Burying the Good News

There’s good news tonight:

The rate of death from heart disease in the U.S. was cut in half between 1980 and 2000 thanks to better medical treatment and a reduction in the incidence of some risk factors, a new study shows.

That’s wonderful news, the kind that ought to be celebrated. We hear about threats and dangers and cancer clusters and transnational viruses and flying TB carriers, and many of those are real concerns. But the big picture, as Indur Goklany demonstrates at great length in his new book, is — well, let his title explain it: The Improving State of the World: Why We’re Living Longer, Healthier, More Comfortable Lives on a Cleaner Planet. 

But this great news about heart disease appeared on page D4 of the Wall Street Journal and on page 13D of USA Today. As far as I can tell, it didn’t appear in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, or the Washington Post at all, nor on any NPR program. Though on the NY Times website, you can find an article the same day on the tiny increase in deaths from West Nile virus. And the heart disease story can be found on the Post website, though not in the print paper.

 More details appeared in the Journal’s Health Blog:

The decline in heart disease, reported in the current New England Journal of Medicine, saved an estimated 341,000 lives in 2000 compared with the number of deaths that would have been expected if the levels of heart disease in 1980 persisted.

341,000 fewer deaths from heart disease in one year! There’s good news tonight — even if you won’t find it in the newspapers.