New Studies: The Top 1% Get Richer, More Sleep Research, The Wonders of Coffee & More Air Pollution
There is good, bad [depressing] and useful news from researchers this week.
1. The Rich get richer: America's economic expansion has enriched the 1% [defined as those with incomes above $515,371 in 2017], far more than those of more modest means. According to research by the Federal Reserve, America's wealthiest families now hold almost as much wealth as the middle and upper-middle classes combined. Much of the increase can be attributed to their ability to purchase stocks which have increased in value much more quickly than wages. The 1% now owns half of the equity in U.S. public and private companies.
The Press Herald: "The very richest had assets of about $35.4 trillion in the second quarter, or just shy of the $36.9 trillion held by the tens of millions of people who make up the 50th percentile to the 90th percentile of Americans – much of the middle and upper-middle classes."
The research also found that wealth inequality continues to grow in America. The bottom 50% of Americans now control just 6.1 percent of the nation's wealth.
2. More evidence of the positive attributes of coffee. Americans love coffee and it's one addiction that science has shown to be generally positive. We discussed several recent studies back in May, including it's overall impact on longevity.
European Society of Cardiology: "The researchers found that participants who consumed at least four cups of coffee per day had a 64% lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who never or almost never consumed coffee... "
WebMD: "In recent years, numerous studies have demonstrated associations between coffee consumption and lowered health risks of all sorts -- from type 2 diabetes to certain cancers to Parkinson's disease."
A new study conducted by Professor Dr. Li Jiao, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston found that coffee consumption is linked to a healthy gut microbiome - the trillions of microorganisms in our digestive tract and impact our health. Specifically, Dr. Jiao found that caffeine drinkers had higher levels of two important gut microbes, Faecalibacterium and Roseburia .
Ladders: "Faecalibacterium and Roseburia, have been independently noted for their strong anti-inflammatory properties. Faecalibacterium is widely considered to be one of the most important commensal bacteria found in the human gut community and Roseburia has been rewarded a handsome association with weight loss and improved glucose tolerance on several occasions."
3. More evidence for the value of a good night's rest. The journal of the American Academy of Neurology reported last week that a recent study found that "people who have trouble sleeping may be more likely to have a stroke, heart attack or other cerebrovascular or cardiovascular diseases..."
The study was conducted on 487,200 people in China with an average age of 51. Individuals who reported having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep; waking up too early in the morning; or having trouble staying focused during the day due to poor sleep were 18% more likely to have strokes or heart attacks. The research suggests that physicians should address sleep patterns in treating their patients.
Science Daily: "These results suggest that if we can target people who are having trouble sleeping with behavioral therapies, it's possible that we could reduce the number of cases of stroke, heart attack and other diseases later down the line," said study author Liming Li, MD, of Peking University in Beijing, China."
4. Air Pollution is again increasing in America. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research air pollution, measured by "fine particulate matter" in the air, increased by 5.5% between 2016 and 2018, after decreasing by 24% from 2009 to 2016. And reduced air quality has real consequences for Americans. According to the study, the increase was associated with 9,700 additional premature deaths in 2018.
No, it's probably not a coincidence that air pollution increased after Donald Trump took office.
Human Rights Watch: "The authors highlighted a dramatic decline in penalties for violations of the Clean Air Act. Between 2016 and 2018, there was an approximately 40 percent decline in recorded 113d violations, the most common enforcement action that results in a fine or penalty. While the study does not conclusively tie this decline to inadequate regulatory oversight alone, it is worrisome when combined with the Trump administration’s overall lack of environmental enforcement and the increase in US air pollution since 2016."
By: Don Lam & Curated Content