The expiry date of man: a synthesis of evolutionary biology and public health.
In industrialised countries, mortality and morbidity are dominated by age related chronic degenerative diseases. The health and health care needs of future populations will be heavily determined by these conditions of old age. Two opposite scenarios of future morbidity exist: morbidity might decrease ("compress"), because life span is limited, and the incidence of disease is postponed. Or morbidity might increase ("expand"), because death is delayed more than disease incidence. Optimality theory in evolutionary biology explains senescence as a by product of an optimised life history. The theory clarifies how senescence is timed by the competing needs for reproduction and survival, and why this leads to a generalised deterioration of many functions at many levels. As death and disease are not independent, future morbidity will depend on duration and severity of the process of senescence, partly determined by health care, palliating the disease severity but increasing the disease duration by postponing death. Even if morbidity might be compressed, health care needs will surely expand. (+info
Avoidable mortality in Europe 1955-1994: a plea for prevention.
OBJECTIVE: To analyse trends of avoidable mortality in Europe, emphasising causes of death amenable to primary prevention through reduction of exposures, secondary prevention through early detection and treatment, and tertiary prevention through improved treatment and medical care. DESIGN: Descriptive study of mortality from avoidable causes for the years 1955 through 1994, for ages 5-64 at time of death. Using the World Health Organisation Mortality Database, five year death rates were standardised to the world population. SETTING: 21 countries of Europe in four regions (northern, central, and southern Europe, Nordic countries). PARTICIPANTS: All causes of deaths for men and women, aged 5-64, at time of death. MAIN RESULTS: Between 1955-59 and 1990-94, the reduction in mortality was somewhat greater for avoidable causes than for all causes: 45.8% v 45.1% (women) and 39.3% v 32.6% among men. Reductions in mortality were greater for causes amenable to improved medical care: 77.9% among women and 76.3% among men. The smallest reduction in mortality was seen in women for causes amenable to secondary prevention (11.0%), and in men for causes amendable to primary prevention including tobacco related conditions (16.6%). From a geographical point of view, there were slight differences in trends between European regions, but overall the patterns were similar. CONCLUSIONS: The greatest reduction of avoidable mortality in Europe from 1955-94 came from causes amenable to improved treatment and medical care for both sexes. Further reductions of avoidable mortality can be achieved through implementation of primary and secondary prevention activities, such as tobacco control, reduction of occupational exposures, and universal access to breast and cervical cancer screening programmes. (+info
1998 and beyond--Legge's legacy to modern occupational health.
Thomas Legge achieved much in his professional lifetime. The purpose of this lecture is to highlight some of these achievements in the light of what we have achieved since then. In other words, if Legge was in the audience today, how would he feel we have performed? On 'industrial maladies', progress has been made in reducing poisoning by heavy metals but our success with chrome ulceration and lead depends on surveillance and control. Room for improvements remain. For asbestos related diseases, Legge would be disappointed with our progress. Two areas of particular concern to Legge were upper limb disorders and 'occupational neurosis'. Much remains to be done. As a member of the 1st Committee on Compensatable Diseases, a review of the Scheme to date will focus on the common diseases now being prescribed and on the threats to the Scheme from the Benefits review. For the future, there are many challenges in the newer workplaces and the changing workforces. The HSE initiatives for a new occupational strategy and the Government Green Paper on Public Health provide great opportunities for the occupational health professional to influence the nature and shape of future public health strategy. Above all we must have some of Legge's characteristics to achieve this-vision, passion and commitment. (+info
Erich Muhe and the rejection of laparoscopic cholecystectomy (1985): a surgeon ahead of his time.
During the early 1980s, news of Semm's laparoscopic appendectomy was rippling through German medical circles. Erich Muhe, fascinated by Semm's technique and spurred by successes of the Erlangen endoscopists, came up with the idea of laparoscopic removal of gallstones. In 1984, Muhe had already worked out the details of an operative laparoscope, the "Galloscope," and on September 12, 1985, he carried out the first laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Later, he modified his technique and operated through a trocar sleeve. Finally, he designed an "open laparoscope" with a circular light. By March 1987, Muhe had conducted 97 endoscopic gallbladder removals. He published information about his technique at the Congress of the German Surgical Society (April 1986) and at other surgical meetings in Germany. His concept, however, was ignored. In the middle of the 1980s, the surgical community was still not prepared for the era of "minimally invasive therapy." Erich Muhe was a surgeon ahead of his time. (+info
Drug development in solid tumors: personal perspective of Dr. Emil J Freireich's contributions.
The development of chemotherapy for patients with the major cancers progressed from the initial success attained in the treatment of acute leukemias and choriocarcinoma. Many of the principles of therapy were based on the concepts developed in the experimental laboratories and early clinical studies done at the NIH Clinical Center and other centers around the country. The purpose of this review is to describe some of the early advances in cancer therapy and show how many are based on the efforts of Dr. Emil J Freireich. Over his career, Dr. Freireich has published more than 500 papers and worked on more than 70 different drugs and combinations. The principles defined by Dr. Freireich, namely, the use of intermittent intensive chemotherapy to induce complete remissions (CRs), intensification of therapy in remission, and the use of unmaintained remissions to assess cure, have been important in developing curative chemotherapy programs in patients with acute leukemias. These same principles were applied to combination therapy of Hodgkin's disease as the nitrogen mustard, vincristine, procarbazine, and prednisone combination was developed. This led to the high CR and cure rate for this disease. The treatment of metastatic breast cancer does not produce a high proportion of CRs, and cures of metastatic disease are unlikely with chemotherapy alone. But adjuvant chemotherapy after surgery has resulted in a significant reduction in cancer mortality. Many challenges remain in increasing the cure rate for the major solid tumors. New avenues of controlling cell growth and metastases need to be explored. One approach that is exploitable is the use of drugs or nutrients to prevent cancer. Laboratory approaches are now becoming a clinical reality. (+info
Toward a leukemia treatment strategy based on the probability of stem cell death: an essay in honor of Dr. Emil J Freireich.
Dr. Emil J Freireich is a pioneer in the rational treatment of cancer in general and leukemia in particular. This essay in his honor suggests that the cell kill concept of chemotherapy of acute myeloblastic leukemia be extended to include two additional ideas. The first concept is that leukemic blasts, like normal hemopoietic cells, are organized in hierarchies, headed by stem cells. In both normal and leukemic hemopoiesis, killing stem cells will destroy the system; furthermore, both normal and leukemic cells respond to regulators. It follows that acute myelogenous leukemia should be considered as a dependent neoplasm. The second concept is that cell/drug interaction should be considered as two phases. The first, or proximal phase, consists of the events that lead up to injury; the second, or distal phase, comprises the responses of the cell that contribute to either progression to apoptosis or recovery. Distal responses are described briefly. Regulated drug sensitivity is presented as an example of how distal responses might be used to improve treatment. (+info
Chronic myelogenous leukemia--progress at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center over the past two decades and future directions: first Emil J Freireich Award Lecture.
The purpose of this study was to review the progress in clinical and translational research in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) over the past 20 years at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The CML database updating the clinical and basic research investigations was reviewed as the source of this report. Publications resulting from these investigations were summarized. The long-term results with intensive chemotherapy, IFN-alpha therapy alone or in combination, autologous stem cell transplantation, and new agents such as homoharringtonine and decitabine showed encouraging results. Biological studies related to the BCR-ABL molecular abnormality, other molecular events, and the detection of minimal residual disease were detailed. Future strategies with potential promise in CML were outlined. Significant progress in understanding CML biology and in treating patients afflicted with the disease has occurred. Several therapeutic and research tools are currently investigated, which should hopefully improve further the prognosis of patients with CML. (+info
Skirting the issue: women and international health in historical perspective.
Over the last decades women have become central to international health efforts, but most international health agencies continue to focus narrowly on the maternal and reproductive aspects of women's health. This article explores the origins of this paradigm as demonstrated in the emergence of women's health in the Rockefeller Foundation's public health programs in Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s. These efforts bore a significant reproductive imprint; women dispensed and received services oriented to maternal and childbearing roles. Women's health and social advocacy movements in Mexico and the United States partially shaped this interest. Even more important, the emphasis on women in the Rockefeller programs proved an expedient approach to the Foundation's underlying goals: promoting bacteriologically based public health to the government, medical personnel, business interests, and peasants; helping legitimize the Mexican state; and transforming Mexico into a good political and commercial neighbor. The article concludes by showing the limits to the maternal and reproductive health model currently advocated by most donor agencies, which continue to skirt--or sidestep--major concerns that are integral to the health of women. (+info