Heart Disease, Cancer Top Two Leading Causes of Death

Animated man with bacteria showing moving towards himThe CDC has presented a report on the 10 leading causes of death in 2016, which accounted for 74% of all deaths that occurred in the US that year, with heart disease and cancer topping the list.

The National Vital Statistics Report was compiled using information from all death certificates filed in the 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2014. According to the findings, the 10 leading causes of death, in rank order, were: diseases of the heart; malignant neoplasms (cancer); chronic lower respiratory diseases; accidents; cerebrovascular diseases (stroke); Alzheimer’s disease; diabetes; influenza and pneumonia; nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis (kidney disease); and suicide.

“Cause-of-death ranking is a popular method of presenting mortality statistics and is a useful tool for illustrating the relative burden of cause-specific mortality, but it must be used cautiously with a clear understanding of the limitations underlying the method,” the researchers wrote in the report.

Of the 10 leading causes, 8 saw significant increases in the number of deaths, led by Alzheimer’s disease, which increased by 10.4% from 2013 to 2014. The other causes that saw large increases in the number of deaths from year to year were: unintentional injuries (4.2% increase); suicide (3.9%); cerebrovascular diseases (3.2%); nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis (2.2%); malignant neoplasms (1.2%); diabetes (1.2%); and diseases of the heart (0.5%). Meanwhile, the number of deaths caused by chronic lower respiratory disease and influenza and pneumonia decreased by 1.4% and 3.1%, respectively.

Diagram of the Human HeartHeart disease and cancer were the top two causes of death and accounted for 45.9% of all deaths in 2014. They were the two leading causes of death for both men and women. However, men and women diverged in the ranking of other causes of death. Unintentional injuries were the third-leading cause of death for males, while chronic lower respiratory disease ranked third for women.

In addition, while suicide ranked seventh and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis ranked tenth for men, neither was among the 10 leading causes of death for women. In addition, kidney disease ranked ninth and septicemia ranked tenth for women, but neither were among the top 10 for men.

Stem Cells Therapy the Future of Diabetes Treatment?

Stem cell therapy may be able to help treat Type 2 diabetes. Irv Weissman is currently leading a laboratory called the Weissman Laboratories at Stanford School of Medicine’s Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine program. Weissman spent study years researching the use of stem cells, where one third of women who received cancer free stem cells were still alive, without any disease versus 7% of women who were alive, but never received cancer free cells.

Weissman is now at Stanford University to start conducting human trials using stem cells and will start a pure stem cell transplant center. Juvenile diabetes as well as other juvenile illnesses such as “bubble boy” disease will be one of the disease that will be trialled. The process will involved taking purified blood stem cells will be from a related donor of an unaffected disease to be given to a patient with a disease. Before the clinical trials began, all animal models used during stem cells studies showed success as well as much promise for regenerative medicine.

A study published in the journal Stem Cell Reports showed that transplanting pancreatic stem cells from human cells into mice with Type 2 diabetes symptoms showed improvement. Another study was done using animals with type 1 diabetes. Blood was taken from stem cells from a donor without diabetes. Insulin producing cells in a healthy pancreas were transplanted into a diabetic animal model and showed improvement. Currently, this same technique will be used in human trials at Stanford. Different techniques will be used as well as the use of embryonic stem cells taken from a diabetes affected donor to be reprogrammed and transplanted back into the same donor. This technique will not only create a huge leap in the treatment of diabetes and other immunocompromised diseases but also become a platform in the way we treat these diseases. Many labs around the US and the world are currently also working to get every tissue specific stem cell and start trials using other diseases. If successful, stem cell therapy can soon even replace harmful chemotherapy.

Progress Made in Diabetes, But Dangers Still Exist for Seniors

Old WomanDiabetes has been an increasing issue in the United States. While there are already close to 30 million Americans with diabetes, there are far more who have what is being called prediabetes.

As of 2012, 86 million Americans aged 20 years and older had prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prediabetes is a condition where an individual has a blood sugar level that is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Without intervention, prediabetes often turns into full-blown diabetes within a decade.

However, despite the dire picture the prevalence of diabetes and prediabetes in the US paints, the CDC also had some good news. The number of new cases of diabetes is actually decreasing. In 2009, the CDC reported 1.7 million new cases of diabetes, but in 2014, there were only 1.4 million new cases.

Overall, while progress is being made, diabetes remains an epidemic and there is a long way to go in the US before success can be claimed.

Among senior citizens, the prevalence of diabetes is higher than the general population, and a new study from January 2015 found that older diabetics are being overtreated for their disease.

The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that nearly two-thirds of patients with diabetes aged 65 years and older received aggressive treatment for their disease regardless of their health status and blood sugar levels. This sort of aggressive treatment in seniors could result in hypoglycemia, which leads to confusion, coma, and even death.

“We treat diabetes to prevent complications of the disease by lowering blood sugar levels, but the problem with aggressively lowering blood sugars — to a hemoglobin A1c below 7% — in older people is that it is uncertain whether this approach will result in a benefit, and it could, in fact, cause greater harm,” lead author Kasia Lipska, MD, MHS, assistant professor of internal medicine at Yale School of Medicine, said in a statement. “Our study suggests that we have a one-size-fits-all approach despite questionable benefits and known risks.”