When it comes to being a human on planet Earth, there exists an endless array of things that threaten your fragile, individual existence. I’m not just talking about jay-walking, drinking two or more cokes a day or living in Australia. I’m talking about the things that will do you in, or bring you to the brink of death, that you’ve never heard of.
Being a cannibal
In case you lean towards Dr. Lecter’s affinity for exotic cuisine, you may want to consider at least avoid eating human brains. Kuru disease, suggested to be the human version of Mad Cow, is, not surprisingly one of the rarest diseases on the planet. It is transmitted among members of the Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea, so delete that country off your bucket list, and the name means “trembling with fear”. The symptoms, caused by infectious brain particles that lead to brain and nervous system changes, instigate pathological bursts of laughter, which is admittedly not the scariest thing a cannibal might do to you.
Four kids or more
And it has nothing to do with an inheritance conspiracy. Rather, according to the Dallas Heart Study, women with that many young are twice more likely to develop heart disease than mothers of less children.
Even though the study claims the reason being increased body stress from the pregnancies, moms in the real world may wish to expand on that very narrow opinion. Either way, it would be wise for affected mothers to spend their very little free time on monitoring their blood pressure, cholesterol and try to remember to take care of their general well-being.
Saying cheers to Daylight Savings
There is a 24% spike in the number of heart attacks on the Monday following Daylight Savings Time in March, when we jump into Spring. This is in stark contradiction to the 21% drop when we Fall back in November.
According to interventional cardiologist, Hitinder Gurm, it has to do with circadian rhythms (link to last week’s sleep blog). It is based on the heart’s sensitivity to sleep-wake cycles of the body and the resultant significant influence that sleep deprivation has on heart disease related risk factors.
Refusing to be a cat, or dog lady
The University of Oxford had the courage to study more than 700 000 women for eight years. It found, contrary to what most women would think, that those who lived with a partner were 28% less likely to die from heart disease than those who lived alone. Loneliness leading to depression was found to be one of the greatest risk factors for those in a solo habitat and any other space co-occupier could be a life saver.
Guinea Worm Disease
Just in case you have not deleted Guinea off that list yet, this disease is a parasitic infection cause by a type of round worm. It enters your body if you drink stagnant water containing its larvae.
There is a chance that, a full year after infection, blisters will start to form on your arms and legs. Once the painful blisters burst, worms will be exposed, but the worms can survive under the skin for multiple years. Removal requires winding it very slowly around a stick day by day until it is completely removed. Sounds similar to a House episode? In that case you will know that even though you might have wished you didn’t have to live to experience it, this squatter worm won’t kill you.
Maybe not with the pitchforks of the angry mob, but operating like Dracula
Yes, uncurbed exposure to the sun can wrinkle your skin and cause a variety of diseases, including cancer. Vitamin-D, which you get from direct sunlight on your skin, also helps regulate the immune system and prevent inflammation however.
A study showed that patients with low level of Vitamin-D had a 32% greater chance that others to have coronary artery disease, resulting from arterial inflammation. Therefore, as with so many other things, there is a very fine balance that you should be trying to maintain. Prevent a Vitamin-D deficiency by getting enough sun, but avoid the harmful UV rays of midday.
Even after all this, there is no reason to feel blue. Mostly because you can’t pull it off as well as the Fugates from Kentucky. The family members lived in the area well past the age of 80 until quite recently. Their actual blue skin, a genetic condition passed on from generation to generation, may not have caused any other illnesses, but may have reduced tourism in their parts of the Appalachians until the 1960s. Martin Fugate came to Troublesome Creek from France in 1820 and family folklore says he was one of the first blues. He married Elizabeth Smith, who also carried the recessive gene. Of their seven children, four were reported to be blue. The last blue person should be around 40 now, but no one seems to be able to figure out if he’s still around.