The 2010s will be remembered for the big ups and downs in health-related news. The ups were the advances in technology that have furthered treatment possibilities like gene editing and 3D printing organs. But the downs include the tragic opioid crisis that became a global health issue by the end of the decade. Mix in a bit of Ebola hysteria, measle outbreaks, and anti-vaxxers and you have a pretty eventful ten years with significant health issues and discoveries making headlines.
Public Health News of the 2010s: Drastic Change in Substance Abuse
The Opioid Crisis
Due to a combination of poor prescribing practices, pushing from Big Pharma, and underestimating the addictiveness of opioids, an epidemic spread across the US at an alarming rate. Average life expectancy dropped for the first time in over 100 years in 2015 and eventually lead to an astonishing rise of opioid-related deaths to the hundreds of thousands by 2018. This led President Trump to declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency, beginning the fight to beat the worst drug crisis in US history.
On a lighter note, there was a drop in smoking rates to an all-time low in 2018. That’s one bad public habit down with another global habit to go.
The Advances in Treatment of the 2010s: Using Technology to Cure Chronic Illnesses
From making gene editing possible in 2012 to 3D printing human organs in 2015, advances in technology have furthered treatment possibilities into uncharted digital territory.
The fight for cancer continues and in 2016, immunotherapy won the title of Advance of the Year by the American Society of Clinical Oncology as a potentially safer cancer treatment method.
Cystic Fibrosis Treatment
In 2019, the FDA approved a “new breakthrough” therapy for cystic fibrosis, a common genetic disease. The drug sold under the name Trikafta has shown evidence of increasing the life expectancy of patients from the current average of 44 years.
Arthritis Treatment Research
A promising cure for joint inflammation in patients with arthritis came from the discovery of the ability of cartilage in joints to repair itself from a recent study found in Science Advances.
Food That Made the Headlines in the 2010s: Mimic Meat and Bad Fat
Finding an alternative, the meatless diet has been a goal because of the harmful effects of the meat industry that include unethical animal treatment, pollution, and poorer health. One popular solution that arose from the rest was the rise of Beyond Meat during 2018 till the present. A meat substitute, Beyond Meat, is made from plants and is made to look and taste like a real meat burger. With Beyond Meat product rollouts increasing, the company will probably continue to expand their products during the 20s.
The Effects of Ingesting Trans Fat
Eliminating meat from the general public’s diet only grew as a public health concern with the 2013 discovery that trans-fat should not be considered safe to consume. These fats have been found to increase cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease and are found in the animals that we eat.