Deaths of Despair, The “Bad Luck” Study (Abstract Science: March 20 – 24)
Jillian Scola

Deaths of Despair, The “Bad Luck” Study (Abstract Science: March 20 – 24)

Insights into Alzheimer’s, a look into the middle-aged white mortality rate, and is a cancer diagnosis just a sign of bad luck?

A Genetic Test for Alzheimer's?

(GEN, 3/22/2017)

For Alzheimer’s disease (AD), in which risk factors have been notoriously elusive, any potential insight into who may be at risk to develop the neurodegenerative disorder could help alleviate a significant amount of burden on the patient and family, as early preparations or even preventive steps could be taken.  Now an international collaboration of researchers, has developed a novel genetic score that allows individuals to calculate their age-specific risk of AD, based on genetic information.

Most cancer mutations arise from ‘bad luck’

(STAT, 3/23/2017, Sharon Begley)

Remember when a group of authors claimed that bad luck, more than environmental factors or inherited genes, affects whether someone develops cancer? Well  those same authors are back and looking to prove their original findings weren’t a massive stunt.  This time, using health records from 69 countries, they conclude that 66 percent of cancer-causing genetic mutations arise from the “bad luck” of a healthy, dividing cell making a random mistake when it copies its DNA. 

New research identifies a ‘sea of despair’ among white, working-class Americans

(Washington Post, 3/23/2017, Joel Achenbach & Dan Keating)

Following up on their groundbreaking 2015 report that documented increasing midlife mortality among white non-Hispanic Americans, Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton reveal that this shocking trend is not easing up, with addiction, obesity, family dysfunction and other pathologies likely culprits.  The continuing research finds that while midlife mortality rates have been continuing to fall among all education classes in most of the rich world, middle-aged non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. with a high school diploma or less have experienced increasing midlife mortality since the late 1990s. This is due to both rises in the number of “deaths of despair”— drugs, alcohol and suicide—and a slowdown in progress against mortality from heart disease and cancer, the two largest killers in middle age.


—Compiled by Social Media Specialist Jillian Scola