Soldiers with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, walk in what could be mistaken for another planet. Kandahar, Afghanistan, Dec. 25, 2011 (Army photo/Sgt. Ruth Pagan)

(Reuters Health) - While army suicides have historically decreased during wartime, that trend appears to have reversed in recent decades, a new study of U.S. records finds.

Researchers poring over nearly 200 years of data found that unlike earlier times when there was a decline in suicide rates among U.S. Army soldiers during and just after wars, the rate has risen significantly since 2004, according to the report in JAMA Network Open.

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(U.S. Army/ Sgt. Shawn Miller)

(Reuters Health) - U.S. soldiers are more likely to have poor heart health than civilians of similar ages, a new study finds.

Comparing more than 263,000 active duty Army personnel to nearly 5,000 civilians, researchers found that soldiers were more likely to have high blood pressure and just as likely to have a higher than ideal body mass index (BMI), according to the report in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

"We were surprised by the results," said lead author Loryana Vie, senior project director of a long-term collaboration between the U.S. Army and the University of Pennsylvania. "They were contrary to what we were expecting going into the study because of the Army's health screening and emphasis on physical fitness."

Ultimately, Vie said, the take-home message isn't just that soldiers have worse heart health than civilians, but rather that there is "so much room for improvement for everyone," she said. "There is an opportunity to improve the health of the whole country."

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U.S. Soldiers navigate a stream during a security patrol in Chabar, Afghanistan, Dec. 3, 2009. (U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Francisco V. Govea II)

(Reuters Health) - Soldiers who displayed high optimism before deployment were less likely to develop chronic pain after being sent to Afghanistan or Iraq than those who were more pessimistic, a new study finds.

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