or by calling the Association’s offices at 818-597-3227.

New Technology Could Identify Prostate Cancer In Body Fluids

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Researchers have developed a breakthrough technology that can be used to discriminate cancerous prostate cells in bodily fluids. 

The scientists note that the new technology is years away from use in a clinical setting.  However, they note that the knowledge will be useful in developing a micro device to further enable understanding when prostate cancer will metastasize, or spread to other parts of the body.

“Prostate cancer is one of the leading critical illnesses impacting men,” according to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance and the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance http://www.aaltci.org. “We applaud the significant findings from the U.C. Santa Barbara researchers which could be most helpful for diagnosis and follow-ups during treatment of this disease.” 

Cancer cells found in the blood are thought to be the initiators of metastasis.  Although the primary tumor does not kill prostate cancer patients, metastasis does.   The researchers noted that, “there is a big focus on understanding what causes the tumor to shed cells into the blood. If you could catch them all, then you could stop metastasis. The first thing is to monitor their appearance.” 

The breakthrough made by the researchers is in being able to include more markers in order to identify and study unique tumor cells that are different from the main tumor cells. 

There were 1.5 million new cancer diagnosis  in the United States according to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org which tracks health news related to cancer and heart disease. 

Individuals interested in receiving a cost quote for critical illness insurance from a designated American Association for Critical Illness Insurance professional can complete the organization’s free quote request form accessible at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/free-quote/ or by calling the Association’s offices.

Critical Illness Insurance Group Comments On Decline In Lung Cancer Rates

Friday, September 16th, 2011

New lung cancer cases declined among men in 35 states and among women in six states.

According to new research the decline represents the time period between 1999 and 2008. Among women, lung cancer incidence decreased nationwide between 2006 and 2008, after increasing steadily for decades. 

The decrease in lung cancer cases corresponds closely with smoking patterns across the nation according to the report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the West, where smoking prevalence is lower among men and women than in other regions, lung cancer incidence is decreasing faster the CDC noted.  Studies show declines in lung cancer rates can be seen as soon as five years after smoking rates decline.

“The report revealed that states spending funds on effective tobacco control strategies are seeing larger reductions in smoking,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, an industry trade group.  “The longer they invest, the greater the savings in smoking–related health care costs.” 

“Although lung cancer among men and women has decreased over the past few years,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “too many people continue to get sick and die from lung cancers, most of which are caused by smoking.  The more we invest in proven tobacco control efforts, the fewer people will die from lung cancer.” 

Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer, and the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke cause most lung cancer deaths in the United States.

“Smokers pay significantly more for critical illness insurance because they are at far greater risk of getting cancer,” according to Slome.  “But, without this protection many families will face bankruptcy as a result of uncovered medical and health expenses as well as lost wages while they undergo treatment.” 

From 1999 to 2008 lung cancer rates among men decreased in 35 states and remained stable in nine states.   States with the lowest lung cancer incidence among men were clustered in the West.

After increasing for years, lung cancer rates among women decreased nationwide between 2006 and 2008.

Lung cancer rates decreased between 1999 and 2008 among women in California, Florida, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. 

Lung cancer rates among women remained stable in 24 states, and increased slightly in 14 states (change could not be assessed in six states and the District of Columbia).

There were 1.5 million new cancer diagnosis  in the United States according to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org which tracks health news related to cancer and heart disease.

Individuals interested in receiving a cost quote for critical illness insurance from a designated American Association for Critical Illness Insurance professional can complete the organization’s free quote request form accessible at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/free-quote/ or by calling the Association’s offices.

Cancer Patients Benefit From New Lifespan Predictor

Monday, August 29th, 2011

A new scoring system will predict more whether patients with advanced cancers are now likely to survive for days, weeks or months.

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, cancer is treatable and millions survive a cancer diagnosis as a result of improvements in medical care and medicines.  The new study that was published online in the British Medical Journal found that patients with advanced cancer often wish to know how long they have left to live. 

The information is also important for clinicians, the study authors pointed out.  The ability to know a more certain date can help them plan appropriate care. Clinician predictions of survival are the mainstay of current practice, but are unreliable, over-optimistic and subjective.

The researchers at St George’s, University of London set out to develop a scoring system for use in patients with advanced cancer in different care settings that was as good, or better, than clinicians’ best predictions.

The study involved over one thousand patients with advanced incurable cancer who were no longer receiving treatment.  These individuals had been recently referred to palliative care services.

Using a combination of clinical and laboratory variables known to predict survival, the team created two prognostic scores to predict whether patients were likely to survive for 0-13 days, 14-55 days or more than 55 days.  They would compare with actual survival and clinicians’ predictions.

The scientists took into account external factors that could have affected the results, such as age, gender, ethnicity, diagnosis, and extent of disease.   According to medical experts, this is the first study to benchmark a prognostic scoring system against current best practice.

There were 1.5 million new cancer diagnosis  in the United States according to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org which tracks health news related to cancer and heart disease. 

Individuals interested in receiving a cost quote for critical illness insurance from a designated American Association for Critical Illness Insurance professional can complete the organization’s free quote request form accessible at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/free-quote/ or by calling the Association’s offices.

Drinking Coffee Can Reduce Skin Cancer Risk

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Researchers report that instead of drinking your morning cup of coffee, spread it on your skin as a way of preventing harmful sun damage that leads to skin cancer. 

According to a new study, caffeine guards against certain skin cancers at the molecular level by inhibiting a protein enzyme in the skin.  The protein is known as ATR.  A report from the American Association for Critical Illness, cancer is a leading critical illness affecting millions of Americans annually.

Based on what scientists learned by studying mice, caffeine applied directly to the skin might help prevent damaging UV light from causing skin cancer.  Earlier research noted that mice fed caffeinated water and exposed to lamps that generated UVB radiation were able to kill off a greater percentage of their badly damaged cells and reduce the risk of cells becoming cancerous.

Jesse Slome, director of the critical illness insurance trade group explains that scientists have known that coffee drinking is associated with a decreased risk of non-melanoma skin cancer.  “There now needs to be studies to determine whether topical caffeine inhibits sunlight-induced skin cancer,” Slome states.

In this newly-published study, instead of inhibiting ATR with caffeinated water, researchers at the University of Washington, genetically modified and diminished ATR in one group of mice. They found that the genetically modified mice developed tumors more slowly than the unmodified mice, had 69 percent fewer tumors than regular mice and developed four times fewer invasive tumors.

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, sunlight-induced skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the United States with more than one million new cases each year.

The trade group offers no-cost quotes for critical illness insurance from a designated Association  professional.

New Drug Approved To Treat Deadly Skin Cancer

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the approval of a new drug to treat advanced melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. 

According to the announcement made in Washington, the drug named Zelboraf, was approved for patients with metastatic melanoma, the most life-threatening form of skin cancer and one form that cannot be removed with surgery. 

According to scientists, the drug is the latest in a new generation of cancer-fighting drugs specifically medically tailored to attack genetic vulnerabilities of malignancies.  The FDA explained that Zelboraf was approved only for tumors with a specific genetic mutation. The drug was approved with a test that can determine if a patient’s cancer has this particular mutation. 

The research testing and findings found that the mutation which produces a version of a protein that is normally involved in regulating cell growth is mutated in about half of patients with advanced melanoma. The report concluded that Zelboraf inhibits the activity of the mutated protein. 

Zelboraf, which is marketed by Genentech of San Francisco.  The medication was reviewed under the FDA’s priority review program, which enables the agency to approve drugs quickly. 

In a study involving 675 patients with late-stage melanoma with the mutation, 77 percent of those who received Zelboraf were still living, while only 64 percent of those who received a standard chemotherapy drug known as dacarbazine survived eight months, the FDA said. 

Melanoma is the leading cause of death from skin disease. About 68,130 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed and about 8,700 people die from the disease each year in the United States according to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org which tracks health news related to cancer and heart disease. 

Individuals interested in receiving a cost quote for critical illness insurance from a designated American Association for Critical Illness Insurance professional can complete the organization’s free quote request form accessible at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/free-quote/ or by calling the Association’s offices.

Vitamin D Linked To Higher Risk Of Cancer

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

New research reports that higher levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer.  The levels fall within the normal range of vitamin D levels the researchers report.

People with levels of higher serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D were more likely to develop squamous cell or basal cell carcinoma the scientists found.  Other factors, including increased exposure to sunlight, likely complicate the relationship.  The news was reported online in Archives of Dermatology.

The relationship between vitamin D and skin cancer is complex and studies have yielded conflicting results acknowledges Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks news related to cancer and heart disease.

“Some research suggests that vitamin D might reduce the risk of basal cell carcinoma, but other studies have had the opposite outcome,” explains Jesse Slome, AACII’s director.  The researchers analyzed data, over an average of 9.8 years of follow-up, from over 3,200 white members of a health maintenance organization who had a high probability of developing nonmelanoma skin cancer.

The researchers found, 240 patients developed nonmelanoma skin cancer, including 49 with squamous cell carcinoma, 163 with basal cell carcinoma, and 28 with both.  Some 80% of the cases occurred in sites frequently exposed to the sun.

When patients were divided into four groups according to their D levels, there was a trend linking the higher levels and skin cancer risk that was significant.

The findings add “to the limited and conflicting epidemiological investigation regarding the relationship between vitamin D and [nonmelanoma skin cancer], the researchers concluded.  They added that, aside from UVB light, the finding might also be confounded by such things as participants’ vitamin D levels over a lifetime and consumption of vitamin D supplements, which they were unable to investigate.

Individuals interested in receiving a cost quote for critical illness insurance from a designated American Association for Critical Illness Insurance professional can complete the organization’s free quote request form accessible at http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/free-quote/ or by calling the Association’s offices.

Video Explains How To Compare Critical Illness Insurance Policies

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

To educate American consumers about critical illness insurance protection a relatively new form of insurance, the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance launched a new educational program.

Citical illness insurance has only recently become available in the United States, ecplains Jesse Slome, executive director of the Los Angeles-based trade group.  The protection pays a lump sum cash payment upon diagnosis of cancer, a heart attack or stroke. 

“There were 1.5 million new cancer cases in the U.S. over the past 12 months,” Slome explains.  “Illnesses are the leading reason millions of Americans have declared bankruptcy which doesn’t have to happen if you understand your options and plan ahead.”

The Association has produced a nine minute online presentation that briefly explains what critical illness insurance protects and provides tips on what to look for in a policy.  “Consumers have no idea how to compare coverage offered to them on an individual basis or through their employer,” Slome notes.  “We wanted to share five very simple things to look for that will help them make better decisions.”

For example Slome explains, critical illness insurance offered by an employer may actually cost more than equal protection purchased on an individual basis.  “There is no reason to pay more than you need to,” Slome advises. 

The presentation can be viewed for free at http://my.brainshark.com/Guide-For-Consumers-Considering-Critical-Illness-Insurance-565325792

New Information Can Help Predict Who’ll Survive Heart Attack

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Important news for the nearly one million Americans who will have their first heart attack over the next 12 months.  Researchers report that it may be possible to predict who will survive or die as a result of that attack. 

According to the new study which analyzed data from nearly 20,000 people there are traits that could predict the risk that a heart attack would be fatal. Those traits included having high blood pressure, being black and having a very high body mass index which is a measurement based on height and weight. 

“For some people, the first heart attack is more likely to end their life,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, a national trade group.  “But increasingly more people are surviving heart attacks as well as cancer and strokes.”

The researchers found that in general blacks are at higher risk than non-blacks of sudden cardiac death, in which the heart suddenly stops beating.  But, they noted, they are at less risk of coronary heart disease. 

High blood pressure and increased heart rate were stronger predictors of sudden cardiac death than coronary heart disease.   Extreme high or low BMI was predictive of increased risk of sudden cardiac death, but not of coronary heart disease. 

Certain markers that can be identified by doctors evaluating patients’ electrocardiograms are associated with increased risk of sudden cardiac death. 

Nearly 800,000 Americans will have a new coronary attack this year and about 600,000 will experience their first stroke according to a report from the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks health-related data.  “Both stroke and heart attack are leading health conditions that can financially wipe out a family,” explains Jesse Slome, the association’s executive director.

Critical Illness Insurance Claims Study

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

One third (34%) of new critical illness insurance claims by male policyholders in 2010 began prior to age 55 according to the 2011 Buyer & Claimant Study conducted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance (AACII) and Gen Re.  The remainder of claims started at ages 55 or older.

New claims by women began at older ages the study found.  Nearly three-fourths (71%) of new claims by female policyholders were opened after reaching age 55.  Some four percent of claims for both men and women started between the ages of 35 and 44.

“With a record one million Americans now owning critical illness insurance protection, we sought to look more closely at when claims begin as well as the causes for new claims,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the industry trade organization.  The study revealed that cancer was the leading cause for new individual claims accounting for 61 percent of new benefit payouts.  Heart attacks accounted for 14 percent and stroke for 5 percent of new claims.

Critical illness insurance which pays a lump-sum cash benefit is marketed in 54 countries worldwide and is gaining wider acceptance in the United States notes Barry Eagle, Vice President, Marketing for Gen Re LifeHealth a Berkshire Hathaway Company.  

Researchers analyzed data for over 20,500 purchasers of individual critical illness insurance policies made between January 1 and December 31, 2010. The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance is the national trade association providing information to consumers and insurance professionals.  Free access to the organization’s online learning, marketing and sales center is offered to insurance and financial professionals.  For further information, visit the Website:  www.aacii.org/ or call (818) 597-3205.

Critical Illness Insurance Buyer Study – Part 2

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

More than half (53%) of women purchasing individual critical illness insurance policies last year opted for coverage equal to $20,000 or less.  Among men, some 49 percent purchased that amount according to the 2011 Critical Illness Insurance Buyer Study conducted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance (AACII) and Gen Re.

“The market for individual critical illness insurance sales is definitely consumers looking to secure a reasonably affordable amount of protection,” states Jesse Slome, executive director of the industry trade organization.  “Individuals recognize the value of buying enough protection to pay for one or two years worth of mortgage or rent payments or to pay costs not covered by their health insurance.”

According to the survey, 22 percent of male buyers and an equal percentage of female buyers purchased between $20,001 and $30,000 of protection.  The survey found that 13 percent of men and 11 percent of women purchased coverage equal to $50,001 or more.  

Critical illness insurance pays a lump-sum cash benefit generally upon diagnosis of a covered critical illness such as cancer, heart attack or stroke notes Barry Eagle, Vice President, Marketing for Gen Re LifeHealth a Berkshire Hathaway Company.   The current version of critical illness insurance policies became available in the United States in the mid 1990s and today over one million individuals have such protection.

Researchers analyzed data for over 20,500 purchasers of individual critical illness insurance policies made between January 1 and December 31, 2010. The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance is the national trade association providing information to consumers and insurance professionals. 

Free access to the organization’s online learning, marketing and sales center is offered to insurance and financial professionals.  For further information, visit the Website:  www.aacii.org/ or call (818) 597-3205.

Cancer Death Rates In Europe Drop

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

There will be nearly 1.3 million deaths from cancer in Europe in 2011, according to predictions from a study published in the cancer journal, Annals of Oncology

The estimates, which have been reached after researchers used for the first time in Europe a new mathematical model for predicting cancer mortality, show a fall in overall cancer death rates for both men and women when compared to 2007. But they also highlight some areas of concern, particularly rising rates of lung cancer in women. 

Researchers looked at overall rates in the European Union (EU) and also individual rates in six major EU countries: France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK. 

They predicted there would be 1,281,466 cancer deaths in the EU in 2011 (721,252 men and 560,184 women), compared to 1,256,001 (703,872 men and 552,129 women) in 2007. When these figures are converted into world standardized rates per 100,000 of the population, this means there will be a fall from 153.8 per 100,000 to 142.8 per 100,000 in men, and from 90.7 to 85.3 in women — a drop of 7% in men and 6% in women — since 2007.

“Cancer is no longer an immediate death sentence, the vast majority of people today survive,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the leading U.S. trade organization.  The overall downward trend in cancer death rates is driven mainly by falls in breast cancer mortality in women, and lung and colorectal cancer in men.

However, the number of women dying from lung cancer is increasing steadily everywhere apart from in the UK, which has had the highest rates in women for a decade and is now seeing a leveling off. In the EU as a whole, world standardized death rates from lung cancer in women have gone up from 12.55 per 100,000 of the female population in 2007 to 13.12 in 2011. 

Lung cancer has overtaken breast cancer as the first cause of cancer death in Polish women, as well as in women from the UK. The number of women who will die from lung cancer this year in the UK is 15,632 (compared to 14,900 in 2007); this represents a slight drop in the death rate from 20.57 per 100,000 women in 2007 to 20.33 in 2011. In Poland, 6,343 women will die from lung cancer this year compared to 5,643 in 2007, and this represents an increase in the death rate from 15.53 per 100,000 women to 16.60 in 2011. 

Declines in mortality from other major cancers such as stomach, uterus, prostate and leukaemia are likely to be seen in 2011, say the researchers.

Jesse Slome is executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance <a href> http://www.aaltci.org </a> and the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance <a href> http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org </a> leading national trade organizations.  The Association’s Consumer Information Center was voted the #1 source for information by consumer interest group rating and can be accessed at <a href> http://www.aaltci.org/long-term-care-insurance </a>.

Number of Americans with Diabetes Rises to Nearly 26 Million

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In addition, an estimated 79 million U.S. adults have prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.   Prediabetes raises a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance <a href>http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org</a>.

Diabetes affects 8.3 percent of Americans of all ages, and 11.3 percent of adults aged 20 and older, according to the National Diabetes Fact Sheet for 2011. About 27 percent of those with diabetes—7 million Americans—do not know they have the disease. 

Prediabetes affects 35 percent of adults aged 20 and older.  In 2008, CDC estimated that 23.6 million Americans, or 7.8 percent of the population, had diabetes and another 57 million adults had prediabetes. The 2011 estimates have increased for several reasons:

More people are developing diabetes.

Many people are living longer with diabetes, which raises the total number of those with the disease. Better management of the disease is improving cardiovascular disease risk factors and reducing complications such as kidney failure and amputations.

Hemoglobin A1c is now used as a diagnostic test, and was therefore incorporated into calculations of national prevalence for the first time. The test, also called glycated hemoglobin, measures levels of blood glucose (sugar) over a period of two to three months. Because of this change, estimates of populations with diabetes and prediabetes in the 2011 fact sheet are not directly comparable to estimates in previous fact sheets.

In a study published last year, CDC projected that as many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue. Type 2 diabetes, in which the body gradually loses its ability to use and produce insulin, accounts for 90 percent to 95 percent of diabetes cases. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include older age, obesity, family history, having diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes), a sedentary lifestyle, and race/ethnicity. Groups at higher risk for the disease are African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and some Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Half of Americans aged 65 and older have prediabetes, and nearly 27 percent have diabetes.  Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.  Diabetes costs $174 billion annually, including $116 billion in direct medical expenses.

Heart Disease And Stroke Costs Will Triple

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

The cost of treating heart disease and stroke in the United States is expected to triple in the next 20 years, to $818 billion.

According to the American Heart Association this $545 billion increase in costs for treating heart disease and stroke is largely due to the aging of the population.

“The burden of heart disease and stroke on the U.S. health care system and American families will be substantial,” said Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance

The projected increase in costs will be based on the current rate of heart disease adjusted for changes in the overall age of Americans and the anticipated racial mix of patients. 

Experts noted that these estimates do not take into account the additional costs for those who have more than one condition, or new treatments that might come along,  To curb this rise in costs, the panel said that effective prevention strategies are needed if we are to limit the growing burden of cardiovascular disease. 

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said in a news release that “unhealthy behaviors and unhealthy environments have contributed to a tidal wave of risk factors among many Americans. Early intervention and evidence-based public policies are absolute musts to significantly reduce alarming rates of obesity, hypertension, tobacco use and cholesterol levels.” 

Right now, 36.9 percent of Americans have some type of heart disease, including high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke and other conditions. By 2030, that number will rise to 40.5 percent of the population, or about 116 million people, according to the report. 

The biggest increases are thought to be in stroke, up 24.9 percent, and heart failure, up 25 percent.

Between 2010 and 2030, the cost of caring for patients with heart disease will go from $273 billion to $818 billion, the panel predicted. 

In addition, heart disease will cost billions more in lost productivity, increasing from about $172 billion in 2010 to $276 billion in 2030. These losses include days missed from work or home tasks because of illness, plus lost earnings due to premature death. 

There are also a number of low-cost, high-value cardiovascular protective therapies that are available but are underutilized in routine clinical care that could also help to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease. 

These include keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control, not smoking and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which means eating a healthy diet, getting exercise and keeping your weight down. These strategies have been proven to substantially reduce the risk of heart disease. 

For more information on affordable critical illness insurance protection which can provide a tax-free lump sum cash payment upon diagnosis of a heart attack or stroke, viasit the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance’s website <a href> http://www.crititcalillnessinsuranceinfo.org </a>.

Genetic Code For Type of Cancer Is Cracked

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Scientists at Johns Hopkins have deciphered the genetic code for a type of pancreatic cancer. 

The findings described in Science Express online shows that patients whose tumors have certain coding “mistakes” live twice as long as those without them. 

Scientists report learning that each patient with this kind of rare cancer has a unique genetic code that predicts how aggressive the disease is and how sensitive it is to specific treatments.  What this tells us is that it may be more useful to classify cancers by gene type rather than only by organ or cell type according to Jesse Slome director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

Pancreatic neuroendocrine cancers account for about five percent of all pancreatic cancers. Some of these tumors produce hormones that have noticeable effects on the body, including variations in blood sugar levels, weight gain, and skin rashes while others have no such hormone signal.

Researchers investigated non-hormonal pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors in 68 men and women. Patients whose tumors had mutations in three genes and lived at least 10 years after diagnosis, while more than 60 percent of patients whose tumors lacked these mutations died within five years of diagnosis. 

The Johns Hopkins team, which previously mapped six other cancer types, used automated tools to create a genetic “map” that provides clues to how tumors develop, grow and spread. 

In the first set of experiments, the Johns Hopkins scientists sequenced nearly all protein-encoding genes in 10 of the 68 samples of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and compared these sequences with normal DNA from each patient to identify tumor-specific changes or mutations. 

Major funding for the study was provided by the Caring for Carcinoid Foundation, a nonprofit foundation which funds research on carcinoid cancer, pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer, and related neuroendocrine cancers. Additional funding was from the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, the Joseph Rabinowitz Fund for Pancreatic Cancer Research, the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Fund for Cancer Research, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Research Foundation, the AACR Stand Up to Cancer’s Dream Team Translational Cancer Research Grant and the National Institutes of Health.

Fruit And Veggies Can Cut Dying From Heart Disease

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of dying from heart disease. 

According to researchers who analyzed data from more than 300,000 people from eight European countries, there is just one more reason to eat vegetables and fruit daily.

Individuals between ages 40 to 85 who took part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study were followed for an average of nearly 8.5 years. 

The findings published online in the European Heart Journal found that there were 1,636 deaths from ischemic heart disease, which is the most common form of heart disease and a leading cause of death in Europe. 

According to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, people with ischemic heart disease have reduced blood flow to the heart, which can cause angina, chest pain and heart attack. 

According to the study results, people who ate at least eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day were 22 percent less likely to die of ischemic heart disease than those who ate fewer than three portions a day. A portion was considered to be 80 grams, which would equal a small banana, a medium apple or a small carrot. 

For each additional portion above the lowest intake of two portions, the risk of death from ischemic heart disease was reduced by 4 percent, the study authors noted. 

The risk of a fatal ischemic heart disease for someone eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day would be 4 percent lower compared to someone consuming four portions a day, and so on up to eight portions or more. 

The main message from this analysis is that people who consume more fruits and vegetables have lower risk of dying from ischemic heart disease.

Cancer Costs Will Soar In This Decade

Friday, January 14th, 2011

A new report predicts that by 2020, the annual cost of cancer care in the United States is expected to reach at least $158 billion. 

According to the report from the U.S. National Cancer Institute that’s a 27 percent jump from 2010.  The surge in cost will be largely driven by an aging population that is expected to develop more cases of cancer in the near-term. 

Projected costs could go even higher if the price tag for care rises faster than expected.  Experts described the 2020 cost estimate as “on the low side” according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks medical and health issues impacting aging Americans. 

Cancer is a disease of aging and the population of elderly Americans is expected to rise from 40 million in 2009 to 70 million by 2030 notes Jesse Slome, executive director for the trade group. Improvements in screening mean cancer is becoming more identifiable and treatable, but therapies are becoming increasingly expensive. 

If the trend in survival and costs continue as they have been, then the estimates could be as high as $207 billion by 2020 one reseracher predicted. The report is published online Jan. 12 and in the Jan. 19 print issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute

To estimate the cost of cancer treatment, the research team looked at data on 13 cancers in men and 16 in women. Tracking the rate of these cancers and the current costs to treat them in 2010, they were able to project costs in 2020. 

In these calculations researchers assumed that costs would rise by only 2 percent a year.  The largest increases in cost over the period will be for breast cancer at 32 percent and prostate cancer at 42 percent, simply because more people will be living longer with these diseases, the researchers noted. 

For example, while the cost of treating breast cancer remains relatively low (compared to other tumor types), by 2020 this cancer will incur the highest costs — about $20.5 billion — since there are expected to be many more women living with the disease. 

Commenting on the study, Elizabeth Ward, at the American Cancer Society, said that “a big component of the rise in cost is just the growth and aging of the population. We are just going to have more people developing cancer and under treatment for cancer,” she said.

Free Membership Campaign Launched

Monday, January 10th, 2011

There’s really no explanation why critical illness insurance sales continue to lag in the U.S., declares Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance (AACII).  According to Slome, the protection first introduced in 1983 now sells well in 54 other countries worldwide.

“There are over 65 million Americans between the ages of 30 and 49, creating an enormous opportunity for the sale of critical illness insurance products,” states Slome.  “These adults understand the risk of being diagnosed with cancer or having a heart attack.  They simply have no knowledge that an affordable financial solution like critical illness insurance exists but we are going to change that starting in 2011.”

The industry trade association established in 2009 just announced a free membership campaign for insurance and financial professionals.  The free membership includes access to the Association’s online Learning, Marketing and Sales Center, providing access to sales training modules, industry research, marketing and sales tools.

“We plan to educate 10,000 insurance professionals during the year and to significantly jumpstart product awareness and ultimately sales,” Slome adds.  “Every agent or broker who has clients in their 30s or 40s will benefit by understanding how simple it is to offer and sell this highly affordable form of protection.” 

The free membership offer will be continued for at least the first six months of 2011.  For more information or to sign-up for free membership, visit the Association’s website http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/sales-center/.

New Report: Aspirin May Now Prevent Cancer

Monday, December 6th, 2010

 Taking low doses of aspirin can reduce the risk of many kinds of cancer.

A report by scientists reveals that the evidence is strong enough to suggest people over 40 should take aspirin daily as protection.

In a study of eight trials involving 25,570 patients, researchers found that cancer deaths among those who took aspirin in doses as low as 75 milligrams a day were 21 percent lower during the studies and 34 percent lower after five years.

Aspirin protected people against gastrointestinal cancers the most, the study found, with rates of death from these cancers around 54 percent lower after five years among those who took aspirin compared to those who did not.

Researchers at Oxford University noted that while taking aspirin carries a small risk of stomach bleeding, that risk was beginning to be “drowned out” by its benefits in reducing the risk of cancer and the risk of heart attacks.

Previous studies have found taking aspirin can cut the risk of developing colon or bowel cancer and suggested it does so by blocking the enzyme cyclooxygenase2 which promotes inflammation and cell division and is found in high levels in tumors.

In the latest study, published in The Lancet, researchers found the 20-year risk of death was reduced by about 10 percent for prostate cancer, 30 percent for lung cancer, 40 percent for colorectal or bowel cancer and 60 percent for oesophageal cancer in those taking aspirin.

 

Posted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

Red Meat Eaters Face Higher Cancer Risk

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Those who eat red-meat may have a greater likelihood of developing certain cancers.

According to a new study, meat lovers face increased risk of cancer of the throat and stomach than people who limit their intake of steaks and hamburgers.

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, about 21,000 cases of stomach cancer and 16,640 cases of esophageal cancer will be diagnosed in 2010. 

Researchers found that among nearly 500,000 older U.S. adults followed for a decade, only a small number developed cancers of the esophagus or stomach. However, the risks were relatively greater among those who ate a lot of red meat, or certain compounds generated from cooking meat. 

Overall, study participants in the top 20 percent for red-meat intake were 79 percent more likely than those in the bottom 20 percent to develop esophageal squamous cell carcinoma — a cancer that arises in the lining of the upper part of the esophagus. 

The findings, reported in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, do not prove that red meat promotes the two cancers, the researchers emphasize. 

However, the scientists report that the results add to what has been an uncertain body of evidence on the link between red meat and esophageal and stomach cancers. 

A 2007 research review by the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research, both non-profit groups, concluded that red and processed meats were associated with a “limited suggestive increased risk” of esophageal cancer. 

Researchers followed nearly 500,000 adults ages 50 to 71 over roughly 10 years. At the outset, participants completed detailed questionnaires on their diets — including the methods they typically used for cooking meat, and the usual level of “doneness” they preferred — as well as other lifestyle factors.

Over the next decade, 215 study participants developed esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; that included 28 cases among the bottom 20 percent for red-meat intake, and 69 cases in the top 20 percent.

Another 454 men and women were diagnosed with gastric cardia cancer. There were 57 cases among participants with the lowest red-meat intake, and 113 in the group with the highest intake. 

When the researchers accounted for other factors — like age, weight, smoking and reported exercise habits — participants who ate the most red meat were 79 percent more likely than those with the lowest intake to develop squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus.

Vitamin E May Add To Stroke Risk

Friday, November 5th, 2010

People taking vitamin E supplements may put themselves at a slightly increased risk for a hemorrhagic stroke.

According to a new report, an estimated 13 percent of the population takes vitamin E supplements.  Some studies have suggested that taking vitamin E can protect against heart disease, while others have found that, in high doses, it might increase the risk of death reports the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks medically-related news.

Vitamin E supplementation is not as safe as we may like to believe, noted one of the lead researchers with the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.  Specifically, their findings reveal it appears to carry an increased risk for hemorrhagic stroke.

While the risk is low translating into one additional hemorrhage per 1,250 persons taking vitamin E, widespread and uncontrolled use of vitamin E should be cautioned against the scientist added.

There are basically two types of stroke: one where blood flow to the brain is blocked, called an ischemic stroke, and one where vessels rupture and bleed into the brain, called a hemorrhagic stroke. Of the two, hemorrhagic strokes are more rare, but more serious, the researchers noted.

The research team looked at nine trials that included 118,756 patients. Although none of the trials found an overall risk for stroke associated with vitamin E, there was a difference in the risk of the type of stroke.

The researchers found there were 223 hemorrhagic strokes among the 50,334 people taking vitamin E, compared with 183 hemorrhagic strokes among the 50,414 people taking a placebo.

However, for the risk of ischemic stroke, vitamin E was actually mildly protective, reducing the risk of ischemic stroke 10 percent, the researchers found.

Neck Surgery Can Reduce Stroke Risk

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

A surgical procedure to widen carotid arteries that have become narrowed and restrict blood flow to the brain reduces the risk of stroke over a 10-year period.

According to British researchers the carotid artery supplies blood carrying oxygen to the head, so a procedure to widen it helps restore blood flow to the brain. However, the operation, called a carotid endarterectomy, has about a 3 percent risk of causing an immediate stroke, the researchers cautioned.

For some elderly patients, this risk may outweigh any long-term benefit. But older, healthy patients will likely benefit from the procedure, the study authors noted.

Recent studies suggest that the rate of stroke in patients with [narrowed carotid arteries without symptoms] is lower than the rates found in this trial, according to the highlighted report posted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the trade group.

Although the study found the rate of stroke in patients without a carotid endarterectomy to be 1.8 percent a year over a 10-year period, the rates are thought to be about 1 percent a year, but may be as low as around 0.5 percent a year.

The lower rates of stroke, medical reserachers report, are thought to be due to advances in medical treatment such as blood pressure control, antiplatelet drugs and more widespread use of statins.

The report is published in the Sept. 25 issue of The Lancet.

In the Asymptomatic Carotid Surgery Trial, a research team led by Dr. Alison Halliday of the John Radcliffe Hospital, the University of Oxford, randomly assigned 3,120 patients with narrowed carotid arteries to surgery or to no surgery until their condition required it.

Some of the patients originally assigned to the “no surgery” group did undergo the operation during the study, the researchers noted.

A total of 1,979 operations were performed. Among these the risk of stroke within 30 days was 3 percent, including 26 minor and 34 disabling or fatal strokes, Halliday’s team reported.

Over an average of five years of follow-up, 4.1 percent of those who underwent the procedure suffered a stroke, compared with 10 percent of those who did not have the operation.

At 10 years, 10.8 percent of those who had the operation had suffered a stroke, compared with 16.9 percent of those who were not operated on, the researchers found.

In addition, over the years of the study, patients in both groups were also taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. Even these medications did not affect the benefit of the surgery, the researchers said.

“This trial took more than 15 years to complete, because we wanted to know about the long-term effects of surgery,” Halliday said in a statement.

“The finding that successful carotid artery surgery can substantially reduce the stroke risk for many years is remarkable, because it means that most of the risk of stroke over the next five years in patients with a narrowed carotid artery is caused by that single carotid lesion. The definite benefits that we have found will be of practical value to doctors and patients deciding in the future whether to take the immediate risk of having such surgery,” she said.

The rates of stroke were reduced from about 2.2 percent a year to 1.4 percent a year over five years and from 1.8 percent a year to 1.3 percent a year over 10 years, he said.

Blood Test Can Predict Prostate Cancer Death

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

September 16, 2010.  A blood test at the age of 60 can accurately predict the risk that a man will die from prostate cancer within the next 25 years.

According to researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, in New York, and Lund University, in Sweden the test findings are quite significant for men. 

The research findings could have important implications for determining which men should be screened after the age of 60 and which may not benefit substantially from continued prostate cancer screening. 

Prostate cancer is one of the primary critical illnesses impacting men explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  The national trade organization educates consumers regarding important health issues. 

The study analyzed blood samples from 1,167 men born in 1921 that were collected between 1981 and 1982. All men were carefully followed until they had reached age 85 or had died. 

After studying various biomarkers, the researchers found that the PSA level was a highly accurate predictor of long-term risk. PSA testing has been recommended for the early detection of prostate cancer for many years; however this new data suggests a baseline PSA could determine who should and should not continue to be screened for prostate cancer. 

According to the study, 126 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and of those, 90 percent of deaths occurred in men in the top 25 percent of PSA levels at age 60. The researchers concluded that men with a PSA level above 2 ng/ml at age 60 should be considered at increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer and should continue to be screened regularly. 

Men with a PSA level below 1 ng / ml had a 0.2 percent chance of death from prostate cancer. The researchers concluded that men with PSA levels in this range, which is about half of all men, should be considered at low risk of prostate cancer death and may not need to be screened in the future. The study also indicated that some men found to be at low risk may actually have prostate cancer; however it is not likely to cause symptoms or shorten their life by the age of 85.

Location Determines Heart Attack Survival

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Researchers found that people who suffer from cardiac arrest in some neighborhoods of Fulton County in Georgia — which is home to the city of Atlanta — are up to three times more likely to die than in other neighborhoods. They’re also less likely to have bystanders perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on them.

The neighborhoods with the highest cardiac arrest death rates tended to be poorer and less educated, with more black residents, the study authors noted in their report in the June issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance nearly 800,000 Americans will have a first heart attack in 2010 and some 470,000 will have a recurrent attack.

The findings have national public health indications experts explain. They show that it is time to change our thinking on how and where we conduct CPR training if we are ever going to change the dismal rate of survival from cardiac arrest,” the study author said.

The researchers at the University of Michigan estimated that 15 lives could be saved in Fulton County each year if the neighborhoods with the lowest rates of CPR had the same rates as those neighborhoods with the highest.

To improve cardiac survival rates that have been stagnant for 30 years, CPR training should be more basic and available to the people who are most likely to witness someone experiencing cardiac arrest, they note.  Health care resources are extremely limited. To make improvements, we need to understand where and how best to make change.

Critical Illness Insurance in the United States

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Critical Illness Insurance in the United States

Stroke Risk Not Cut By Folic Acid Supplements

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Their findings are based on a review of clinical trials involving more than 39,000 participants.  Prior studies experts explain have linked low blood levels of a chemical lowered by folic acid to lower rates of stroke.  Stroke is one of the three major illnesses impacting older individuals according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national educational organization.

Researchers at the UCLA Stroke Center in Los Angeles identified 13 well-designed clinical trials of folic acid and stroke. Participants in all the trials had been diagnosed with conditions such as kidney and heart disease, as well as stroke.

There were 784 strokes among 20,415 participants taking folic acid, compared to 791 strokes reported among 18,590 people who did not take the supplements.

The analysis which was published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, settles the question about whether folic acid supplementation leads to a major reduction in stroke.  “The answer is ‘no,’” the lead researcher reports.

Still, the researchers suggest more research into folic acid and stroke, particularly for men and those in the earliest stages of heart disease. Data from both of those groups suggested there might be an effect, although researchers could not determine whether or not that was due to chance.

Those potential benefits appeared in trials carried out in countries whose food supplies were not fortified with folic acid. In the U.S., the benefits of folic acid supplementation may have already been achieved through food fortification. In an effort to reduce the birth defect spina bifida, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required the addition of folic acid to all enriched cereal-grain foods starting in 1998.

Gene Scan May Show Cancer Heart Risk

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

The Stanford University professor and researchers designed a computer algorithm to bring together known and genetic health risks. 

For example, a 40-year-old white male begins with a 16 percent lifetime chance of developing prostate cancer. But after taking his genes into account, the researchers put his risk at 23 percent. 

His Alzheimer’s risk, however, plummeted from 9 percent for most white men his age to 1.4 percent when genetics were considered. 

The gene scan cost about $50,000 to sequence, but the price is falling. The latest machines from companies like Illumina and Life Technologies Corp can map out a patient’s whole DNA code for as little as $5,000. 

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance this could eventually be reduced to a computer algorithm.  

“I think it will come to the point where this is happening for the average guy,” a researcher noted in a telephone interview. “We think the genomic information is going to be cheap and it is going to be fast … and the analysis could be run with the click of a mouse at any time .”

Blacks Hit Hardest By Lung Cancer

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

According to a new report from the American Lung Association, environmental factors, biological factors, cultural attitudes and biases in the health-care system conspire to make this deadly disease even deadlier among members of this minority group.

Despite lower smoking rates, African-Americans are more likely to develop and die from lung cancer than whites. African-Americans are more likely to be diagnosed later when the cancer is more advanced. Also, African-Americans are more likely to wait longer after the diagnosis to receive treatment or perhaps to refuse treatment and to die in the hospital after surgery.

Black men bear an even more disproportionate share of the burden, being 37 percent more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer and 22 percent more likely to die of the disease than white men. 

Only 12 percent of blacks will be alive five years after their lung cancer diagnosis, compared with 16 percent of whites, according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, a national trade organization. 

The ALA report points to a number of factors that could explain the disparity, including differences in socioeconomic status, big business behavior and environmental exposure.  Blacks have higher rates of smoking menthol cigarettes than other groups. Smokers of menthol cigarettes tend to have higher blood levels of cotinine, an indicator of how much nicotine a person is absorbing. 

Education and income levels also play a role. Not only do these factors impact lifestyle choices and access to health care, including health insurance, but they largely determine where blacks are likely to work and live.

According to one study, predominantly black neighborhoods have noticeably higher levels of air pollution than other communities.

Being Overweight Increases Stroke Risk

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Being overweight puts an individual at significantly higher risk of ischemic stroke, with a serious possibility of permanent disability and reduced life expectancy.

Ischemic strokes occur when blood vessels supplying the brain are blocked. Hemorrhagic strokes, caused by bleeding in the brain, are less common.  Stroke is a leading critical illness according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade organization based in Los Angeles, California.

While being overweight increases a person’s likelihood of having stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure, the question of whether being overweight or obese directly ups stroke risk has not been answered adequately; evidence from past research has been controversial.

Researchers examined medical literature for studies with at least four years of follow-up that looked at stroke risk based on body mass index, or BMI, a standard measure of weight in relation to height used to gauge how fat or thin a person is. They found 25 studies including 2,274,961 people, who had a total of 30,757 strokes.

People who were overweight were 22 percent more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke than normal weight people, while the risk for obese people was 64 percent higher, the researchers found. Hemorrhagic stroke risk wasn’t higher for overweight people, but it was 24 percent higher for obese people.

A person’s risk of having a stroke within the next 10 years can be estimated based on their gender, blood pressure, whether or not they smoke, and whether or not they have diabetes.

For example, a 62-year-old man whose systolic blood pressure (the top number) is 125, doesn’t smoke, and does not have diabetes or other cardiovascular problems, would have a 4 percent risk of stroke over the following decade; if the same man had a systolic blood pressure of 160 (140 and above is too high) and wasn’t receiving treatment for high blood pressure, his risk of stroke within the next 10 years would be 15 percent.

Obesity would raise the risk of stroke to nearly 6 percent for the man with normal blood pressure, and to 25 percent for the man with untreated high blood pressure.

Variable Blood Pressure A New Stroke Risk Factor

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Stroke is one of the three main critical illnesses according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance. 

Researchers at the University of Oxford looked at high blood pressure and blood pressure variability in four groups of 2,000 people, each of who had minor strokes called transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), or “mini-strokes.” These are warning signs of stroke risk. 

They found that people with the greatest variation in systolic blood pressure (the higher of the 120/80 readings) over seven visits to their doctor were six times more likely to have a major stroke. People with the highest blood pressure readings were 15 times more likely to have a stroke. 

Under-diagnosis and under-treatment of hypertension is a major, seemingly intractable problem in all health-care systems.  The new research shows that part of the problem is likely to have been under-recognition of the impact of variability in blood pressure on diagnosis in routine clinical practice in primary care. It shows that doctors have to make diagnoses on the basis of blood pressure measurements that vary substantially from visit to visit. 

The new research shows that increased variability in blood pressure, a high maximum blood pressure and episodic hypertension are associated with high risks of stroke and other vascular events, and emphasize that any comfort taken from the fact blood pressure is sometimes normal is false. 

The findings may also affect the choice of the first drugs prescribed for blood pressure control.

Chocolate May Make Some Strokes Less Likely

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Unfortunately for chocolate fans, the same research found that chocolate does not appear to have a protective benefit for the most common type of stroke.

People who have a stroke have either an ischemic or a hemorrhagic stroke according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain becomes blocked, either partially or completely. This type of stroke accounts for about 80 percent of all strokes. 

In the context of an appropriate intake, eating small amounts of cocoa could be beneficial, the researchers noted.  The findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s conference on cardiovascular disease epidemiology and prevention in San Francisco. 

The benefit attributed to cocoa stems from substances it contains known as flavonoids, which are believed to help protect against certain cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as blood pressure and blood clotting. 

In the study, the researchers reviewed data from 4,369 middle-age French women, none of whom had any evidence of heart disease at the start of the study in 1993. The women’s average body-mass index was 23, a number that’s considered normal weight. 

In the next 12 years, 493 of the women were diagnosed with some type of cardiovascular disease: 200 had heart attacks and 293 had a stroke. Of the strokes, 189 were ischemic and 91 were hemorrhagic.

After adjusting the data to account for known cardiovascular disease risk factors — such as smoking, physical activity, weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels and diabetes — the researchers found no statistically significant association in the risk for cardiovascular disease between the highest levels of cocoa consumption and the lowest.

Coffee Drinking Reduces Risk Of Stroke

Friday, February 26th, 2010

According to a new study self-reported coffee consumption was inversely related to stroke risk.  The study followed 23,000 men and women.  They were followed for an average of 12 years found by researchers at the University of Cambridge in England.

Overall, people who reported any intake of coffee had a 27 percent lower risk of stroke than those who said they never drank java, the researchers reported. Drinking more coffee was not associated with a greater reduction in stroke risk. 

The reduced risk was irrespective of the type of coffee consumed, caffeinated, decaffeinated, instant or ground.  According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the educational organization, prior studies have shown that coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes — a major risk factor for stroke — and also with a reduced risk of heart disease. 

Those studies generally have not been carried out with rigorous methods, researchers note.  Typically, they rely on self-reports, how much coffee you say you drink.  But what might be two cups for me might be an entirely different two cups for you. 

So, there are no official suggestions that people drink coffee to lower their risk of stroke. There has been no study designed to produce the kind of evidence needed to make recommendations, they noted.

Gas Cooking May Increase Cancer Risk

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Researchers in Norway have found that cooking with gas produces more potentially harmful fumes than electric cooking.    In a report published online in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, they also point out that professional chefs and cooks are more at risk than the average at-home cook. 

The risk to average at-home cookers is low, at least under Norwegian conditions, where most homes have a kitchen exhaust fan, reports the study’s author.   The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified cooking fumes from frying at high temperatures as “probably carcinogenic.” The fumes have been found to contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heterocyclic amines, higher and mutated aldehydes, and fine and ultrafine particles. 

But a remaining question has been what role, if any, does the energy source — gas or electric– or type of fat used in frying play in producing the fumes. 

The researchers created a kitchen typical of those in Western European restaurants, measuring 62 square feet and containing both a gas stove and an electric stove with a canopy hood.

They fried 17 pieces of beefsteak, each weighing about a pound, in both margarine and soya bean oil for 15 minutes. The only PAH found was napthalene (now banned, but once found in mothballs), most notably when frying with margarine on a gas stove, according to the report. 

The highest levels of all compounds, including ultrafine particles that more easily penetrate the lungs, were produced while frying with gas. 

In their homes, people can make sure that they have a powerful exhaust fan, preferably one that is vented directly to the outside and does not have a charcoal filter, one of the researchers emphasized. 

Posted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance

County-By-County Report Sizes Up Americans’ Health

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

A new ranking of nearly every county in the nation shows significant disparities in the overall health of residents, depending on where they live. 

Researchers from University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation used data on premature deaths, self-reports about health and factors such as smoking rates, obesity, teen births, the percentage of children in poverty and number of liquor stores vs. grocery stores to rank more than 3,000 counties nationwide against others in their state. 

Researchers then chose each state’s healthiest county and compared it to each state’s unhealthiest county.  Here are some of the findings: 

Suburban and urban counties tend to be healthier than rural counties. About 48 percent of the healthiest counties were urban or suburban, while 84 percent of the unhealthiest counties were rural. 

The unhealthiest counties had 2.5 times the premature death rate, or people who die under age 75, than the healthiest counties. 

Residents of the unhealthiest counties were more than twice as likely to consider themselves in fair or poor health than those in the healthiest counties. 

Those in the least healthy counties were 60 percent more likely to be admitted to the hospital for a preventable conditions. Misuse of hospitals for non-emergency or preventable conditions is often a symptom of not having access to outpatient care and primary care doctors, either because of lack of insurance or lack of providers. 

Children are three times more likely to live in poverty in the least healthy counties (30 percent) compared to the healthiest counties (9 percent). 

Counties ranked the unhealthiest are less likely to have at least one grocery store where people can buy healthy foods such as fresh produce. About 33 percent of zip codes in the unhealthiest counties had a grocery store, while 47 percent of zip codes in the healthiest counties had a grocery store. 

In the study, researchers ranked counties on two overall measures: health outcomes, which included information on mortality, self-reported health and low birth weight babies; and about 25 other factors that can impact health but don’t directly measure it. Those factors included rates of motor vehicle accidents, uninsured adults and violent crime; the number of primary care doctors in an area and usage of hospice for the terminally ill; measures of air pollution, liquor store density and the percentage of high school and college graduates.

Click here to view the reporthttp://www.countyhealthrankings.org/ 

Posted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which educates Americans about information pertaining to cancer and heart disease and other health matters.

Lower IQ Linked To Heart Disease Risk

Monday, February 15th, 2010

An estimated 80 million Americans suffer from cardiovascular disease according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade group.  Nearly 800,000 Americans will suffer their first heart attack this year.

The findings do not prove that those with low IQs develop more heart disease.  The study’s authors point out that they only show a possible connection between intelligence level and heart problems. 

Still, one of the authors suggested the findings show the value of helping kids to be smarter. From a public health perspective, there is the possibility that IQ can be increased, with some mixed results from trials of early learning and school readiness programs. It may also be worthwhile for health promotion campaigns to be planned with consideration of individual cognition levels. 

The study, published in the February issue of the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, examined more than 1,100 Scottish men and women aged around 55 years in 1987, who were followed-up for two decades. 

Of the factors studied, cigarette smoking boosted the risk of heart disease the most, followed by low IQ. The researchers suggested that low IQ could boost the risk of heart disease due to its links to lack of healthy activities and related obesity and high blood pressure. Low IQ could also be a sign of illness or insufficient nutrition during a person’s lifetime.

Does Eating Chocolate Lower Stroke Risk

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Researchers presenting at the American Academy of Neurology’s 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto report another study found that eating chocolate may lower the risk of death after suffering a stroke.

The analysis involved reviewing three studies on chocolate and stroke.  More research is needed to determine whether chocolate truly lowers stroke risk, or whether healthier people are simply more likely to eat chocolate than others reported one of the experts from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks research and data pertaining to stroke and other critical illnesses, chocolate is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, which may have a protective effect against stroke.  More research is needed their director notes.

The first study found that 44,489 people who ate one serving of chocolate per week were 22 percent less likely to have a stroke than people who ate no chocolate. The second study found that 1,169 people who ate 50 grams of chocolate once a week were 46 percent less likely to die following a stroke than people who did not eat chocolate. 

The researchers found only one additional relevant study in their search of all the available research. That study found no link between eating chocolate and risk of stroke or death.

Migraines Linked To Heart Attack Risk

Friday, February 12th, 2010

According to a new study the incidence of heart attacks in people with migraine is almost double that of people who don’t suffer the headaches.  Researchers note that the exact reason why the two conditions are linked is still unclear.

The report in this week’s online edition of Neurology compared 6,102 people with migraine and 5,243 without the headaches.  The research found a 4.1 percent incidence of heart attacks in the migraine patients, compared with 1.9 percent in those without the debilitating headaches.

Previous studies have found an association between migraine and cardiovascular problems including heart problems and stroke according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, an educational organization that tracks heart disease and cancer information. One study, which looked at only women, found an increased incidence of stroke, especially for migraine with the visual disturbances called aura (women are up to four times more likely than men to have migraines). Another study, which looked only at men, found an increased risk of heart disease.

The new study did find a higher incidence of heart attack for migraine with aura — three times that of the migraine-free group. It also found that people with migraine were more likely to have the classic risk factors for heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems: diabetes (12.6 percent versus 9.4 percent), high blood pressure (33.1 percent versus 27.5 percent) and high cholesterol (32.7 percent versus 25.6 percent). 

Cardiovascular risk reduction is important for everybody. If you have migraine, it might be more important for you than for the general population. They should be particularly vigilant about controlling body weight, keeping blood pressure low, modifying all the risk factors that are within their control. 

The majority of people who have migraines are women, often young women according to some medical experts. This is a marker that might help prevent cardiac disease. There have been several large population studies that show women with migraines have an increased risk of cardiovascular events. These are the women we should be intervening with. If they use oral contraceptives there should be a concern, because they can form blood clots, particularly if they smoke.

Drinking Soda Increases Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

New research finds that , new research suggests that adult soda drinkers may also engage in other lifestyle habits, such as smoking, which could contribute to the elevated risk. 

The study was a collaboration between the University of Minnesota and National University of Singapore.

The analysis involved more than 60,000 middle-aged or older Chinese Singaporeans. Researchers calculated how much juice and soda the participants drank on average and followed them for 14 years to see how many developed cancer of the pancreas. 

Those who drank two or more sodas a week were 87 percent more likely to develop this kind of tumor than individuals who didn’t consume any soda. 

Researchers found no link between juice consumption and cancer risk, perhaps because fruit juice has less effect than sugary sodas on glucose and insulin levels, the authors noted. 

Previous research in United States. and Europe has suggested an association between sweetened sodas and juices and pancreatic cancer. This is the first study to examine the association in an Asian population, although the authors feel the findings can be extrapolated to Western nations. 

Drinking sugar-sweetened soft drinks has been linked to weight gain, obesity and diabetes. Both obesity and diabetes are associated with higher risk of pancreatic cancer, one of the leading causes of cancer death in the United States. 

The overall number of people developing the malignancy is over 42,000 new cases last year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  The non-profit organization tracks data regarding cancer and heart diseases.

Hormone Replacement May Lower Cancer Risk

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Researchers followed nearly 57,000 California teachers to examine hormone replacement therapy (HRT) impact.  They found that women who were using HRT at the outset were 36 percent less likely to develop colon cancer over the next decade than those who had never used HRT. 

Of the 34,433 HRT users, 193 were diagnosed with colon cancer during the study period; that compared with 151 cases among the 13,778 women who had never used hormone replacement. 

HRT — with either estrogen alone or a combination of estrogen and progestin — was linked to a lower colon cancer risk even when the researchers accounted for the women’s age, weight, exercise levels and race.  According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, a non-profit educational organization that tracks data related to cancer and heart diseases, older age and African-American race are risk factors for colon cancer.  There is evidence linking obesity and a sedentary lifestyle to the disease as well. 

The findings, reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology, support the theory that estrogen offers some protection against colon cancer.  Some past studies have linked not only HRT, but also use of birth control pills, to a lower colon cancer risk. And lab experiments have shown that estrogen may inhibit tumor development in the colon by affecting cell growth, or by lowering levels of a cancer-linked hormone called IGF-1. 

However, no one is recommending that women take HRT to ward off colon cancer. Millions of women stopped using the hormones after a large U.S. government study in 2002 found that postmenopausal women given HRT had higher risks of heart attack, stroke, breast cancer and blood clots than women given an inactive placebo. 

As a result, medical experts now advise that while HRT is effective at relieving menopausal symptoms — like hot flashes and vaginal dryness — women should take it at the lowest dose and for the shortest time possible. 

The findings are based on 56,864 menopausal women who took part in the California Teachers Study, a health study begun in 1995. Most of the women were past menopause at the outset, and 61 percent were currently using HRT.  Over the next decade, 442 women were diagnosed with colon cancer. 

While women who were current HRT users at the start of the study showed a lower risk of the disease, the same was not true of those who were former users.  The researchers note that the implications of that finding, if any, are not yet clear. 

Family history of colon cancer is an established risk factor for the disease, but only one study, according to Henderson’s team, has looked at whether family history affects the link between HRT and colon cancer risk — and it found no evidence that it did.

Poor Mental Functioning Could Predict Stroke

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Researchers found that older men who were not diagnosed as having dementia but who did poorly on a test of mental function had a greatly increased risk for stroke. 

 

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance about 600,000 Americans experience their first stroke each each.  “Some one in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds,” explains Jesse Slome, the non-profit educational organization’s director.

 

 Medical researchers at Uppsala University published theuir findings yesterday Neurology.  There are indications that the test results could show the chances of survival for someone who has a stroke, they noted.

 

The research involved nearly 1,000  Swedish men, who averaged 70 years old at the start of the study. None had a history of stroke. They were given three widely used tests of mental function.  Over the next 13 years, 166 of the men had a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), a brief interruption of blood flow to the brain.

 

The 25 percent of men who performed worst on the B test were three times more likely to have a stroke or a TIA than the 25 percent of the men with the highest scores, the study found.  The results support the idea that cognitive decline, regardless of whether a person has dementia, may predict risk of stroke, researchers explained. 

The Swedish study adds to the list of unconventional factors linked to the risk for stroke.  One recent study of more than 13,000 Americans found an association with obesity, measured by either body-mass index or waist circumference. In some cases, the most obese individuals were more than three times as likely to have a stroke as the leanest.

Intensive Rectal Cancer Treatment Shows Promise

Monday, February 1st, 2010

The study included individuals with poor-risk rectal cancer.  That means they have a high likelihood of disease recurrence and poor survival odds despite receiving standard chemotherapy and optimum surgery.

Patients underwent 12 weeks of chemotherapy treatment with capecitabine and oxaliplatin, followed by chemoradiotherapy with capecitabine and surgery, followed by another 12 weeks of capecitabine treatment. 

After 36 months, 68 percent of the patients had no cancer progression, and the overall survival rate was 83 percent. After five years, the overall survival rate was 75 percent. 

Tumor downstaging was shown in most patients receiving neoadjuvant treatment with a low incidence of involved [circumferential resection margins (CRMs)] in the surgical specimens.  Before treatment, 90 percent of eligible patients had tumors with CRMs at risk or involved. 

The study was published online Jan. 25 in The Lancet Oncology.

Posted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks information regarding the three primary critical illnesses which impact Americans, cancer, heart attack and stroke.

What To Watch For Early Spotting Of Ovarian Cancer

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

New research from the Cancer Research Center in Seattle shows that women with ovarian cancer are much more likely than healthy women to report symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating and feeling full quickly after eating.  This is especially true if the symptoms are relatively new and persistent. 

While ovarian cancer is fairly rare, the symptoms are relatively common and possibly explained by less serious conditions.  Thus medical experts note that the ability to predict who has cancer based on symptoms alone is limited. 

Researchers found that for every 100 women in the general population whose symptoms matched those in a widely accepted ovarian cancer symptom index, only one would actually have early-stage ovarian cancer. 

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the disease strikes about one in 72 women.  Last year, 21,550 new cases of ovarian cancer were diagnosed among U.S. women; 14,600 deaths were attributed to the disease.  

The study is published in the Jan. 28 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute notes that finding ways to detect early-stage ovarian cancer is an ongoing challenge.

Ovarian cancer sometimes is found during a pelvic exam, but tumors are often too deep within the body for doctors to detect. In addition, the symptoms of ovarian cancer are often missed or misdiagnosed as other less serious conditions, including menopause, lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome or even depression. 

While nine of 10 women whose ovarian cancer is caught early are alive five years after diagnosis, only about 20 percent of ovarian cancers are found at their early stage, according to the American Cancer Society. 

According to the study findings, women who were diagnosed with cancer were 10 times more likely to experience the symptoms than women without cancer.   Among patients with early-stage disease, about 27 percent experienced the symptoms for at least five months before diagnosis.

Early EKG Improves Survival Odds From Heart Attack

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

The research found that these people often were able to bypass the emergency room and go directly to the cardiac catheterization laboratory for treatment with what’s commonly known as an angioplasty. 

Findings published in the January issue of Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions report those given an EKG by paramedics were treated 60 minutes, on average, after reaching the hospital, compared with 91 minutes for people who did not have an EKG before arriving at the hospital. 

Research has shown that rapid angioplasty treatment reduces the chances of dying within the next year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks informatioon on surving cancer, heart attacks or stroke, the three primary critical illnesses. 

For the study, the researchers examined medical records for cardiac patients taken to three hospitals in Southeast Michigan for five years to 2008.   Of those who did not have an EKG done before arrival, 2 percent died in the hospital. None of the patients who were given pre-arrival EKGs died in the hospital, the study reported.

Vitamin D May Lower Colon Cancer Risk

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Scientists found that those with the highest levels of vitamin D in their blood had as much as a 40 percent lower risk for developing colorectal cancer than those with the lowest levels.
The researchers report however that it is not completely clear if higher intake of the vitamin actually prevents the disease.  ”The findings are definitely food for thought,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  The organization reports that some 1.4 million new cancer cases are diagnosed each year in the United State. 

Medical experts published their findings based on a study of more than 520,000 people from 10 countries in Western Europe. The study participants gave blood samples and filled out diet and lifestyle questionnaires between 1992 and 1998.   They were then tracked for several more years to see what happened to them. 

During the follow-up period, 1,248 of the study participants were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. These participants were compared with a similar group of 1,248 people who were not diagnosed with the disease. 

The researchers cautioned that it’s not clear if there are risks from consuming high levels of vitamin D, which is available in supplements. It is also not known whether supplements are necessary if people reach certain levels through a healthy diet, exercise and moderate exposure to sunlight.

The study authors noted that current recommendations for preventing colorectal cancer include exercising, not smoking, reducing obesity and abdominal fat, and limiting consumption of alcohol and red and processed meats.

As Obesity Increases, So Does Stroke Risk

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Researchers followed over 13,500 middle-aged Americans for 19 years to determine incraesed stroke risk associated with several measures of obesity, emphasizing body mass index (BMI), a ratio of weight and height, but also such measures as waist circumference.

Their findings published online in Stroke found that the risk of stroke was increased with each measure of obesity.   The degree of risk varied by sex and ethnic group. For example, people in the highest BMI category had a 1.43 to 2.12 times higher risk for stroke, with variations by race and sex. The risk ratios ranged from 1.65 to 3.19 when obesity was measured by waist circumference and from 1.69 to 2.55 when the ratio of waist to hip was used.

“Obesity contributes to both diabetes and hypertension [high blood pressure], which are associated with stroke and at an earlier age,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  Each year about 600,000 people experience their first stroke according to the organization’s annual statistical update.

The risk was especially high for blacks, the study found. For example, the incidence of stroke was 1.2 per 1,000 person-years for white women and 4.3 per 1,000 person-years for black women. In the highest BMI category, rates ranged from 2.2 for white women to 8.0 for black men.

That higher incidence of stroke for blacks has been found in many previous studies, and it also is seen in Asians, Yatsuya said. The reason is unknown, but there may be a genetic difference, the medical experts noted.

The increased risk linked to weight was evident in every ethnic group, according to the researchers.  Men and women in the highest obesity category had about double the risk for stroke as did those in the lowest category.  Obesity appears to act by increasing the incidence of high blood pressure and diabetes, two major risk factors for stroke and other cardiovascular problems.

Small Cuts in Salt Intake Spur Big Drops in Heart Disease

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the projected reductions would be similar to the benefits accruing from a 50 percent drop in the smoking rate and a 5 percent decline in body mass index among obese adults. 

U.S. health agencies recommend that most adults limit their daily consumption of salt to less than 5.8 grams (2,300 milligrams [mg] of sodium), with 3.7 grams a day preferable. 

The American Heart Association urges the average American to eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium daily, but also notes that older people, blacks and people with high blood pressure need to go even lower — to under 1,500 mg per day. 

Despite these recommendations, the average daily intake of salt is on the increase.  In 2005-2006, the study authors stated, men in the United States took in an average of 10.4 grams of salt a day and women consumed 7.3 grams a day, far more than the suggested limit. 

Excess salt can cause or worsen high blood pressure and raises the risk for cardiovascular disease.  Only about one-quarter of the salt in the U.S. diet comes directly from the kitchen table salt shaker.

The researchers, from the University of California, San Francisco, fed previously published data on heart disease in U.S. adults aged 35 to 84 into a computer model.  The model then predicted that the reduction of 3 grams of salt a day would cut the number of new cases of coronary heart disease each year by 60,000 to 120,000; stroke by 32,000 to 66,000 cases; and heart attacks by 54,000 to 99,000. 

The annual number of deaths from any cause would be reduced by 44,000 to 92,000.  Limiting salt intake would be good for the fiscal diet as well, saving an estimated $10 billion to $24 billion in health care costs yearly, the paper found.

But if Americans cut even a mere 1 gram of salt from their meals and snacks every day, the effects would still be stunning, the authors stated: 20,000 to 40,000 fewer cases of coronary heart disease; 18,000 to 35,000 fewer heart attacks; 11,000 to 23,000 fewer strokes; and 15,000 to 32,000 fewer deaths. 

Reported by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national non-profit trade organization.

Erectile Dysfunction Predicts Heart Disease

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

According to a report published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology erectile dysfunction is among the list of known risk factors determined by the Framingham Heart Study.  Other risk factors include cholesterol, smoking and high blood pressure. 

An estimated 80 million American adults have one or more types of cardiovascular disease.  Nearly 800,000 individuals will have a new coronary attack this year reports the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  The average age for heart attacks among men is 64. 

The study followed 1,057 men, aged 40 to 70, for an average of 12 years. Overall, 37 percent of the men with erectile dysfunction were in the high-risk category according to the Framingham standards, compared with 17 percent of men without erectile dysfunction. 

Once the link to cardiovascular problems was established, researchers started modeling to see if adding erectile dysfunction to the risk profile could reclassify some men.  Over the years, studies of a number of diagnostic techniques — including computerized tomography scanning and various molecular markers, such as inflammation-related C-reactive protein — have been shown not to improve on the Framingham profile’s predictive power. 

Medical experts note that other tests and measures are either costly, require blood tests or carry some risk, whereas erectile dysfunction can be determined by a simple question.  They advise doctors to ask a simple question in the office that will reveal a diagnosis very clearly.

It is also information that men should offer to their doctors which can lead to preventive therapy that can be lifesaving.

More Proof That Statins Cut Stroke Risk

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Each year about 600,000 Americans experience their first stroke and 185,000 have a recurrent stroke, according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  African Americans have almost twice the risk of first-ever stroke compared with white adults. 

Researchers found that much of the benefit from statins such as Crestor, Lipitor and Zocor appears tied to the drugs’ lowering of blood levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.  Their review of data from clinical trials including almost 267,000 participants showed an overall 12 percent reduction in stroke incidence among those taking statins, with each 1 percent reduction in total cholesterol predicting a 0.8 percent relative risk reduction of stroke. 

Medical experts note that the report contains hints that the reduction of stroke risk is not entirely explained by the cholesterol-lowering effect of statins.  They noted that there are many possible explanations for the reduction in stroke risk observed in actively treated patients, and one of those is a reduction of inflammation with statin therapy. 

There was no debate about the value of statin therapy in reducing other cardiovascular risks in people with high LDL levels. The Italian analysis found more benefits from statins than from other cholesterol-lowering regimens. 

The most gratifying thing reported by this meta-analysis is that statins among all lipid-lowering therapies appear to be the most effective, noted an expert from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. The use of statin therapy is particularly important among people who have had a stroke. They are being used more aggressively in people who have had a stroke in an attempt to prevent another. 

At least one trial has shown a significant reduction in second strokes among people taking statins.  The report, published in the Jan. 19 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, was led by physicians at G. d’Annunzio University in Chieti, Italy.

New Stroke Therapy May Restore Function

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Researchers at University of California, Irvine, have found that a protein naturally occurring in humans restores motor function in rats after a stroke. Administered directly to the brain, the protein restores 99 percent of lost movement; if it’s given through the nose, 70 percent of lost movement is regained. Untreated rats improve by only 30 percent. 

Presently no drugs exist that will help a stroke after a few days.  Medical experts noted that the findings offer optimism that there may be therapies that can repair damage to a significant degree long after the stroke.  The studies chronicle the success of a small protein called transforming growth factor alpha, which plays critical tissue-forming and developmental roles in humans from just after conception through birth and into old age.

Each year about 600,000 Americans have their first stroke according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  “Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the country,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the non-profit organization.  “Most people survive but the financial and emotional costs can be devastating to families.” 

TGF alpha has been studied for two decades in other organ systems but never before has been shown to reverse the symptoms of a stroke. No lasting side effects were observed.  

When put inside a cylinder, healthy rats will jump up with both front legs, but stroke-impaired rats will use just one leg, favoring the injured side. When given a choice of directions to walk, impaired rats will move toward their good side. 

One month after the study rats suffered an induced stroke (equal to about a year for humans), some were injected with TGF alpha. Within a month, they had regained nearly all their motor function, hopping up with both legs in the cylinder exercise and not favoring a side in the directional test. Rats that did not receive treatment improved just 30 percent.

Weekend Stroke Victims Receive More Aggressive Treatment

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

January 13, 2010.  Stroke victims brought to a hospital on a weekend are more likely to receive the powerful clot-dissolving drug tPA than those who arrive on a weekday.

Researchers conducted the study following a report showing that aggressive treatment for heart attacks was more likely to be given during the week rather than the weekend.

The heart attack study sent researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina.Kazley searching through the records of almost 79,000 people admitted to Virginia hospitals between 1998 and 2006 with ischemic strokes, in which a clot blocks a brain blood vessel.

The research team found that relatively few patients received tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which works quickly to break up clots. In fact, only 543 of the 58,378 people admitted on weekdays got the drug, compared to 229 of the 20,279 admitted on weekends. The numbers show that the weekend stroke victims were 20 percent more likely to be given tPA than weekday arrivals.

The findings published in the January issue of the Archives of Neurology explained that because there are fewer elective procedures on weekends, patients have better access to expertise and better access to diagnostic technology such as CT [computed tomography] scanners. They are also more likely to present at an earlier time, since they are less likely to have to battle traffic to get to the hospital.

Despite the higher level of tPA treatment on weekends, no statistical significance in the death rates of the two groups was seen in the study. Only about one percent of patients who got the treatment, and at those low numbers it is very difficult to find a significant difference.

“It is vital for all adults to understand the symptoms of a stroke vital to getting treatment quickly,” explains jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness insurance.   Stroke symptoms can include a sudden weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, vision trouble, dizziness and headache.

Pediatric Cancer Survivors Face Higher Heart Disease Risk

Monday, January 11th, 2010

These risk factors for heart disease are being found at an earlier age than in the general population, according to research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

An estimated 80 million Americans have cardiovascular disease according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance 2010 Fact Book.  Someone suffers a heart attack every 34 seconds the report notes.

Researchers at Emory University, extracted data from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, which included 8,599 cancer survivors and 2,936 of their siblings.  In data previously published from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, pediatric cancer survivors were found to be at almost 10-fold greater risk for cardiovascular disease than their non-survivor counterparts. 

In this study scientists identified whether the predisposing risk factors for cardiovascular disease — obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemea and diabetes — were present at higher rates compared to siblings. If the risk factors could be recognized and treated early it is hoped some of the long-term cardiac side effects could be averted. 

They found that cancer survivors were nearly twice as likely as their siblings to take medication for high blood pressure, 60 percent more likely to take cholesterol medication and 70 percent more likely to have diabetes. 

Radiation treatment may be playing a role in the development of risk factors for cardiovascular disease.  Total body irradiation was linked with a 5.5-fold increased risk and chest and abdomen radiation a 2.2-fold increased risk of cardiovascular risk factor clustering, which when present is associated with subsequent cardiovascular disease. 

Researchers examined the presence of cardiovascular risk factors and found that physical inactivity among cancer survivors was linked with a 70 percent increased risk for cardiovascular risk factor clustering. Older age at the time of the study was linked to an 8.2-fold increased risk for cardiovascular risk factor clustering among survivors compared with children who had never had cancer.

Study Reveals Risk Of Having A Critical Illness Before Age 65

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

 A 25-year-old male non-smoker has a 24 percent chance of having a critical illness (cancer, heart attack or stroke) prior to turning age 65.   The same-aged male who smokes has a 49 percent chance according to the first National Critical Illness Risk Assessment Study published by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

“Cancer, heart attacks and strokes happen at all ages and most people are not prepared for either the emotional or financial cost,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the industry trade organization.  “Nearly two-thirds of U.S. bankruptcies are the result of medical expenses and 78 percent of those filing for bankruptcy had health insurance when they were first diagnosed.”

The national critical illness risk assessment prepared by Milliman, Inc., a leading actuarial firm, reveals the likelihood of incurring a critical illness for men and women at different ages up to age 55.  According to the study’s findings, women face less risk than men at all ages.  Non-smoking women are at significantly less risk than their male smoking counterparts.  While nearly half (49 percent) of 35-year-old male tobacco users will incur a critical illness before age 65, only 35 percent of female smokers will according to the report. 

REPORTERS:  If you would like the complete finding of the study with breakdown by ages, please call the Association at (818) 597-3205 or E-mail Jesse Slome at mailto:jslome @ aaltci.org

The study reveals that 17 percent of non-smoking men and 36 percent of male smokers who reach the age of 55 without having a critical illness will be diagnosed with one prior to turning age 65.  For women who reach age 55, some 12 percent of non-smokers and 23 percent of smokers will face a critical illness before reaching age 65.

INSURANCE PROFESSIONALS:  The complete findings are available to Association members.  Click here for membership information.

“Surviving a critical illness is likely today as a result of advances in emergency treatment and medical care,” states Slome.  “Survival comes with a high cost even for those with health insurance which often is accompanied by co-pays, high deductibles and exclusions for various new treatments.”   Michelle Dyke, actuary with Milliman, adds, “there are substantial non-medical expenses associated with battling a critical illness including travel expenses to see specialists and lost wages that health insurance does not cover.”

Critical illness insurance pays a tax-free, lump-sum cash benefit generally upon diagnosis of a covered critical illness.  The first policies became available in the United States in 1996 and today some 600,000 individuals have such protection.

The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance is the national trade association providing information to consumers and insurance professionals.  The organization is headquartered in Los Angeles, CA.

Increased Diabetes Risk For Those Who Quit Smoking

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that smoking is a well-known risk factor for type 2 diabetes.  New research points out that elevated diabetes risk is related to the extra pounds people typically put on after renouncing cigarettes. 

Type 2 diabetes is a common disease that interferes with the body’s ability to properly use sugar, and to regulate and properly use insulin, a substance produced by the pancreas that normally lowers blood sugar during and after eating.

“No one should use the study’s results as an excuse to keep smoking, which is also a risk factor for lung disease, heart disease, strokes and many types of cancer,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

The study which was published in the January 5 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine reported that people who quit smoking have a 70 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the first six years without cigarettes as compared to people who never smoked. 

The risks were highest in the first three years after quitting and returned to normal after 10 years. Among those who continued smoking over that period, the risk was lower, but the chance of developing diabetes was still 30 percent higher compared with those who never smoked. 

The study comprised nearly 11,000 middle-aged adults who did not yet have diabetes from 1987 to 1989. The patients were followed for up to 17 years and data about diabetes status, glucose levels, weight and more were collected at regular intervals. 

According to the study, those who smoked the most and those who gained the most weight had the highest likelihood for developing diabetes after they quit. On average, over the first three years of the study, quitters gained about 8.4 pounds and saw their waist circumferences grow by approximately 1.25 inches.

Breast-Feeding May Help A Woman’s Heart

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Researchers found that those women who had not breast-fed were much more likely to have calcification or plaque in their coronary artery, aorta and carotid artery. When calcifications and plaque build up in the arteries, blood flow can be reduced, and, if enough of these deposits build up, they can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Health Care had previously looked at breast-feeding’s effect on older women.  Their study found that post-menopausal women who had breast-fed were less likely to report having heart disease.  Another study on breast-feeding from a different research group recently reported in the journal Diabetes that women who breast-fed were less likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a clustering of risk factors that indicate an increased risk for heart disease.

The current study included women who had at least one baby. At the time of the study, they were 45 to 58 years old, had never been diagnosed with heart disease and had no known symptoms of heart disease.

The researchers found that 32 percent of the women who had not breast-fed had coronary artery calcification, compared with 17 percent of the breast-feeding moms. The researchers found calcifications in 39 percent of the aortas of women who hadn’t breast-fed, versus 17 percent of the women who had. They also found plaque deposits in the carotid artery of 18 percent of the women who had not breast-fed and 10 percent of those who had.

After adjusting the data for socioeconomic status, family history and lifestyle factors, heart disease risk factors and body mass, the researchers concluded that women who had not breast-fed were five times more likely to have aortic calcifications than women who consistently breast-fed. 

Report prepared by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  Check out the website for costs for critical illness insurance coverage.

Calorie Intake Linked To Longevity And Cancer Development

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

According to findings reported by researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham,  reducing calorie-intake can benefit longevity and help prevent diseases like cancer that have been linked to aging.

The researchers conducted tests by growing both healthy human-lung cells and precancerous human-lung cells in laboratory flasks. The flasks were provided either normal levels of glucose or significantly reduced amounts of the sugar compound, and the cells then were allowed to grow for a period of weeks.   Restricted glucose levels led the healthy cells to grow longer than is typical and caused the precancerous cells to die off in large numbers.

Every year some 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer.  It ranks as one of the leading factors for the need for costly long-term care according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance among aging seniors.

Two key genes were affected in the cellular response to decreased glucose consumption. The first gene, telomerase, encodes an important enzyme that allows cells to divide indefinitely. The second gene, p16, encodes a well known anti-cancer protein.

Healthy cells saw their telomerase rise and p16 decrease, which would explain the boost in healthy cell growth, the researchers explained.  The research into the links between calorie intake, aging and the onset of diseases related to aging is thought to be a first of its kind given that it used the unique approach of testing human cells versus laboratory animals.

The group’s study titled “Glucose Restriction Can Extend Normal Cell Lifespan and Impair Precancerous Cell Growth Through Epigenetic Control of hTERT and p16 Expression” has been published in the online edition of The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, or FASEB Journal.

Life Expectency In U.S. Hits New High

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

According to federal officials women born in 2007 can expect to live to 80.4 years on average and men to 75.3 years.  The report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that while Americans can expect to live longer than their parents, life expectancy in the United States is still lower than in many other industrialized countries, including Canada and Japan. 

Along with increased life expectancy, the report notes the death rate has dropped to an all-time low of 760.3 deaths per 100,000 people, continuing a long-term trend.  “It is increasingly likely that Americans will live a long life into their 80s, 90s and even past 100,” explains Jesse Slome, execuitive director of the American Associatiion for Critical Illness Insurance.  “But few are prepared for the consequences of living that long.”

The death rate has been decreasing in the United States since the 1960s with fewer deaths from the three primary critical illnesses, heart disease, stroke and cancer are driving the trend, he said.   The report is based on data from nearly 90 percent of U.S. death certificates. 

According to the report, life expectancy in 2007 increased to 77.9 years (77 years and 11 months) up from 77.7 years in 2006. Since 2000, life expectancy has increased 1.4 years.

The five leading causes of death, accounting for 64 percent of all deaths, are heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases and accidents. 

Death rates in the United States vary by region and state, with the Southeast leading the nation. The researchers report that white women have the longest life expectancy (80.7 years) followed by black women (77 years).   At age 65, life expectancy was 18.6 years in 2007, an increase of 6 percent since 2000. 

Experts note that living longer will also have unforeseen effects on the country.  “People living 20 years or more than their predecessors will have to rethink retirement planning,” Slome said.  “The nation will see a significant drain on Social Security and Medicare benefits as these programs were designed to support people for only five to 10 years after retiring.”

Cancer Cases And Deaths Continue to Drop

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

According to the findings of a new report, new cancer cases and deaths from cancer have declined significantly for both men and women and for most racial and ethnic populations.

These decreases were largely due to decreased incidence and death from lung, prostate and colon cancer among men and a drop in two of the three leading cancers in women which include breast and colon cancers. 

Data from the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries revealed that new diagnoses for all types of cancer in the United States declined almost 1 percent per year from 1999 to 2006 and cancer deaths dropped 1.6 percent per year from 2001 to 2006. 

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks data for the three primary illnesses afflicting Americans (cancer, heart attack and stroke) there were nearly 1.5 million people with new cancer diagnoses in 2009. 

Cancer rates are still higher for men than for women, but men had the biggest declines in new cases and death, the study revealed.  This year’s report focused on trends in colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer, the third most-diagnosed cancer in both men and women, is also the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. 

Overall, colon cancer rates are declining, but the decline is mostly among those over 65. Increasing numbers of cases in men and women under 50 is worrisome, the report noted.  Among both men and women, there were major declines in colorectal cancer cases from 1985 to 1995, minor increases from 1995 to 1998, and significant declines from 1998 to 2006. Since 1984, death rates also dropped, with accelerated rates of decline since 2002 for men and since 2001 for women.

In fact, from 1975 to 2000, cases of colorectal cancer fell 22 percent; 50 percent of which was most likely due to changes in lifestyle, and 50 percent to more people being screened. 

In addition, deaths from colorectal cancer fell 26 percent during the same time; 9 percent of the drop came from lifestyle changes, 14 percent came from screening and 3 percent came from improved treatment, according to the report. 

Going forward, if there were no changes in lifestyle, screening or treatment, there would be a 17 percent drop in colorectal cancer deaths from 2000 to 2020. However, if current trends remain the same, there will be a 36 percent drop in colorectal cancer deaths. 

If more Americans adopted more healthy lifestyles, such as quitting smoking, and were screened for colon cancer and had access to optimal treatment (such as more effective chemotherapy), deaths from colon cancer could be reduced by 50 percent by 2020, the report predicted.

First National Critical Illness Insurance Study Examines U.S. Buyers

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Nearly half of individuals purchasing critical illness insurance protection were under age 45 according to the first national study of buyers conducted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  

The industry trade group released the findings of a study that reveals one third (34%) of purchasers were between ages 45 and 54 and the majority (87%) purchased $50,000 or less in benefits.  The study examined sales data for over 130,000 individual and voluntary worksite policies and certificates issued. 

“Critical illness insurance is growing in acceptance as consumers understand the risk and financial exposure resulting from cancer, a heart attack or stroke,” explains Jesse Slome, the organization’s executive director.   First introduced in the United States in 1996, some 600,000 individuals have purchased critical illness coverage available from about 20 insurance companies.             

Nearly a quarter (24%) of individual buyers opted for coverage of less than $20,000 according to the study’s findings.  For those purchasing in the worksite setting, some 65 percent chose benefits of $20,000 or less.              

The vast majority of purchasers do so prior to turning age 55.  Among those purchasing individual critical illness insurance policies, 20 percent were under age 35; 27 percent were between ages 35 and 44 and 34 percent were between 45 and 54.  Buyers purchasing coverage in the workplace were about the same age according to the Association report.  Policies providing a $10,000 benefit for a 40 year old can range from $150 to $300-per-year. 

Individual buyers tended to be male (52% versus 48% female) while those purchasing in the workplace were more likely to be female (59% versus 41% male). 

“We anticipate the market for critical illness insurance products will increase in the years ahead,” predicts Slome.  The Los Angeles-based association will undertake an aggressive consumer awareness campaign in 2010 to build an understanding of the benefits of the protection that is popular outside of the United States.  “Every year, millions of Americans are diagnosed with a critical illness and the vast majority survive,” Slome explains.  “The financial cost even for those with health insurance can be devastating and one of the leading reasons 1.5 million Americans declared bankruptcy even before the current economic crisis.”  Critical illness insurance policies range in cost based on the age, sex and use of tobacco products.  A policy providing a $10,000 cash benefit can range from about $150 a year to $400 a year experts explain.

The full study results can be viewed online: Go to: <a href>http://www.aacii.org</a>.

Stroke Risk Highest For Those Born In South

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

According to a new report in Neurology reveals that people born in the North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama show a consistently higher incidence of stroke compared to those born elsewhere.  Each year about 600,000 people experience their first stroke according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  Someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds. 

The higher stroke incidence in those seven states has been recognized for years.  Researchers , at the Harvard School of Public Health’s division of society, human development and health noted that the reason is unclear. 

Researchers studied data from 1980, 1990 and 2000 U.S. national death records for people aged 30 to 80 who were born and lived in 49 states. They calculated stroke death rates by linking the data to U.S. census information. 

The findings revealed that white people who were born and lived their adult lives in what is often referred to as “the stroke belt” were 45 percent more likely to die of a stroke in the 1980 group, 29 percent more likely in the 1990 group and 34 percent more likely in the 2000 group than those who were born and lived outside the seven Southern states. 

The findings were comparable for blacks: 55 percent, 47 percent and 34 percent higher risk for the respective groups.  Among whites who moved to the stroke belt as adults, the risk was 11 percent greater, according to the 2000 data, and 20 percent higher for those who were born in the stroke belt but later lived elsewhere. 

The higher rate was attributed to multiple factors such as genetics, environmental toxins and learned behavior.  They noted social environment that dietary habits and access to medical care may result in some element of socioeconomic risk.

First Study Of Critical Illness Insurance Buyers

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

December 1, 2009 — Nearly half of individuals purchasing critical illness insurance protection were under age 45 according to the first national study of buyers conducted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the industry trade group.  One third (34%) of purchasers were between ages 45 and 54 and the majority (87%) purchased $50,000 or less in benefits.

Research conducted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance (AACII) examined sales data for over 130,000 individual and voluntary worksite policies and certificates issued.  “Critical illness insurance is growing in acceptance as consumers understand the risk and financial exposure that is the result of cancer, heart attack or stroke,” explains Jesse Slome, the organization’s executive director.   Introduced in the United States in 1996, some 600,000 individuals have purchased critical illness coverage.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of individual buyers opted for coverage of less than $20,000 according to the study’s findings.  For those purchasing in the worksite setting, some 65 percent chose benefits of $20,000 or less.

The vast majority of purchasers do so prior to turning age 55.  Among those purchasing individual critical illness insurance policies, 20 percent were under age 35; 27 percent were between ages 35 and 44 and 34 percent were between 45 and 54.  Buyers purchasing coverage in the workplace were about the same age according to the Association report.

Individual buyers tended to be male (52% versus 48% female) while those purchasing in the workplace were more likely to be female (59% versus 41% male).

“We anticipate the market for critical illness insurance products will increase in the years ahead,” predicts Slome.  The Association will undertake an aggressive consumer awareness campaign in 2010 to build an understanding of the benefits of the protection that is popular outside of the United States.

The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance is the national organization serving insurance and financial professionals who provide critical illness insurance solutions.                                                                                                                                 

Findings:  2009 Critical Illness Insurance Buyer Study
conducted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance

Sales By Issue Age (Individual Critical Illness Insurance)
Under 35            20.0 %
35 – 44            27.0 %
45 – 54            34.0 %
55 – 64            15.5 %
65 or older              3.5 %

Sales By Issue Age (Worksite / Voluntary Critical Illness Insurance)
Under 35            22.0 %
35 – 44            28.0 %
45 – 54            32.0 %
55 – 64            17.5 %
65 or older              0.5 %

Benefit Purchased (Individual Critical Illness Insurance)
Under $20,000            24.0 %
$20,001 – $50,000       63.0 %
$50,001 – $100,000      6.0 %
$100,001-$250,000      4.0 %
$250,001 +                      3.0 %

Benefit Purchased (Worksite / Voluntary Critical Illness Insurance)
Under $20,000            65.0 %
$20,001 – $50,000            28.0 %
$50,001 – $100,000              6.5 %
$100,001-$250,000              0.5 %
$250,001 +              0.0 %

Sales By Policyholder Sex  (Individual Critical Illness Insurance)
Male                        52 %
Female                        48 %

Sales By Policyholder Sex  (Worksite / Voluntary Critical Illness Insurance)
Male                        41 %
Female                        59 %

Kidney Transplant Plus Sleep Disorder Adds Up to Trouble

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Researchers in Hungary conducted a study of kidney transplant recipients and found that 25 percent had moderate to severe sleep apnea, a rate similar to that seen in kidney disease patients on dialysis awaiting a transplant. 

The findings they note indicate that both types of patients who have the breathing-related sleep disorder should be considered at high risk for serious heart-related complications.  Transplant recipients with sleep apnea were more than twice as likely as those without the syndrome to be taking three or more anti-hypertensive drugs, but still had higher blood pressure than those without the sleep disorder. Obesity increased a transplant patient’s risk of developing sleep apnea.

Organ transplants are increasingly available according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  Some critical illness policies will provide a cash benefit when a transplant is received.

When the Hungarian medical researchers calculated risk scores, they found that kidney disease patients with sleep apnea were twice as likely to suffer heart disease or stroke than those without sleep apnea.  They recommend that physicians should screen transplant patients for obstructive sleep apnea and offer appropriate treatment,” the study authors concluded. 

The study will be published in January in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Protein May Predict Heart Attack

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

According to a study published in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology the C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation in the blood, may predict those at higher risk for heart attack and death but not stroke. 

The study involved over 2,200 people who were 40 years old or older and stroke-free.  All participants had their blood tested for CRP levels and were evaluated for stroke and heart attack risk factors. 

Participants were followed for an average of eight years. In that time, there were 198 strokes, 156 heart-related events and 586 deaths.  The group was comprised of 63 percent Hispanic, 20 percent non-Hispanic black and 15 percent non-Hispanic white residents. 

The study’s researchers found that people with CRP levels greater than three milligrams per liter were 70 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack and 55 percent more likely to die early compared to people who had levels of one milligram per liter or less of the protein in their blood. The protein was not associated with an increased risk of stroke once other risk factors were taken into account.

Prior studies have found the C-reactive protein to be a marker for predicting risk of heart disease.  CRP protein levels are associated with such medical and lifestyle risk factors as diabetes, smoking, alcohol consumption and physical activity.   A lead researcher noted that by living a healthy lifestyle, one may be able to lower these protein levels, thus lowering the risk of cardiac events and possibly early death.   The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Return to the Association’s home page.  Click here.

Smoking Bans Reduce Heart Attack Occurrence

Monday, October 19th, 2009

A new report from the Institute of Medicine confirms that there is sufficient evidence that breathing secondhand smoke boosts nonsmokers’ risk for heart problems.  The medical researchers added that indirect evidence indicating that even relatively brief exposures could lead to a heart attack is compelling. 

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, some 43 percent of nonsmoking children and 37 percent of nonsmoking adults are exposed to secondhand smoke in the United States. Experts report that roughly 126 million nonsmokers were still being exposed in 2000.

A 2006 report from the U.S. Surgeon General’s office concluded that exposure to secondhand smoke causes heart disease and indicated that smoke-free policies are the most economical and effective way to reduce exposure. However, the effectiveness of smoking bans in reducing heart problems has continued to be a source of debate.

The Institute of Medicine researchers conducted a comprehensive review of published and unpublished data and testimony on the relationship between secondhand smoke and short-term and long-term heart problems. Eleven key studies that evaluated the effects of smoking bans on heart attack rates informed the committee’s conclusions about the positive effects of smoke-free policies. The studies calculated that reductions in the incidence of heart attacks range from 6 percent to 47 percent. 

The report was sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine provides independent, objective, evidence-based advice to policymakers, health professionals, the private sector, and the public.

Breast Tenderness Linked To Elevated Cancer Risk

Friday, October 16th, 2009

According to researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA they are not certain why breast tenderness indicates increased cancer risk among women on the combination therapy.

The researchers based their findings by examining data on more than 16,000 participants in the Women’s Health Initiative estrogen-plus- progestin clinical trial.   They speculated that it may be because the hormone therapy is causing breast-tissue cells to multiply more rapidly, which causes breast tenderness and at the same time indicates increased cancer risk.

The UCLA research, published in the Oct. 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, compared the daily use of oral conjugated equine estrogens (0.625 mg) plus medroxyprogesterone acetate (2.5 mg), or CEE+MPA, with the daily use of a placebo pill. 

Of the participants in the trial, over 8,500 took estrogen plus progestin and just over 8,100 were given placebos. Participants underwent mammography and clinical breast exams at the start of the trial and annually thereafter. Self-reported breast tenderness was assessed at the beginning of the trial and one year later, and invasive breast cancer over the next 5.6 years was confirmed by medical record review. 

Women on the combination therapy who did not have breast tenderness at the trial’s inception were found to have a threefold greater risk of developing tenderness at the one-year mark, compared with participants who were assigned placebos (36.1 percent vs. 11.8 percent). Among the women who did report breast tenderness at the beginning, the risk at one-year was about 1.26 times that of their counterparts on placebos. 

Of the women who reported new-onset breast tenderness, 76.3 percent had been on the combination therapy.

Women in the combination therapy group who did not have breast tenderness at the outset but experienced new-onset tenderness at the first annual follow-up had a 48 percent higher risk of invasive breast cancer than their counterparts on combination therapy who did not have breast tenderness at the first-year follow-up.

Green Tea May Curb Some Cancers

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

According to a study by Japanese researchers noted that it may take at least  5 cups a day to reduce the risk.

Drinking green tea has been associated with lower risk of dying and heart disease deaths, medical experts have reported.  The just-released study notes that drinking green tea may have a favorable effect “for particular cancers.”

Researchers gathered information on the diets and green tea drinking habits of a large group of Japanese adults aged 40 to 79 years old.  They followed the group for development of blood and “lymph system” cancers. The lymph system is a major component of the body’s immune system.

Some 40,000 men and women who participated in the study had no previous history of cancer.  During 9 years of follow up, 157 blood, bone marrow, and lymph system cancers developed in the study group.

The researchers found that the overall risk for blood cancers was 42 percent lower among study participants who drank 5 or more, versus 1 or fewer, cups of green tea daily.  Drinking 5 or more cups of green tea daily was also associated with 48 percent lower risk for lymph system cancers.

These associations held up in analyses that allowed for age, gender, education, smoking status and history, alcohol use, and fish and soybean consumption.  The report appears in the American Journal of Epidemiology, September 15, 2009.

Aging Heart Can Be Prevented

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Old age is a major risk factor for heart failure, a condition when the heart is unable to pump enough blood around to supply the oxygen the body needs.  Some 5.7 million Americans have heart failure, and nearly 10 out of every 1,000 people over age 65 suffer heart failure every year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance

Japanese researchers at Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Kyoto described how they managed to suppress a variety of the P13K gene in a group of elderly mice.  The gene regulates the lifespan of cells and plays a role in the aging of tissues. 

Prior studies found that the suppression of this gene extended the lifespan roundworm and kept the hearts of old fruit flies healthy.  The Japanese researchers reported that compared with another group of mice in which the gene was left intact, mice with the suppressed gene had improved cardiac function and fewer biological markers of aging. 

The medical researchers noted that mice are considered a good surrogate for studies of human diseases and conditions.  Their body plan, physiology and genome share many features with humans they note. The findings were published in the journal Circulation.

Skin Cancer Can Be Inherited

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

 Two new studies suggest that skin cancer can be inhereited.

One study found that having an identical twin with melanoma increased a person’s own risk of developing the disease much more than having a fraternal twin with this type of skin cancer.  The other study revealed that having a parent or sibling with one of several different types of non-melanoma skin cancer increased risk as well.

Having an identical twin with melanoma increased a person’s own risk of the disease nearly 10-fold, while melanoma associated with having a non-identical twin with the disease was roughly doubled. 

Prior studies have suggested melanoma and other skin cancers run in families.  But medical experts note it has been difficult to separate the difference between the influence of genes and those caused by other environmental conditions.  Some 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance. 

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia looked at twin pairs in which at least one sibling had been diagnosed with melanoma.  After looking at hundreds of candidates, the researchers found that in four of the 27 identical twin pairs, both had melanoma, while three of the 98 fraternal twin pairs had both been diagnosed with the deadly skin cancer. 

In the second study conducted at the University of California Los Angeles, researchers looked at the Swedish Family-Cancer Database to gauge the risk for several types of skin cancer among siblings and children of people diagnosed with these diseases.

They found that people with a sibling or parent diagnosed with some types of skin cancer were more likely to develop skin cancers of various types, not just the ones their relatives had. When tumors occurred at parts of the body more likely to have been exposed to the sun (such as the face, compared to the torso), the familial risk was stronger.  The findings were reported in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, September 2009.

Women With Breast Cancer Have Low Vitamin D Levels

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

The finding comes from scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center who recommend women should be given high doses of vitamin D.   The U.S. Institute of Medicine suggests that blood levels nearing 32 nanograms per milliliter are adequate.

Vitamin D, obtained from milk, fortified cereals and exposure to sunlight, is well known to play an essential role in cell growth, in boosting the body’s immune system and in strengthening bones. 

In a study of women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, nearly 70 percent had low levels of vitamin D in their blood, according to a study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Breast Cancer Symposium in San Francisco. The analysis showed women with late-stage disease and non-Caucasian women had even lower levels. 

Scientists analyzed vitamin D levels in each woman.  They found the average level was 27 nanograms per milliliter.  More than two-thirds of the women had vitamin deficiency. Weekly supplementation with high doses of vitamin D — 50,000 international units or more — improved the levels, according to the researchers. 

Previous studies have shown that nearly half of all men and women are deficient in the nutrient, with vitamin D levels below 32 nanograms per milliliter.   Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include muscle pain, low energy and fatigue, lowered immunity, symptoms of depression and sleep irregularities.

Some 692,000 American women are diagnosed annually with cancer in the United States according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade group.  Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting 26 percent of women diagnosed with the illness.

CI Sales Boot Camps Set For Texas, California

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

The nation’s first industry-supported sales boot camps will be held to educate insurance and financial professionals about critical illness insurance protection.   The focus will be on successfully selling insurance protection to individuals as well as in the worksite.

The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance (AACII) is organizing the half-day sales conferences that will be held in California (Anaheim) and Texas (Dallas and Houston).

“Few agents are aware of critical illness insurance,” explains Jesse Slome, AACII’s executive director.  “The market is set to explode because everyone knows someone who has had a critical illness but they are not aware of CI protection.”  Critical illness insurance has gained widespread sales abroad in Canada, Britain and other countries.  The initial policies were first introduced in the U.S. in the mid 1990s.

The Southern California Critical Illness Sales Boot Camp will be help May 18, 2010 in Anaheim.  Information will be posted on the Association’s website.  For further information on exhibiting, contact the Association at (818) 597-3205 or via E-mail to: mailto:jslome@aacii.org. 

Shingles Raises Risk Of Stroke In Adults

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

According to a study published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association the risk was even greater when the infection involved the eyes.  Every 40 seconds someone in America has a stroke, according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.

Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus; the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays in the body. Usually the virus doesn’t cause problems, but it can reappear years later, causing shingles. 

Studies have shown that people with herpes zoster infection are more likely to develop stroke. The researchers noted that this is the first study to demonstrate the actual risk of stroke following herpes zoster infection. 

Medical experts at the Taipei Medical University Hospital studied some 8,000 patients 18 years and older who received shingles treatment between 1997 and 2001. These people were matched by age and gender with 23,280 adults who weren’t treated for shingles (controls). 

During the one-year follow-up, 133 shingles patients (about 1.7 percent) and 306 of the controls (about 1.3 percent) had strokes.   The researchers noted that people treated for a shingles infection were 31 percent more likely to have a stroke, compared with patients without a shingles infection. 

Patients with shingles infections that involved the skin around the eye and the eye itself were 4.28 times more likely to have a stroke than patients without shingles.  Shingles patients were 31 percent more likely to develop an ischemic stroke during the one-year follow-up than those without shingles. 

Ischemic strokes, which are caused by the blockage of an artery, account for 87 percent of the new or recurrent strokes that strike some 800,000 Americans yearly, Jesse Slome, executive director of the critical illness insurance trade group. 

Shingles usually starts as a rash on one side of the face or body. The rash starts as blisters that scab after three to five days and usually clears within two to four weeks. There is often pain, itching or tingling in the area where the rash develops.

Stem Cell Research Offers Colon Cancer Vaccine Hope

Friday, October 9th, 2009

October 10, 2009.  Human stem cells may provide a means of creating a vaccine against colon cancer and other types of cancers.

Some 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer annually according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade orgganization.  “Some 10 percent of cases in both men and women are colon cancer,” notes Jesse Slome, executive director.

American and Chinese scientists reporting noted that cancer and stem cells share many molecular and biological features.   Dr. Zihai Li, of the University of Connecticut Stem Cell Institute, said in a news release that by immunizing the host with stem cells, the researchers were are able to ‘fool’ the immune system to believe that cancer cells are present and thus to initiate a tumor-combating immune program.  The research by Li and colleagues is the first to make the connection between human stem cells and colon cancer vaccination.

 

The study authors noted that, it has long been believed that immunizing people with embryonic materials may trigger an anti-tumor response by the immune system, but this theory has never advanced beyond animal research. The finding that human stem cells may help immunize against colon cancer is new and unexpected they added.  The study was published online Oct. 7 in the journal Stem Cells.

 

The researchers vaccinated mice with human embryonic stem cells and found that the mice developed a consistent immune response against colon cancer cells. The vaccinated mice showed a dramatic decline in tumor growth, compared with non-vaccinated mice.

Vigorous Exercise Associated With Reduced Breast Cancer Risk

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

October 8, 2009.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there’s good news for post-menopausal women.  Engaging in moderate to vigorous exercise may result in a reduced risk of breast cancer.

Nearly 700,000 American women are diagnosed with cancer according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  About one quarter (26%) have breast cancer recognized as the most common cancer affecting U.S. women,

Researchers writing the open access journal BMC Cancer investigated the link between breast cancer and exercise.  According to the international team of researchers headed by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, this new study is one of the first prospective investigations to look at the importance of various intensities of exercise at different stages in an individual’s life. 

Over 110,000 post menopausal women were asked to rate their level of physical activity at ages 15-18, 19-29, 35-39, and in the past 10 years. It was found, over 6.6 years of follow up, that women who engaged in more than 7 hours per week of moderate-to-vigorous exercise for the last ten years were 16% less likely to develop breast cancer than those who were inactive. 

No link was observed between breast cancer risk and physical activity in women who were active at a younger age.  The findings could help inform the mechanisms of the physical activity-breast cancer relationship.

New Test Assesses Individual Breast Cancer Risk

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

October 7, 2009.  Some 692,000 American women are diagnosed with cancer according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  About one quarter (26%) have breast cancer.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a new report notes that analyzing individual breast tissue for specific structural characteristics may more precisely determine a woman’s risk for developing breast cancer.

Reporting in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers report that the more acini a woman has and the larger her breast lobules, the higher the chance she will get breast cancer.  Acini, the medical experts note, refers to a cluster of cells that in this instance are the sacs that produce milk.

Currently, factors such as family history of breast cancer, number of pregnancies and age at first pregnancy are helpful in predicting how often breast cancer will arise in a larger population. But, reserachers note, these same tools are poor indicators of individual risk.

Other than family history and genetics, the best tool experts have to predict individual breast cancer risk is the Gail model, which takes into account age and number of previous biopsies, as well as family history and pregnancy history.   But, the authors of the report note that the Gail model is “only slightly better than chance alone.

Breast cancer originates in the breast lobules. The lobules are supposed to disappear as a woman ages, reducing her breast cancer risk, but this doesn’t always happen.  The researchers tissue from women with breast cancer (as well as earlier tissue samples taken before they developed the cancer).  The more acini per lobule a woman had and the larger the lobule, the higher her risk for developing breast cancer, the researchers found.   This new technique proved more accurate than the Gail model.

Dental Plaque May Raise Heart Risk in Black Men

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

October 6, 2009.  Neglecting oral hygene could place black males at increased risk for heart problems a new study reveals.

Researchers at the Indiana University School of Dentistry studied women and men who were asked to neglect their oral hygiene as part of the study.  The researchers were seeking to determine whether there would be equal buildup of dental plaque caused a change in total white blood cell count, a known risk factor for heart problems.

They found that the accumulation of dental plaque accumulation in black males was associated with a significant increase in the activity of white blood cells called neutrophils, an important part of the immune system, the researchers noted.  An elevated white blood cell count is one of the major risks for heart attack, previous research has found.

Medical experts noted that when a bacterial infection occurs anywhere in the body, billions of neutrophils are produced in the bone marrow to defend against the intruder.  The researchers observed that with poor dental hygiene, white blood cell activity increased in black men but not black women or whites of either sex.  The findings they note suggest both gender and racial differences in the inflammatory response to dental plaque. 

None of the study participants had periodontal (gum) disease.  the study authors explained.  The study was published in the August issue of the Journal of Dental Research.

To obtain a no-obligation quote for critical illness insurance go to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance’s Consumer Information Center or click on this link.

Protect Yourself From Breast Cancer

Monday, October 5th, 2009

According to medical experts, since 1990, more and more women have been surviving breast cancer, largely because of early detection through mammography and improvements in treatment.

Despite the progress, some 1.4 million American women will be diagnosed with cancer according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  Breast cancer accounts for 26 percent of cancer in women and is still the second leading cause of cancer death exceeded only by lung cancer.

Mammograms can find breast cancers earlier, when they are easier to treat and the chances of survival are higher. That’s why the American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms and breast exams for women 40 and older.

Medical specialists also recommend eating a healthy diet to help control weight, since being overweight or obese may raise breast cancer risk.  Get regular physical activity. The American Cancer Society recommends 30 minutes a day, 5 or more days a week. Forty-five to 60 minutes a day is even better for reducing breast cancer risk.

Limit the amount of alcohol you drink to no more than 1 drink per day. Alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

And perhaps most important, be sure to talk to your doctor if you notice any changes in your breasts or have any other concerns. That conversation could save your life doctors note.

Drug Duo May Reduce Heart Attack And Strokes

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

A combination of cholesterol and blood pressure medicine can cut the incidence of attacks by up to 60 percent according to a new study.

According to Kaiser Permanente researchers, an inexpensive combination of one drug used to lower cholesterol and another medication used to lower blood pressure can reduce the incidence of heart attacks and strokes by as much as 60 percent.

“An American suffers a heart attack every 34 seconds,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, a national trade organization. “Every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke, making these two of the most common critical illnesses afflicting individuals.”

Giving the drugs to nearly 70,000 people with cardiovascular disease or diabetes prevented an estimated 1,271 heart attacks and strokes in one year, Dr. James Dudl of Kaiser Permanente’s Care Management Institute and his colleagues reported in the American Journal of Managed Care.

According to reports, the inspiration for the study resulted from the Archimedes Model, a sophisticated computer simulation of the human body that predicted that lowering blood pressure and cholesterol simultaneously in those at the highest risk for cardiovascular problems. The Model predicted that the combination could reduce the incidence by 71 percent. The report noted that no study had been performed to test the prediction.

The Kaiser team chose two generic drugs, lovastatin for cholesterol and lisinopril for blood pressure, and offered them to 170,000 members of their managed-care programs in Northern and Southern California who suffered from heart disease or diabetes.

Some of the patients were already taking one of the drugs, but none of those selected was taking both. About 75 percent were also taking daily aspirin, but the researchers did not include aspirin in the protocol because they had no way to monitor usage.

They began the program in 2004 with nearly 70,000 patients. The team monitored compliance for two years by checking whether and how often patients refilled their prescriptions, then monitored health effects in the third year through the patients’ health records.

Some 47,268 patients had what the team termed “low exposure” to the drugs, taking them less than half the time. Their risk of hospitalization for heart attack or stroke was lowered by 15 events per 1,000 person-years, and an estimated 726 events were prevented.

Asian Spice Could Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

An estimated six million women in the United States currently use hormone replacement therapy to treat the symptoms of menopause.

Taking a combined estrogen and progestin hormone replacement therapy has increased their risk of developing progestin-accelerated breast tumors note medical experts.  According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance nearly 700,000 U.S. women will be diagnosed with cancer this year and over one-quarter will have breast cancer.

University of Missouri researchers have found that curcumin, a popular Indian spice derived from the turmeric root, could reduce the cancer risk for women after exposure to hormone replacement therapy.

The results of the study showed that women could potentially take curcumin to protect themselves from developing progestin-accelerated tumors, researchers noted.  In the study, researchers found that curcumin delayed the first appearance, decreased incidence and reduced multiplicity of progestin-accelerated tumors in an animal model.

Mini-Stroke Precedes 1 In 8 Strokes

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

For the study published in the Sept. 29 issue of Neurology, researchers found that, of the 16,409 people diagnosed with stroke over a four-year period, 2,032 — or 12.4 percent of them — had a TIA in the weeks before the stroke.

As a result, the medical experts concluded that a TIA does not have enough predictive power to warrant intensive preventive measures.

A TIA, which some refer to as a mini-stroke, occurs when a clot briefly blocks a brain artery. Symptoms of a TIA are the same as those of a stroke — sudden onset of weakness or numbness in an arm or leg, loss of vision or double vision, speech difficulty, dizziness, loss of balance — but they go away, often in a few minutes. Many people ignore the symptoms, but they are clear signs of possible trouble.

 

Dr. Larry B. Goldstein, director of the Duke Stroke Center. But he disagrees with the Canadian report’s  interpretation of the predictive importance of TIAs.  “They predict 10 to 15 percent of strokes,” Goldstein said. “This is not a small number, so it is an opportunity to prevent stroke that you don’t want to miss when it happens.”

Some medical experts noted that better predictive tools are available.  Many prefers carotid ultrasound, an inexpensive way to listen to blood flow in the main artery to the brain.

SOURCES: Daniel G. Hackam, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, neurology, clinical pharmacology and epidemiology/biostatistics, Stroke Prevention and Atherosclerosis Research Centre, Robarts Research Institute, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada; Larry B. Goldstein, M.D., director, Duke Stroke Center, Duke University, Durham, N.C.; Sept. 29, 2009, Neurology

Posted by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

New Discoveries Offer Hope for Failing Eyes

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Already a leading cause of vision loss among people older than 60, macular degeneration involves the breakdown of the macula, which helps provide clear vision. As the macula deteriorates, people see a blurred spot in the center of their vision.  The blurriness grows over time. 

Researchers report that new treatments now under study or in development could be used to treat the two forms of macular degeneration, wet and dry. Current treatments for the wet form of the disease have proven quite successful. The wet form is more rare but can cause rapid vision loss if not caught early.

Researchers have discovered a combination therapy of vitamins and antioxidants that reduces the risk of progressive vision loss by more than 20 percent, according to a report from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Other progress against the wet form of the disease has come through the use of drugs that target vascular endothelial growth factor.  Caught early in the course of the disease, the chance of vision loss is less than 10 percent over a two-year period, scientists note.  Cutting-edge research also may have found another way to tackle the wet form of macular degeneration. In the June 14 issue of Nature, doctors reported that blocking the activity of a specific protein can reduce the same blood vessel growth that leads to the wet form.

No effective treatments have been found for the dry form of macular degeneration.  The dry form accounts for 85 percent of all macular degeneration cases, according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  

Medical experts note that a combination of antioxidants and zinc may slow the progression of the disease. Smokers should not use this treatment.  The recommended supplements contain: 500 milligrams of vitamin C, 400 International Units of beta-carotene, 80 milligrams of zinc and 2 milligrams of copper.

 

On a positive note, scientists reportedly are optimistic that within three to five years a treatment for the dry form of macular degeneration will exist.

PSA Test Unreliable Prostate Cancer Screening

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

New research reveals the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test may lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment of prostate cancer.

Researchers noted that the inability of the PSA test to distinguish between deadly and harmless prostate cancers makes it unusable as a population-wide screening tool.  PSA is a protein made by the prostate gland. It is found in small amounts in the blood of healthy men, and is often elevated in men with prostate cancer, but also in men with benign prostate enlargement.

Some 745,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer this year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the industry trade group.  Nearly 300,000 will die and prostate cancer causes about a quarter of all cancer deaths among men.

The lead author of one study, a urologist with Gavle Hospital in Gavle, Sweden, noted that in addition to PSA, further biomarkers are needed before inferring population-based screening for prostate cancer.  The claim was based on a study of PSA tests of over 500 men diagnosed with prostate cancer. Their PSA was measured several years before being diagnosed. Scientists compared those tests with PSA tests from over 1,000 men without prostate cancer.

Reserachers reported that in men with a prediagnostic PSA level below 1 nanogram per milliliter, only six men [1.2 percent] were later diagnosed with a high-risk prostate cancer. Hence, PSA levels below [that] almost ruled out a future high-risk prostate cancer diagnosis.  They noted that the direct implication of their findings in a screening situation was that no matter which PSA cut-off you adopt for selecting men for further diagnostic work-up, you will either have too many false positives or too many false negatives.

Given the current trend in lowering the PSA cut-off to about 3 nanograms per milliliter, the medical reserachers noted that a large number of healthy men will be subject to painful, stressful and costly diagnostic procedures.  Their report worried that the wide overdiagnosis of slow-growing tumors causing unnecessary medical treatment and anxiety.

Although most agencies providing recommendations on prostate cancer screening, especially those outside the United States, do not recommend routine PSA testing for the early detection of prostate cancer, it continues to be performed frequently medical experts noted.

Exercise May Prevent Protate Cancer

Monday, September 28th, 2009

According to a new study released today by Duke University Medical Center men who were moderately active were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Moderately active was defined as anything equivalent to walking at a moderate pace for several hours a week.

The researchers looked at men who had a prostate biopsy and found that exercise was associated with less aggressive disease in men who did develop prostate cancer.  As the amount of exercise increased, the risk of cancer decreased, the study’s lead author said in a news release.

The majority (58 percent) of the men in this study were sedentary, which means they exercised less than the equivalent of one hour per week of easy walking.

Prostate cancer is the third most common cause of death from cancer in men of all ages and is the most common cause of death from cancer in men over 75 years old. Prostate cancer is rarely found in men younger than 40.

Men at higher risk include African-America men older than 60, farmers, tire plant workers, painters, and men exposed to cadmium. The lowest number of cases occurs in Japanese men and those who do not eat meat (vegetarians).

Prostate cancers are grouped according to tumor size, any spreading outside the prostate (and how far), and how different tumor cells are from normal tissue. This is called staging. Identifying the correct stage may help the doctor determine which treatment is best.

Flu Can Increase Heart Attack Risk

Friday, September 25th, 2009

British researchers report.that both seasonal and the pandemic H1N1 swine flu will put more people at risk for heart attacks.  They urged those most prone, especially those with heart disease and diabetes, to get a seasonal flu shot and an H1N1 flu shot which may reduce the chance of getting the flu and thereby lower the risk for a heart attack.

In thre United States someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds and 785,000 individuals will have a new coronary attack this year according to data published by the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, an industry trade group.

Medical experts note that influenza – or the flu – is most concerning because of its secondary complications.  They note that death or hospitalization isn’t because of the influenza but rather it’s because influenza puts you in a weakened state and is a stress on the system.  The British researchers noted that the flu virus may have a negative effect directly on the heart.

To determine the risk of heart attack among those with flu, researchers at the UCL Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology in London, reviewed nearly 40 studies conducted between 1932 and 2008.  The studies showed an increase in deaths from heart disease and more heart attacks during flu season.

Excess deaths because of heart disease averaged 35 percent to 50 percent, according to the report in the October issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases.  The studies also showed that getting a flu shot reduced the risk of dying from heart disease or suffering a heart attack.

Guidelines from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology strongly recommend that all individuals with cardiovascular disease receive annual influenza vaccination.

Aspirin Protects Against Colon Cancer

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Colorectal is the second biggest cause of cancer death in the United States and Europe, where a total of 560,000 people develop the disease each year, and 250,000 die from it according to the American Association for Critical Illness insurance, the national trade organization.

Scientists at the Institute of Human Genetics at Newcastle University in Britain said the benefits of aspirin were only seen after several years.  The researchers noted that they uncovered a simple way of controlling stems cells that make tumors grow.

The researchers tested over 1,000 people with Lynch syndrome — an inherited condition that predisposes a person to a range of cancers, particularly of the colon.  Some were given aspirins and some a placebo.

Follow-up tests after 10 years showed that although there was no difference in cancer rates after 29 months, a significant difference was detected after four years.  Fewer people in the aspirin group developing colon cancer, the study’s leader noted.

To date, there have been only six colon cancers in the aspirin group as opposed to 16 who took placebo, the study notes.  There is also a reduction in endometrial cancer.

People with Lynch syndrome have an increased risk of many cancers including stomach, colon, brain, skin, and prostate. Women carriers also have a high risk of developing endometrial and ovarian cancers.

In low daily doses aspirin has been found to stave off the risk of heart attacks and strokes, as well as chase away occasional aches and pains.  Other scientists have previously found it can reduce the risk of developing colon cancer and suggested it does so by blocking the enzyme cyclooxygenase2, or COX-2, which promotes inflammation and cell division and is found in high levels in tumors.

Childhood Stroke More Common

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Medical experts note that pediatric strokes are rare.  A new estimate puts its incidence at only 2.4 strokes per 100,000 person-years. But the study, reported in the September 17 online issue of Stroke, also cites five previous studies in which the estimated incidence ranged from .54 to 1.2 per 100,000 children per year.

Medical researchers at the Pediatric Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease Center at the University of California, San Francisco, Children’s Hospital examined data on 2.3 million children up to the age of 19 who were enrolled in the Kaiser Permanente managed-care plan in northern California from 1993 to 2003.

They searched for stroke cases listed by diagnostic code for billing purposes and also for reports indicating strokes in radiological studies, including computed tomography and MRI. The radiology reports yielded a higher incidence of stroke.

The concept that children simply don’t have strokes is widely prevalent, one of the lead researchers noted.

This new comparison of the two methods of identifying a pediatric stroke found that radiological evidence was much more sensitive than the billing code. The radiology method was far more sensitive (83 percent) than the billing code method (39 percent.)

SOURCES: Heather J. Fullerton, M.D., director, Pediatric Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease Center, University of California, San Francisco, Children’s Hospital; E. Steve Roach, M.D., director, pediatric neurology, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio; Sept. 17, 2009, Stroke, online

Weight Loss Good For Kidney Health

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Medical experts explain that kidneys filter waste products from the blood and excrete them in the urine. When damaged, their ability to perform these vital functions is reduced. 

Some 26 million Americans have chronic kidney disease according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance and millions of others are at increased risk.  By 2015, experts predict there will be more than 700,000 people with the most advanced form of kidney disease known as end-stage renal disease.

More than a third of US adults are either overweight or obese, putting them at increased risk for kidney trouble, not to mention heart trouble and diabetes.   To determine if weight loss could help protect the kidneys, medical researchers at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic studied data from studies that examined the impact on kidney function of weight loss achieved through diet, exercise, or surgery.

The researchers found that losing weight through diet and exercise reduced one key measure of kidney damage – namely, excess excretion of protein in the urine, what doctors call “proteinuria.”   The medical report noted that weight loss achieved through surgery seemed to help normalize the rate at which the kidneys filter waste products in obese adults with abnormally high filtration rates.

The findings were reported in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology.

Middle-Age Heart Risk Factors Shorten Men’s Lives

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Although death from heart disease has been declining, in part due to better control of cardiovascular risk factors and better care, a study by British researchers looks at death from heart disease in terms of life expectancy.

The researchers collected data on nearly 19,000 men ranging from 49 to 69 years of age. The men were first evaluated between 1967-1970.  At the start of the study, the men completed a questionnaire that included questions about their medical history, smoking, employment and marital status. In addition, height, weight, blood pressure, lung function, cholesterol and blood sugar levels were also measured.

After about 28 years of follow-up, 7,044 surviving men were examined again in 1997.  When the study began, 42 percent of the men smoked, 39 percent had high blood pressure and 51 percent had high cholesterol. By 1997, about two-thirds had stopped smoking and their blood pressure and cholesterol levels had also dropped, the researchers noted.

Despite these changes in risk factors for heart disease, men who had three heart risk factors in middle age had a threefold higher risk of dying from heart disease and a twofold increased risk of dying from other causes, compared with men with none of these risk factors, the study found.

Men who had all three risk factors at the time they entered the study lived 10 years less than men with none of the risk factors. Life expectancy after 50 was an additional 23.7 years for men with three risk factors, compared with 33.3 years for men without the risk factors, the researchers found.

Individuals who choose to not treat and control these major cardiovascular risk factors should recognize they may be giving up, on average, as much as 10 to 15 years of life by doing so, te research team reported.  The study was published in the Sept. 18 online edition of the British Medical Journal,

SOURCES: Robert Clarke, M.D., reader in epidemiology, University of Oxford, UK; Gregg C. Fonarow, M.D., professor, cardiology, University of California, Los Angeles; Sept. 18, 2009, British Medical Journal

During CPR, More Chest Compressions Saves More Lives

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

When it comes to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) you’re better off doing less mouth-to-mouth and more chest compressions, according to a new study.

CPR consists of chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  It is performed on people whose hearts have stopped beating.  Medical experts explain that mouth-to-mouth resuscitation moves oxygen into the lungs of someone who can’t breathe on his own, while chest compressions move blood carrying that oxygen to the heart and the brain.

This year some 800,000 Americans will have a new coronary attack according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the industry trade group.  The average age of a person having a first heart attack is 64 for men and 70 for women.

Researchers found that the odds that someone whose heart has stopped beating will survive goes up markedly when rescuers spend more time giving chest compressions.

The findings emphasize that the chest compressions you do on a loved one are one of the most important things that can be done, one of the authors of the study, said in a statement.  They shared the important information recognizing many are untrained or not confident giving mouth-to-mouth ventilation.  Evenn by themselves, chest compressions can make a difference, the medical researchers noted.

Canadian medical researchers examined CPR tracings in over 500 patients who suffered “out-of-hospital” cardiac arrest in the US and Canada.  There was roughly a 10 percent increase in the chance of survival for every 10 percent increase in amount of time that rescuers spend giving chest compressions they found.

Researchers found that the heart began pumping blood effectively on its own about 80 percent of the time when rescuers spent most of their time on chest compressions, compared to just shy of 60 percent of time when they spent most of their efforts on mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Similarly, about one in eight patients survived long enough to go home from the hospital when rescuers spent most of their time on mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but that rate of survival doubled when rescuers spent most of their time on chest compressions. 

The study appears in the Journal of the American Heart Association, September 14, 2009.

Hispanic Americans Have Lower Cancer Risk

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Hispanic (Latino) Americans are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to develop and die from all cancers combined as well as the four most common cancers (female breast, prostate, colorectal, and lung) according to a new report.

However, Hispanics have higher rates of several cancers related to infections (stomach, liver, and cervix) and are more likely to have cancer detected at a later stage.

The findings come from the latest edition of Cancer Facts & Figures for Hispanics/Latinos.  Hispanic Americans comprise the largest, fastest-growing, and youngest minority in the United States.  An estimated 98,900 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in Hispanic/Latinos in 2009. Prostate is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, while breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. Colorectal cancer is the second-most common cancer in both men and women.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  More than 1.44 million Americans had a diagnosis of cancer in 2008 and some 565,000 died.  According to the National Institutes of Health, cancer cost the United States an estimated $228 billion in medical costs in 2008.

An estimated 18,800 Hispanics are expected to die from cancer in 2009; the top two causes of cancer death among men are lung and colorectal cancer, while breast and lung cancer are the top two in women.

Between 1997 and 2006, cancer incidence rates decreased among Hispanics by 1.3% per year in men and 0.6% per year in women, compared to decreases of 0.8% per year and 0.4% per year in non-Hispanic white men and women, respectively.

 During the same time period, cancer death rates among Hispanics decreased by 2.2% per year in men and 1.2% per year in women, compared to decreases in non-Hispanic whites of 1.5% per year in men and 0.9% per year in women.

The report also finds that compared to non-Hispanic whites, Hispanic/Latino Americans have a later stage of diagnosis for many cancers, including breast and melanoma and have generally similar 5-year survival, except for melanoma, for which survival rates are lower in Hispanic compared to non-Hispanic white men (79% versus 87%) and women (88% versus 92%).

Written by Jesse Slome from the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance
http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org

More Adults At Risk Of Heart Disease

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Only 7.5 percent of Americans are now in the clear when it comes to heart disease risk factors according to a new study.

Resaerchers found that several decades of steady reductions in heart disease may be on the wane.  The obesity epidemic affecting millions of Americans bears much of the blame for the increased risk.  As a result, the decline in cardiovascular disease mortality in the U.S. seems to be coming to an end and may even reverse itself.

A worsening cardiovascular risk profile in the population could potentially lead to increases in the incidence and prevalence of cardiovascular disease, noted researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   The increases in cardiovascular disease and diabetes will affect the nation’s medical costs, stated Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.  Medical costs account for two-thirds of all U.S. bankruptcies, he noted.

The researchers collected data on adults 25 to 74 years of age looking for low-risk factors for heart disease.  These include items such as not smoking, having low blood cholesterol, normal blood pressure, normal weight and no sign of diabetes.

Using data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, the study found that in 1971 to 1975, a paltry 4.4 percent of adults had all five of these heart-healthy factors. However, by 1994 that number had risen to 10.5 percent of adults. 

The latest data, from 2004, found that the fraction of American adults with all five healthy characteristics had dropped to 7.5 percent.  Minorities tended to fare worst, since whites tended to have more low-risk factors than either blacks or Mexican-Americans, the report found.

The reserachers identified three reasons for the backslide in health; decreases in the percentages of adults who were not overweight or obese, a decrease in those who had a favorable blood pressure, and an increase in the number who have diabetes.  There was one bright spot in the report, a decrease in the percentage of adults who were not currently smoking.

Because excess weight is a major cause of diabetes and hypertension, it is critical that the percentage of adults who are overweight or obese be reduced, the researchers noted.  “This alarming development is occurring despite great improvements in medical interventions to prevent cardiovascular diseases,” he said. “It is of particular concern that these trends do not yet reflect the consequences of the current epidemic of childhood obesity.”

If these trends continue, the recent gains in life expectancy in the U.S. will be lost, the medical experts noted.

The study was published in the Sept. 14 online edition of Circulation.

SOURCES: Earl S. Ford, M.D., M.P.H., U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Rob M. van Dam, Ph.D., assistant professor, medicine, Harvard Medical School; Boston; Gregg C. Fonarow, M.D., professor, cardiology, University of California, Los Angeles; Sept. 14, 2009, Circulation, online

Overdiagnosis Of Prostate Cancer In Men Likely

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Over 1 million additional men were likely to have been incorrectly diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer.

Researchers indicated that over the past two decades, the introduction of prostate-antigen screening, or PSA, has resulted in the overdiagnosis reported in a new study published online by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

 The report notes that overdiagnosis has been associated with early diagnosis in prostate cancer, but there have been no previous national estimates of its magnitude.  Nearly 800,000 American men are diagnosed with cancer each year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade organization.  Prostate cancer accounts for 10 percent of all cancer-related deaths.

 

Using data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program, researchers at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice examined age-specific prostate cancer incidence rates in American men diagnosed and treated in each year after 1986.   The PSA screening was introduced in 1987.

 

According to the study, an additional 1.3 million men were diagnosed.  These they note would otherwise have never been diagnosed absent screening, and more than 1 million have been treated since 1986.

 

The increased diagnosis has been most dramatic among younger men.  The diagnosis for prostate cancer has more than tripled since 1986 in men aged 50-59 (from 58.4 to 212.7 per 100, 000) and more than a sevenfold increase in men under age 50 (from 1.3 to 9.4 per 100,000).

Any Lifetime Smoking Ups Breast Cancer Risk

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Women who smoke 100 or more cigarettes may substantially increase their odds of developing breast cancer. 

Researchers report new evidence that a woman smoker can reduce her risk of breast cancer by stopping smoking as soon as possible.    The study compared smoking history and other breast cancer risk factors among 1,225 women who developed breast cancer and 6,872 who did not during the first year after their initial visit to the Mayo Clinic Breast Clinic. 

Surveys completed during this visit indicated just over 10 percent were current smokers, almost 9 percent were former smokers, and 81 percent had never smoked.

In addition women who had used oral contraceptives for 11 years or longer had a 200 percent increase in the odds of developing breast cancer. Women who used postmenopausal hormone therapy showed 81 percent increased odds, while aging raised the odds of developing breast cancer by 2 percent per year.

SOURCE: The Breast Journal, September/October 2009

Obesity, Alcohol, Smoking Increase Risk Of Second Breast Cancer

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Survivors of breast cancer have a significantly higher risk of developing a second breast cancer than women in the general population have of developing a first breast cancer.   Breast cancer now has a greater than 90 percent five-year survival rate in the United States, according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the industry trade group.

Considering the large and ever-growing number of survivors, scientists noted that little is known about lifestyle factors may make survivors more vulnerable to a second cancer.

A just published study by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center finds that obesity, alcohol use and smoking all significantly increase the risk of second breast cancer among breast cancer survivors.

The researchers found that obese women had a 50 percent increased risk, women who consumed at least one alcoholic drink per day had a 90 percent increased risk, and women who were current smokers had a 120 percent increased risk of developing a second breast cancer.

The study adds to a growing body of evidence that obesity, alcohol consumption (consuming at least seven drinks a week) and current smoking may be important risk factors for second breast tumors. The research also suggests that current smokers who imbibe at least seven drinks a week may be at particularly high risk of second breast cancer.

The National Cancer Institute funded the research that was published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Colon Cancer Screenings Still Too Low

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States after lung cancer. There are several types of screening tests available.

Despite highly publicized education campaigns and widespread agreement about the importance of colorectal cancer screening, screening rates still lag.  Rates for minorities, the uninsured and other vulnerable groups are lower still, with only 22 percent of lower-income people screened.

Using data from a Texas health system researchers identified 20,000 men and women ages 54 to 75 who were eligible for colorectal cancer screening.  About 15 percent of the patients lived below the poverty line.

Patients most likely to get screened included those who saw a doctor regularly or who had health insurance.

Those with insurance were almost three times as likely to be screened, and those who saw the doctor regularly were nearly four times as likely to be screened. 

Women were slightly more likely than men to be screened. Hispanics were slightly more likely to be screened than whites.

Surviving Cancer Can Depend On Where You Live

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Researchers with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services analyzed survival patterns in different areas of New Jersey among 25,040 men and women diagnosed with colorectal cancer from 1996 through 2003, and monitored through 2006.

They found that the number of people who lived at least 5 years after being diagnosed and treated was about 84 to 88 percent in high-income white neighborhoods, compared with 80 percent statewide.

Survival rates were much lower – just 73 percent – “in low income, racially diverse neighborhoods,” they found.  Five-year survival was 83 percent among Caucasians compared with 75, 79, and 80 percent among Blacks, Hispanics, and Asian/Pacific Islanders.   These findings are similar to those from other regions in the U.S. and elsewhere. Taken together, the data provide strong support for the theory that health is affected by many factors, such as biological, behavioral, and environmental traits, the researchers note.

SOURCE: International Journal of Health Geographics, July 23, 2009.

Strokes Occurring At Younger Ages

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Strokes are no longer an affliction of old age, a new study finds.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis found that people in the working ages of life are having strokes with greater regularity than ever before. 

While more people under the age of 65 are suffering strokes, rehabilitation is often not offered to younger people with mild stroke according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade organization.  Heart attacks, cancer and strokes are the three major critical illnesses affecting Americans.

The study examined data on nearly 8,000 people treated for stroke between 1999 and 2008. Researchers found that 45 percent were under 65 and 27 percent were under the age of 55. This differs drastically from data from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which states that 66 percent of all strokes occur in people over 65, the report in the September/October issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy reports.

Most of the strokes among those under 65 were mild.  Individuals typically do not have outward signs of impairment and therefore are discharged with little or no rehabilitation.  The report noted that these individuals have trouble reintegrating back into complex activities of everyday life such as employment.

About 71 percent of patients who had a mild to moderate stroke were discharged directly home, discharged with home services only, or discharged with outpatient services only.   Follow-up with stroke victims revealed that 46 percent of those with a mild stroke said they were working slower, 42 percent said they were not able to do their job as well, 31 percent said they were not able to stay organized and 52 percent said they had problems concentrating.

SOURCES: Timothy J. Wolf, O.T.D., M.S.CI., O.T.R/L, instructor, occupational therapy and neurology and investigator for the Cognitive Rehabilitation Research Group, Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.; Richard Isaacson, M.D., assistant professor, neurology and medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; September/October 2009, American Journal of Occupational Therapy

Men Who Gain Weight At Risk Of Prostate Cancer

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Men who gain weight as young adults are at heightened risk of developing prostate cancer according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Hawaii reported that obesity is a risk factor for many common cancers, including colorectal cancer and breast cancer in postmenopausal women. However, whether obesity plays a role in prostate cancer risk has been unclear, researchers say.

The new study finds that body mass in both younger and older adulthood, and weight gain between these periods of life, may influence prostate cancer risk. There are some 1.4 million new cases of cancer diagnosed each year in the United States according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance. Over 565,000 Americans die from cancer each year.

The researchers collected data on almost 84,000 men. The study also examined the relationship between weight and prostate cancer in a multiethnic population including blacks, Japanese, Hispanics, Native Hawaiians and whites. Men who were overweight or obese at 21 had a lower risk of localized and low-grade prostate cancer, the researchers found.

The study findings revealed that when men put on weight seemed to matter, as did race and ethnicity. Higher weight in older adulthood was associated with increased risk of prostate cancer among white and Native Hawaiian men and a decreased risk of prostate cancer among Japanese men.

Genetic Culprit In Deadly Skin Cancer

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

The National Institutes of Health researchers have identified a new group of genetic mutations involved in the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma.

This discovery is encouraging because some of the mutations, those found in nearly one-fifth of melanoma cases, reside in a gene already targeted by a drug approved for certain types of breast cancer.

Melanoma is becoming increasingly more common, the result is thought to be sun exposure that can damage DNA and lead to cancer-causing genetic changes within skin cells.

A team of scientists at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) sequenced the protein tyrosine kinase (PTK) gene family in tumor and blood samples from people with metastatic melanoma.

The study was among the first to use large-scale DNA sequencing to systematically analyze all 86 members of the PTK gene family in melanoma samples.

Though additional work is needed to gain a more complete understanding of these genetic mutations and their roles in cancer biology, the scientists findings open the door to pursuing specific therapies that may prove useful for the treatment of melanoma with ERBB4 mutations.

Ankle Circulation Can Warn Of Strokes

Monday, August 31st, 2009

A simple test of blood circulation in the ankle could help physicians identify individuals at higher risk of suffering another stroke according to the American Heart Association.

According to researchers, a simple test to compare blood flow in the ankle to that in the arm is all that’s needed.  A significant difference between the two readings could suggest that a patient suffers from peripheral artery disease, caused by fatty plaque buildup in the arteries of the extremities.

Stroke survivors and those who have experienced transient ischemic attacks — also known as TIAs or mini-strokes — are at high risk of stroke if they have peripheral artery disease according to the scientists.

Researchers screened survivors of strokes and mini-strokes using a device similar to a blood-pressure cuff to check circulation in their ankles. They found that 26 percent of the patients had peripheral artery disease without symptoms. Those patients were three times more likely to suffer from stroke, heart attack or death within the next two years compared to those who didn’t have the condition.

Younger Men Diagnosed With Cancer

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Men with prostate cancer are being diagnosed at younger ages today than in years past, and the racial disparity in stage at diagnosis has decreased.

Researchers reporting in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute analyzed 2004-2005 data on more than 82,500 prostate cancer patients.  They compared this group with patients diagnosed in 1988-1989 and 1996-1997.

The average age at diagnosis decreased from about 72 years in 1988-1989 to about 67 years in 2004-2005 and the rate of particularly late-stage cases fell from about 53 to 8 per 100,000 among whites and from 91 to 13 per 100,000 among blacks.

The current study is also the first nationwide study to document that the racial disparity in prostate cancer stage at diagnosis has decreased substantially during the period from 1988 to 2005.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, August 27, 2009.

Tobacco Kills 6 Million Annually

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Tobacco use will kill six million people next year from cancer, heart disease, emphysema and a range of other ills.

A new report from the World Lung Foundation and the American Cancer Society estimates that tobacco use costs the global economy $500 billion a year in direct medical expenses, lost productivity and environmental harm.

Tobacco accounts for one out of every 10 deaths worldwide and will claim 5.5 million lives this year alone, the report said. If current trends hold, by 2020, the number will grow to an estimated 7 million and top 8 million by 2030.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration launched a tobacco center to oversee cigarettes and other related products, after winning the power to do so from Congress in June. On Tuesday it set up a committee of advisers to help guide it.

Over the past four decades, smoking rates have declined in rich countries like the United States, Britain and Japan while rising in much of the developing world, according to the nonprofit research and advocacy organizations.

Some other findings from the report:

* 1 billion men smoke — 35 percent of men in rich countries and 50 percent of men in developing countries.

* About 250 million women smoke daily — 22 percent of women in developed countries and 9 percent of women in developing countries.

* Smoking rates among women are either stable or increasing in several southern, central and eastern European countries.

* The risk of dying from lung cancer is more than 23 times higher for men who smoke than for nonsmokers and 13 times higher for women smokers.

* Tobacco kills one-third to one-half of those who smoke. Smokers die an average of 15 years earlier than nonsmokers.

* Nearly 60 percent of Chinese men smoke and China consumes more than 37 percent of the world’s cigarettes.

* 50 million Chinese children, mostly boys, will die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases.

* Tobacco use will eventually kill 250 million of today’s teenagers and children.

* Nearly one-quarter of young people who smoke tried their first cigarette before the age of 10.

* Occupational exposure to secondhand smoke kills 200,000 workers every year.

Protein May Identify Breast Cancer

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

German researchers have identified a protein linked to more aggressive and advanced breast cancer tumors.

The scientists studied samples of breast tissue from patients with cancer and compared them with healthy breast tissue.  Researchers found that those whose tumors had elevated levels of GLI1 (glioma-associated oncogene homolog 1) protein tended to have a more advanced stage of cancer, had an increased number of cancerous lymph nodes and a greater chance of death.

Measurement of GLI1 could be a useful for determining cancer prognosis, according to the study which is published this week in the journal BMC Cancer.

More Women Survive Breast Cancer

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

More women are surviving breast cancer in situ according to a report in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association is welcome news for millions of American women.  There were 610,171 in situ survivors in 2005 and reserachers expect that by 2016 the number will exceed one million.

Breast cancer in situ now accounts for 20 percent of newly diagnosed breast cancers. It is the early stage of the disease, when it is still confined to the layer of cells in the ducts or lobules of the breasts.  Cancer is one of the three primary critical illnesses that strikes Americans resulting in billions of dollars of lost productivity and medical expenses according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison explained that while there were 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States in 2005, the number of breast cancer in situ survivors was unknown.

Women with breast cancer in situ are four times more likely to develop invasive breast cancer compared with the general population, the researchers explained.  The scientists study found that women with ductal breast cancer in situ, one of the more common forms, were more than five times more likely to be survivors compared with women diagnosed with lobular breast cancer in situ.

The researchers also reported that more white women survived than black women and women from other ethnic groups.  “Current epidemiologic evidence regarding predictors of subsequent invasive breast cancer after breast cancer in situ is limited,” the researchers noted in their report. “Guidelines are necessary to help the increasing number of breast cancer in situ survivors choose the best treatment and lifestyle strategies while still maintaining high quality of life.”

SOURCES: Barbara A. Brenner, executive director, Breast Cancer Action, San Francisco; Aug. 26, 2009, Journal of the American Medical Association

Declines In Cancer Deaths

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

The scientists note that younger adults between ages 35 and 45 years old experienced the steepest declines in cancer death rates.  They noted that all age groups showed some improvement.  The findings of the study appear in the journal Cancer Research.

The news has both positive and negative implications some experts note.  Surviving cancer often results in an enormous financial toll on both the survivor and their family.  According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance the industry trade group, uncovered medical costs are a leading cause of personal bankruptcies in the United States.

While U.S. government estimates suggest there had been little improvement in cancer death rates throughout the 20th century, scientists noted the government reports did not tell the whole story.  Researchers used a different way of looking at cancer death rates that measured improvements in cancer deaths by age.

By comparison, government data tends to average all age groups together to produce a composite rate.

Because most cancer deaths occur in older Americans, the average was weighted toward experiences of older people.   Instead, the researchers looked at improvements in cancer deaths among groups of individuals born in five-year intervals starting in 1925.

 Using this methodology, they found that everyone born since the 1930s has enjoyed a decreased risk of cancer death, at every age.  People in the youngest age group (between 35 and 45) had a greater than 25 percent decline per decade in cancer deaths.

New Critical Illness Insurance Trade Association Launched

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

A new professional critical illness insurance trade organization has been established to increase the number of insurance and financial professionals successfully marketing critical illness insurance protection.
The new organization, named the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance (AACII), has been founded by Jesse Slome, who also founded and serves as executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.
“There is an enormous opportunity in the United States for sale of quality critical illness products,” states Slome, who will direct the new association.  “Our initial focus will be on creating heightened awareness among professionals and support their efforts to successfully market and sell this important protection.”  The new producer-focused association will work closely with the National Association for Critical Illness Insurance (NACII), which promotes industry policy, industry education and industry position.
“We look forward to supporting the efforts of the new organization, recognizing the enormous contribution to long-term care insurance marketplace Slome’s organization has provided,” expressed Ken Smith, NACII President and Director of Health Insurance for Assurity Life Insurance Company.
The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance will be headquartered in Los Angeles.  For further information, visit their Website: http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org/ or call (818) 597-3205.