5 Simple Steps Could Save 100,000 Lives

If more Americans followed just five simple preventive
health care practices, nearly 100,000 deaths each year could be prevented.

A new study shows that getting adults to follow simple steps like getting
help to quit smoking or being screened for cancer could save tens of thousands
of lives every year.

According to the study, the top five underutilized health care services with
the biggest benefits are:



  • Daily aspirin therapy to prevent heart
    disease.B B B B B


  • Smoking cessation. An additional 42,000 lives would be saved each
    year by increasing to 90% the portion of smokers who are advised by a health
    care professional to quit and are offered assistance. Currently, only 28% of
    smokers receive such services.


  • Colorectal cancer screening. Another 14,000 additional lives would
    be saved each year by increasing to 90% the portion of adults aged 50 and older
    who are up to date with any recommended screening for colorectal cancer. Today,
    fewer than 50% of adults are up to date with screening.


  • Flu vaccination. An additional 12,000 additional lives would be
    saved each year by increasing the portion of adults aged 50 and older who got
    an annual flu vaccination to 90%. Only 37% of adults currently get an annual
    flu vaccination.


  • Breast cancer screening. An additional 3,700 lives would be saved
    each year by increasing to 90% the portion of women ages 40 and older who have
    been screened for breast cancer in the past 2 years. Today, 67% of women have
    been screened in the past 2 years.





Disparities in Preventive Health Care



"A lot of Americans are not getting lifesaving preventive services,
particularly racial and ethnic minorities. As a result, too many people are
dying prematurely or living with diseases that could have been prevented,"
says Eduardo Sanchez, MD, MPH, in a news release. Sanchez is chair of the
National Commission on Prevention Priorities, which conducted the study.
"We could get much better value for our health care dollar by focusing
upstream on prevention."

The study shows minorities consistently use preventive health care services
less often than whites. For example, Hispanic smokers are 55% less likely to
get assistance in quitting smoking than whites.

Overall, among the top 12 preventive health care services examined by the
report, seven are used by about half or less of the people who should be using
them.

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  • Which of these five have you done? Tell
    us about it on the Health
    CafC) message board .



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By Jennifer Warner
Reviewed by Louise Chang
B)2005-2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved

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