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Best-selling author diagnosed with "aggressive" brain cancer

<p>Best-selling author Sophie Kinsella has shared that she has been fighting "aggressive" brain cancer since the end of 2022. </p> <p>The British writer took to Instagram to reveal she was diagnosed with glioblastoma 18 months ago, and shared why she chose to keep the devatstsing news out of the spotlight. </p> <p>The 54-year-old said she wanted to "make sure my children were able to hear and process the news in privacy and adapt to our new normal" before going public with her diagnosis. </p> <p>"I have been under the care of the excellent team at University College Hospital in London and have had successful surgery and subsequent radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which is still ongoing," she told her followers on Instagram.</p> <p>"At the moment all is stable and I am feeling generally very well, though I get very tired and my memory is even worse than it was before!"</p> <p>Kinsella said she is "so grateful to my family and close friends who have been an incredible support to me, and to the wonderful doctors and nurses who have treated me."</p> <p>She also thanked her readers for their "constant support", adding how the reception of her latest novel <em>The Burnout</em>, released in October 2023, "really buoyed me up during a difficult time."</p> <p>She ended her statement by saying, "To everyone who is suffering from cancer in any form I send love and best wishes, as well as to those who support them."</p> <p>"It can feel very lonely and scary to have a tough diagnosis, and the support and care of those around you means more than words can say."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

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Does intermittent fasting have benefits for our brain?

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hayley-oneill-1458016">Hayley O'Neill</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p>Intermittent fasting has become a popular dietary approach to help people lose or manage their <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8683964/">weight</a>. It has also been promoted as a way to reset metabolism, control chronic disease, slow ageing and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27810402">improve overall health</a>.</p> <p>Meanwhile, some research suggests intermittent fasting may offer a different way for the brain to access energy and provide protection against neurodegenerative diseases like <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11011-023-01288-2">Alzheimer’s disease</a>.</p> <p>This is not a new idea – the ancient Greeks believed fasting <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8839325/">enhanced thinking</a>. But what does the modern-day evidence say?</p> <h2>First, what is intermittent fasting?</h2> <p>Our <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35487190/">diets</a> – including calories consumed, macronutrient composition (the ratios of fats, protein and carbohydrates we eat) and when meals are consumed – are factors in our lifestyle we can change. People do this for cultural reasons, desired weight loss or potential health gains.</p> <p>Intermittent fasting consists of short periods of calorie (energy) restriction where food intake is limited for 12 to 48 hours (usually 12 to 16 hours per day), followed by periods of normal food intake. The intermittent component means a re-occurrence of the pattern rather than a “one off” fast.</p> <p>Food deprivation beyond 24 hours typically constitutes starvation. This is distinct from fasting due to its specific and potentially harmful biochemical alterations and nutrient deficiencies if continued for long periods.</p> <h2>4 ways fasting works and how it might affect the brain</h2> <p>The brain accounts for about <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-much-energy-do-we-expend-thinking-and-using-our-brain-197990">20% of the body’s energy consumption</a>.</p> <p>Here are four ways intermittent fasting can act on the body which could help explain its potential effects on the brain.</p> <p><strong>1. Ketosis</strong></p> <p>The goal of many intermittent fasting routines is to flip a “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5913738/">metabolic switch</a>” to go from burning predominately carbohydrates to burning fat. This is called ketosis and typically occurs after 12–16 hours of fasting, when liver and glycogen stores are depleted. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493179/">Ketones</a> – chemicals produced by this metabolic process – become the preferred energy source for the brain.</p> <p>Due to this being a slower metabolic process to produce energy and potential for lowering blood sugar levels, ketosis can <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10844723/">cause symptoms</a> of hunger, fatigue, nausea, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8754590/">low mood</a>, irritability, constipation, headaches, and brain “fog”.</p> <p>At the same time, as glucose metabolism in the brain declines with ageing, studies have shown ketones could provide an alternative energy source to <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aau2095">preserve brain function</a> and prevent <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32709961/">age-related neurodegeneration disorders and cognitive decline</a>.</p> <p>Consistent with this, increasing ketones through <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31027873/">supplementation</a> or <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31757576/">diet</a> has been shown to improve cognition in adults with mild cognitive decline and those at risk of Alzheimer’s disease respectively.</p> <p><strong>2. Circadian syncing</strong></p> <p>Eating at times that <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32480126/">don’t match our body’s natural daily rhythms</a> can disrupt how our organs work. Studies in shift workers have suggested this might also make us more prone to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22010477/">chronic disease</a>.</p> <p>Time-restricted eating is when you eat your meals within a six to ten-hour window during the day when you’re most active. Time-restricted eating causes changes in <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36599299/">expression of genes in tissue</a> and helps the body during rest and activity.</p> <p>A 2021 <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7827225/">study of 883 adults</a> in Italy indicated those who restricted their food intake to ten hours a day were less likely to have cognitive impairment compared to those eating without time restrictions.</p> <p><strong>3. Mitochondria</strong></p> <p>Intermittent fasting may provide <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35218914/">brain protection</a> through improving mitochondrial function, metabolism and reducing oxidants.</p> <p>Mitochondria’s <a href="https://www.genome.gov/genetics-glossary/Mitochondria">main role is to produce energy</a> and they are crucial to brain health. Many age-related diseases are closely related to an energy supply and demand imbalance, likely attributed to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41574-021-00626-7">mitochondrial dysfunction during ageing</a>.</p> <p>Rodent studies suggest alternate day fasting or reducing calories <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1038/jcbfm.2014.114">by up to 40%</a> might protect or improve <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21861096">brain mitochondrial function</a>. But not all studies support this theory.</p> <p><strong>4. The gut-brain axis</strong></p> <p>The <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6469458/">gut and the brain communicate with each other</a> via the body’s nervous systems. The brain can influence how the gut feels (think about how you get “butterflies” in your tummy when nervous) and the gut can affect mood, cognition and mental health.</p> <p>In mice, intermittent fasting has shown promise for <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5913738/">improving brain health</a> by increasing survival and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12354284/">formation of neurons</a> (nerve cells) in the hippocampus brain region, which is involved in memory, learning and emotion.</p> <p>There’s <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8470960/">no clear evidence</a> on the effects of intermittent fasting on cognition in healthy adults. However one 2022 study interviewed 411 older adults and found <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9646955/">lower meal frequency</a> (less than three meals a day) was associated with reduced evidence of Alzheimer’s disease on brain imaging.</p> <p>Some research has suggested calorie restriction may have a protective effect against <a href="https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/81/9/1225/7116310">Alzheimer’s disease</a> by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation and promoting vascular health.</p> <p>When we look at the effects of overall energy restriction (rather than intermittent fasting specifically) the evidence is mixed. Among people with mild cognitive impairment, one study showed <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26713821/">cognitive improvement</a> when participants followed a calorie restricted diet for 12 months.</p> <p>Another study found a 25% calorie restriction was associated with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30968820">slightly improved working memory</a> in healthy adults. But a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022316623025221?via%3Dihub">recent study</a>, which looked at the impact of calorie restriction on spatial working memory, found no significant effect.</p> <h2>Bottom line</h2> <p>Studies in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9740746/">mice</a> support a role for intermittent fasting in improving brain health and ageing, but few studies in humans exist, and the evidence we have is mixed.</p> <p>Rapid weight loss associated with calorie restriction and intermittent fasting can lead to nutrient deficiencies, muscle loss, and decreased immune function, particularly in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8749464/">older adults</a> whose nutritional needs may be higher.</p> <p>Further, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6314618/">prolonged fasting</a> or <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9042193/">severe calorie restriction</a> may pose risks such as fatigue, dizziness, and electrolyte imbalances, which could exacerbate existing health conditions.</p> <p>If you’re considering <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMra1905136?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%20%200pubmed">intermittent fasting</a>, it’s best to seek advice from a health professional such as a dietitian who can provide guidance on structuring fasting periods, meal timing, and nutrient intake. This ensures intermittent fasting is approached in a safe, sustainable way, tailored to individual needs and goals.<!-- 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/223181/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/hayley-oneill-1458016">Hayley O'Neill</a>, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></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/does-intermittent-fasting-have-benefits-for-our-brain-223181">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty </em></p>

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Driver fined over "six-second stop"

<p>A driver has been fined $387 for making "six-second stop" at what he thought was a 15-minute parking zone, and now he is fuming as he believes he is a victim of a cash grab.</p> <p>Sydney resident Michael was dropping off his partner in a quiet street on Darling Harbour and was shocked to receive a hefty fine and two demerit points for his quick drop-off. </p> <p>Revenue NSW reportedly told him that he had stopped within 10 metres after a crossing, which was a "serious" safety risk. </p> <p>Michael said that he was unaware he needed to pull in and believed he was allowed to stop where he did, as he was adjacent to the parking bay. </p> <p>"It's a flawed set up with the crossing being so close to the 15-minute parking," Michael told <em>Yahoo News Australia</em>.</p> <p>"If I was a metre over in the vacant bay I would have avoided the fine. But the signage is just not clear.. and that bay itself is within 10 metres of the crossing, so how does that work?"</p> <p>The photos supplied by Revenue NSW, all time-stamped 8:23am, showed Michael's vehicle in different positions of the Zollner Circuit, which he has argued is not sufficient evidence to prove that he stopped.</p> <p>The photos also showed no visible pedestrians, other than Michael's partner who had just gotten out of the car, and Michael argued that he was allowed to stop since there was the 15-minute parking sign. </p> <p>While Darling Harbour is located in the City of Sydney LGA, the area is managed by government-run Place Management NSW.</p> <p>"It is an offence to stop on or near a pedestrian crossing," a spokesperson stressed. </p> <p>Michael questioned why there was no leniency, with such a large fine particularly amid a cost-of-living crisis, but it is reportedly because those who clearly breach road laws would not be granted any. </p> <p>"There's no one around and I was there for six seconds... it just feels like someone was having a bad day and waiting to make a name for themselves," Michael argued.</p> <p><em>Images: Yahoo News Australia. </em></p>

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Young boy beats rare brain cancer in world first

<p>A 13-year-old boy from Belgium has become the first person in the world to be cured from a deadly brain cancer. </p> <p>Lucas Jemeljanova was only six-years-old when he was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare and aggressive brain cancer which kills 98 per cent of sufferers within five years. </p> <p>He was randomly assigned to receive everolimus, a type of chemotherapy drug during a clinical trial. The drug is commonly used to treat kidney, pancreas, breast and brain cancer, but up to this point has not been successfully used to treat DIPG. </p> <p>Seven years later, Lucas has responded well to the treatment and has no trace of cancer, and has officially been in remission for five years.</p> <p>His doctor, Jacques Grill said that Lucas "beat the odds" and his case "offers real hope". </p> <p>Lucas was one of the first few people enrolled in the BIOMEDE trial in France, which was testing potential new drugs for DIPG. </p> <p>The drug works by preventing the cancer cells from reproducing and decreasing blood supply to the cancer cells, and it is an FDA approved prescription drug for cancer.</p> <p>Doctors were initially hesitant to stop the treatment until a year ago and a half ago. </p> <p>"I didn’t know when to stop, or how, because there was no reference in the world," Dr Grill told the <em>AFP</em>. </p> <p>"Over a series of MRI scans, I watched as the tumour completely disappeared," he added. </p> <p>Seven other children who were also in the trial have been considered "long responders", as they haven't had any relapses for three years after their diagnosis, but only Lucas was cured. </p> <p>The reason behind his complete recovery is still unknown, but it could be because of "biological particularities" in his tumour. </p> <p>"Lucas' tumour had an extremely rare mutation which we believe made its cells far more sensitive to the drug," Dr Grill added. </p> <p>DIPG is typically found in children between ages five and nine. </p> <p>The cause of the tumour is unknown but some of the first symptoms include problems with eye movement and balance, facial weakness, difficulty walking and strange limb movements.</p> <p>Researchers are currently trying to reproduce the difference seen in Lucas' cells. </p> <p>"Lucas is believed to have had a particular form of the disease," Dr Grill said. </p> <p>"We must understand what and why to succeed in medically reproducing in other patients what happened naturally with him." </p> <p>However Dr Grill said that this process won't be quick. </p> <p>"On average, it takes 10-15 years from the first lead to become a drug – it's a long and drawn-out process."</p> <p><em>Images: Facebook</em></p> <p> </p>

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Fergie breaks silence amid second cancer battle

<p>Sarah Ferguson has broken her silence after it was revealed that she had been diagnosed with <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/fergie-reveals-second-cancer-diagnosis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">skin cancer</a> on Monday, her second form of cancer in just 12 months. </p> <p>The Duchess of York said she was in “good spirits” and thanked everyone for their support, in a post shared to Instagram. </p> <p>This comes just six months after Fergie had to undergo a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery for her breast cancer. </p> <p>“I have been taking some time to myself as I have been diagnosed with malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer, my second cancer diagnosis within a year after I was diagnosed with breast cancer this summer and underwent a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery," she began in her post. </p> <p>“It was thanks to the great vigilance of my dermatologist that the melanoma was detected when it was.</p> <p>“Naturally another cancer diagnosis has been a shock but I’m in good spirits and grateful for the many messages of love and support.</p> <p>“I believe my experience underlines the importance of checking the size, shape, colour and texture and emergence of new moles that can be a sign of melanoma and urge anyone who is reading this to be diligent," she continued. </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/C2ZZI3AO-vt/?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/C2ZZI3AO-vt/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Sarah Ferguson (Fergie) (@sarahferguson15)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>She then shared her gratitude for the medical teams and her family for their support. </p> <p>“I am incredibly thankful to the medical teams that have supported me through both of these experiences with cancer and to the Mayrlife Clinic for taking gentle care of me in the past weeks, allowing me time for recuperation.</p> <p>“I am resting with family at home now, feeling blessed to have their love and support.”</p> <p>Dermatologists raised the alarm regarding her melanoma after removing several moles from her body during reconstructive breast surgery. </p> <p>Just days after Christmas, the Duchess received her shock diagnosis that one of the moles was malignant. </p> <p>She has since been recuperating in Austria for the last few weeks.</p> <p><em>Image: Instagram</em></p>

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Fergie reveals second cancer diagnosis

<p dir="ltr">Sarah Ferguson has been diagnosed with skin cancer, just six months after undergoing treatment for breast cancer. </p> <p dir="ltr">The Duchess of York shared the health news via her spokesperson, while also urging people to undergo regular skin checks. </p> <p dir="ltr">"Following her diagnosis with an early form of breast cancer this summer, Sarah, Duchess of York has now been diagnosed with malignant melanoma," the statement read.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Her dermatologist asked that several moles were removed and analysed at the same time as the duchess was undergoing reconstructive surgery following her mastectomy, and one of these has been identified as cancerous.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The representative shared that Fergie was "undergoing further investigations to ensure that this has been caught in the early stages."</p> <p dir="ltr">"The Duchess wants to thank the entire medical team which has supported her, particularly her dermatologist whose vigilance ensured the illness was detected when it was," the representative added.</p> <p dir="ltr">"She believes her experience underlines the importance of checking the size, shape, colour and texture and emergence of new moles that can be a sign of melanoma."</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite being “distressed” by a second cancer diagnosis, the Duchess “remains in good spirits” throughout her recovery. </p> <p dir="ltr">The discovery of the skin cancer comes after Fergie revealed she had been diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer in June 2023.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Duchess of York announced a tumour had been found during a routine mammogram, for which she underwent a single mastectomy.</p> <p dir="ltr">In a 2023 wrap-up Instagram post, Fergie opened up about her breast cancer battle, confirming she had "beat" it after undergoing chemotherapy. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-1c9ca91e-7fff-c380-d3e8-7c3128c72768"></span></p>

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Michael Bolton shares shocking health update

<p>Renowned singer Michael Bolton recently shared a shocking revelation with his fans – that he has been diagnosed with brain cancer.</p> <p>The 70-year-old artist famous for his pop-rock ballads underwent immediate surgery just before Christmas, marking the end of 2023 with unexpected challenges. In a heartfelt message on Facebook and Instagram, Bolton expressed gratitude for the success of the surgery and the unwavering support of his medical team, family and fans.</p> <p>In his statement, Bolton disclosed the discovery of a brain tumour just before the holidays, necessitating urgent surgery. Fortunately, the operation was successful, and the singer is currently recuperating at home. Despite the challenging times ahead, Bolton conveyed his determination to focus on recovery and temporarily step back from touring to devote time and energy to the healing process.</p> <p>Acknowledging the difficulty of disappointing fans and postponing shows, Bolton assured his followers that he is working hard to accelerate his recovery and return to the stage as soon as possible. The singer, known for his powerful love songs, expressed gratitude for the positive messages from fans, promising to keep them updated on his progress.</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/C1vGsEdv07S/?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/C1vGsEdv07S/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Michael Bolton (@michaelbolton)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Prior to his revelation, fans had expressed concerns about Bolton's health following his performance during the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade. Some viewers noted that he appeared to be in pain, sparking speculation about his well-being.</p> <p>Bolton gained fame in the late 1980s for his transition from heavy metal to power ballads, earning recognition for his emotive love songs. Throughout his illustrious career, he amassed six American Music Awards, two Grammy Awards, and achieved chart-topping success with two number-one singles on the Billboard charts.</p> <p>Beyond his musical achievements, Bolton showcased his versatility by participating in various entertainment ventures. Notably, his appearance in The Lonely Island's viral video "Jack Sparrow" garnered widespread attention, accumulating over 200 million views. He also co-hosted ABC's <em>Celebrity Dating Game</em> and delved into acting with roles in shows like <em>Meet Wally Sparks</em>, <em>Two and a Half Men</em>, and a stint on <em>Dancing with the Stars US</em>.</p> <p>Despite his success, Bolton faced financial setbacks in 1992 when he was sued by the Isley Brothers for alleged song theft. The legal battle concluded in 2001, with substantial payments made to the Isley Brothers. Bolton's personal life has seen its share of ups and downs, including a marriage to Maureen McGuire that ended in 1990, and a subsequent relationship with Nicollette Sheridan.</p> <p>Bolton's announcement of his battle with brain cancer has left fans shocked and concerned for the beloved singer. As he embarks on the path to recovery, the outpouring of support from fans and well-wishers reflects the impact he has had on the music industry and in the hearts of those who have followed his journey.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Caring

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"Betrayed": Shannen Doherty opens up on tough divorce amid cancer battle

<p>Shannen Doherty revealed it all on the debut episode of her new podcast <em>Let’s Be Clear with Shannen Doherty</em>. </p> <p>The actress opened up on her tough split from her husband of 14 years, Kurt Iswarienko, after she found out he had been having an affair for two years, while she was battling brain cancer.</p> <p>She recalled the moment she found out, right before her surgery to remove the tumour in January. </p> <p>“I went into that surgery early in the morning and I went in after I found out that my marriage was essentially over, that my husband had been carrying on an affair for two years,” she said. </p> <p>“To not go in that surgery, even though, being very clear, he wanted to go, I couldn’t go into that surgery with him there. I felt so betrayed.”</p> <p>“At the end of the day, I just felt so incredibly unloved by someone I was with for 14 years, by someone I loved with all my heart,” Doherty continued, adding that she had her family and friends by her side. </p> <p>Though the<em> Charmed </em>actress is currently focusing on her health and the future, she did admit that the entire experience has been overwhelming. </p> <p>“Just to have to go through all of that while trying to figure out if you’re going to get a frickin’ divorce and trying to get to the truth of that,” she said. </p> <p>She added that she was "obsessed" with finding out the truth of the affair, “through conversations, expecting someone to be honest with me.”</p> <p>“If you share 14 years together and you cheated, doesn’t that person deserve the absolute truth regardless of how much that hurts them? If they’re the ones asking for it, if they’re the ones saying, ‘Listen, I get it, I may cry, I may get angry, and this may really suck to hear, but I need to hear it because I need closure and this is how I get my closure.’ So I had a lot of months of trying to figure out what I was going to do,” she explained.</p> <p>She added that the reason why she was trying so hard to make sense of the situation was because she herself does not condone cheating, “If you cheat on me, you’re out," she said. </p> <p>“Then when someone you really, really love, someone that you regard as your absolute best friend in the world, when you’re lied to and you discover they cheated on you, or they finally tell you they’re cheating on you because they’re riddled by guilt or whatever, I didn’t walk away. I couldn’t. I was so confused.”</p> <p>She added that the confusion was also a side effect from her surgery as she was undertaking a bunch of medication and steroids to prevent her brain from swelling. </p> <p>Doherty and Iswarienko tied the knot in 2011 and filed for divorce earlier this year in April. </p> <p>The actress revealed that she struggled with her decision to file for divorce, and did talk to “girlfriend of two years that he cheated on me with.” </p> <p>“And honestly, it’s still really hard. Yes, I made the decision to file for divorce, but I have a lot of memories with this person,” she said. </p> <p>She added that although she takes responsibility for some of the issues in their marriage, she does not take responsibility for the "demise" of it. </p> <p>“I take responsibility not only because of how I was but because of how cancer impacted my marriage and how it impacted him the second time around," she said. </p> <p>"I do not take responsibility for the demise of our marriage because I am not a quitter. If somebody is still showing me loyalty and respect and love, I’m going to hang in there. I’m going to try my hardest," she added. </p> <p>Despite three failed marriages, the actress said that she still believes in love. </p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Caring

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Second “royal racist” accidentally named in new book

<p>A second member of the royal family has been accused of being "racist", after the bombshell royal exposé implied them in the scandal over baby Archie's skin colour. </p> <p>In Omid Scobie's new book <em>Endgame</em>, he discusses the comments that members of the royal family made to Meghan Markle when she was pregnant with baby Archie. </p> <p>Markle first shared the bombshell allegations in her tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021, but she refused to name the royal family member who made the comments, saying, “I think that would be very damaging to them.”</p> <p>On Wednesday, reports emerged that copies of the book were being <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/entertainment/books/new-royal-book-pulled-from-shelves-over-huge-legal-blunder" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pulled from shelves</a> as the Dutch translation of the book accidentally named the person involved in the scandal.</p> <p>Omid Scobie admitted he does know who made the comments, but UK libel laws prevented him from naming them in the book. </p> <p>Now, as copies of the tell-all book have been flying off shelves, it seems another member of the royal family has been implicated in the book, which is now said to be frantically being pulled from shelves.</p> <p>It comes after Mr Scobie denied responsibility for the Dutch translation of his new book “accidentally naming” a member of the Royal Family.</p> <p>Publishers Xander Uitgevers yesterday said they were seeking to remove Mr Scobie’s work from bookshelves saying there had been an “error”.</p> <p>Speaking to Dutch TV on Wednesday night, Mr Scobie defended his book, saying, “The book is in several languages, and unfortunately I do not speak Dutch”.</p> <p>“But if there are translation errors, I’m sure the publishers will have it under control."</p> <p>“I wrote and edited the English version. There’s never been no version that I’ve produced that has names in it.”</p> <p>In the English version, Mr Scobie writes, “In the pages of these private letters [given to Oprah by Markle], two identities were revealed. UK laws prevent me from reporting who they were”.</p> <p>But the Dutch version reads, “In those private letters, an identity was revealed and confirmed” — before going on to name a senior royal.</p> <p>Dutch royal reporter Rick Evers says he was one of only two journalists to be given a manuscript of <em>Endgame</em> last Wednesday.</p> <p>Mr Evers said, “I was shocked that no one else in the world mentioned the fact that a member of the royals was named in the book as the racist”.</p> <p>“That was the main accusation in the book that I noticed and what I put in my (review) article, which was published with a photo of that royal."</p> <p>“I began to question if it was only my manuscript that had the name in it. I went to get the book from a store and it was exactly the same,” Mr Evers said.</p> <p>“A woman called from the publisher saying there was a legal problem and my article had to be removed.”</p> <p>It is unclear how the error occurred, but Mr Scobie confirmed that the first royal family member named in the book is not the one stated in the letters from Meghan Markle. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Little girl's Anzac artwork sells at auction for $100,000

<p>A moving artwork created by nine-year-old Evie Poolman has sold for a staggering six-figure sum at auction. </p> <p>Young Evie created the artwork of the 'Lone Soldier' just six months after receiving a devastating diagnosis of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a deadly type of brain tumour.</p> <p>Evie underwent four brain surgeries and 30 rounds of radiation for her condition but tragically died at the age of nine in June 2021.</p> <p>Now, the artwork - a striking red and orange piece depicting an Anzac standing before a grave at sunset - has been auctioned off by Evie's parents in an attempt to raise money for a cure for the horrible disease. </p> <p>Currently, DIPG has a zero per cent survival rate but despite this, since 2015, less than a million dollars has been dedicated to research in Australia.</p> <p>Evie's parents Chuck and Bridget chose to auction off their late daughter's artwork at the Heels 2 Heal charity lunch in Sydney on Friday, to increase the funding of research into DIPG. </p> <p>The lucky winner, Jo Kinghorn, forked out a staggering $100,000 for the artwork, as she handed over the money "with absolute joy and pleasure".</p> <p>"It was so exciting for me, I've never really experienced anything like that before," Kinghorn, a friend of the Poolman family, told 2GB's Ben Fordham, adding that she hadn't woken up that day expecting to part with so much money.</p> <p>"I'm just so grateful that the painting ended up in my hands."</p> <p>Kinghorn was more than happy to contribute so much money, knowing the funds were going to a good cause. </p> <p>"It's a drop in the ocean as to what is needed, and the government has the ability to properly fund these trials," Kinghorn said of the money spent.</p> <p>"I saw first-hand what this did to a family, and the strength of this family is beyond words. I cannot be more proud. It's just devastating."</p> <p><em>Image credits: 2GB</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Qantas chief executive issues second apology

<p>Qantas chief executive Vanessa Hudson has issued a second apology, as the airline continues to try and fix its reputation and win back customers' trust amid recent controversy over its <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/jubilant-scenes-as-high-court-hands-down-judgment-against-qantas" target="_blank" rel="noopener">unlawful mass firing</a>.</p> <p>In a video message released on Friday, Hudson, who replaced chief executive Alan Joyce earlier this month, said she understood customer’s frustration and apologised for the airline’s recent track record. </p> <p>“I know that we have let you down in many ways and for that, I am sorry,” she said.</p> <p>“We haven't delivered the way we should have. And we’ve often been hard to deal with.”</p> <p>This apology comes just weeks after the new chief executive apologised to their staff and said that the new management will be more focused on their customers. </p> <p>Hudson has also promised to rectify the airline's problems. </p> <p>“We understand we need to earn back your trust not with what we say, but with what we do and how we behave,” she said. </p> <p>She added that customers can expect more frequent flyer seats, improved resources for call centres, and a review of customer policies, assuring customers that their frontline teams will be granted more flexibility “to better help you when things don't go to plan”.</p> <p>“This has been a humbling period,” she said.</p> <p><em>Images: Qantas/ news.com.au</em></p>

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Does running water really trigger the urge to pee? Experts explain the brain-bladder connection

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/james-overs-1458017">James Overs</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-homewood-1458022">David Homewood</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/melbourne-health-950">Melbourne Health</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helen-elizabeth-oconnell-ao-1458226">Helen Elizabeth O'Connell AO</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/simon-robert-knowles-706104">Simon Robert Knowles</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>We all know that feeling when nature calls – but what’s far less understood is the psychology behind it. Why, for example, do we get the urge to pee just before getting into the shower, or when we’re swimming? What brings on those “nervous wees” right before a date?</p> <p>Research suggests our brain and bladder are in constant communication with each other via a neural network called the <a href="https://www.einj.org/journal/view.php?doi=10.5213/inj.2346036.018">brain-bladder axis</a>.</p> <p>This complex web of circuitry is comprised of sensory neural activity, including the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. These neural connections allow information to be sent <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics12123119">back and forth</a> between the brain and bladder.</p> <p>The brain-bladder axis not only facilitates the act of peeing, but is also responsible for telling us we need to go in the first place.</p> <h2>How do we know when we need to go?</h2> <p>As the bladder fills with urine and expands, this activates special receptors detecting stretch in the nerve-rich lining of the bladder wall. This information is then relayed to the “periaqueductal gray” – a part of the brain in the brainstem which <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrn2401">constantly monitors</a> the bladder’s filling status.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/547931/original/file-20230913-19-2kgkhk.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/547931/original/file-20230913-19-2kgkhk.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/547931/original/file-20230913-19-2kgkhk.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=454&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/547931/original/file-20230913-19-2kgkhk.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=454&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/547931/original/file-20230913-19-2kgkhk.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=454&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/547931/original/file-20230913-19-2kgkhk.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=570&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/547931/original/file-20230913-19-2kgkhk.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=570&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/547931/original/file-20230913-19-2kgkhk.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=570&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">The periaqueductal gray is a section of gray matter located in the midbrain section of the brainstem.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainstem#/media/File:1311_Brain_Stem.jpg">Wikimedia/OpenStax</a>, <a class="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/">CC BY-SA</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>Once the bladder reaches a certain threshold (roughly 250-300ml of urine), another part of the brain called the “pontine micturition centre” is activated and signals that the bladder needs to be emptied. We, in turn, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16254993/">register this</a> as that all-too-familiar feeling of fullness and pressure down below.</p> <p>Beyond this, however, a range of situations can trigger or exacerbate our need to pee, by increasing the production of urine and/or stimulating reflexes in the bladder.</p> <h2>Peeing in the shower</h2> <p>If you’ve ever felt the need to pee while in the shower (no judgement here) it may be due to the sight and sound of running water.</p> <p>In a 2015 study, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0126798">researchers demonstrated</a> that males with urinary difficulties found it easier to initiate peeing when listening to the sound of running water being played on a smartphone.</p> <p>Symptoms of overactive bladder, including urgency (a sudden need to pee), have also been <a href="https://www.alliedacademies.org/articles/environmental-cues-to-urgency-and-incontinence-episodes-in-chinesepatients-with-overactive-urinary-bladder-syndrome.html">linked to</a> a range of environmental cues involving running water, including washing your hands and taking a shower.</p> <p>This is likely due to both physiology and psychology. Firstly, the sound of running water may have a relaxing <em>physiological</em> effect, increasing activity of the parasympathetic nervous system. This would relax the bladder muscles and prepare the bladder for emptying.</p> <p>At the same time, the sound of running water may also have a conditioned <em>psychological</em> effect. Due to the countless times in our lives where this sound has coincided with the actual act of peeing, it may trigger an instinctive reaction in us to urinate.</p> <p>This would happen in the same way <a href="https://www.simplypsychology.org/pavlov.html">Pavlov’s dog learnt</a>, through repeated pairing, to salivate when a bell was rung.</p> <h2>Cheeky wee in the sea</h2> <p>But it’s not just the sight or sound of running water that makes us want to pee. Immersion in cold water has been shown to cause a “cold shock response”, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19945970">which activates</a> the sympathetic nervous system.</p> <p>This so-called “fight or flight” response drives up our blood pressure which, in turn, causes our kidneys to filter out more fluid from the bloodstream to stabilise our blood pressure, in a process called “<a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00864230">immersion diuresis</a>”. When this happens, our bladder fills up faster than normal, triggering the urge to pee.</p> <p>Interestingly, immersion in very warm water (such as a relaxing bath) may also increase urine production. In this case, however, it’s due to activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s004210050065">One study</a> demonstrated an increase in water temperature from 40℃ to 50℃ reduced the time it took for participants to start urinating.</p> <p>Similar to the effect of hearing running water, the authors of the study suggest being in warm water is calming for the body and activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This activation can result in the relaxation of the bladder and possibly the pelvic floor muscles, bringing on the urge to pee.</p> <h2>The nervous wee</h2> <p>We know stress and anxiety can cause bouts of nausea and butterflies in the tummy, but what about the bladder? Why do we feel a sudden and frequent urge to urinate at times of heightened stress, such as before a date or job interview?</p> <p>When a person becomes stressed or anxious, the body goes into fight-or-flight mode through the activation of the sympathetic nervous system. This triggers a cascade of physiological changes designed to prepare the body to face a perceived threat.</p> <p>As part of this response, the muscles surrounding the bladder may contract, leading to a more urgent and frequent need to pee. Also, as is the case during immersion diuresis, the increase in blood pressure associated with the stress response may <a href="https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI102496">stimulate</a> the kidneys to produce more urine.</p> <h2>Some final thoughts</h2> <p>We all pee (most of us several times a day). Yet <a href="https://doi.org/10.5489/cuaj.1150">research has shown</a> about 75% of adults know little about how this process actually works – and even less about the brain-bladdder axis and its role in urination.</p> <p><a href="https://www.continence.org.au/about-us/our-work/key-statistics-incontinence#:%7E:text=Urinary%20incontinence%20affects%20up%20to,38%25%20of%20Australian%20women1.">Most Australians</a> will experience urinary difficulties at some point in their lives, so if you ever have concerns about your urinary health, it’s extremely important to consult a healthcare professional.</p> <p>And should you ever find yourself unable to pee, perhaps the sight or sound of running water, a relaxing bath or a nice swim will help with getting that stream to flow.<!-- 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/210808/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/james-overs-1458017"><em>James Overs</em></a><em>, Research Assistant, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-homewood-1458022">David Homewood</a>, Urology Research Registrar, Western Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/melbourne-health-950">Melbourne Health</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helen-elizabeth-oconnell-ao-1458226">Helen Elizabeth O'Connell AO</a>, Professor, University of Melbourne, Department of Surgery. President Urological Society Australia and New Zealand, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/simon-robert-knowles-706104">Simon Robert Knowles</a>, Associate Professor and Clinical Psychologist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</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/does-running-water-really-trigger-the-urge-to-pee-experts-explain-the-brain-bladder-connection-210808">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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The science of dreams and nightmares – what is going on in our brains while we’re sleeping?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/drew-dawson-13517">Drew Dawson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/madeline-sprajcer-1315489">Madeline Sprajcer</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p>Last night you probably slept for <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352721816301292">seven to eight hours</a>. About one or two of these was likely in deep sleep, especially if you’re young or physically active. That’s because <a href="http://apsychoserver.psych.arizona.edu/jjbareprints/psyc501a/readings/Carskadon%20Dement%202011.pdf">sleep changes with age</a> and <a href="https://www.hindawi.com/journals/apm/2017/1364387/">exercise</a> affects brain activity. About three or four hours will have been spent in light sleep.</p> <p>For the remaining time, you were likely in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. While this is not the only time your brain is potentially dreaming – we also dream during other sleep stages – it is the time your brain activity is most likely to be recalled and reported when you’re awake.</p> <p>That’s usually because either really weird thoughts or feelings wake you up or because the last hour of sleep is nearly all <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Elizaveta-Solomonova/publication/320356182_Dream_Recall_and_Content_in_Different_Stages_of_Sleep_and_Time-of-Night_Effect/links/5a707bdb0f7e9ba2e1cade56/Dream-Recall-and-Content-in-Different-Stages-of-Sleep-and-Time-of-Night-Effect.pdf">REM sleep</a>. When dreams or your alarm wake you, you’re likely coming out of dream sleep and your dream often lingers into the first few minutes of being awake. In this case you remember it.</p> <p>If they’re strange or interesting dreams, you might tell someone else about them, which may further <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00426-022-01722-7">encode</a> the dream memory.</p> <p>Dreams and nightmares are mysterious and we’re still learning about them. They keep our brains ticking over. They wash the thoughts from the day’s events at a molecular level. They might even help us imagine what’s possible during our waking hours.</p> <h2>What do scientists know about REM sleep and dreaming?</h2> <p>It’s really hard to study dreaming because people are asleep and we can’t observe what’s going on. Brain imaging has indicated certain <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1087079216300673#sec3">patterns of brain activity</a> are associated with dreaming (and with certain sleep stages where dreams are more likely to occur). But such studies ultimately rely on self-reports of the dream experience.</p> <p>Anything we spend so much time doing probably serves multiple ends.</p> <p>At the basic physiological level (indicated by <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053810021001409">brain activity, sleep behaviour and studies of conciousness</a>), all mammals dream – even the platypus and echidna probably experience something similar to dreaming (provided they are at the <a href="https://www.wired.com/2014/07/the-creature-feature-10-fun-facts-about-the-echidna/#:%7E:text=It%20was%20long%20thought%20that,re%20at%20the%20right%20temperature.">right temperature</a>). Their brain activity and sleep stages align to some degree with human <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053810021001409#b0630">REM sleep</a>.</p> <p>Less evolved species do not. Some <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2468867319301993#sec0030">jellyfish</a> – who do not have a brain – do experience what could physiologically be characterised as sleep (shown by their posture, quietness, lack of responsiveness and rapid “waking” when prompted). But they do not experience the same physiological and behavioural elements that resemble REM dream sleep.</p> <p>In humans, REM sleep is thought to occur cyclically every 90 to 120 minutes across the night. It prevents us from sleeping too deeply and being <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4972941/">vulnerable to attack</a>. Some scientists think we dream in order to stop our brains and bodies from getting too cold. Our core body temperature is typically <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(22)00210-1/fulltext">higher while dreaming</a>. It is typically easier to <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.2147/NSS.S188911">wake from dreaming</a> if we need to respond to external cues or dangers.</p> <p>The brain activity in REM sleep kicks our brain into gear for a bit. It’s like a periscope into a more conscious state, observing what’s going on at the surface, then going back down if all is well.</p> <p>Some evidence suggests “fever dreams” are far less common than we might expect. We actually experience <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00053/full">far less REM sleep</a> when we have a fever – though the dreams we do have tend to be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3830719/">darker in tone and more unusual</a>.</p> <p>Spending less time in REM sleep when we’re feverish might happen because we are far less capable of regulating our body temperature in this stage of sleep. To protect us, our brain tries to regulate our temperature by “skipping” this sleep stage. We tend to have fewer dreams when the weather is hot <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/23744731.2020.1756664">for the same reason</a>.</p> <h2>A deep-cleaning system for the brain</h2> <p>REM sleep is important for ensuring our brain is working as it should, as indicated by studies using <a href="https://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdf/S0960-9822(17)31329-5.pdf">electoencephalography</a>, which measures brain activity.</p> <p>In the same way deep sleep helps the body restore its physical capacity, dream sleep “<a href="https://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdf/S0960-9822(17)31329-5.pdf">back-flushes</a>” our neural circuits. At the molecular level, the chemicals that underpin our thinking are bent out of shape by the day’s cognitive activity. Deep sleep is when those chemicals are returned to their unused shape. The brain is “<a href="https://www.science.org/doi/abs/10.1126/science.1241224">washed</a>” with cerebrospinal fluid, controlled by the <a href="https://theconversation.com/on-your-back-side-face-down-mice-show-how-we-sleep-may-trigger-or-protect-our-brain-from-diseases-like-als-181954">glymphatic system</a>.</p> <p>At the next level, dream sleep “tidies up” our recent memories and feelings. During <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC534695/">REM sleep</a>, our brains consolidate procedural memories (of how to do tasks) and emotions. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC534695/">Non-REM sleep</a>, where we typically expect fewer dreams, is important for the consolidation of episodic memories (events from your life).</p> <p>As our night’s sleep progresses, we produce more cortisol - the <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2005-01907-021">stress hormone</a>. It is thought the amount of cortisol present can impact the type of memories we are consolidating and potentially the types of dreams we have. This means the dreams we have later in the night may be <a href="https://learnmem.cshlp.org/content/11/6/671.full.pdf">more fragmented or bizarre</a>.</p> <p>Both kinds of sleep help <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jb-Eichenlaub/publication/313545620_Daily_Life_Experiences_in_Dreams_and_Sleep-Dependent_Memory_Consolidation/links/5c532b0ba6fdccd6b5d76270/Daily-Life-Experiences-in-Dreams-and-Sleep-Dependent-Memory-Consolidation.pdf?ref=nepopularna.org">consolidate</a> the useful brain activity of the day. The brain also discards less important information.</p> <h2>Random thoughts, rearranged feelings</h2> <p>This filing and discarding of the day’s activities is going on while we are sleeping. That’s why we often dream about things that happen <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0264574">during the day</a>.</p> <p>Sometimes when we’re rearranging the thoughts and feelings to go in the “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3921176/">bin</a>” during sleep, our level of consciousness allows us to experience awareness. Random thoughts and feelings end up all jumbled together in weird and wonderful ways. Our awareness of this process may explain the bizarre nature of some of our dreams. Our daytime experiences can also fuel nightmares or anxiety-filled dreams after a <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/dreams/how-trauma-can-affect-dreams">traumatic event</a>.</p> <p>Some dreams appear to <a href="https://rai.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdfdirect/10.1111/j.1467-9655.2010.01668.x">foretell the future or carry potent symbolism</a>. In many societies dreams are believed to be a window into an <a href="https://digitalcommons.ciis.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1050&amp;context=ijts-transpersonalstudies">alternate reality</a> where we can envisage what is possible.</p> <h2>What does it all mean?</h2> <p>Our scientific understanding of the thermoregulatory, molecular and basic neural aspects of dreaming sleep is <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrn2716">good</a>. But the psychological and spiritual aspects of dreaming remain largely hidden.</p> <p>Perhaps our brains are wired to try and make sense of things. Human societies have always interpreted the random – birds wheeling, tea leaves and the planets – and looked for <a href="https://brill.com/display/book/edcoll/9789047407966/B9789047407966-s003.xml">meaning</a>. Nearly every human society has regarded dreams as more than just random neural firing.</p> <p>And the history of science tells us some things once thought to be magic can later be understood and harnessed – for better or worse.<!-- 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/210901/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/drew-dawson-13517"><em>Drew Dawson</em></a><em>, Director, Appleton Institute, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/madeline-sprajcer-1315489">Madeline Sprajcer</a>, Lecturer in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</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/the-science-of-dreams-and-nightmares-what-is-going-on-in-our-brains-while-were-sleeping-210901">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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If anxiety is in my brain, why is my heart pounding? A psychiatrist explains the neuroscience and physiology of fear

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/arash-javanbakht-416594">Arash Javanbakht</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/wayne-state-university-989">Wayne State University</a></em></p> <p>Heart in your throat. Butterflies in your stomach. Bad gut feeling. These are all phrases many people use to describe fear and anxiety. You have likely felt anxiety inside your chest or stomach, and your brain usually doesn’t hurt when you’re scared. Many cultures tie cowardice and bravery more <a href="https://afosa.org/the-meaning-of-heart-qalb-in-quran/">to the heart</a> <a href="https://byustudies.byu.edu/article/bowels-of-mercy/">or the guts</a> than to the brain.</p> <p>But science has traditionally seen the brain as the birthplace and processing site of fear and anxiety. Then why and how do you feel these emotions in other parts of your body?</p> <p>I am a <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=UDytFmIAAAAJ&amp;hl=en">psychiatrist and neuroscientist</a> who researches and treats fear and anxiety. In my book “<a href="https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781538170380/Afraid-Understanding-the-Purpose-of-Fear-and-Harnessing-the-Power-of-Anxiety">Afraid,</a>” I explain how fear works in the brain and the body and what too much anxiety does to the body. Research confirms that while emotions do originate in your brain, it’s your body that carries out the orders.</p> <h2>Fear and the brain</h2> <p>While your brain evolved to save you from a falling rock or speeding predator, the anxieties of modern life are often a lot more abstract. Fifty-thousand years ago, being rejected by your tribe could mean death, but not doing a great job on a public speech at school or at work doesn’t have the same consequences. Your brain, however, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/nimg.2002.1179">might not know the difference</a>.</p> <p>There are a few key areas of the brain that are heavily involved in processing fear.</p> <p>When you perceive something as dangerous, whether it’s a gun pointed at you or a group of people looking unhappily at you, these sensory inputs are first relayed to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038%2Fnpp.2009.121">the amygdala</a>. This small, almond-shaped area of the brain located near your ears detects salience, or the emotional relevance of a situation and how to react to it. When you see something, it determines whether you should eat it, attack it, run away from it or have sex with it.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/the-science-of-fright-why-we-love-to-be-scared-85885">Threat detection</a> is a vital part of this process, and it has to be fast. Early humans did not have much time to think when a lion was lunging toward them. They had to act quickly. For this reason, the amygdala evolved to bypass brain areas involved in logical thinking and can directly engage physical responses. For example, seeing an angry face on a computer screen can immediately trigger a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/nimg.2002.1179">detectable response from the amygdala</a> without the viewer even being aware of this reaction.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xoU9tw6Jgyw?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">In response to a looming threat, mammals often fight, flee or freeze.</span></figcaption></figure> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2009.83">The hippocampus</a> is near and tightly connected to the amygdala. It’s involved in memorizing what is safe and what is dangerous, especially in relation to the environment – it puts fear in context. For example, seeing an angry lion in the zoo and in the Sahara both trigger a fear response in the amygdala. But the hippocampus steps in and blocks this response when you’re at the zoo because you aren’t in danger.</p> <p>The <a href="https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.16030353">prefrontal cortex</a>, located above your eyes, is mostly involved in the cognitive and social aspects of fear processing. For example, you might be scared of a snake until you read a sign that the snake is nonpoisonous or the owner tells you it’s their friendly pet.</p> <p>Although the prefrontal cortex is usually seen as the part of the brain that regulates emotions, it can also teach you fear based on your social environment. For example, you might feel neutral about a meeting with your boss but immediately feel nervous when a colleague tells you about rumors of layoffs. Many <a href="https://theconversation.com/trump-the-politics-of-fear-and-racism-how-our-brains-can-be-manipulated-to-tribalism-139811">prejudices like racism</a> are rooted in learning fear through tribalism.</p> <h2>Fear and the rest of the body</h2> <p>If your brain decides that a fear response is justified in a particular situation, it activates a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/med/9780190259440.003.0019">cascade of neuronal and hormonal pathways</a> to prepare you for immediate action. Some of the fight-or-flight response – like heightened attention and threat detection – takes place in the brain. But the body is where most of the action happens.</p> <p>Several pathways prepare different body systems for intense physical action. The <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2014.00043">motor cortex</a> of the brain sends rapid signals to your muscles to prepare them for quick and forceful movements. These include muscles in the chest and stomach that help protect vital organs in those areas. That might contribute to a feeling of tightness in your chest and stomach in stressful conditions.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0IDgBlCHVsA?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Your sympathetic nervous system is involved in regulating stress.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>The <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK542195/">sympathetic nervous system</a> is the gas pedal that speeds up the systems involved in fight or flight. Sympathetic neurons are spread throughout the body and are especially dense in places like the heart, lungs and intestines. These neurons trigger the adrenal gland to release hormones like adrenaline that travel through the blood to reach those organs and increase the rate at which they undergo the fear response.</p> <p>To assure sufficient blood supply to your muscles when they’re in high demand, signals from the sympathetic nervous system increase the rate your heart beats and the force with which it contracts. You feel both increased heart rate and contraction force in your chest, which is why you may connect the feeling of intense emotions to your heart.</p> <p>In your lungs, signals from the sympathetic nervous system dilate airways and often increase your breathing rate and depth. Sometimes this results in a feeling of <a href="https://theconversation.com/pain-and-anxiety-are-linked-to-breathing-in-mouse-brains-suggesting-a-potential-target-to-prevent-opioid-overdose-deaths-174187">shortness of breath</a>.</p> <p>As digestion is the last priority during a fight-or-flight situation, sympathetic activation slows down your gut and reduces blood flow to your stomach to save oxygen and nutrients for more vital organs like the heart and the brain. These changes to your gastrointestinal system can be perceived as the discomfort linked to fear and anxiety.</p> <h2>It all goes back to the brain</h2> <p>All bodily sensations, including those visceral feelings from your chest and stomach, are relayed back to the brain through the pathways <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555915/">via the spinal cord</a>. Your already anxious and highly alert brain then processes these signals at both conscious and unconscious levels.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.16030353">The insula</a> is a part of the brain specifically involved in conscious awareness of your emotions, pain and bodily sensations. The <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038%2Fs41598-019-52776-4">prefrontal cortex</a> also engages in self-awareness, especially by labeling and naming these physical sensations, like feeling tightness or pain in your stomach, and attributing cognitive value to them, like “this is fine and will go away” or “this is terrible and I am dying.” These physical sensations can sometimes create a loop of increasing anxiety as they make the brain feel more scared of the situation because of the turmoil it senses in the body.</p> <p>Although the feelings of fear and anxiety start in your brain, you also feel them in your body because your brain alters your bodily functions. Emotions take place in both your body and your brain, but you become aware of their existence with your brain. As the rapper Eminem recounted in his song “Lose Yourself,” the reason his palms were sweaty, his knees weak and his arms heavy was because his brain was nervous.<!-- 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/210871/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/arash-javanbakht-416594"><em>Arash Javanbakht</em></a><em>, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/wayne-state-university-989">Wayne State 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/if-anxiety-is-in-my-brain-why-is-my-heart-pounding-a-psychiatrist-explains-the-neuroscience-and-physiology-of-fear-210871">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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These 8 food and drink favourites are bad for your brain

<p><strong>Bad foods for your brain</strong></p> <p>Following a healthy diet is essential to maintaining optimal brain health. Avocados and fatty fish; bone broth, berries and broccoli – they’re all brain-boosting superstars. But there are plenty of foods that have the opposite effect and can sap your smarts, affecting your memory and mood. Therefore, it’s important to cut or reduce the following food from your diet to mitigate their effects.</p> <p><strong>Fried foods</strong></p> <p>Fried chicken and French fries won’t just widen your waistline, they are also bad for your brain. In a study published in 2016 in the Journal of Nutritional Science, people who ate diets high in fried foods scored poorly on cognitive tests that evaluated learning, memory and brain function. Conversely, those who ate more plant-based foods scored higher.</p> <p>“Scientists think it may have something to do with inflammation and reduction in brain tissue size,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, co-author of Skinny Liver. “When you look at aspects of one of the great brain studies – the MIND diet – it clearly shows which foods may cause or reduce inflammation in the brain. Fried foods are on the NO list, while berries, olive oil, whole grains and food containing omega 3 are on the YES list.”</p> <p><strong>Sugar-sweetened beverages</strong></p> <p>You probably know to stay away from soft drinks. But you should also beware of fruit juice, energy drinks and sweet tea. Why, you ask? The same reason soft drink is among the bad foods for your brain: sugar.</p> <p>“High amounts of sugar causes neurological damage” because it triggers inflammation, says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Wesley Delbridge. A study published in 2017 in Alzheimer’s &amp; Dementia backs that up. Researchers found that people who regularly consume sugary drinks are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus – the part of the brain important for learning and memory – than those who don’t.</p> <p>Instead of drinking fruit juice or sweet tea high in sugar, try sweetening water or tea with slices of oranges, lemons, or limes.</p> <p><strong>Refined carbs</strong></p> <p>White rice, white bread, white pasta and other processed food with a high glycemic index don’t just cause major spikes in blood sugar, they also rank with the ‘bad foods for your brain’. Specifically, these foods can have a negative effect on your mental health. A study, published in 2015 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that food with a high glycemic index can raise the risk of depression in post-menopausal women. Women who ate more lactose, fibre, fruit and vegetables, on the other hand, showed a significant decrease in symptoms of depression.</p> <p>Swap the white carbs for complex carbs like whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, barley, and farro. All of these contain fibre, which nurtures your gut bacteria and regulates inflammation – all good things for your brain health.</p> <p><strong>Excess alcohol</strong></p> <p>There is a sweet spot for alcohol consumption, according to neurologist Dr David Perlmutter and author of Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar. While the occasional glass of red wine is okay, drinking in excess can be toxic to your brain function, no matter your age. Research, including a study published in 2017 in the peer-reviewed medical trade journal BMJ, found that moderate drinking can damage the brain. The hippocampus is particularly vulnerable.</p> <p>To protect your brain, limit alcohol consumption to no more than one standard drink per day for women and two per day for men. According to Australia’s national alcohol guidelines, one standard drink is defined as containing 10 grams of alcohol. </p> <p><strong>Artificially sweetened beverages</strong></p> <p>Instead of a sugar-sweetened beverage, maybe you turn to the occasional diet soft drink. But make a habit of it and you could be upping your risk of dementia and stroke, suggests a study published in 2017 in Stroke. Researchers found that participants who drank diet drinks daily were almost three times as likely to have a stroke or develop dementia when compared to those who didn’t.</p> <p>“We seek out diet soft drinks for its sweet delivery of liquid,” says Kirkpatrick. “That sweet taste remains on our taste buds, making us crave more.”</p> <p>To kick the habit, she suggests going cold turkey. “Eliminate all sources of sweet from the taste buds to retrain the brain not to want it in the first place,” she says. “Sprucing up water with lemons, limes or berries, or having flavoured seltzer without added sugar can help, as well.”</p> <p><strong>Processed meats </strong></p> <p>If you like to eat processed meats, you may run a greater risk of developing dementia, suggests an April 2020 study published in Neurology. Although the study does not prove cause and effect, the researchers found that dementia was more common among participants who ate highly processed meats, such as sausages, cured meats and pâté. People without dementia were more likely to eat a diverse diet that included fruit, vegetables, seafood and poultry, according to the findings.</p> <p>Highly processed foods are most likely the primary cause of results linked to the reduction in brain tissue size and inflammation, which impacts brain health, says Kirkpatrick.</p> <p><strong>Fast food </strong></p> <p>For starters, the high levels of saturated fat found in greasy burgers and fries can make it harder to fight off Alzheimer-causing plaque. Plus, the level of sodium found in the average fast-food fix can cause brain fog. How so?  High blood pressure, often brought on by eating too many salty foods, can restrict blood to the brain and negatively impair focus, organisational skills and memory, suggests a review of studies published in 2016 in Hypertension.</p> <p>To break a fast food habit, Kirkpatrick suggests this trick: “Start with altering what you order,” she says. “Avoid fried options and opt for more whole grains and plants.” Then reduce the number of days you buy fast food by half.</p> <p><strong>Tuna</strong></p> <p>While the occasional tuna sandwich is no big deal, you might want to think twice before making it your go-to lunch. That’s because tuna – as well as swordfish, shark (flake), bill fish and deep sea perch – has higher levels of mercury than many other types of seafood. A study published in Integrative Medicine shows that people with high levels of the heavy metal in their bloodstream had a 5% drop in cognitive function.</p> <p>But you don’t have to banish seafood from your plate forever. Advice from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (which reflects the fish we eat in our region and its mercury content) recommends 2-3 serves per week of fish and seafood, including canned or fresh tuna (one serve equals 150g), except for fish such as orange roughy (deep sea perch), catfish, shark (flake) or billfish (swordfish/marlin), which you should only consume 1 serve per week and no other fish that week.</p> <p>Try swapping these varieties of fish for omega-3-rich sources such as wild salmon and lake trout, which have been associated with better brain health, says Kirkpatrick.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/the-8-worst-foods-for-your-brain" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Food & Wine

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Finding a live brain worm is rare. 4 ways to protect yourself from more common parasites

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/vincent-ho-141549">Vincent Ho</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/aug/28/live-worm-living-womans-brain-australia-depression-forgetfulness">News reports</a> this morning describe how shocked doctors removed a live worm from a woman’s brain in a Canberra hospital last year. The woman had previously been admitted to hospital with stomach symptoms, dry cough and night sweats and months later experienced depression and forgetfulness that led to a brain scan.</p> <p>In the <a href="https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/29/9/23-0351_article">case study</a> published in Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, doctors describe removing the live 8cm-long nematode (roundworm) from the brain of the 64-year-old woman who was immunosuppressed. The worm was identified as <em>O. robertsi</em> which is native to Australia, where it lives on carpet pythons. The woman may have come into contact with worm eggs via snake faeces while foraging for Warrigal greens to eat.</p> <p>It’s important to note this is an extremely rare event and headlines about brain worms can be alarming. But there are more common parasites which can infect your body and brain. And there are ways you can minimise your risks of being infected with one.</p> <h2>Common parasites and how they get in</h2> <p>Parasitic infection is extremely common. Arguably the most widespread type is pinworm (<em>Enterobius vermicularis</em> also called threadworm), which is thought to be present in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6522669/">over a billion people</a> worldwide, especially children. Pinworms grow to around 1cm in length and are specific to human hosts. They cause intense bottom itching and get passed from person-to-person. It’s a myth that you can get it from pets.</p> <p><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/giardia/pathogen.html#:%7E:text=Giardia%20duodenalis%20is%20a%20protozoan,Giard%20of%20Paris%20and%20Dr.">Giardia</a> (<em>Giardia duodenalis</em>) is also very common and can contaminate food, water and surfaces. This water-borne parasite is associated with poor sanitation and causes stomach symptoms like diarrhoea, cramps, bloating, nausea and fatigue. Giardia cysts (little sacs of immature parasite) spread disease and are passed out in faeces, where they can remain viable in the environment for months before being consumed by someone else. They can also be ingested via foods (such as sheep meat) that is raw or undercooked.</p> <p><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/dpdx/hookworm/index.html">Two types</a> of hookworm – <em>Necator americanis</em> and <em>Ancylostoma duadonale</em> – are found in soil. Only <em>Ancylostoma duodenale</em> is an issue in Australia and is typically found in <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/dpdx/hookworm/index.html">remote communities</a>.</p> <p>When a person is infected (usually via barefeet or contaminated footwear) these worms enter the bloodstream and then hit the lungs. From the bronchi in the upper lungs, they are swallowed with secretions. Once in the gut and small bowel they can <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/soil-transmitted-helminth-infections#:%7E:text=Transmission,these%20eggs%20contaminate%20the%20soil.">cause anaemia</a> (low iron). This is because they are consuming nutrients and affecting iron absorption. They also release an anticoagulant that stops the human host’s blood clotting and causes tiny amounts of blood loss.</p> <p>Fortunately, these very common parasites do not infect the brain.</p> <p>Across the world, it’s estimated <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22491772/">30–50% of people</a> are infected with <em>Toxoplasma</em>. Most people will be asymptomatic but many carry the <a href="https://theconversation.com/one-in-three-people-are-infected-with-toxoplasma-parasite-and-the-clue-could-be-in-our-eyes-182418">signs of infection</a>.</p> <p>The parasites can remain in the body for years as tiny tissue cysts. These cysts can be found in brain, heart and muscle. Infants can be born with serious eye or brain damage if their mothers are infected during pregnancy. People with compromised immunity – such as from AIDS or cancer treatment – are also at risk of illness from infection via pet cats or uncooked meat.</p> <h2>Then there are tapeworms and amoebas</h2> <p>Tapeworms can infect different parts of the body including the brain. This is called <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/resources/pdf/npis_in_us_neurocysticercosis.pdf">neurocysticercosis</a> and is the leading cause of epilepsy worldwide. Neurocysticercosis is uncommon in the Western world and infection is usually via eating pork that is uncooked or prepared by someone who is infected with tapeworm (<em>Taenia solium</em>). It is more likely in locations where pigs have contact with human faeces via sewerage or waterways.</p> <figure class="align-right zoomable"><figcaption></figcaption></figure> <p>Tapeworm larvae can infect muscle and soft tissue. Brain tissue can provide a home for larvae because it is soft and easy to get to via blood vessels. Brain infection can cause headaches, dizziness, seizures, cognitive impairment and even dementia, due to an increase in <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/cysticercosis/gen_info/faqs.html">cerebral spinal fluid pressure</a>.</p> <p><em><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/general.html">Naegleria fowleri</a></em> is an amoeba found in lakes, rivers and springs in warm climates including <a href="https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/public+health/water+quality/naegleria+fowleri#:%7E:text=How%20common%20are%20Naegleria%20fowleri,frequently%20found%20in%20the%20environment.">in Australia</a>. People swimming in infected waters can have the parasite enter their body through the nose. It then travels to the brain and destroys brain tissue. The condition is <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/general.html#:%7E:text=Top%20of%20Page-,What%20is%20the%20death%20rate%20for%20an%20infected%20person%20who,States%20from%201962%20to%202022.">almost always fatal</a>.</p> <h2>Yikes! 4 ways to avoid parasitic infection</h2> <p>That all sounds very scary. And we know being infected by a snake parasite is very rare – finding one alive in someone’s brain is even rarer. But parasites are all around us. To minimise your risk of infection you can:</p> <p><strong>1.</strong> avoid undercooked or raw pork. Freezing meat first may reduce risks (though home freezers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/trichinellosis/prevent.html">may not get cold enough</a>) and it must be cooked to a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924224418301560#:%7E:text=and%20time%20conditions.-,Cooking%20at%20core%20temperature%2060%E2%80%9375%20%C2%B0C%20for%2015,relied%20upon%20in%20home%20situations.">high internal temperature</a>. Avoid pork if you are travelling in places with poor sanitation</p> <p><strong>2.</strong> avoid jumping or diving into warm fresh bodies of water, especially if they are known to carry <em>Naegleria fowleri</em>. Although only a <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/graphs.html">handful of cases</a> are reported each year, you should assume it’s present</p> <p><strong>3.</strong> practise good <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html#:%7E:text=Follow%20Five%20Steps%20to%20Wash%20Your%20Hands%20the%20Right%20Way&amp;text=Wet%20your%20hands%20with%20clean,for%20at%20least%2020%20seconds.">hand hygiene</a> to reduce the risk of rare and common infections. That means washing hands thoroughly and often, using soap, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds, rinsing and drying well. Clip and clean under fingernails regularly</p> <p><strong>4.</strong> to avoid soil-borne parasites wear shoes outside, especially in rural and remote regions, wash shoes and leave them outside.<!-- 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/212437/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/vincent-ho-141549">Vincent Ho</a>, Associate Professor and clinical academic gastroenterologist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Canberra Health </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/finding-a-live-brain-worm-is-rare-4-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-more-common-parasites-212437">original article</a>.</em></p>

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"Beautiful angel": Serena Williams welcomes second child

<p>Serena Williams and her tech entrepreneur husband, Alexis Ohanian, have welcomed their second baby girl! </p> <p>The couple took to Instagram and TikTok to announce the birth of their "beautiful angel" Adira River Ohanian in a series of family photos and a video. </p> <p>"I'm grateful to report our house is teaming with love: a happy & healthy newborn girl and happy & healthy mama. Feeling grateful," proud dad Ohanian captioned the photo of his wife and first-born Olympia meeting her baby sister for the first time. </p> <p>"@serenawilliams you've now given me another incomparable gift — you're the GMOAT," he said referring to her as a the greatest mum of all time. </p> <p>"Thanks to all the amazing medical staff who took care of my wife & our daughter 🙏 I'll never forget the moment I introduced @olympiaohanian to her baby sister."</p> <p>"Your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea."</p> <p>Williams also made her own special announcement in a TikTok video. </p> <p>In the clip Williams takes a seat next to Ohanian and her first-born Olympia, before getting up and grabbing Adira and sitting back down to make their family complete. </p> <p>"Welcome my beautiful angel," she captioned the photo. </p> <p>The couple <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/family-pets/serena-williams-unveils-exciting-family-news" target="_blank" rel="noopener">first announced</a> their pregnancy at the 2023 Met Gala in a TikTok with the caption: "Was so excited when Anna Wintour invited all three of us to the Met Gala." </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Family & Pets

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"Devastating": MKR stars' second family heartbreak

<p><em>My Kitchen Rules</em> stars Carly Saunders and Tresna Middleton have been hit with a second devastating blow for their family, just five months after the death of their daughter. </p> <p>The couple conceived their first baby, Poppy Grace, through a <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/health/caring/mkr-stars-open-up-about-devastating-ivf-loss" target="_blank" rel="noopener">gruelling IVF journey</a>, before Poppy tragically passed away from a rare form of cancer just four months before her second birthday. </p> <p>Now, the women are continuing to fight for their perfect family and are undergoing another round of IVF. </p> <p>However, Carly and Tresna have suffered a miscarriage just weeks into the pregnancy. </p> <p>The couple shared their heartbreaking news on Instagram to update their fans who were following along with their IVF journey, saying they are "devastated". </p> <p>“Sadly, we know that miscarriage occurs in one in four pregnancies. It certainly doesn’t make living through one any easier,” Tresna wrote on the pair’s joint Instagram account on Wednesday.</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-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/CvKM1fko_jQ/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/CvKM1fko_jQ/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Carly Tresne (@carlyandtresne)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“We had started to heal, we did a variety of health scans, we were fit and well and we felt as if Poppy was guiding us towards growing our family,” the post continued.</p> <p>“So we began the (IVF) process in May and on POPPY’S 2nd BIRTHDAY we found out Carly was pregnant."</p> <p>“We were over the moon and felt it was a good sign that we found out on such a special day.”</p> <p>Tresna said that it had “taken a minute to gain the strength to share where we are at”.</p> <p>“At the 11 week scan we failed to find the baby’s heartbeat. Watching the ultrasound machine scanning over Carly’s belly, frantically looking for a heartbeat was devastating,” she added.</p> <p>“Carly underwent a curette under anaesthetic in hospital on Monday. I was also going though IVF at the same time. My cycle was cancelled the same day due to my eggs being too large to be able to collect."</p> <p>“But even though we have had this set back, we will push though and continue to rise up for our precious Poppy Grace."</p> <p>“We hope that one day, our daydream of a family will come true, that Poppy will have siblings and we will feel the unconditional love of children again."</p> <p>“If this is your story too, we hope that your dream of a family will soon come true also.”</p> <p>The post was flooded with messages of condolences from their fans, while many offered messages of support for their future family. </p> <p>One person wrote, "Oh gosh, this is just so devastating to read guys. I’m so very sorry. How can life be so beautiful one minute and so unfair the next?! Wishing with everything that I’ve got that your little baby (or babies) of your dreams, are safely in your arms soon, and stay there for years to come. No couple deserves this more."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram </em></p>

Caring

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"Not my King": Second coronation marred by protestors

<p>King Charles has celebrated his coronation a second time during a ceremony in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, just two months after being crowned King in London. </p> <p>The monarch was joined by Queen Camilla, and Prince and Princess of Wales, who are known as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland, for a Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication held in his honour. </p> <p>During the service inside St Giles Cathedral, the monarch was presented with the symbols of his authority in Scotland – the Crown, the Sceptre and the Sword of State.</p> <p>The new Elizabeth Sword, named in honour of the late monarch, was commissioned to replace the previous Sword of State as it had become too fragile, having been given to James IV by Pope Julius in 1507.</p> <p>The sword was carried into the cathedral by Olympic rower Dame Katherine Grainger.</p> <p>Despite the grand and emotional service, the ceremony was slightly marred by anti-monarch protestors outside.</p> <p>The protestors stood chanting "not my King" for hours on end so loudly, that the voices could be heard from inside the church during the quieter moments of the ceremony. </p> <p>Four protestors were later arrested for their disruption. </p> <p>Prior to the ceremony, Grant McKenzie from the Republic anti-monarchy pressure group, told the BBC's <em>Good Morning Scotland</em> programme that his group would be vocal at the event.</p> <p>"It's being forced upon us," McKenzie said. "We've got an unprecedented cost of living crisis. I don't think the public in the UK are particularly interested in their tax payer money being put towards a parade up and down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh - it's tone deaf.</p> <p>"Of course people are going to be able to enjoy it if that's what they want to do. Protests by their very nature are disruptive, we will be making ourselves visible and heard."</p> <p>The King and Queen didn't let the demonstrators get in the way of the proceedings, which was strengthened by the thousands of crowds who lined the streets of Edinburgh in support of the royal family. </p> <p>The tradition of a second coronation taking place in Scotland dates back over 400 years, with the late Queen Elizabeth also celebrating the event just weeks after her coronation in 1953. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Australian researchers confirm world’s first case of dementia linked to repetitive brain trauma in a female athlete

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stephen-townsend-501829">Stephen Townsend</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alan-pearce-734804">Alan Pearce</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-olive-944640">Rebecca Olive</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p>Researchers at the <a href="https://www.brainbank.org.au/">Australian Sports Brain Bank</a> have today reported the world’s first diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in a <a href="https://rdcu.be/dfQiz">female athlete</a>.</p> <p>With the consent of her family, the diagnosis was made on the brain of Heather Anderson, a 28-year-old AFLW athlete <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-14/adelaide-aflw-premiership-player-heather-anderson-dies-aged-28/101653188">who died</a> last November. Heather’s family donated her brain to the Australian Sports Brain Bank hoping to better understand why she died.</p> <p>The findings, which Professor Alan Pearce co-authored with the Australian Sports Brain Bank, raise questions about how a lifetime of contact sport may have contributed to her death. They come as Australia’s <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Headtraumainsport">Senate inquiry</a> works on its report into concussions and repeated head trauma in contact sport, due in August.</p> <p>Given how hard women have fought to participate in football codes and contact sports in recent years, this diagnosis has major implications for women’s sport in Australia. It also highlights the significant lack of research about women athletes in sport science and medicine.</p> <h2>What is chronic traumatic encephalopathy?</h2> <p><a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20370921">CTE</a> is a devastating form of dementia which causes a decline in brain functioning and increased risk of mental illness. It is increasingly associated with athletes who play contact sports, such as football, boxing and martial arts.</p> <p>It is incurable and can only be <a href="https://www.brainbank.org.au/cte-diagnosis/">diagnosed post-mortem</a>. Recently, a number of high-profile former Australian footballers were found to have been suffering from CTE when they died, including former AFL stars <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-04-26/danny-frawley-family-urges-afl-to-act-on-cte-concussion/102269648">Danny Frawley</a> and <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-08-25/brain-disease-killed-shane-tuck-not-mental-health-says-sister/101362740">Shane Tuck</a>, and former NRL player and coach <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-10-22/qld-paul-green-brain-scans-reveal-brain-disease-cte-diagnosis/101566032">Paul Green</a>.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Adelaide AFLW premiership player Heather Anderson dies aged 28 <a href="https://t.co/ihy2i9UcRl">https://t.co/ihy2i9UcRl</a></p> <p>— ABC News (@abcnews) <a href="https://twitter.com/abcnews/status/1592079585201381377?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 14, 2022</a></p></blockquote> <p>Concussions in contact sports have long been associated with long-term neurodegeneration in <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fspor.2021.676463/full">Australia</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3987576/">internationally</a>. While the public and researchers are rightly concerned about serious concussions, a study published last month in <a href="https://urldefense.com/v3/__https:/www.nature.com/articles/s41467-023-39183-0__;!!PDiH4ENfjr2_Jw!FvAmUDcX-ESwwl8nG_BNNkRyB2J4TBq1oXkBTE1bBcdRGEQTl4u7qmgGsLguHpGNlFpWkz-SjKg3HGwdNYxIfEWW9U6ifytx%24">Nature Communications</a> confirmed that repetitive brain trauma over time – even seemingly mild head knocks or whiplash – is the strongest predictor for an athlete developing CTE. Athletes with long careers in contact sport are at particular risk, especially if they play from an early age.</p> <h2>A sporting life</h2> <p>Heather Anderson began playing rugby league at age five before transferring to Australian rules football in her early teens. She played representative football in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory before being drafted into the inaugural season of the AFLW in 2017.</p> <p>Anderson played a single season with the <a href="https://crowshistory.afc.com.au/aflw-players/heather-anderson#:%7E:text=Biography&amp;text=An%20army%20medic%2C%20Heather%20Anderson,year%20and%20starred%20for%20Waratah.">Adelaide Crows</a>, during which she won a premiership and suffered a career-ending shoulder injury. She then returned to her role as a medic with the Australian Army, a physical career which also carries a <a href="https://www.defence.gov.au/adf-members-families/health-well-being/programs-initiatives/military-health-outcomes-program">heightened risk of brain injury</a>.</p> <p>Anderson’s family donated her brain in the hope of knowing whether a lifetime of exposure to repetitive head trauma contributed to her death.</p> <h2>Was this diagnosis expected?</h2> <p>Concussion researcher Anne McKee predicted earlier this year it was a <a href="https://www.1news.co.nz/2023/02/20/its-coming-experts-worried-about-female-athlete-brain-injuries/">matter of time</a> before CTE was found in the brain of a woman athlete.</p> <p>The Australian Sports Brain Bank team believe Anderson is a “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK564388/">sentinel case</a>” we can learn from. She is the first female athlete diagnosed with CTE, but she will not be the last.</p> <p>Although Australian women have historically been excluded from the sports most associated with repeated head injuries, this is changing. In 2022, there were almost one million women and girls playing some form of <a href="https://www.clearinghouseforsport.gov.au/kb/women-in-sport">contact sport</a> in Australia. As women’s participation in contact sport continues to grow, so too does their risk of repetitive brain trauma.</p> <h2>Are women more prone to CTE than men?</h2> <p>There is emerging evidence that women are at significantly higher risk of mild traumatic brain injury (concussion) and may suffer more severe symptoms.</p> <p>Concussion alone does not cause CTE, but an athlete’s number of concussions is a reliable indicator of their cumulative exposure to brain trauma, which is the biggest predictor of CTE.</p> <p>While knowledge on the topic is still developing, researchers <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02089-2">propose a mix of physiological and social explanations</a> for women’s increased concussion risk. These include "[…] differences in the microstructure of the brain to the influence of hormones, coaching regimes, players’ level of experience and the management of injuries."</p> <p>More research is needed to understand sporting brain injuries specifically in women and girls. Given their growth in participation and the enhanced risks they face in sport, it is concerning that women and girls are <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/56/17/981">underrepresented</a> in concussion research.</p> <p>This is representative of a <a href="https://journals-humankinetics-com.ap1.proxy.openathens.net/view/journals/wspaj/29/2/article-p146.xml">broader trend</a> in sport and exercise science research to exclude women from studies because their bodies are perceived as <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-021-01435-8">more complex</a> than men’s and thus more difficult to accommodate in testing.</p> <h2>A disease that does not discriminate</h2> <p>This world-first report of CTE in a female athlete is proof the disease does not discriminate and lends urgency to calls for <a href="https://theconversation.com/sports-concussions-affect-men-and-women-differently-female-athletes-need-more-attention-in-brain-research-160097">greater representation</a> of women in brain injury studies.</p> <p>Efforts to reduce concussion in women’s sport must first address resource inequalities between men’s and women’s sport. This includes giving women access to quality training and coaching support, as well as <a href="https://theconversation.com/new-study-much-of-what-were-told-about-gym-exercises-and-resistance-training-is-from-studies-of-males-by-men-205753">greater attention</a> from sport science and medical research.</p> <p>The health of <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14443058.2019.1575262">women athletes and women’s sport</a> will only progress if researchers, policymakers and sport governance bodies ensure the attention and resources required to address concussion and brain disease are not focused solely on men.</p> <hr /> <p><em>If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call <a href="https://www.lifeline.org.au/">Lifeline</a> on 13 11 14.<!-- 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/208929/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 --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stephen-townsend-501829">Stephen Townsend</a>, Lecturer, School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alan-pearce-734804">Alan Pearce</a>, Professor, College of Science, Health, Engineering, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-olive-944640">Rebecca Olive</a>, Vice Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT 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/australian-researchers-confirm-worlds-first-case-of-dementia-linked-to-repetitive-brain-trauma-in-a-female-athlete-208929">original article</a>.</em></p>

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