Never event (n.)
A medical blunder that never should have happened, like operating on the wrong person or wrong body part.
For tips on protecting yourself from clinical mistakes, go to

Nocebo effect (n.)
The phenomenon in which the expectation of a negative outcome actually leads to that outcome.
A 2009 review of trials revealed that the effect can cause symptoms ranging from nausea to ringing in the ears.

Normal weight obesity (n.)
A condition in which a person has a normal body mass index (a measure of weight in relation to height) but a large percentage of body fat.
A Mayo Clinic researcher estimates that up to 30 million Americans are "skinny-fat."

Optogenetics (n.)
A field in which researchers are learning to control brain activity with precision by inserting a photosensitive algae gene into specific neurons and then stimulating those cells with beams of light.
So far, they have made mice run in circles at the flip of a switch.

Post-traumatic growth (n.)
Positive psychological changes that can follow a distressing event.
A survey showed that people who endure more than one trauma have even greater improvement in this type of well-being.

Psychological acupuncture (n.)
A therapy that involves tapping on pressure points while focusing on a troubling issue.
Studies suggest it can alleviate food cravings. Find practitioners at

Self-reference effect (n.)
Our tendency to better remember information that has personal relevance.
Researchers say this is why using mnemonics that relate to your life can be so helpful.

Sleep-maintenance insomnia (n.)
A version of the disorder that involves waking up too early.
Women become more vulnerable to this between ages 40 and 60. Sleep experts stress the importance of avoiding caffeine after 1 P.M. and alcohol before bed.

Targeted reinnervation (n.)
Surgery that transplants nerves from a severed limb to skin above the amputation site.
A new prosthetic arm has sensors that connect to those nerves so the limb responds realistically.

Trait affective presence (n.)
The effect a person has on other people's emotional states.
Not surprisingly, researchers suggest avoiding those who consistently make others feel stressed or angry.

Vascular age (n.)
Your age if gauged by the state of your arteries.
For example, a 30-year-old diabetic, hypertensive smoker might have a vascular age of 80. The good news: Medication and lifestyle changes can help turn back the clock.

Vertebroplasty (n.)
The injection of a cement substance into a vertebral fracture to ease pain.
Two recent studies suggest the cure is in patients' heads: People who underwent sham procedures had similar pain relief.

White coat hypertension (n.)
A spike in blood pressure during a doctor's visit.
A recent study of 8,295 hypertension patients revealed that about a third actually had normal blood pressure outside the hospital.

More Ways to Educate Yourself About Your Health
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.


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