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Archive for the ‘Public Health’ Category

Calories drop, under King County fast-food menu labeling

by Matt Rosenberg May 25th, 2013

A new study by researchers at Public Health – Seattle and King County, just published in the June online edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, finds that King County-mandated menu labeling at major fast food chains may finally be starting to have the desired effect. On average, customers are consuming 870 calories per lunch 16-18 months after labeling began – 38 calories less or the rough equivalent of one slice of bacon. It’s a reversal from initial results 4-6 months afterward showing a caloric increase. Along with other studies the findings “suggest that menu labeling” at fast food outlets “has the potential to contribute to obesity prevention,” the authors write. Last year some of the researchers involved in the new study reported in another paper they were seeing longer-term improvements, but they did not release any actual data at the time.

New DOJ report: U.S. firearm homicide rate at 18-year low

by Matt Rosenberg May 16th, 2013

The rate of firearm-related homicides in the U.S. in 2011 was 3.6 per 100,000 persons, the same as in 2010 and otherwise lower than any year from 1993 forward, according to a new report from the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. The previous low in the 18-year study period was 3.8 in 2000. And, according to the BJS report, the rate in 2011 of non-fatal firearm victimizations, or reported acts of violence in which firearms were used, was 1.8 per 1,000 people 12 and older. That was up one-fifth of one percent from the last two years but down five-and-one-half points since 1993.

Data viz: whiteness, not latitude, tied to skin cancer rates

by Danning Chen April 9th, 2013

U.S. states with the highest skin cancer rates tend to have a high proportion of whites in their population while those with the lowest rates don’t. And the top two states for skin cancer, Vermont and Utah, feature especially high concentrations – compared to others – of young whites, age 18 to 24. These are a few of the correlations evident from the most recent annual skin cancer rates across the U.S., for 2009, and some of the demographic risk factors identified in scientific research. The official “white/non-Hispanic” population is 80 percent-plus in seven of the top ten skin cancer states, versus only one of the bottom ten. Three of the top ten were in the Northwest: Idaho fifth, Washington sixth and Oregon tied for seventh. Exposure to ultraviolet rays from both sun and tanning beds is considered a major risk factor for skin cancer, but sunny climes alone don’t appear to be a determinant. States typically bathed in ultraviolet rays such as Florida, Texas, and Arizona were in the bottom quintile for skin cancer. You can further explore the data in the visualization below.

(Additional user tips: You can hover over the dot in each state for all three data points. To quickly rank states, hover over any of the three column headers in chart, then slide cursor to longest of the adjacent horizontal bars and click for a descending sort.)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with 61,646 melanomas of the skin diagnosed in 2009, and 9,199 attributed deaths. According to research published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report in 2012, skin cancer costs approximately $1.7 billion to treat annually in the U.S. and results in $3.8 billion in lost productivity. The National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Trends Progress Report – 2011-2012 Update notes younger adults and men are less likely to apply forms of sun protection, as are adults with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level. Another risk group is young white women prone to use of indoor tanning beds.


Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

State audit says Monroe public hospital district mismanaged – it now pledges reforms, and seeks tax hike in April vote

by Matt Rosenberg April 3rd, 2013

Voters on April 23 will decide whether to increase tax levy support for Valley General Hospital in Monroe and associated clinics in Snohomish County Public Hospital District #1, north and east of Seattle. But the system has not only been undercharging its funders, as supporters emphasize; it has also been wasteful and poorly managed, as detailed in a new accountability report from Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley.

U.S. inpatient death rates down, but not for blood infections

by Matt Rosenberg April 2nd, 2013

A recent data brief from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that inpatient hospital death rates are down 20 percent from 2000 to 2010 overall, and down markedly in that time for seven of eight major “first-listed diagnoses” with the notable exception of septicemia, or infections of the bloodstream. The overall death rate for U.S. hospital inpatients dropped from 2.5 per 100 patients in 2000 to 2.2 in 2005 and 2.0 in 2010. Death rates per 100 patients hospitalized for first-listed diagnosis were also down sharply for respiratory failure, pnuemonitis due to solids and liquids, pneumonia, kidney disease, cancer, stroke, and heart disease. But for septicemia, inpatient deaths grew 17 percent – from 13.9 per 100 patients hospitalized for that diagnosis in 2000, to 16.3 per 100 such patients in 2010.

Washington tops U.S. in 12-year Alzheimer’s Death Rates

by Matt Rosenberg March 28th, 2013

Earlier this month, the U.S. government reported the death rate for Alzheimer’s disease rose 39 percent from 2000 to 2010 and that in 2010 Washington had the highest rate among U.S. states. Yet which states had the highest Alzheimer’s death rates not just for 2010, but over the entire last decade? Digging into the Compressed Mortality File of the National Center for Health Statistics, using the “Wonder” data retrieval tool of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, we found that from 1999 through 2010, Washington state by a wide margin had the highest age-adjusted average annual death rate from Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. It was 39.75 per 100,000 population. Of the top ten counties for Alzheimer’s deaths in Washington nine were western. This most prevalent type of dementia strikes mainly older people, but life expectancies statewide for both men and women in Washington are only slightly above national averages – as shown in the most recent data (2009, Excel) from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The CDC says the most closely-correlated risk factors for Alzheimer’s are age and genetics but that high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes may also figure in.


Map: Alzheimer’s Disease Death Rate Per 100K Pop., by U.S. State, 1999-2010

From National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Compressed Mortality File, 1999-2010. Rates are age-adjusted, with 95% confidence interval


Rounding out the top ten U.S. states in 1999-2010 age-adjusted Alzheimer’ death rates per 100,000 population after Washington are North Dakota (32.70), Arizona (30.82), South Carolina (30.76), Tennessee (30.68), Maine (29.75), Louisiana (29.38), Alabama (28.80), Oregon (28.50) and Colorado (28.35).

Top three WA counties for Alzheimer’s death rates are Kitsap, Wahkiakum, Skagit
Within Washington, nine of the ten counties with the highest Alzheimer’s death rate over the 12-year stretch from 1999 through 2010 were in the western part of the state. The 10 were Kitsap (55.91), Wahkiakum (53.38), Skagit (49.42), Thurston (47.18), Island (46.36), Cowlitz (46.32), Pend Oreille (44.73), Pierce (42.91), Lewis (42.73), and Snohomish (42.62).


Map: Alzheimer’s Disease Death Rate Per 100K Pop., by WA Counties, 1999-2010

From National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Compressed Mortality File, 1999-2010. Rates are age-adjusted, with 95% confidence interval

The NCHS reports Alzheimer’s is now the sixth most frequent cause of death in the U.S. and fifth for those 65 and up. Non-Hispanic whites have a 26 percent greater risk of death from Alzheimer’s than African-Americans and a 30 percent greater risk compared to the Hispanic population. An estimated $200 million was spent in 2012 caring for patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in the U.S. That amount is projected to more than quintuple by 2050.


RELATED:

  • Explore NCHS’s Compressed Mortality File 1999-2010 with CDC “Wonder” tool
  • Mortality From Alzheimer’s Disease in the United States – Data From 2000 and 2010,” CDC/NCHS Data Brief, March 2013
  • CDC feature, Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, University of Washington

  • Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

    Washington combined cancer rates tops in western counties

    by Danning Chen March 15th, 2013

    Five years of data from the National Cancer Institute’s State Cancer Profiles database show that within Washington state, the overall rate of cancer is highest in western counties and lowest in rural and eastern counties. From 2005 through 2009 it was highest in Mason County, at an annual average rate of 554.6 cases per 100,000 population versus 476 per 100,000 across the whole state. Among the state’s 39 counties the rest of the top 10 for 2005-2009 in overall cancer rate, in order, are Grays Harbor, Whatcom, Pierce, Snohomish, Skagit, Thurston Jefferson, Cowlitz and Kitsap. King County ranked 13th. Lowest overall cancer rates were, in order, in the counties of Klickitat, Skamania, Garfield, Asotin and Ferry. Hover over any Washington county in the mapped visualization below to get its overall – known as “all types” – cancer rate, and also use the pull-down menu to select mapped data by Washington county on rates of breast, lung and prostate cancer. A tab atop the map also provides access to U.S. cancer rates by state, for 2009. As we reported recently, Washington ranked 13th among 50 states in the “all types” rate in 2009, but first in breast cancer.

    For breast cancer by county in Washington for 2005-09, Walla Walla County had the highest annual average rate, 159.4 diagnosed cases per 100,000 population. It was followed by the counties of Mason, Cowlitz, Snohomish, Whatcom, King and Thurston. Douglas County had the highest rate of prostate cancer, followed by San Juan, Chelan and Whitman. Grays Harbor County had far and away the highest rate of cancer of the lung and bronchus.

    Contributing to the “all types” rates, according to NCI, are “all invasive cancer sites combined, bladder, breast, brain, cervix, childhood cancers all sites combined, colon and rectum, esophagus, kidney, leukemias, liver and bile duct, lung and bronchus, melanomas of the skin, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, oral cavity and pharynx, ovary, pancreas, prostate, stomach, thyroid, and uterus.”

    (UPDATE: Why one county has a higher rate than another is hard to determine precisely. However in a backgrounder the Washington State Department of Health notes that cancer risk factors include exposure to tobacco and second-hand smoke, excessive alcohol use, excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning beds, lack of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, unhealthy weight, physical inactivity, and not regularly seeking medical care. Additionally, the National Cancer Institute provides an online collection of fact sheets on risks related to different types of cancer.)

    An average annual count of newly-diagnosed cancer cases in each jurisdiction, along with official population data and other statistical and methodological controls are used to develop the rates. More details are available under the links titled, “Interpret,” “About This Table” and “Quick Reference Guide” at the NCI State Cancer Profiles chart for Washington state “all types” rates by county.


    Assistance on the data visualization provided by Mike Klaczynski. Additional reporting by Matt Rosenberg. Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.


    WA led U.S. in breast cancer, for most recent year reported

    by Danning Chen March 12th, 2013

    Recently-updated data from the National Cancer Institute’s State Cancer Profiles database show that for incidence of breast cancer in the most recent year for which data are currently available, 2009, Washington ranked highest in the United States with a rate of 139.20 reported cases per 100,000 population. It was followed by Connecticut, Hawaii, Rhode Island and North Dakota. For prostate cancer Louisiana, Utah and Georgia ranked highest and for lung cancer, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and Maine. Looking at overall rates of cancer, seven of ten states with highest rates in the United States were in the Northeast. The top 10 in order, were Connecticut, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Maine, Iowa, New York, New Jersey, Vermont. Washington ranked 13th of 49 states (data for Wisconsin was not available), with 474.5 cases of cancer per 100,000 population. Select from the four visualizations accessible below to compare state cancer rates in 2009 – for all types combined, plus breast, prostate and lung cancer. Contributing to the “all types” rates, according to NCI, are “all invasive cancer sites combined, bladder, breast, brain, cervix, childhood cancers all sites combined, colon and rectum, esophagus, kidney, leukemias, liver and bile duct, lung and bronchus, melanomas of the skin, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, oral cavity and pharynx, ovary, pancreas, prostate, stomach, thyroid, and uterus.”

    According to a recent article in the U.S. Centers For Disease Control’s journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly, the overall cancer rate in the U.S. in 2009 was higher for men than women; and among racial groups was highest among African-Americans and lowest among Native Americans/Alaska Natives.

    An article last fall in the National Cancer Institute Bulletin cites research that increased breast cancer screening since the 1970s has resulted in some cases being diagnosed which posed no risk to the subjects.

    Related Findings
    At the same time, research continues into various factors which may contribute to breast cancer risk. Work published last year by Seattle researchers from Group Health Cooperative and the University of Washington included detailed data from electronic pharmacy records of women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and found that use of certain types of oral contraceptives within the year prior to diagnosis may increase that risk for women aged 20 to 49. (UPDATE – Another recent study, from the National Cancer Institute, accents the connection between regular alcohol consumption prior to first pregnancy, and breast cancer risk.)

    More information on breast cancer risk factors is provided by the American Cancer Society.


    Assistance on the data visualization provided by Mike Klaczynski. Additional reporting by Matt Rosenberg. Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.