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The News In Brief | Dr Linda Palter
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* If you are as old as I am (think late baby boomer), you remember when “cancer” was something that people’s grandparents got.  Occasionally.  Now?  About 70,000 Americans ages 15 to 39 get cancer each year.  Are you surprised?  It seems their doctors are, also.  It usually takes several visits to doctors to get a correct diagnosis when you are in this usually healthy age bracket.  And when you do get a diagnosis, you may be facing a more aggressive cancer than older patients usually get.  The survival rates for children and for older people have been improving in recent decades, but not so for young adults.

*Prescriptions for anxiety medications, such as Xanax, are still on the rise.  In 2004, 33.9 million prescriptions for Xanax were written.  In 2011, it was 47.8 million.  Are we getting constantly more anxious, or are doctors turning to these pills more quickly and for more complaints?  Part of the problem, certainly, is that insurance companies insist on drugs as the first resort treatment for “disorders” such as stress or anxiety.  Not that they are the best treatment, just the cheapest from the insurance industries viewpoint.  Alternatives?  Twenty minutes of exercise a day improves your mood all day.  Ten minutes of meditation a day offers stress relief without any side effects.  Cognitive behavioral therapy gives better results than drug treatments.

* Everyone knows healthcare costs only go up, but they are going up faster for children than adults.  This rise in spending occurred despite a decline in the number of insured children.  Outpatient visit prices rose 34.4 % over 4 years (2007 – 2010), nearly six times the inflation rate of 5.2%.  Kids tend to need less expensive health care than adults, so a big rise in spending is troubling.  It means that our children are either getting sicker, or getting unnecessary and excess tests and procedures.