Head and neck cancers were the eighth most common cancers worldwide in 2018 and accounted for 3% of all cancer diagnoses and about 1.5% of cancer deaths in the U.S. alone. Epidemiologist Dr. Lauren Garfield discusses well known and emerging risk factors, survival rates, and more in ReFlections.
Over the past three decades, the global prevalence of diabetes has risen to record levels. There has been a corresponding increase in the use of the glycated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test to assess or detect diabetes. An increasing number of underwriters are now also considering using HbA1c as a good blood biomarker for mortality.
Critically important containment measures have been shown to ‘flatten the curve’ of new SARS-CoV-2 infections, save lives and ease the pressure on healthcare systems and medical supplies. At the same time, there are indications that these and other COVID-19 related measures will, depending on their extent and duration, also impact on the future mortality and morbidity trends of other areas of disease and health.
Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is a measure of the body’s ability to supply oxygen to muscles, including the heart, during sustained levels of exercise. Whether or not you believe the hype that just sitting around poses a significant health risk, the truth is most people could do with exercising more.
An analysis of cause-specific mortality can shed light on variations in mortality patterns across sub-populations of an individual life insurance portfolio. These insights inform future mortality projections such as mortality improvement assumptions. The complex nature of mortality risk, especially for insured lives that are subject to the rigorous process of life underwriting, poses a challenge in understanding the likelihood of one cause of death over another.
Is science fiction becoming science fact? Liquid biopsies are a new class of blood- (or other bodily fluid-based) tests that can reveal direct evidence of cancer and are far less invasive than traditional biopsies. RGA's Dr. Daniel Zimmerman explores linkages between advances in genetics and this new technology. He also investigates limitations, potential mortality and morbidity impacts, and insurance implications.
Accelerated underwriting programs continue to evolve at a rapid pace. Triage systems have become a key element in many of the newer programs in the market. Depending on the criteria used at the triage point, these programs can have residual effects on class prevalence and mortality, which in turn affect the profitability of these programs.
Recent celebrity deaths have brought the topic of suicide out of the shadows and sparked conversation about the causes for suicide and possible preventive measures.
Rates of diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disorders, certain cancers and other non-communicable diseases are increasing globally, and a growing body of evidence links lifestyle behaviors, such as physical inactivity, poor nutrition and smoking, to the increase.
There is plenty of evidence that, generally, mortality is elevated in mental illness. That it should be so in the more severe forms such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder should be no surprise, but it is interesting to note that even milder conditions may present an extra risk.