Genetic disease linked to feud.

The notorious feud between the Hatfield clan in West Virginia and the McCoy family in Kentucky lasted for over 100 years. Over the past few decades, doctors have tracked a disease in the McCoys that may explain at least some of the violence. Von Hippel-Lindau disease has been diagnosed in many members of the McCoy family over several generations. It causes tumors, especially in the adrenal gland, which can lead to high blood pressure, pounding headaches, and too much adrenaline. Researchers have known about the disease in the McCoys for decades, but did not reveal the patient’s names due to confidentiality and insurance concerns. Link -via Metafilter

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The McCoy article suggests a link between the family feud and von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL).

The real problem is pheochromocytoma, not VHL. Pheos are a tumor of the adrenal gland as described in the article. They occur in only 20% of people with VHL, and more often in some families than others. The hormone surges they produce are most often perceived as panic attacks or palpitations, not rage.

Pheos occur in the general population, and in people with any of six other genetic flaws. If anyone feels they are having uncontrolled high blood pressure, palpitations, unexplained bursts of panic or rage, and/or excessive sweating, they should ask their doctor to do a test called "plasma free metanephrines". This is the most accurate test for a pheo. Other tests only find 60-80% of pheos. They are not easy to diagnose.

Still today half of all pheos are diagnosed on autopsy. They are very dangerous. The good news is that once they are diagnosed they are almost always treated successfully.

We wish you the best of health.
Joyce Graff, Executive Director
VHL Family Alliance 800-767-4845
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What an odd story, having had both my adrenal glands removed beacuse of the tumours you get when you have VHL and the same can be said for my father (who had one the size of a grapefruit) and my brother had one too... this seems like nonsense. None of us were ever anywhere near violent. I've never even seen anything to suggest you look out for that as a symptom. In fact the extra adrenalin is more likely to make you depressed.
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