What? Healthy be­hav­iors make you health­ier?!?!

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“Never as­sume,” wrote the late Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist Wil­liam Safire, “that the ob­vi­ous is true.”

No doubt re­searchers at the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion ap­plied this phi­los­o­phy when the At­lanta-based fed­eral agency re­leased a re­port that found—brace your­self—peo­ple who adopted “healthy be­hav­iors” were 63% less likely to die early.

Us­ing data from the CDC’s Na­tional Health and Nu­tri­tion Ex­am­i­na­tion Sur­vey III Mor­tal­ity Study, re­searchers de­fined low-risk be­hav­iors as never smok­ing, eat­ing a healthy diet, mod­er­ate-in­ten­sity or vig­or­ous-in­ten­sity phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and mod­er­ate al­co­hol con­sump­tion (not more than two drinks a day for men and no more than one drink a day for women). The study, pub­lished on­line in the

Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Pub­lic Health, said peo­ple who en­gaged in all four of those healthy be­hav­iors were 66% less likely to die of can­cer, 65% less likely to die early from car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, and 57% less likely to die early from other causes com­pared with peo­ple who did not en­gage in any of those healthy be­hav­iors.

“If you want to lead a longer life and feel bet­ter, you should adopt healthy be­hav­iors—not smok­ing, get­ting reg­u­lar phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, eat­ing healthy and avoid­ing ex­ces­sive al­co­hol use,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, di­rec­tor of the CDC.

And, thanks to the CDC, there is re­search to prove it.

Some­thing’s amiss

When HHS’ in­spec­tor gen­eral’s of­fice be­gan look­ing into the Medi­care pro­gram for pros­thetic legs, some­thing was … miss­ing. A re­cent re­port iden­ti­fied 131 Medi­care sup­pli­ers that in 2009 had ques­tion­able billing, such as billing for a high per­cent­age of ben­e­fi­cia­ries with no his­tory of an am­pu­ta­tion or a miss­ing limb.

In ad­di­tion, the in­spec­tor gen­eral also iden­ti­fied 136 pros­thetic sup­pli­ers that fre­quently sub­mit­ted claims that did not meet cer­tain Medi­care re­quire­ments or were for ben­e­fi­cia­ries with no claims from their re­fer­ring physi­cians, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, called Ques­tion­able Billing by Sup­pli­ers of Lower Limb Pros­the­ses. The re­port notes that Medi­care paid an ad­di­tional $61 mil­lion for ben­e­fi­cia­ries with no claims from their re­fer­ring physi­cians for the past five years. “Billing for pros­the­ses when the ben­e­fi­ciary had no claims from the re­fer­ring physi­cian raises ques­tions about whether the physi­cian ever eval­u­ated the ben­e­fi­ciary and whether these de­vices were med­i­cally nec­es­sary,” the re­port states.

The in­spec­tor gen­eral also says that be­tween 2005 and 2009, Medi­care spend­ing for lower limb pros­the­ses in­creased 27% to $655 mil­lion, while the num­ber of Medi­care ben­e­fi­cia­ries re­ceiv­ing lower limb pros­the­ses de­creased by 2.5% to about 74,000.

The CMS in re­sponse said it would work to im­prove its over­sight of lower limb pros­the­ses and make nec­es­sary changes.

An­other kind of hack­ing raises fears

Men­tion hack­ing these days and what im­me­di­ately springs to mind is prob­a­bly a scan­dal across the pond in­volv­ing some tabloids and Ru­pert Mur­doch. Not in­sulin pumps.

But two law­mak­ers are re­quest­ing a re­view of the gov­ern­ment’s se­cu­rity stan­dards for wire­less med­i­cal de­vices after a di­a­betic dis­cov­ered how to re­motely re­pro­gram his and other peo­ple’s in­sulin pumps.

Reps. Anna Eshoo of Cal­i­for­nia and Ed­ward Markey of Mas­sachusetts, both Democrats, asked the Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice, the in­ves­tiga­tive arm of Congress, to eval­u­ate the Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion’s ef­forts to iden­tify the risks of im­plants and other med­i­cal de­vices that use wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nolo­gies.

They cited new re­search by Jay Rad­cliffe, 33, a com­puter se­cu­rity ex­pert from Idaho, who demon­strated at a con­fer­ence this month that he could hack into an in­sulin pump he wears on his body and get it to re­spond to an unau­tho­rized re­mote con­trol.

Rad­cliffe told the As­so­ci­ated Press that he ex­pe­ri­enced “sheer ter­ror” upon find­ing that “there’s no se­cu­rity around the de­vices which are a very ac­tive part of keep­ing me alive.”

He didn’t iden­tify the spe­cific vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties that al­lowed him to per­form the at­tack, but has pri­vately alerted the de­vice­maker— which he did not name—about the is­sues. Oth­ers are likely vul­ner­a­ble as well.

The tech­niques raise the pos­si­bil­ity of some­one roam­ing a hos­pi­tal’s halls per­form­ing sin­is­ter at­tacks. Di­a­bet­ics could get too much or too lit­tle in­sulin, a hor­mone they need for proper me­tab­o­lism.

Sim­i­lar at­tacks have also been shown against pace­mak­ers and de­fib­ril­la­tors.

Go on! It’s grape­fruit! It’s good for you!

Don’t you want to live longer?

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