Health Headlines: 5 Common Mental Illnesses Share DNA Roots

Plus: Heart disease and cancer were responsible for 50 percent of all deaths in the U.S. in 2010; Lyme Disease growing in Mass., and more health news.

Five of the most common mental illnesses share the same DNA roots, according to the largest study of its kind on genetics and mental health by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital. The study, published last week in the journal, Lancet, says that five most common mental illnesses — autism, attention deficit disorder, bipolar disease, schizophrenia, and major depression — all have a common genetic root. Researchers looked at the genetics of more than 33,000 psychiatric patients and compared them to nearly 28,000 people without mental illness. Dr. Jordan Smoller, who led the study, told NBC News that, “We didn’t know going in that we would be able to find commonality with such a broad array of disorders.” [NBC News]

Massachusetts urged to step up Lyme Disease prevention efforts in a special committee report. About 14,000 reports of Lyme disease are confirmed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health each year but officials say the real numbers could be 10 times that due to underreporting. Lyme disease is spreading at alarming rates in Mass. as the tick-carrying deer population grows and new housing is built on natural habitats. [WBUR]

The CDC says that in 2010, heart disease and cancer were responsible for 50 percent of deaths in the United States. The new chart, released last week by the CDC, lists the top 10 causes of death is the U.S in 2010 (in order) as: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, unintentional injuries, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, nephritis (kidney inflammation), influenza and pneumonia, and suicide. [CDC]

Have bad PMS? Eat more iron, and less potassium. According to a new study published online in The American Journal of Epidemiology, a 10-year study of more than 3,000 women has found that dietary iron may reduce the risk for premenstrual syndrome, while potassium intake may increase it. [NY Times]

Brain scans may reveal your political affiliation. A study out of the University of California found that in participants who voted Democrat, gray matter showed more activation in the left posterior insula, the region linked with empathy and emotion. Conservatives, however, flexed their right amygdala more often when making decisions. That brain region is associated with fear, reward, and a fight-or-flight response. Sounds about right. [The Body Odd]