Archive for Tom Emerick

Longevity is determined by hundreds of risk factors—too many to simplify

Longevity is determined by a hundred or so risk factors we all have, perhaps too many to truly understand and manage. Someday history will judge today’s understanding of health risk factors as poor, at best, dangerous at worst.

Wellness fans would have us believe that if we follow certain diet, exercise, bio-measurement, and primary care protocols, we will optimize our health. Alas, there are deep problems with that notion. Those protocols aren’t working well. It’s extremely difficult to eke out ROIs following the majority of wellness vendor programs.

Most importantly, we have only a crude understanding today of what our health risks really are. As I’ve written here often, factors such as boredom, loneliness, job satisfaction, etc, are huge risk factors, as are family relationships, genetics, anger, worry, resilience, finances, stress, aspirations, spirituality, community, contentment, and many more.

You can drink three Dr. Peppers a day and live to be a hundred. Egad! (BTW: scientists themselves do not agree whether sugar-free sodas are better then sugary ones.)

Some people smoke all their adult lives and live to be a hundred. Yikes! (My own Grandfather is a good example.)

Some people eat bacon nearly every day of their lives and make it to a hundred. Impossible, say wellness true believers!

Some obese people live to be a hundred too. How can that be?

Well, the plain truth is our health and longevity is determined by hundreds of risk factors. (The combinations and permutations of those risk factors is mind boggling.) That applies to all of us, every single one.  Simply put, if you do some wicked behaviors like drinking sugary sodas every day, but your other 100 or so risk factors are in sync, you’ll probably be just fine.

__________________________________________________________________________ Tom Emerick is a consultant and co-author of the book Cracking Health Costs, an Amazon trade best seller. Tom is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth.

Angry Outbursts Really Do Hurt Your Health, Doctors Find

That is the title of an article in the WSJ by Jeanne Whalen. (Subscription required.)

Outbursts of anger can greatly increase your risk of a heart attack. “New evidence suggests people increase their risk for a heart attack more than eightfold shortly after an intensely angry episode. Anger can also help bring on strokes and irregular heartbeat, other research shows. And it may lead to sleep problems, excess eating and insulin resistance, which can help cause diabetes.”

According to Redford Williams, director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Duke University Medical Center and co-author of Anger Kills: Seventeen Strategies for Controlling the Hostility That Can Harm Your Health“Anger is bad for just about everything we have going on physically.”

Anger can cause your body to produce unhealthy levels of adrenaline and other hormones that can in turn increase your blood pressure, etc., and may even increase your blood sugar levels.

Typical corporate wellness programs try to address the symptoms of unhealthy conditions such as stress, anger, and loneliness, but do not deal with the root causes. In fact workplace wellness programs probably will never be able to address such root causes in a meaningful way.

A wise person once told me, “don’t sweat the small stuff”. That advice sounds  better and better all the time.

__________________________________________________________________________ Tom Emerick is a consultant and co-author of the book Cracking Health Costs, an Amazon trade best seller. Tom is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A guest post by Kathleen Bartholomew: A Billing Code for Loneliness

In June of 2013 the AMA officially recognized obesity as a disease. This designation occurred despite the Association’s Council on Science and Public Health’s recommendation advising against it. Just semantics? Hardly. This move set up obesity as a money maker with the potential of being ultimately as profitable as Cancer.
Obesity treatments can now qualify as a tax deduction. Advocates said we would focus more attention on the issue – and pharmaceutical companies certainly have. Vivus and Arena aggressively market their chemical solutions to a complex social and economic behavioral problem, while processed and fast food conglomerates continue to soak up huge profits. Once again the focus shifts to profit making therapies vs. addressing the major root cause: our food supply and a serious education deficit.
It is time to re-assess. Dr. Patricia Harris from the AMA Board said that naming obesity a disease would also help fight diabetes and heart disease. Has this designation really helped our obese population? And since a study by Brigham Young University following 3 million people found that “Loneliness is as damaging as obesity” (link recent post), will Loneliness inevitably follow the same path?
In 1985 only 10% of our population had no one to confide in about serious matters; and by 2004 that number jumped to 24%. People living alone has jumped from 17 to 28% (1970-2011). In only a ten year period form 2000-2010 an AARP study found that people over 45 who were lonely more than doubled – from 20-45%. Furthermore, loneliness is a predictor of functional decline and mortality (12 vs. 22%) and is associated with depression, poverty, arthritis, and heart and lung disease. We can even order lab tests for Loneliness now that Dr. Cacioppo has discovered higher levels of epinephrine, the stress hormone, in the morning urine of lonely people (Atlantic Monthly).
Keep this to yourself or within 72 hours you will be witnessing lobbying initiatives for a “Billing Code for Loneliness” and drug advertisements on T.V. marketing Dejectacillan, and Forlornazole. Let’s recognize the impact of Loneliness on our health and do something about strengthening community before it turns into yet another treatable commodity.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/19/business/ama-recognizes-obesity-as-a-disease.html?_r=0

http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2015/03/16/study-being-alone-as-bad-as-smoking-excessive-drinking/

Is Facebook Making us Lonely? By Stephen Marche in the Atlantic Monthly May 2012
Dr. John Cacioppo, Director, Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, Univ. of Chicago
Higher mortality rate – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Clinical Man by Clifton Meador, MD

Dr. Meador posted a must-read article in The Health Care Blog.

In that article he describes a new evolution in mankind…okay it’s a little tongue in cheek but has much truth in it. He describes a new species of mankind, one characterized by an obsession with personal health.

Writes Meador, “Nothing has changed so much in the health-care system over the past 25 years as the public’s perception of its own health. The change amounts to a loss of confidence in the human form. The general belief these days seems to be that the body is fundamentally flawed, subject to disintegration at any moment, always on the verge of mortal disease, always in need of continual monitoring and support by health-care professionals. This is a new phenomenon in our society.”

“Clinical Man is neither sick nor well. He is simply in clinical limbo.” Clinical Man is obsessed with and emotionally needful of constant medical overwatch.

A trait of Clinical Man is that he “knows his cholesterol level within 10 milligrams percent.”  Another is that he “never goes more than twelve months without medical contact.”

This is a bizarre and destructive trend induced by a wide range of factors, including, in my opinion, a national obsession with wellness that scares people into believing the healthcare Sword of Damocles is constantly hanging over their heads.

__________________________________________________________________________ Tom Emerick is a consultant and co-author of the book Cracking Health Costs, an Amazon trade best seller. Tom is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth.

 

Study: Being Alone As Bad As Smoking, Excessive Drinking

A Minnesota CBS affiliate carried a story by this title.

Seems researchers at Brigham Young University did a health study on a large population. According to the story, “They found people who said they were lonely, felt socially isolated or lived alone, had a 30 percent increased likelihood of death.”

Loneliness has about the same health risk as obesity, smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and “excessive drinking”.

This is compatible with the findings of the New England Centenarian Study, the Gallup Blue Zone Studies, and many more.

One of the reasons workplace wellness is under-performing is that they are trying to medicalize peoples’ lives, but missing huge categories of risks for which there is not a medical test or a pill.

Alas.

 

__________________________________________________________________________ Tom Emerick is a consultant and co-author of the book Cracking Health Costs, an Amazon trade best seller. Tom is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth.

 

 

 

Happiness and health

If you’ve followed Cracking Health Costs for long, you’ve read articles stressing how unhappiness and job dissatisfaction can be the root cause of much illness and even mortal hazard. I’ve written about how the Blue Zone studies, the New England Centenarian Study, the British Civil Servant Study, etc, have shown that career misery and unhappiness in your personal life can lead to an unhealthy and short life.

One of my beefs with workplace wellness is that it medicalizes peoples’ lives but rarely, if ever, deals with the true causes of illnesses such as metabolic syndrome.

Jonathan Clements, a popular writer on personal financial wellbeing wrote an interesting article in the WSJ (subscription required) that hits on these topics.

He cites studies showing about 12% of people have job dissatisfaction and another 37% are only moderately happy with their jobs. Further, “just 33% described themselves as very happy and only 27% said they were satisfied with their financial situation.”

Writes Clements, “These numbers haven’t changed much over the past four decades, despite a doubling in inflation-adjusted per capita disposable income.”

My points are these: 1) if your company is stressing your employees and adding unhappiness to their lives with things like excessive time demands, you’re making your workers unhealthy, something workplace wellness cannot improve, and 2) making more money probably won’t improve peoples’ happiness in life.

__________________________________________________________________________ Tom Emerick is a consultant and co-author of the book Cracking Health Costs, an Amazon trade best seller. Tom is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth.

Americans living longer and longer despite wellness warnings

An article in the WSJ (subscription required) has a story by Ron Rapoport about a report by the Society of Actuaries saying Americans are living about two years longer today than 15 years ago. Whoa!

If you read the dire warnings by wellness/prevention vendors, you’d think Americans today would be dying early in record numbers from complications of obesity, high blood sugar, and other “chronic” conditions. Yet the opposite is happening. Hmm.

Writes Ron, “In its first revision of mortality assumptions since 2000, the Society of Actuaries estimated the average 65-year-old man today will live 86.6 years, up from the 84.6 it estimated a decade and a half ago. The average 65-year-old woman will live 88.8 years, up from 86.4.”

Before the wellness/prevention sellers take credit for this growth in life expectancy, one has to remember only a small minority of US citizens have worksite wellness/prevention. Excluded are the elderly, stay at home spouses, children, retirees, the self-employed, college students, the unemployed, military, disabled, casual workers, prison populations, illegal immigrants, the millions and millions of workers whose employers do not offer wellness at work, etc.

I’d guess only about 15% of people in America have workplace wellness, or about 50 million. The other 270 million or so don’t have it. Yet again life expectancy just keeps on getting longer and longer.

So despite the chronic disease “Sword of Damocles” hanging over all of our heads we’re living longer and longer. We might have been living even longer if wellness vendors weren’t making us worry so much.

 

__________________________________________________________________________ Tom Emerick is a consultant and co-author of the book Cracking Health Costs, an Amazon trade best seller. Tom is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth.

 

Cancer-Risk Debate Didn’t Halt Surgeries Part 2

It seems some doctors will sell out their ethical standards for pretty cheap prices.

We recently posted an article called Cancer-Risk Debate Didn’t Halt Surgeries. That story was based on a WSJ article.

The WSJ just posted a followup article entitled How Disfavored Hysterectomy Device Got Doctor Group’s Blessing, describing how a doctor on an approval board, called the, American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, was being paid by the company that made the flawed device about which the FDA had posted warnings. Use of the device caused serious cancer side effects in women.

Doctors who follow AAGL’s advice didn’t know “…an AAGL executive officer who received consulting fees from a morcellator maker had weighed in before publication.” The offending board member, New York surgeon Arnold Advincula, clearly violated the group’s conflict of interest rules. Advincula refuses to comment on queries to him.

Seems Advincula sold out his ethical standards, which resulted in womens’ deaths, for a pretty cheap price: $50k. Shame.

__________________________________________________________________________ Tom Emerick is a consultant and co-author of the book Cracking Health Costs, an Amazon trade best seller. Tom is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth.

 

The High Cost of Free Checkups

Al Lewis wrote a great article by this title that was published in the Huff Post.

More and more data is piling up that routine checkups are worthless at best and harmful at worst.  “Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel — one of the architects of the ACA and its ‘free’ checkup centerpiece — recently recommended not getting them.”

Further,  “…the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) supports Dr. Emanuel assertion that annual checkups for asymptomatic adults are at best worthless, saying that additional checkups are ‘not associated with lower rates of mortality’ but ‘may be associated with more diagnoses and more drug treatment.’”  In other words annual checkups actually harm some people. Well now, that’s just swell isn’t it?

The big question is why do people and corporate benefit managers persist in believing the annual checkup is a good thing? Who knows? Falsehoods in healthcare seem to have a long half-life.

As a checkup true believer might say, let’s not confuse the issue with facts.

__________________________________________________________________________ Tom Emerick is a consultant and co-author of the book Cracking Health Costs, an Amazon trade best seller. Tom is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth.

 

 

Cancer-Risk Debate Didn’t Halt Surgeries

The WSJ did a telling story (subscription required) on carelessness in surgery techniques at Brigham and Women’s, a well known Boston hospital. The author is Jennifer Levitz.

She writes, “Doctors at a (Brigham and Women’s) hospital continued to use a surgical tool during hysterectomies for two years after compiling data in 2011 that questioned the safety of the device and discussing its risks, said hospital officials and doctors.”

As a consequence a dangerous form of cancer was caused to spread in two women patients there…one in 2012 and another in 2013. That is simply an unacceptable lag. Period.

If a hospital has a big name, like Brigham and Women’s, that doesn’t doesn’t mean it won’t make life threatening errors in judgment.

__________________________________________________________________________ Tom Emerick is a consultant and co-author of the book Cracking Health Costs, an Amazon trade best seller. Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth.