Japanese hospitals seek secrets for staying disease-free

29-Jul-2017 Intellasia | Nikkei | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Study of 400,000 patients aimed at curbing nation’s snowballing medical bills

Six Japanese national medical institutions have launched a massive project to pinpoint lifestyle habits that reduce the risk of cancer, heart attacks and other serious health problems.

Researchers will track the behaviors and medical conditions of some 400,000 people in an attempt to identify patterns prevalent among people with particular diseases. They will look at dietary habits along with factors like drinking, smoking and physical exercise.

Based on this research, they hope to establish a set of guidelines for extending one’s “healthy life expectancy”the period in which a person is capable of living independently. The goal is to have the guidelines ready by the end of the fiscal year through March 2021.

The National Cancer centre and the other five institutions hope the study will limit snowballing medical bills, as Japanese society rapidly ages. More generally, they aim to foster the growth of services that promote health.

The government has budgeted about 450 million yen ($3.97 million) for the project in the current fiscal year.

Cancer, heart attacks and strokes are the three leading causes of death in Japan. Along with dementia, they are major factors behind the rise of medical costs. Since diets differ from country to country, it is necessary to study Japanese patients specifically, to zero in on problematic eating habits.

Anonymous data

Also joining the project are the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Centre, the National centre for Global Health and Medicine, the National centre for Geriatrics and Gerontology, the National centre of Neurology and Psychiatry and the National centre for Child Health and Development.

The National Cancer Centre, which handles data on some 230,000 patients, will lead the project, compiling information collected from the various institutions.

This fiscal year, the plan is to lay the groundwork for using data collected in the past, including survey results and medical records of outpatients. Then, the hospitals will track some 400,000 patients using a common set of parameters. Blood test results will also be taken into account.

The data will be used only with patients’ consent, and it will not be possible to identify individuals.

One focus will be the impact of drinking alcohol on various diseases, including cancer. The researchers also want to verify the widely held belief that small quantities of alcohol reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The study is also expected to shed light on the relationship between lifestyle patterns and degrees of obesity.



Category: Health

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