ICYMI: Simple Answers To Complicated Health Questions

Cutting through the noise in a single sentence.

ICYMI Health features what we're reading this week.

This week, we sought out simple answers to tough health questions. While such questions require a degree of nuance -- if they didn't, they wouldn't be tough, right? -- consider this an at-a-glance guide to some of the week's most interesting health findings, a jumping off point to explore the research in more detail.

Read on and tell us in the comments: What did you read and love this week?

Q: Why do people with certain psychiatric conditions tend to date each other?

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A: People tend to pair with partners who are similar to them.

It's not your imagination. According to a large-scale Swedish study published in JAMA Psychiatry, people with one of 11 different psychiatric conditions were more likely to find a mate with one of those disorders. (People with schizophrenia, for example, were seven times more likely to pick a partner with the same condition.)

While the reasons for paring off with a like-minded individual are definitive, researchers believe that the sexual selection process of assortative mating -- basically choosing to mate with someone who has similar characteristics -- could be at play.

"At a certain level, individuals feeling that their way of looking at the world is shared are drawn together,” Victor Reus, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved with the study, told Scientific American.

The researchers did not find any significant romantic association among individuals who suffered from non-psychiatric conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.

Q: Do homeless people face unique health challenges beyond addiction and mental health issues?

A: Yes, particularly diseases linked to poverty, including "astonishingly high" rates of cognitive impairment.

Thinking problems, visual impairment, and urinary incontinence -- conditions usually associated with elderly individuals -- are also common among middle-aged homeless people, a new study finds.

“I think in a sense this is a problem of severe poverty,” Dr. Margot B. Kushel, professor of medicine at University of California's San Francisco General Hospital and senior study author, told Reuters.

Lack of access to health care, the stress associated with being homeless, and chronic substance use, a problem that impacts more than a third of sheltered adults who are homeless, are just three of the constellation of factors that prematurely age the nation's homeless population.

MORE: Reuters

Q: How can we close the black-white sleep gap?

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A: Grassroots outreach and designing sleep hygiene recommendations that aren't just for privileged people.

A recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report revealed that a third of Americans aren't getting enough sleep. That's terrible enough. But the report also highlighted a second insidious problem: Black Americans are getting significantly less sleep than their white counterparts and are more likely to suffer from sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia.

When researchers talked to the residents of Mission Hill, a low-income, African-American neighborhood in Boston, they found that the obstacles to residents' sleep were largely practical. Residents were stressed out, lived on noisy streets and held jobs that involved shift work, meaning conventional public health messaging about regular sleep patterns and practicing good sleep hygiene don't address the root of their sleeplessness.

Perhaps we shouldn't have expected anything different. The tools used to study sleep are frequently designed for one demographic -- white men -- and don't take practical obstacles to sleep into account.

The solution? Like other public health problems, there's no easy answer, but more thoughtful studies on minority populations and practical recommendations that consider the sleep obstacles working-class Americans face would be a good start.

The Harbor Homeless Camp In Hawaii

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