Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
23 Jul

Disease Inventing Contest!

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.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Radical. That was awesome. When I first saw and ad for RLS meds I thought it was a sketch comedy show or something!

    groovalicious wrote on July 23rd, 2007
  2. How about SLS – Slow Locomotion Syndrome – or CMD – Can’t Move Disorder?

    Robert wrote on July 23rd, 2007
  3. Do you suffer from wanting to answer the phone when you are driving? The phone rings and you know you might crash if you try to type in your password to unlock your blackberry. It keeps ringing and you just know it’s going to go to voicemail before you can get it. As the risks of rush hour traffic continue, your thumbs frantically work the keys. It could be a coworker organizing a team lunch. Does this sound like you? Well, you could be suffering from a completely treatable condition called CRS, also known as Can’t Relax Syndrome. CRS affects a large number of people who go undiagnosed each year. Every day many Americans suffer from this completely treatable disease.

    The disease resides in the thumbs and Pfizerry can help.

    Ask your doctor about Pfizerry.

    Abraham Williams wrote on July 24th, 2007
  4. CRS is linked to Social Stimulus Addiction. SSA is a dangerous and powerful addiction that affects individuals’ ability to function in a self-sufficient capacity or isolated state for longer than two minutes. Insecuria can help.

    Mark wrote on July 25th, 2007
  5. hi nice post, i enjoyed it

    Lila wrote on August 18th, 2007
  6. Do your homework before posting ignorant comments. The majority of people who suffer are actaully pregnant women, people with MS, people who recently had surgery, and other, healthy, NOT FAT, active people like myself.

    RLS Sufferer wrote on January 30th, 2008
  7. They already have a great one..”Fibromyalgia” Sorry, that’s not real. The symptoms of it are identical to things like arthritis (which many of the people have) so, while they may have very real symptoms, I don’t believe this ‘disease’ exists.

    I think it’s a way to group together a bunch of common ailments and sources of pain into yet another new, catchy syndrome for which they can invent new meds.

    My boyfriend is an MD, and he calls it “fat, whiny bitch syndrome” so I guess that fits in with sedentary lifestyle causes for ya.

    Rachel wrote on February 15th, 2009
    • That’s nice. A proper investigation of what it is ought to be in order, instead of just labeling people, yanno? Seems that some people that are diagnosed with it really have a messed up thyroid, and the pain goes away with treatment.

      In any case, I’d like to know what’s *really* going on when my muscles get pressed just a little bit, then erupt in massive pain, cause the docs seem to have labeled it “fat, whiny bitch syndrome” and completely discount it. A diet centered around grass-fed ruminant meat and some movement help quite a bit, but it’s hard to move enough when your pain responses are completely screwed up. In my case, I get hurt easily because I don’t feel any pain at all, ever, when I exercise until many hours later, even if my muscles get so fatigued they’re useless. The results are worth it, however, despite the occasional day when I’m not as careful as I should be.

      I think fibromyalgia more of a label when people in modern medicine have given up or are annoyed and don’t want to figure out what the problem is. It doesn’t help that they don’t know squat about biochem or human nutrition, and so give people recommendations that will make them fatter and the pain worse. Especially when the same underlying metabolic dysfunctions that are causing their problems are what are making them fat and crazy in the first place.

      I do apologize about the rant, but I’m tired of the general bias against fat people in medicine, as if they can’t be sick simply because they’re fat (also works for too thin, or too pretty, or whatever the excuse of the day is). I’m fat as hell, but I’m also working to correct the problem, and luckily, I have the brain, the stubborness, and the general distrust to figure out how to go about it. Most people trust authority figures, because people are *wired* to be like that. It’s cute to think that these things are the result of some moral failing when it’s the inevitable result of biochemistry coming to bite you in the ass, but it helps no one.

      The current “healthy” recommendations are killing us. Most people are too trusting, too stupid, or too indoctrinated to realize this. These same people think that because the recommendations have been “proven” to be good for us, that when people get diseases, either they must be unrelated, or because of some flaw of character. They then relegate the things they don’t understand to obscure categories where they don’t have to think about them further.

      Give me a break.

      Ginger wrote on December 18th, 2009
    • Lovely. This “fat whiny bitch” used to be a fantastic athlete, student, and waitress/bartender. Oh, and isn’t fat. And whines less than the MDs of whom she shows up in their office. Thanks but no thanks for the prejudice, jackass.

      Erica wrote on September 10th, 2011
  8. Re Restless leg

    I’d sure like to know what I’ve got, then, if it is supposedly a ‘manufactured thing’. As a young child I had terrible problems with weird feelings in my legs. It was off and on growing up and sometime in my wrists and with both I’d lay pinning them in some weird position just to get the feeling to stop or be covered by the pain of the weird position. It stopped for a number of years, but for the last many, it’s back on my left side. I still am seeking the answer to this. I think acupuncture I did in my 20’s to 30’s helped but I haven’t done it for a long time and so the problem is back. Anyway, it’s real….whatever it is. And, if anyone has suggestions, I welcome them. I saw on a different page about a bar of soap. Sounds kind of…err, odd…but desperate times call for…

    Great website Mark! Thanks.

    PS perhaps these odd things that people are experiencing more and more are due to toxic ‘soup’ chemical experiment going on in our society with all our chemical products?

    Deanna wrote on March 27th, 2011
  9. RE: Restless Leg Syndrome and Fibromyalgia;
    There are people out there with symptoms of disease but no diagnosis. Allopathic Medicine doesn’t have all the answers. In medical school one is taught pattern recognition. It allows doctors to identify disorders quickly and apply appropriate treatment.
    In some circumstances, this backfires and groups of people with symptoms are classified together rather than symptoms grouped and studied to discover the disease. Eventually, like all other diseases, the syndromes and symptoms become cleared and better defined and then treatments can be applied.
    Abusing people who have illness because of the Ignorance of Medicine is not appropriate and I am disappointed by the many posts on this website. This ganging up on people suffering is not cool.
    Many of those in Medicine do truly dislike people with Fibromyalgia but, there are many people with this disorder who are quite nice and seemingly normal; But, don’t doubt their pain it is real.
    I have seen it on a patient with no narcotic addition under enough sedation to require breathing assistance; an exaggerated-pain response to cool water irrigating an incision.
    The pain is real. Why they have it, what they have, we don’t know. These people deserve study and support, not disdain.

    As for causes, we should start where most Medicine dare not tread, dietary intake. I believe that much of what doctors treat in chronic conditions would not exist if Paleo principles of nutrition were followed. But, Medical school teaches nothing about w3/w6 ratios of fat intake; nothing about ancestral nutrient levels. Why would doctors ever look under a rock they don’t even know exists?

    anklefootmd wrote on September 5th, 2011
  10. Mark, I am a big fan of and you and your site, I eat primal and I am working on ways to incorporate more primal things in my life. I have also suffered from RLS for my whole life, as long as I can remember. For most of my life I have been a slim and ative person. I am carrying a little mummy weight at the moment, bit I am losing it. I came to this article as I did a search to see if you had some suggestions to help me with what is a torturous condition. RLS is very far from being a made up condition – the relief I felt when I first read a description of my suffering and realised it had a name was immense. Imagine my distress when I realised it was not curable. I have tried everything.

    I do now know why I suffer from RLS and it is because of the Hypermobility Syndrome aka Ehlers Danlos Sundrome type 3 that I only succeeded in having diagnosed 2 years ago. People with HMS/EDS3 are very prone to RLS, due to the fact that it is so easy to overwork the muscles of hypermobile people.

    Contrary to popular belief and to the recommednations of various GPs, activity worsens my RLS – the only HP who has ever understood me when I said this was the specialist Hypermobility physio, who has done me more good than all my other HPs in my life put together. She understood why exercise made my RLS worse not better and made me realise I am not mad.

    Now this would not stop me from being active. I will never let my RLS stop me from being active, because that would be letting it win. I have recently taken up Argentine Tangp ([playing – check, exercise – check) – I love it and it is certainly helping me to tackle some of those hard to tackle problems like my abdominals (which are harder to keep strong for hypermobile people). It is helping to tone me up. I love it and wouldn’t stop for the world. But it’s making my RLS worse – like all activity does.

    This is a miserable, life destroying thing. while I would not normally wish misery on anyone, I do wish those people who deny the existence of RLS (in fit healthy people) could experience just one night of it. one night would be enough to make you feel some sympathy.

    I have never had a night without it in my life. I eat primal, I am usually slim and fit. I am active. Weight when I have retained has never made any difference. The only thing I know for definite that makes a difference is exercise, which makes it worse.

    Please think twice in future before you claim that a debilitating, torturous condition that some people suffer from for their entire lives is either imaginary or due to poor lifestyle choices.

    Meg wrote on March 4th, 2013
  11. I echo meg’s comment above. I am not lazy or obese but have had a terrible bout with this for the last 6 months. I do remember a practioner mentioning it could be related to parasites. A treatment is Olive Leaf…..

    Pam wrote on March 4th, 2013
  12. Mark, I hope you revisit RLS and do so with more respect. I love your website and I recently realized I have RLS, or something close to it. I’ve had this awful feeling in my legs off and on for years, and have decided to do something about it. I wanted to see if you had any advice on it, since I love your website.

    I’m a slim, fit, primal person who has restless legs. It’s nothing to laugh at. It’s very frustrating.

    Kathleen wrote on August 9th, 2013
    • Try magnesium supplements before bedtime, an exercise called Hoe-Downs (from T-Tapp), identify foods or other causes that might be causing your immune system to go into overdrive and take preventative measures. This is what worked for me. HTH.

      Alison Golden wrote on August 9th, 2013
  13. I represented Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics (athletics) and I suffer from RLS. Is it because I am a whiny, lazy, fat person?

    I realise that this site is meant to be satirical (or whatever the American equivalent is), but simply mocking people for their problems isn’t funny or helpful.

    Super Athlete wrote on October 14th, 2013
  14. RLS is something I have experienced, but is caused by nutritional deficiency, mostly foliate.

    It’s a weird feeling. It’s like trying to describe why an itch makes you want to scratch. I got it from being inactive, sitting in postures that limited circulation (specially eay when being out of shape). The biggest key was (surprise) a bad diet. My mother had a book from the 60’s that listed it as a foliate deficiency. When I improved my diet, it went away.

    I find that book (out of print and I cannot find online now) to have lots of info on illnesses and their nutritional causes. It’s funny how the “new” studies keep coming out with things that have been known for a long time, namely that diet and nurtition are the real cause of many illnesses.

    justforfun wrote on January 1st, 2014

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