Unhealthy Relationships

By Scott LaFee

November 20, 2019 6 min read

Which is worse for your health: a troubled relationship with a significant other or prolonged problems with parents, siblings and extended family members?

It's long been known that strained intimate relationships can have a significant adverse effect on physical health, but new research suggests the negative impacts of family strife are more harmful, measurably worsening chronic health conditions.

"We found that family emotional climate had a big effect on overall health, including the development or worsening of chronic conditions such as stroke and headaches over the 20-year span of midlife," said study author Sarah B. Woods of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. "Contrary to previous research, which found that intimate relationships had a large effect on physical health, we did not get the same results."

The study surveyed almost 3,000 adults three times over a period from 1995 to 2014, asking about health status and relevant environmental conditions, such as family relations and support. The researchers found that greater family relationship strain was associated with a greater number of chronic conditions and worse health appraisal 10 years later during the second and third rounds of data collection.

Sweetness and Blight

Nearly two-thirds of children's drinks sold in 2018 were beverages with added sugar or artificial sweeteners, according to a new report by the University of Connecticut's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

More than $2 billion in children's drinks were sold last year, but only $800 million worth (roughly 38%) were drinks consisting of 100% fruit juice or water blends. Beverage companies spent nearly $5 million more on advertising sugar-sweetened drinks than they did on advertising unsweetened drinks, resulting in kids ages 2-11 seeing twice as many ads for the former than the latter.

Increased consumption of sugary drinks has been linked to rising obesity rates in both adults and children, in addition to other health issues.

Get Me That, Stat!

Bad seeds: Investigators at the National Institutes of Health have found that sesame allergy is common among children with other food allergies, occurring in an estimated 17% of this population.


60: Estimated percentage increase in cancer cases projected from 2018 to 2040

24: Percentage of cancer deaths due to smoking

2.3: Number of people, in millions, who died in 2017 worldwide due to tobacco-related cancers

Sources: American Cancer Society, World Health Organization, Union for International Cancer Control

Doc Talk

Deglutition: The act of swallowing, derived from the Latin word meaning "to swallow down." The related word "glutton" means to eat to excess.

Phobia of the Week

Diplophobia Diplophobia: Fear of double vision

Best Medicine

Q: Why do nurses carry red magic markers?

A: In case they have to draw blood.


"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, 'Wow! What a ride!'" — American author and founder of "gonzo journalism" Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005), who committed suicide by gunshot at the age of 67

Medical History

This week in 1970, Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling declared that large doses of vitamin C could ward off the common cold, estimating the optimal daily intake of vitamin C for most people was 3,000 milligrams a day. While many scientists and doctors immediately disputed the notion, Pauling's recommendation became widely popular. Pauling himself took as much as 18,000 milligrams a day. Multiple subsequent studies have found vitamin C does not prevent colds and only minimally reduces severity or length of symptoms.

The current recommended maximum daily allowance of vitamin C, according to the National Institutes of Health, is 2,000 milligrams, which can typically be reached through normal diet and does not require supplementation.

Med School

Q: How many types of bone are there? Bonus points: Name the types of bone tissue.

A: There are five types of bone in the human body. Long bones are those that comprise the limbs, supporting weight and movement. Short bones are those found in the wrists and ankles. Flat bones are those of the skull and sternum. Sesamoid bones are embedded in tendons, such as the patella or kneecap. Irregular bones don't fit any of the previous categories and usually have an unusual shape, such as the spine and pelvis.

There are two types of bone tissue: Compact or cortical bone is the hard outer layer. It is dense, strong and durable and comprises 80% of adult bone mass. Cancellous or trabecular bone consists of a sponge-like network of tissue. Lighter, less dense and more flexible, it's found in parts of the skeleton not subject to great mechanical stress, such as the ribs, shoulder blades and skull.


"We Finally Found A Place to Park in Georgetown!" — Tombstone marking the graves of Katharine Phelps Brown Ivison and Sterling Hollinshead Ivison Jr.

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: plicka at Pixabay

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