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“It’s something that I never thought I would do”: Emma Watkins opens up about surgery battle

<p>Emma Watkins has opened up about her struggle with endometriosis, sharing why she had been reluctant to have a surgery for the debilitating condition.</p> <p>Endometriosis, which affects more than one in 10 Australian women, is a disease in which a tissue similar to the womb lining grows in locations outside the uterus.</p> <p>The Yellow Wiggle was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 28 after experiencing years of pain she assumed to be normal.</p> <p>“I think there is definitely that element of fear, women are really scared to talk about it,” she told<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://honey.nine.com.au/latest/emma-watkins-yellow-wiggle-endometriosis-surgery-update/396a0ad6-d52e-41a7-be29-bab4a28b5c04" target="_blank"><em>9Honey</em></a>.</p> <p>Last year, she sat out the Wiggles’ Australian tour to undergo surgery, a decision that she said she did not take lightly.</p> <p>“It’s something that I never thought I would do,” the 30-year-old said.</p> <p>At the time, she told<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/wiggles-star-endometriosis-freaked-surgery-042516154.html" target="_blank"><em>The Herald Sun Weekend</em></a><span> </span>that her condition was worsening in the lead up to going under the knife.</p> <p>“What was freaking me out leading up to the surgery was I was starting to feel not great doing lots of shows,” she said then.</p> <p>“I lost so much blood I had an infusion, and that’s when it started to hit me.</p> <p>“I had had really bad periods since school pretty much, but when the doctors are actually in there, they can see the severity.”</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BhvMvJ0HAo6/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BhvMvJ0HAo6/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Emma_Wiggle (@emma_wiggle)</a> on Apr 18, 2018 at 8:47pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>She said of the procedure, “I try to be nice to my body and I didn’t really want the surgery in the first place, but now I can see it’s really helped me and my body – it’s so different than it was two years ago.”</p> <p>While the procedure improved her symptoms, she said she still needs to manage her condition with pilates, yoga and a balanced diet.</p> <p>Watkins said since she went public with her diagnosis, she had been approached by other women, including young mums, who said they started seeking help for their symptoms because of her.</p> <p>“So many people have reached out and it’s something that has really affected a lot of people in a positive way,” she said.</p> <p>The entertainer is encouraging people to see a health professional if they are experiencing pain.</p> <p>“Even if your symptoms don’t sound right, it doesn’t mean you don’t have it,” she told<span> </span><em>9Honey</em>.</p> <p>“It’s really about listening to your body, and if you don’t feel that something is right it is best to find someone you can talk to.”</p>

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Man awarded $11.8 billion for bizarre side effects to Johnson & Johnson medication

<p>US pharmaceutical giant Johnson &amp; Johnson has been ordered to pay a hefty AU$11.8 billion in damages after they failed to warn that its drug, Risperdal, could cause bizarre breast growth in men. </p> <p>Nicholas Murray told a court in Philadelphia the psychiatric medication, normally prescribed to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, had made him grow breasts. </p> <p>His attorneys, Tom Kline and Jason Itkine, argued the drug had links to gynecomastia, an incurable condition - and accused Johnson &amp; Johnson of making billions of dollars while illegally marketing and promoting the drug. </p> <p>“(Johnson &amp; Johnson is) a corporation that valued profits over safety and profits over patients,” they said in a<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.jnj.com/our-company/johnson-johnson-statement-on-todays-risperdal-verdict" target="_blank">statement.</a></p> <p>However Johnson &amp; Johnson immediately challenged the ruling, explaining the damages as “grossly disproportionate” in a statement. </p> <p>“The company is confident (the ruling) will be overturned,” it said. “We will be immediately moving to set aside this excessive and unfounded verdict.”</p> <p>The company said the courts exclusions of key evidence left it unable to present a meaningful defence, including what they described was on the drug label that “clearly and appropriately outlined the risks associated with the medicine” or Risperdal’s benefits for patients with serious mental illness.</p> <p>“Further, the plaintiff’s attorneys failed to present any evidence that the plaintiff was actually harmed by the alleged conduct,” the company added.</p> <p>Thousands of lawsuits have been filed over the drug, including in Pennsylvania, California and Missouri.</p> <p>Mr Kline and Mr Itkin said this was the first time a jury had made the decision to award punitive damages and had come up with an amount. </p> <p>Risperdal was approved for the treatment of adults by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1993 and brought in about A$1 billion in sales in 2018.</p>

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How your body image can change in two minutes

<p>Have you ever looked at yourself in a full-length mirror and wished you looked more like the beautiful people who grace the covers of glossy magazines? If so, you are by no means alone.</p> <p>Body dissatisfaction is so prevalent that some academics have referred to it as <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232553767_Women_and_weight_A_normative_discontent">“normative discontent”</a>. Many of those affected not only feel dissatisfied with their bodies, they actually believe they are heavier than they really are – a phenomenon known as body size misperception.</p> <p>Our <a href="http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnins.2016.00334/full">recent study</a> found that people’s perception of their own and others’ body weight could change in as little as two minutes.</p> <p>Participants were asked to view images of people that had been digitally manipulated to appear lighter or heavier than they actually were and decide whether these images looked fatter or thinner than “normal”.</p> <p>After 120 seconds of exposure to manipulated thin bodies, the original-sized body images looked abnormally large to participants while the thinner images were rated as normal.</p> <p>The opposite was also true: exposure to heavier bodies made participants see original body sizes as skinny.</p> <p><strong>Chasing the thin ideal</strong></p> <p>It is hardly news that many are negatively affected by the thin, supposedly ideal images propagated by the media.</p> <p>The connection between social pressure to be thin exerted by these images and feelings of body dissatisfaction – a risk factor for developing eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa – was first made by <a href="https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Eating_Disorders.html?id=xM7x05fvUHAC&amp;redir_esc=y">German psychologist Hilde Bruch</a> in the 1970s.</p> <p>Then, in 1980, a study showed that the measurements of <a href="http://river-centre.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/1980-Garner-Sociocultural-Playboy.pdf">Miss America contestants and Playboy centrefold models</a> between 1959 and 1979 were decreasing, supporting claims that the media’s “thin is beautiful” message was spreading.</p> <p>Although many studies in the intervening decades have confirmed this link, there is still relatively little understanding of the brain mechanisms underlying the perception of our own bodies in relation to what we see on TV and in magazines.</p> <p><strong>Retuning the brain</strong></p> <p>Since the time of Aristotle, it has been known that prolonged viewing of certain stimuli can cause after-effects that alter the perception of subsequently viewed objects. Often, the after-effect produces an appearance that neutral stimuli are in a sense opposite to the original stimulus to which the observer was overexposed.</p> <p>One famous example is the <a href="http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/mot-adapt/index.html">motion after-effect</a> – also known as the waterfall illusion. Here, exposure to movement in a particular direction, such as the downward motion of a waterfall, can cause stationary rocks beside the waterfall to appear to move in the opposite direction, that is upwards.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EyWT9IIXV3s?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class="caption">Keep staring at the dot in the middle to experience the motion after-effect.</span></p> <p>Similar effects can be seen for <a href="http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(08)01346-8">other object properties</a>, such as <a href="https://freudforthought.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/colour-after-effects/">colour</a>. As these phenomena have been studied for centuries, their physiological basis is pretty well understood. After-effects are accompanied by a reduction in responsiveness of neurons in the visual areas of the brain.</p> <p>These reductions were once assumed to be the result of tiredness of the overworked cells, but more modern theories propose that the change in brain activity serves to <a href="https://global.oup.com/academic/product/fitting-the-mind-to-the-world-9780198529699?cc=au&amp;lang=en&amp;">tune our perceptual systems</a> to the environmental conditions. This gives us a frame of reference for what is normal or expected as determined by our visual diet throughout our lives.</p> <p>Although early studies concentrated on simple stimuli, such as motion or colour, our recent investigations have shown that higher-level properties, such as body size and shape, can cause similar after-effects.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/132905/original/image-20160803-12196-rlv82n.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/132905/original/image-20160803-12196-rlv82n.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class="caption">Stare at the cross on the left for around 30 seconds without moving your eyes. Then transfer your gaze to the cross on the right. You should see an after-effect of the complementary colour in the circles even though they are actually white. As they are opposite colours, the positions of the red and green circles will swap, as will the positions of the blue and yellow circles.</span> <em><span class="attribution"><span class="license">Author provided</span></span></em></p> <p>It is likely that the neural adaptation associated with these after-effects is the underlying physiological basis of body-size misperception.</p> <p>Our recent study showed that after-effects could actually transfer from others’ bodies to the perception of one’s own. That is, viewing abnormally thin versions of other people’s bodies caused participants to see themselves as heavier than they actually were and vice versa.</p> <p>While this observation fits nicely with the narrative connecting media exposure with body-size misperception in the real world, it also suggests that mechanisms mediating the perception of one’s own and others’ body size and shape are overlapping.</p> <p><strong>Variety is the spice of life</strong></p> <p>Body image is a complex construct, but a better understanding of these mechanisms opens new avenues for a fuller understanding of body size misperception, including how best to manage severe forms of this problem.</p> <p>To give one example, group treatment of people with anorexia nervosa, as commonly occurs in specialist treatment facilities, may be inadvisable given that exposure to extreme body shapes of other sufferers can exacerbate the misperception of one’s own body size.</p> <p>But what should be the advice for us, the dissatisfied mirror-gazers in the general population? While a healthy lifestyle brings many benefits, a strict diet will not correct the misperception of one’s own body size.</p> <p>Instead, the over-sized person you see in the mirror may be more effectively beautified by changing your visual diet. In visual stimuli, as in food, moderation (of skinny celebrities) is key. And, of course, variety (in terms of shape and size) is the spice of life.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/62428/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Kevin Brooks, Associate Professor in Human Visual Perception, Macquarie University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/size-is-largely-in-the-mind-how-your-body-image-can-change-in-two-minutes-62428" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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“Dream come true”: Olivia Newton-John wants more people to have access to medicinal cannabis

<p>Olivia Newton-John believes Australia is “on its way” to making medicinal cannabis legal to those who need it thanks to a $3 million research pledge from the federal government.</p> <p>The<span> </span><em>Grease<span> </span></em>actress and singer is a firm believer in medicinal cannabis in cancer treatment, which she credits to helping her wean off morphine during her third breast cancer battle.</p> <p>“I’m right here, right now, alive and healthy,” she said on Sunday at the annual Wellness Walk and Research Run.</p> <p>“Last year, I was flat on my back in the centre [the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness &amp; Research Centre] and this year, through treatment and medicinal cannabis, I am feeling fantastic.</p> <p>“I hope to be able to soon offer that to everyone – that’s my dream.”</p> <p>Now, that dream is inching closer to becoming reality as the federal government has pledged three million dollars to medicinal cannabis research.</p> <p>“It’s a dream come true. We’re on our way,” said the star.</p> <p>Health Minister Greg Hunt stood beside Newton-John on stage, as he announced the funding will go towards examining how cannabis can be used to help alleviate cancer pain, symptoms and other side effects.</p> <p>He said the government is committed to ensure a “safe, quality supply” of medicinal cannabis to Australian patients, “but only when it is prescribed by a medical professional”.</p> <p>Medicinal cannabis is legal in Australia, but doctors very rarely prescribe it.</p> <p>According to the government, over 11,000 Australians have been approved to use the drug medicinally – mostly this year.</p> <p>“Given the increase in prescribed medicinal cannabis, the Government has supported the nation’s medicinal cannabis industry, and cut red tape to help meet demand,” said Hunt.</p> <p>The Aussie actress said while the funding was a step in the right direction, the amount of Australians with access to the drug is “frustrating”.</p> <p>She wants Australia to follow in the footsteps of the United States where “they’ve discovered it hasn’t caused all the problems that people are afraid of”.</p> <p>“People need to let go of that old hipping thing [about the drug],” she said.</p> <p>“It has helped me incredibly, with pain, with sleep, with anxiety – particularly when I had to wean myself off morphine.”</p> <p>“And I used cannabis.”</p> <p>According to Hunt, there are not enough well-designed clinical studies on medicinal cannabis, and further research is needed to support doctors on their decisions.</p>

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8 early Parkinson’s disease symptoms that are too easy to miss

<p>This movement disorder is more treatable when caught early, but Parkinson’s disease symptoms can appear quite differently from one person to another. Talk to your doctor if you’re worried about any of these signs.</p> <p><strong>Changed handwriting</strong></p> <p>If your handwriting starts to go from big and loopy to small and cramped, this could be one of the earliest Parkinson’s disease symptoms. “Teachers with Parkinson’s will notice students complaining that they can’t read their handwriting when they write on the blackboard,” says Deborah Hall, MD, a neurologist. Look for letters getting smaller and words crowding together. Many patients have slower movement and trouble with repetitive tasks, like handwriting.</p> <p><strong>Reduced sense of smell</strong></p> <p>If you’re having trouble smelling pungent foods or no longer pick up your favourite scents, see a doctor. It’s not the most common symptom of Parkinson’s, but Dr. Hall says patients who suffer a loss of smell report it being the earliest sign they experience. The link between reduced sense of smell and Parkinson’s isn’t clear, but one theory is that the clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein, found in the brains of all Parkinson’s patients, may form in the part of the brain responsible for smell before migrating to other areas and affecting motor function.</p> <p><strong>Trouble sleeping</strong></p> <p>If you were once a peaceful sleeper, but now toss and turn, flail your limbs, or even fall out of bed, those sleep problems could be Parkinson’s disease symptoms. It’s normal to have an occasional restless night, but talk to your doctor if you or your partner notices extra movement when you’re in a deep sleep, or if you start sleep-talking. More research is needed to discover why disturbed sleep and Parkinson’s are related, but one theory is that the degeneration of specific regions of the brain stem that can cause disordered sleeping may play a role in other Parkinson’s disease symptoms.</p> <p><strong>Constipation</strong></p> <p>If you’re not moving your bowels every day, or are increasingly straining, this can be an early sign of Parkinson’s. The disease alters the body’s autonomic nervous system, which controls processes like digestion and bowel function. Constipation on its own isn’t unusual, but if you’re experiencing other symptoms like difficulty sleeping and trouble moving or walking, talk to your doctor.</p> <p><strong>Depression</strong></p> <p>Sometimes patients can develop depression after learning they have Parkinson’s, but it’s also common for people to be depressed years before they start to exhibit physical symptoms, says Michele Tagliati, MD, director of the Movement Disorders Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California.</p> <p>“Parkinson’s is characterised as a movement disorder because of a lack of dopamine in the brain, but there are also low levels of other neurotransmitters like serotonin, which are intimately related to depression,” he says.</p> <p>Parkinson’s patients who are depressed tend to feel apathetic and generally disinterested in things they used to enjoy, compared to feeling intensely sad or helpless, as is common in primary depression. “They lose pleasure in the simple things of life, like waking up in the morning and buying the paper,” says Dr. Tagliati. Treatment for depression includes counselling, antidepressant medication, and in the most extreme cases, electric shock therapy.</p> <p><strong>Tremors or shaking when relaxed</strong></p> <p>Shaking can be normal after lots of exercise or if you’re anxious, or as a side effect of some medications. But a slight shake in your finger, thumb, hand, chin, lip, or limbs when your body is at rest and your muscles are relaxed could signal Parkinson’s disease symptoms, according to the National Parkinson Foundation. About 70 percent of people with the disease experience a resting tremor, and it can become more noticeable during stress or excitement. These are the most common symptoms and often tip people off to the disease, but when Parkinson’s patients think back they realise they experienced loss of smell, disturbed sleep, or anxiety before the tremors began.</p> <p><strong>Stiffness and slowed movements</strong></p> <p>Watch for an abnormal stiffness in your joints along with muscle weakness that doesn’t go away and makes everyday tasks like walking, teeth brushing, buttoning shirts, or cutting food difficult. If you no longer swing your arms when walking, your feet feel “stuck to the floor” (causing you to hesitate before taking a step), or people comment that you look stiff when you haven’t been injured, the National Parkinson Foundation suggests seeing a doctor.</p> <p><strong>Softer voice, or masked face</strong></p> <p>Doctors say that a softer voice or masked, expressionless face is a common sign of the disease. Some patients with Parkinson’s disease symptoms may also talk softer without noticing or have excessively fast speech or rapid stammering. Parkinson’s causes disruption of movement, including facial muscles.</p> <p><em>Written by Alyssa Jung. This article first appeared in </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/8-early-parkinsons-disease-symptoms-that-are-too-easy-to-miss/" target="_blank"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Why loneliness is contagious

<p>Loneliness is a <a href="https://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/sites/default/files/pdfs/Science-2011-Miller-138-401.pdf">common condition affecting around one in three adults</a>. It damages your brain, immune system, and can lead to depression and suicide. Loneliness can also increase your risk of dying prematurely as much as smoking can – and even more so than obesity. If you feel lonely, you tend to feel more stressed in situations that others cope better in, and even though you might get sufficient sleep, you don’t feel rested during the day.</p> <p>Loneliness has also increased <a href="http://science.sciencemag.org/content/331/6014/138.full?sid=6039e2dc-1bcf-4622-ae54-1e5b2816a98d">over the past few decades</a>. Compared to the 1980s, the number of people living alone in the US has increased by about one-third. When Americans were asked about the number of people that they can confide in, the number dropped from three in 1985 to two in 2004.</p> <p>In the UK, 21 to 31 per cent of people report that they feel lonely some of the time, and surveys in other parts of the world report <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4391342/">similarly high estimates</a>. And it’s not just adults who feel lonely. Over a tenth of kindergarteners and first graders report feeling lonely in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3865701/">school environment</a>.</p> <p>So many people feel lonely these days. But loneliness is a tricky condition, because it doesn’t necessarily refer to the number of people you talk to or the number of acquaintances you have. You can have many people around you and still feel lonely. As the comedian <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1262981/quotes">Robin Williams</a> put it in the film World’s Greatest Dad:</p> <blockquote> <p>I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>What is loneliness?</strong></p> <p>Loneliness refers to the discrepancy between the number and quality of the relationships that you desire and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4391342/">those you actually have</a>. You can have only two friends, but if you get along really well with them and feel that they meet your needs, you’re not lonely. Or you can be in a crowd and feel all alone.</p> <p>But loneliness is not just about how you feel. Being in this state can make you <a href="https://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/sites/default/files/pdfs/Science-2011-Miller-138-401.pdf">behave differently</a>, too, because you have less control over yourself – for example, you’re more likely to eat that chocolate cake for lunch instead of a meal or order take-out for dinner and you will also feel less motivated to exercise, which is important for mental and physical health. You’re also more likely to act aggressively towards others.</p> <p>Sometimes people think that the only way out of loneliness is to simply talk to a few more people. But while that can help, loneliness is less about the number of contacts that you make and more about how you see the world. When you become lonely, you start to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3874845/">act and see the world differently</a>. You begin noticing the threats in your environment more readily, you expect to be rejected more often, and become more judgemental of the people you interact with. People that you talk to can feel this, and as a result, start moving away from you, which perpetuates your loneliness cycle.</p> <p><a href="https://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/sites/default/files/pdfs/Science-2011-Miller-138-401.pdf">Studies have shown</a> that (non-lonely) people who hang out with lonely people are more likely to become lonely themselves. So loneliness is contagious, just as happiness is – when you hang out with happy people, you are more likely to become happy.</p> <p>There is also a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3865701/">loneliness gene</a> that can be passed down and, while inheriting this gene doesn’t mean you will end up alone, it does affect how distressed you feel from social disconnection. If you have this gene, you are more likely to feel the pain of not having the kinds of relationships that you want.</p> <p>It’s particularly <a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0190033&amp;type=printable">bad news for men</a>. Loneliness more often results in death for men than for women. Lonely men are also less resilient and tend to be more depressed than lonely women. This is because men are typically discouraged from expressing their emotions in society and if they do they are judged harshly for it. As such, they might not even admit it to themselves that they’re feeling lonely and tend to wait a long time before seeking help. This can have serious consequences for their mental health.</p> <p><strong>How to escape it</strong></p> <p>To overcome loneliness and improve our mental health, there are certain things we can do. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3874845/">Research has looked</a> at the different ways of combating this condition, such as increasing the number of people you talk to, improving your social skills, and learning how to compliment others. But it seems the number one thing is to change your perceptions of the world around you.</p> <p>It’s realising that sometimes people aren’t able to meet up with you, not because there is something inherently wrong with you, but because of other things going on in their lives. Maybe the person that you wanted to have dinner with wasn’t able to accept your invitation because it was too short notice for them and they had already promised someone else they would have drinks. People who aren’t lonely realise this and, as a consequence, don’t get down or start beating themselves up when someone says no to their invitations. When you don’t attribute “failures” to yourself, but rather to circumstances, you become much more resilient in life and can keep going.</p> <p>Getting rid of loneliness is also about letting go of cynicism and mistrust of others. So next time you meet someone new, try to lose that protective shield and really allow them in, even though you don’t know what the outcome will be.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/94376/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Olivia Remes, PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/loneliness-is-contagious-and-heres-how-to-beat-it-94376" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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What exactly is depression?

<p>Depression is a serious disorder marked by disturbances in mood, cognition, physiology and social functioning.</p> <p>People can experience deep sadness and feelings of hopelessness, sorrow, emptiness and despair. These core features of depression have expanded to include an inability to experience pleasure, sluggish movements, changes in sleep and eating behaviour, difficulty concentrating and suicidal thoughts.</p> <p>The first <a href="https://www.psycom.net/depression-definition-dsm-5-diagnostic-criteria/">diagnostic criteria</a> were introduced in the 1980s. Now we have an expanded set of concepts for describing depression, from mild to severe, major depressive disorder, chronic depression and seasonal affective disorder.</p> <p>Over the past 50 years, our understanding of depression has advanced significantly. But despite the wealth of research, there is <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what-causes-depression">no clear consensus on how this mental disorder should be explained</a>. We propose a <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331356640_The_Classification_and_Explanation_of_Depression">new route through the thicket</a>.</p> <p><strong>Classifying mental disorders</strong></p> <p>How we <a href="https://www.mentalhealthtoday.co.uk/innovations/an-introduction-to-the-classification-of-mental-disorders-the-dsm-and-the-icd">describe and classify</a> mental disorders is a fundamental step towards explaining and treating them. When carrying out research on people with depression, diagnostic categories such as major depressive disorder (<a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/clinical-depression">MDD</a>) shape our explanations. But if the descriptions are wrong, our explanations will suffer as a consequence.</p> <p>The problem is that classification and explanation are not completely independent tasks. How we classify disorders directly impacts how we explain them, and these explanations in turn impact our classifications. In this way, psychiatry is stuck in a circular trap.</p> <p>The danger – for depression and for other mental disorders – is that we tailor our explanations to fit the classifications available and that the classifications are inadequate.</p> <p>Traditionally, research has focused on understanding mental disorders as classified in manuals such as the <a href="https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm/feedback-and-questions/frequently-asked-questions">Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders</a>. Most of these disorders are what we call “psychiatric syndromes” – clusters of symptoms that hang together in some meaningful way and are assumed to share a common cause.</p> <p>But many of these syndromes are poorly defined because disorders can manifest in different ways in different people. This is known as “disorder heterogeneity”. For example, there are 227 different symptom combinations that meet the criteria for major depressive disorder.</p> <p><strong>Improving how we classify disorders</strong></p> <p>The other problem is that diagnostic criteria often overlap across multiple disorders. Symptoms of restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability and sleep disturbance can be common for people experiencing generalised anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder.</p> <p>This makes studying disorders like depression difficult. While we may think we are all explaining the same thing, we are actually trying to explain completely different variations of the disorder, or in some cases a completely different disorder.</p> <p>A significant challenge is how to advance classification systems without abandoning their descriptive value and the decades of research they have produced. So what are our options?</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dsm5-in-distress/201004/dsm5-and-dimensional-diagnosis-biting-much-more-it-can-chew">categorical</a> approach, which sees disorders as discrete categories, has been the most prominent model of classification. But many researchers argue disorders such as depression are better seen as <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dsm5-in-distress/201004/dsm5-and-dimensional-diagnosis-biting-much-more-it-can-chew">dimensional</a>. For example, people who suffer from severe depression are just further along a spectrum of “depressed mood”, rather than being qualitatively different from the normal population.</p> <p>Novel classification approaches such as the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-04-diagnostic-psychiatric-disorders.html">hierarchical taxonomy of psychopathology</a> and <a href="https://www.nimh.nih.gov/research/research-funded-by-nimh/rdoc/index.shtml">research domain criteria</a> have been put forward. While these better accommodate the dimensional nature of disorders and are less complex to use, they are conceptually limited.</p> <p>The former relies on current diagnostic categories and all the problems that come with that. The latter relies on neuro-centrism, which means mental disorders are viewed as disorders of the brain and biological explanations are used in preference to social and cultural explanations.</p> <p>A new approach called the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5269502/">symptom network model</a> offers a departure from the emphasis on psychiatric syndromes. It sees mental disorders not as diseases but as the result of interactions between symptoms.</p> <p>In depression, an adverse life event such as loss of a partner may activate a depressed mood. This in turn may cause neighbouring symptoms, such as insomnia and fatigue. But this model is only descriptive and offers no explanation of the processes that cause the symptoms themselves.</p> <p><strong>A simple way forward</strong></p> <p>We suggest that one way of advancing understanding of mental disorders is to move our focus from psychiatric syndromes to clinical phenomena.</p> <p>Phenomena are stable and general features. Examples in clinical psychology include low self-esteem, aggression, low mood and ruminative thoughts. The difference between symptom and phenomena is that the latter are inferred from multiple information sources such as behavioural observation, self-report and psychological test scores.</p> <p>For example, understanding the central processes that underpin the clinical phenomenon of the inability to experience pleasure (<a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-sense/200912/depression-and-anhedonia">anhedonia</a>) will provide greater insight for cases that are dominated by this symptom.</p> <p>In this way we can begin to tailor our explanations for individual cases rather than using general explanations of the broad syndrome “major depressive disorder”.</p> <p>The other advantage is that the central processes that make up these phenomena are also more likely to form reliable clusters or categories. Of course, achieving this understanding will require greater specification of clinical phenomena we want to explain. It is not enough to conclude that a research finding (such as low levels of dopamine) is associated with the syndrome depression, as the features of depression may vary significantly between individuals.</p> <p>We need to be more specific about exactly what people with depression in our research are experiencing.</p> <p>Building descriptions of clinical phenomena will help us to better understand links between signs, symptoms and causes of mental disorder. It will put us in a better position to identify and treat depression.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/122381/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Samuel Clack, PhD Candidate, Victoria University of Wellington and Tony Ward, Professor of Clinical Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/depression-its-a-word-we-use-a-lot-but-what-exactly-is-it-122381" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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How rising temperatures affect our health

<p>Global warming is accelerating, driven by the continuing rise in greenhouse gas emissions. Australia’s climate has warmed <a href="https://www.csiro.au/en/Showcase/state-of-the-climate">by just over 1°C since 1910</a>, with global temperatures on course for a <a href="https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/wmo-climate-statement-past-4-years-warmest-record">3-5°C rise this century</a>.</p> <p>Australia is ahead of the global temperature curve. Our <a href="https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2018/208/7/climate-change-brief-overview-science-and-health-impacts-australia">average daily temperature</a> is 21.8°C – that’s 13.7°C warmer than the global average of 8.1°C.</p> <p><a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/about/extremes.shtml">Heat extremes</a> (days above 35°C and nights above 20°C) are now more frequent in Australia, <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/state-of-the-climate/australias-changing-climate.shtml">occurring around 12%</a> of the time compared to around 2% of the time between 1951 and 1980.</p> <p>So what do high temperatures do to our bodies? And how much extra heat can people and our way of living tolerate?</p> <p><strong>More scorchers ahead</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/statements/scs68.pdf">Australia’s summer of 2018-19</a> was <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/season/aus/archive/201902.summary.shtml">2.14°C warmer</a> than the 1961–90 average, breaking the previous record set in 2012–13 by a large margin. It included an unprecedented sequence of <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/statements/scs68.pdf">five consecutive days</a> with nationally averaged maximum temperatures above 40°C.</p> <p>The first half of <a href="https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201907/supplemental/page-1">2019 ranks as the equal second</a> hottest since records began for the world, and also <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/month/aus/summary.shtml">Australia</a>.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/outlooks/#/overview/summary">Bureau of Meteorology</a> (BOM) has warned this summer will be another scorcher. Hot dry northerly <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-019-0431-6">winds tracking across drought-affected</a> New South Wales and Queensland have the capacity to deliver blistering heat and extreme fire risks to the southern states, and little relief is in sight for those in drought.</p> <p>Some rural Australians have <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/extreme/records.shtml">already been exposed to 50°C days</a>, and the major southern metro cities are set to do the same within the next decade or so.</p> <p><strong>How our bodies regulate heat</strong></p> <p>Like most mammals and birds, humans are <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1095643306003047">endotherms</a> (warm-blooded), meaning our optimal internal operating temperature (approximately 36.8°C +/− 0.5) is <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-386525-0.00060-3">minimally influenced by ambient</a> temperatures.</p> <p>Quietly sitting indoors with the air temperature about 22°C, we passively generate that additional 15°C to keep our core temperature at about 37°C.</p> <p>Even when the air temperature is 37°C, our metabolism continues to generate additional heat. This excess internal heat is shed into the environment through the evaporation of sweat from our skin.</p> <p>Temperature and humidity gradients between the skin surface and boundary layer of air determine the rate of heat exchange.</p> <p>When the surrounding air is hot and humid, heat loss is slow, we store heat, and our <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26184272">temperatures rises</a>.</p> <p>That’s why hot, dry air is better tolerated than tropical, humid heat: dry air readily absorbs sweat.</p> <p>A breeze appears refreshing by dislodging the boundary layer of saturated air in contact with the skin and allowing in drier air – thus speeding up evaporation and heat shedding.</p> <p><strong>What happens when we overheat?</strong></p> <p>Heat exposure becomes potentially lethal when the human body cannot lose sufficient heat to maintain a safe core temperature.</p> <p>When our core temperature reaches 38.5°C, most would feel fatigued. And the cascade of symptoms escalate as the core temperature continues to rise beyond the safe functioning range for our critical organs: the heart, brain and kidneys.</p> <p>Much like an egg in a microwave, protein within our body changes when exposed to heat.<a href="http://theconversation.com/how-heat-can-make-your-body-melt-down-from-the-inside-out-22042"></a></p> <p>While some heat-acclimatised elite athletes, such as Tour de France cyclists, may tolerate <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/bjsports/53/7/426.full.pdf">40°C for limited periods</a>, this temperature is potentially lethal for most people.</p> <p>As a pump, the heart’s role is to maintain an effective blood pressure. It fills the hot and dilated blood vessels throughout the body to get blood to vital organs.</p> <p>Exposure to extreme heat places significant additional workload on the heart. It must increase the force of each contraction and the rate of contractions per minute (your heart rate).</p> <p>If muscles are also working, they also need an increased blood flow.</p> <p>If all this occurs at a time when profuse sweating has led to dehydration, and therefore lower blood volume, the heart must massively increase its work.</p> <p>The heart is also a muscle, so it too needs extra blood supply when working hard. But when pumping hard and fast and its own demand for blood flow is not matched by its supply, it can fail. Many heat deaths are recorded as heart attacks.</p> <p>High aerobic fitness levels offer some heat protection, yet athletes and fit young adults pushing themselves too hard also die in the heat.</p> <p><strong>Who is more at risk?</strong></p> <p>Older Australians are more vulnerable to heat stress. Age is commonly associated with poorer aerobic fitness and impaired ability to detect thirst and overheating.</p> <p>Obesity also increases this vulnerability. Fat acts as an insulating layer, as well as giving the heart a more extensive network of blood vessels to fill. The additional weight requires increased heat-generating muscular effort to move.</p> <p>Certain medications can lower heat tolerance by interfering with our natural mechanisms necessary to cope with the heat. These include drugs that limit increases in heart rate, lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels, or interfere with sweating.</p> <p>Core temperatures are increased by about half a degree during late stage pregnancy due to hormonal responses and increased metabolic rate. The growing foetus and placenta also demand additional blood flow. Exposure of the fetus to heat extremes can precipitate preterm birth and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.125-A25">life-long health problems</a> such as congential heart defects.</p> <p><strong>Won’t we just acclimatise?</strong></p> <p>Our bodies can acclimatise to hot temperatures, but this process <a href="http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/12/7/8034">has its limits</a>. Some temperatures are simply too hot for the heart to cope with and for sweat rates to provide effective cooling, especially if we need to move or exercise.</p> <p>We’re also limited by our kidneys’ capacity to conserve water and electrolytes, and the <a href="http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/12/7/8034">upper limit to the amount of water</a> the human gut can absorb.</p> <p>Profuse sweating leads to fluid and electrolyte deficits and the resulting electrolyte imbalance can interfere with the heart rhythm.</p> <p>Mass death events are now occurring during heat waves in traditionally hot countries such as <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-heatwave-thats-too-hot-for-india-to-handle-with-more-to-come-42468">India</a> and Pakistan. This is when heat extremes approaching 50°C exceed the human body’s capacity to maintain its safe core temperature range.</p> <p>Heatwaves are hotter, more frequent and lasting longer. We can’t live life entirely indoors with air conditioning as we need to venture outdoors to commute, work, shop, and care for the vulnerable. People, animals and our social systems depend on this.</p> <p>Besides, on a 50°C day, air conditioning units will struggle to remove 25°C from the ambient air.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/123016/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Liz Hanna, Honorary Senior Fellow, Australian National University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/how-rising-temperatures-affect-our-health-123016" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Are sugar subsitutes better for your health?

<p>Wandering through the grocery store, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the numerous brands and health claims on the dozens of sugar substitutes. It can be particularly confusing for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes who must keep their blood sugar in check and control their weight.</p> <p>With the <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes">growing diabetes and obesity epidemic</a>, there has been increasing awareness around the use of added sugars in foods. The most recent edition of the <a href="https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/">U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans</a> recommends that added sugars should be kept to less than 10% of the calories consumed, which turns out to be roughly 270 calories per day.</p> <p>This is because “added sugars” add sweetness or flavor but add very little nutritional value. Because of this trend, the food industry has embarked on a quest to find or develop the perfect substitute to replace sugar – with the same taste and none of the calories that lead to weight gain.</p> <p>As a pharmacist who is also board certified in advanced diabetes management, I talk to patients every day about blood sugars and ways to help them take control of their diabetes. They often ask me whether the perfect substitute to sugar has been found. The short answer is no. Here is the long answer.</p> <p><strong>Sugar alcohols</strong></p> <p>Sugar substitutes can be categorized into two main groups: sugar alcohols and high intensity sweeteners. The sugar alcohols include sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, mannitol, erythritol and maltitol. <a href="https://www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/high-intensity-sweeteners">High-intensity sweeteners</a> include saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), sucralose, neotame, advantame, stevia, and Siraitia grosvenorii Swingle fruit extract (SGFE).</p> <p><a href="http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/sugar-alcohols.html">Sugar alcohols</a> are often found in toothpaste, chewing gum, and some “sugar-free” foods. They are carbohydrates with a chemical structure that resembles sugar, but also the components that make them an alcohol. They are about 25-100% sweeter than sugar and have <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2019.03.019">a similar taste</a>. But here is the catch: They are not calorie free. Most have <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2012.03.009">between 1.5 and two calories per gram</a>. Now compare the calorie count to sugar, also known as sucrose, which has four calories per gram – twice as much.</p> <p>Although sugar alcohols contain fewer calories, they will still increase a patient’s blood sugar, especially when eaten in excess. When compared to sugar, the effect is less dramatic though. This is because of how these molecules are processed in the body. We measure this using the glycemic index.</p> <p>The glycemic index is a reference to how quickly a food is broken down and absorbed. The higher the number, the more quickly the food breaks down and the faster the sugar goes into the blood. Sucrose has a <a href="https://www.glycemicindex.com/">glycemic index</a> of 65; whereas sugar alcohols, like xylitol, have a glycemic index of around seven. This means that sugar alcohols are harder to digest, and cause a slower and lower increase in post-meal blood sugars – which is typically better for people with diabetes. Because sugar alcohols are harder for the body to break down though, some of them remain in the gut, and if a person consumes too much they may experience <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2012.03.009">digestive complaints like</a> gas, cramping and diarrhea.</p> <p>Here is the other downside to foods containing sugar alcohols: They often have <a href="http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/sugar-alcohols.html">higher quantities of fat or salt</a> to make up for the lower sugar content.</p> <p><strong>Artificial sweeteners</strong></p> <p>High-intensity sweeteners, are zero- or low-calorie alternatives to sugar. They are made from a variety of sources, and are 100 to 20,000 times as sweet as sugar. Some leave a bitter or metallic taste behind. Two newer substitutes – stevia and SGFE – come from plants and are at times referred to as “natural” substitutes.</p> <p>According to the <a href="https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/42/Supplement_1">American Diabetes Association 2019 guidelines</a>, the use of high-intensity sweeteners may decrease calorie and carbohydrate intake. However, you cannot replace these “free” calories with calories from other food sources, you will lose or the benefits on blood sugar control and weight loss.</p> <p>Researchers have seen this in some of the studies on high-intensity sweeteners. Some of the trials show <a href="http://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.161390">no difference or even a possible increase in weight</a>. But in other studies where intake of food is better regulated and patients don’t replace these free calories with other high-caloric foods, <a href="http://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.113.082826">the weight loss is maintained</a>.</p> <p><strong>The takeaway</strong></p> <p>All sugar substitutes are labeled as food additives and are under the regulation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The latest trend has been labeling some of the sugar substitutes as “derived from plants” or “natural.” That does not necessarily mean that these are safer or more effective in blood sugar control or weight loss. If it is used in excess, side effects such as bloating or diarrhea may still result.</p> <p>Several concerns by researchers have been raised about high-intensity sweeteners – saccharin and aspartame – and cancer. To date, the National Cancer Institute has concluded that there is no clear evidence that any of the high-intensity sweeteners is <a href="https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/artificial-sweeteners-fact-sheet">associated with an increased risk of cancer</a>.</p> <p>As a pharmacist specializing in advanced diabetes, I talk to patients every day about how to control their blood sugar level and their diabetes. There are three main ways to do that: medication, increased activity and diet. The last two are probably more important in the long run.</p> <p>If diet and activity level never change, it is really hard to help patients bring their blood sugars down. Medication after medication will likely have to be added. With this comes the potential for side effects. So if I can persuade patients to make changes to their diet, like switching to a beverage with a sugar substitute, it makes a huge difference in helping to control blood sugars and the dose of medications.</p> <p>The overall focus for diabetes management should be on reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and foods. If you can switch one of these sugar-sweetened products to a food that has a high-intensity sugar substitute, that is better. But best of all is consuming <a href="https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/42/Supplement_1">food and drinks that are not highly processed</a> and do not have added sugars.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/118571/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Jamie Pitlick, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice , Drake University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/sugar-substitutes-is-one-better-or-worse-for-diabetes-for-weight-loss-an-expert-explains-118571" target="_blank">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

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New service lets Australians save big on hearing aids

<p>Australians live with <a href="https://hearingaidcomparison.com.au/edm/?utm_medium=sponsoredstory&amp;utm_source=oversixty&amp;utm_campaign=september">untreated hearing loss</a> for many reasons, particularly to avoid purchasing expensive hearing devices. Now a new service has come on the scene to help reduce those costs, making hearing aids more affordable for the millions of Australians who are losing their hearing.</p> <p><a href="https://hearingaidcomparison.com.au/edm/?utm_medium=sponsoredstory&amp;utm_source=oversixty&amp;utm_campaign=september">HearingAidComparison.com.au</a> helps Australians access a range of hearing aids, from traditional behind-the-ear types to the new invisible in-ear devices.</p> <p>This no-cost online service connects people with local audiologists who offer a free hearing test, the first step towards better hearing. According to the Hearing Care Industry Association (HCIA), only one in four people who could benefit from a hearing aid actually have one.</p> <p>On average, people wait seven years after symptoms appear before seeking help with hearing loss.Left untreated, hearing loss can seriously hinder older Australians’ ability to communicate.</p> <p>This can lead to social isolation, frustrations at work, and even strained relationships. Undergoing a hearing test may seem like a small step, but it can be a huge leap to a <a href="https://hearingaidcomparison.com.au/edm/?utm_medium=sponsoredstory&amp;utm_source=oversixty&amp;utm_campaign=september">better quality of life</a>.</p> <p>After receiving the results of your hearing test, your audiologist will work with you to identify the best options for your level of hearing loss and lifestyle.</p> <p>It’s similar to picking out a pair of glasses. There are thousands of options, but at the end of the day it’s a simple procedure.</p> <p><strong>Here’s how you do it:</strong></p> <p>Step 1: Select your state below.</p> <p>Step 2: After answering a few questions, you will have the opportunity to compare hearing aids in your area and could be eligible for significant savings.</p> <p><a href="https://hearingaidcomparison.com.au/edm/?utm_medium=sponsoredstory&amp;utm_source=oversixty&amp;utm_campaign=september"><img style="width: 500px; height: 156.25px;" src="/media/7831177/altmedia_o60_selectstate_1280.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/397a5ad2e68c4f01a05505ea2e939827" /></a></p> <p>Whether you’re in a position to buy your first hearing aid or are looking to upgrade to a better model, <a href="https://hearingaidcomparison.com.au/edm/?utm_medium=sponsoredstory&amp;utm_source=oversixty&amp;utm_campaign=september">HearingAidComparison.com.au</a> is a good place to start. In just a few minutes online, you can find a trusted audiologist near you, bringing you closer to the hearing aid that could change your life.</p> <p>Not only will your audiologist be able to help you find the best value hearing aid, there’s a good chance that you’ll be eligible for a considerable government rebate on your purchase. Hearing loss is a normal part of ageing, and pensioners are often able to claim money back on hearing aids. Private health insurance holders may also have access to further money saving rebates through their health fund.</p> <p>If you’re a pensioner whose hearing is declining, visit <a href="https://hearingaidcomparison.com.au/edm/?utm_medium=sponsoredstory&amp;utm_source=oversixty&amp;utm_campaign=september">HearingAidComparison.com.au</a> to arrange your free hearing test today. Save yourself years of missed conversations by acting today; the sooner you take steps to treating hearing loss, the sooner you can better communicate with those around you.</p> <p><a href="https://hearingaidcomparison.com.au/edm/?utm_medium=sponsoredstory&amp;utm_source=oversixty&amp;utm_campaign=september"><img style="width: 500px; height: 367.96875px;" src="/media/7831175/altmedia_o60_clickicon_1280.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/ee6db0f7f4864be0a044e39372b6729c" /></a></p> <p><strong>Get started now:</strong></p> <p>Step 1: Select your state below.</p> <p>Step 2: After answering a few questions, you will have the opportunity to compare hearing aids in your area and could be eligible for significant savings.</p> <p><a href="https://hearingaidcomparison.com.au/edm/?utm_medium=sponsoredstory&amp;utm_source=oversixty&amp;utm_campaign=september"><img style="width: 456.8165596002855px; height: 500px;" src="/media/7831174/altmedia_o60_map_1280.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/3d8089f2924f44e7888395bc59e1c1c9" /></a></p> <p><em>This article is opinion only and should not be taken as medical or financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.</em></p> <p class="p1"><em>This is sponsored content brought to you in partnership with <a href="https://hearingaidcomparison.com.au/edm/?utm_medium=sponsoredstory&amp;utm_source=oversixty&amp;utm_campaign=september">HearingAidComparison.com.au</a></em></p>

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Why do people faint?

<p>Maybe it’s a bride standing in a hot chapel, or an exhausted runner after a race. It could be someone watching a medical procedure on television or a donor at a blood drive.</p> <p>Maybe you’ve even experienced it yourself. You start to feel lightheaded, your stomach may hurt, your palms are sweaty, your vision closes in, your ears start to ring …. Then you wake up on the floor, staring up the ceiling, and realize you’ve fainted. What happened?</p> <p>Fainting – or <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7461.336">what medics more technically call syncope</a> – can be caused by a number of factors. Ultimately it comes down to not enough blood getting to your brain.</p> <p>Sufficient blood pressure is necessary in order to deliver blood – and therefore oxygen – to all of the tissues in your body. The brain, which when you’re sitting or standing is above the level of your heart, especially relies on sufficient pressure to overcome gravity and drive blood up to your head.</p> <p>So what can interrupt that process and cause you to hit the deck before you even know what’s going on?</p> <p><strong>Nerve signals at odds</strong></p> <p>By far the most common trigger for fainting is a drop in blood pressure due to a strong vasovagal response. This reflex is named after the vagus nerve, which runs from your brain to your heart, lungs and digestive tract.</p> <p>The vagus nerve’s job is to regulate your parasympathetic nervous system. This is one half of your autonomic nervous system, all of which works without your needing to think about it. The parasympathetic functions are often characterized as rest-and-digest.</p> <p>For example, in the heart, the vagus nerve releases a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine binds to special pacemaker cells to slow the heart rate down. Behaviors such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00353">deep, slow breathing during yoga</a> try to increase parasympathetic activity, slowing the heart and leading to a more relaxed state.</p> <p>While relaxation is a good thing, slowing the heart down too much is not – as when it leads to a brief loss of consciousness. You need your <a href="https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/the-facts-about-high-blood-pressure/blood-pressure-vs-heart-rate-pulse">heart rate</a> to be a certain number of beats per minute in order to contribute adequately to your overall blood pressure.</p> <p>The other half of your autonomic nervous system is the sympathetic nervous system. It’s responsible for the fight-or-flight response, the functional opposite of the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system makes sure the small blood vessels in your body’s tissue maintain a baseline level of constriction. This resistance as blood flows through all your narrow blood vessels contributes to sufficient blood pressure for the whole system.</p> <p>An increase in parasympathetic activity reverses this resistance, allowing blood to linger in the peripheral tissues rather than heading to the heart and brain. A lack of resistance, along with the lowered heart rate, causes a dramatic decrease in blood pressure.</p> <p>And you’ve fainted – or more technically, experienced a neurocardiogenic syncope. While sometimes embarrassing, it’s fairly common and, in itself, not overly dangerous.</p> <p><strong>When a sight or sound is the trigger</strong></p> <p>The physical causes of fainting make logical sense. But there’s some psychology involved here, too. Think about someone who faints at the sight of blood. What’s going on there that can lead to this overactive vasovagal response?</p> <p>Typically, when the body senses an initial stress – like seeing blood – it triggers a fear-filled response that increases sympathetic nervous system activity and the heart rate rises. The body reflexively compensates by increasing parasympathetic activity to slow the heart rate back toward normal. But if the parasympathetic system overcompensates and lowers the heart rate too much, blood pressure can decrease too much, the brain gets less oxygen … and you lose consciousness.</p> <p>Whatever the cause of the fainting spell, the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1537-2995.2001.41121475.x">loss of consciousness is typically brief</a>; most people will come to immediately after hitting the floor or even slumping over in a chair. In this sense, some researchers have suggested that fainting is protective. Once lying down, there’s no longer a gravitational challenge in delivering blood to the brain – it’s now at the same level as the heart. And, if one were actually hemorrhaging, or losing blood, the lying down, motionless posture would preserve blood and reduce further injury.</p> <p>The process of going from standing or sitting to lying on the floor is actually one of the more dangerous aspects of fainting, though. Individuals may hit their head or other body parts on the way down, causing injury.</p> <p>The idea that fainting may be related to the potential for blood loss, rather than a response to needles themselves or a medical procedure in general, has been a topic of recent investigations. In one study of healthy people, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8986.2012.01359.x">watching a video of a blood draw</a> led to slightly greater activation of the parasympathetic response than did watching a very similar video of an injection, suggesting there is something special about the blood itself.</p> <p>This same research group has also shown that, if a person <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8986.2012.01359.x">believes they are able to stop the procedure</a> at any time, vasovagal symptoms can be minimized. This suggests the feeling of fear or lack of control may contribute to the severity of people’s responses.</p> <p><strong>Minimize the likelihood</strong></p> <p>All the different causes for fainting and all the various reasons one person might be predisposed <a href="https://theconversation.com/fight-flight-or-faint-why-some-people-pass-out-when-they-see-blood-or-feel-pain-57348">remain unclear</a>, although it’s well accepted by scientists that <a href="https://doi.org/10.3349/ymj.2010.51.4.499">females are more likely</a> to experience syncope.</p> <p>What is clear are some of the strategies that can help prevent fainting.</p> <ul> <li>Undergo procedures lying down in the supine position. If you do feel faint, bend your knees or elevate your legs to facilitate blood flow to your brain.</li> <li>Contract the muscles in your arms and legs to help move blood back to the heart and brain.</li> <li>Stay well hydrated to maintain sufficient overall blood volume.</li> </ul> <p>Remember that an occasional episode of vasovagal syncope is likely not of concern, as long as you haven’t been injured in the process. But if fainting occurs repeatedly, it’s worth scheduling a medical exam.<!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Anne R. Crecelius, Associate Professor of Health and Sport Science, University of Dayton</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-people-faint-109620" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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“A magic bullet”: New leukemia treatment available can cure aggressive cancer

<p>Researchers at Royal Perth Hospital are thrilled that they’ve helped uncover a new drug that can cure an aggressive type of Leukemia.</p> <p>It’s been dubbed “the magic bullet” as retiree Howard Kurth, 80, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia two years ago.</p> <p>He told<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.9news.com.au/good-news/news-perth-new-leukemia-treatment-dubbed-a-magic-bullet/c2a61f8d-5d5a-49da-aecf-a4dcc2e30fc1" target="_blank">Nine News Perth</a></em><span> </span>that he had just days to live.</p> <p>"There was absolutely no sign of tiredness or soreness or anything," he said.</p> <p>"It was just a shot out of the blue."</p> <p>Howard was riddled with the deadly disease as it had made its way through more than 90 per cent of his body.</p> <p>His health was so bad that he wasn’t eligible for normal chemotherapy, but with this new treatment, he’s just celebrated his 80th birthday.</p> <p>Howard went into remission within four months of starting the new treatment and is still in remission two years later.</p> <p>"I thought, 'Well, I am going to beat this, there's no two ways about it', and so far I have," he said.</p> <p>He is the first patient in Australia to undergo the treatment and the treatment requires two pills taken every day and a small injection of chemotherapy seven days a month.</p> <p>Dr Peter Tan, from Royal Perth Hospital, says they are now using the results to personalise treatments.</p> <p>"What we're trying to find are certain markers to personalise treatment for patients as we know a one-size-fits-all doesn't help everybody," he said.</p> <p>"We think it will change the standard therapy and once it does become available for all patients, it will be the new gold standard across the world." </p>

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Australians urged to give up meat for a week

<p>Australians are encouraged to lay off pork, beef and lamb as Meat Free Week returns for its seventh year.</p> <p>In an effort to raise awareness of bowel cancer, Aussies have been challenged to try a plant-based diet for seven days.</p> <p>An average Australian eats 585g of red and processed meats – including bacon, ham and sausages – every week, according to <span><a href="https://www.mlahealthymeals.com.au/meat-consumption/how-much-meat-do-we-eat/">Meat &amp; Livestock Australia</a></span>.</p> <p><span><a href="https://www.who.int/features/qa/cancer-red-meat/en/">Studies</a></span> found that bowel cancer risk increases by 17 per cent for every 100g of red meat consumed daily and by 18 per cent for every 50g processed meat eaten per day.</p> <p>Bowel cancer is Australia’s second deadliest cancer, taking 103 lives each week.</p> <p>Instead of pushing vegetarian or vegan diets, the campaign simply seeks to promote consumption of vegetables and wholegrains, said Claire Annear, national community engagement manager at Bowel Cancer Australia.</p> <p>“Meat Free Week is all about awareness,” Annear said.</p> <p>“For meat lovers, it’s not about promoting a complete shift to a vegetarian or vegan diet. The campaign supports a pause and for people to make more informed decisions if they’re eating over the recommended intake.”</p> <p>Nutritionist Teresa Mitchell-Paterson said fruits and vegetables will help stave off various types of cancer, including bowel. “The highest reduction of risk is seen in people who eat above 200 grams of vegetables and 100 grams of fruit daily,” she said.</p> <p>“As a nutritionist who has been personally affected by bowel cancer, I know we can’t change some bowel cancer risk factors such as genetic makeup, family history or increasing age, but we can make simple diet and lifestyle changes starting today for a better tomorrow.”</p> <p><span><a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/reduce-your-risk/understanding-meat-and-cancer-risk.html">Cancer Council</a></span> recommends limiting red meat consumption to 455g per week and avoiding processed meats to minimise cancer risk.</p>

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“Cover up”: Mum branded as “disgusting” for breastfeeding her four-month-old baby

<p>A Melbourne woman has been on the receiving end of verbal abuse in front of her children after she attempted to breast feed her son.</p> <p>Ashley Rogers was at a local café with her seven-year-old daughter and infant son when he needed to be fed.</p> <p>The 30-year-old “carefully” picked a location in the shopping centre café “away from crowds”, as she stood near a secluded area that was covered by a wall.</p> <p>It didn’t take long for a man, who was standing 10 metres away, to start yelling, but oblivious to what was happening, Ms Rogers turned away.</p> <p>“I started to breastfeed my son while my daughter and I were ordering food and that’s when I heard the man yelling,” she told<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/babies/mum-branded-disgusting-and-told-to-cover-up-by-a-man-in-a-cafe-for-breastfeeding-her-fourmonthold-baby/news-story/953d0b0ee07b5034aa1697506bc50b10" target="_blank">news.com.au</a></em>.</p> <p>“As I met with his eyes, he looked at me straight and said, ‘You’re disgusting, cover up, I can see your t**s’,” she said.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FTheMilkMumAdvocate%2Fposts%2F112739736784749%3A0&amp;width=500" width="500" height="715" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe></p> <p>Completely taken aback by the harsh words, the mother-of-three confronted the man and said, “Excuse me? I told him, ‘I am feeding my goddamn son’, but he just kept repeating what he said, telling me how ‘disgusting’ I am.”</p> <p>According to Ms Rogers, the man would have had to pay very close attention to see if she was breastfeeding as she was hidden behind a wall and wearing a large puffer jacket.</p> <p>Her daughter was also sitting directly opposite to her, obscuring the public’s vision.</p> <p>“It was horrible, I am not going to lie. People were just staring in shock too,” she said.</p> <p>“By that stage these three beautiful women flocked to me and put their arms around me and kissed me on the forehead.</p> <p>“The moment they asked if I was OK, I just burst into tears.”</p> <p>The experience inspired Ms Rogers to start a blog called<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.facebook.com/TheMilkMumAdvocate/" target="_blank">The Milk Mum</a><span> </span></em>to help support other mums who have been criticised for feeding in public.</p>

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The most common genetic kidney disorder you've probably never heard of

<p>Autosomal-dominant polycystic kidney disease (<a href="https://pkdaustralia.org/adpkd/">ADPKD</a>) is the most common genetic kidney disorder, and the <a href="https://www.anzdata.org.au/report/anzdata-41st-annual-report-2018-anzdata/">fourth most common</a> cause of kidney failure in Australian adults. It affects about <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/imj.13143">one in 1,000 Australians</a>.</p> <p>In people with ADPKD, a mutation in one or two genes leads to the development and progressive growth of cysts in the kidneys, causing a decline in kidney function.</p> <p>Labor senator Malarndirri McCarthy, a Yanyuwa woman, recently spoke publicly about having ADPKD after <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/senator-reveals-kidney-disease-that-saw-her-leave-question-time-for-hospital-20190802-p52d8w.html">she became unwell</a> with a kidney infection and had to leave the Senate.</p> <p>But a newly available treatment for ADPKD shows promise for people with the disease.<a href="http://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-chronic-kidney-disease-and-why-are-one-in-three-at-risk-of-this-silent-killer-81942"></a></p> <p><strong>What is ADPKD?</strong></p> <p>If one parent has ADPKD, the children have a 50 per cent chance of inheriting the gene (though <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/imj.13143">up to 10 per cent</a> of patients don’t have a family history).</p> <p>Where it is inherited, the age of diagnosis and rate of progression to kidney failure in the parent gives some indication of how the disease will develop in affected children.</p> <p>The cysts are like balloons filled with water, which start small in childhood and increase in size over time.</p> <p>Typically, the cysts don’t start to cause problems until later in life. The average age at diagnosis is <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1402685">27 years</a>.</p> <p>As the cysts grow, normal working tissue in the kidney is replaced with enlarging cysts. So with time, the kidneys don’t work as well.</p> <p>For about <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/imj.13143">half of people with ADPKD</a>, their condition will eventually progress to kidney failure, which may be treated with dialysis or a transplant.</p> <p>While the loss of kidney function is paramount, the cysts may cause other symptoms and complications too.</p> <p>Symptoms can include high blood pressure and chronic pain or heaviness in the back, sides and abdomen. The growth of cysts means the kidneys can grow to as large as <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1464-410X.2007.07229.x">5-6kg in size</a>.</p> <p>Blood in the urine, urinary tract infections, kidney stones and infections in the cysts are not uncommon in people with ADKPD, and can all impact quality of life.</p> <p>Other organs may also be affected. People with ADPKD can develop cysts in the liver, pancreas and bowel, and about 10 per cent will experience balloon dilations of the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26260542">blood vessels in the brain</a>, called aneurysms.</p> <p><strong>Treatment</strong></p> <p>Until recently, treatment of ADPKD was directed towards early detection, control of blood pressure, lifestyle measures such as quitting smoking, weight control and diet, antibiotics for infections, analgesics for pain and the management of progressive kidney dysfunction via dialysis and transplantation. None of these therapies however directly slowed the growth of cysts.</p> <p>But on January 1, 2019, tolvaptan <a href="https://pkdaustralia.org/news/">was listed</a> on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Australia now joins the United States, the European Union, and several other countries where this drug was already available.</p> <p>Tolvaptan, which is taken in tablet form, slows the growth of cysts by <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28379536">blocking a hormone called vasopressin</a>. Vasopressin is critical in triggering the formation of cysts. In this way, tolvaptan prolongs the time to kidney failure.</p> <p>In one study, three years of treatment with tolvaptan <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1205511">reduced the rate of cyst growth</a> by around 50 per cent in comparison to a placebo treatment. The authors suggested tolvaptan may delay dialysis or the need for a transplant for six to nine years for patients with ADPKD, particularly if started early.</p> <p>People who took tolvaptan in this study also had lower incidence of ADPKD-related complications including urinary tract infections and kidney pain.</p> <p><strong>Kidney disease and Indigenous Australians</strong></p> <p>ADPKD is not actually more common in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as other causes of <a href="https://www.menzies.edu.au/page/Research/Indigenous_Health/Diabetes_and_kidney_disease/Kidney/">chronic kidney disease</a> are. This may be because ADPKD is inherited.</p> <p>The majority of chronic kidney disease develops as a complication of diabetes, which affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations more commonly and typically <a href="https://www.menzies.edu.au/page/Research/Indigenous_Health/Diabetes_and_kidney_disease/Diabetes/">at a younger age</a> than the overall Australian population.</p> <p>Kidney disease, whatever the cause, remains a significant issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. People in remote Indigenous communities in particular face challenges around accessing treatments in large urban centres, and have poorer access to organ transplants.</p> <p>There are several nationally targeted activities and proposals aimed at reducing the burden of chronic kidney disease in Indigenous Australians.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.menzies.edu.au/icms_docs/281923_Roundtable_Towards_Roadmap_For_Renal_Health_-_Media_Release.pdf">Renal Health RoadMap</a> is designed to support health systems in early detection and management of diabetes and chronic kidney disease. It also seeks to address the social determinants of poor health in Indigenous communities, including housing quality and availability, and health infrastructure.</p> <p>In 2018, Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt commissioned <a href="https://www.tsanz.com.au/TSANZ%20Performance%20Report%20-%20Improving%20Indigenous%20Transplant%20Outcomes%20(Final%20edited)-1.pdf">a report</a> detailing how access to and outcomes of kidney transplants could be improved among Indigenous Australians. He also established a <a href="https://www.anzdata.org.au/anzdata/for-information-2/tsanz/">National Indigenous Kidney Transplantation Taskforce</a> to implement the recommendations from this report.</p> <p>Some key recommendations include improving the communication between health-care teams, patients and their families, addressing cultural bias in the delivery of health care, and improving the quality of data around transplant access and outcomes.</p> <p>Addressing transplant and treatment inequities will benefit Indigenous Australians with kidney failure sustained from ADPKD and chronic kidney disease more broadly.</p> <p><em>Written by <span>Karen Dwyer, Deputy Head, School of Medicine, Deakin University and Jaquelyne Hughes, Senior Research Fellow, Menzies School of Health Research</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/polycystic-kidney-disease-the-most-common-genetic-kidney-disorder-youve-probably-never-heard-of-121441" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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“He is conscious”: Turning point in Michael Schumacher's sad plight

<p>Formula One star Michael Schumacher is said to be “conscious” after undergoing stem-cell treatment in Paris, France, a French newspaper has reported. </p> <p>The <em>Le Parisien </em>revealed earlier this week the seven-time world champion had been admitted to Georges-Pompidou hospital for a complex treatment involving the transfusions of inflammation-reducing stem cells. </p> <p>The cardiac surgeon who carried out the complex operation, Professor Philippe Menasche is also the same doctor who performed the world’s first embryonic cell transplant on a patient with heart failure in just 2014. </p> <p>“He is in my area. And I can assure you that he is conscious,” a source told the French newspaper. </p> <p>The 50-year-old German was left with severe brain damage in 2013 after suffering an accident while skiing. </p> <p>The Formula One legend has since been recovering at his family home in Lausanne and while his family has kept his condition as private as possible, new details have come to light about the trip to Paris. </p> <p>An Italian newspaper <em>La Repubblica </em>quoted biology professor Angelo Vescovi who claimed to have been “contacted by a person who knew Schumacher’s family”. </p> <p>“They asked if something could be done (for Schumacher). At that time, we had made an attempt to inject the same cells we use for multiple sclerosis into the brain of a boy in a coma with quite good results,” he said. </p> <p>“At the moment, we can only make assumptions about what they are doing in Paris.”</p> <p>The <em>Le Parisien</em> reports the Ferrari and Mercedes driver has an estimate of 10 security guards watching over him at the hospital. </p> <p>The family said on the star’s 50th birthday that they were “doing everything humanly possible" and “that he is in the very best of hands”. </p> <p>The manager of Schumacher, Nick Fry, spoke about his accident in his new book<em> Survive. Drive. Win</em>. where he wrote: “Corinna (Schumacher’s wife) and the family have kept a very tight control on information about his condition and his treatment which, I think, is a pity.</p> <p>“There are millions of people out there who have a genuine affection for Michael, and that’s not just his fans in Germany or fans of Mercedes Benz.</p> <p>“He has sustained an injury while skiing, which unfortunately happens to ordinary people every year. Families of those in recovery generally react better if they know other people are in the same boat.</p> <p>“I am sure that techniques and therapies have been developed and tried (with Schumacher) over the last few years that may well help others.</p> <p>“It would be helpful for his family to share how they have dealt with this challenge.”</p> <p> </p>

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How to know if your appendix is inflamed

<p><span>There are many different reasons as to why you might be having stomach pain – and while most of the causes aren’t worrisome, sometimes it could indicate a serious illness like appendicitis.</span></p> <p><span>Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, a thin tube of tissue growing out of the colon. The appendix gets infected when there is a blockage, which could come from bacteria, viruses, fecal matter, parasites or others. </span></p> <p><span>If left untreated, an inflamed appendix can burst and spread its infected contents into the abdominal cavity, increasing risks for potentially fatal infection of the abdominal cavity lining.</span></p> <p><span>Although it is more common among children and young adults, appendicitis can strike anyone of any age. According to general surgeon Diya Alaedeen, ruptured appendixes also <a href="https://www.self.com/story/heres-how-to-know-if-your-appendix-burst">happen more often in elderly patients</a>.</span></p> <p><span>Below are the symptoms of appendicitis according to <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/appendicitis"><em>Better Health Channel</em></a>:</span></p> <ul> <li>Dull pain around the navel area that becomes increasingly sharp towards the lower right side of the abdomen</li> <li>Pain in the lower back, hamstring or less commonly rectum</li> <li>Fever</li> <li>Vomiting</li> <li>Diarrhoea or constipation</li> <li>Appetite loss</li> </ul> <p><span>The symptoms can appear as early as four hours after the appendix gets inflamed, although they can also appear anywhere within the first 24 to 48 hours.</span></p> <p><span>If you or someone you know may have appendicitis, <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/what-causes-appendicitis"><em>Healthdirect</em></a> recommends visiting a doctor as soon as possible. Treatments for the illness include antibiotics and surgery.</span></p>

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7 innocent mistakes that put your kidneys in trouble

<p>If your kidneys aren’t working properly, you could raise your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Here are seven things you may be doing that could jeopardise the health of your kidneys.</p> <p><strong>1. You’re a fan of packaged food</strong></p> <p>Most processed food is chock-full of sodium, which isn’t just bad for your heart, it can lead to kidney problems. When you’re showing signs that you eat too much salt, your body needs to flush the sodium out when you wee, and it takes calcium with it. In turn, having too much calcium in your urine increases your risk for kidney stones, says nephrologist Dr James Simon.</p> <p>In Australia, the National Health and Medical Research Council has set an ‘Adequate Intake’ of sodium at 460–920 mg per day (equivalent to about 1.15-2.3 g of salt), however because on average we consume about 10,000 mg of sodium, the suggested dietary target is 1600 mg (equivalent to about 4 g of salt). One teaspoon of salt equals 2300 mg of sodium – 700 mg higher than the dietary target.</p> <p>Check the nutritional label on processed food, you’ll be surprised just how quickly sodium can add up. In fact, processed and fast food is where more than 75 per cent of the sodium we consume comes from. “People look at carbs and fat and kilojoules, but they don’t pay attention to sodium,” says Dr Simon.</p> <p><strong>2. Your blood pressure is out of control</strong></p> <p>High blood pressure is hard on your whole body, including your kidneys. “Kidneys are basically one big set of blood vessels with urine drains,” says Dr Simon. “If you have high blood pressure in your big blood vessels, you have high blood pressure in your smaller blood vessels.” Letting high blood pressure go unchecked could damage the blood vessels leading to your kidneys, plus scar the organs themselves.</p> <p><strong>3. You haven’t kicked your smoking habit</strong></p> <p>If you thought lung cancer was the only reason to put down the cigarettes, think again. A 2012 study found that quitting smoking for 16 or more years cut the risk of renal cell carcinoma (the most common form of kidney cancer in adults) by 40 per cent. Plus, smoking can damage the blood vessels and increase your risk of high blood pressure. “It’s another reason smoking is just bad on the body,” says Dr Simon.</p> <p><strong>4. You never drink when you’re thirsty</strong></p> <p>Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily need to down a full eight glasses of water to keep your kidneys working well. Even with just four to six glasses of water a day, your kidneys are probably fine, says Dr Simon. But sticking with just a cup or two a day could challenge the organ. Not only will you not have enough water flushing out your system to keep your sodium levels in check, but a dehydrated body will have a harder time keeping blood pressure steady. “The kidney is very sensitive to blood flow,” says Dr Simon. “It won’t like it if you are so dehydrated that your blood pressure drops and the blood flow to your kidneys drops.”</p> <p>You probably won’t need to worry about that level of dehydration every day, but make sure you drink enough water if you’re exercising a lot or outside on a hot day, he says.</p> <p><strong>5. You pop painkillers constantly</strong></p> <p>Watch out if you take over-the-counter medication for chronic pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs, which include ibuprofen and aspirin, reduce blood flow to the kidneys, and cause scarring because they’re directly toxic to the organ, says Dr Simon. Nobody’s saying you need to suffer through a throbbing headache, but popping anti-inflammatory pills too often can increase your risk of kidney problems. “The people at risk are taking them on a daily basis for long periods of time,” says Dr Simon. But if you already have kidney damage, he recommends avoiding these drugs altogether.</p> <p><strong>6. You assume supplements are safe</strong></p> <p>Just because a product is marketed as ‘natural’ doesn’t mean it’s good for you. “There are plenty of herbal medicines out there that are harmful,” says Dr Simon. Case in point: a plant-based ingredient called aristolochic acid can be found in ‘traditional medicines’, but it can cause scarring in the kidneys. Consumers are warned to stay away from products listing Aristolochia, Asarum or Bragantia on the label, because they probably contain the harmful ingredient. Unless you’re taking a regular multivitamin, always check with your doctor before starting any kind of supplement, advises Dr Simon.</p> <p><strong>7. Your weight is pushed to the side</strong></p> <p>No surprises here: extra kilos are hard on your body. Being overweight puts you at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which in turn can increase your chances of developing kidney disease. Insulin issues from both type 1 and type 2 diabetes cause inflammation and scarring in the kidneys, says Dr Simon. “Anybody with diabetes should be getting their kidney function and urine checked on a fairly regular basis,” he says.</p> <p><em>Written by <span>Marissa Laliberte</span>. This article first appeared in </em><span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/7-innocent-mistakes-that-put-your-kidneys-in-trouble" target="_blank"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></span></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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