Restless leg syndrome is “genetic”, researchers tell us. (Technically, the research simply proves that some folks are more susceptible to developing RLS. This is a common thread in genetic research; by no means does that mean the research isn’t inherently valuable. It just means we need to stop blaming our grandparents when we develop diseases that are preventable through smarter lifestyle choices. Your “bad genes” aren’t a license to shirk personal responsibility.)
Restless leg syndrome has to be one of my favorite modern diseases. I could swear it is a profitable invention out of the imagination of our Big Pharma friends – if I didn’t know that the pharmaceutical industry would never do such a thing. Restless leg syndrome occurs overwhelmingly in overweight, inactive individuals. It’s a very logical consequence of an unhealthy lifestyle. In fact, with our tremendous rates of obesity and collective detestation of exercise, it’s a condition that makes perfect sense. It’s entirely preventable, but once again, we’ve manufactured a “disease” and the inevitable accompanying drugs.
I propose: The Invent Your Own Disease Contest
1. Your disease must identify at least one symptom of sedentary behavior, poor diet, weight gain or other unhealthy lifestyle choice. Bonus points for multiple-symptom diseases.
2. Your disease must disappear entirely with exercise, reduced caloric intake and a healthy lifestyle.
3. Your disease must be named after the symptom(s) it represents. It should sound made-up, just like Restless Leg Syndrome. No Latin.
Example: Roll Discomfort Syndrome. This disease is defined by an excessively large stomach roll which creates discomfort when attempting certain physical postures, e.g. curling up in bed, hunching over one’s computer, and leaning over to pick up the cat. There is a genetic component to Roll Discomfort Syndrome. If you have a history of obesity in your family, you may be at risk for Roll Discomfort Syndrome. There are medications to alleviate sensation and discomfort in this area of the body. You do not have to suffer any longer!
Note: there is a neurological component to some cases of RLS that is legitimate and typically unrelated to lifestyle. For example, RLS can afflict those with diabetes, Parkinson’s, anemia, and peripheral neuropathy. That said, addressing the underlying cause will usually alleviate RLS symptoms. But please. The “RLS” drug you see advertised direct-to-consumer on primetime television is not for these folks. This “disease treatment” is a way to make money off two vast and connected public health threats: obesity and inactivity.
P.S. Don’t forget to submit pictures of your fruit bowl to the Bees. A couple that have come in so far look great. Looking forward to seeing yours.