People in unhappy marriages are more likely to have bad hearts.

Well, to be precise, they're more likely to have thicker carotid arteries and be at higher risk of heart disease, according to University of Pittsburgh researchers.

The study looked at 281 healthy, employed, middle-aged adults who were married or living with a partner in a marital-like relationship. Their interactions were monitored hourly over the course of four days, with the partners rating their interactions as positive or negative.

SCOTT LAFEEThen the thickness of their carotid arteries were measured. These are the major arteries supplying blood from the heart to the head. Partners reporting more negative interactions were found to have thicker carotids. The study does not prove causality, only a correlation, but study author Thomas Karmarck said it's quite suggestive.

"Growing evidence suggests that the quality and patterns of one's social relationships may be linked with a variety of health outcomes, including heart disease. The contribution of this study is in showing that these sorts of links may be observed even during the earliest stages of plaque development (in the carotid artery) and that these observations may be rooted not just in the way that we evaluate our relationships in general, but in the quality of specific social interactions with our partners as they unfold during our daily lives."

Get me that — stat!

The citizens of Kazakhstan have the highest probability at birth (31.3 percent) of not reaching the age of 60, according to United Nations data. They're followed by Russians, natives of Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, and Ukrainians. Americans come in 24th on the abbreviated list of 48 countries with a 12.8 percent chance at birth of not reaching age 60.

Number cruncher

An avocado burrito from El Pollo Loco (408 grams) contains 490 calories, 162 from fat. It has 18 grams of total fat, or 28 percent of the recommended total fat intake for a 2,000-calorie daily diet, according to the database.

It also contains 85 milligrams of cholesterol (28 percent); 1,340 milligrams of sodium (56 percent); 54 grams of total carbohydrates (18 percent); 11 grams of dietary fiber (44 percent); 6 grams of sugar; and 34 grams of protein.


1 in 10 — Ratio of deaths due to excessive alcohol use among Americans ages 20-64

88,000 — Number of deaths between 2006 and 2010 blamed on excessive alcohol use

30 — Average number of years of shortened life for those who died

2.5 million — Number of years of potential life lost each year due to excessive alcohol use

51 per 100,000 — Highest death rate due to excessive drinking (New Mexico)

19.1 per 100,000 — Lowest (New Jersey)

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Doc talk

Asystole — a condition in which the heart no longer beats and usually cannot be restarted, i.e., flatlined

Mania of the week

Doramania — Obsession with owning furs

Never say diet

The speed-eating record for bacon is 54 slices in five minutes, held by Mark "The Human Vacuum" Lyle. Note: There is no truth to the rumor that in eating so much bacon Lyle made a pig of himself.


"My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished two bags of chips and a chocolate cake. I feel better already." — Unknown

Curtain calls

The ancient Greek intellectual Philitas of Cos is said to have studied arguments and debated word usage so intensely that he forgot to eat and starved to death. Modern scholars, however, have suggested Philitas' death was more likely due to cancer or a chronic infection.

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


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