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Doctor shares her holy grail tips for overcoming eye sensitivity

<p>As the chill of winter sets in, many people find that their eyes become more sensitive and prone to dryness. This can be particularly challenging for those who already suffer from dry eye syndrome. </p> <p>Dr. Jacqueline Beltz is a leading Australian Ophthalmologist and the founder of <a href="https://www.okkiyo.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">OKKIYO</a>, a beauty brand that makes PRIORITEYES mascara for people with sensitive eyes.</p> <p>Dr Beltz has shared her insights into dry eye syndrome and how winter can exacerbate symptoms, also sharing her top tips for managing eye sensitivity during the colder months.</p> <p><strong>Understanding Dry Eye Syndrome</strong></p> <p>The surface of the eye is covered by a delicate layer of tears, essential for comfort, vision, protection, and nutrition. The tear film comprises two main layers: an outer lipid (oily) layer and an inner aqueous (watery) layer. The lipid layer, produced by oil glands in the eyelids, prevents tears from evaporating too quickly, while the aqueous layer, consisting of water, electrolytes, and proteins, spreads tears evenly across the eye and helps them adhere to the surface.</p> <p>When the balance of tear production, evaporation, absorption, and drainage is disrupted, it can lead to dry eye syndrome. Symptoms may include redness, irritation, a gritty sensation, tired eyes, itching, excessive watering, and fluctuating vision. In severe cases, dry eye can be painful and significantly impact daily life.</p> <p><strong>How common is dry eye syndrome?</strong></p> <p>Dry eye syndrome is a widespread issue, particularly among older adults. According to the Blue Mountains Eye Study, 57% of adults over the age of 50 experience some degree of dry eye. This condition is notably more prevalent in women, with higher rates observed compared to their male counterparts. The increased prevalence in women is often attributed to hormonal changes, particularly during and after menopause. </p> <p>A more recent study, Optometry Australia’s 2022 Vision index found that over 85% of Australians are estimated to have experienced dry eyes at some point in their lives.  Of those affected, 55% say they only developed the condition following the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.  They reported that almost 1 in 5 (18%) of people experience dry eye symptoms frequently.  </p> <p>These statistics highlight the importance of understanding and managing dry eye, especially as we age.</p> <p><strong>DEWS II Study and Treatment Approaches</strong></p> <p>The DEWS II (Dry Eye Workshop II) study provides a comprehensive framework for understanding and treating dry eye syndrome. According to the study, dry eye is a multifactorial disease characterised by a loss of homeostasis (or balance) in the tear film, accompanied by eye symptoms. Factors such as tear film instability, hyperosmolarity (increased saltiness), inflammation, and neurosensory (altered feelings or sensations) abnormalities play significant roles.</p> <p>There are two primary types of dry eye: aqueous deficient and evaporative. Most individuals have a combination of both. Aqueous deficient dry eye occurs when there is insufficient production of the watery layer of tears, often due to aging, hormonal changes, or certain medications. Evaporative dry eye is typically caused by environmental factors or conditions affecting the lipid layer, such as meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).</p> <p><strong>Winter's Impact on Dry Eyes</strong></p> <p>Winter poses unique challenges for dry eye sufferers. Cold, dry air, indoor heating, and wind can all exacerbate symptoms. Here's how to combat these winter-specific issues:</p> <p><em><strong>1. Humidify Your Environment</strong></em></p> <p>Indoor heating reduces humidity levels, leading to increased tear evaporation. Consider using a humidifier to maintain moisture in the air, especially in bedrooms and living spaces. This helps keep your eyes hydrated.</p> <p><em><strong>2. Protect Your Eyes Outdoors</strong></em></p> <p>Cold winds can strip away the tear film. When outside, wear wraparound sunglasses to shield your eyes from the elements. This not only protects your eyes from the wind but also from UV rays, which can be strong even in winter.</p> <p><em><strong>3. Stay Hydrated</strong></em></p> <p>Dehydration can worsen dry eye symptoms. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain overall hydration, which supports healthy tear production.</p> <p><em><strong>4. Optimise Your Diet</strong></em></p> <p>Certain foods can promote eye health. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish like salmon and flaxseeds, have anti-inflammatory properties that can help manage dry eye symptoms. Incorporate these into your diet for added benefits.</p> <p><em><strong>5. Use a Warm Compress</strong></em></p> <p>A warm compress can help improve the function of the meibomian glands, which produce the oily layer of the tear film. This is particularly helpful for those with meibomian gland dysfunction, or MGD. Gently apply a warm, damp cloth to your closed eyelids for 10-15 minutes, followed by a gentle massage of the eyelids to encourage oil secretion. It is important to avoid rubbing or compressing the eyeballs.</p> <p><em><strong>6. Use Over-the-Counter Lubricant Eye Drops</strong></em></p> <p>Artificial tears can provide temporary relief by supplementing the natural tear film. Choose preservative-free options to avoid further irritation, and use them frequently.</p> <p><em><strong>7.  Remember to have regular eye checks</strong></em></p> <p>In Australia, Optometrists provide our primary eye health check ups. Dr Beltz recommends adults over the age of 40 see their optometrist once a year, but if you’re struggling with symptoms of dry eye in winter, an extra check up might help and your optometrist will be able to help you to come up with an individualised treatment plan.</p> <p><em><strong>8. Invest in Quality Eye Products</strong></em></p> <p>For those who wear makeup, using products designed for sensitive eyes is crucial. <a href="https://www.okkiyo.com/products/protect-and-preserve-mascara" target="_blank" rel="noopener">PRIORITEYES</a> mascara by OKKIYO has been specifically formulated to be gentle on sensitive eyes, avoiding common irritants while providing excellent performance.</p> <p><strong>Managing Dry Eye in Winter: A Recap</strong></p> <p>Winter can be tough on our eyes, but with the right strategies, you can manage dry eye symptoms effectively. Maintain a humid environment, protect your eyes from cold winds, stay hydrated, and incorporate eye-healthy foods into your diet. Regularly use warm compresses and opt for gentle, high-quality eye products like PRIORITEYES mascara.  </p> <p>Dry eye syndrome may be a common condition, but it doesn't have to dominate your life, especially during the harsh winter months. With these tips, you can keep your eyes comfortable and healthy all season long. For personalised advice and treatment, always consult with your eye care professional.</p> <p>Stay warm, stay hydrated and take care of your eyes this winter!</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

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Want the health benefits of strength training but not keen on the gym? Try ‘exercise snacking’

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justin-keogh-129041">Justin Keogh</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jackson-fyfe-134774">Jackson Fyfe</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>The science is clear: <a href="https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/full/10.1139/apnm-2020-0245">resistance training</a> is crucial to ageing well. Lifting weights (or doing bodyweight exercises like lunges, squats or push-ups) can help you live independently for longer, make your bones stronger, reduce your risk of diseases such as diabetes, and may even improve your <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28919335/">sleep and mental health</a>.</p> <p>But not everyone loves the gym. Perhaps you feel you’re not a “gym person” and never will be, or you’re too old to start. Being a gym-goer can be expensive and time-consuming, and some people report feeling <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/StartingStrength/comments/j3hq32/unwelcome_feeling_at_the_gym/">unwelcome</a> or <a href="https://www.quora.com/I-feel-awkward-and-I-want-to-start-a-gym-but-could-not-What-should-I-do">awkward</a> at the gym.</p> <p>The good news is you don’t need the gym, or lots of free time, to get the health benefits resistance training can offer.</p> <p>You can try “exercise snacking” instead.</p> <h2>What is exercise snacking?</h2> <p>Exercise snacking involves doing multiple shorter bouts (as little as 20 seconds) of exercise throughout the day – often with minimal or no equipment. It’s OK to have <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-021-01605-8">several hours of rest</a> between.</p> <p>You could do simple bodyweight exercises such as:</p> <ul> <li> <p>chair sit-to-stand (squats)</p> </li> <li> <p>lunges</p> </li> <li> <p>box step-ups</p> </li> <li> <p>calf raises</p> </li> <li> <p>push-ups.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Exercise snacking like this can help improve muscle mass, strength and physical function.</p> <p>It’s OK to hold onto a nearby object for balance, if you need. And doing these exercises regularly will also improve your balance. That, in turn, reduces your risk of falls and fractures.</p> <h2>OK I have done all those, now what?</h2> <p>Great! You can also try using resistance bands or dumbbells to do the previously mentioned five exercises as well as some of the following exercises:</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://youtu.be/IP4wM2JpDdQ?si=1B1GyV_FY5rcArW8&amp;t=6">seated rows</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://youtu.be/G6GIffCaJCQ?si=RxXZtzMqQ0DGxF3k&amp;t=48">chest</a> and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUnnz5i4Mnw&amp;t=5s">shoulder presses</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://youtu.be/z0omicIkYu4?si=8WffT3ij12SNTqEs">bicep curls</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wXVnxBgLHo">knee extensions</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtTcXXgeRYo">leg curls</a>.</p> </li> </ul> <p>When using resistance bands, make sure you hold them tightly and that they’re securely attached to an immovable object.</p> <p>Exercise snacking works well when you pair it with an activity you do often throughout the day. Perhaps you could:</p> <ul> <li> <p>do a few extra squats every time you get up from a bed or chair</p> </li> <li> <p>do some lunges during a TV ad break</p> </li> <li> <p>chuck in a few half squats while you’re waiting for your kettle to boil</p> </li> <li> <p>do a couple of elevated push-ups (where you support your body with your hands on a chair or a bench while doing the push-up) before tucking into lunch</p> </li> <li> <p>sneak in a couple of calf raises while you’re brushing your teeth.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>What does the evidence say about exercise snacking?</h2> <p>One <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31687210/">study</a> had older adults without a history of resistance training do exercise snacks at home twice per day for four weeks.</p> <p>Each session involved five simple bodyweight exercises (chair sit-to-stand, seated knee extension, standing knee bends, marching on the spot, and standing calf raises). The participants did each exercise continuously for one minute, with a one-minute break between exercises.</p> <p>These short and simple exercise sessions, which lasted just nine minutes, were enough to improve a person’s ability to stand up from a chair by 31% after four weeks (compared to a control group who didn’t exercise). Leg power and thigh muscle size improved, too.</p> <p>Research involving one of us (Jackson Fyfe) has also <a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-022-03207-z">shown</a> older adults found “exercise snacking” feasible and enjoyable when done at home either once, twice, or three times per day for four weeks.</p> <p>Exercise snacking may be a more sustainable approach to improve muscle health in those who don’t want to – or can’t – lift heavier weights in a gym.</p> <h2>A little can yield a lot</h2> <p>We know from other research that the more you exercise, the more likely it is you will <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167268119302586">keep exercising in future</a>.</p> <p>Very brief resistance training, albeit with heavier weights, may be more <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29975122/">enjoyable</a> than traditional approaches where people aim to do many, many sets.</p> <p>We also know brief-and-frequent exercise sessions can break up <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26378942/">periods</a> of sedentary behaviour (which usually means sitting too much). Too much sitting increases your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, whereas exercise snacking can help keep your <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36921112/">blood sugar levels steady</a>.</p> <p>Of course, longer-term studies are needed. But the evidence we do have suggests exercise snacking really helps.</p> <h2>Why does any of this matter?</h2> <p>As you age, you lose strength and mass in the muscles you use to walk, or stand up. Everyday tasks can become a struggle.</p> <p>All this <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36907247/">contributes</a> to disability, hospitalisation, chronic disease, and reliance on community and residential aged care support.</p> <p>By preserving your muscle mass and strength, you can:</p> <ul> <li> <p>reduce joint pain</p> </li> <li> <p>get on with activities you enjoy</p> </li> <li> <p>live independently in your own home</p> </li> <li> <p>delay or even eliminate the need for expensive health care or residential aged care.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>What if I walk a lot – is that enough?</h2> <p>Walking may maintain some level of lower body muscle mass, but it won’t preserve your <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38190393/">upper body muscles</a>.</p> <p>If you find it difficult to get out of a chair, or can only walk short distances without getting out of breath, resistance training is the best way to regain some of the independence and function you’ve lost.</p> <p>It’s even more important for women, as muscle mass and strength are typically lower in older women than men. And if you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, which is more common in older women than men, resistance exercise snacking at home can improve your balance, strength, and bone mineral density. All of this reduces the risk of falls and fractures.</p> <p>You don’t need <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37171517/">heavy weights</a> or fancy equipment to benefit from resistance training.</p> <p>So, will you start exercise snacking today?<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/232374/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justin-keogh-129041">Justin Keogh</a>, Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jackson-fyfe-134774">Jackson Fyfe</a>, Senior Lecturer, Strength and Conditioning Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/want-the-health-benefits-of-strength-training-but-not-keen-on-the-gym-try-exercise-snacking-232374">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Are you up to date with your COVID, flu and other shots? It might depend on who your GP is

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-breadon-1348098">Peter Breadon</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anika-stobart-1014358">Anika Stobart</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a></em></p> <p>Too many older Australians are <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/A-fair-shot-How-to-close-the-vaccination-gap-Grattan-Institute-Report.pdf">missing out</a> on recommended vaccinations for COVID, flu, shingles and pneumococcal that can protect them from serious illness, hospitalisation and even death.</p> <p>A new <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/">Grattan Institute report</a> shows vaccination rates vary widely from GP to GP, highlighting an important place to look for opportunities to boost vaccination.</p> <p>Many people get vaccinated at pharmacies, and those vaccinations are counted in our analysis. But we looked at GPs because they have a unique role overseeing someone’s health care, and an important role promoting vaccination.</p> <p>We found that for some GPs, nine in ten of their older patients were vaccinated for flu. For others, the rate was only four in ten. The differences for shingles and COVID were even bigger. For pneumococcal disease, there was a 13-fold difference in GPs’ patient vaccination rates.</p> <p>While some variation is inevitable, these differences are large, and they result in too many people missing out on recommended vaccines.</p> <h2>Some GPs treat more complex patients</h2> <p>A lot of these differences reflect the fact that GPs see different types of patients.</p> <p>Our research shows older people who aren’t proficient in English are up to 15% less likely to be vaccinated, even after other factors are taken into account. And the problem seems to be getting worse.</p> <p>COVID vaccination rates for people 75 years and older fell to just 36% in May 2024. But rates were even lower – a mere 11% – for people who don’t speak English proficiently, and 15% for those who speak a language other than English at home.</p> <p>Given these results, it’s no surprise that GPs with fewer patients who are vaccinated also have more patients who struggle with English. For GPs with the lowest vaccination rates, one-quarter of their patients aren’t proficient in English. For GPs with the highest vaccination rates, it is only 1%.</p> <p>GPs with fewer vaccinated patients also saw more people who live in rural areas, are poorer, didn’t go to university, and don’t have regular access to a GP, all of which reduce the likelihood of getting vaccinated.</p> <p>Many of these barriers to vaccination are difficult for GPs to overcome. They point to structural problems in our health system, and indeed our society, that go well beyond vaccination.</p> <p>But GPs are also a key part of the puzzle. A <a href="https://www.ijidonline.com/article/S1201-9712(14)01379-4/fulltext">strong</a> <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21645515.2020.1780848">recommendation</a> from a GP can make a big difference to whether a patient gets vaccinated. <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/primary-health-care/general-practice-allied-health-primary-care">Nearly all</a> older Australians visit a GP every year. And some GPs have room for improvement.</p> <h2>But GPs seeing similar patients can have very different vaccination rates</h2> <p>We compared GPs whose patients had a similar likelihood of being vaccinated, based on a range of factors including their health, wealth and cultural background.</p> <p>Among the GPs whose patients were least likely to get a flu vaccination, some saw less than 40% of their patients vaccinated, while for others in that group, the rate was over 70%.</p> <p>Among GPs with patients who face few barriers to vaccination, the share of their patients who were vaccinated also varied widely.</p> <p>Even within neighbourhoods, GP patient vaccination rates vary a lot. For example, in Bankstown in Sydney, there was a seven-fold difference in COVID vaccination rates and an 18-fold difference for pneumococcal vaccination.</p> <p>Not everything about clinics and patients can be measured in data, and there will be good reasons for some of these differences.</p> <p>But the results do suggest that some GPs are beating the odds to overcome patient barriers to getting vaccinated, while other GPs could be doing more. That should trigger focused efforts to raise vaccination rates where they are low.</p> <h2>So what should governments do?</h2> <p>A comprehensive national reform agenda is <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/A-fair-shot-How-to-close-the-vaccination-gap-Grattan-Institute-Report.pdf">needed to increase adult vaccination</a>. That includes clearer guidance, national advertising campaigns, SMS reminders, and tailored local programs that reach out to communities with very low levels of vaccination.</p> <p>But based on the big differences in GPs’ patient vaccination rates, Australia also needs a three-pronged plan to help GPs lift older Australians’ vaccination rates.</p> <p>First, the way general practice is funded needs to be overhauled, providing more money for the GPs whose patients face higher barriers to vaccination. Today, clinics with patients who are poorer, sicker and who struggle with English tend to get less funding. They should get more, so they can spend more time with patients to explain and promote vaccination.</p> <p>Second, GPs need to be given data, so that they can easily see how their vaccination rates compare to GPs with similar patients.</p> <p>And third, Primary Health Networks – which are responsible for improving primary care in their area – should give clinics with low vaccination rates the help they need. That might include running vaccination sessions, sharing information about best practices that work in similar clinics with higher vaccination rates, or offering translation support.</p> <p>And because pharmacies also play an important role in promoting and providing vaccines, governments should give them data too, showing how their rates compare to other pharmacies in their area, and support to boost vaccination uptake.</p> <p>These measures would go a long way to better protect some of the most vulnerable in our society. Governments have better data than ever before on who is missing out on vaccinations – and other types of health care.</p> <p>They shouldn’t miss the opportunity to target support so that no matter where you live, what your background is, or which GP or pharmacy you go to, you will have the best chance of being protected against disease.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/234175/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-breadon-1348098"><em>Peter Breadon</em></a><em>, Program Director, Health and Aged Care, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anika-stobart-1014358">Anika Stobart</a>, Senior Associate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/are-you-up-to-date-with-your-covid-flu-and-other-shots-it-might-depend-on-who-your-gp-is-234175">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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3 signs your diet is causing too much muscle loss – and what to do about it

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993">Nick Fuller</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>When trying to lose weight, it’s natural to want to see quick results. So when the number on the scales drops rapidly, it seems like we’re on the right track.</p> <p>But as with many things related to weight loss, there’s a flip side: rapid weight loss can result in a significant loss of muscle mass, as well as fat.</p> <p>So how you can tell if you’re losing too much muscle and what can you do to prevent it?</p> <h2>Why does muscle mass matter?</h2> <p>Muscle is an important factor in determining our metabolic rate: how much energy we burn at rest. This is determined by how much muscle and fat we have. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, meaning it burns more calories.</p> <p>When we diet to lose weight, we create a calorie deficit, where our bodies don’t get enough energy from the food we eat to meet our energy needs. Our bodies start breaking down our fat and muscle tissue for fuel.</p> <p>A decrease in calorie-burning muscle mass slows our metabolism. This quickly slows the rate at which we lose weight and impacts our ability to maintain our weight long term.</p> <h2>How to tell you’re losing too much muscle</h2> <p>Unfortunately, measuring changes in muscle mass is not easy.</p> <p>The most accurate tool is an enhanced form of X-ray called a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan. The scan is primarily used in medicine and research to capture data on weight, body fat, muscle mass and bone density.</p> <p>But while DEXA is becoming more readily available at weight-loss clinics and gyms, it’s not cheap.</p> <p>There are also many “smart” scales available for at home use that promise to provide an accurate reading of muscle mass percentage.</p> <p>However, the accuracy of these scales is questionable. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8122302/">Researchers found</a> the scales tested massively over- or under-estimated fat and muscle mass.</p> <p>Fortunately, there are three free but scientifically backed signs you may be losing too much muscle mass when you’re dieting.</p> <h2>1. You’re losing much more weight than expected each week</h2> <p>Losing a lot of weight rapidly is one of the early signs that your diet is too extreme and you’re losing too much muscle.</p> <p>Rapid weight loss (of more than 1 kilogram per week) results in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5702468/">greater muscle mass loss</a> than slow weight loss.</p> <p>Slow weight loss better preserves muscle mass and often has the added benefit of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666312000153">greater fat mass loss</a>.</p> <p>One study compared people in the obese weight category who followed either a very low-calorie diet (500 calories per day) for five weeks or a low-calorie diet (1,250 calories per day) for 12 weeks. While both groups lost similar amounts of weight, participants following the very low-calorie diet (500 calories per day) for five weeks lost <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26813524/">significantly more muscle mass</a>.</p> <h2>2. You’re feeling tired and things feel more difficult</h2> <p>It sounds obvious, but feeling tired, sluggish and finding it hard to complete physical activities, such as working out or doing jobs around the house, is another strong signal you’re losing muscle.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3648712/">Research</a> shows a decrease in muscle mass may negatively impact your body’s physical performance.</p> <h2>3. You’re feeling moody</h2> <p>Mood swings and feeling anxious, stressed or depressed may also be signs you’re losing muscle mass.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26228522/">Research</a> on muscle loss due to ageing suggests low levels of muscle mass can negatively impact mental health and mood. This seems to stem from the relationship between low muscle mass and proteins called neurotrophins, which help regulate mood and feelings of wellbeing.</p> <h2>So how you can do to maintain muscle during weight loss?</h2> <p>Fortunately, there are also three actions you can take to maintain muscle mass when you’re following a calorie-restricted diet to lose weight.</p> <h2>1. Incorporate strength training into your exercise plan</h2> <p>While a broad exercise program is important to support overall weight loss, strength-building exercises are a surefire way to help prevent the loss of muscle mass. A <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29596307/">meta-analysis of studies</a> of older people with obesity found resistance training was able to prevent almost 100% of muscle loss from calorie restriction.</p> <p>Relying on diet alone to lose weight will reduce muscle along with body fat, slowing your metabolism. So it’s essential to make sure you’ve incorporated sufficient and appropriate exercise into your weight-loss plan to hold onto your muscle mass stores.</p> <p>But you don’t need to hit the gym. Exercises using body weight – such as push-ups, pull-ups, planks and air squats – are just as effective as lifting weights and using strength-building equipment.</p> <p>Encouragingly, moderate-volume resistance training (three sets of ten repetitions for eight exercises) <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/sms.14237">can be as effective</a> as high-volume training (five sets of ten repetitions for eight exercises) for maintaining muscle when you’re following a calorie-restricted diet.</p> <h2>2. Eat more protein</h2> <p>Foods high in protein play an essential role in building and maintaining muscle mass, but <a href="https://europepmc.org/article/MED/19927027">research</a> also shows these foods help prevent muscle loss when you’re following a calorie-restricted diet.</p> <p>But this doesn’t mean <em>just</em> eating foods with protein. Meals need to be balanced and include a source of protein, wholegrain carb and healthy fat to meet our dietary needs. For example, eggs on wholegrain toast with avocado.</p> <h2>3. Slow your weight loss plan down</h2> <p>When we change our diet to lose weight, we take our body out of its comfort zone and trigger its survival response. It then counteracts weight loss, triggering <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25896063/">several physiological responses</a> to defend our body weight and “survive” starvation.</p> <p>Our body’s survival mechanisms want us to regain lost weight to ensure we survive the next period of famine (dieting). <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5764193/">Research</a> shows that more than half of the weight lost by participants is regained within two years, and more than 80% of lost weight is regained within five years.</p> <p>However, a slow and steady, stepped approach to weight loss, prevents our bodies <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38193357/">from activating defence mechanisms</a> to defend our weight when we try to lose weight.</p> <p>Ultimately, losing weight long-term comes down to making gradual changes to your lifestyle to ensure you form habits that last a lifetime.</p> <hr /> <p><em>At the Boden Group, Charles Perkins Centre, we are studying the science of obesity and running clinical trials for weight loss. You can <a href="https://redcap.sydney.edu.au/surveys/?s=RKTXPPPHKY">register here</a> to express your interest.</em><!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223865/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993"><em>Nick Fuller</em></a><em>, Charles Perkins Centre Research Program Leader, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/3-signs-your-diet-is-causing-too-much-muscle-loss-and-what-to-do-about-it-223865">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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What’s the difference between ‘man flu’ and flu? Hint: men may not be exaggerating

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/thea-van-de-mortel-1134101">Thea van de Mortel</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a></em></p> <p>The term “man flu” takes a <a href="https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/man-flu">humorous poke</a> at men with minor respiratory infections, such as colds, who supposedly exaggerate their symptoms.</p> <p>According to the stereotype, a man lies on the sofa with a box of tissues. Meanwhile his female partner, also with a snotty nose, carries on working from home, doing the chores and looking after him.</p> <p>But is man flu real? Is there a valid biological reason behind men’s symptoms or are men just malingering? And how does man flu differ from flu?</p> <h2>What are the similarities?</h2> <p>Man flu could refer to a number of respiratory infections – a cold, flu, even a mild case of COVID. So it’s difficult to compare man flu with flu.</p> <p>But for simplicity, let’s say man flu is actually a cold. If that’s the case, man flu and flu have some similar features.</p> <p>Both are caused by viruses (but different ones). Both are improved with rest, fluids, and if needed painkillers, throat lozenges or decongestants to <a href="https://activities.nps.org.au/nps-order-form/Resources/NPS-Cold-and-Flu-Brochure-May-2014.pdf">manage symptoms</a>.</p> <p>Both <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/coldflu.htm">can share</a> similar symptoms. Typically, more severe symptoms such as fever, body aches, violent shivering and headaches are more common in flu (but sometimes occur in colds). Meanwhile sore throats, runny noses, congestion and sneezing are more common in colds. A cough is common in both.</p> <h2>What are the differences?</h2> <p><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/keyfacts.htm">Flu</a> is a more serious and sometimes fatal respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. Colds are caused by various viruses such as <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3553670/">rhinoviruses</a>, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/adenovirus/about/?CDC_AAref_Val=https://www.cdc.gov/adenovirus/symptoms.html">adenoviruses</a>, and common cold <a href="https://journals.lww.com/pidj/citation/2022/03000/proving_etiologic_relationships_to_disease_.18.aspx">coronaviruses</a>, and are rarely serious.<br />Colds tend to <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/coldflu.htm">start gradually</a> while flu tends to start abruptly.</p> <p>Flu can be <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/diagnosis/overview-testing-methods.htm">detected</a> with laboratory or at-home tests. Man flu is not an official diagnosis.</p> <p>Severe flu symptoms may be prevented with <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm">a vaccine</a>, while cold symptoms cannot.</p> <p>Serious flu infections may also be <a href="https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/racf-antiviral-treatments-and-prophylaxis.aspx">prevented or treated</a> with antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu. There are no antivirals for colds.</p> <h2>OK, but is man flu real?</h2> <p>Again, let’s assume man flu is a cold. Do men really have worse colds than women? The picture is complicated.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022399922003324?via%3Dihub">One study</a>, with the title “Man flu is not a thing”, did in fact show there <em>were</em> differences in men’s and women’s symptoms.</p> <p>This study looked at symptoms of acute rhinosinusitis. That’s inflammation of the nasal passages and sinuses, which would explain a runny or stuffy nose, a sinus headache or face pain.</p> <p>When researchers assessed participants at the start of the study, men and women had similar symptoms. But by days five and eight of the study, women had fewer or less-severe symptoms. In other words, women had recovered faster.</p> <p>But when participants rated their own symptoms, we saw a somewhat different picture. Women rated their symptoms worse than how the researchers rated them at the start, but said they recovered more quickly.</p> <p>All this suggests men were not exaggerating their symptoms and did indeed recover more slowly. It also suggests women feel their symptoms more strongly at the start.</p> <h2>Why is this happening?</h2> <p>It’s not straightforward to tease out what’s going on biologically.</p> <p>There are <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nri.2016.90">differences</a> in immune responses between men and women that provide a plausible reason for worse symptoms in men.</p> <p>For instance, women generally produce antibodies more efficiently, so they <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nri.2016.90">respond more effectively</a> to vaccination. Other aspects of women’s immune system also appear to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2735332/">work more strongly</a>.</p> <p>So why do women tend to have <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nri.2016.90">stronger immune responses</a> overall? That’s probably partly because women have two X chromosomes while men have one. X chromosomes carry important <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nri.2016.90#Tab3">immune function genes</a>. This gives women the benefit of immune-related genes from two different chromosomes.</p> <p>Oestrogen (the female sex hormone) also seems to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nri.2016.90">strengthen</a> the immune response, and as levels vary throughout the lifespan, so does <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciimmunol.aan2946">the strength</a> of women’s immune systems.</p> <p>Men are certainly more likely to die from some infectious diseases, such as <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/life-expectancy-deaths/deaths-in-australia/contents/covid-10-deaths">COVID</a>. But the picture is less clear with other infections such as the flu, where the incidence and mortality between men and women <a href="https://iris.who.int/bitstream/handle/10665/44401/9789241500111_eng.pdf?sequence=1&amp;isAllowed=y">varies widely</a> between countries and particular flu subtypes and outbreaks.</p> <p>Infection rates and outcomes in men and women can also depend on the way a virus is <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/immunology/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2021.712688/full">transmitted</a>, the person’s age, and social and behavioural factors.</p> <p>For instance, women seem to be more likely to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8077589/#R20">practice protective behaviours</a> such as washing their hands, wearing masks or avoiding crowded indoor spaces. Women are also <a href="https://bmcprimcare.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12875-016-0440-0">more likely</a> to seek medical care when ill.</p> <h2>So men aren’t faking it?</h2> <p>Some evidence suggests men are not over-reporting symptoms, and may take longer to clear an infection. So they may experience man flu more harshly than women with a cold.</p> <p>So cut the men in your life some slack. If they are sick, gender stereotyping is unhelpful, and may discourage men from seeking medical advice.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231161/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/thea-van-de-mortel-1134101">Thea van de Mortel</a>, Professor, Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/whats-the-difference-between-man-flu-and-flu-hint-men-may-not-be-exaggerating-231161">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Mummified body of missing climber found after 22 years

<p>Twenty-two years ago, William Stampfl and two of his friends went missing when an avalanche buried them as they made their way up one of the highest peaks in the Andes mountains in Peru. </p> <p>William's family had little hope of finding him alive, or even retrieving his corpse from thick layers of snow, but in June his daughter got an unexpected call. </p> <p>A stranger said he had come across the climber's frozen, but mostly intact body as he made his own way up the Huascaran peak. </p> <p>"It's been a shock" Jennifer Stampfl said. </p> <p>The 53-year-old added: "When you get that phone call that he's been found your heart just sinks. You don't know how exactly to feel at first."</p> <p>A group of policemen and mountain guides retrieved his body on Tuesday, putting it on a stretcher and slowly taking it down the icy mountain. </p> <p>His body was found at an altitude of 5200m, around a nine-hour hike from one of the camps where climbers stop when they are climbing the summit. </p> <p>William's body and clothing were preserved by the ice and freezing temperatures, with the driver's licence in his hip pouch used to identify him. </p> <p>Lenin Alvardo, one of the police officers who participated in the recovery operation, added that the hip pouch also contained a pair of sunglasses, a camera, a voice recorder and two decomposing $20 bills.</p> <p>William still had a gold wedding ring on his left hand.</p> <p>"I've never seen anything like that," Alvarado said.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="es"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/%C3%81ncash?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Áncash</a>🚨| ¡Rescatan cadáver en glaciar!<br />Agentes del Departamento de Alta Montaña, tras una intensa búsqueda ubicaron el cuerpo momificado y deshidratado de una persona NN en el nevado de <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Huascar%C3%A1n?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Huascarán</a>. Sus restos fueron internados a la morgue de <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Yungay?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Yungay</a> para su identificación. <a href="https://t.co/WJGklwUwbp">pic.twitter.com/WJGklwUwbp</a></p> <p>— Policía Nacional del Perú (@PoliciaPeru) <a href="https://twitter.com/PoliciaPeru/status/1809394543512416721?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 6, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <p>The climber who found his body then called William's relatives, who then got in touch with local mountain guides. </p> <p>His daughter said that the family plans to move the body to a funeral home in Lima, where it can be cremated. </p> <p>"For 22 years, we just kind of put in our mind: 'This is the way it is. Dad's part of the mountain, and he's never coming home,'" she said.</p> <p>William was trying to climb Peru's highest peak with his friends Matthew Richardson and Steve Erskine in 2002. </p> <p>Erskine's body was found shortly after the avalanche, but Richardson's corpse is still missing.</p> <p>William's daughter said that a plaque in memory of the three friends was placed at the summit of Mount Baldy in Southern California, where the trio trained for their expeditions. </p> <p>She hopes to return to the site with her father's remains. </p> <p><em>Image: Peruvian National Police/ X </em></p>

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Courtney Cox's hilarious 60th celebration

<p>Courtney Cox, who celebrated her milestone 60th birthday last month, gave fans an inside look into her wellness routine - which even she thinks is a bit much. </p> <p>The <em>Friends </em>star took to Instagram to share a video clip of her exercise routine, which included seated arm rows, squats, pull-ups, chest presses, crunches and cardio. </p> <p>“I just had a birthday,” she said in the video while in the gym.</p> <p>“Don’t love the number, but look, we have no choice,” she wrote.</p> <p>“You just gotta do the best you can,” she said in the video. </p> <p>While getting in daily exercise is a pretty common thing to do to stay fit, it was what she did towards the end of the video that captured fans' attention. </p> <p>The actress swapped her black workout set for a tiny bikini before braving the cold inside what looked like an industrial-sized freezer. </p> <p>Taking things a tad further, she also wore a sheet face mask and a red-light therapy baseball hat inside the chamber, poking fun at her own routine and all the different wellness fads trending online. </p> <p>“What, it’s cryotherapy?” she jokingly said while crawling out of the freezer, which appeared to be in her garage.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" 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);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C9InuVssEq_/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <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> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </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;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C9InuVssEq_/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Courteney Cox (@courteneycoxofficial)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Fans praised the actress for her fitness. </p> <p>"You are always so gorgeous and funny" one wrote. </p> <p>"You’re killing it!! Wow🔥 happy birthday forget the number and keep living your best life," another added. </p> <p>"Can someone please show the Kardashians this video so they‘ll know how to train," a fourth quipped. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

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Walking or running: for the same distance, which consumes more energy?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/clement-lemineur-1529211">Clément Lemineur</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-cote-dazur-2917">Université Côte d’Azur</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/clement-naveilhan-1495411">Clément Naveilhan</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-cote-dazur-2917">Université Côte d’Azur</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/francois-dernoncourt-1495410">François Dernoncourt</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-cote-dazur-2917">Université Côte d’Azur</a></em></p> <p>It’s Monday morning, the alarm goes off and it’s already 7:30 a.m. – and you’re 30 minutes late. Normally you need 45 minutes to walk the 3 kilometres to work, but this morning you’ll be running for 20 minutes. Yes, but by lunchtime you’re feeling more tired and you have the impression that you’ve expended more energy than usual on the trip. Yet you’ve covered the same distance as on the other days. How can this be?</p> <p>The calorie expenditure associated with any activity is called the “metabolic cost”, and corresponds to the energy consumed by our organs to cover a given distance. This metabolic cost can be determined by analysing the oxygen our bodies consume and the carbon dioxide they produce, we can estimate the amount of energy expended, and thus the metabolic cost. It was using this method that <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/692303/">researchers had already answered our question back in the 1970s</a>.</p> <p>Perhaps not surprisingly, running consumes more energy than walking for the same distance covered. But why?</p> <h2>Energy lost when running</h2> <p>Imagine you’re watching someone running. Now look closely at the vertical movement (up and down) of their pelvis and head. As you can see from the diagram below, when we run, the distance that our body moves up and down is greater than when we walk. To produce this vertical movement, the muscles of the lower limbs have to generate more force, and that consumes more energy, yet doesn’t bring us any closer to our destination. So when running, part of the energy expended is used to move our bodies <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16029949/">upward rather than forward</a>. The energy needed to cover those 3 km is therefore higher for running than for walking.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/602769/original/file-20240625-18-xilv63.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/602769/original/file-20240625-18-xilv63.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/602769/original/file-20240625-18-xilv63.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=287&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/602769/original/file-20240625-18-xilv63.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=287&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/602769/original/file-20240625-18-xilv63.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=287&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/602769/original/file-20240625-18-xilv63.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=361&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/602769/original/file-20240625-18-xilv63.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=361&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/602769/original/file-20240625-18-xilv63.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=361&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Illustration of the oscillations of running and walking" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Running involves much greater vertical oscillation of the centre of mass than walking. This is the main reason why running consumes more energy than walking for the same distance covered.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">François Dernoncourt</span>, <span class="license">Fourni par l'auteur</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>This difference between walking and running is not confined to what happens during the activity itself. In fact, each physical exercise causes a delayed expenditure of energy, which is added to the expenditure during the activity.</p> <p>Taking this into account, it’s once again running that uses more energy than walking. Immediately after running your 3 km, the increased energy consumption (compared with resting) lasts for several minutes, mainly because of the increase in body temperature and the replenishment of energy reserves. This additional expenditure after running is <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22446673/">more than twice that observed after walking</a>, due to the difference in intensity between the two exercises.</p> <h2>It all depends on speed</h2> <p>Running therefore involves a higher calorie expenditure than walking for the same distance covered. But this is on condition that the walking speed considered is “normal” (around 5 km/h). So, if we walk very slowly, it will take us so long to cover the 3 km that the calorie expenditure will be greater in the end. This is because the body expends a certain amount of energy per unit of time no matter what, regardless of the activity performed (known as the “basal metabolic rate”).</p> <p>The same applies if the walking speed is very fast (<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29925582/">more than 8 km/h</a>): running is more energy-efficient. Here, the coordination required to walk at such a speed means that we need to activate our muscles more, without being able to take advantage of the elasticity of our tendons, as is the case with running.</p> <p>Moreover, we have a very precise intuitive perception of the energy efficiency of a particular style of movement. If we’re on a treadmill whose speed gradually increases, the point at which we spontaneously switch from walking to running coincides with the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096663622100120X">moment when it would become more energy-consuming to walk than to run</a>.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/604700/original/file-20240703-17-4dlrj.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/604700/original/file-20240703-17-4dlrj.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/604700/original/file-20240703-17-4dlrj.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=395&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/604700/original/file-20240703-17-4dlrj.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=395&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/604700/original/file-20240703-17-4dlrj.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=395&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/604700/original/file-20240703-17-4dlrj.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=497&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/604700/original/file-20240703-17-4dlrj.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=497&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/604700/original/file-20240703-17-4dlrj.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=497&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Modelling of metabolic cost (kilocalories expended per kilogram per kilometre covered) as a function of speed (kilometres per hour) for walking and running. The curves cross at a certain speed (purple line; around 8 km/h): this means that above this speed, walking becomes more energy-intensive than running. It’s at around this threshold speed that people spontaneously switch from walking to running.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">François Dernoncourt, Adapted from Summerside et al</span>, <span class="license">Fourni par l'auteur</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>In conclusion, because of greater oscillation of the centre of mass and increased energy expenditure after exercise, running to work is more energy-intensive than covering the same distance by walking. But remember, whether you choose to walk or run to work, the most important thing is that you’re already saving energy!<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/233943/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/clement-lemineur-1529211">Clément Lemineur</a>, Doctorant en Sciences du Mouvement Humain, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-cote-dazur-2917">Université Côte d’Azur</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/clement-naveilhan-1495411">Clément Naveilhan</a>, Doctorant en Sciences du Mouvement Humain, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-cote-dazur-2917">Université Côte d’Azur</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/francois-dernoncourt-1495410">François Dernoncourt</a>, Doctorant en Sciences du Mouvement Humain, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-cote-dazur-2917">Université Côte d’Azur</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/walking-or-running-for-the-same-distance-which-consumes-more-energy-233943">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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‘I keep away from people’ – combined vision and hearing loss is isolating more and more older Australians

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/moira-dunsmore-295190">Moira Dunsmore</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/annmaree-watharow-1540942">Annmaree Watharow</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-kecman-429210">Emily Kecman</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-health">ageing population</a> brings a growing crisis: people over 65 are at greater risk of dual sensory impairment (also known as “deafblindness” or combined vision and hearing loss).</p> <p>Some 66% of people over 60 have hearing loss and 33% of older Australians have low vision. Estimates suggest more than a quarter of Australians over 80 are <a href="https://www.senseswa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/a-clear-view---senses-australia.pdf">living with dual sensory impairment</a>.</p> <p>Combined vision and hearing loss <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0264619613490519">describes</a> any degree of sight and hearing loss, so neither sense can compensate for the other. Dual sensory impairment can occur at any point in life but is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annepidem.2012.02.004">increasingly common</a> as people get older.</p> <p>The experience can make older people feel isolated and unable to participate in important conversations, including about their health.</p> <h2>Causes and conditions</h2> <p>Conditions related to hearing and vision impairment often <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-we-lose-our-hearing-and-vision-as-we-age-67930">increase as we age</a> – but many of these changes are subtle.</p> <p>Hearing loss can start <a href="https://www.who.int/teams/noncommunicable-diseases/sensory-functions-disability-and-rehabilitation/highlighting-priorities-for-ear-and-hearing-care">as early as our 50s</a> and often accompany other age-related visual changes, such as <a href="https://www.mdfoundation.com.au/">age-related macular degeneration</a>.</p> <p>Other age-related conditions are frequently prioritised by patients, doctors or carers, such as <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/health-conditions-disability-deaths/chronic-disease/overview">diabetes or heart disease</a>. Vision and hearing changes can be easy to overlook or accept as a normal aspect of ageing. As an older person we interviewed for our <a href="https://hdl.handle.net/2123/29262">research</a> told us</p> <blockquote> <p>I don’t see too good or hear too well. It’s just part of old age.</p> </blockquote> <h2>An invisible disability</h2> <p>Dual sensory impairment has a significant and negative impact in all aspects of a person’s life. It reduces access to information, mobility and orientation, impacts <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/09638280210129162">social activities and communication</a>, making it difficult for older adults to manage.</p> <p>It is underdiagnosed, underrecognised and sometimes misattributed (for example, to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbz043">cognitive impairment or decline</a>). However, there is also growing evidence of links between <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/dad2.12054">dementia and dual sensory loss</a>. If left untreated or without appropriate support, dual sensory impairment diminishes the capacity of older people to live independently, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/dad2.12054">feel happy and be safe</a>.</p> <p>A dearth of specific resources to educate and support older Australians with their dual sensory impairment means when older people do raise the issue, their GP or health professional may not understand its significance or where to refer them. One older person told us:</p> <blockquote> <p>There’s another thing too about the GP, the sort of mentality ‘well what do you expect? You’re 95.’ Hearing and vision loss in old age is not seen as a disability, it’s seen as something else.</p> </blockquote> <h2>Isolated yet more dependent on others</h2> <p>Global trends show a worrying conundrum. Older people with dual sensory impairment become <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/dad2.12054">more socially isolated</a>, which impacts their mental health and wellbeing. At the same time they can become increasingly dependent on other people to help them navigate and manage day-to-day activities with limited sight and hearing.</p> <p>One aspect of this is how effectively they can <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.25522">comprehend and communicate in a health-care setting</a>. Recent research shows <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/healthcare12080852">doctors and nurses in hospitals</a> aren’t making themselves understood to most of their patients with dual sensory impairment. Good communication in the health context is about more than just “knowing what is going on”, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2227-9032/12/8/852">researchers note</a>. It facilitates:</p> <ul> <li>shorter hospital stays</li> <li>fewer re-admissions</li> <li>reduced emergency room visits</li> <li>better treatment adherence and medical follow up</li> <li>less unnecessary diagnostic testing</li> <li>improved health-care outcomes.</li> </ul> <h2>‘Too hard’</h2> <p>Globally, there is a better understanding of how important it is to <a href="https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240030749">maintain active social lives</a> as people age. But this is difficult for older adults with dual sensory loss. One person told us</p> <blockquote> <p>I don’t particularly want to mix with people. Too hard, because they can’t understand. I can no longer now walk into that room, see nothing, find my seat and not recognise [or hear] people.</p> </blockquote> <p>Again, these experiences increase reliance on family. But caring in this context is tough and largely <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2020.572201">hidden</a>. Family members describe being the “eyes and ears” for their loved one. It’s a 24/7 role which can bring <a href="https://doi.org/10.1159/000507856">frustration, social isolation and depression</a> for carers too. One spouse told us:</p> <blockquote> <p>He doesn’t talk anymore much, because he doesn’t know whether [people are] talking to him, unless they use his name, he’s unaware they’re speaking to him, so he might ignore people and so on. And in the end, I noticed people weren’t even bothering him to talk, so now I refuse to go. Because I don’t think it’s fair.</p> </blockquote> <p>So, what can we do?</p> <p>Dual sensory impairment is a growing problem with potentially devastating impacts.</p> <p>It should be considered a unique and distinct disability in all relevant protections and policies. This includes the right to dedicated diagnosis and support, accessibility provisions and specialised skill development for health and social professionals and carers.</p> <p>We need to develop resources to help people with dual sensory impairment and their families and carers understand the condition, what it means and how everyone can be supported. This could include communication adaptation, such as social haptics (communicating using touch) and specialised support for older adults to <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09649069.2019.1627088">navigate health care</a>.</p> <p>Increasing awareness and understanding of dual sensory impairment will also help those impacted with everyday engagement with the world around them – rather than the isolation many feel now.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/232142/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/moira-dunsmore-295190">Moira Dunsmore</a>, Senior Lecturer, Sydney Nursing School, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/annmaree-watharow-1540942">Annmaree Watharow</a>, Lived Experience Research Fellow, Centre for Disability Research and Policy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-kecman-429210">Emily Kecman</a>, Postdoctoral research fellow, Department of Linguistics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-keep-away-from-people-combined-vision-and-hearing-loss-is-isolating-more-and-more-older-australians-232142">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Take my (bad) breath away – causes of halitosis and how to check whether you have it

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dan-baumgardt-1451396">Dan Baumgardt</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-bristol-1211">University of Bristol</a></em></p> <p>In Greek mythology, the many-headed beast <a href="https://mythopedia.com/topics/hydra">Hydra</a> had such severe <a href="https://patient.info/oral-dental-care/bad-breath-halitosis">halitosis</a> that the stench of its breath was deadly to anyone who smelled it. Thankfully, our morning breath might not be that pungent – although eating <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/get-rid-of-garlic-onion-breath">onions or garlic</a> can put some people in competition with the Hydra.</p> <p>Halitosis has many causes (aside from poor oral hygiene) and can indicate problems with the gut, the sinuses and even the bloodstream. In fact, breath samples can even be tested to make formal diagnoses of health conditions.</p> <p>One condition that can affect the smell of breath is <a href="https://www.diabetes.org.uk/">diabetes mellitus</a>. This is a metabolic disorder where sugar (glucose) is unable to access the body’s cells where it is needed to provide energy, and so rises in the bloodstream.</p> <p>In some instances, such as insufficient insulin dosing, or infection, the body’s response is to break down fats into compounds called ketones to act as a rapid form of fuel. This serious condition is called <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diabetic-ketoacidosis/">diabetic ketoacidosis</a>.</p> <p>Ketones have a distinctive scent. <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/acetone-properties-and-incident-management/acetone-general-information">Acetone</a>, which is also an ingredient in some nail varnish removers, is one of these ketones and has the smell of pear drops. When ketones build up in the bloodstream they easily <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/0967-3334/32/8/N01/pdf">diffuse into the breath</a>, giving it a <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319683">fruity odour</a>.</p> <p>It’s not just diabetes that can trigger ketone production. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36033148/">Some diets</a> are based on generating ketones from the breakdown of fats to promote weight loss. These methods, such as the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/atkins-diet-101">Atkins diet</a>, force the body to convert fat into energy by restricting carbohydrates.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5U8IDO1fHlU?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Other diets based on the same principles include the <a href="https://patient.info/healthy-living/weight-loss-weight-reduction/52-diet">5:2</a> intermittent fasting diet. On this diet, followers restrict food intake on two days of the week to significantly reduce calorie consumption – and make the body produce ketones.</p> <p>These diets may help weight loss, but the side-effects can be grim. One of the most notorious side-effects is foul breath, although there are also anecdotal reports of <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2019/03/03/is-keto-crotch-really-a-side-effect-of-the-keto-diet/">“keto crotch”</a> where some followers of keto diets complain of strong genital odour.</p> <h2>Bacteria and breath</h2> <p>Another cause of bad breath is an <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1752-7155/4/1/017003/pdf">overgrowth of bacteria</a> that produce foul smells. There are plenty of nooks and crannies in the mouth for bacteria to hide, grow and fester, especially the hard-to-clean areas – in between the teeth, and in and around the gums and tongue – or out-of-reach places, such as right at the back of the mouth and the throat.</p> <p>The throat acts as a passage for food, fluids and air. Some patients can develop a condition called <a href="https://www.entuk.org/patients/conditions/49/pharyngeal_pouch_surgery_new">pharyngeal pouch</a>. This is where a pocket forms at the back of the pharynx (the medical name for the throat) in which food and fluids can accumulate, ferment and give breath a pungent odour.</p> <p>Bacteria can also trigger infections in the mouth, like tonsillitis and tooth abscesses where tissues become inflamed, or develop purulence (production of pus). Pus is a collection of different dead cells, including bacteria, and it too can give off a putrid smell.</p> <p>Also, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25234037/">sinusitis</a> – which is an infection of the air-filled cavities in the skull – can drip foul-smelling infected secretions into the throat, causing bad breath.</p> <h2>Breath tests</h2> <p>Doctors can test breath for bacteria to diagnose some health conditions. For example, <em><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28891138/">Helicobacter pylori</a></em>, bacteria that can irritate the gut and lead to the development of potentially dangerous ulcers, turns the compound urea into carbon dioxide. To test for <em>H pylori</em>, a <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stomach-ulcer/diagnosis/">diagnostic breath test</a> is performed before and after dosing a patient with urea. If the patient exhales increased levels of carbon dioxide after being dosed with urea, then the test is positive.</p> <p>Breath can also be tested for an overgrowth of bacteria in the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/sibo">small intestine</a> (Sibo), which can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain and bloating. Sibo produces gases like hydrogen and methane that can also be detected with a breath test.</p> <p>If you’re worried about pongy breath and don’t have any medical issues, then you can <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/how-to-smell-your-own-breath">test your own breath</a>. The age-old method is to lick the back of your wrist, let it dry and then have a sniff. You can also do the same with a tongue scraper, dental floss or a sample of breath exhaled into a cupped hand.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ak5UEM8FK2s?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Often, we can become used to the smell of our own breath. We might only notice when it becomes really bad, or when there are other symptoms, like a foul taste in the mouth. Or when someone plucks up the courage to finally tell you that you have a case of the breath pongs.</p> <p>Suppose someone has broken the news – what do you do now? <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bad-breath/">Simple measures can work well</a>, including regular fluid intake – <a href="https://www.dentalhealth.org/bad-breath">dry mouth</a> can lead to bad breath so make sure you’re drinking enough water – and good oral hygiene. This involves brushing the teeth, tongue and flossing between your teeth to eliminate any bacterial hot spots, as well as regular checkups at the dentist.</p> <p>Mouthwash can be an effective temporary solution but there’s evidence that a <a href="https://theconversation.com/eating-leafy-greens-could-be-better-for-oral-health-than-using-mouthwash-221181#:%7E:text=But%20research%20has%20indicated%20that,alternative%20for%20treating%20oral%20disease.">diet rich in leafy greens</a> might be even better at countering bad breath.</p> <p>Smoking is another potential underlying <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-get-rid-of-cigarette-breath#1-brush-teeth">cause of halitosis</a>. So if you want sweeter breath, pack in the cigarettes – yet another good reason to give up.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231858/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dan-baumgardt-1451396">Dan Baumgardt</a>, Senior Lecturer, School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-bristol-1211">University of Bristol</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/take-my-bad-breath-away-causes-of-halitosis-and-how-to-check-whether-you-have-it-231858">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Will watching the Olympic Games make you eat more?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/birau-mia-1238429">Birau Mia</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/em-lyon-business-school-2363">EM Lyon Business School</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carolina-o-c-werle-1434243">Carolina O.C. Werle</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grenoble-ecole-de-management-gem-2181">Grenoble École de Management (GEM)</a></em></p> <p>Ever wondered why you reach for a snack after hitting the gym? <a href="https://joe.bioscientifica.com/downloadpdf/view/journals/joe/193/2/1930251.pdf">Research shows</a> that physical exercise often leads to increased food consumption, whether it is treating yourself for a job well done or replenishing the energy you have burned. With countless sports events airing and our screens constantly filled with sports’ competitions, a new question arises: Can watching sports on a screen also influence how much we eat?</p> <p>The answer is yes. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0950329317300915">Our research</a> co-authored with <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/jannine-lasaleta-94504987">Jannine Lasaleta</a> reveals that watching sports’ videos can increase candy consumption. But there is more to the story: the difficulty of the sports you are watching plays a crucial role in these effects.</p> <h2>From screens to junk food</h2> <p>We first invited 112 students to the <a href="https://www.grenoble-em.com/campus-gem-labs-grenoble">Grenoble Ecole de Management experimental lab</a> to watch a video and test some candies. Half of the students watched a video with men and women <a href="https://fr.adforum.com/creative-work/ad/player/51706/train-barefoot/nike">playing sports</a>, while the other half watched one <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyqR5yI6boo">without any physical activity</a>. We then gave each student a 70g cup of candy and asked them to judge its quality for three minutes. The students who saw the sports’ video ate more candy than those who saw the one without physical activity.</p> <p>Our initial test thus revealed that watching sports’ videos can boost candy consumption, but here’s the twist: male students indulged in far more candy than female students, so maybe the results were triggered by males’ consumption. Plus, we were still unsure if the type of sport watched affects the candy intake.</p> <p>To learn more, we invited just the female students to watch videos portraying either easy (light running) or difficult-to-perform sports (athletics long jump, gymnastics, baseball, rugby or rock climbing). After, the students were invited to test the same candies as before. Students who watched the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SMXKGE_u-Y">easy sports video</a> (showing a woman and a man running through different landscapes) ate much more candy (30.1 grams) than those who watched the <a href="https://fr.adforum.com/creative-work/ad/player/51706/train-barefoot/nike">difficult sports video</a> (18 grams).</p> <p>We can thus conclude that the ease or difficulty of the exercise shown significantly impacts candy consumption – watching easy-to-perform sports leads to considerably higher candy intake than watching difficult ones.</p> <h2>Why is this happening?</h2> <p>To explain our findings, we looked at research on <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jcr/article-abstract/32/3/370/1867208">goal motivation</a>. When people feel they are not meeting a goal, they push harder; but once they see progress, they tend to slack off. For example, after a workout, those aiming to stay fit might feel they have made good progress and then ease up on their efforts. This can lead to a drop in motivation to pursue related goals, like healthy eating. <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2006-09808-003">Research</a> shows that achieving smaller goals (like exercising) can make people feel they have earned a break, which can result in indulging more in food. So completing a workout might make you more likely to reward yourself with extra food than if you had not finished your session. And why are women more susceptible to the phenomenon of eating more candy after watching an easy-to-perform sports video? Simply because it has been long <a href="https://phys.org/news/2005-04-women-weight-men.html">shown</a> that women are more concerned with their weight than men and therefore their dieting goals are more salient.</p> <p>Our research suggests that merely watching sports can lead to a sense of vicarious fulfilment of fitness goals. When people can picture themselves doing the activity they are watching, they feel as though they have already exercised, which can lead to more-indulgent food choices. If they perceive the exercise shown as easy rather than difficult, they can more easily imagine themselves doing it, leading to greater feelings of progress toward their fitness goals. This perceived achievement can make them feel they have earned the right to indulge and influence their search for a reward, often resulting in increased food intake.</p> <h2>So what?</h2> <p>This knowledge can be used by policymakers or marketers who aim to encourage healthful lifestyles. When promoting healthy activities by picturing physical activity that seems too easy, people may feel a greater sense of achievement that could backfire and lead to increased consumption. We suggest showing an easy exercise (like walking or jogging) followed by a tougher one (like sprinting or marathon running) as an alternative solution. This approach can motivate people to start with basic exercises while reminding that there is still a long way to go to reach their fitness goals. This strategy could offer an alternative to promote physical activity without giving a false sense of accomplishment.</p> <p>So what is the takeaway for us? Be mindful of how watching sports can affect our eating habits. If you are aiming to stay on track with your diet, watch more challenging sports – it might just help you resist that extra chocolate bar. Moreover, when setting dieting goals, remind yourself that real progress comes from consistent effort, not just imagining yourself doing a workout. Engage in activities that genuinely challenge you, and pair them with mindful eating habits. This way, you can avoid the trap of feeling the fitness goal to be prematurely accomplished and then overindulging.</p> <p>In conclusion, should you watch the Olympic games if you want to keep up with your diet? Of course, but it might be better to choose the physical activities you find the most difficult to perform – and watch them without moderation.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231199/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/birau-mia-1238429">Birau Mia</a>, Associate Professor of Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/em-lyon-business-school-2363">EM Lyon Business School</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carolina-o-c-werle-1434243">Carolina O.C. Werle</a>, Professor of marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grenoble-ecole-de-management-gem-2181">Grenoble École de Management (GEM)</a></em></p> <p><em>Image </em><em>credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/will-watching-the-olympic-games-make-you-eat-more-231199">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Breast cancer screening in Australia may change. Here’s what we know so far

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brooke-nickel-200747">Brooke Nickel</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katy-bell-134554">Katy Bell</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>The way women are screened for breast cancer in Australia may <a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/about-us/policy-and-advocacy/early-detection/breast-cancer/rosa/key-findings">change</a>.</p> <p>There’s international debate on the <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/385/bmj.q1353">age</a> women should be invited for screening. But an even larger change being considered worldwide is whether to screen women at <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41416-021-01550-3">high and low risk</a> of breast cancer differently.</p> <p>But what such a “risk-based” approach to screening might look like in Australia is not yet clear.</p> <p>Here’s why researchers and public health officials are floating a change to breast cancer screening in Australia, and what any changes might mean.</p> <h2>Why breast cancer screening may need to change</h2> <p>Mass screening (known as population-based screening) for breast cancer was introduced in Australia and many other developed countries in the 1980s and 90s.</p> <p>This was based on <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26756588/">robust research</a> that found early detection and treatment of cancers before there were symptoms prevented some women from dying from breast cancer.</p> <p>These programs offer regular breast cancer screening to women within a specific age group. For example, <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer-screening/national-cancer-screening-programs-participation/contents/breastscreen-australia">in Australia</a>, women aged 40-74 years can have free mammograms (x-rays of the breasts) every two years. The BreastScreen program sends invitations for screening to those aged 50-74.</p> <p>However, evidence has been mounting that mammography screening could be inadvertently causing <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)61611-0/abstract">harm</a> for some women.</p> <p>For some, screening causes a false alarm that may cause anxiety, and unnecessary tests and procedures. Even though these tests rule out cancer, these women may remain anxious and perceive something is wrong <a href="https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/13/4/e072188">for many years</a>.</p> <p>A more insidious harm is <a href="https://theconversation.com/five-warning-signs-of-overdiagnosis-110895">overdiagnosis</a>, where screening detects a non-growing or slow-growing lesion that looks like “cancer” under the microscope, but would not have progressed or caused harm if it had been left alone. This means some women are having unnecessary surgery, radiotherapy and hormone therapy that will not benefit them, but may harm.</p> <p>Although trials have shown screening reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer, questions are being raised about how much it <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.h6080.abstract">saves lives overall</a>. That is, it’s uncertain how much the reduced risk of dying from breast cancer translates into improvements in a woman’s overall survival.</p> <h2>How about better targeting women?</h2> <p>One idea is to target screening to those most likely to benefit. Under such a “<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41416-021-01550-3">risk-based</a>” approach, a women’s personal risk of breast cancer is estimated. This may be based on her age and many other factors that may include breast density, family history of breast cancer, body-mass index, genetics, age she started and stopped her periods, and the number of children she’s had.</p> <p>Women who are at higher risk would be recommended to start screening at a younger age and to screen more frequently or to use different, more sensitive, imaging tests. Women at lower risk would be recommended to start later and to screen less often.</p> <p>The idea of this more “precise” approach to screening is to direct efforts and resources towards the smaller number of women most likely to benefit from screening via the early detection of cancer.</p> <p>At the same time, this approach would reduce the risk of harm from false positives (detection of an anomaly but no cancer is present) and overdiagnosis (detection of a non-growing or slow-growing cancer) for the larger number of women who are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6230256/">unlikely to benefit</a>.</p> <p>On face value this sounds like a good idea, and could be a favourable change for breast cancer screening.</p> <h2>But there’s much we don’t know</h2> <p>However, it’s uncertain how this would play out in practice. For one thing, someone’s future risk of a cancer diagnosis includes the risk of detecting both <a href="https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/m17-2792">overdiagnosed cancers</a> as well as potentially lethal ones. This is proving to be a problem in risk-based screening for <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41698-022-00266-8">prostate cancer</a>, another cancer prone to overdiagnosis.</p> <p>Ideally, we’d want to predict someone’s risk of <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/landig/article/PIIS2589-7500(23)00113-9/fulltext">potentially lethal cancers</a> as these are the ones we want to catch early.</p> <p>It is also still uncertain how many women found to be at <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31701797/">low risk</a> will accept a recommendation for <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23092125/">less screening</a>.</p> <p>These uncertainties mean we need robust evidence the benefits outweigh the harms for Australian women before we make changes to the breast cancer screening program.</p> <p>There are several international <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41416-021-01550-3">randomised controlled trials</a> (the gold standard for research) under way to evaluate the effectiveness of risk-based screening compared to current practice. So it may be prudent to wait for their findings before making changes to policy or practice.</p> <p>Even if such trials did give us robust evidence, there are still a number of issues to address before implementing a risk-based approach.</p> <p>One key issue is having enough staff to run the program, including people with the skills and time to discuss with women any concerns they have about their calculated risk.</p> <h2>How about breast density?</h2> <p>Women with dense breasts are at <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960977622001618#:%7E:text=Mammographic%20density%20is%20a%20well,increased%20risk%20of%20breast%20cancer.">higher risk of breast cancer</a>. So notifying women about their breast density has been proposed as a “first step” on the pathway to risk-based screening. However, this ignores the many other factors that determine a woman’s risk of breast cancer.</p> <p>Legislation in the <a href="https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/mammography-quality-standards-act-and-program">United States</a> and changes in some <a href="https://australianbreastcancer.org.au/news-stories/latest-news/breast-density-reporting-at-all-sa-clinics/">Australian states</a> mean some women are already being notified about their breast density. The idea is to enhance their knowledge about their breast cancer risk so they can make informed decisions about future screening.</p> <p>But this has happened before we know what the best options are for such women. An <a href="https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2023/219/9/psychosocial-outcomes-and-health-service-use-after-notifying-women-participating">ongoing Australian trial</a> is investigating the effects that breast density notification has on individual women and the health system.</p> <h2>What next?</h2> <p>Robust evidence and careful planning are needed before risk-based screening or other changes are made to Australia’s breast cancer screening program.</p> <p>Where changes are made, there needs to be early evaluation of both the <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h1566.abstract">benefits and harms</a>. Programs also need <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n2049.long">independent, regular re-evaluation</a> in the longer term.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231917/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brooke-nickel-200747">Brooke Nickel</a>, NHMRC Emerging Leader Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katy-bell-134554">Katy Bell</a>, Professor in Clinical Epidemiology, Sydney School of Public Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/breast-cancer-screening-in-australia-may-change-heres-what-we-know-so-far-231917">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Is an electric bike right for you? Here’s what to consider before you buy

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/muhammad-rizwan-azhar-1472288">Muhammad Rizwan Azhar</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/waqas-uzair-1486684">Waqas Uzair</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/oct/08/its-also-just-fun-why-a-growing-number-of-australia-families-are-ditching-cars-for-e-bikes">More Australians than ever</a> are riding electric bikes – a fact you may have noticed on the streets of our cities and towns.</p> <p>Electric bikes, or e-bikes, are typically equipped with an electric motor and a battery, providing power to help you pedal. Some allow you to boost and lower the amount of pedalling assistance you get.</p> <p>Globally, the transport sector produces <a href="https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/media_gstc/FACT_SHEET_Climate_Change.pdf">about one-quarter</a> of greenhouse gas emissions. Finding cleaner ways to get around is vital to combating the climate crisis. E-bikes also offer solutions to the problems of traffic congestion, fuel costs and sedentary lifestyles.</p> <p>But is an electric bike right for you? Below, we discuss the pros and cons, to help you decide.</p> <h2>The pros</h2> <p><strong>– Reduce carbon emissions</strong></p> <p>In developed countries, transport can be one of the largest proportions of an individual’s carbon footprint. But you can <a href="https://sustainability.anu.edu.au/options-for-owning-an-e-bike">reduce your travel emissions</a> by 75% if you replace car use with an e-bike for short trips such as the work commute.</p> <p><a href="https://www.creds.ac.uk/publications/e-bike-carbon-savings-how-much-and-where/">Research has found</a> e-bikes, if used to replace cars, could cut carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions by up to 50% in England – or about 30 million tonnes a year. Other analysis showed the potential was <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967070X21003401">greatest</a> in rural areas.</p> <p><strong>– Connect with your community</strong></p> <p>The “car-rification” of our cities changed community dynamics. Retail became concentrated in <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0264837716312479">out-of-town shopping centres</a>, leading to a decline in smaller town centres. This provided fewer opportunities to meet our neighbours and has contributed to high rates of <a href="https://www.vox.com/features/23191527/urban-planning-friendship-houston-cars-loneliness">loneliness and social isolation</a>.</p> <p>Similar to <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308794595_From_Pedal_to_People_The_Social_Effects_of_Biking">regular cycling</a>, riding e-bikes helps create community bonds. It makes us more likely to engage with our surroundings and interact with people around us. You can even join an <a href="https://www.meetup.com/topics/electric-bicycles/au/">e-bike group</a> or community ride.</p> <p><strong>– Save money</strong></p> <p>E-bikes offer substantial long-term financial benefits to owners.</p> <p>In Australia, an e-bike costs from about A$1,000 to more than $5,000. An annual e-bike service will set you back <a href="https://www.choice.com.au/transport/bikes/electric/articles/how-to-maintain-your-electric-bike#:%7E:text=How%20much%20does%20an%20e,%24300%2C%20depending%20on%20what's%20included.">between $100 and $300</a>. And retailers <a href="https://crooze.com.au/blogs/news/the-costs-of-owning-an-ebike#:%7E:text=This%20means%20it%20costs%20roughly,electricity%20charges%20per%2030kms%20ridden.">currently</a> <a href="https://www.glowwormbicycles.com.au/blogs/electric-bikes/how-much-should-i-spend-on-an-e-bike">put the cost</a> of a full battery charge at 10–15 cents, translating to roughly $20 per year for an average commuter.</p> <p>Cars, of course, cost far more to run. For example, Victorian motoring body RACV <a href="https://www.racv.com.au/about-racv/newsroom/victorias-cheapest-cars-2023.html">last year found</a> the state’s cheapest car to own and operate was the MG3 Core light Hatch, with monthly costs of $734.84. Even taking into account charging costs and maintenance, you can see how quickly an e-bike would pay for itself.</p> <p><strong>– Get active</strong></p> <p>E-bikes are clearly better for your health than riding in a car.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9790588/">2019 study investigated</a> e‐bike commuting for inactive, overweight people living in regional Australia. It found e-bike users increased their physical activity by an average 90 minutes a week.</p> <p>A <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/sms.14155">literature review in 2022</a> found e-biking was a moderately intense physical activity on measures such as energy expenditure, heart rate and oxygen consumption. The benefits were lower than conventional cycling, but generally greater than walking.</p> <p>Women, in particular, have reported benefits from e-bike use. A <a href="https://activetravelstudies.org/article/id/991/">New Zealand study</a> showed e-bikes provided less fit women with “more empowering physical activity experiences” and increased their cycling confidence.</p> <h2>The cons</h2> <p><strong>– Safety challenges</strong></p> <p>Like any form of mobility, e-bikes must be used safely. Concerns around e-bikes include <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-13/fat-bike-boom-in-sydney-sparks-safety-fears/102823330">speeding</a>, <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/concerns-grow-over-safety-of-e-bikes-amid-reports-of-accidents-192619077845">accidents</a> and people riding <a href="https://www.nbnnews.com.au/2024/03/20/e-bike-safety-concerns-spark-in-lennox-head/">without helmets</a>.</p> <p>In May this year, Sydney’s Northern Beaches Council <a href="https://www.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/e-bike-and-e-scooter-safety">launched a public awareness</a> campaign on e-bike safety. <a href="https://www.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/council/news/media-releases/northern-beaches-council-leads-pack-e-bike-safety-campaign">The advice includes</a>:</p> <ul> <li>slow to walking pace when others are on the path</li> <li>ring your bell to signal your approach</li> <li>be ready for sudden changes.</li> </ul> <p>Government regulation on e-bikes is also important for public safety. For example <a href="https://fit-ebike.com/en-en/about-us/blog/s-pedelecs/">in Germany</a>, high-speed e-bikes are classed as mopeds and cannot be ridden on bike paths.</p> <p>Separately, e-bikes usually contain lithium-ion batteries which can explode and start fires – particularly in e-bikes bought from overseas retailers that don’t meet Australian standards. Before buying, <a href="https://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/page.php?id=9406">check advice from fire authorities</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/U58Pv7-7fnE?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p><strong>– Lack of cycling and charging infrastructure</strong></p> <p>Well-designed <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214140519301033">cycling infrastructure</a> encourages e-bike use. In Australia, governments are <a href="https://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-06/Cycling_Infrastructure_Background_Paper_16Mar09_WEB.pdf">slowly accepting</a> the need for infrastructure such as dedicated bike lanes and <a href="https://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/get-nsw-active/emicro-smart-micro-mobility-infrastructure">charging stations</a>, but <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-so-few-people-cycle-for-transport-in-australia-6-ideas-on-how-to-reap-all-the-benefits-of-bikes-229811">more money</a> is needed.</p> <p>In the Netherlands, a surge in e-bike sales has <a href="https://www.government.nl/topics/bicycles">driven</a> investments in cycling paths, improvements in bicycle parking at train stations, and other efforts to promote cycling and e-bike use.</p> <p><strong>– Higher upfront cost than a regular bike</strong></p> <p>The cost of buying an e-bike can be a barrier for some. For example, <a href="https://activetravelstudies.org/article/id/991/">NZ-based research</a> found the purchase cost meant the benefits were less likely to be available to lower-income women.</p> <p>So how can the cost barrier be overcome? In Australia, some companies offer e-bike rentals, via a weekly <a href="https://lug-carrie.com">subscription service</a>. And overseas, <a href="https://www.pbsc.com/blog/2021/09/pbsc-e-bike-sharing-schemes-in-15-cities-around-the-world">share schemes</a> mean people can access e-bikes without having to buy one.</p> <p>In 2023, <a href="https://www.service.tas.gov.au/services/government-help-and-support/concessions-and-discounts/apply-for-an-electric-vehicle-or-e-mobility-rebate">Tasmania became the first Australian state</a> to offer a subsidy for e-bike purchases, and the uptake was rapid. However, the scheme has now closed.</p> <p><strong>– Environmental impacts</strong></p> <p>Almost everything we buy has an environmental impact, and electric bikes are no exception. However, they are obviously a better alternative to conventional cars – and also have less impact than electric vehicles.</p> <p>Over the total lifecycle of the product, including manufacturing, an e-bike emits <a href="https://ecf.com/resources/cycling-facts-and-figures/environmental">about 10%</a> of the CO₂ emissions associated with producing an electric car, according to the European Cyclists Federation. And e-bikes <a href="https://electrek.co/2023/05/04/you-cant-trust-electric-bike-companies-battery-range/">consume</a> about <a href="https://ebikes.ca/learn/solar.html#:%7E:text=6%20wh%2Fkm%20would%20be,heavy%20loads%20and%20riding%20fast.">15 watt-hours per kilometre</a>, compared to electric cars which <a href="https://www.drive.com.au/caradvice/what-is-a-good-energy-consumption-figure-for-electric-vehicles/">consume around</a> 150 to 200 watt-hours per kilometre.</p> <p>E-bike battery systems also typically require fewer raw materials and simpler design than an electric vehicle, which <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0892687524000293">simplifies</a> the battery recycling process.</p> <h2>Cleaner, cheaper, better</h2> <p>Electric cars are crucial for replacing traditional vehicles on longer routes and for family travel. However, e-bikes offer a more affordable and lower-impact solution for commuting and short-distance travel – and if you buy a cargo e-bike, you can even take your family.</p> <p>Mass adoption of e-bikes in Australia requires better cycling infrastructure, new government regulation and price incentives. But in the meantime, thousands of Australians are already enjoying the benefits of e-bikes. Perhaps you could too?</p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/muhammad-rizwan-azhar-1472288">Muhammad Rizwan Azhar</a>, Lecturer of Chemical Engineering, Sustainable Energy and Resources, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/waqas-uzair-1486684">Waqas Uzair</a>, Research Associate, Advanced Battery Systems and Safety, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-an-electric-bike-right-for-you-heres-what-to-consider-before-you-buy-230024">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Taking too many medications can pose health risks. Here’s how to avoid them

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/caroline-sirois-1524891">Caroline Sirois</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-laval-1407">Université Laval</a></em></p> <p>When we see an older family member handling a bulky box of medications sorted by day of the week, we might stop and wonder, is it too much? How do all those pills interact?</p> <p>The fact is, as we get older we are more likely to develop different chronic illnesses that require us to take several different medications. This is known as polypharmacy. The concept applies to people taking five or more medications, but there are all sorts of <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy7030126">definitions with different thresholds</a> (for example, four, 10 or 15 medicines).</p> <p>I’m a pharmacist and pharmacoepidemiologist interested in polypharmacy and its impact on the population. The research I carry out with my team at the Faculty of Pharmacy at Université Laval focuses on the appropriate use of medication by older family members. We have published this <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afac244">study</a> on the perceptions of older adults, family carers and clinicians on the use of medication among persons over 65.</p> <h2>Polypharmacy among older adults</h2> <p>Polypharmacy is very common among older adults. In 2021, a quarter of persons over 65 in Canada were prescribed <a href="https://www.cihi.ca/en/drug-use-among-seniors-in-canada">more than ten different classes of medication</a>. In Québec, persons over 65 used an average of <a href="https://www.inspq.qc.ca/sites/default/files/publications/2679_portrait_polypharmacie_aines_quebecois.pdf">8.7 different drugs in 2016</a>, the latest year available for statistics.</p> <p>Is it a good idea to take so many drugs?</p> <p>According to <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/07334648211069553">our study</a>, the vast majority of seniors and family caregivers would be willing to stop taking one or more medications if the doctor said it was possible, even though most are satisfied with their treatments, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afac244">have confidence in their doctors</a> and feel that their doctors are taking care of them to the best of their ability.</p> <p>In the majority of cases, medicine prescribers are helping the person they are treating. Medications have a positive impact on health and are essential in many cases. But while the treatment of individual illnesses is often adequate, the whole package can sometimes become problematic.</p> <h2>The risks of polypharmacy: 5 points to consider</h2> <p>When we evaluate cases of polypharmacy, we find that the quality of treatment is often compromised when many medications are being taken.</p> <ol> <li> <p>Drug interactions: polypharmacy increases the risk of drugs interacting, which can lead to undesirable effects or reduce the effectiveness of treatments.</p> </li> <li> <p>A drug that has a positive effect on one illness may have a negative effect on another: what should you do if someone has both illnesses?</p> </li> <li> <p>The greater the number of drugs taken, the greater the risk of undesirable effects: for adults over 65, for example, there is an increased risk of confusion or falls, which have significant consequences.</p> </li> <li> <p>The more medications a person takes, the more likely they are to take a <a href="https://www.doi.org/10.1093/fampra/cmz060">potentially inappropriate medication</a>. For seniors, these drugs generally carry more risks than benefits. For example, benzodiazepines, medicine for anxiety or sleep, are the <a href="https://www.inspq.qc.ca/sites/default/files/publications/2575_utilisation_medicaments_potentiellement_inappropries_aines.pdf">most frequently used class</a> of medications. We want to reduce their use as much as possible <a href="https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/substance-use/controlled-illegal-drugs/benzodiazepines.html">to avoid negative impacts</a> such as confusion and increased risk of falls and car accidents, not to mention the risk of dependence and death.</p> </li> <li> <p>Finally, polypharmacy is associated with various adverse health effects, such as an <a href="https://www.doi.org/10.1007/s41999-021-00479-3">increase in frailty, hospital admissions and emergency room visits</a>. However, studies conducted to date have not always succeeded in isolating the effects specific to polypharmacy. As polypharmacy is more common among people with multiple illnesses, these illnesses may also contribute to the observed risks.</p> </li> </ol> <p>Polypharmacy is also a combination of medicines. There are almost as many as there are people. The risks of these different combinations can vary. For example, the risks associated with a combination of five potentially inappropriate drugs would certainly be different from those associated with blood pressure medication and vitamin supplements.</p> <p>Polypharmacy is therefore complex. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s12911-021-01583-x">Our studies attempt to use artificial intelligence</a> to manage this complexity and identify combinations associated with negative impacts. There is still a lot to learn about polypharmacy and its impact on health.</p> <h2>3 tips to avoid the risks associated with polypharmacy</h2> <p>What can we do as a patient, or as a caregiver?</p> <ol> <li> <p>Ask questions: when you or someone close to you is prescribed a new treatment, be curious. What are the benefits of the medication? What are the possible side effects? Does this fit in with my treatment goals and values? How long should this treatment last? Are there any circumstances in which discontinuing it should be considered ?</p> </li> <li> <p>Keep your medicines up to date: make sure they are all still useful. Are there still any benefits to taking them? Are there any side effects? Are there any drug interactions? Would another treatment be better? Should the dose be reduced?</p> </li> <li> <p>Think about de-prescribing: this is an increasingly common clinical practice that involves stopping or reducing the dose of an inappropriate drug after consulting a health-care professional. It is a shared decision-making process that involves the patient, their family and health-care professionals. The <a href="https://www.deprescribingnetwork.ca">Canadian Medication Appropriateness and Deprescribing Network</a> is a world leader in this practice. It has compiled a number of tools for patients and clinicians. You can find them on their website and subscribe to the newsletter.</p> </li> </ol> <h2>Benefits should outweigh the risks</h2> <p>Medications are very useful for staying healthy. It’s not uncommon for us to have to take more medications as we age, but this shouldn’t be seen as a foregone conclusion.</p> <p>Every medication we take must have direct or future benefits that outweigh the risks associated with them. As with many other issues, when it comes to polypharmacy, the saying, “everything in moderation,” frequently applies.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/230612/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/caroline-sirois-1524891">Caroline Sirois</a>, Professor in Pharmacy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-laval-1407">Université Laval</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/taking-too-many-medications-can-pose-health-risks-heres-how-to-avoid-them-230612">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Revolutionary diabetes detection via smartphone: A game-changer in healthcare

<p>In a groundbreaking advancement, scientists from <a href="https://www.klick.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Klick Labs</a> have discovered a method that could revolutionise diabetes detection – using just a 10-second smartphone voice recording.</p> <p>No more travelling to clinics or waiting anxiously for blood test results. This new approach promises immediate, on-the-spot results, potentially transforming how we diagnose type 2 diabetes.</p> <p>The study, published in <a href="https://www.mcpdigitalhealth.org/article/S2949-7612(23)00073-1/fulltext" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Digital Health</a>, involved 267 participants, including 192 non-diabetic and 75 type 2 diabetic individuals. Each participant recorded a specific phrase on their smartphone multiple times a day over two weeks, resulting in 18,465 recordings.</p> <p>These recordings, lasting between six and 10 seconds each, were meticulously analysed for 14 acoustic features, such as pitch and intensity. Remarkably, these features exhibited consistent differences between diabetic and non-diabetic individuals, differences too subtle for the human ear but detectable by sophisticated signal processing software.</p> <p>Building on this discovery, the scientists developed an AI-based program to analyse the voice recordings alongside patient data like age, sex, height and weight. The results were impressive: the program accurately identified type 2 diabetes in women 89% of the time and in men 86% of the time.</p> <p>These figures are competitive with traditional methods, where fasting blood glucose tests show 85% accuracy and other methods, like glycated haemoglobin and oral glucose tolerance tests, range between 91% and 92%.</p> <p>"This technology has the potential to remove barriers entirely," said Jaycee Kaufman, a research scientist at Klick Labs and the study's lead author. Traditional diabetes detection methods can be time-consuming, costly and inconvenient, but voice technology could change all that, providing a faster, more accessible solution.</p> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Looking ahead, the team plans to conduct further tests on a larger, more diverse population to refine and validate this innovative approach. If successful, this could mark a significant leap forward in diabetes management and overall healthcare, making early detection simpler and more accessible than ever before.</span></p> <p>Stay tuned as this exciting development unfolds, potentially bringing us closer to a future where managing and detecting diabetes is as simple as speaking into your smartphone.</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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How often should you really weigh yourself?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993">Nick Fuller</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Few topics are more debated in health than the value of the humble bathroom scale. Some experts advocate daily self-weigh-ins to promote accountability for weight management, particularly when we’re following a diet and exercise program to lose weight.</p> <p>Others suggest ditching self-weigh-ins altogether, arguing they can trigger negative <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13679-015-0142-2">psychological responses and unhealthy behaviours</a> when we don’t like, or understand, the number we see on the scale.</p> <p>Many, like me, recommend using scales to weigh yourself weekly, even when we’re not trying to lose weight. Here’s why.</p> <h2>1. Weighing weekly helps you manage your weight</h2> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2588640/?tool=pmcentrez&amp;report=abstract">Research</a> confirms regular self-weighing is an effective weight loss and management strategy, primarily because it helps increase awareness of our current weight and any changes.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2588640/?tool=pmcentrez&amp;report=abstract">systematic review of 12 studies</a> found participants who weighed themselves weekly or daily over several months lost 1–3 BMI (body mass index) units more and regained less weight than participants who didn’t weight themselves frequently. The weight-loss benefit was evident with weekly weighing; there was no added benefit with daily weighing.</p> <p>Self-weigh-ins are an essential tool for weight management as we age. Adults <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23638485/">tend to gain weight</a> progressively <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8363190/">through middle age</a>. While the average weight gain is typically between <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031938414001528">0.5–1kg per year</a>, this modest accumulation of weight can lead to obesity over time. Weekly weighing and keeping track of the results helps avoid unnecessary weight gain.</p> <p>Tracking our weight can also help identify medical issues early. Dramatic changes in weight can be an early sign of some conditions, including problems with our thyroid, digestion and diabetes.</p> <h2>2. Weekly weighing accounts for normal fluctuations</h2> <p>Our body weight can fluctuate within a single day and across the days of the week. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7192384/">Studies</a> show body weight fluctuates by 0.35% within the week and it’s typically higher after the weekend.</p> <p>Daily and day-to-day body weight fluctuations have several causes, many linked to our body’s water content. The more common causes include:</p> <p><strong>The type of food we’ve consumed</strong></p> <p>When we’ve eaten a dinner higher in carbohydrates, we’ll weigh more the next day. This change is a result of our bodies temporarily carrying more water. We <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25911631/">retain 3–4 grams of water</a> per gram of carbohydrate consumed to store the energy we take from carbs.</p> <p>Our water content also increases when we consume <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK50952/">foods higher in salt</a>. Our bodies try to maintain a balance of sodium and water. When the concentration of salt in our bloodstream increases, a mechanism is triggered to restore balance by retaining water to dilute the excess salt.</p> <p><strong>Our food intake</strong></p> <p>Whether it’s 30 grams of nuts or 65 grams of lean meat, everything we eat and drink has weight, which increases our body weight temporarily while we digest and metabolise what we’ve consumed.</p> <p>Our weight also tends to be lower first thing in the morning after our food intake has been restricted overnight and higher in the evening after our daily intake of food and drinks.</p> <p><strong>Exercise</strong></p> <p>If we weigh ourselves at the gym after a workout, there’s a good chance we’ll weigh less due to sweat-induced fluid loss. The amount of water lost varies depending on things like our workout intensity and duration, the temperature and humidity, along with our sweat rate and hydration level. On average, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4993146/">we lose 1 litre of sweat</a> during an hour of <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00421168">moderate-intensity exercise</a>.</p> <p><strong>Hormonal changes</strong></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/from-energy-levels-to-metabolism-understanding-your-menstrual-cycle-can-be-key-to-achieving-exercise-goals-131561">Fluctuations in hormones</a> within your menstrual cycle can also affect fluid balance. Women may experience <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3154522/">fluid retention</a> and temporarily gain 0.5–2kg of weight at this time. Specifically, the luteal phase, which represents the second half of a woman’s cycle, results in a shift of fluid from your blood plasma to your cells, and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3154522/">bloating</a>.</p> <p><strong>Bowel movements</strong></p> <p>Going to the bathroom can lead to small but immediate weight loss as waste is eliminated from the body. While the amount lost will vary, we generally eliminate <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1333426/">around 100 grams of weight</a> through our daily bowel movements.</p> <p>All of these fluctuations are normal, and they’re not indicative of significant changes in our body fat or muscle mass. However, seeing these fluctuations can lead to unnecessary stress and a fixation with our weight.</p> <h2>3. Weekly weighing avoids scale obsession and weight-loss sabotage</h2> <p>Weighing too frequently can create an obsession with the number on the scales and do more harm than good.</p> <p>Often, our reaction when we see this number not moving in the direction we want or expect is to further restrict our food intake or embark on fad dieting. Along with not being enjoyable or sustainable, fad diets also ultimately increase our weight gain rather than reversing it.</p> <p>This was confirmed in a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21829159/">long-term study</a> comparing intentional weight loss among more than 4,000 twins. The researchers found the likelihood of becoming overweight by the age of 25 was significantly greater for a twin who dieted to lose 5kg or more. This suggests frequent dieting makes us more susceptible to weight gain and prone to future weight gain.</p> <h2>So what should you do?</h2> <p>Weighing ourselves weekly gives a more accurate measure of our weight trends over time.</p> <p>Aim to weigh yourself on the same day, at the same time and in the same environment each week – for example, first thing every Friday morning when you’re getting ready to take a shower, after you’ve gone to the bathroom, but before you’ve drunk or eaten anything.</p> <p>Use the best quality scales you can afford. Change the batteries regularly and check their accuracy by using a “known” weight – for example, a 10kg weight plate. Place the “known” weight on the scale and check the measurement aligns with the “known” weight.</p> <p>Remember, the number on the scale is just one part of health and weight management. Focusing solely on it can overshadow other indicators, such as <a href="https://theconversation.com/can-you-be-overweight-and-healthy-182219">how your clothes fit</a>. It’s also essential to pay equal attention to how we’re feeling, physically and emotionally.</p> <p>Stop weighing yourself – at any time interval – if it’s triggering anxiety or stress, and get in touch with a health-care professional to discuss this.</p> <hr /> <p><em>At the Boden Group, Charles Perkins Centre, we are studying the science of obesity and running clinical trials for weight loss. You can <a href="https://redcap.sydney.edu.au/surveys/?s=RKTXPPPHKY">register here</a> to express your interest.</em><!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223864/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993">Nick Fuller</a>, Charles Perkins Centre Research Program Leader, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-often-should-you-really-weigh-yourself-223864">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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We finally know why some people got COVID while others didn’t

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/marko-nikolic-1543289">Marko Nikolic</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/ucl-1885">UCL</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kaylee-worlock-1543639">Kaylee Worlock</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/ucl-1885">UCL</a></em></p> <p>Throughout the pandemic, one of the key questions on everyone’s mind was why some people avoided getting COVID, while others caught the virus multiple times.</p> <p>Through a collaboration between University College London, the Wellcome Sanger Institute and Imperial College London in the UK, we set out to answer this question using the world’s first controlled <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-022-01780-9">“challenge trial” for COVID</a> – where volunteers were deliberately exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, so that it could be studied in great detail.</p> <p>Unvaccinated healthy volunteers with no prior history of COVID were exposed – via a nasal spray – to an extremely low dose of the original strain of SARS-CoV-2. The volunteers were then closely monitored in a quarantine unit, with regular tests and samples taken to study their response to the virus in a highly controlled and safe environment.</p> <p>For our <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-024-07575-x">recent study</a>, published in Nature, we collected samples from tissue located midway between the nose and the throat as well as blood samples from 16 volunteers. These samples were taken before the participants were exposed to the virus, to give us a baseline measurement, and afterwards at regular intervals.</p> <p>The samples were then processed and analysed using single-cell sequencing technology, which allowed us to extract and sequence the genetic material of individual cells. Using this cutting-edge technology, we could track the evolution of the disease in unprecedented detail, from pre-infection to recovery.</p> <p>To our surprise, we found that, despite all the volunteers being carefully exposed to the exact same dose of the virus in the same manner, not everyone ended up testing positive for COVID.</p> <p>In fact, we were able to divide the volunteers into three distinct infection groups (see illustration). Six out of the 16 volunteers developed typical mild COVID, testing positive for several days with cold-like symptoms. We referred to this group as the “sustained infection group”.</p> <p>Out of the ten volunteers who did not develop a sustained infection, suggesting that they were able to fight off the virus early on, three went on to develop an “intermediate” infection with intermittent single positive viral tests and limited symptoms. We called them the “transient infection group”.</p> <p>The final seven volunteers remained negative on testing and did not develop any symptoms. This was the “abortive infection group”. This is the first confirmation of abortive infections, which were previously <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04186-8">unproven</a>. Despite differences in infection outcomes, participants in all groups shared some specific novel immune responses, including in those whose immune systems prevented the infection.</p> <p>When we compared the timings of the cellular response between the three infection groups, we saw distinct patterns. For example, in the transiently infected volunteers where the virus was only briefly detected, we saw a strong and immediate accumulation of immune cells in the nose one day after infection.</p> <p>This contrasted with the sustained infection group, where a more delayed response was seen, starting five days after infection and potentially enabling the virus to take hold in these volunteers.</p> <p>In these people, we were able to identify cells stimulated by a key antiviral defence response in both the nose and the blood. This response, called the “interferon” response, is one of the ways our bodies signal to our immune system to help fight off viruses and other infections. We were surprised to find that this response was detected in the blood before it was detected in the nose, suggesting that the immune response spreads from the nose very quickly.</p> <h2>Protective gene</h2> <p>Lastly, we identified a specific gene called HLA-DQA2, which was expressed (activated to produce a protein) at a much higher level in the volunteers who did not go on to develop a sustained infection and could hence be used as a marker of protection. Therefore, we might be able to use this information and identify those who are probably going to be protected from severe COVID.</p> <p>These findings help us fill in some gaps in our knowledge, painting a much more detailed picture regarding how our bodies react to a new virus, particularly in the first couple of days of an infection, which is crucial.</p> <p>We can use this information to compare our data to other data we are currently generating, specifically where we are “challenging” volunteers to other viruses and more recent strains of COVID. In contrast to our current study, these will mostly include volunteers who have been vaccinated or naturally infected – that is, people who already have immunity.</p> <p>Our study has significant implications for future treatments and vaccine development. By comparing our data to volunteers who have never been exposed to the virus with those who already have immunity, we may be able to identify new ways of inducing protection, while also helping the development of more effective vaccines for future pandemics. In essence, our research is a step towards better preparedness for the next pandemic.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/233063/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/marko-nikolic-1543289">Marko Nikolic</a>, Principal Research Fellow/Honorary consultant Respiratory Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/ucl-1885">UCL</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kaylee-worlock-1543639">Kaylee Worlock</a>, Postdoc Research Fellow, Molecular and Cellular Biology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/ucl-1885">UCL</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-finally-know-why-some-people-got-covid-while-others-didnt-233063">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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How you experience the menopause may have a lot to do with your family

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/megan-arnot-416253">Megan Arnot</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/ucl-1885">UCL</a></em></p> <p>The <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30346539">menopause</a> happens around the age of 50, and for many women, the end of their fertile life is accompanied by uncomfortable symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats and anxiety. In the West, it is generally taken as read that these symptoms are a normal part of the menopause. But <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11330770">cross-cultural research</a> suggests that menopause symptoms are not necessarily inevitable.</p> <p>For example, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18521049">Japanese women</a> rarely report hot flashes, whereas for European women they are a common complaint. As a result, scientists have begun to focus on what causes this difference in experience and the potential impact that behavioural and lifestyle factors, such as <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16735636">smoking</a>, might have.</p> <p>Our latest <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ece3.5705">study</a> adds to this knowledge. We found that living away from your genetic family may worsen the menopause.</p> <h2>Family matters?</h2> <p>Where people live once they’re married varies across cultures. To investigate whether these different living arrangements affect menopause symptoms, we travelled to south-west China to collect data.</p> <p>In this region, there are groups with distinct living arrangements. First, the Han and the Yi, in which women typically leave their family after they’ve got married and live with their husband’s family. Second, the Mosuo and Zhaba, who engage in the practice of <em>zou hun</em> (“<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23486437">walking marriage</a>”), where the husband and wife live separately with their own related families, and only visit each other at night.</p> <p>We found that women who remained living with their own family following marriage had significantly less severe menopause symptoms than those who went to live with their husband’s family.</p> <h2>In-law conflict</h2> <p>Many anthropologists are interested in how different levels of relatedness within households can have behavioural and physiological implications. For the menopause, we think the difference in symptom severity between the groups may be the result of the different levels of conflict that result from being more or less related to other members of your household.</p> <p>If a woman lives with her husband’s family, then until she has children, she is unrelated to anyone in the household. This lack of relatedness can cause <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40806-017-0114-8">tension</a> between the new wife and her husband’s relatives as they have little direct genetic interest in her.</p> <p>As well as conflict with non-related household members, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/evan.20226">earlier research</a> has shown that women who live with their husband’s family tend to argue with their partners more and are also more likely to get divorced. Additionally, rates of domestic violence are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27279077">higher</a> when women live away from their genetic family.</p> <p>But how does this relate to the severity of menopause symptoms? We think that increased levels of household conflict would result in the woman being more stressed. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4795524/">Stress</a> is known to worsen pain perception and so could aggravate menopause symptoms.</p> <p>In contrast to women who leave their kin group, women who live with their own family once they’re married also tend to have higher levels of <a href="https://scholar.harvard.edu/slowes/publications/matrilineal-spousal-cooperation">social support</a>. There are more people to help with childcare and more shoulders to cry on. This can help to lower stress and thus soften the mental and physical burden of the menopause.</p> <h2>Global perspectives</h2> <p>While our research was conducted in China, globally, we see a wide range of living arrangements, which themselves can bring different levels of conflict and social support. In the West, many women live away from their families, which may mean that they lack social support, perhaps contributing to more turbulent menopause symptoms. Distance from one’s own family can also be seen to increase <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2005.00155.x">conflict</a> within the household – be it between a husband and wife, or wife and in-laws.</p> <p>These results aren’t an excuse to visit your in-laws less, but they show that menopause symptoms are not only about hormonal irregularities. They may also be a product of your social environment, which should be worth bearing in mind when approaching and going through the menopause.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/123621/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/megan-arnot-416253">Megan Arnot</a>, PhD Candidate, Evolutionary Anthropology and Behavioural Ecology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/ucl-1885">UCL</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-you-experience-the-menopause-may-have-a-lot-to-do-with-your-family-123621">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Julian Assange was isolated for more than a decade. Here’s what that does to the body and mind

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carol-maher-217811">Carol Maher</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/johanna-badcock-995697">Johanna Badcock</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-western-australia-1067">The University of Western Australia</a></em></p> <p>Anyone who lived through the COVID pandemic would likely understand that even a small period of isolation can cause <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35787541/">physical and mental stress</a>.</p> <p>WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – <a href="https://theconversation.com/julian-assange-will-be-freed-after-striking-plea-deal-with-us-authorities-233210">who will return to Australia</a> after reaching a plea deal with the US Department of Justice – is <a href="https://www.afr.com/policy/foreign-affairs/his-health-is-very-risky-assange-s-brother-fears-for-his-life-20240327-p5ffjw">reported to have suffered</a> various mental and physical challenges during his almost 15 years in some form of isolation.</p> <p>Assange was first arrested in Britain in 2010 after Swedish authorities said they wanted to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2010/dec/17/julian-assange-sweden">question him over sex crime allegations</a>.</p> <p>After exhausting legal avenues to stop an extradition to Sweden, in June 2012 he entered <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/15/julian-assange-ecuador-london-embassy-how-he-became-unwelcome-guest">Ecuador’s embassy in London</a>, where he remained for seven years.</p> <p>In early 2019, he was <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN1S73H5/">jailed for skipping bail</a> and held at London’s Belmarsh prison where he spent most of the following five years fighting extradition to the US. Now, he’s coming home.</p> <p>While we have no idea how Assange is coping from being cooped up inside for so long with few visitors, we do know that isolation can have <a href="https://theconversation.com/my-own-prison-ordeal-gave-me-a-taste-of-what-assange-may-be-feeling-hes-out-but-the-chilling-effect-on-press-freedom-remains-233215">a severe negative impact</a> on many people.</p> <p><iframe id="qxq2l" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/qxq2l/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <h2>How physical inactivity impacts your body</h2> <p>Physical activity is vital for <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/articlepdf/2712935/jama_piercy_2018_sc_180005.pdf">overall health</a>. It keeps your heart strong, helps manage weight, and builds muscle and bone strength.</p> <p>Regular exercise also lifts your mood, reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, and sharpens your mind. Plus, it boosts your <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7195025/">immune system</a>, making you more resistant to infections and diseases.</p> <p>When you don’t move enough, especially in isolation, your health can take a hit. Muscles weaken and joints stiffen, making you less strong and flexible.</p> <p>Your <a href="https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/01.CIR.102.9.975">heart health</a> suffers, too, raising the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes because your heart isn’t getting the workout it needs.</p> <p>Metabolic issues such as obesity and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6908414/">type 2 diabetes</a> become more common with inactivity, especially if you don’t have access to healthy food.</p> <p>Isolation often means less fresh air and sunlight, both crucial for good health. Poor ventilation can lead to <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/8/2927/pdf">respiratory problems</a>. Lack of sunlight can cause <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-pdf/95/6/2630/9067013/jcem2630.pdf">vitamin D deficiency</a>, weakening bones and the immune system, and increasing the risk of fractures.</p> <p>These effects fit with the reports that Assange suffered a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2022/mar/23/today-i-will-marry-the-love-of-my-life-julian-assanges-fiancee">mini-stroke</a> in 2021 and a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2024/feb/18/julian-assange-press-freedom-wikileaks-uk-high-court">broken rib</a> from persistent coughing fits while in isolation.</p> <h2>What about mental health?</h2> <p>Social disconnection comes in two main forms, both of which have serious consequences for our mental health.</p> <p>The first is social isolation. The reasons for being isolated are many and varied, including geographical distance, lack of access to transport, or incarceration.</p> <p>The end result is the same: you have few relationships, social roles or group memberships, and limited social interaction.</p> <p>The second form of social disconnection is more invisible but just as harmful.</p> <p><a href="https://psychology.org.au/for-the-public/psychology-topics/loneliness">Loneliness</a> is that subjective, unpleasant feeling of wanting but lacking satisfying relationships with others.</p> <p>You can be isolated and not feel lonely, but the two are often unwelcome bedfellows.</p> <p>Social connection is not a luxury. It’s a fundamental need, as essential to our health as food and water.</p> <p>Just as hunger reminds us to eat, <a href="https://healthymale.org.au/health-article/what-is-loneliness-and-social-isolation">loneliness acts as a signal</a> alerting us that our social relationships are weak and need to be improved if we are to remain healthy.</p> <p>The science around the health impacts of social disconnection is clear, especially when it is prolonged. So much so, the World Health Organization recently launched a <a href="https://www.who.int/groups/commission-on-social-connection">Commission on Social Connection</a> to increase awareness of the impact of social isolation and loneliness on health and have it recognised as a global health priority.</p> <p>Substantial evidence shows social isolation and loneliness are linked to poorer cognitive functioning and an increased risk of dementia, though possibly in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9995915/">different ways</a>.</p> <p>Among adults aged 50 years and over, chronic (meaning persistent and severe) loneliness and social isolation may increase the risk of dementia by <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13651501.2021.1959616">around 50%</a>.</p> <p>A lack of cognitive stimulation that naturally occurs when interacting with others, whether it’s old friends or strangers, might explain <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9995915/">the link</a> between social isolation and cognitive difficulties (think “use it or lose it”).</p> <p>On the other hand, loneliness <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9995915/">may impact cognitive health</a> through its effects on emotional wellbeing. It’s <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-13049-9">a well-known risk factor</a> for developing depression, anxiety and suicidality.</p> <p>For instance, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35583561/">studies show</a> the chances of developing depression in adults is more than double in people who often feel lonely, compared with those who rarely or never feel lonely.</p> <p>Other research examining 500,000 middle-aged adults over nine years showed living alone doubled the risk of dying by suicide for men, while loneliness <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33096330">increased the risk of hospitalisation</a> for self-harm in both men and women.</p> <p>In a <a href="https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/surgeon-general-social-connection-advisory.pdf">2023 report</a>, the US Surgeon General’s advisory concluded:</p> <blockquote> <p>Given the totality of the evidence, social connection may be one of the strongest protective factors against self-harm and suicide among people with and without serious underlying mental health challenges.</p> </blockquote> <h2>What about after release?</h2> <p>When a person leaves long-term isolation, they’ll face many challenges as they re-enter society.</p> <p>The world will have changed. There’s a lot to catch up on, from technological advancements to shifts in social norms.</p> <p>In addition to these broader changes, there’s a need to focus on rebuilding physical and mental health. Health issues that developed during isolation can <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30460-8/fulltext?cid=in%3Adisplay%3Alfhtn0&amp;dclid=CNKCgb7nle0CFVUkjwodG0YCkg">persist or worsen</a>. A weakened immune system might struggle with new infections in a post-COVID world.</p> <p>To navigate this transition, it’s important to establish a routine that includes regular exercise, nutritious meals and comprehensive medical and psychological care.</p> <p>Gradually increasing social interactions can also help in rebuilding relationships and social connections. These steps are supportive in restoring overall health and wellbeing in a changed world.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/233214/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carol-maher-217811">Carol Maher</a>, Professor, Medical Research Future Fund Emerging Leader, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/johanna-badcock-995697">Johanna Badcock</a>, Adjunct Professor, School of Psychological Science | Freelance Research Consultant, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-western-australia-1067">The University of Western Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Ray Tang/Shutterstock Editorial </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/julian-assange-was-isolated-for-more-than-a-decade-heres-what-that-does-to-the-body-and-mind-233214">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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