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Reasons for improved longevity in U.S.?

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OK, so many news stories today are reporting the new statistics suggesting (with lots of head-scratching and remaining doubts by some observers) that the U.S. had the biggest single-year decline in deaths since 1938.

If true, who or what gets the credit?

The Star Tribune, in its first sentence,says it’s “a powerful testament to medical advances.” It quotes a state health department official attributing it to “technology” and drugs.

Whoa! Where is any discussion of prevention, of lifestyle changes, of a “powerful testament to public health”?

This journalism-juiced love affair with high tech and emphasis on medicine with minimal or no mention of public health is troubling, sensational, and short-sighted. We need to remember: the U.S. spends more on health care than any other country and has outcomes worse than many other countries. People in countries that spend less on technology and drugs live longer than Americans.

Not only do these statistics demand more scrutiny, as many have already stated, but so do the possible explanations for any possible decline in the death rate. Journalists, don’t be cheerleaders for high-tech and drugs if you don’t have the evidence to back that up.

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