1. Psychological distress boosts risk of death

    Don't get buried under life's lemons

    Here in the Northeast, we call these the "dog days" of summer.

    And when it's hot and humid like this, I appreciate a good afternoon storm to cool things down and wash all that stickiness away.

    If only it were so easy to wipe the slate clean of life's other problems!

    Life gives everyone lemons from time to time. But if it feels like the sun rarely comes out for you... and your anxiety about your troubles never seems to "blow over"... you don't want to just grin and bear it.

    ESPECIALLY if you have heart disease (or think you may be at risk for it).

    Because according to a new study, living with chronic psychological distress makes it more likely that you'll die from heart disease... or, for that matter, any cause.

    The study, published in the journal Heart, involved 475 coronary artery disease patients who reported on how much psychological distress they felt in their lives over a four-year period.

    Twelve years later, it turned out that those who regularly suffered from moderate or severe psychological distress in the first four years of the study were THREE times more likely to die of any cause, compared to those who suffered only occasional or mild distress.

    And here's the kicker for your ticker: The most distressed participants were FOUR times more likely to die of heart disease compared to the least distressed!

    The theory is that mental anguish can make your body go into "fight or flight" mode, which boosts your levels of stress hormones.

    Over time, those hormones can contribute to elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even diabetes -- all risk factors for heart disease.

    We already know that heart disease is America's number one killer, so why do ANYTHING to give it a helping hand?

    If you're struggling with anxiety, depression, or anything else that's got you feeling down, it's not hopeless. Here are a few simple steps you can take to clear those clouds away:

    • Talk it out: Don't be afraid to share your stresses with a friend, family member, clergy member, or professional. Studies show that having social support is critical to making sure life's struggles don't keep you down.
    • Step outside: The vitamin D you soak up from the sun while outdoors is a natural mood-booster, but studies show that even just LOOKING at the birds, trees, and other greenery in your own "Garden of Eden" can lift your spirits.
    • Strike a pose: The gentle activity of yoga boosts "feel-good" brain chemicals, while its calming meditation component helps you weather whatever storm is brewing.
    • Boost your bugs: Balancing your gut with probiotics ("good" bacteria) has been shown to ease your mind.

    But whatever you do, you don't want to start popping antidepressant pills. Those drugs come with some pretty scary side effects -- and half the time, they don't even work!

    Instead, there are safe, natural supplements like magnesium, gingko, and St. John's wort that can all ease depression and/or anxiety. Talk to a doc who's well-versed in integrative medicine about finding the right regimen for you.

  2. Medical mistakes are now third leading cause of death

    Going in for "routine" surgery? Read this first!

    Mistakes are a part of life.

    You're not immune to them... but sometimes we assume that the people who take care of us in the hospital are.

    I mean, they're the "experts," right?

    Well, according to recent research out of Johns Hopkins, that assumption could be dead wrong -- because the new study reveals that mistakes made during hospitalization kill a quarter-million people every year!

    That makes it the NUMBER THREE cause of death, right behind heart disease and all types of cancer. And even though errors made by medical professionals kill more people than any single type of cancer, stroke, or even Alzheimer's disease, you never hear about it.

    Maybe the night nurse gives you the wrong dose of your meds ... or gives you the wrong meds altogether. But maybe it's something far worse, like someone leaving an instrument or a sponge inside of you after surgery.

    And worse yet, no one may even KNOW about the mistake until you're getting sicker, becoming disabled, or on death's door.

    The scary thing is that as high as those numbers of deaths are, they probably don't stop there. The study limited its statistics to only deaths while patients were being hospitalized -- so that doesn't include deaths resulting from outpatient treatment or in-office procedures, or patients who died from the error after returning home from the hospital.

    And the data used by the researchers came from the hospitals themselves, which are required to "self-report" incidences like this.

    But do you know any doc who would actually take responsibility for such a fatal flaw in his treatment? So if they can find ANYTHING else to blame, the real cause of death goes unreported.

    As I've shared with you before, you're likely to fall victim to at least one medical error in your lifetime. So while the odds may not be in your favor, you can try to prevent the errors from happening in the first place.

    If something your doc tells you doesn't make sense, ask him to explain it. If he won't, he's probably the wrong doctor for you, so don't be afraid to get a second opinion. He's not in charge of your health; you are.

    Now, when you're in the hospital, you may not have your wits about you enough to question every time someone comes around with a needle or a pill. Make sure a family member or friend knows what you're taking, how much, and when, so they can double-check for you.

    Ideally, with a holistic approach to your health, you can stay out of the hospital and avoid unnecessary drugs and surgeries -- which will keep you out of the line of fire when it comes to mistakes made by doctors and their staff.

  3. Tylenol for anxiety?

    Tylenol is already overused -- and now, it might be abused even more as researchers claim it can help with existential worry.
  4. Don't blame the meat -- blame the bun!

    A new study claims processed meats will kill you -- but only thanks to some flawed logic. Grab a hot dog and get the real scoop here.
  5. Fight bites right

    The only good mosquito is a dead mosquito -- but thanks to the federal ban on the pesticide DDT, they're practically a protected species.
  6. Poor sleep can make you fat, sick, and diabetic

    Not getting enough sleep? Asleep at all the wrong times? Consider this your wakeup call -- because poor sleep habits can throw your metabolism so far out of whack you'll end up with diabetes or worse... MUCH worse.
  7. The killer that came from nowhere

    A few years ago, no one had even heard of Clostridium difficile. Today, this nasty gut bacteria is the Hannibal Lecter of hospitals and nursing homes, wiping out seniors with ruthless efficiency.
  8. Drop everything and read this

    If you have a loved one battling dementia in a care facility, drop what you're doing and check his or her list of meds. The word you're looking for is "haloperidol" (a.k.a. Haldol). It's an antipsychotic drug, and if it's on the list, demand that it be taken off RIGHT NOW.
  9. Aspirin as dangerous as rat poison

    Here's an easy way to make stomach-wrecking aspirin look downright reasonable: Just compare it to something even worse. That's always the story behind any study that gives aspirin a thumbs-up, and this latest one is no different.
  10. Don't trust new Gardasil 'study'

    You'd have to be on the Merck payroll to believe the company's dangerous HPV vaccine is actually safe. And sure enough, the latest study to make that claim was funded by none other than Merck itself.

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