Placeholder Content Image

How tracking menopause symptoms can give women more control over their health

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/deborah-lancastle-1452267">Deborah Lancastle</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-wales-1586">University of South Wales</a></em></p> <p>Menopause can cause more symptoms than hot flushes alone. And some of your symptoms and reactions might be due to the menopause, even if you are still having periods. Research shows that keeping track of those symptoms can help to alleviate them.</p> <p>People sometimes talk about the menopause as though it were a single event that happens when you are in your early 50s, which is <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397#:%7E:text=Menopause%20is%20the%20time%20that,is%20a%20natural%20biological%20process.">the average time</a> to have your last period. But the menopause generally stretches between the ages of 45 and 55. And some women will experience an earlier “medical” menopause because of surgery to remove the womb or ovaries.</p> <p>The menopause often happens at one of the busiest times of life. You might have teenagers at home or be supporting grown-up children, have elderly parents, be employed and have a great social life. If you feel exhausted, hot and bothered, irritable and can’t sleep well, you might be tempted to think that it is because you never get a minute’s peace. But that is why monitoring symptoms is important.</p> <p><a href="https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/2023/03000/Symptom_monitoring_improves_physical_and_emotional.7.aspx">My team recently tested</a> the effects of tracking symptoms and emotions during the menopause. We asked women to rate 30 physical and 20 emotional symptoms of the menopause.</p> <p>The physical and psychological symptoms included poor concentration, problems with digesting food, stress and itchy skin, as well as the obvious symptoms like hot flushes and night sweats. Women tracked positive emotions like happiness and contentment, and negative emotions like feeling sad, isolated and angry.</p> <p>There were two groups of women in this study. One group recorded their symptoms and emotions every day for two weeks. The other group recorded their symptoms and emotions once at the beginning of the fortnight and once at the end.</p> <p>The results showed that the women who monitored their symptoms and emotions every day reported much lower negative emotions, physical symptoms and loneliness at the end of two weeks than at the beginning, compared to the other group.</p> <p>As well as this, although the loneliness scores of the group who monitored every day were lower than the other group, women in both groups said that being in the study and thinking about symptoms helped them feel less lonely. Simply knowing that other women were having similar experiences seemed to help.</p> <p>One participant said: “I feel more normal that other women are doing the same survey and are probably experiencing similar issues, especially the emotional and mental ones.”</p> <h2>Why does monitoring symptoms help?</h2> <p>One reason why tracking might help is that rating symptoms can help you notice changes and patterns in how you feel. This could encourage you to seek help.</p> <p>Another reason is that noticing changes in symptoms might help you link the change to what you have been doing. For example, looking at whether symptoms spike after eating certain foods or are better after exercise. This could mean that you change your behaviour in ways that improve your symptoms.</p> <p>Many menopause symptoms are known as “non-specific” symptoms. This is because they can also be symptoms of mental health, thyroid or heart problems. It is important not to think your symptoms are “just” the menopause. You should always speak to your doctor if you are worried about your health.</p> <p>Another good thing about monitoring symptoms is that you can take information about how often you experience symptoms and how bad they are to your GP appointment. This can help the doctor decide what might be the problem.</p> <p>Websites such as <a href="https://healthandher.com">Health and Her</a> and <a href="https://www.balance-menopause.com">Balance</a> offer symptom monitoring tools that can help you track what is happening to your physical and emotional health. There are several apps you can use on your phone, too. Or you might prefer to note symptoms and how bad they are in a notebook every day.<!-- 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/209004/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/deborah-lancastle-1452267">Deborah Lancastle</a>, Associate Professor of Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-wales-1586">University of South Wales</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</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-tracking-menopause-symptoms-can-give-women-more-control-over-their-health-209004">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

Good news: midlife health is about more than a waist measurement. Here’s why

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rob-newton-12124">Rob Newton</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p>You’re not in your 20s or 30s anymore and you know regular health checks are important. So you go to your GP. During the appointment they measure your waist. They might also check your weight. Looking concerned, they recommend some lifestyle changes.</p> <p>GPs and health professionals commonly <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-body-mass-index-cant-tell-us-if-were-healthy-heres-what-we-should-use-instead-211190">measure waist circumference</a> as a vital sign for health. This is a better indicator than body mass index (BMI) of the amount of intra-abdominal fat. This is the really risky fat around and within the organs that can drive heart disease and metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes.</p> <p>Men are at greatly increased risk of health issues if their waist circumference is <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/311/7017/1401">greater than 102 centimetres</a>. Women are considered to be at greater risk with a waist circumference of <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/311/7017/1401">88 centimetres or more</a>. More than <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/waist-circumference-and-bmi/latest-release">two-thirds of Australian adults</a> have waist measurements that put them at an increased risk of disease. An even better indicator is waist circumference divided by height or <a href="https://www.baker.edu.au/news/in-the-media/waist-height-ratio#:%7E:text=According%20to%20research%2C%20a%20healthy,the%20highest%20risk%20of%20disease.">waist-to-height ratio</a>.</p> <p>But we know people (especially women) have a propensity to <a href="https://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(19)30588-5/abstract">gain weight around their middle during midlife</a>, which can be very hard to control. Are they doomed to ill health? It turns out that, although such measurements are important, they are not the whole story when it comes to your risk of disease and death.</p> <h2>How much is too much?</h2> <p>Having a waist circumference to height ratio larger than 0.5 is associated with greater risk of chronic disease as well as premature death and this applies in adults of any age. A healthy waist-to-height ratio is between 0.4 to 0.49. A ratio of 0.6 or more <a href="https://www.baker.edu.au/news/in-the-media/waist-height-ratio#:%7E:text=According%20to%20research%2C%20a%20healthy,the%20highest%20risk%20of%20disease">places a person at the highest risk of disease</a>.</p> <p>Some experts recommend <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41574-019-0310-7">waist circumference be routinely measured in patients during health appointments</a>. This can kick off a discussion about their risk of chronic diseases and how they might address this.</p> <p>Excessive body fat and the associated health problems manifest more strongly during midlife. A range of social, personal and physiological factors come together to make it more difficult to control waist circumference as we age. Metabolism tends to slow down mainly due to decreasing muscle mass because people do <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jcb.25077">less vigorous physical activity, in particular resistance exercise</a>.</p> <p>For women, hormone levels begin changing in mid-life and this also <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/13697137.2012.707385">stimulates increased fat levels particularly around the abdomen</a>. At the same time, this life phase (often involving job responsibilities, parenting and caring for ageing parents) is when elevated stress can lead to <a href="https://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/abstract/2000/09000/stress_and_body_shape__stress_induced_cortisol.5.aspx">increased cortisol which causes fat gain in the abdominal region</a>.</p> <p>Midlife can also bring poorer sleep patterns. These contribute to fat gain with <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.0010062">disruption to the hormones that control appetite</a>.</p> <p>Finally, your family history and genetics can <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1002695">make you predisposed to gaining more abdominal fat</a>.</p> <h2>Why the waist?</h2> <p>This intra-abdominal or visceral fat is much more metabolically active (it has a greater impact on body organs and systems) than the fat under the skin (subcutaneous fat).</p> <p>Visceral fat surrounds and infiltrates major organs such as the liver, pancreas and intestines, releasing a variety of chemicals (hormones, inflammatory signals, and fatty acids). These affect inflammation, lipid metabolism, cholesterol levels and insulin resistance, <a href="https://academic.oup.com/eurheartjsupp/article/8/suppl_B/B4/461962">contributing to the development of chronic illnesses</a>.</p> <p>The issue is particularly evident <a href="https://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(19)30588-5/abstract">during menopause</a>. In addition to the direct effects of hormone changes, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960076013001118?via%3Dihub">declining levels of oestrogen change brain function, mood and motivation</a>. These psychological alterations can result in reduced physical activity and increased eating – often of comfort foods high in sugar and fat.</p> <p>But these outcomes are not inevitable. Diet, exercise and managing mental health can limit visceral fat gains in mid-life. And importantly, the waist circumference (and ratio to height) is just one measure of human health. There are so many other aspects of body composition, exercise and diet. These can have much larger influence on a person’s health.</p> <h2>Muscle matters</h2> <p>The quantity and quality of skeletal muscle (attached to bones to produce movement) a person has makes a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrendo.2012.49">big difference</a> to their heart, lung, metabolic, immune, neurological and mental health as well as their physical function.</p> <p>On current evidence, it is equally or more important for health and longevity to <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e7279">have</a> higher muscle mass and better cardiorespiratory (aerobic) fitness than waist circumference within the healthy range.</p> <p>So, if a person does have an excessive waist circumference, but they are also sedentary and have less muscle mass and aerobic fitness, then the recommendation would be to focus on an appropriate exercise program. The fitness deficits should be addressed as priority rather than worry about fat loss.</p> <p>Conversely, a person with low visceral fat levels is not necessarily fit and healthy and may have quite poor aerobic fitness, muscle mass, and strength. <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/45/6/504">The research evidence</a> is that these vital signs of health – how strong a person is, the quality of their diet and how well their heart, circulation and lungs are working – are more predictive of risk of disease and death than how thin or fat a person is.</p> <p>For example, a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5510687/">2017 Dutch study</a> followed overweight and obese people for 15 years and found people who were very physically active had no increased heart disease risk than “normal weight” participants.</p> <h2>Getting moving is important advice</h2> <p>Physical activity has many benefits. Exercise can counter a lot of the negative behavioural and physiological changes that are occurring during midlife including for people going through menopause.</p> <p>And regular exercise reduces the tendency to use food and drink to help manage what can be a <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/fulltext/2008/05000/physical_activity,_sedentary_index,_and_mental.7.aspx">quite difficult time in life</a>.</p> <p>Measuring your waist circumference and monitoring your weight remains important. If the measures exceed the values listed above, then it is certainly a good idea to make some changes. Exercise is effective for fat loss and in particular <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/57/16/1035">decreasing visceral fat</a> with greater effectiveness when <a href="https://bmcwomenshealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12905-019-0864-5">combined with dietary restriction of energy intake</a>. Importantly, any fat loss program – whether through drugs, diet or surgery – is also a muscle loss program unless resistance exercise is part of the program. Talking about your overall health with a doctor is a great place to start.</p> <p><a href="https://www.essa.org.au/Public/Public/Searches/find-aep-withdistance.aspx">Accredited exercise physiologists</a> and <a href="https://member.dietitiansaustralia.org.au/Portal/Portal/Search-Directories/Find-a-Dietitian.aspx">accredited practising dietitians</a> are the most appropriate allied health professionals to assess your physical structure, fitness and diet and work with you to get a plan in place to improve your health, fitness and reduce your current and future health risks.<!-- 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/226019/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/rob-newton-12124"><em>Rob Newton</em></a><em>, Professor of Exercise Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</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/good-news-midlife-health-is-about-more-than-a-waist-measurement-heres-why-226019">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

Health retreat responds to woman's suspected mushroom poisoning death

<p>The alternative health centre where Rachael Dixon died after consuming a drink allegedly containing <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/woman-dies-after-suspected-mushroom-poisoning-at-health-retreat" target="_blank" rel="noopener">poisonous mushrooms</a> have issued a public statement on the incident. </p> <p>The 53-year-old and her friends took part in a holistic wellness retreat at Soul Barn Creative Wellbeing Centre when Dixon fell ill on Saturday night after <span style="background-color: #ffffff; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, 'system-ui', 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji'; font-size: 16px;">she allegedly crushed up mushrooms</span><span style="background-color: #ffffff; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, 'system-ui', 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji'; font-size: 16px;"> and consumed them in a drink. </span></p> <p>While her two friends were rushed to hospital and released a few days later, Dixon went into cardiac arrest, and despite best efforts by paramedics, she died at the scene just after 12am.</p> <p>Soul Barn, a self-described “creative wellbeing centre” specialising in holistic and alternative practices issued a statement on Thursday saying they were devastated by the incident. </p> <p>They also claimed that the event on Saturday that Dixon attended was not run by the centre or facilitated by any of its staff.</p> <p>“Soul Barn hires out workshop (spaces) to external businesses and facilitators,” they said. </p> <p>“The event which took place on April 13 was a private event, and those facilitating the event do not work for or represent Soul Barn in any way.</p> <p>“None of our regular therapists staff or facilitators were present at any point during this event.</p> <p>“We share the shock and devastation of everyone involved, and our hearts are with those families affected.”</p> <p>The health centre will remain closed while police investigate Dixon's death and a report is being prepared for the coroner. </p> <p><em>Image: 7NEWS</em></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

Woman dies after suspected mushroom poisoning at health retreat

<p>A 53-year-old woman has died and two others have been rushed to hospital after allegedly ingesting poisonous mushrooms while at a holistic wellness retreat. </p> <p>Rachael Dixon became violently ill on Saturday night after she allegedly crushed up mushrooms and consumed them in a drink. </p> <p>Dixon and her two friends were at the Soul Barn Creative Wellbeing Centre, an "alternative health retreat" in Clunes, near Ballarat, when the incident occurred. </p> <p>An ambulance was called after reports she was in cardiac arrest and not breathing, and despite best efforts by paramedics, she died at the scene just after 12am.</p> <p>Her two friend were also rushed to hospital, but were released days later. </p> <p>Police are investigating her sudden death, and are expected to look into if the drink contained 'magic' mushrooms, which contain the hallucinogenic chemical psilocybin.</p> <p>Dixon's son Matthew paid tribute to his mother on Facebook, writing, "To the most loving, most caring person I've ever known can't thank you enough for everything you ever did for me and all the support you gave me."</p> <p>"Words can't begin to describe how much I will miss you, wish I could give you one last hug."</p> <p>Soul Barn has remained closed since the incident as local business owners and residents said the incident was "confronting" and "devastating".</p> <p>The death comes after Victorian authorities warned residents earlier this month that poisonous mushrooms were growing across the state.</p> <p>“Unless you are an expert, do not pick and eat wild mushrooms in Victoria,” acting chief health officer Evelyn Wong said.</p> <p>“There is no home test available to distinguish safe and edible mushrooms from poisonous mushrooms.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

Former SAS Australia contestant recalls terrifying Ozempic overdose

<p>Former SAS Australia contestant Roxy Jacenko has opened up on the terrifying experience she had after overdosing on Ozempic. </p> <p>Jacenko was desperate to lose 15kg of extra weight, which she gained as a result of taking Tamoxifen - a hormone therapy drug she took for her breast cancer for seven years.</p> <p>“The Tamoxifen made me put on 15kg,” she said during  a special <em>7NEWS Spotlight TV</em> investigation into the drug. </p> <p> “And whilst to other people, they didn’t look at me and go, 'Oh well, she’s put on a lot of weight,' I didn’t feel comfortable.</p> <p>“And I tried everything. I tried the fad diets. I tried starting at a gym, doing workouts. I tried not eating much and I couldn’t shake the weight. I just wanted to fix it, and this seemed like the way. Ozempic seemed like the easy answer.”</p> <p>Weight loss is one of the side effects of the medication, which is usually used to help adults with Type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar. It is this side effect that has millions wanting to use it for weight loss. </p> <p>Despite Novo Nordisk - the pharmaceutical company supplying Ozempic -  advising the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration that supplies throughout 2023 and 2024 will be limited and it should only be prescribed by doctors to diabetics, people have found other ways to obtain it.</p> <p>Jacenko revealed that despite her local GP telling her she didn't meet the criteria for the injection, she bought it on the black market in Nowra, NSW and ordered an Uber to collect it for her. </p> <p>“It was about $2,500 for the drive there and back, and then it was another $700 for the two pens,” she said. “I was actually like a junkie. I look at it now and I was like a junkie.”</p> <p>She recalled how she took more than the recommended amount in a desperate attempt to lose weight. </p> <p>“I took four times the amount in one hit,” she revealed.</p> <p>“I felt OK at that point in time. The aftermath of it was I think I’m going to die.</p> <p>She added, “in the morning, I was driving to work. I was sweating. I was so hot and then I just kept vomiting nonstop. What not to do? One milligram of Ozempic.”</p> <p>“That night, I ended up in hospital. They had never seen this before. This was the first they had seen of an Ozempic overdose. Like the shaking, my whole body was shaking, I couldn’t control my legs. It’s like I had no control of my body.</p> <p>“My arms and legs were like this. And then in addition to that, they just start pumping you full of fluid. You can rest assure I came out skinny, but it didn’t last for long. Literally, I truly thought this is it. I’ve been sick in my time. Cancer was a walk in the park compared to how bad I felt for those three days.</p> <p>As a result, Jacenko no longer takes the the medication and has since stopped drinking and started following a healthy diet. </p> <p>"And if anyone asks me, “Would you do it again, Ozempic?” No freaking way. I literally thought, “This is it. I’m going to die.”</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

Tennis star "heartbroken" as injury puts life on hold

<p>Aussie tennis star Storm Hunter has suffered a devastating injury just one day before the nation's qualifying tie against Mexico. </p> <p>The 29-year-old has had to put her Olympic dream and plans to crack the world’s top 100 on hold, after she fell and ruptured her right Achilles tendon. </p> <p>The incident occurred on Thursday’s final practice session for Australia’s Billie Jean King Cup qualification tie against Mexico on Friday. </p> <p>Hunter took to Instagram to announce the bad news, with a picture of herself during one of the games.</p> <p>“I am devastated and heartbroken but incredibly grateful to be around the team and I know I have a great group of people around me that will help me get back on court as soon as possible,” she wrote. </p> <p>“Thank you so much everyone for the messages of support and love, I’m excited to stay for the tie and support our Aussie girls.”</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/p/C5pE4RDPdpG/?utm_source=ig_embed&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/p/C5pE4RDPdpG/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by STORM HUNTER (@stormcsanders)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>In a following update, she shared a photo of herself in crutches holding a bouquet of flowers that she received from the rival team. </p> <p>"Thank you team Mexico for the flowers" she captioned the photo, with a heart emoji and the Mexican flag. </p> <p>Recovery time for a ruptured Achilles is at least four months, but can take up to a year depending on the injury. </p> <p>This means that the tennis star is set to miss the Olympic Games in Paris later this year, where she could've featured in all three disciplines.</p> <p>She was set to team up with Ellen Perez for the clash with Mexico, but has since been replaced with Daria Saville. </p> <p>“Storm went to take off for a ball and unfortunately has sustained a very serious injury, so she’s going to be getting an MRI tonight,” Team captain Sam Stosur said on Thursday. </p> <p>“Obviously the tie still continues and we’ve made a decision. Dasha’s going to go in place of her to play tomorrow, but obviously we’re all rallying behind Storm and wishing her the very, very best and the quickest recovery possible.”</p> <p>Hunter has had a career-high singles mark of 114 at the start of April, and finished 2023 as the world No.1 in doubles alongside Elise Mertens. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p> <p> </p> <p> </p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

Australian Idol host opens up on painful health battle

<p>Australian Idol host and singer Ricki-Lee Coulter has revealed that she has been battling endometriosis for over a decade. </p> <p>The 38-year-old took to Instagram to share the process that led her diagnosis, straight from the hospital bed, following her laparoscopy and excision surgery. </p> <p>"For over a decade I’ve been dealing with chronic pain that has progressively gotten worse,” she began the post. </p> <p>“Anyone with endometriosis knows it takes a long time to get to the point where you have surgery and can get any kind of diagnosis — and that you have to advocate for yourself and keep pushing for answers.</p> <p>“Over the years I have seen so many doctors and specialists, and have been down so many different paths to try to figure out what was going on — and for so long I thought the pain was just something I had to deal with.</p> <p>“But the past couple of years, it has become almost unbearable and is something I’ve been dealing with every single day.</p> <p>“I met with a new GP at the start of the year, who referred me to a new specialist, and we went through all the measures that have been taken to try to get to the bottom of this pain — and the only option left was surgery.</p> <p>“So this week I had a laparoscopy and excision surgery — and they removed all the endometriosis they found, and I can only hope that is the end of the pain.</p> <p>“I’m now at home recovering and feeling good. Rich is taking very good care of me xxx," she ended the post.</p> <p>She also shared a few photos after her surgery, and of her recovering at home. </p> <p>One in nine women suffer from endometriosis, a condition where the  tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the womb, which sometimes moves to other areas of the body. </p> <p>Friends and followers shared their support in the comments, with reality TV star and fellow endo-warrior Angie Kent saying: “Sending you lots of love! You’re not alone in this — it’s a marathon not a sprint, unfortunately.</p> <p>“But there’s an amazing chronic invisible illness sista-hood out here! I hope you have a good support system with the recovery including an amazing women’s health practitioner.”</p> <p>“Sending lots of love,” Sunrise host Natalie Barr added. </p> <p>“Sending you so much love. Been where you are now and it gets so much better honey,” wrote Jackie O. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p> <p> </p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

Allan Border's desperate plea to PM

<p>Allan Border has joined Parkinson’s Australia chief executive Olivia Nassaris in a plea for the Federal Government to provide more funding and research into the condition. </p> <p>The 68-year-old cricket legend is one of over 150,000 Australians living with Parkinson’s, after being diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disorder back in 2016. </p> <p>A new report from the organisation revealed that there are 19,500 new cases every year, with one Australian diagnosed with the condition every 27 minutes.</p> <p>“A lot of people know the disease but they don’t know the impact that it has — 150,000 people in Australia have the disease, it does present in different ways,” Border said. </p> <p>“When I was told I was suffering, my first image was of (boxer) Muhammad Ali and the Olympic torch, I just thought people suffered from a tremor.</p> <p>“But there’s about 100,000 different ways of it presenting.”</p> <p>Border joined the Parkinson’s Australia chief executive on April 11 to raise awareness for World Parkinson’s Day.</p> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Nassaris </span>estimated that the number of Australians impacted by Parkinson’s would almost triple by 2050.</p> <p>“At the moment we don’t have a cause or cure, so it is frightening that a disease like this is going to almost triple in numbers,” she said.</p> <p>Responding to the cricketer’s plea, the Prime Minister described Border as a “great Australian” and hinted at a potential boost to government support in providing more resources into the condition. </p> <p>“Our heart goes out to him,” the PM said on Thursday. </p> <p>“I will have a word with the Health Minister about what more we can do. We have contributed over $100m to research into Parkinson’s.</p> <p>“There’s also a pilot program for nurses about people suffering from Parkinson’s at the moment. There’s some $6.5m being used for that pilot program. We want to wait and see what the assessment of that is.”</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

10 ways to sneak in meditation into your everyday life

<p><em>Health experts share their tips and tricks on how to sneak meditation into your daily life without going on a yoga retreat.</em></p> <p><strong>Ways to meditate every day</strong></p> <p>Meeting deadlines at work, keeping up with friends, and trying to make time to exercise can be stressful – throw in a global pandemic and all its repercussions and it’s no wonder the majority of Australians feel that stress impacts their physical health (72%) and mental health (64%). But whatever the source of your stress, daily meditation can help you cope without having to change your schedule.</p> <p><strong>1. Try eating a meal without distractions</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/1-lunch-mindful-eating-GettyImages-1263611134-770.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p>When was the last time you did this? According to Rebecca Weible, founder of Yo Yoga!, eating without your phone, tablet or a book creates real awareness. “Take the time to notice each bite, including the taste and texture of your food,” she says. “This is also great for digestion and portion control.”</p> <p><strong>2. Unplug and take a walk</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/2-walk-scooter-kids-parents-GettyImages-932349458-770.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p>Sometimes slowing down is as easy as unplugging from the digital world, including your phone, social media and email and taking in your surroundings. Weible says to take notice of each step: “The first and last part of your foot to hit the ground with each step, your stride and your pace. See how long you can stay present.” Running is also a great way to unplug.</p> <p><strong>3. Try out some yoga moves</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/3-yoga-GettyImages-1051753046-770.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p>Anyone can do yoga, trust us! “Yoga is a moving meditation as you are encouraged to be mindful of each part of your body in every pose and how you are moving from pose to pose,” says Weible. In yoga, you are forced to focus on your breathing and muscle control, which makes you totally present in the moment – a key to good meditation.</p> <p><em>Ensure you have the yoga mat best suited to your needs, <a href="http://gaiam.innovations.com.au/p/gaiam-yoga/mats?affiliate=GAIAM60" target="_blank" rel="noopener">starting with this extensive range from Gaiam</a>.</em></p> <p><strong>4. Really wake up in the morning</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/4-waking-up-stretch-GettyImages-552008811-770.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p>Sure, we all wake up in the morning, but before you hop out of bed for that shower or cup of coffee, Scott Rogers, principal advisor at Innergy Meditation, suggests you really wake before getting out of bed, which means sitting up and taking in your surroundings. “Notice the lighting, the temperature, how you feel,” says Rogers, “Close or lower your eyes for a few breaths – for a few minutes – and rest your attention on the sensations of your body breathing.”</p> <p><strong>5. Whenever you walk through a door, take a deep breath</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/5-walking-through-a-door-GettyImages-1063759498-770.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p>Another way to bring focus and calm is to take a deep breath every time you walk through a doorway. This forces you to look around, see where you are, and again bring focus into your daily life. “Such moments insert an important wedge of awareness that helps reduce stress and steady the mind,” says Rogers.</p> <p><strong>6. Use Post-It notes</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/6-post-it-note-GettyImages-85007668-770.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p>There is no wrong way or right way to meditate. A super-easy way is using Post-It notes. suggests Jackie Itzkowitz and Joel Granik, co-founders of Floating Lotus. “Put a Post-It note on your mirror in your bathroom to remind yourself to think about something you are grateful for,” explain Itzkowitz and Granik. “The fact you can walk, the exciting day you have ahead of you, or even the fact you are alive and well. Taking a moment to be mindful and aware of yourself and the things around you counts as meditating.”</p> <p><strong>7. Check your breathing</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/7-breathing-exercise-GettyImages-1143696586-770.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p>This is a really easy one. “Take a moment to sit up tall with both feet on the floor, hands in your lap. You can close the eyes or leave them open,” suggests Weible. “Take a deep breath in through your nose counting to three, then let it out through your nose counting to three. Take another breath in counting to four, let it out counting to four. Repeat this pattern using a five-count. You can take as many breaths as you like, but three mindful breaths can go a long way towards making you feel less stressed and more at ease.”</p> <p>Add the healing benefits of aromatherapy to your breathing exercises <a href="https://gaiam.innovations.com.au/p/gaiam-wellness/relax/27-73273-gaiam-wellness-usb-mini-diffuser?affiliate=GAIAM60" target="_blank" rel="noopener">with the help of a Gaiam Wellness Mini Diffuser</a>.</p> <p><strong>8. Practise mindfulness</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/8-smelling-flowers-roses-GettyImages-455252101-770.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p>This another meditation practice you can try anywhere. “Mindfulness meditation involves paying attention to our present moment experience and there is no time when we cannot be practising,” says Rogers. “But, we tend to forget or feel too busy to do so” So literally, slow down and smell the roses.</p> <p><strong>9. Try switching hands</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/9-yoghurt-spoon-GettyImages-1226825261-770.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p>Most people have one dominant hand so Rogers suggests switching it up. “When you are ready to eat, place your fork or spoon in your non-dominant hand for your first bite,” he says, “This will slow down the process and engage attention. As you take your first bite, notice the sensory richness of sight, smell and touch.”</p> <p><strong>10. Forget about worrying</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/10-meditation-GettyImages-1157178955-770.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p>This one is easier said than done but Itzkowitz and Granik say worrying is the one thing that can bring your meditating down. “Actually worrying about doing meditation wrong is the only thing you can do wrong,” they advise. “Be compassionate with yourself and let yourself relax.”</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1rem; background-color: #ffffff;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box;"><span style="color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, system-ui, Segoe UI, Roboto, Helvetica Neue, Arial, sans-serif, Apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol, Noto Color Emoji;"><span style="font-weight: bolder;">This article, written by </span><strong>Felissa Benjamin Allard</strong><span style="font-weight: bolder;">, originally appeared on</span></span></span><span style="color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, 'system-ui', 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji'; font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; font-weight: bolder;"> <a style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #258440; text-decoration-line: none; background-color: transparent; transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out 0s;" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/mental-health/10-ways-to-sneak-in-meditation-into-your-everyday-life" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>.</span></p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, 'system-ui', 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji'; font-size: 16px; background-color: #ffffff;"><em style="box-sizing: border-box;">Images: Shutterstock | Getty</em></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

Asking ChatGPT a health-related question? Better keep it simple

<p>It’s tempting to <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/news/chatgpt-and-dr-google/">turn to search engines</a> to seek out health information, but with the rise of large language models, like ChatGPT, people are becoming more and more likely to depend on AI for answers too.</p> <div class="copy"> <p>Concerningly, an Australian study has now found that the more evidence given to <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/chatgpt-an-intimate-companion/">ChatGPT</a> when asked a health-related question, the less reliable it becomes.</p> <p>Large language models (LLM) and artificial intelligence use in health care is still developing, creating a  a critical gap when providing incorrect answers can have serious consequences for people’s health.</p> <p>To address this, scientists from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, and the University of Queensland (UQ) explored a hypothetical scenario: an average person asking ChatGPT if ‘X’ treatment has a positive effect on condition ‘Y’.</p> <p>They presented ChatGPT with 100 questions sourced from the <a href="https://trec-health-misinfo.github.io/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">TREC Health Misinformation track</a> – ranging from ‘Can zinc help treat the common cold?’ to ‘Will drinking vinegar dissolve a stuck fish bone?’</p> <p>Because queries to search engines are typically shorter, while prompts to a LLM can be far longer, they posed the questions in 2 different formats: the first as a simple question and the second as a question biased with supporting or contrary evidence.</p> <p>By comparing ChatGPT’s response to the known correct response based on existing medical knowledge, they found that ChatGPT was 80% accurate at giving accurate answers in a question-only format. However, when given an evidence-biased prompt, this accuracy reduced to 63%, which was reduced again to 28% when an “unsure” answer was allowed. </p> <p>“We’re not sure why this happens,” says CSIRO Principal Research Scientist and Associate Professor at UQ, Dr Bevan Koopman, who is co-author of the paper.</p> <p>“But given this occurs whether the evidence given is correct or not, perhaps the evidence adds too much noise, thus lowering accuracy.”</p> <p>Study co-author Guido Zuccon, Director of AI for the Queensland Digital Health Centre at UQ says that major search engines are now integrating LLMs and search technologies in a process called Retrieval Augmented Generation.</p> <p>“We demonstrate that the interaction between the LLM and the search component is still poorly understood, resulting in the generation of inaccurate health information,” says Zuccon.</p> <p>Given the widespread popularity of using LLMs online for answers on people’s health, Koopman adds, we need continued research to inform the public about risks and to help them optimise the accuracy of their answers.</p> <p>“While LLMs have the potential to greatly improve the way people access information, we need more research to understand where they are effective and where they are not.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <div> <p align="center"><noscript data-spai="1"><em><img decoding="async" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-198773" src="https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/spai/q_lossy+ret_img+to_auto/cosmosmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/MICROSCOPIC-TO-TELESCOPIC__Embed-graphic-720x360-1.jpg" data-spai-egr="1" width="600" alt="Buy cosmos print magazine" title="asking chatgpt a health-related question? better keep it simple 2"></em></noscript></p> </div> <p><em><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=301406&amp;title=Asking+ChatGPT+a+health-related+question%3F+Better+keep+it+simple" width="1" height="1" loading="lazy" aria-label="Syndication Tracker" data-spai-target="src" data-spai-orig="" data-spai-exclude="nocdn" /></em><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/ai/asking-chatgpt-a-health-related-question-better-keep-it-simple/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/imma-perfetto/">Imma Perfetto</a>. </em></div>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

Christina Applegate's devastating health update

<p>Christina Applegate has shared a heart-wrenching health update, sharing that she is currently unable to walk or use her shower. </p> <p>The actress, who has been battling multiple sclerosis (MS) since 2021, spoke candidly on her <em>MeSsy</em> podcast that she is going through a difficult relapse of her chronic illness, which is getting in the way of being able to complete basic tasks. </p> <p>“I’m gonna be honest with you, I need to buy stock in Cottonelle because I haven’t taken a shower in three weeks,” Applegate told podcast co-host Jamie Lynn-Sigler, who also suffers from MS.</p> <p>She continued, “Because I can’t stand in my shower. There’s no f****** way I can use my shower.”</p> <p>“I have such a small bench and my a** is so huge these days that I can’t sit on it, it’s like I slip right off of it,” she added. “So, I’ve been Cottonelle-ing my body.”</p> <p>At the beginning of the episode, Applegate detailed the severity of her symptoms and how they were impacting different areas of her body.</p> <p>"Intense pain in my legs, not being able to walk to the bathroom without feeling like I'm going to fall, insane tingling, spurts of tingles," she said of the pain she's currently experiencing.</p> <p>"I haven't slept for 24 hours because my eye is doing something weird, where every time I close my eye to go to sleep, my right eye starts to shift like this."</p> <p>Applegate noted how unusual the symptoms in her legs were, saying, "My legs have never been this bad... so I don't know what's going on, like, no energy."</p> <p>"[My] Legs are just done. I can't get circulation, I can't get them to stop hurting."</p> <p dir="ltr">Christina first revealed her diagnosis in August 2021, sharing the news on Twitter and thanking everyone for their support. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Hi friends. A few months ago I was diagnosed with MS. It’s been a strange journey. But I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition. It’s been a tough road. But as we all know, the road keeps going. Unless some a**hole blocks it,” her tweet reads.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to MS Australia, MS is the most common acquired chronic neurological disease in young adults with diagnosis occurring between the ages of 20 to 40.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

Silent cancers: here’s what you need to know when there are no obvious symptoms

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justin-stebbing-1405462">Justin Stebbing</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/anglia-ruskin-university-1887">Anglia Ruskin University</a></em></p> <p>The recent revelations about the Princess of Wales’s <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-68640917">cancer diagnosis</a> highlight a crucial aspect of cancer detection – the disease’s sometimes silent nature.</p> <p>Silent cancers are those without noticeable symptoms. They pose a unique challenge in early detection and treatment.</p> <p>Contrary to common perception, cancer does not always announce its presence through overt symptoms or obvious signs. Many people receive a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/clinchem/article-abstract/70/1/179/7283928">cancer diagnosis incidentally</a>, when it’s found during routine medical examinations or investigations for unrelated health concerns – as seems to be the case for both <a href="https://www.wsj.com/health/kate-middleton-catherine-cancer-what-is-preventative-chemotherapy-9625370d">the princess</a> and <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-68171163">King Charles III</a>.</p> <p>While even silent cancers can sometimes be <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22584215/">aggressive and advance rapidly</a>, they can also remain <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20363069/">dormant</a> for years or <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8819710/">even decades</a>. Some <a href="https://ascopubs.org/doi/10.14694/EdBook_AM.2012.32.98">prostate</a>, <a href="https://ascopubs.org/doi/10.14694/EdBook_AM.2012.32.301">breast</a> and <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/endocrinology/articles/10.3389/fendo.2020.571421/full">thyroid</a> cancers, for example, <a href="https://www.tmlep.com/clinical-learning/2023-01-23-when-did-this-tumour-start-the-need-for-a-gompertzian-understanding-of-tumour-growth-kinetics">often evolve slowly</a> without obvious symptoms or spreading beyond the original area.</p> <p>Research suggests that some of these cancers are <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/endocrinology/articles/10.3389/fendo.2020.571421/full">overtreated</a>. Sometimes patients are best left alone or treated much more gently, perhaps even without medical intervention, using a <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmoa1311593">“watch and wait”</a> strategy. This approach may be taken with prostate cancer in the elderly, for example.</p> <h2>The importance of early diagnosis</h2> <p>Whatever the cancer, it’s always important to get an early diagnosis though – and for silent cancers, this is obviously a challenge.</p> <p>Some cancer symptoms <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36702593/">can be vague</a> and easily mistaken for benign ailments. Fatigue, unexplained weight loss and persistent pain are among the nonspecific symptoms that may signal an underlying malignancy. But such symptoms can be misinterpreted or easily dismissed, which contributes to delayed diagnosis and treatment.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MGMy6BzBvp0?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Fortunately, in many countries including the UK, we have <a href="https://www.england.nhs.uk/cancer/early-diagnosis/screening-and-earlier-diagnosis/">screening</a> tests for diseases like breast or colon cancer, to increase early diagnoses.</p> <p>Early diagnosis is a <a href="https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/cncr.32887">key factor</a> for successful cancer treatment. Detecting cancer in its silent phase offers a window of opportunity for early intervention and improved outcomes. The discovery of asymptomatic cancers through diagnostic imaging or screening tests underscores the importance of these proactive healthcare measures.</p> <p>Identifying cancer at an early stage means the disease is confined to its site of origin, smaller and potentially easier to cure. Diagnosing a smaller cancer often means that if an operation is needed, it may be a less invasive surgery. There may also be a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6825992/">lower chance</a> of needing post-operative preventative chemotherapy, to mop up any residual cells.</p> <p>Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a good example to show the critical importance of screening. Studies show that patients who participate in CRC <a href="https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/dg56/chapter/1-Recommendations">screening</a>, such as colonoscopies or tests that look for blood in the stool, are more likely to be diagnosed while asymptomatic and have more positive prognoses after treatment. Those diagnosed with CRC after showing symptoms, such as rectal bleeding or changes in bowel habits, tend to have more <a href="https://bmjopengastro.bmj.com/content/4/1/e000146%20">advanced tumors and poorer outcomes</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/nA9_Io3LDpA?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Public health initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the importance of both cancer screening and symptom recognition play a pivotal role in reducing diagnostic delays. Empowering people to engage in <a href="https://healthcaredelivery.cancer.gov/prevention/#:%7E:text=Cancer%20can%20be%20prevented%20through,they%20are%20more%20easily%20treated.">preventive healthcare measures</a> such as HPV vaccinations and lifestyle changes that decrease risk can facilitate early detection and intervention, potentially altering the trajectory of the disease.</p> <h2>Biomarker discovery</h2> <p>The latest advances in diagnostic technologies, often known as <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8012218/#:%7E:text=During%20biomarker%20discovery%2C%20evaluation%20of,design%20of%20future%20validation%20studies.">“biomarker discovery”</a>, hold promise for improving early detection rates and refining treatment strategies for silent cancers. From <a href="https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/molecular-profiling">molecular profiling</a> to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9922467/">liquid biopsy techniques</a> (blood tests to diagnose cancer), innovative approaches are reshaping the landscape of cancer diagnosis, offering new avenues for personalised and precision medicine.</p> <p>For example, I worked with a team using blood tests to identify cancers in more than <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41388-023-02591-z">1,000 women recalled after screening for mammography</a>. We looked at the DNA that tumour cells release – so-called <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10496721/">cell-free DNA</a> – and also metabolomics (rare markers related to metabolism in the blood). From this information, we found healthy patients, benign disease, pre-cancer and breast cancer. Although there’s increasing awareness and use of this <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1769721218307110">approach in Europe</a>, it isn’t standard in the UK.</p> <p>Asymptomatic cancers represent a formidable challenge for patient care. But, by encouraging patients to adopt preventive lifestyles and engage with screenings and tests, asymptomatic cancers don’t have to be a hidden threat to health.<!-- 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/226536/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-stebbing-1405462">Justin Stebbing</a>, Professor of Biomedical Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/anglia-ruskin-university-1887">Anglia Ruskin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</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/silent-cancers-heres-what-you-need-to-know-when-there-are-no-obvious-symptoms-226536">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

Marcia Hines reveals the true cause of her collapse

<p><em>Australian Idol</em> judge and iconic singer Marcia Hines has recently disclosed the harrowing details behind her backstage collapse on the eve of the show's Grand Finale.</p> <p>The 70-year-old singing legend was <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/marcia-hines-rushed-to-hospital" target="_blank" rel="noopener">rushed to the hospital</a> after collapsing in her dressing room at the Sydney Coliseum Theatre on March 24, sending shockwaves through the entertainment industry and leaving fans concerned for her well-being.</p> <p>Initially, speculation surrounded the incident, with many attributing it to her well-known battle with diabetes. However, in an exclusive interview with <em>The Daily Telegraph</em>, Hines unveiled the true cause – a urinary tract infection (UTI).</p> <p>"I don't know what happened," she shared, recounting the frightening moment. "I was about to go and do the semi-final for <em>Australian Idol</em>... I was sitting down, stood up, and fell over."</p> <p>“I had a urinary tract infection,” she added, referring to it as a “chick thing”.</p> <p>UTIs can wreak havoc on one's health, particularly in older individuals like Hines. They can lead to complications such as low blood pressure, resulting in dizziness, weakness and fainting – precisely the symptoms Hines experienced. Following her collapse, she required stitches on her forehead, but her determination to <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/entertainment/tv/marcia-hines-returns-as-australian-idol-fans-cry-foul-over-upset-win" target="_blank" rel="noopener">return for the show's final episode</a> was unwavering.</p> <p>Despite pleas from her doctor to take it easy, Hines leveraged her "bargaining power" and convinced him to allow her to fulfil her commitment to <em>Australian Idol</em>. "That's show business," she quipped.</p> <p>Following the Grand Finale, Hines did return to the hospital for further treatment, where she remained under observation for several days.</p> <p>Reflecting on the ordeal, Hines expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support she received from fans, friends and medical professionals. In an Instagram post, she acknowledged the exceptional healthcare system in Australia, particularly praising the efforts of the hospital staff who attended to her during her stay. Additionally, she extended her appreciation to the<em> Australian Idol</em> team and her colleagues at <em>Grease: The Musical</em>, where she holds a cameo role.</p> <p>Looking ahead, with her Idol commitments concluded for the year, Hines now shifts her focus to her role in <em>Grease: The Musical</em>, which is currently captivating audiences in Sydney before embarking on a tour to Perth.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

12 best yoga poses to strengthen bones

<p><em>A rehabilitation doctor and yogi of 50 years says your yoga practise is doing way more than centring your mind and opening your joints.</em></p> <p>If you’re like many yoga lovers, you appreciate how this one physical activity can be so beneficial, while simultaneously so gentle. Few other practises stretch your body, calm your mind or help regulate vitals, such as your heart rate and blood pressure, in quite the way a regular yoga session can do.</p> <p>Researcher and rehabilitation doctor, Dr Loren Fishman has also been a practitioner of yoga for 50 years and is the creator of ‘the Fishman method’ of yoga for osteoporosis. In a conversation with Reader’s Digest, Dr Fishman points out that for all its advantages, yoga can also provide a powerful boost to your long-term bone density. In particular, Dr Fishman published 12 yoga poses in Orthopedic Nursing that are particularly great for strengthening your bones.</p> <p>Of these 12 poses Dr Fishman says: “They all work by putting pressure on the bones of sufficient magnitude and duration.” He says this can “stimulate the osteoblasts to make more bone”, thanks to their placement of “maximum torque, compression or pressure” on particular body parts, as outlined below.</p> <p>So, while a good yoga session is a helpful tool to help you get through the week, its effects are longer-lasting than you realised.</p> <p>Keep reading for the 12 best yoga poses to strengthen your bones. (“With all poses, remember not to round the spine as you go into and out of the poses, and within the poses themselves,” Dr Fishman advises.)</p> <p><em>Whether you’re a yoga beginner or expert, it’s important you have the right mat. <a href="https://gaiam.innovations.com.au/p/gaiam-yoga/mats?affiliate=GAIAM60" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Check out these mats from Gaiam.</a> </em></p> <p><strong>1. Tree pose (Vriksasana)</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/1-yoga-tree-pose-GettyImages-1094418370-JVedit-1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p>Tree pose has a special way of calling you to stillness. Dr Fishman says tree pose also adds pressure that can strengthen the upper femur and hip. He adds that a study at the University of Southern California (USC) showed a 60 per cent increase in pressure, even with the foot placed three-quarters down the calf.</p> <p>Dr Fishman says tree pose is “also extremely valuable for improving balance and avoiding falls,” although he reminds us that the raised foot should always go above or below the knee – never directly on the knee joint.</p> <p><strong>2. Triangle pose (Trikonasana)</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/2-yoga-triangle-pose-GettyImages-1317111194-Jvedit-1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p>Triangle pose “puts torque on the lumbar spine, the neck of the femur, the hips and ribs,” Dr Fishman says, adding that this is another pose that will help improve balance.</p> <p><em>Look and feel the part in these <a href="https://gaiam.innovations.com.au/p/gaiam-apparel/apparel?affiliate=GAIAM60" target="_blank" rel="noopener">comfortable yoga clothes from Gaiam</a>.</em></p> <p><strong>3. Reverse Triangle Pose (Parivrtta Trikonasan) </strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/3-yoga-reverse-triangle-pose-GettyImages-1154825406-JVedit-1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p>Dr Fishman says great pressures develop on the proximal femurs (very top of the femur bone that connects with the hip joint) in this pose, as well as the hip and lower back. Reverse triangle also puts helpful pressure in the ribs and wrists and is “a very powerful balance-improver.”</p> <p><strong>4. Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II)</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/4-yoga-warrior-pose-GettyImages-1291770866-Jvedit-1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p>“Fabulous mechanical disadvantage means great pressure on the entire forward (bent leg) femur,” Dr Fishman says of full warrior pose. He explains that “the straight leg’s rotation works on the head of femur and hip,” helping to strengthen the upper leg and hip. This is yet another pose that he says helps with balance.</p> <p><strong>5. Side angle pose (Parsvakonasana)</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/5-yoga-side-angle-pose-GettyImages-1355155879-JVedit-1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p>Another boon for balance, Dr Fishman says side angle pose torques the lower back and the top of the femur – all good things – and stimulates the bone-making cells of the hip, too.</p> <p><em>Keep your workout going with this <a href="https://gaiam.innovations.com.au/p/gaiam-wellness/restore-massage/27-73270-gaiam-performance-no-knots-massage-ball?affiliate=GAIAM60" target="_blank" rel="noopener">no-knots massage ball from Gaiam</a> – perfect for releasing tension and relieving stiffness.</em></p> <p><strong>6. Locust pose (Salabhasana)</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/6-yoga-locus-pose-GettyImages-840155180-Jvedit-1280.jpg" alt="" /></strong></p> <p>Locust pose “raises pressures, which stimulate bone-making in the posterior elements of the spine,” Dr Fishman says, while it also helps balance some the forward focus on the ribs of the earlier poses. Locust pose also strengthens extensor muscles of the back to improve posture and reverse curvature of the spine in the upper back, which can lead to fractures.</p> <p><strong>7. Bridge pose (Setu Bandhasana)</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/7-yoga-bridge-pose-GettyImages-470128454-Jvedit-1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p>Dr Fishman says bridge pose can help strengthen the ribs and lower regions of the spine.</p> <p><strong>8. Reclining hand to big toe (Supta Padangusthasana I)</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/8-yoga-hamstring-stretch-GettyImages-1281872287-JVedit-1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p>Also known to be a good hamstring stretch, this pose facilitates “extreme pressure brought to bear on relevant sections” of the femur, hip, pelvis (specifically the sitz bones) and spine.</p> <p>Seated versions of this and the following pose offer less intensity, but Dr Fishman cautions for both: “The seated versions have the potential to be dangerous. Keep the spine straight and against the back of the chair. Do not round the back.”</p> <p><strong>9. Supine hand to big toe 2 (Supta Padangusthasana II)</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/9-yoga-stretch-GettyImages-637025028-Jvedit-1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p>In the side extension variation of this pose, there is “extreme pressure brought to bear” on the upper femur, hip, pubis, ribs, and spine, he says.</p> <p><strong>10. Straight-legged twist (Marichyasana)</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/10-yoga-twist-GettyImages-1248883385-JVedit-1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p>This “puts great pressure” on the sitz bones and pelvis, as well as “great but safe pressure” on the spine.</p> <p><strong>11. Bent-leg twist (Matsyendrasana)</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/11-yoga-twist-bent-leg-GettyImages-1133155224-JVedit-1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p>The bent-leg twist “puts great pressure” on the upper femur and pelvis, plus “great but safe pressure” on the vertebra. Dr Fishman suggests you should hug the leg to ensure a straight spine.</p> <p><em>Staying hydrated during your yoga session is vital to maintain muscle health. <a href="https://gaiam.innovations.com.au/p/takeya/water-bottles-actives-range?affiliate=GAIAM60" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Check out these insulated stainless-steel water bottles</a> designed for every kind of workout. </em></p> <p><strong>12. Corpse pose (Savasana)</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/04/12-yoga-GettyImages-1301651925-Jvedit-1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p>Truthfully, Dr Fishman says, Savasana is “of little value for the bones per se, but truly important at the end of the session for mental and general physiological health.” That’s good enough for us.</p> <p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-68140ce3-7fff-bd62-dea6-7b47a6dfe42b">Written by Jennifer Huizen and Kristine Gasbarre. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/12-best-yoga-poses-to-strengthen-bones" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader’s Digest</a>. </span></em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

How to fall asleep without sleeping pills: 7 natural sleep aids that actually work

<p>It’s 3am and you’re suddenly wide awake. Try these seven science-backed strategies to fall back to sleep fast.</p> <p><strong>Give meditation a try </strong></p> <p>As a mindfulness coach, I’m very aware of the day-to-day anxieties and worries that can interfere with a good night’s sleep. One of the most effective natural sleep aids is a quick meditation session to ease yourself out of those stresses. If you’ve never meditated before, you’ll likely find the meditation interrupted by thoughts flashing through your mind.</p> <p>It’s important for you to know that this isn’t a failure on your part, and that you aren’t doing anything wrong. Thinking is just what the brain does, as naturally as lungs take in air. The point is to be non-judgmental yet aware of your thoughts, bodily experiences and breath, moment by moment.</p> <p><em>Sleep better, feel better! <a href="https://gaiam.innovations.com.au/p/gaiam-wellness/rollers-resistance/27-72435-gaiam-strengthen-stretch-kit?affiliate=GAIAM6O" target="_blank" rel="noopener">This Blackout Sleep Mask from Gaiam</a> will help you feel well rested and renewed. </em></p> <p><strong>Stop wanting to fall asleep</strong></p> <p>It’s counterintuitive, isn’t it? Sometimes trying too hard to do something is the very thing that prevents us from achieving it – and that’s never more true than when it comes to falling asleep. Desperately wanting to sleep will only stoke anxieties that will further stress your brain, essentially feeding it the message that it’s not safe to sleep.</p> <p>Throw in those worries about your to-do list at work the following day, and the whole thing can snowball into a panic attack. Try letting go of that feeling that you absolutely must sleep now, and observe your own anxieties for what they are without judgment. When you stop looking at sleep as a goal, you’ll find it easier to fall asleep.</p> <p><em>Before you climb into bed, set aside 10-15 minutes to help relax your body and mind, with <a href="https://gaiam.innovations.com.au/p/gaiam-wellness/restore-massage/27-73353-gaiam-wellness-acupressure-neck-back-pillow?affiliate=GAIAM60" target="_blank" rel="noopener">this wellness acupressure neck and back pillow from Gaiam</a>.</em></p> <p><strong>Start a journal </strong></p> <p>If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep, pick up a pen and paper (not your phone!), and start writing: simply scribble down an account of what’s going on inside your head. Although there’s no “right” way to journal, you might start by listing the events of your day, and from there, how those events and encounters made you feel.</p> <p>Building this structured picture of your thoughts may help you see that the problem that’s keeping you up at night, and is likely less overwhelming than you thought. Why my insistence on a pen and paper? First off, studies show the simple motor action that’s involved in the act of handwriting has a calming effect. Secondly, the light emitted by laptops and phones isn’t conducive to falling asleep.</p> <p><strong>Find yourself a "3am friend"</strong></p> <p>Some of us are lucky to have a ‘3am friend’, that close confidant you can call up in the wee hours knowing that they won’t hold it against you in the morning. Although it’s great to have someone to talk to when you want to fall asleep, it’s important that the conversation doesn’t just rehash the anxieties that are preventing you from catching shut-eye in the first place.</p> <p>Rather than using the call to seek solutions for those issues, talk about things that calm your nerves, or even have them assist you in deep breathing. It may sound silly, but doing a series of deep, relaxing breaths can help you let go of the troubles that are keeping you wide awake.</p> <p><strong>Take a warm shower</strong></p> <p>Taking a warm shower not only relaxes your muscles and soothes minor aches and pains, but it also raises your core body temperature. As soon as you step out of the shower, your body starts working at lowering that temperature, which is something that normally happens when you’re falling asleep naturally.</p> <p>(That’s why we always feel the need for a blanket when we sleep, no matter how warm it is!) By kick-starting that temperature-lowering process, you’re tricking your body into falling asleep fast.</p> <p><strong>Stretch yourself to sleep </strong></p> <p>Anxiety keeping you up? Research suggests mild stretching can help take the edge off and relax muscles that have become stiff and sore after a long day. We’re not talking intricate yoga poses or acrobatics here, either: Simple stretches like an overhead arm stretch and bending over to touch your toes should do the trick. Ramp up the relaxation potential with a soundtrack of ambient noise at a volume that’s just barely audible.</p> <p>There are plenty of white noise apps that are free to download, but soft music can work as well (so long as there are no lyrics). Just remember, if you’re using an electronic device to play these sleep-promoting sounds, make sure it’s placed screen-down so you’re not distracted by the light it emits.</p> <p><em>Stretching is healing, and this <a href="https://gaiam.innovations.com.au/p/gaiam-wellness/rollers-resistance/27-72435-gaiam-strengthen-stretch-kit?affiliate=GAIAM60" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Strengthen and Stretch Kit from Gaiam</a> is a great way to start. An on-line workout is also included to get you started.</em></p> <p><strong>Read (or listen!) to something new</strong></p> <p>When you’re struggling with insomnia, it might be tempting to pull an old favourite off the bookshelf. In reality, it’s better to read or listen to an audio book that covers a topic on which you know absolutely nothing. New information, while taking attention away from the stressors that are keeping you up at night, gives your brain enough of a workout to make it tire more quickly than when it’s engaged with familiar subjects and concepts.</p> <p>Again, if it’s an audio book or podcast you’re listening to, make sure the light-emitting side of the device is face down to keep the room as dark as possible. Darkness and warmth play an essential part in the production and maintenance of melatonin, the hormone that plays the central role falling asleep.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article by </em><em>Deepak Kashyap </em><em style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/sleep/how-to-fall-asleep-without-sleeping-pills-7-natural-sleep-aids-that-actually-work" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

How to look after your mental health while packing up Mum or Dad’s home

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/erika-penney-1416241">Erika Penney</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alice-norton-1516505">Alice Norton</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/avalon-tissue-1515840">Avalon Tissue</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>So Mum or Dad has died, or moved to aged care, and now you’ve got to pack up their house. It’s a huge job and you’re dreading it.</p> <p>It’s normal to feel grief, loss, guilt, exhaustion or even resentment at being left with this job.</p> <p>So how can you look after your mental health while tackling the task?</p> <h2>It’s OK to feel a lot of feelings</h2> <p>Research has documented how this task can exert an intense <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15267431.2021.1943399">physical and emotional toll</a>.</p> <p>This can be more intense for those who had strained – or even <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/epub/10.1177/0030222819868107">traumatic</a> – relationships with the person whose house they’re packing up.</p> <p>Decisions around distributing or discarding items can, in some families, bring up painful reminders of the past or end up <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1074840711428451">replaying strained dynamics</a>.</p> <p>Family members who were carers for the deceased may feel exhaustion, overwhelm, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/hec.1512?sid=vendor%3Adatabase">burnout</a> or a sense of injustice they must now continue to be responsible for their loved one’s affairs. Grief can be compounded by the practical challenges of deciding how to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/0148-2963(94)00054-I">store or discard belongings</a>, <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/30000385">arrange the funeral</a>, execute the will, deal with the aged care place or, in some cases, navigate legal disputes.</p> <p>But packing up the house may also be cathartic or helpful. <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15267431.2021.1943399">Research</a> has shown how the task of cleaning out a loved one’s belongings can provide an opportunity for family and friends to talk, share memories, and make sense of what has just happened.</p> <p>It’s also normal to grieve before someone dies. What psychologists call “<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29206700/">anticipatory</a> grief” can happen to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1615888/">relatives packing up the house</a> of a parent who has moved to aged care or palliative care.</p> <h2>What to do with all this stuff?</h2> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/0148-2963(94)00054-I">Some</a> treat their loved one’s items with sanctity, holding onto as many of their belongings as possible and creating “shrines” in their honour.</p> <p>Others alleviate the weight of grief by clearing out a loved one’s house as soon as possible, giving away, selling or discarding as much as they can.</p> <p>But if you experience a mix of these – enthusiastically getting rid of some stuff, while desperately wanting to hold onto other things – that’s OK too.</p> <p>One <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10253866.2017.1367677">study</a> identified a process punctuated by four key periods:</p> <ol> <li> <p>numbness and overwhelm at the task of packing the house</p> </li> <li> <p>yearning to maintain a link to the loved through their belongings</p> </li> <li> <p>working through grief, anger and guilt regarding the loved one and the task of managing their belongings, and</p> </li> <li> <p>healing and making sense of the relationship with the deceased and their belongings.</p> </li> </ol> <p>However, it is important to note everyone’s approach is different and there is no “right” way to do the clean out, or “right” way to feel.</p> <h2>Caring for your mental health during the clean out</h2> <p>To care for your mental health during these difficult times, you might try to:</p> <ul> <li> <p>make space for your feelings, whether it’s sadness, loss, resentment, anger, relief or all the above. There is no right or wrong way to feel. <a href="https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/abs/10.1521/jscp.2011.30.2.163">Accepting</a> your emotions is healthier than suppressing them</p> </li> <li> <p>share the load. <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1365-2648.1999.01220.x">Research</a> has shown practical support from close friends and family can help a lot with grief. Accept help with packing, planning, dealing with removalists, selling or donating items and cleaning. Don’t be afraid to reduce your mental load by delegating tasks to friends, who are likely wondering how they can help</p> </li> <li> <p>take a systematic approach. Break tasks into their smallest component. For example, aim to clean out a drawer instead of an entire bedroom. This can help the mental and physical task feel more manageable</p> </li> <li> <p>reflect on what’s meaningful to you. Some belongings will have <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/0148-2963(94)00054-I">meaning</a>, while others will not. What was valuable to the deceased may not be valuable to you. Things they probably saw as pretty worthless (a handwritten shopping list, an old sewing kit) may be very meaningful to you. Ask yourself whether retaining a small number of meaningful possessions would allow you to maintain a connection with your loved one, or if clearing out the space and discarding the items is what you need</p> </li> <li> <p>share your story. When you feel ready, share your “<a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15267431.2021.1943399">cleaning out the closet</a>” story with trusted friends and family. Storytelling allows the deceased to live on in memory. <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1365-2648.1999.01220.x">Research</a> also suggests we cope better with bereavement when friends and relatives make time to hear our feelings</p> </li> <li> <p>remember that professional help is available. Just as a solicitor can help with legal disputes, a mental health professional can help you process your feelings.</p> </li> </ul> <p>The home of your loved one is not merely a place where they lived, but a space filled with meaning and stories.</p> <p>Packing up the house of a loved one can be incredibly daunting and challenging, but it can also be an important part of your grieving process.</p> <p><em>If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.</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/223956/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/erika-penney-1416241">E<em>rika Penney</em></a><em>, Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alice-norton-1516505">Alice Norton</a>, Lecturer in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/avalon-tissue-1515840">Avalon Tissue</a>, Associate Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</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-to-look-after-your-mental-health-while-packing-up-mum-or-dads-home-223956">original article</a>.</em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

"There's no place like home": Marcia Hines and her amazing cat share sweet message

<p>Australian music icon and <em>Australian Idol</em> judge Marcia Hines recently took to social media to express her heartfelt gratitude to those who supported her during a <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/marcia-hines-rushed-to-hospital" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recent medical incident</a>. The beloved singer and performer shared a touching message on Instagram, reflecting on the challenges she faced and the overwhelming support she received from healthcare professionals, family, friends and fans – but mostly from her amazing-looking cat, Sistah!</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/p/C5AeYisL9Pu/?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/p/C5AeYisL9Pu/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Marcia Hines (@themarciahines)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The incident unfolded backstage at Sydney’s Coliseum Theatre just before last Sunday night’s <em>Australian Idol</em> finale. Hines, known for her vibrant presence and insightful critiques on the talent show, collapsed, prompting concerns among the show's crew and audience. As a result, she had to miss the episode, with fellow musician Guy Sebastian stepping in as a guest judge.</p> <p>Following her collapse, Hines was swiftly taken to the hospital, where she received treatment for head injuries, including stitches. Despite the setback, she was able to make a remarkable recovery <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/entertainment/tv/marcia-hines-returns-as-australian-idol-fans-cry-foul-over-upset-win" target="_blank" rel="noopener">in time to return</a> for the Grand Finale show on Monday night.</p> <p>In her Instagram post, Hines expressed profound gratitude for the exceptional care she received during her hospital stay, particularly praising Brad Ceely and the entire team at Blacktown Hospital.</p> <p>"There’s no place like home….." Hines wrote. "Especially when Sistah is here to greet me 🐾 What an action-packed week ❤️ I’ve experienced so much care and love, and none moreso than the exceptional treatment that Brad Ceely and his entire team at Blacktown Hospital gave me during my stay with them.</p> <p>"We are so fortunate to live in a country with such incredible healthcare, and the amazing facilities we have in our Western Sydney suburbs - wow! I’m so grateful to all of the hospital staff - from the tireless nurses to the wonderful administration staff. A special thanks to all of the staff at Mount Druitt Emergency Department, all of the Ambulance teams who got me safely to-and-from hospitals this weekend, and of course Dr Kit Rowe for stitching me up so nicely after my fall. Ouch lol 🤕Thank you for being you and keeping us all safe 🫶🏾</p> <p>"Thank you also to Kyle, Amy and all the team at @australianidol for your love, and also to my @greaseoztour family who I’ll be seeing soon. Thank you also to my family and friends - you’re always there when I need you most 💝"</p> <p>The response to Hines' message was overwhelmingly positive, with fans and well-wishers flooding the comments section with messages of support, encouragement and excitement for her upcoming projects. Many expressed relief at her recovery and eagerly anticipated her return to the stage, particularly in her role in <em>Grease the Musical</em>. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

How much stress is too much? A psychiatrist explains the links between toxic stress and poor health − and how to get help

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lawson-r-wulsin-1493655">La<em>wson R. Wulsin</em></a><em>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-cincinnati-1717">University of Cincinnati </a></em></p> <p>COVID-19 taught most people that the line between tolerable and toxic stress – defined as persistent demands that lead to disease – varies widely. But some people will age faster and die younger from toxic stressors than others.</p> <p>So how much stress is too much, and what can you do about it?</p> <p>I’m a <a href="https://researchdirectory.uc.edu/p/wulsinlr">psychiatrist specializing in psychosomatic medicine</a>, which is the study and treatment of people who have physical and mental illnesses. My research is focused on people who have psychological conditions and medical illnesses as well as those whose stress exacerbates their health issues.</p> <p>I’ve spent my career studying mind-body questions and training physicians to treat mental illness in primary care settings. My <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/toxic-stress/677FA62B741540DBDB53E2F0A52A74B1">forthcoming book</a> is titled “Toxic Stress: How Stress is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It.”</p> <p>A 2023 study of stress and aging over the life span – one of the first studies to confirm this piece of common wisdom – found that four measures of stress all speed up the pace of biological aging in midlife. It also found that persistent high stress ages people in a comparable way to the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000001197">effects of smoking and low socioeconomic status</a>, two well-established risk factors for accelerated aging.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yiglpsqv5ik?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Children with alcoholic or drug-addicted parents have a greater risk of developing toxic stress.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>The difference between good stress and the toxic kind</h2> <p>Good stress – a demand or challenge you readily cope with – is good for your health. In fact, the rhythm of these daily challenges, including feeding yourself, cleaning up messes, communicating with one another and carrying out your job, helps to regulate your stress response system and keep you fit.</p> <p>Toxic stress, on the other hand, wears down your stress response system in ways that have lasting effects, as psychiatrist and trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk explains in his bestselling book “<a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/313183/the-body-%20keeps-the-score-by-bessel-van-der-kolk-md/">The Body Keeps the Score</a>.”</p> <p>The earliest effects of toxic stress are often persistent symptoms such as headache, fatigue or abdominal pain that interfere with overall functioning. After months of initial symptoms, a full-blown illness with a life of its own – such as migraine headaches, asthma, diabetes or ulcerative colitis – may surface.</p> <p>When we are healthy, our stress response systems are like an orchestra of organs that miraculously tune themselves and play in unison without our conscious effort – a process called self-regulation. But when we are sick, some parts of this orchestra struggle to regulate themselves, which causes a cascade of stress-related dysregulation that contributes to other conditions.</p> <p>For instance, in the case of diabetes, the hormonal system struggles to regulate sugar. With obesity, the metabolic system has a difficult time regulating energy intake and consumption. With depression, the central nervous system develops an imbalance in its circuits and neurotransmitters that makes it difficult to regulate mood, thoughts and behaviors.</p> <h2>‘Treating’ stress</h2> <p>Though stress neuroscience in recent years has given researchers like me <a href="https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000001051">new ways to measure and understand stress</a>, you may have noticed that in your doctor’s office, the management of stress isn’t typically part of your treatment plan.</p> <p>Most doctors don’t assess the contribution of stress to a patient’s common chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity, partly because stress is complicated to measure and partly because it is difficult to treat. In general, doctors don’t treat what they can’t measure.</p> <p>Stress neuroscience and epidemiology have also taught researchers recently that the chances of developing serious mental and physical illnesses in midlife rise dramatically when people are exposed to trauma or adverse events, especially during <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/ace-brfss.html">vulnerable periods such as childhood</a>.</p> <p>Over the past 40 years in the U.S., the alarming rise in <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/health-equity/diabetes-by-the-numbers.html">rates of diabetes</a>, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/obesity-child-17-18/overweight-obesity-child-H.pdf">obesity</a>, depression, PTSD, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db433.htm">suicide</a> and addictions points to one contributing factor that these different illnesses share: toxic stress.</p> <p>Toxic stress increases the risk for the onset, progression, complications or early death from these illnesses.</p> <h2>Suffering from toxic stress</h2> <p>Because the definition of toxic stress varies from one person to another, it’s hard to know how many people struggle with it. One starting point is the fact that about 16% of adults report having been exposed to <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/fastfact.html">four or more adverse events in childhood</a>. This is the threshold for higher risk for illnesses in adulthood.</p> <p>Research dating back to before the COVID-19 pandemic also shows that about 19% of adults in the U.S. have <a href="https://doi.org/10.7249/TL221">four or more chronic illnesses</a>. If you have even one chronic illness, you can imagine how stressful four must be.</p> <p>And about 12% of the U.S. population <a href="https://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/introducing-second-edition-world-banks-global-subnational-atlas-poverty">lives in poverty</a>, the epitome of a life in which demands exceed resources every day. For instance, if a person doesn’t know how they will get to work each day, or doesn’t have a way to fix a leaking water pipe or resolve a conflict with their partner, their stress response system can never rest. One or any combination of threats may keep them on high alert or shut them down in a way that prevents them from trying to cope at all.</p> <p>Add to these overlapping groups all those who struggle with harassing relationships, homelessness, captivity, severe loneliness, living in high-crime neighborhoods or working in or around noise or air pollution. It seems conservative to estimate that about 20% of people in the U.S. live with the effects of toxic stress.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WuyPuH9ojCE?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Exercise, meditation and a healthy diet help fight toxic stress.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Recognizing and managing stress and its associated conditions</h2> <p>The first step to managing stress is to recognize it and talk to your primary care clinician about it. The clinician may do an assessment involving a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000001051">self-reported measure of stress</a>.</p> <p>The next step is treatment. Research shows that it is possible to retrain a dysregulated stress response system. This approach, <a href="https://lifestylemedicine.org/">called “lifestyle medicine</a>,” focuses on improving health outcomes through changing high-risk health behaviors and adopting daily habits that help the stress response system self-regulate.</p> <p>Adopting these lifestyle changes is not quick or easy, but it works.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/index.html">National Diabetes Prevention Program</a>, the <a href="https://www.ornish.com/">Ornish “UnDo” heart disease program</a> and the <a href="https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand_tx/tx_basics.asp">U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs PTSD program</a>, for example, all achieve a slowing or reversal of stress-related chronic conditions through weekly support groups and guided daily practice over six to nine months. These programs help teach people how to practice personal regimens of stress management, diet and exercise in ways that build and sustain their new habits.</p> <p>There is now strong evidence that it is possible to treat toxic stress in ways that improve health outcomes for people with stress-related conditions. The next steps include finding ways to expand the recognition of toxic stress and, for those affected, to expand access to these new and effective approaches to treatment.<!-- 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/222245/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/lawson-r-wulsin-1493655"><em>Lawson R. Wulsin</em></a><em>, Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-cincinnati-1717">University of Cincinnati</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </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-much-stress-is-too-much-a-psychiatrist-explains-the-links-between-toxic-stress-and-poor-health-and-how-to-get-help-222245">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

Vitamin D supplements can keep bones strong – but they may also have other benefits to your health

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/martin-hewison-1494746">Martin Hewison</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-birmingham-1138">University of Birmingham</a></em></p> <p>Most of us don’t worry about getting vitamin D when the weather’s warm and the sun is shining. But as winter approaches, accompanied by overcast days and long nights, you may be wondering if it could be useful to take a vitamin D supplement – and what benefit it might have.</p> <p>During the summer, the best way to get vitamin D is by getting a bit of sunshine. Ultraviolet rays (specifically UVB, which have a shorter wavelength) interact with a form of cholesterol called <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278935/">7-dehydrocholesterol</a> in the skin, which is then converted into vitamin D.</p> <p>Because vitamin D production is dependent on UVB, this means our ability to make it <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/#:%7E:text=From%20about%20late%20March%2Fearly,enough%20vitamin%20D%20from%20sunlight.">declines in the winter months</a>. Vitamin D production also <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24494042/">depends on where you live</a>, with people living nearer to the equator making more vitamin D than those living nearer the poles.</p> <p>Vitamin D deficiency is a <a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5a804e36ed915d74e622dafa/SACN_Vitamin_D_and_Health_report.pdf">problem in the UK</a> during the winter months. This is due to its northerly position and cloudy weather, and lack of time spent outdoors.</p> <p>One study of over 440,000 people in the UK found that <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33309415/">18% were vitamin D deficient</a> during the winter months. Vitamin D deficiency was even higher in certain ethnic groups – with the data showing 57% of Asian participants and 38% of black participants were vitamin D deficient. This is because the melanin content of skin determines a person’s ability to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5946242/#:%7E:text=Skin%20pigmentation%2C%20i.e.%2C%20melanin%2C,%5B7%5D%20and%20more%20generally.">make UVB into vitamin D</a>.</p> <p>Given the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the UK, and the importance it has for our health, in 2016 the UK’s Science Advisory Council on Nutrition outlined recommendations for the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sacn-vitamin-d-and-health-report#:%7E:text=In%20a%20change%20to%20previous,aged%204%20years%20and%20older">amount of vitamin D</a> people should aim to get in the winter.</p> <p>They recommend people aim to get ten micrograms (or 400 IU – international units) of vitamin D per day. This would help people avoid severe deficiency. This can be achieved either by taking a supplement, or eating <a href="https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/ask-the-expert/foods-high-in-vitamin-d">certain foods</a> that are rich in vitamin D – including fatty fish such as herring, mackerel and wild salmon. A 100 gram serving of fresh herring, for example, would have approximately five micrograms of vitamin D.</p> <p>The clearest benefit of taking a vitamin D supplement is for <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/">bone health</a>. In fact, vitamin D was <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3899558/">first discovered</a> 100 years ago because of its ability to prevent the disease rickets, which causes weak bones that bend.</p> <p>Although rickets <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/rickets-and-osteomalacia/#:%7E:text=The%20number%20of%20rickets%20cases,from%20sunlight%2C%20can%20develop%20rickets.">isn’t very common</a> in the UK today, it can still occur in children if they lack vitamin D. In adults, vitamin D deficiency can cause bone pain, tenderness and muscles weakness, as well as increased risk of osteomalacia – often called “soft bone disease” – which leads to weakening or softening bones.</p> <p>The reason a lack of vitamin D can have such an effect on bone health is due to the vitamin’s relationship with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18844850/">calcium and phosphate</a>. Both of these minerals help keep our bones strong – but they require vitamin D in order to be able to reinforce and strengthen bones.</p> <h2>Other health benefits</h2> <p>In addition to its effects on the skeleton, a growing body of research is beginning to indicate that vitamin D supplements may have additional benefits to our health.</p> <p>For example, <a href="https://ar.iiarjournals.org/content/42/10/5009.long">research shows</a> there’s a link between vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of catching certain viral illnesses, including the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19237723/">common cold</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7231123/">flu</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7385774/">COVID</a>.</p> <p>Similarly, several studies – <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32904944/">including my own</a> – have demonstrated in cell models that vitamin D promotes immunity against microbes, such as the bacteria which causes tuberculosis. This means vitamin D may potentially prevent some types of infections.</p> <p>Vitamin D may also dampen inflammatory immune responses, which could potentially protect against autoimmune diseases, such as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29243029/">multiple sclerosis</a> and <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmed.2020.596007/full">rheumatoid arthritis</a>.</p> <p>One 2022 trial, which looked at over 25,000 people over the age of 50, found taking a 2,000 IU (50 micrograms) vitamin D supplement each day was associated with an <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/376/bmj-2021-066452">18% lower risk</a> of autoimmune disease – notably rheumatoid arthritis.</p> <p>Vitamin D supplements may also be linked with lower risk of cardiovascular disease. A <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/381/bmj-2023-075230">major Australian study</a>, which looked at over 21,000 people aged 60-84, found that participants who took a 2,000 IU vitamin D supplement a day for five years had a lower risk of suffering a major cardiovascular event (such as stroke or heart attack) compared to those who didn’t take a supplement.</p> <p>It’s currently not known why vitamin D may have these benefits on these other areas of our health. It’s also worth noting that in many of these trials, very few of the participants were actually vitamin D deficient. While we might speculate the observed health benefits may be even greater in people with vitamin D deficiency, it will be important for future research to study these factors.</p> <p>While it’s too early to say whether vitamin D supplements have broad health benefits, it’s clear it’s beneficial for bone health. It may be worthwhile to take a supplement in the winter months, especially if you’re over 65, have darker skin or spent a lot of time indoors as these factors can put you at <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/vitamin-d-deficiency/faq-20058397#:%7E:text=However%2C%20some%20groups%20%E2%80%94%20particularly%20people,sun%20exposure%20or%20other%20factors.">increased risk of vitamin D deficiency</a>.</p> <p>The research also shows us that we should be rethinking vitamin D supplementation advice. While in the UK it’s recommended people get 400 IU of vitamin D a day, many trials have shown 2,000 IU a day is associated with health benefits.<!-- 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/219521/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/martin-hewison-1494746"><em>Martin Hewison</em></a><em>, Professor of Molecular Endocrinology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-birmingham-1138">University of Birmingham</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/vitamin-d-supplements-can-keep-bones-strong-but-they-may-also-have-other-benefits-to-your-health-219521">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

Our Partners