In the Pursuit of Healthy Living: Modern Day Efforts to Prolong Life


As the public gets more educated and informed about the fundamental requirements of a good life, living healthy has become a far more important issue for most. Modern day notion of health is a compartmentalized one with several different categories referring to unique fields of human health and practices in them. With people striving to understand their metabolisms better, catch up with the latest health information and learn about the newest procedures, technologies or treatments, health related subjects have already become mainstream in the world through the media, popular culture and academia. Considering how more people will develop a comprehension of key issues and that research regarding crucial aspects of human health will continue, the new generations of human beings will enjoy a continuous learning curve and hopefully some of the major issues haunting the general public will be resolved for the benefit of all.

Living a long-lasting life is both a virtue and aspiration for many and a recent study conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) revealed that Spain will be overtaking the leadership position in the global life expectancy table by the year 2040, dethroning the current leader Japan. According to the research, Spanish people will be living for 85.8 years, followed by Japanese with 85.7, Singaporeans with 85.4 and the Swiss with 85.2. The study has bad news for America as the country will be sliding down to the 64th position by 2040 from its 43rd position in 2016, with an average life expectancy of 79.8 years. By 2040, Americans will be living only an extra period of 1.1 years which is a significantly low figure compared to the global average of 4.4 years. For China, the results are promising as the country will climb to the 39th position in the list, rising 29 places at once. IHME’s Director of Data Science, Kyle Foreman, stated that progress or stagnation in this field depends on countries’ capabilities to address key issues such as diet, healthcare availability and quality as well as living and working habits. According to his logic, Spain’s sharp rise to global leadership is due to the country’s tax-funded healthcare system, which is currently ranked as the seventh best in the world. The research also revealed that the main factors leading to premature mortalities were “high blood pressure, high body mass index, high blood sugar, tobacco use and alcohol use” which are all significant issues plaguing the lives of millions today, foreshadowing a dire need for research and improvisation.

Human diet is a multi-faceted issue and constant research goes on in the field to improve the quality of consumer food and drinks, while several methods are also being developed to increase efficiency in enhancing human health through such consumables. On a related note, a recent study by Tufts University found out that “people with higher circulating levels of the omega-3s found in fish stay healthier as they age, both physically and neurologically.” The study that was published in ‘The BMJ’ evaluated data obtained from more than 2,600 people with an average age of 74 that was collected for 22 years, excluding individuals who used fish oil supplements. During the course of the study, in the first, sixth and thirteenth years, the research team measured the biomarkers for DHA, EPA, DPA and ALA fats while taking notice of emergent health issues in the participants to correlate such findings with fat levels in such individuals. Only 11% of the participants aged healthily while 89% experienced some sort of a health complication.  The researchers then separated the participants into five groups with respect to their omega-3 levels to discover that those with the highest omega-3 levels had 18% lower risk of unhealthy aging. With respect to fish-derived EPA levels, participants with the highest levels of the fat had 24% less risk of unhealthy aging and subjects with the highest DPA levels had 18% less of such risk. ALA fat could not be linked to any such benefit and neither could DHA, the other seafood-derived fat. Unlike omega-3s derived from fish which have been clinically proven to have a multitude of benefits for human beings, fish oil supplements were scientifically proven to have no benefits for most health complications and are especially useless for reducing the risk of heart attacks or Alzheimer’s.

Surgery and cancer treatment are both common procedures in today’s healthcare world but according to a recent study by Public Health England (PHE), over three million of such procedures might become deadly if the patients are not treated with antibiotics. Anti-biotic resistance is becoming a serious issue in today’s world with antibiotic-resistant blood stream infections having rose by 35% between the years of 2013 and 2017 in the UK, numerically from 12,250 to 16,500 while the most common cause was found to be E.coli. Among such cases, 41% became resistant to co-amoxiclav, the most frequently used antibiotic for infection treatment. Cancer patients are also vulnerable to such a reality due to the fact that the standard procedures of chemotherapy weaken such patients’ immune systems, leading to a loss of ability in fighting injections. Considering many people demand antibiotics for the treatment of simple complications such as “cough, flu or a throat, ear, sinus or chest infection” the future ramifications of such dependency raise attention to possible consequences that are yet to be observed. In order to raise attention to the issue, the PHE re-initiated its ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ campaign with hopes of ensuring that such agents will still be utile for surgery and cancer treatment in the future. Carrying a similar concern, the World Health Organization also issued a warning, claiming that “the speed of increasing antibiotic resistance will outpace the process of developing new drugs”. Several researchers in the UK also came up with the suggestion that British doctors should not advise their patients to continue using antibiotics for the completion of their treatments as such usage will increase the rates of development for the above-mentioned resistance. The Royal College of General Practitioners however, believes that such a suggestion might have adverse effects on the patients’ health and wellbeing as much is still unknown regarding the issue.

Monsanto, the global corporate giant of agrochemicals, has recently faced a gigantic lawsuit involving a former school groundskeeper Dewayne “Lee” Johnson and the company’s popular herbicide ‘Roundup’, after being accused of supplying the market with a product that causes cancer. Johnson was awarded a $289 million financial award/compensation after it was concluded that the Monsanto product was responsible for his cancer after Johnson was exposed to the chemical during his work at the school grounds. Following the initial decision, the San Francisco superior court judge Suzanne Bolanos reduced the amount to $39 million for punitive damages that the 46-year-old man suffered. The judge also stated that in the case that Johnson refuses the lower punitive damages, she would be granting Monsanto a new trial hearing. Baum Hedlund and the Miller Firm, Johnson’s legal team, immediately issued a statement, claiming that the reduction was unwarranted and they would be seeking other legal options to reverse the decision. ‘Roundup’ has raised significant controversy throughout the years as several studies “have repeatedly linked the glyphosate chemical, sold under the Roundup and Ranger Pro brands, to non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a type of blood cancer.” Additionally, in 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer included glyphosate in the list of probable human carcinogens. Johnson’s victory over Monsanto was well received by campaigners against the product due to high levels of controversy surrounding the corporation’s actions and products. Although several thousands of complaints have been made legal throughout America on the allegation that glyphosate exposure caused cancer or death for their loved ones, both Monsanto and its partner Bayer have repeatedly announced to the public that the chemical was safe to use and had no effects on development of cancer in human beings.

Cigarette addiction has been considered as a major enemy of human health for quite some time now and the recent introduction of electronic cigarette therefore was widely considered to be a prime solution for the issue. E-cigarettes operate on battery power for vaporizing a special liquid containing nicotine, propylene, glycerin and aromatic flavoring to recreate the effect of smoking a cigarette, while eradicating thousands of chemicals that are inhaled by the smoker alongside with nicotine. According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Physiology however, e-cig liquids also have a significant potential to cause harm based on experiments conducted on mice. The test subjects were exposed to e-cigarette vapor and regular cigarette smoke and began to produce higher levels of harmful molecules and inflammation due to e-cig vapor. On the other hand, mice exposed to regular cigarette smoke also showed less capability to carry out respiratory functions, supporting the claim that e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes. After evaluating their findings, the team of researchers at the University of Athens felt the need to inform the public and stated that vaping should not be considered as absolutely harmless and further research should be carried out such liquids along with legal regulations on their availability and sales. The research also revealed that the exposure of solely propylene glycol and vegetable glycol resulted in short-lived complications while the inclusion of nicotine or tobacco flavoring significantly extended such episodes in the test subjects. Although the common consensus regarding the issue is that vaping is healthier than smoking, long-term effects of the study’s findings are still unknown. Considering the scientifically established adverse effects of regular smoking however, it is seen that research of this kind will have minimal effects on vaping habits of individuals who believe that they are smoking a harmless product.

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