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The Takeaway: What Wasn't Said at the Florida Debate (Hint: Much of Anything About Older Americans)

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What Wasn't Said: Many political commentators felt disappointed by last night's Republican presidential debate in Florida (approximately the 300th GOP debate of this campaign season, or at least it feels that way...). Moderator Brian Williams seemed to stop the candidates whenever serious policy talk got underway in favor of fluff questions about electability, horse race hoopla and a strange barrage of hypotheticals ( what if Fidel Castro died?  what would you have done about Terri Schiavo?). But in a state where about 40 percent of the population is 50 or older, and one in six citizens is 65+, the candidates spent surprisingly little time talking about issues of import to older Americans. There was no mention of Social Security, and very little talk of health care. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich sparred a little bit about Medicare Part D (and just about everything else), leading Gingrich to reassert his support for the program:

I publicly favored Medicare Part D for simple reasons, and ... I am proud of the fact that I publicly, openly advocated Medicare Part D. It has saved lives. It is part of the free enterprise model."

And about an hour-and-a-half in, Rick Santorum once again slammed Romney and Gingrich for supporting 'Obamacare's' individual health insurance mandate. Other than that, neither health care, Medicare, or retirement security got much of a moment (though space exploration, Cuba and Romney's tax returns did).

Of course, it's not like the GOP candidates haven't devoted ample talking time to these issues in the past. At a South Carolina debate last week, all four of the remaining candidates (which also include Ron Paul) came out against the health care reform law, saying it can and should be repealed. For more on where they stand in regard to Social Security, Medicare and other issues important to boomers and seniors, check out AARP's Video Voters' Guide.

Treating Early-Stage Prostate Cancer: A new drug called dutasteride could be a turning point in early-stage prostate cancer treatment. A study published yesterday in medical journal The Lancetsuggests that Dutasteride could slow or stop the cancer's progress in those in the early stage of the disease. For the study, researchers monitored men with early-stage prostate cancer for three years. The cancer progressed in 48 percent of men receiving a placebo, but only 38 percent of men taking dutasteride.

This study potentially affects 100,000 patients or more annually," Dr. Ian Thompson, a Texas prostate cancer expert not associated with the study, told the New York Times. "For those of us who deal with this disease, this is potentially a big deal."

According to the New York Times, 100,000 men each year are diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer and given the option of treating it right away (with surgery or radiation) or leaving it be and seeing what happens. Less than 10 percent choose the wait-and-see option-even though many with early-stage prostate cancer will never see it develop into anything dangerous in their lifetimes and treatment can have serious side effects, like impotence and incontinence.

Tuesday Quick Hits: 

  • Social Security will resume mailing paper benefits statements to people 60 and older who aren't yet receiving benefits. People unable to access the Internet or with other reasons for needing a paper statement will also be able to request one.
  • And people who stay 'mentally engaged' throughout their lives develop fewer amyloid plaques, the protein deposits in the brain linked with Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study.

Photo: - Beathan/Corbis

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