Category Archives: Health Care

Deadly Ebola virus jumps from Africa’s jungles to urban centers

Ebola virusEbola virus

Ebola is one of the world’s deadliest viruses with a high fatality rate of 60 to as high as 90%.

There is no vaccine. No cure.

First identified in 1976 in the sub-Saharan jungles of Zaire and the Sudan, Ebola was transmitted to humans via the blood or bodily fluids of an infected fruit bat or monkey.

Symptoms typical of a viral infection begin 2 days to 3 weeks after contacting the virus — those of fever, throat and muscle pains, and headaches. Then it gets worse, with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys. Then it gets even worse. The infected starts hemorrhaging or bleeding from the body’s mucous membranes — mouth (gums), nose, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina.

Ebola1The present 2014 Ebola outbreak began in February in the remote jungles of Guinea in West Africa, then spread quickly, crossing the borders into Liberia and Sierra Leone.

As of April 10, 157 suspected and confirmed cases and 101 deaths have been reported in Guinea, 22 suspected cases in Liberia including 14 deaths, 8 suspected cases in Sierra Leone including 6 deaths, and 1 suspected case in Mali.

In the past, an Ebola outbreak was quickly contained because lack of roads and transportation in rural Africa helped to quarantine the infection. But Richard Engel reports for NBC News, April 14, 2014, that now, for the first time since the deadly virus first appeared 38 years ago, Ebola has jumped from the jungle to an urban area — Conakry, the capital of Guinea, with a population of 2 million.

Dr. Jagatic described it as the biggest known Ebola outbreak an urban area: “It’s probably one of the more complicated outbreaks because it is occurring in a very densely-populated urban area, unlike previous outbreaks.”

Guinea is trying to contain the virus by prohibiting passengers with flu like symptoms — fever, diarrhea, or joint pain — from boarding plane flights.

Health officials do not expect the virus to go global. Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health says, by its methods of transmission, it’s “very unlikely” that Ebola will spread to the United States.

Human-to-human transmission occurs via direct contact with blood or bodily fluids (from diarrhea or vomiting) from an infected person, or by contact with contaminated medical equipment such as needles. Since the virus continues to live inside a dead person, transmission can also occur via embalming an infected dead person. Men who survive may be able to transmit the disease sexually via sperm for nearly 2 months.

In late 2012, Canadian scientists discovered that the deadliest form of the virus could be transmitted by air between species, from pigs to monkeys without any direct contact between them, leading to fears that airborne transmission could be contributing to the wider spread of the disease in parts of Africa.

Some scientists believe that the Plague of Athens, which wiped out about a third of its inhabitants during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.), may have been caused by Ebola.

Given the lethal nature of Ebola, and since no approved vaccine or treatment is available, it is classified as a biosafety level 4 agent, as well as a Category A bioterrorism agent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has the potential to be weaponized for use in biological warfare.


Idea of New Attention Disorder Spurs Research, and Debate


NY Times: With more than six million American children having received a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, concern has been rising that the condition is being significantly misdiagnosed and overtreated with prescription medications.

Yet now some powerful figures in mental health are claiming to have identified a new disorder that could vastly expand the ranks of young people treated for attention problems. Called sluggish cognitive tempo, the condition is said to be characterized by lethargy, daydreaming and slow mental processing. By some researchers’ estimates, it is present in perhaps two million children.

Experts pushing for more research into sluggish cognitive tempo say it is gaining momentum toward recognition as a legitimate disorder — and, as such, a candidate for pharmacological treatment. Some of the condition’s researchers have helped Eli Lilly investigate how its flagship A.D.H.D. drug might treat it.

The Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology devoted 136 pages of its January issue to papers describing the illness, with the lead paper claiming that the question of its existence “seems to be laid to rest as of this issue.” The psychologist Russell Barkley of the Medical University of South Carolina, for 30 years one of A.D.H.D.’s most influential and visible proponents, has claimed in research papers and lectures that sluggish cognitive tempo “has become the new attention disorder.”

In an interview, Keith McBurnett, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and co-author of several papers on sluggish cognitive tempo, said: “When you start talking about things like daydreaming, mind-wandering, those types of behaviors, someone who has a son or daughter who does this excessively says, ‘I know about this from my own experience.’ They know what you’re talking about.”

Yet some experts, including Dr. McBurnett and some members of the journal’s editorial board, say that there is no consensus on the new disorder’s specific symptoms, let alone scientific validity. They warn that the concept’s promotion without vastly more scientific rigor could expose children to unwarranted diagnoses and prescription medications — problems that A.D.H.D. already faces.

“We’re seeing a fad in evolution: Just as A.D.H.D. has been the diagnosis du jour for 15 years or so, this is the beginning of another,” said Dr. Allen Frances, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Duke University. “This is a public health experiment on millions of kids.”

Though the concept of sluggish cognitive tempo, or S.C.T., has been researched sporadically since the 1980s, it has never been recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which codifies conditions recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. The editor in chief of The Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, Charlotte Johnston, said in an email that recent renewed interest in the condition is what led the journal to devote most of one issue to “highlight areas in which further study is needed.”

Dr. Barkley declined repeated requests for interviews about his work and statements regarding sluggish cognitive tempo. Several of the field’s other key researchers, Stephen P. Becker of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Benjamin B. Lahey of the University of Chicago and Stephen A. Marshall of Ohio University, also declined to comment on their work.

Papers have proposed that a recognition of sluggish cognitive tempo could help resolve some longstanding confusion about A.D.H.D., which despite having hyperactivity in its name includes about two million children who are not hyperactive, merely inattentive. Some researchers propose that about half of those children would be better classified as having sluggish cognitive tempo, with perhaps one million additional children, who do not meet A.D.H.D.’s criteria now, having the new disorder, too.

“These children are not the ones giving adults much trouble, so they’re easy to miss,” Dr. McBurnett said. “They’re the daydreamy ones, the ones with work that’s not turned in, leaving names off of papers or skipping questions, things like that, that impinge on grades or performance. So anything we can do to understand what’s going on with these kids is a good thing.”

But Dr. McBurnett added that sluggish cognitive tempo remained many years from any scientific consensus: “We haven’t even agreed on the symptom list — that’s how early on we are in the process.”

Steve S. Lee, an associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, who serves on the editorial board of The Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, said in an interview that he was conflicted over the journal’s emphasis on sluggish cognitive tempo. He expressed concern that A.D.H.D. had already grown to encompass too many children with common youthful behavior, or whose problems are derived not from a neurological disorder but from inadequate sleep, a different learning disability or other sources.

About two-thirds of children with an A.D.H.D. diagnosis take daily medication such as Adderall or Concerta, which often quells severe impulsiveness and inattention but also carries risks for insomnia, appetite suppression and, among teenagers and adults, abuse or addiction.

“The scientist part of me says we need to pursue knowledge, but we know that people will start saying their kids have it, and doctors will start diagnosing it and prescribing for it long before we know whether it’s real,” Dr. Lee said. “A.D.H.D. has become a public health, societal question, and it’s a fair question to ask of S.C.T. We better pump the brakes more diligently.”

Dr. McBurnett recently conducted a clinical trial funded and overseen by Eli Lilly that investigated whether proposed symptoms of sluggish cognitive tempo could be treated with Strattera, the company’s primary A.D.H.D. drug. (One of Strattera’s selling points is that it is not a stimulant like Adderall and Concerta, medications more susceptible to abuse.) His study, published in The Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, concluded, “This is the first study to report significant effects of any medication on S.C.T.”

An Eli Lilly spokeswoman said in an email, “Sluggish cognitive tempo is one of many conditions that Lilly scientists continue to study to help satisfy unmet medical needs around the world.”

Representatives of the drug companies that make the best-selling medications for A.D.H.D. — Shire (extended-release Adderall and Vyvanse), Novartis (Focalin) and Janssen (Concerta) — said they are not currently conducting research into sluggish cognitive tempo. However, because the new condition shares so many symptoms with A.D.H.D., these products might easily be repositioned to serve the new market.

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Dr. Barkley, who has said that “S.C.T. is a newly recognized disorder,” also has financial ties to Eli Lilly; he received $118,000 from 2009 to 2012 for consulting and speaking engagements, according to While detailing sluggish cognitive tempo in The Journal of Psychiatric Practice, Dr. Barkley stated that Strattera’s performance on sluggish cognitive tempo symptoms was “an exciting finding.” Dr. Barkley has also published a symptom checklist for mental health professionals to identify adults with the condition; the forms are available for $131.75 apiece from Guilford Press, which funds some of his research.

Dr. Barkley, who edits sluggish cognitive tempo’s Wikipedia page, declined a request to discuss his financial interests in the condition’s acceptance.

“I have no doubt there are kids who meet the criteria for this thing, but nothing is more irrelevant,” Dr. Frances said. “The enthusiasts here are thinking of missed patients. What about the mislabeled kids who are called patients when there’s nothing wrong with them? They are not considering what is happening in the real world.”

I’m not buying this new “disorder”. Especially with the financial ties between the researcher and the drug manufacturer.

Daydreaming is now a “disorder”. Good grief, just let the kids be kids!


Women who took birth control pills for more than 3 years double the risk of glaucoma

Birth control pills work by suppressing ovulation.

That is powerful stuff.

So why do we persist in thinking that a pill this powerful has no side effects?

birth control pill1In addition to a 30% increased risk of multiple sclerosis, a new study found that women who take oral contraceptives of whatever kind for more than three years have double the risk (2.05 times) of glaucoma, an eye condition that can lead to blindness.

Emma Innes reports for the Daily Mail, Nov. 18, 2013, that the new study, conducted by researchers at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF), is the first to establish an increased risk of glaucoma and use of oral contraceptives. The finding was presented at the 117th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in New Orleans.

Glaucoma occurs when the drainage tubes within the eyes become blocked, preventing fluid from draining properly and causing pressure to build up, damaging the optic nerve and nerves from the retina. The eye damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed but prompt treatment can halt the progression of the disease, which is why early diagnosis is important. The condition can be treated with eye drops, laser treatment or surgery.

The researchers used data from 2005 to 2008 in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This included 3,406 female participants aged 40 years or older from across the U.S. who completed the survey’s vision and reproductive health questionnaire and underwent eye examinations.

Although the study established an association, not a causation, between oral contraceptives and glaucoma, nevertheless Dr. Shan Lin of UCSF advised that “women who have taken oral contraceptives for three or more years should be screened for glaucoma and followed closely by an ophthalmologist.

About one in 50 white Europeans over the age of 40 have glaucoma, as do one in 10 people over the age of 75. The most common form of glaucoma – chronic open-angle glaucoma – progresses very slowly and often does not cause any noticeable symptoms. However, over time the patient will start to lose vision from the outer rim of their eye. The loss of vision will slowly move inwards towards the center of the eye.


Ding Dong The Witch Is Gone! Sebelius Resigns.

And the people rejoice.

And the people rejoice.


HHS Secretary Sebelius resigning on heels of ObamaCare rollout

Folks It’s Twilight Zone Time. Yup, BamaCare just Got Worse.

 These people are the stupidest people on the planet bar none!!

Obama style.

Obama style.

Rush, rush, rush to sign you up. Now you can not sign up till next year. Say What?


Latest ObamaCare surprise: Most won’t be able to buy health insurance until end of year.

It’s Hard Getting Old.


Two medical students were walking along the street when they saw an old man Walking with his legs spread apart.
He was stiff-legged and walking slowly.

One student said to his friend:
“I’m sure that poor old man has Peltry Syndrome. Those people walk just like that.”

The other student says: “No, I don’t think so. The old man surely has Zovitzki Syndrome.
He walks slowly and his legs are apart, just as we learned in class.”

Since they couldn’t agree they decided to ask the old man. They approached him And one of the students said to him, “We’re medical students and couldn’t help But notice the way you walk, but we couldn’t agree on the syndrome you might have. Could you tell us what it is?”

The old man said, “I’ll tell you, but first you tell me what you two fine medical students think.”
The first student said, “I think it’s Peltry Syndrome.”

The old man said, “You thought – but you are wrong.”

The other student said, “I think you have Zovitzki Syndrome.”

The old man said, “You thought – but you are wrong.”

So they asked him, “Well, old timer, what do you have?”

The old man said, “I thought it was GAS – but I was wrong, too!”


~Steve~                                          H/T    hujonwi

Book Review: “The Ultimate Obama Survival Guide”

Ultimate Obama Survival Guide

I read literally hundreds of books a year. My preferred technique is to read them for free from the library first, and then if the book is truly excellent, I buy a copy for myself. “The Ultimate Obama Survival Guide” by Wayne Allyn Root is a book I intend to buy ASAP.

“The Ultimate Obama Survival Guide” is actually three books in one. The first section lays out, in extraordinary fashion, the current mess our country. Lest anyone cry, “Conspiracy theory,” everything is documented, footnoted, and sourced.

I knew things were bad economically under aka Obama, but I had no idea just how bad until I read this book. However, Root throws out a ray of hope: more millionaires were made during the previous Great Depression than at any other time in our country’s history. Which leads to the book’s second section, in which he details specific strategies that Americans can use not only to survive our current depression, but actually thrive.

Root discusses the importance of gold and silver, becoming your own boss, investing in your children, escaping high tax states (New York, California, etc.) and moving to zero or low-tax states (Nevada, Texas, Florida, Wyoming, Alaska, etc.), and much more.

There’s an entire chapter on Texas (Did you know that from the year 2000 to 2010, more than half a million people moved from California to Texas, and that more jobs were created in Texas in the past decade than in the other 49 states combined?), and an entire chapter on Detroit (The most dangerous city in America. Of course, it’s been under complete Democratic control for over forty years).

The final third of Root’s book contains advice from successful Americans, many, perhaps all, millionaires, who provide their own advice on how to protect your wallet and thrive during our current depression.

This is a book you’ll want to read, re-read, and then recommend to friends. It’s an important book, not only well written and entertaining, but filled with useful and inspiring information. If every American, or even just 10% of America’s population read this book, our problems would soon be over. If you have children 12-years-old or older, I highly recommend giving them this book and discussing it with them. It may be one of the best things you ever do for them.

“The Ultimate Obama Survival Guide” by Wayne Allyn Root is a must-read.

Diet soda linked to more heart attacks in post-menopausal women


Reuters reports, March 29, 2014:

Diet drinks may increase the risk of heart attacks, stroke and other heart problems in postmenopausal women, according to an informal study that could take some fizz out of enjoyment of the popular beverages.

Compared to women who never or seldom consume diet drinks, those who drank two or more a day were 30% more likely to suffer a cardiovascular event and 50% more likely to die from related disease, researchers found.

The findings were gleaned from an analysis of diet drink intake and consequences among almost 60,000 participants in the Women’s Health Initiative, a long-running U.S. observational study of cardiovascular health trends among postmenopausal women.

“Our findings are in line with and extend data from previous studies showing an association between diet drinks and metabolic syndrome,” said Dr. Ankur Vyas of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, lead investigator of the study. The syndrome is associated with a cluster of risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and weight gain.

Results of the study were presented at the annual scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology, in Washington.

The average age of women in the diet drink study was 62.8, and they had to have had no history of cardiovascular disease to be included in the analysis.

Through a questionnaire, the women were asked to report their diet drink consumption over the previous three months. A drink was defined as a 12-ounce beverage and included both diet sodas and diet fruit drinks.

After an average followup of 8.7 years, a combination of negative outcomes including coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack, ischemic stroke, peripheral arterial disease and cardiovascular death were seen in some 8.5% of women who consumed two or more diet drinks a day.

That compared with 6.9% of women who had five to seven drinks per week, 6.8% having one to four drinks per week, and 7.2% in those having zero to three diet drinks per month.

“We only found an association, so we can’t say that diet drinks cause these problems,” Vyas said, adding that other factors may explain the apparent connection between diet drink consumption and risk of heart attack and stroke.

For instance, he noted that women who consumed two or more diet drinks per day were younger, more prone to be smokers, and had a higher prevalence of diabetes, high blood pressure and of being overweight.

Vyas said more studies are needed to more closely assess the risk of diet sodas and cardiovascular risks, if such a connection actually exists.

Previous studies have suggested a connection between artificially sweetened drinks and weight gain in adults and teens, and a likely increase in metabolic syndrome.

See also “14 reasons not to drink diet soda.”


Man committing random acts of kindness by giving out cash, detained in mental hospital


richard wright

Yahoo: Richard Wright was brightening the days of dozens of strangers in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) in Canada, by handing out C$50 and C$100 bills. As reported by Metro News , last week Wright was giving cash to different people he encountered in HRM and asking that the recipients, “thank God” for the gift and if they didn’t need the money, to pass it on to someone else. The Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) Royal Canadian Mounted Police were called to conduct a wellness check on Wright. So, when he was seen driving, officers stopped the generous man. After speaking with him, they felt that Mr. Wright needed “further assessment by a medical health person.”

Mr. Wright’s daughter, Chelsea, called attention to her father’s circumstances when she recently posted a photo of him and said that he had received “unfair” treatment by the hospital and the police. Her father has not been allowed to leave the hospital despite insistence that he is had no mental-health issues. Chelsea explained that her father worked hard to save money and when the family was on vacation in Halifax, he simply decided to share “some extra money” with those in need.

Health P.E.I. would not comment on Wright’s specific case, but released a statement saying, “A patient is always admitted at the clinical recommendation of a physician who has met with and assessed the patient.”

In an earlier report, Metro News noted that some who met Wright said that he told people he lived in the woods and spoke about, “…a movement coming to take the wealth from the ‘one percent’ and distribute it to the people.” Questions were then raised about the mental-health of the man and if it was right to accept his money. But Bev Cadham of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s local branch, said that that Wright had spoken to two people affiliated with the program. Cadham doesn’t believe he’s mentally ill, instead she said, “He’s a generous individual and is wrapped up in the acts of kindness, and is wanting to help people.”

Mr. Wright has many supporters who have started the Facebook group, #OpFreeRichardWright, calling for his release. In the group’s description, Wright’s advocates say that the giving man handed out the money anonymously because he did not want attention for his random acts of kindness.

Heaven forbid this man hand out cash, oh the horror! Progressive big government can’t have any of that. After all, the masses need dependency upon the government, not the kindness of strangers.

h/t Anon


Shadow diseases

Shadow diseases are pairs of diseases that tend to strike together.

As an example, if you are prone to migraine headaches, you may also be susceptible to heart attack and stroke. And if have a big belly/gut, you may also get kidney stones.

The following are 6 shadow diseases. If you have one of a pair, you should check with your doctor about its “shadow”.


metabolic syndrome

From Refreshing News, March 15, 2014:

Experts aren’t sure why some illnesses travel in pairs, but knowing your risk will help you stay safe.

For years, doctors have observed that patients with one illness may be stricken by another condition that’s seemingly unrelated and sometimes more serious, known as a “shadow disease.” One of the most well-known is the connection between migraines and heart attack or stroke. Now researchers are uncovering even more linked ailments and zeroing in on why they appear to travel in pairs.

Studies show that these couplings occur for different reasons. In some cases, one disease creates damage that causes the second illness. In others, troublesome genes or poor health behaviors, such as smoking or lack of exercise, trigger one problem, then the other. Being alert to the following dangerous connections can help you avoid the shadow disease or get early diagnosis and treatment, leading to a better outcome.

1. Migraine

Its shadow: Stroke or heart attack

If you regularly suffer from migraine pain (especially if you develop auras, which are visual or sensory phenomena that accompany the headache), your doctor has probably warned you about your susceptibility to heart attack or stroke. Now, thanks to recent findings, experts better understand which cardiac ailment is more likely to occur for any given migraine sufferer.

Frequency matters. If you have fewer than one migraine a month, you’re 50% more likely to have a heart attack than nonsufferers. If migraines strike at least weekly, you have 3 times the risk of stroke, compared with those who don’t have this problem, says study coauthor Tobias Kurth, MD, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.

Protect yourself: Unfortunately, existing research has not yet found that preventing migraines has the effect of lowering stroke or heart attack odds. However, by keeping your cardiovascular system as healthy as possible, you diminish your chance of a cardiac event, according to the National Stroke Association. To do this, control known hazards, such as high cholesterol and obesity, via diet and exercise. You should also quit smoking and limit alcohol intake (no more than one drink a day for women, according to the American Heart Association.)

2. Endometriosis

Its shadow: melanoma

In 2007, a huge, 12-year French study confirmed that women with endometriosis (in which tissue similar to the uterine lining grows outside the womb) are 62% more likely to suffer from melanoma. Researchers are unsure why endometriosis and the deadly skin cancer sometimes travel together, but one possibility is a genetic defect that triggers both conditions.

Protect yourself: If you have endometriosis, ask your doctor to scan your skin for melanoma, advises Jeffrey P. Callen, MD, a professor of dermatology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. You can also do a self-check of your moles. If anything suspicious turns up, be sure to have it biopsied. Don’t panic, though. “When diagnosed very early, melanoma is nearly 100% curable,” Dr. Callen says.

3. High blood pressure

Its shadow: diabetes

Doctors have long wondered how high blood pressure and diabetes are related, because the two often appear together, especially in obese patients. Now, after following 38,000 midlife women for 10 years, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School report that constantly elevated blood pressure, or hypertension, doubles your risk of developing diabetes, regardless of your BMI. More surprising, the risk of diabetes goes up if your blood pressure increases over time—even if it stays under the hypertension threshold.

The two problems may have a common cause, says study author David Conen, MD, a research fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Potential culprits include high levels of inflammation in the body, he says, or a malfunction in the blood vessels’ inner lining, allowing blood cells to leak into surrounding tissue and damage it.

Protect yourself: If you have mild hypertension or are at risk for this problem, get tested for diabetes. You can help prevent onset of diabetes with lifestyle changes: Increase your physical activity, lose excess weight, limit salt, and stub out those cigarettes for good, suggests Dr. Conen.

4. Psoriasis

Its shadow: heart attack

The rough, itchy patches of psoriasis are more than uncomfortable and unsightly: They may increase your odds of a heart attack, concludes a study that followed half a million people for 5 years. The risk of a cardiac emergency was related to the severity of the psoriasis, the researchers determined; serious cases of the skin ailment could mean a more than doubled heart attack risk.

“The out-of-whack immune system that triggers the psoriasis may also cause inflammation that infiltrates the arteries of the heart,” explains study author Joel M. Gelfand, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Protect yourself: Will controlling the skin disease diminish the inflammation that can cause a heart attack? The idea makes sense but must be confirmed with further research, says Gelfand. You can also consider talking with your doctor about new psoriasis medications, including Amevive (generic name alefacept). They’re made from living sources, much as vaccines are. They may work, even if past treatments failed. In the meantime, Dr. Gelfand suggests keeping your heart healthy with diet and exercise.

5. Metabolic syndrome

Note: Metabolic syndrome is a disorder diagnosed by a co-occurrence of 3 out of 5 of the following medical conditions: abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting plasma glucose, high serum triglycerides, and low high-density cholesterol (HDL) levels.

Its shadow: kidney stones

Metabolic syndrome is a serious health condition associated with coronary heart attacks, diabetes, and even early death. You have it if you’ve got at least three of these five traits: excess abdominal fat, high blood triglycerides, low HDL (which is the good cholesterol), high blood pressure, and impaired glucose tolerance.

Now research reveals that metabolic syndrome could also be behind the rising rate of kidney stones. Your odds of developing them go up by 54% if you have two of the above traits; with three symptoms, your risk hits 70%, says the research.

Protect yourself: Obesity is a key player in both metabolic syndrome and kidney stones, perhaps because overweight people are likely to consume excess protein and sodium, which may cause the painful crystals to develop, says study coauthor Bradford Lee West, MD. Trimming your waistline reduces one of the metabolic syndrome traits and may diminish your chances of getting kidney stones, he says.

6. Asthma

Its shadow: depression and anxiety disorders

Studies reveal a striking connection between asthma and psychological problems, including depression and anxiety. In 2004, the CDC announced that 18% of patients with asthma report mental distress. “This link has been debated by scientists for about 20 years, but in the last half decade it has become more accepted,” says Bruce G. Bender, PhD, who is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

Research on military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder also confirmed the connection. Veterans with the greatest number of PTSD symptoms were more than twice as likely to have asthma as those with the mildest cases, reports study coauthor Renee D. Goodwin, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University. Speculates Bender: “One condition may lead to the other. Breathing difficulties may cause anxiety or even depression. Or psychological problems may make asthma worse.”

Protect yourself: If you know you have either asthma or mental health problems and suspect you have the other, get tested for it. Seek help for any confirmed illnesses so you don’t find yourself in a downward spiral, with each condition exacerbating the other one.