Re: Theory vs. Data

Date: Wed Jun 28 2000 - 13:49:45 MDT

Other piece of data: farm animals are given low level of antibiotics on a
constant basis. Supposedly they grow faster when they aren't fighting off
diseases. One would hope that ranchers/farmers wouldn't be doing this if they
couldn't measure the result. One would presume, economically, that some
farmer who didn't do this would make more profit than others, if there was no
benefit, and that the practice would then not stay around.

Now, humans don't get low levels of antibiotics, and these are animals raised
for slaughter, so we can't measure increases in life expectancy, and I have no
references because I'm wasting time at work doing this. But it's evidence
that non-fatal infections, or even infections which might be noticed, have a
cumulative effect on health. Deaths from non-infectious proximate causes may
have been accelerated by damage done by various diseases over the course of a
person's lifetime. Eliminating the wear and tear of those diseases could then
extend health and, perhaps, life expectancy.

Let me also note that I'm open to the idea that spending at the current margin
makes little difference in overall health, that cancer and heart treatments
are of less significance to society than clean water and lots of concrete
(insect control), and that the modern medical insurance mechanism encourages
profligacy of spending.

   Linkname: "Body Shop" Economics: What's Good for Our Cars May Be Good
          for Our Health

But the claim that the increase in First and Second World life expectancy has
no known explanation, which Robin seems to be making, definitely hits the
bogosity filter.

-xx- Damien X-)

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