Trending News Today: Life Expectancy Varies by Residency Across the United States

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Life expectancy can vary significantly depending on where you live in the United States, according to NPR. In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, investigators analyzed records between 1980 and 2014 from every county in the nation. The findings showed that there was a spread of 20 years between the counties with the longest and shortest life spans based on life expectancy at birth. Individuals who resided in counties with the longest life spans tended to live approximately 87 years, whereas individuals with the shortest life spans lived approximately 67 years. Counties with the longest life expectancy were wealthy areas that were more highly educated, such as Marin County, CA, and Summit County, CO, compared with counties with the shortest life expectancy that were poorer and less educated. Most of these clusters were along the lower Mississippi River Valley and parts of West Virginia and Kentucky. Unfortunately, the gap appears to only be widening. Between 1980 and 2014, the gap between the highest and lowest life spans increased by approximately 2 years, NPR reported. “With every passing year, inequality—–however you measure it––has been widening over the last 34 years,” author Christopher Murray said in the report. “And so next year, we can reliably expect it’ll be even more than 20. That is probably the most alarming part of the analysis.”

Health insurance giant Anthem Inc has asked a Delaware judge to grant a 60-day preliminary injunction that would prevent its rival Cigna Corp from terminating the $54 billion merger deal. According to the New York Times, the deal would create the largest health insurer in the United States. To date, the Justice Department and 11 states have sued to stop the merger, winning in both district court and an appeal courts. Anthem is seeking more time for approval of the merger with Cigna—–which is looking to terminate the deal and collect a $1.85 billion breakup fee––while it pursues an appeal to the US Supreme Court. After 5 hours of arguments, Vice Chancellor Travis Laster said he would rule as soon as possible.

New findings may contradict conventional knowledge on salt consumption and the body, according to the NY Times. In a new study, Russian cosmonauts were held in isolation to simulate space travel. The investigators found that consuming more salt made the subjects less thirsty, but hungrier. Subsequent experiments using mice found that the animals burned more calories when they consumed more salt, eating 25% more just to maintain their weight, the NY Times reported. This suggests that high levels of salt may play a role in weight loss. “The work suggests that we really do not understand the effect of sodium chloride on the body.” Said investigator Dr Melanie Hoenig. “These effects may be far more complex and far-reaching than the relatively simple laws that dictate movement of fluid, based on pressures and particles.”