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Earth to Couric: Personal Responsibility, Not Socialized Medicine, Will Save Lives

The Democrats continue to beat the universal health care drum in their debates, and the mainstream media keep running stories in support.  On August 8, CBS Evening News with Katie Couric aired yet another story promoting socialized medicine, a feature on a working class couple who lost their pension and “guaranteed” health care coverage when an employer went bankrupt.


But other medical developments that came out the same day might provide greater improvements in health, while decreasing the financial strain on the health care system, if the networks would give them as much air time as socialized medicine.


The first is a medical report which ABC's World News highlighted in its August 8 broadcast.  Reporter John McKenzie outlined the findings which show simple preventive measures, if exercised responsibly by every affected adult, could save over 100,000 lives annually. 


McKenzie reported the following statistics:

    45,000 lives could be saved if more adults took a daily aspirin.  Currently only 28 percent of doctors offer assistance to help patients quit smoking; if that number increased to 90 percent an additional 42,000 lives could be saved. 14,000 lives could be saved if 90 percent of adults over 50 got regular screenings for prostate, colon and breast cancer.  12,000 lives could be saved if 90 percent of people got the flu vaccine.

Considering that heart attacks, cancers and hospitalizations due to influenza translate into expensive medical treatments, the investment in these preventive measures translates into millions of health care dollars saved.


In another medical study, reported by London's Evening Standard , Cancer Research UK finds that “binge drinking, reckless sunbathing and overeating are fueling a massive rise in cancer.” Mouth cancer, associated with smoking and drinking, is up almost 25 percent in England.  Malignant melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers, is up by 43 percent, and kidney cancer which is more common in smokers and those overweight is up almost 14 percent. Uterine cancer, also linked to obesity, is up 21 percent.


While not all cancers can be prevented, a spokeswoman for Cancer Research UK maintains that up to half of all the deaths associated with these diseases could be avoided by the “use of common sense.”


Or personal responsibility.


In yet another finding, completely unreported by the mainstream media, Dr. Miriam Grossman, M.D. wrote a commentary on the link between oral sex and malignant tumors of the mouth and throat.  According to The New England Journal of Medicine, the number of these cancers is rising annually and the evidence is “compelling” that oral HPV infection may cause them.  The Journal also reports that having more than five oral-sex partners increases the risk of these malignancies by 250 percent.


Dr. Grossman's article quoted the Journal's conclusion that, “The widespread oral sex practices among adolescents may be a contributing factor in this increase.”  She also included statistics that 20 percent of ninth graders (average age 14) report having oral sex and 50 percent of all teens say they've engaged in the behavior.


It boggles the mind to consider how many diseases could be prevented, how many lives could be spared, how many millions of dollars could be saved if more people accepted responsibility for their actions and considered the consequences of their behavior. If the liberal media devoted as much air time and newsprint to these stories as they do to promoting the need for universal health care, more people would take notice.


Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.