Health News on Huffingtonpost.com|Amanda L. Chan
A new study of Bolivian villagers shows a link between having a younger brother and slightly increased blood pressure levels later on in adulthood, though the Brandeis University researchers did note that the effect seemed to diminish with age.
They found that the study participants who reported having a younger brother had as much as 5.9 percent higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels, than those who didn’t have a younger brother.
Therefore, “in a large family, the number of younger brothers may exert an impact on an individual’s blood pressure,” the researchers wrote in the Economics and Human Biology study.
Dear Youngest Brother,
Well, it turns out that it wasn’t the salt in my diet. It’s not the extra pounds I’ve got hovering around my waist. It’s not my job, my bank account or my extra gray hairs. It’s you, all YOU.
When you forced me to lower the amount of salt I consume in foods, I complied. I did! Gawd almighty, does food taste like crap now! That change alone has kicked up my stress level. I can no longer look at a potato chip without weeping.
This summer, before I insulated my home to R54,006, you “recommended” that I record the temperature of every wall and floor in my home and compare it with the outside temperature. I agreed to the task. Your detailed explanation on thermal imbalances was instructive. I tried to concentrate and listen, but all I could do was fret over the millions of molecules of expensively cooled air escaping to the outside. Just the mere act of walking around with you while you pointed your Fluke 561 Infrared Thermometer at each wall and floor in my home elevated my blood pressure.
And when you hooked up your MURATA – ACM20-2-AC1-R-C – AC POWER METER, 85VAC to 264VAC to every electrical device in my home to measure the power drain produced by each, I gritted my teeth and steeled myself against the stress of finding out that along with the billions of ions being sucked out of my electrical outlets, dollar bills were floating out of my bank account like a major butterfly migration. Al right. I suppose I don’t need to leave NPR on for my two dogs to listen to while I’m gone during the day.
I bought my freezer without having you there to check the kilowatts used per hour per year. But then I was so worried that the one I purchased wasn’t energy efficient enough, I was prepared to create and then paste a fake energy usage label over the one it came with. Look, little brother, my freezer uses .0000000000000000000001 kWh/year! Hey, I’m producing energy for the nation!
Why do I still tell people that gardening is relaxing? It was once long ago, when you lived full time in that desolate and desiccated area of Texas, unable to grow anything but cacti, rocks and scorpions. But after you moved a few blocks away and began to plant your own Gloating Victory Garden, things changed. I can’t possibly compete with someone who lovingly repositions his tomato plants every half hour to give them the full advantage of the sun’s rays. And who actually assists in the pollinating process. Telling me that your plant, which was potted just two days ago, now has 88 tomatoes on it sends my blood pressure up the giant’s beanstalk. Yes, of course, little brother, your beanstalk is much taller.
I can’t put plastic in the microwave anymore. I’ve been robbed of that convenience. Your admonishments about cancer causing agents leaching from the plastic has added significant seconds to my mealtimes. And now I have to wash an extra dish. Geez. If we’re going to go all formal like that, I might as well sit down at the table to eat instead of standing at the sink.
Thanks to you, younger brother, recycling is now my new religion, the altar, my recycling bin. Watch me dive into the trashcan to fish out a 1 cm x 1 cm piece of cardboard that accidentally fell into it. Watch the grocery store clerk glare at me when I toss a dozen apples onto the conveyer belt because I can’t bring myself to use the store’s plastic bags. Look at my collection of furniture and trinkets I made out of Styrofoam because I can’t bear to throw it in the regular trash.
Ignorance was bliss. And, it was less stressful. Now that you’ve helped convince me that global climate change is here, I cannot touch the thermostat, the light switch, any power-on button, or drive somewhere in my car without hearing that little brotherly voice of reason and reproach. I sweat in the summer, freeze in the winter, squint my eyes in a dimly lit home, and I walk everywhere. It could be worse. I could be living in a yurt in the middle of Idaho’s hinterlands.
OF COURSE our little sister has the blood pressure of a reptile sleeping in the shade. Or of a pillow. She doesn’t have a younger brother. She can compete with you, argue with you, get peeved with you, but HER stress level remains subterranean. I’m her stress bag. You, younger brother, are the lightning, sister is the kite string, and I am the metal key and Mr. Ben Franklin.
But let me say this last thing: Everyone, EVERYONE, would benefit from having a younger brother. The benefits far outweigh any disadvantages. I can do without the salt, the AC, the illumination and all the rest. I can’t do without a younger brother.