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Preventable risk factors cut 4 to 5 years off life span

Family physician Stephen Taylor, MD, had no adolescent patients with type 2 diabetes when he started his rural Vivian, La., practice 26 years ago. Now he treats children as young as 12 for the disease. Rising obesity is one reason Dr. Taylor says there are more adolescents with type 2 diabetes. He works with patients to change their lifestyles and improve their health, but they often won't act. "Lifestyle-related diseases have an immense effect on our overall morbidity and mortality. This is a huge problem, and we're going to have to begin to deal with it," Dr. Taylor said. A recent study in PLoS Medicine notes that most chronic diseases, including diabetes, are caused by multiple risk factors. The study found that four preventable risk factors for chronic diseases -- adiposity, elevated blood glucose, hypertension and smoking rates -- reduce Americans' life expectancy by about 4.9 years for men and 4.1 years for women. The findings come as obesity continues to plague the U ...

Acid-reducing drugs increase risk of fractures, bacterial infections

The health benefits of proton pump inhibitors may not be worth the risk for some patients, according to studies in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Study authors encourage doctors to prescribe different medications for patients with minor gastrointestinal disorders or urge them to make lifestyle changes, such as not eating spicy foods. For patients with more serious gastrointestinal conditions, including esophagitis, they suggest prescribing the lowest effective dose of PPIs and reevaluating patients regularly. Several studies in the May 10 Archives of Internal Medicine examined the health effects of PPIs. These drugs "are an important medicine for certain indications like bleeding ulcers. ... But it's not worth the risk to take it for indigestion," said Mitchell Katz, MD, director of the San Francisco Dept. of Public Health, who wrote an editorial on the health risks of PPIs. Dr. Katz said 113.4 million prescriptions for PPIs are filled each year, and "for most patients, ...

Medicare anti-fraud efforts net $2.5 billion

The passage of the economic stimulus bill last year gave the government more resources to protect consumers and safeguard taxpayer dollars, and the investment already is paying dividends, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. HHS and the Justice Dept. released its annual health care fraud and abuse report on May 13. It showed that in fiscal 2009, anti-fraud efforts resulted in $2.51 billion being returned to the Medicare trust fund, a $569 million, or 29%, increase over fiscal 2008. In addition, more than $441 million in federal Medicaid money was returned to the Dept. of the Treasury through anti-fraud and abuse efforts, a 28% increase from fiscal 2008, HHS and Justice said. Sebelius said an additional $600 million over 10 years will be allocated for anti-fraud initiatives. "We're going to provide new resources to get more boots on the ground to fight fraud in communities across the country," Sebelius said. "We're going to make it easier for law ...