By Diane Mapes, (LifeWire) — There are toilet-paper tiffs, thermostat scuffles, ongoing debates over money, sex and the television remote. And then there are the laundry wars.

“My husband has this thing with laundry that drives me nuts,” says Amelia Zatik-Sawyer, a 28-year-old mother of two in Cleveland.
“He’s supposed to wash and I’m supposed to fold, but he does like 10 loads at a time and then dumps it all on the bed. With two little kids, I don’t have time to fold 10 loads all at once, so I’ll leave it. And then he’ll come home and throw it into the closet so he can get into bed. And then it just spirals out of control from there.”

For many couples, spats are a necessary evil, something to endure or avoid (for the sake of the kids!). But new research at the University of Michigan shows that hashing out marital disagreements is actually good for your health. It’s squelching anger, especially when you feel you’ve been wronged, that’s dangerous.

A study published in January followed 192 married couples in Michigan from 1971 to 1988 and found that those who kept their anger in when unfairly attacked did not live as long as those who expressed their anger, says lead study author Ernest Harburg, Ph.D., an emeritus research scientist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health and psychology department.

“We’re all interested in longevity,” says Harburg, who’s studied the health effects of spousal sparring for over 30 years. “We watch our diet, we exercise. Now we need to add ‘express anger constructively’ to that list.”

Women in particular may put their health at risk by holding back during arguments with their spouse, a 10-year study of 4,000 men and women from Framingham, Massachusetts, found. “Women who ‘self-silenced’ during conflict with their spouse, compared with women who did not, had four times the risk of dying, ” according to findings published in 2007 in the journal “Psychosomatic Medicine.”

Don’t Miss

But high schools don’t offer Squabbling 101. So what are the nuts and bolts of a healthy fight?

Express Yourself

Harburg says the first step is to let the person know you’re mad — the sooner, the better.

“You can either express your anger directly or you can say, ‘That makes me angry, but I don’t want to talk about it now; let’s discuss it later’,” he says. “But in order to solve the problem, you need to first express your emotions.”

For some, even acknowledging a problem can be a problem.

Eunice Verstegen of Seattle, a program manager for a large county agency, says her upbringing in Wisconsin prevented her from voicing her true feelings with her first husband, who was her polar opposite politically, emotionally and even gastronomically.

“I was taught to be nice and to keep my feelings buried,” she says. “And as a result, I was silently miserable. But with my second husband, if something bothers me, I don’t let it simmer. I speak right up.”

Don’t pout, let it out

Others let their actions do the talking.

“When I’m mad about something, I’ll do the heavy sighing thing or toss the silverware as I unload the dishwasher, which drives my husband nuts,” says Jackie Papandrew, 44, a syndicated columnist from Largo, Florida. “To him, the silent treatment is the worst thing in the world. He’ll pester me and pester me until I finally blow up or laugh.”

Papandrew admits she’s also gone the passive-aggressive route, like the time she hid the remote because she was angry her husband watched so much TV — and forgot where she hid it.

“If pouting leads to talking about the issue, then you’re ahead of the game,” says Harburg. “But passive-aggressive behavior doesn’t work. It doesn’t solve the problem. The best thing is if you can establish some kind of ritual, like regularly sitting down at a table to talk about your issues.”

Communication and compromise

Laundry warrior Zatik-Sawyer uses a digital version of the kitchen-table confessional.

“My blog has become my therapy,” she says. “When I have issues, I’ll write a blog post and my husband will read it at work. And then he’ll come home and we’ll talk about the problem and solve it. If we have issues, they never really last longer than a couple of hours.”

Harburg says both partners have to be willing to listen and work toward a compromise; otherwise it’s a no-go.

“If you get into a zone where someone’s impeding the discussion, then you can’t solve the problem,” he says. “Fear, intimidation, dirty looks, belittling remarks — that’s over the line. But if you can listen to each other, and hear what the other person is feeling and thinking, then you can reach a compromise: ‘OK, I won’t do this if you won’t do that.'”

One final tip: Keep your sense of humor.

“Years ago, my husband and I were having a big spat, really yelling at each other,” says Verstegen. “I screamed at him, ‘You’re so selfish!’ There was this long silence and then he said, ‘Did you just call me a shellfish?’ I started laughing and that was the end of the fight.”

Two major eye diseases and leading causes of blindness–age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy–can be reversed or even prevented by drugs that activate a protein found in blood vessel cells, researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine and several other institutions have announced in a new study.
Damage from both diseases was prevented and even reversed when the protein, Robo4, was activated in mice models that simulate age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy, according to Dean Y. Li, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study published March 16 in Nature Medicine online.

Robo4 treated and prevented the diseases by inhibiting abnormal blood vessel growth and by stabilizing blood vessels to prevent leakage. Abnormal blood vessel growth and leakage are two primary factors in both age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy. But the study’s ramifications go beyond eye diseases.

Serious infections such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), for example, kill people when an infection destabilizes blood vessels, allowing fluids to leak into the lungs. Tumors hijack blood vessel growth to feed on nutrients and grow. Although this study did not prove Robo4 would treat those diseases, Li believes it merits investigation.

“Many diseases are caused by injury or inflammation destabilizing blood vessels and causing them to leak fluid into adjacent tissues as well,” said Li, professor of internal medicine and an investigator with the University’s Program in Human Molecular Biology and Genetics. “We found a natural pathway — the Robo4 pathway — that counterattacks this by stabilizing blood vessels.”

“This discovery has significant implications for developing drugs that activate Robo4 to treat AMD and diabetic retinopathy,” said Kang Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Utah’s John A. Moran Eye Center and an investigator with the University’s Program in Human Molecular Biology and Genetics. Li and Zhang’s laboratories closely collaborated on the research, using the same animal models of AMD and diabetic retinopathy that are required for drug development. The collaboration means the time required to test the approach in people could be shortened, perhaps by years. Nonetheless, both Zhang and Li caution that getting new drugs to market still would take a number of years.

Randall J. Olson, M.D., director of the University’s John A. Moran Eye Center and professor and chair of ophthalmology and visual sciences, called Li’s finding historic.

“This is a major breakthrough in an area where the advances have been minimal,” Olson said. “We are excited about taking this opening and moving the frontier forward with real hope for patients who have but few, often disappointing, options.”

The discovery is a prime example of basic science research yielding a discovery with direct clinical applications, according to Hemin Chin, Ph.D., director of ocular genetics program at the National Eye Institute. “Given that vascular eye diseases, such as age related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, are the number one cause of vision loss in the United States, the identification of new signaling pathways that prevent abnormal vessel growth and leakage in the eye represents a major scientific advancement,” said Chin.

Blood vessel growth (angiogenesis) is critical in human development and as a response to injury or disease. In earlier research, Li had shown that a family of proteins, netrins, induce blood vessel and nerve growth in mice, a discovery with important ramifications for potential therapies to help people with too few blood vessels. But when the body grows new blood vessels at the wrong time or place, these blood vessels are often unstable and weak, which causes them to leak and potentially lead to diseases such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

In 2003, Li’s laboratory cloned Robo4 and showed it served the opposite function of netrins by inhibiting blood vessel growth and the destabilization that causes leakage. Robo4 is found only in cells in the interior surface of blood vessels and is activated by a protein called Slit. After being activated, Robo4 initiates a chain of biochemical events to stabilize blood vessels and prevent uncontrolled growth.

“Everything in biology has a yin (negative) and a yang (positive), and in the previous paper on netrins we brought attention to a new signaling pathway that induces vessels and nerves to grow,” Li said. “Robo4 is the yin to that process, preventing new vessel growth by stabilizing the integrity of mature blood vessels.”

Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of legal blindness in people age 65 or older and is expected to become an increasingly common and costly health issue as the number of older people in United States increases. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of legal blindness in working-age Americans. Currently, there are an estimated 21 million people with diabetes.

Li’s collaborators on the study from the University of Utah include co-first authors graduate student Christopher A. Jones and Nyall London, an M.D./Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Oncological Sciences and the Program in Human Molecular Biology and Genetics. Several other researchers from Li’s lab also contributed to the project. In addition, researchers from the University of California, San Diego, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and Harvard Medical School were part of the study.

The study was funded largely by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Eye Institute, both are part of the National Institutes of Health.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080316161136.htm