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Judge finds Bruce Lehrmann raped Brittany Higgins and dismisses Network 10 defamation case. How did it play out?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brendan-clift-715691">Brendan Clift</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>Bruce Lehrmann has lost his defamation suit against Channel Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson after the media defendants proved, on the balance of probabilities, that Lehrmann raped his colleague Brittany Higgins in Parliament House in 2019.</p> <p>After a trial lasting around a month, Federal Court Justice Michael Lee – an experienced defamation judge – concluded that both Lehrmann and Higgins had credibility issues, but ultimately <a href="https://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/single/2024/2024fca0369">he was persuaded</a> that Lehrmann raped Higgins, as she’d alleged and he’d denied.</p> <h2>Criminal trials by proxy</h2> <p>Ordinarily, charges like rape would be resolved through the criminal courts, but Lehrmann’s criminal trial was <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-10-27/jury-discharged-in-trial-of-bruce-lehrmann-brittany-higgins/101583486">aborted</a> in October 2022 after juror misconduct. The charges against him were soon <a href="https://www.news.com.au/national/nsw-act/courts-law/bruce-lehrmann-sexual-assault-charge-dropped-dpp-confirms/news-story/3f82dd388d2cfa38680f7d4f4ceb1c5e">dropped</a>, nominally over concerns for Higgins’ mental health.</p> <p>Higgins, however, foresaw civil proceedings and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/dec/05/brittany-higgins-volunteered-to-be-defamation-trial-witness-as-she-would-not-let-rapist-become-a-millionaire-ntwnfb">offered to testify</a> should they arise. That they did, as Lehrmann, free from the burden of any proven crime, sued several media outlets for defamation over their reporting into the allegations (<a href="https://www.fedcourt.gov.au/services/access-to-files-and-transcripts/online-files/lehrmann">the ABC</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/dec/06/abc-agrees-to-pay-bruce-lehrmann-150000-to-settle-defamation-claim-court-documents-reveal">News Corp</a> both settled out of court).</p> <p><iframe class="flourish-embed-iframe" style="width: 100%; height: 550px;" title="Interactive or visual content" src="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/17195035/embed" width="100%" height="400" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" sandbox="allow-same-origin allow-forms allow-scripts allow-downloads allow-popups allow-popups-to-escape-sandbox allow-top-navigation-by-user-activation"></iframe></p> <div style="width: 100%!; margin-top: 4px!important; text-align: right!important;"><a class="flourish-credit" href="https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/17195035/?utm_source=embed&amp;utm_campaign=visualisation/17195035" target="_top"><img src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/made_with_flourish.svg" alt="Made with Flourish" /></a></div> <p>Like Ben Roberts-Smith’s <a href="https://theconversation.com/dismissed-legal-experts-explain-the-judgment-in-the-ben-roberts-smith-defamation-case-191503">recent defamation suit</a> against the former Fairfax papers, this became another case of civil proceedings testing grave allegations in the absence of a criminal law outcome.</p> <p>The form of proceedings made for some key differences with the aborted criminal trial. In criminal cases, prosecutors are ethically bound to act with moderation in pursuing a conviction, which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, while defendants have the right to silence. By contrast, this trial featured detailed accounts from both sides as each sought to convince, in essence, that their contentions were likely to be correct.</p> <p>Also like the Roberts-Smith case, live streaming of the trial generated very high levels of public engagement. Today’s stream reached audiences of more than 45,000 people. It gave us the chance to assess who and what we believe, and to scrutinise the parties’ claims and the media’s reporting. The Federal Court doesn’t have juries, but we, the public, acted as a de facto panel of peers.</p> <p>We saw accusations and denials, revealing <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-12-23/bruce-lehrmann-defamation-trial-network-ten-lisa-wilkinson-ends/103260752">cross-examination</a> of the protagonists, witness testimony from colleagues, CCTV footage from nightclubs to Parliament House complete with lip-reading, expert testimony on alcohol consumption and consent, and lawyers constructing timelines which supported or poked holes in competing versions of events.</p> <p>The complexity of high-stakes legal proceedings was on display, with Justice Lee issuing many interim decisions on questions of procedure and evidence. Whenever transparency was at stake, it won.</p> <p>The preference for full disclosure led to the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/law/2024/apr/02/bruce-lehrmann-defamation-trial-network-10-fresh-evidence-bid-lisa-wilkinson-brittany-higgins-delay-ntwnfb">case being re-opened</a> at the eleventh hour to call former Channel 7 producer Taylor Auerbach as a witness, providing a denouement that the judge called “sordid”, but which had little relevance to the final result.</p> <h2>An argument over the truth</h2> <p>Lehrmann had the burden of proving that the defendants published matter harmful to his reputation. That matter was Wilkinson’s interview with Higgins on Channel Ten’s The Project in which the allegations were made.</p> <p>A statement is only defamatory if it’s untrue, but in Australian law, the publisher bears the burden of proving truth, should they opt for that defence. And more serious allegations usually require more compelling proof, as the law views them as inherently more unlikely.</p> <p>This can be onerous for a defamation defendant, but it also involves risk for the plaintiff, should the defendant embark on an odyssey of truth-telling yet more damaging to the plaintiff’s image. That happened to <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-65717684">Ben Roberts-Smith</a> and it happened to Lehrmann here.</p> <p>On the other hand, if the media hasn’t done their homework, as in <a href="https://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/single/2023/2023fca1223">Heston Russell’s case</a> against the ABC (also presided over by Justice Lee), the complainant can be vindicated.</p> <p>This case was a manifestation of Lehrmann’s professed desire to “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/oct/26/how-bruce-lehrmanns-media-interviews-cost-him-his-anonymity-in-toowoomba-case">light some fires</a>”. Few players in this extended saga have emerged without scars, and here he burned his own fingers, badly.</p> <p>As Justice Lee put it, Lehrmann, “having escaped the lion’s den [of criminal prosecution], made the mistake of coming back to get his hat”.</p> <h2>How was the case decided?</h2> <p>Lehrmann denied having sex with Higgins, whereas Higgins alleged there had been non-consensual sex. The defamatory nature of the publication centred on the claim of rape, so that was what the media defendants sought to prove.</p> <p>This left open the curious possibility that consensual sex might have taken place: if so, Lehrmann would have brought his case on a false premise (there had been no sex), but the media would have failed to defend it (by not proving a lack of consent), resulting in a Lehrmann win.</p> <p>That awkward scenario did not arise. The court found sex did in fact take place, Higgins in her heavily-inebriated and barely-conscious state did not give consent, and Lehrmann was so intent on his gratification that he ignored the requirement of consent.</p> <p>Justice Lee found Lehrmann to be a persistent, self-interested liar, whereas Higgin’s credibility issues were of lesser degree, some symptomatic of a person piecing together a part-remembered trauma. The judge drew strongly on the evidence of certain neutral parties who could testify to incidents or words spoken in close proximity to the events.</p> <h2>Defamation laws favour the aggrieved</h2> <p>Australian defamation law has historically favoured plaintiffs and, despite recent <a href="https://www.ruleoflaw.org.au/civil/defamation/2021-law-reform/">rebalancing attempts</a>, it remains a favoured legal weapon for those with the resources to use it.</p> <p>This includes our political class, who sue their critics for defamation with unhealthy frequency for a democracy. In the United States, public figures don’t have it so easy: to win they must prove their critics were lying.</p> <p>In Australia, the media sometimes succeeds in proving truth, but contesting defamation proceedings comes at great financial cost and takes an emotional toll on the journalists involved.</p> <p>Nor can a true claim always be proven to a court’s satisfaction, given the rules of evidence and the fact that sources may be reluctant to testify or protected by a reporter’s guarantee of confidentiality.</p> <p>But this case demonstrates that publishers with an appetite for the legal fight can come out on top.<!-- 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/225891/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/brendan-clift-715691"><em>Brendan Clift</em></a><em>, Lecturer of law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</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/judge-finds-bruce-lehrmann-raped-brittany-higgins-and-dismisses-network-10-defamation-case-how-did-it-play-out-225891">original article</a>.</em></p>

Legal

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Sydneysiders witnessed horrific scenes on Saturday. How do you process and recover from such an event?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kim-felmingham-9075">Kim Felmingham</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>Like many, I watched the reports of the violent attack at Bondi Junction yesterday with shock, horror and disbelief. My heart goes out to the people involved, the courageous first responders and to those who have lost loved ones in this tragic event.</p> <p>I also feel for those who witnessed the horror and will be working out how to get through the initial shock and, over time, put it behind them.</p> <p>Distress and strong emotional reactions are <a href="https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/en/publications/the-psychological-and-psychiatric-effects-of-terrorism-lessons-fr">common</a> after these types of mass violent events.</p> <p>But different people will have <a href="https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/types/mass_violence_help.asp">different emotional reactions</a> – and some may experience a range of shifting emotions.</p> <h2>The first few days and weeks</h2> <p>In the days and weeks after traumatic events like these, people <a href="https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/isitptsd/common_reactions.asp#:%7E:text=All%20kinds%20of%20trauma%20create,stop%20thinking%20about%20what%20happened.">often experience</a> a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306457320308670">range of emotions</a>: from fear and anxiety, anger, sadness and grief, disbelief and numbness, guilt and worry about safety. They may be jittery, more irritable or on edge, or it may affect their sleep.</p> <p>For many, their sense of risk may be heightened, particularly as such random violence occurred during such an ordinary event – shopping on a Saturday afternoon. This <a href="https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/types/mass_violence_help.asp">can lead to</a> a heightened awareness of danger and concern for safety.</p> <h2>What’s likely to happen over time?</h2> <p>For most people, as they begin to process and make sense of what happened, these feelings will gradually reduce in intensity and people will begin to recover. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25311288/">Research shows</a> the majority of people recover from mass violent events within the initial few months.</p> <p>However, for people with more direct exposure to the trauma, these events and reactions may be more difficult to process. Some people <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26084284/">may go on</a> to develop mental health difficulties, most commonly anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).</p> <p>Understandably, those <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26084284/">more at risk</a> are people who were present during the trauma and experienced a direct threat, as well as those who witnessed the violence or aftermath, first responders (paramedics and police) and those who had loved ones injured or lost during the event.</p> <p>People who had more intense emotional responses during the trauma, or previous psychological difficulties or traumatic experiences, may also be <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26084284/">at greater risk</a>.</p> <h2>What helps – and hinders – your recovery?</h2> <p>To help process these traumatic events and promote recovery, social support is <a href="https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/types/mass_violence_help.asp">particularly important</a>.</p> <p>Spending time with trusted family and friends can help people process the events and their emotional reactions. Talking about your feelings with supportive people can help you understand and accept them. But even if you don’t want to talk about your feelings, spending time with loved ones is helpful.</p> <p>It is also fine to need some time to be alone, but try not to isolate yourself or withdraw.</p> <p>If you can’t talk about your feelings, try not to bottle them up or deal with them by using alcohol or drugs. Find <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7957853/">another way to express them</a> – whether through writing, art or music, or exercise.</p> <p>Give yourself permission and time to feel these emotions. Remind yourself you have just been through something extremely traumatic, take things day by day, and don’t expect too much of yourself. Try not to judge yourself for your actions or how you are coping.</p> <p>Keep some structure in your day, setting small goals, and increase your self-care: eat well, rest (even if you can’t sleep well), try yoga or relaxation. When you’re ready, try to get back to your normal routine.</p> <p>Seek out information from <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7957853/">trusted sources</a>, but try to <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0886260517742915">avoid</a> being saturated by images or stories about the trauma, particularly graphic footage or speculation common on social media.</p> <h2>What if children have witnessed it, too?</h2> <p>If your children have been impacted, reassure them that they are safe and loved. When they are ready, talk to them gently about the trauma, acknowledge it and answer their questions.</p> <p>Encourage them to express their feelings and spend more time together doing family activities.</p> <p>Importantly, try to limit their exposure to graphic footage and images of the events in the media, and on social media.</p> <h2>When to seek mental health care</h2> <p>Reach out for professional mental health support if you experience ongoing difficulty with your emotional reactions, or if you’re having distressing memories of the trauma, difficulty sleeping or nightmares, or you want to avoid things that remind you of the traumatic event.</p> <p>Not everyone requires professional mental health support, but if you are experiencing these types of post-traumatic stress reactions a few weeks after the trauma, it’s important to speak to your GP to seek out professional support from psychologists or counselling services.</p> <p><em>If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/227867/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/kim-felmingham-9075">Kim Felmingham</a>, Chair of Clinical Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</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/sydneysiders-witnessed-horrific-scenes-on-saturday-how-do-you-process-and-recover-from-such-an-event-227867">original article</a>.</em></p>

Caring

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Flight attendant reveals how to score a free upgrade

<p dir="ltr">A flight attendant has shared her number one trick for securing an upgrade on your next plane journey. </p> <p dir="ltr">American flight attendant Cierra Mistt revealed the one question you should ask at check-in to score an upgrade to first class, with the hack working almost every time.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mistt started her now-viral video by saying her hack to get a free upgrade was top secret. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Let’s look at the big picture. Everyone is flying right now, and no one is more excited about that than commercial airlines,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The majority of airlines are overbooking every single flight they have.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“It comes from the last month of me trying to get home and not even being able to get on standby because every single flight has been oversold,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I am not talking about one or two seats. I am talking about 10-30 seats that have been oversold.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Mistt said this overselling of flights presents an opportunity to travellers.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If everyone does show up, including the extra passengers that were oversold their tickets, the airlines have no choice but to financially compensate,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">The flight attendant shared that airlines “normally start off with vouchers for $500 or something”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Normally they say a voucher but you can ask for it in cash,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Depending on the flight and how desperate they are, they will go up to, like three, four, five thousand dollars.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“This is where the free upgrades come in.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Mistt said not only could you ask for a free upgrade in such circumstances, but you could “also ask for other incentives”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“For example, drinks, dinners, breakfast, even a hotel if you have to stay overnight until the next flight,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“And, yes, you can also ask to be upgraded to first class.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Her video received more than a million views, with people praising the hack and sharing how it has worked for them. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I got upgraded to first class by doing this,” said one person. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: TikTok / Getty Images </em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Tips

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How music is changing the way dementia patients think

<p dir="ltr">New research has proven that music truly is the universal language, with experts discovering how the power of music is helping those suffering with dementia. </p> <p dir="ltr">Music therapists have shown that music brings dementia patients back to the present, with some even finding their voice thanks to the nostalgic memories of the past. </p> <p dir="ltr">According to Registered Music Therapist and Managing Director of music therapy company Music Beat, Dr Vicky Abad, the power of music is not to be overlooked when it comes to degenerative diseases.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Music is a window into people’s pasts,” she said. “It builds on strengths and abilities against a disease that can strip a person of their dignity, abilities and quality of life.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The team at <a href="https://www.tricare.com.au/">TriCare Aged Care and Retirement</a>, who see the devastating impact of dementia each and every day,  also experience first-hand the impact music has on residents, with many noticing “unrecognisable” changes in personality when a nostalgic tune is played.</p> <p dir="ltr">Louis Rose, an 80-year-old dementia patient and TriCare resident, was diagnosed with dementia six years ago, and requires assistance with many aspects of day to day life. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, listening to music is one thing he can enjoy on his own.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I grew up in Mauritius and while we didn’t have a lot, we certainly had music. Listening to music has always been an escape for me and a way to relax,” Mr Rose said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When your brain starts to slow down and you find yourself forgetting things, it can be quite frustrating and confusing. Listening to music has been a way to distract myself from what’s going on in my head, it has helped me so much.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Tamsin Sutherland is a regular live music performer at TriCare facilities across Queensland, and has been able to witness incredible moments with the residents as they come alive as soon as she starts to play. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Watching residents who are often non-verbal sing along to the words is incredible,” she said “It really is like they are coming back to life and reconnecting with who they once were. To be part of that is quite emotional for me.”</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Dr Abad, music can help prevent the restless behaviour that often leads to pacing and wandering, especially in the evenings, which are often difficult times for those battling the disease. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Sundowning usually occurs in the late afternoon as dusk approaches, a time that is also associated with what used to be a busy time period in people’s lives,” she noted. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Personalised music is a simple and effective tool to help residents feel validated in their emotions during this time and provides them an opportunity to experience a calmer state of mind”.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Mind

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How much sport will you be able to watch for free under proposed new Australian broadcast rules?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-fujak-290599">Hunter Fujak</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-rowe-16403">David Rowe</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a></em></p> <p>Watching sport on television and other screens is integral to the <a href="https://researchdirect.westernsydney.edu.au/islandora/object/uws%3A57259">cultural lives of many Australians</a>.</p> <p>This is why, in 1995, the anti-siphoning scheme was introduced to ensure sport “<a href="http://www.tandfebooks.com/isbn/9780203758397">events of national importance and cultural significance</a>” would not be captured exclusively by pay TV at the expense of free-to-air coverage.</p> <p>There have been enormous <a href="https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9780429402265-5/television-tony-bennett-modesto-gayo-david-rowe-graeme-turner">changes in television</a> since and this analogue-era legislation is increasingly out of step with the modern digital media landscape.</p> <p>Critically, under current definitions, streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon fall outside a scheme restricting subscription broadcasters like Foxtel.</p> <p>The federal government <a href="https://anthonyalbanese.com.au/media-centre/labor-will-support-local-tv-free-sport-in-the-streaming-age">promised</a> before its election in 2022 to review the anti-siphoning scheme. Its subsequent <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r7132">Communications Legislation Amendment (Prominence and Anti-siphoning) Bill 2023</a> is designed to close the “<a href="https://theconversation.com/streaming-platforms-will-soon-be-required-to-invest-more-in-australian-tv-and-films-which-could-be-good-news-for-our-screen-sector-198757">regulatory gap</a>” that has emerged within media law since Netflix’s launch in Australia in 2015.</p> <p>The Senate referred the bill to its Environment and Communications Legislation Committee. Its report has just been released and will help shape Australians’ access to sport media content.</p> <h2>The importance of prominence</h2> <p>“Prominence” refers to the discoverability of individual media applications, such as Netflix or 9Now, on the user homepage of smart televisions.</p> <p>The federal government is troubled by overseas services like YouTube and Amazon being immediately visible on smart televisions through commercial licensing agreements, effectively “burying” Australian free-to-air TV.</p> <p>Public service broadcaster SBS, for example, <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/anti-siphoning-prominence-laws-australia-free-to-air-tv-channels/87bc8ddd-4120-4542-864e-2c84a781411e">claimed</a> during Senate hearings that one television manufacturer demanded both a placement fee and a 15% share of revenue to feature on the television’s homepage.</p> <p>Prominence is crucial in sport because anti-siphoning legislation is based on the principle that, although in <a href="https://www.thenewdaily.com.au/finance/finance-news/2023/03/06/tv-habits-australia">general decline</a>, free-to-air TV is still the most effective, <a href="https://accan.org.au/files/Reports/ACCAN%20Research%20Snapshot%20How%20Australians%20Watch%20TV.pdf">low-cost, readily-accessed</a> vehicle for delivering premium sport to a majority of Australian households.</p> <h2>Anti-siphoning</h2> <p>While often criticised by <a href="https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/have-your-say/anti-siphoning-scheme-review">subscription media companies and many sports</a> as anti-competitive, anti-siphoning legislation is significantly responsible for the continued abundance of free major sport on our televisions.</p> <p>In a portent of the risks ahead, <a href="https://www.cricket.com.au/news/3807634/amazon-prime-video-secures-icc-broadcast-rights-in-australia-t20-odi-world-cup-world-test-championship-2024-27">International Cricket Council</a> World Cups will disappear from free-to-air television between 2024 and 2027, after the world governing body signed an exclusive four-year deal with streaming platform Amazon.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/sport/afl/afl-boss-flies-to-us-for-talks-with-media-companies-20220425-p5ag16.html">AFL</a> also reportedly met Amazon in 2022 as part of its media rights negotiations.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/regardless-of-the-rules-sport-is-fleeing-free-tv-for-pay-and-it-might-be-an-avalanche-154640">Loopholes</a> in the scheme are also being increasingly exploited. This problem was exposed in 2018 when <a href="https://www.cricket.com.au/news/3296093/tvs-antisiphon-list-and-cricket-explained">Australian one-day international cricket matches</a> went behind a paywall, despite being listed as free-to-air events.</p> <p>As <a href="https://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/streaming/nrl-calls-for-technologically-neutral-overhaul-to-sport-broadcasting/news-story/31fc06ab986e12c7e6f720df33d23ad1">Foxtel</a> told the Senate hearing, both Nine (Stan) and Ten (Paramount+) are now hybrid networks, able to move acquired sports from free-to-air broadcast to behind a streaming paywall.</p> <p>At present, free-to-air networks cannot be compelled to acquire the rights to any sport, broadcast them if they do, or refrain from on-selling them to a pay platform.</p> <h2>What are the implications for sport and other viewers?</h2> <p>The majority Senate report broadly supported the federal government’s existing <a href="https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/rowland/media-release/exposure-draft-prominence-regulations-released">exposure draft</a>.</p> <p>Regarding prominence, this means free-to-air channel “tiles” will be highly visible when you turn on a new smart TV. A 12-month phased implementation of a prominence framework was recommended by the committee – and would only apply to new televisions.</p> <p>The committee also broadly accepted the draft bill’s anti-siphoning provisions, which will affect what and where sport is viewed by fans.</p> <p>First, the listed events will be expanded by 30% and incorporate more women’s and parasports. They include the AFLW and NRLW finals, NRLW State of Origin, and the Summer Paralympic Games.</p> <p>To provide counterbalancing benefits to subscription broadcasters, sport events not acquired by a free-to-air broadcaster will become more quickly available to subscription platforms (12 months before an event starts, rather than six months before). This provides subscription platforms with greater lead-in times to plan, organise and promote their content schedules.</p> <p>The most controversial recommendation related to the scope of anti-siphoning laws, affecting how Australian viewers can access sport in the medium term.</p> <p>It supported the government’s position, on grounds of excessive competitive advantage, that anti-siphoning should only apply to terrestrial broadcasting. This excludes digital rights for live streaming through broadcast video on demand apps such as 9Now, Seven+, iView and SBS On Demand.</p> <p>Commercial free-to-air broadcasters called this a “<a href="https://www.mediaweek.com.au/industry-reacts-to-prominence-and-anti-siphoning-findings/">nightmare scenario</a>”, as they <a href="https://www.freetv.com.au/access-to-local-tv-services-and-free-sport-under-threat-unless-laws-are-strengthened/">estimate</a> 50% of households will be watching TV online by 2027.</p> <p>For viewers without televisions connected to aerials, this could make major sport events on free-to-air TV unavailable. Although terrestrial TV is still the most <a href="https://intellectdiscover.com/content/journals/10.1386/jdmp_00098_1">universally available screen sport vehicle</a>, aerials are no longer routinely installed in new housing developments.</p> <p>Research by the <a href="https://www.acma.gov.au/television-research">Australian Communications and Media Authority</a>, though, indicates that free-to-air network claims about disappearing TV aerials are somewhat exaggerated. Nonetheless, as modernisation was a central justification for the anti-siphoning reforms, the strategic compromise over broadcast video on demand apps will inevitably be scrutinised.</p> <p>Notably, in a dissenting minority report, the Greens were unhappy the bill did not go far enough in either prominence or anti-siphoning. They reserved their right to reject it unless suitably amended to guarantee global corporations could not capture Australian sports rights.</p> <h2>What happens next?</h2> <p>The amended bill must pass through Parliament to become law, and its final shape and the fate of any amendments are as yet unknown.</p> <p>While it is widely, though not universally, acknowledged action is needed to protect free screen sport viewing, intense disagreement remains among competing interest groups over what is to be done now and in the future.</p> <p>To safeguard their viewing interests, Australian sport fans will need to watch these formidably technical debates as closely as their favourite sport contests.<!-- 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/226499/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/hunter-fujak-290599">Hunter Fujak</a>, Senior Lecturer in Sport Management, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-rowe-16403">David Rowe</a>, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Research, Institute for Culture and Society, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney 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/how-much-sport-will-you-be-able-to-watch-for-free-under-proposed-new-australian-broadcast-rules-226499">original article</a>.</em></p>

TV

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Selfies and social media: how tourists indulge their influencer fantasies

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brendan-canavan-228682">Brendan Canavan</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-nottingham-1192">University of Nottingham</a></em></p> <p>A town in the US state of Vermont <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/vermont-town-banning-influencers-tourists-visiting-fall-foliage-rcna117413">closed its roads to tourists</a> in September 2023 after a social media tag sparked a swarm of visitors that overwhelmed the rural destination.</p> <p>Videos on TikTok were seen by thousands and the hashtag #sleepyhollowfarm went viral, prompting a tourist rush to the pretty New England town of Pomfret, where visitors tried to take photos of themselves against the countryside backdrop. The town, famous for its fall foliage, criticised this as problematic and “influencer tourism”, part of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160738320300426">a travel trend</a> where a social media phenomenon can spark an overwhelming and unexpected rise in visitor numbers.</p> <p><a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0002764292036002005?casa_token=gQo4-8jeYdIAAAAA:Oq3Nf5gTtAFK7N00D1NgPO7_zl9ONlOEnzFZnojX6fX1nKXQWJZ4ERn52MlV3abn4fDN4_C4hJjq">Traditionally</a>, we think of tourists as travelling to gain new experiences. They look at sites, take photographs and collect souvenirs. However, this relationship between the tourist and touring is changing.</p> <p>Driven by <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/how-instagram-changed-the-tourism-industry/a-65348690">24-hour access to social media</a>, some tourists now travel primarily to have an experience that <a href="https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/travel/discover/get-inspired/Global-Travel-Trends">looks good online</a>. Around 75% of people in a recent American Express survey said they had been inspired to visit somewhere by social media. Some tourists may be prompted to choose a destination by seeing a <a href="https://www.elle.com/culture/travel-food/a27561982/best-instagram-spots/">backdrop that is popular on social media or on television</a>, in order to create a high-status photo.</p> <p>The expansion of social media and ubiquity of smartphone cameras has had a <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/13/13/7312">major impact on tourists’ behaviour</a>. This has also led to what’s been called a <a href="https://www.traveldailynews.com/column/articles/who-are-the-selfie-gaze-tourists/">selfie “tourist gaze”</a>, creating photos where the traveller is at the forefront of images rather than the destination.</p> <p>Indeed, according to my research, increasingly, some tourists go somewhere <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160738320300426">to be spotted</a> – to be observed by others both online and in person at these destinations.</p> <h2>Looking for drama</h2> <p>Studies have highlighted how tourists <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261517715300388?casa_token=W51WkDKJSK8AAAAA:DG99dEWkyYKWIe6hNcLXR4KRApXV24QksHIzrRNcjVY3FngukDgIv9HLHG4o3NV4rqNJtdet">head for</a> particularly dramatic or luxurious destinations because of their social media links. Dubai, for example, with its bling culture and high-end shopping, has become a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/17/in-this-world-social-media-is-everything-how-dubai-became-the-planets-influencer-capital">playground for influencers</a> looking for a luxury backdrop to add to their celebrity-style image.</p> <p>Some tourists aim to photograph themselves in prestigious locations, rather than taking shots of their <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/13567667221113079?casa_token=xbdUjWECQvMAAAAA:mc4rqleOqgjazW9DAYduW7LaPTu4KEw1DIfbPbWF0vl0efwNPC_GQ0U-HjltguwsIsCoO4ycXgyW7Q">travel surroundings</a>. Others choose to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160738320300426">act like mini-celebrities</a> and perform for the camera, expecting and wanting to be looked at by those they encounter – or even narrating their participation in extreme events.</p> <p>One of these is the <a href="https://www.theadventurists.com/rickshaw-run/">Rickshaw Run</a>, a 2,000km race across India. This adventure tourism event encourages participants to dress up, act eccentrically and get noticed. Driving tuk-tuks around India, from Kerala to Darjeeling, vehicles are personalised with eye-catching designs. Many participants film themselves and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2p3wd0ii2oQ">upload the results</a> to social media, and the events tend to create a significant following. For instance, this YouTube video series created by Rickshaw Run participants drew 3.6m subscribers:</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2p3wd0ii2oQ?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Taking part in the Rickshaw Run.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>However, some of these tourist “performances” can cause controversy. For instance, <a href="https://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/mexico-tourist-beaten-with-stick-for-climbing-chichen-itza-pyramid/EL5KGLB4CNC5ZONNZCKAMX3LLE/">climbing over</a> fragile archaeological sites in search of social media content might damage them. <a href="https://www.unilad.com/news/russian-tourist-deported-nude-photo-bali-064402-20230330">Posing for laughs</a> in areas considered sacred can offend. The reducing of cultures to <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/selfie-tourists-get-up-easter-islanders-noses-sgfxdtkj7">backdrops for social media content</a> can suggest a lack of interest in or respect for hosts by tourists.</p> <p>My research points to a growth in <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09669582.2016.1263309">narcissism in society</a>, and connects this with what tourists desire from travel and how they act when travelling. This may be reflected in increased sense of entitlement and exhibitionism by tourists who aim to take photos in more difficult to reach locations or off-limit areas, for instance.</p> <p>Selfie culture arguably promotes <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09528822.2015.1082339?casa_token=tbsXw1drBAEAAAAA:qfSfJBbHWi3x8MSVeoyHBIceP7W_8C55rVctylf-2zRBzx-aG_EeFwvTmHHsOdjQpMd8LVaUrjSo">self-involvement rather than social responsibility</a>. It is well established that tourists <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/1368350050408668198?casa_token=K4p5aZCN8t4AAAAA:96p7f3qNu2WndpE-C-D0rs5mJaOlnJ5F6P4iXQlWQopseMGWuJ_5TiaFmRggxFsEjrMCoAr14Kn4">can be selfish</a>, putting their own comfort and entertainment ahead of concerns about local issues. This is especially true of the super-rich. Private jet users <a href="https://www.transportenvironment.org/discover/private-jets-can-the-super-rich-supercharge-zero-emission-aviation/">are responsible for</a> half of global aviation emissions.</p> <p>However, the desire to promote the individual and their values could be <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09669582.2016.1263309">harnessed to promote</a> more sustainable tourism. Those volunteering abroad might be motivated by the image enhancement opportunities of doing good, but they often offer something back to the social and natural environments of <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09669580903395030?casa_token=NvJorz8d1F4AAAAA:AXXTdW7ePimqFkWNg1W5w8umGCBwXIjus0WICRIoNZH_gsdr1hHomvMAQV21PYA2HkLwBGsO_Qus8g">their host destinations</a> in the process.</p> <p>There are signs that there’s another tourism trend, with travellers looking for deep and meaningful experiences, and ecotourism could help provide those. The act of travelling in a <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09669582.2020.1825458">more environmentally friendly way</a> could also be seen as a way to show off, and still provide selfie material.</p> <p>The environmental pros and cons of tourist self-obsession might be <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09669582.2016.1263309">debatable</a>. However, self-fixation is arguably not good for tourists themselves. For example, the desire to “perform” on camera could affect people’s mental health, according to one <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/10253866.2018.1467318?casa_token=wI7sETKEKJAAAAAA:ebds6fykbyHAGSXIk9iv6-tyziFSIvganp32S65hiX8KeWlaQDwhPxF_2tWEgkNqssqd-SCE-w_3Eg">study</a>.</p> <p>Research has shown that <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14616688.2012.762691?casa_token=Jb9SzAGXBD0AAAAA:L5Q-HhPs9jWtfm0Zq4nB0uFHrZ3W8N7o1Liq0KAIRqC4ivEhKyEexEZN-ACoz1qzm7CMqD96zXOm">unexpected encounters help tourists to gain self-insight</a>. In addition, getting out of your comfort zone can lead to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213078020300074?casa_token=MkMbkdyr_cMAAAAA:LLu44kUbbsP5e-iW-kDdI7iSEo3WkLgH5IvKqb2txZA504q74J4OAhTuXIx8m90oDMSvuiq4Mg">rewarding personal growth</a>.</p> <h2>A disconnect between self and place</h2> <p>Taking yet more selfies could cut people off from their surroundings. In doing so, they could be <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016073831730097X?casa_token=tOaqrhfVQ-wAAAAA:uxb7djQMWjifvjjgPMZzbq2IQqlgoaGHzWoJkkGbQYQqkbZoeuOqLD91zqwBuWs1SfY7dcK4">less present in the travel experience itself</a>. Indeed, the <a href="https://english.elpais.com/usa/2021-10-29/rise-of-selfie-deaths-leads-experts-to-talk-about-a-public-health-problem.html">growing number</a> of <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2019/11/15/asia/french-man-selfie-death-intl-scli/index.html">selfie-related tourist deaths</a> might attest to a disconnect between self and place. A <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6131996/#:%7E:text=selfie-related%20deaths.-,From%20October%202011%20to%20November%202017%2C%20there%20have%20been%20259,respectively%2C%20in%202016%20and%202017">2018 report</a> estimated 259 deaths to have occurred while taking selfies between 2011-2017.</p> <p>Other research suggests that individuals who are motivated by the desire to present a particular online image may be <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211973620301458?casa_token=-HkTUB7WC7cAAAAA:455BE0L2jP-CL1nD18__Ey3fj5GsLmYfKL_EB_P7IWa7lDddpJYIW3UIo5fUjg68e7Nvm7PUlTA#s0050">more likely to take risks</a> with their travel selfies, with potentially fatal consequences.</p> <p>Tourists have always been somewhat self-obsessed. The 18th-century <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0160738385900027">Grand Tour</a>, a leisurely trip around Europe, allowed the wealthy to <a href="https://www.historyhit.com/what-was-the-grand-tour/">indulge themselves</a> in <a href="https://www.salon.com/2002/05/31/sultry/">ways</a> that might not have been socially acceptable back home. And at the beginning of the 21st century, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160738301000305?casa_token=C5eb2NJQvGsAAAAA:YrdY-xjJwBrUE9RjwyOJ3kRBS4-o7e5Jni5sluTCuZOrgnCULybO8EgJtQqsuSL7B5nZJwiH3Q#BIB37">academics worried about</a> self-involved backpacker communities in southeast Asia having little interest in mixing with local people.</p> <p>What is different about smartphones and social media is that these allow some tourists to present such self-indulgent, and sometimes insensitive, tourism traits immediately. Wifi and mobile data mean that these tourists can travel with one eye on finding the perfect selfie backdrop – filtering and sharing their travel as it happens, responding to likes and comments.</p> <p>For better or worse, living this influencer fantasy may have become an integral part of tourism for some time.<!-- 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/214681/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/brendan-canavan-228682"><em>Brendan Canavan</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-nottingham-1192">University of Nottingham</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/selfies-and-social-media-how-tourists-indulge-their-influencer-fantasies-214681">original article</a>.</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Tim Tam Jatz: How an April Fool's joke became a real product line

<p>Snack enthusiasts have been left both bewildered and ecstatic as Arnott’s has announced the release of the long-awaited Tim Tam Jatz – a fusion biscuit that promises to revolutionise the sweet and salty game. What started as a mere April Fool’s prank has now escalated into a reality stranger than fiction.</p> <p>For years, brands like Arnott’s and Macca’s have toyed with our taste buds, teasing us with tantalising new product announcements on April 1st, only to dash our hopes with the cold reality of jest. But Arnott’s, oh Arnott’s, they decided to take it one step further.</p> <p>Last year, amid the chaos of April Fool’s 2023, they dropped the bombshell: Tim Tam Jatz was on its way. The internet erupted in a cacophony of disbelief and desire. Comments flooded in, ranging from desperate pleas to joyous declarations of snack nirvana.</p> <p>Fast forward to the present, and Arnott’s has delivered the unthinkable. The Tim Tam Jatz is no longer a figment of our collective imagination but a tangible delight that will soon grace the shelves of Coles, bringing joy to snack enthusiasts everywhere. Combining the decadent chocolatey goodness of a Tim Tam with the unmistakable crunch of a salty Jatz cracker, this biscuit is poised to redefine the very essence of snack time.</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/C5fBOF1veqy/?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/C5fBOF1veqy/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Arnott's Biscuits (@arnottsbiscuits)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Rebecca Chan, the mastermind behind this stroke of genius and Tim Tam’s marketing manager, expressed her delight at bringing this unconventional creation to life. “We love getting behind an April Fool’s prank, and dreaming up new ways to tap into Australia’s love of Tim Tam,” she wrote.</p> <p>“But following the overwhelming number of comments and requests, we knew we had to bring Tim Tam inspired by Jatz to the shelf and make it available for every Aussie to enjoy.</p> <p>"We can’t wait to share the latest Tim Tam creation, where consumers can expect something a little bit sweet, and a little bit salty in every bite.”</p> <p>The announcement sent shockwaves across social media, with food bloggers and snack enthusiasts alike losing their collective minds over the prospect of this culinary marvel. </p> <p>As word spread like wildfire, social media erupted in a frenzy of anticipation. “My sister is obsessed with Tim Tams and Jatz, so she will love this,” proclaimed one user, already envisioning the delight on their sibling’s face. “OMG I need it immediately,” cried another, echoing the sentiments of snack lovers everywhere.</p> <p>But amidst the jubilation, there were voices of caution. “Ooh, I will be trying, but I seem to only ever buy a new Tim Tam once and then run straight back to my beloved double coat,” confessed a hesitant fan, torn between loyalty and curiosity.</p> <p>Only time will tell if Tim Tam Jatz will live up to the hype, but one thing is for certain: Arnott’s has unleashed a culinary juggernaut that is sure to leave a lasting impression on snack history. So brace yourselves; the sweet and salty revolution is upon us, and there’s no turning back.</p> <p><em>Image: Arnott's</em></p>

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Whooping cough is surging in Australia. Why, and how can we protect ourselves?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/laurence-don-wai-luu-1415508">Laurence Don Wai Luu</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Australia is facing a whooping cough outbreak. Some <a href="https://nindss.health.gov.au/pbi-dashboard/">2,799 cases</a> were recorded in the first three months of 2024. Cases are highest in Queensland and New South Wales, with more than 1,000 recorded in each state.</p> <p>The last time Queensland recorded more than 1,000 cases in three months was <a href="https://nindss.health.gov.au/pbi-dashboard/">the first quarter of 2013</a>. This was at the tail end of a significant outbreak that spanned 2008 until 2012 – Australia’s largest reported outbreak since the <a href="https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-cdi2205-pdf-cnt.htm/$FILE/cdi2205c.pdf">widespread introduction</a> of whooping cough vaccines <a href="https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-pubs-annlrpt-oz_dis19_91.htm/$FILE/ozdis1917_91.pdf">in the 1950s</a>. More than 140,000 cases were recorded during this period, with the number peaking at 38,748 in 2011.</p> <p>There was a smaller outbreak between <a href="https://nindss.health.gov.au/pbi-dashboard/">2014 and 2017</a>, with more than 60,000 cases in these years.</p> <p>So what is whooping cough, why are cases rising now, and how can you protect yourself?</p> <h2>It’s most dangerous for babies</h2> <p>Whooping cough is a serious and <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/whooping-cough">highly contagious</a> respiratory disease. Also called pertussis, it’s caused by the bacteria <em>Bordetella pertussis</em>.</p> <p>The initial symptoms of whooping cough resemble other cold and flu-like symptoms. These include runny nose, sneezing, mild cough and fever. However, as the disease progresses into the second week, the coughing fits become worse and more frequent. After or between bouts of coughing, patients may gasp for air and produce the characteristic “whoop” noise.</p> <p>The disease is also sometimes called the “100-day cough” as it can last for <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7150027/">6–12 weeks</a>. It’s especially serious and can be life-threatening in newborns who are yet to receive their vaccinations. In older children who are fully vaccinated, as well as adolescents and adults, the disease is normally less severe. However, even in adults, the coughing can lead to <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMicm1701940">fractured ribs</a>.</p> <p>Antibiotics are used to <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ebch.1845">treat whooping cough</a> but are most effective when given during the initial stages of the illness. The best protection in the first instance is <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/whooping-cough">vaccination</a>, which prevents most cases of serious illness, and reduces the spread of whooping cough in the community.</p> <p>It’s recommended children are given six doses of a whooping cough vaccine (which is combined with vaccines for other diseases) between the ages of roughly two months and 13 years. Vaccination is free under the <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/topics/immunisation/vaccines/whooping-cough-pertussis-immunisation-service">National Immunisation Program</a> for children and pregnant women. Vaccinating women against whooping cough during pregnancy protects newborns in their first months of life.</p> <p>Immunity from these vaccines wanes over time, so it’s also recommended adults receive a booster, particularly those who may come into frequent contact with babies.</p> <h2>Why are cases rising now?</h2> <p>Whooping cough outbreaks generally occur <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/whooping-cough">every 3–4 years</a>. Due to COVID measures such as border closures, social isolation and masks, the number of cases declined dramatically during 2020–23. If trends had followed the usual outbreak cycle, this might have been around the time we’d have seen another outbreak.</p> <p>Missed <a href="https://ncirs.org.au/ncirs-study-confirms-decline-childhood-vaccination-coverage-throughout-covid-19-pandemic">routine whooping cough vaccinations</a> at the height of the pandemic may mean Australia is more vulnerable now. Reduced immunity in the population could be one of the reasons we’re seeing a rise in whooping cough cases in Australia and other countries including the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pertussis-epidemiology-in-england-2024/confirmed-cases-of-pertussis-in-england-by-month">United Kingdom</a> and the <a href="https://www.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/han/advisory/2024/han-advisory-5.pdf">United States</a>.</p> <p>In Australia, cases have been particularly high during this outbreak in children aged 10–14.</p> <h2>A potential superbug</h2> <p>Over the past two decades, whooping cough has been getting better at evading vaccines and antibiotics. Most vaccines used in Australia and other developed countries stimulate your immune system to recognise and target <a href="https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/contents/vaccine-preventable-diseases/pertussis-whooping-cough">three to five components</a> of the bacteria.</p> <p>Over time, the bacteria that causes whooping cough has been slowly acquiring mutations in these genes. These mutations make the bacteria look slightly different to the one used in the vaccine, helping it better hide from the immune system.</p> <p>Most of these changes were small. But in 2008, a new strain appeared in Australia that no longer produced <a href="https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/20/4/13-1478_article">pertactin</a>, one of the components targeted by the vaccine. This means your immune system, like a detective, has one less clue to recognise the bacteria.</p> <p>This new strain rapidly increased from <a href="https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/25/6/18-0240_article">5% of strains found in 2008</a>, to become the dominant strain in less than ten years, making up <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6537726/">90% of strains</a> by 2017. This pertactin-negative strain was shown to survive better in <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26432908/">vaccinated mice</a> and may have contributed to the high number of cases in the 2008–12 outbreak.</p> <p>Worryingly, since 2013, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/biggest-threats.html">antibiotic-resistant strains</a> of whooping cough have become <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/22221751.2019.1587315">widespread in China</a>. While there are other antibiotics available, these are not recommended for infants <a href="https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/whoopingcough/Pages/workers-managing-cases.aspx">younger than two months</a> (the age group at most risk of serious disease). These resistant strains are increasingly <a href="https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/10/20-1035_article">spreading through Asia</a> but are not yet in Australia.</p> <h2>What next?</h2> <p>It’s too early to know how big this outbreak will be or what strains are responsible for it. Greater tracking of whooping cough strains, like we do with COVID, is needed to inform future vaccine design and treatments.</p> <p>Importantly, although the bacteria is evolving, current vaccines are still very effective at preventing serious disease and reducing transmission. They remain our best tool to limit this outbreak.</p> <p>To protect oneself, vulnerable newborns, and the wider community, everyone should ensure they are up-to-date with their <a href="https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/contents/vaccine-preventable-diseases/pertussis-whooping-cough">whooping cough vaccinations</a>. You can check this with your GP if you’re not sure. And anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms should <a href="https://ncirs.org.au/ncirs-fact-sheets-faqs/pertussis">stay away</a> from infants.<!-- 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/226918/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/laurence-don-wai-luu-1415508"><em>Laurence Don Wai Luu</em></a><em>, Lecturer and Chancellor's Research Fellow, School of Life Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/whooping-cough-is-surging-in-australia-why-and-how-can-we-protect-ourselves-226918">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Ozempic isn’t approved for weight loss in Australia. So how are people accessing it?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-pace-1401278">Jessica Pace</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrew-bartlett-849104">Andrew Bartlett</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nial-wheate-96839">Nial Wheate</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>To say that Ozempic is a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2024/jan/31/obesity-drug-ozempic-novo-nordisk-record-wegovy">blockbuster drug</a> is an understatement. Manufacturer Novo Nordisk is scrambling to expand production sites to keep up with global demand.</p> <p>While Ozempic is only approved for the treatment of diabetes in Australia, it is also marketed overseas for weight loss under the brand name Wegovy.</p> <p>Social media is full of posts and endorsements by celebrities who are using it for weight loss. Faced with limited access in Australia, some people who need the medication for diabetes can’t access it.</p> <p>Others are turning to the internet to source it from compounding pharmacies – a practice Australia’s regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), plans to clamp down on.</p> <h2>How doctors are prescribing Ozempic</h2> <p>Use of Ozempic for weight loss in Australia is considered “<a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/safety/shortages/information-about-major-medicine-shortages/about-ozempic-semaglutide-shortage-2022-and-2023#why-the-tga-cant-stop-offlabel-prescribing">off label</a>”. This is when a doctor prescribes a medicine for a purpose outside of what is approved.</p> <p>Ozempic is only approved to be used for the treatment of diabetes in Australia, but its off-label prescribing for weight loss is driving <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/safety/shortages/information-about-major-medicine-shortages/about-ozempic-semaglutide-shortage-2022-and-2023#when-will-the-ozempic-shortage-end">shortages</a> which the TGA thinks will last until 2025.</p> <p>To manage these shortages, Australian doctors and pharmacies are being asked <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/safety/shortages/information-about-major-medicine-shortages/about-ozempic-semaglutide-shortage-2022-and-2023#information-for-prescribers">not to start new patients</a> on Ozempic and to prioritise it for patients with type 2 diabetes who are already stabilised on this medicine.</p> <p>However, the TGA <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/safety/shortages/information-about-major-medicine-shortages/about-ozempic-semaglutide-shortage-2022-and-2023#why-the-tga-cant-stop-offlabel-prescribing">says</a> it: "does not have the power to regulate the clinical decisions of health professionals and is unable to prevent doctors from using their clinical judgement to prescribe Ozempic for other health conditions."</p> <h2>Why can’t we just make more?</h2> <p>The active ingredient in Ozempic, semaglutide, is a delicate <a href="https://www.britannica.com/story/what-is-the-difference-between-a-peptide-and-a-protein">peptide</a> molecule made up of two small chains of amino acids. It’s just one in a family of drugs that are classified as GLP-1 inhibitors.</p> <p>Because it’s a peptide, its manufacture is complex and requires specialised facilities beyond those used to make normal chemical-based drugs.</p> <p>It is also delivered via an injection, meaning that it has to be manufactured under strict conditions to ensure it is both sterile and temperature controlled.</p> <p>This means increasing production is not as simple as just deciding to manufacture more. Its manufacturer <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/safety/shortages/information-about-major-medicine-shortages/about-ozempic-semaglutide-shortage-2022-and-2023#why-the-tga-cant-stop-offlabel-prescribing">needs time</a> to build new facilities to increase production.</p> <h2>Compounding pharmacies are making their own</h2> <p><a href="https://www.fda.gov/drugs/guidance-compliance-regulatory-information/human-drug-compounding#:%7E:text=Compounding%20is%20generally%20a%20practice,needs%20of%20an%20individual%20patient">Compounding</a> is the practice of combining, mixing, or altering ingredients of a drug to create a formulation tailored to the needs of an individual patient.</p> <p>Australian law allows <a href="https://www.pharmacyboard.gov.au/codes-guidelines.aspx">pharmacists to compound</a> only when it is for the treatment of a particular patient to meet their individual clinical need and there is no suitable commercially manufactured product available. An example is making a liquid form of a drug from a tablet for people unable to swallow.</p> <p>Compounded products are not held to the same safety, quality and efficacy standards required for mass produced medicines. This recognises the one-off nature of such compounded medicines and the professional training of the pharmacists who prepare them.</p> <p>Recently, pharmacies have been relying on these compounding rules to produce their own Ozempic-like products at scale and ship them to consumers around Australia.</p> <p>However, there are risks when using these products. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently <a href="https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/medications-containing-semaglutide-marketed-type-2-diabetes-or-weight-loss#:%7E:text=Are%20there%20concerns%20with%20compounded,available%20to%20treat%20a%20patient.">warned consumers</a> of the dangers of using compounded formulations that contain particular salt formulations of semaglutide. It has received more reports of side effects in patients using these products.</p> <h2>How the regulator plans to tighten the loophole</h2> <p>The TGA is taking a number of steps to tighten the compounding loophole and there are ongoing investigations in this area.</p> <p>In December 2023, the agency issued a <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/news/safety-alerts/compounding-safety-information-semaglutide-products">public safety warning</a> on the dangers of these compounded medicines.</p> <p>More recently, it has proposed <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-29/compounding-pharmacies-mounjaro-ozempic/103283926">removing GLP-1 drugs</a>, which includes Ozempic, from Australia’s compounding exemptions. This would effectively ban pharmacies from making off-brand Ozempic. This proposal is <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/news/media-releases/consultation-remove-glucagon-peptide-1-glp-1-receptor-agonist-analogues-pharmacist-extemporaneous-compounding-exemption">currently under consultation</a> and a final decision is expected by June this year.</p> <p>If you want to access the drug for weight loss before the shortage is over, be aware that compounded products are not identical to approved Ozempic and have not been evaluated for safety, quality and efficacy.</p> <p>Supply of copycat versions is also likely to be limited, given the ongoing TGA crackdown.</p> <hr /> <p><em>Read the other articles in The Conversation’s <a href="https://theconversation.com/au/topics/ozempic-132745">Ozempic series</a> here.<!-- 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/224859/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/jessica-pace-1401278">Jessica Pace</a>, Associate Lecturer, Sydney Pharmacy School, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrew-bartlett-849104">Andrew Bartlett</a>, Associate Lecturer Pharmacy Practice, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nial-wheate-96839">Nial Wheate</a>, Associate Professor of the School of Pharmacy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/ozempic-isnt-approved-for-weight-loss-in-australia-so-how-are-people-accessing-it-224859">original article</a>.</em></p>

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

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

Body

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

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/erika-penney-1416241">Erika Penney</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alice-norton-1516505">Alice Norton</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/avalon-tissue-1515840">Avalon Tissue</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>So Mum or Dad has died, or moved to aged care, and now you’ve got to pack up their house. It’s a huge job and you’re dreading it.</p> <p>It’s normal to feel grief, loss, guilt, exhaustion or even resentment at being left with this job.</p> <p>So how can you look after your mental health while tackling the task?</p> <h2>It’s OK to feel a lot of feelings</h2> <p>Research has documented how this task can exert an intense <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15267431.2021.1943399">physical and emotional toll</a>.</p> <p>This can be more intense for those who had strained – or even <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/epub/10.1177/0030222819868107">traumatic</a> – relationships with the person whose house they’re packing up.</p> <p>Decisions around distributing or discarding items can, in some families, bring up painful reminders of the past or end up <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1074840711428451">replaying strained dynamics</a>.</p> <p>Family members who were carers for the deceased may feel exhaustion, overwhelm, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/hec.1512?sid=vendor%3Adatabase">burnout</a> or a sense of injustice they must now continue to be responsible for their loved one’s affairs. Grief can be compounded by the practical challenges of deciding how to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/0148-2963(94)00054-I">store or discard belongings</a>, <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/30000385">arrange the funeral</a>, execute the will, deal with the aged care place or, in some cases, navigate legal disputes.</p> <p>But packing up the house may also be cathartic or helpful. <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15267431.2021.1943399">Research</a> has shown how the task of cleaning out a loved one’s belongings can provide an opportunity for family and friends to talk, share memories, and make sense of what has just happened.</p> <p>It’s also normal to grieve before someone dies. What psychologists call “<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29206700/">anticipatory</a> grief” can happen to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1615888/">relatives packing up the house</a> of a parent who has moved to aged care or palliative care.</p> <h2>What to do with all this stuff?</h2> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/0148-2963(94)00054-I">Some</a> treat their loved one’s items with sanctity, holding onto as many of their belongings as possible and creating “shrines” in their honour.</p> <p>Others alleviate the weight of grief by clearing out a loved one’s house as soon as possible, giving away, selling or discarding as much as they can.</p> <p>But if you experience a mix of these – enthusiastically getting rid of some stuff, while desperately wanting to hold onto other things – that’s OK too.</p> <p>One <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10253866.2017.1367677">study</a> identified a process punctuated by four key periods:</p> <ol> <li> <p>numbness and overwhelm at the task of packing the house</p> </li> <li> <p>yearning to maintain a link to the loved through their belongings</p> </li> <li> <p>working through grief, anger and guilt regarding the loved one and the task of managing their belongings, and</p> </li> <li> <p>healing and making sense of the relationship with the deceased and their belongings.</p> </li> </ol> <p>However, it is important to note everyone’s approach is different and there is no “right” way to do the clean out, or “right” way to feel.</p> <h2>Caring for your mental health during the clean out</h2> <p>To care for your mental health during these difficult times, you might try to:</p> <ul> <li> <p>make space for your feelings, whether it’s sadness, loss, resentment, anger, relief or all the above. There is no right or wrong way to feel. <a href="https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/abs/10.1521/jscp.2011.30.2.163">Accepting</a> your emotions is healthier than suppressing them</p> </li> <li> <p>share the load. <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1365-2648.1999.01220.x">Research</a> has shown practical support from close friends and family can help a lot with grief. Accept help with packing, planning, dealing with removalists, selling or donating items and cleaning. Don’t be afraid to reduce your mental load by delegating tasks to friends, who are likely wondering how they can help</p> </li> <li> <p>take a systematic approach. Break tasks into their smallest component. For example, aim to clean out a drawer instead of an entire bedroom. This can help the mental and physical task feel more manageable</p> </li> <li> <p>reflect on what’s meaningful to you. Some belongings will have <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/0148-2963(94)00054-I">meaning</a>, while others will not. What was valuable to the deceased may not be valuable to you. Things they probably saw as pretty worthless (a handwritten shopping list, an old sewing kit) may be very meaningful to you. Ask yourself whether retaining a small number of meaningful possessions would allow you to maintain a connection with your loved one, or if clearing out the space and discarding the items is what you need</p> </li> <li> <p>share your story. When you feel ready, share your “<a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15267431.2021.1943399">cleaning out the closet</a>” story with trusted friends and family. Storytelling allows the deceased to live on in memory. <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1365-2648.1999.01220.x">Research</a> also suggests we cope better with bereavement when friends and relatives make time to hear our feelings</p> </li> <li> <p>remember that professional help is available. Just as a solicitor can help with legal disputes, a mental health professional can help you process your feelings.</p> </li> </ul> <p>The home of your loved one is not merely a place where they lived, but a space filled with meaning and stories.</p> <p>Packing up the house of a loved one can be incredibly daunting and challenging, but it can also be an important part of your grieving process.</p> <p><em>If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223956/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/erika-penney-1416241">E<em>rika Penney</em></a><em>, Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alice-norton-1516505">Alice Norton</a>, Lecturer in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/avalon-tissue-1515840">Avalon Tissue</a>, Associate Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-look-after-your-mental-health-while-packing-up-mum-or-dads-home-223956">original article</a>.</em></p>

Caring

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

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lawson-r-wulsin-1493655">La<em>wson R. Wulsin</em></a><em>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-cincinnati-1717">University of Cincinnati </a></em></p> <p>COVID-19 taught most people that the line between tolerable and toxic stress – defined as persistent demands that lead to disease – varies widely. But some people will age faster and die younger from toxic stressors than others.</p> <p>So how much stress is too much, and what can you do about it?</p> <p>I’m a <a href="https://researchdirectory.uc.edu/p/wulsinlr">psychiatrist specializing in psychosomatic medicine</a>, which is the study and treatment of people who have physical and mental illnesses. My research is focused on people who have psychological conditions and medical illnesses as well as those whose stress exacerbates their health issues.</p> <p>I’ve spent my career studying mind-body questions and training physicians to treat mental illness in primary care settings. My <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/toxic-stress/677FA62B741540DBDB53E2F0A52A74B1">forthcoming book</a> is titled “Toxic Stress: How Stress is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It.”</p> <p>A 2023 study of stress and aging over the life span – one of the first studies to confirm this piece of common wisdom – found that four measures of stress all speed up the pace of biological aging in midlife. It also found that persistent high stress ages people in a comparable way to the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000001197">effects of smoking and low socioeconomic status</a>, two well-established risk factors for accelerated aging.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yiglpsqv5ik?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Children with alcoholic or drug-addicted parents have a greater risk of developing toxic stress.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>The difference between good stress and the toxic kind</h2> <p>Good stress – a demand or challenge you readily cope with – is good for your health. In fact, the rhythm of these daily challenges, including feeding yourself, cleaning up messes, communicating with one another and carrying out your job, helps to regulate your stress response system and keep you fit.</p> <p>Toxic stress, on the other hand, wears down your stress response system in ways that have lasting effects, as psychiatrist and trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk explains in his bestselling book “<a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/313183/the-body-%20keeps-the-score-by-bessel-van-der-kolk-md/">The Body Keeps the Score</a>.”</p> <p>The earliest effects of toxic stress are often persistent symptoms such as headache, fatigue or abdominal pain that interfere with overall functioning. After months of initial symptoms, a full-blown illness with a life of its own – such as migraine headaches, asthma, diabetes or ulcerative colitis – may surface.</p> <p>When we are healthy, our stress response systems are like an orchestra of organs that miraculously tune themselves and play in unison without our conscious effort – a process called self-regulation. But when we are sick, some parts of this orchestra struggle to regulate themselves, which causes a cascade of stress-related dysregulation that contributes to other conditions.</p> <p>For instance, in the case of diabetes, the hormonal system struggles to regulate sugar. With obesity, the metabolic system has a difficult time regulating energy intake and consumption. With depression, the central nervous system develops an imbalance in its circuits and neurotransmitters that makes it difficult to regulate mood, thoughts and behaviors.</p> <h2>‘Treating’ stress</h2> <p>Though stress neuroscience in recent years has given researchers like me <a href="https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000001051">new ways to measure and understand stress</a>, you may have noticed that in your doctor’s office, the management of stress isn’t typically part of your treatment plan.</p> <p>Most doctors don’t assess the contribution of stress to a patient’s common chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity, partly because stress is complicated to measure and partly because it is difficult to treat. In general, doctors don’t treat what they can’t measure.</p> <p>Stress neuroscience and epidemiology have also taught researchers recently that the chances of developing serious mental and physical illnesses in midlife rise dramatically when people are exposed to trauma or adverse events, especially during <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/ace-brfss.html">vulnerable periods such as childhood</a>.</p> <p>Over the past 40 years in the U.S., the alarming rise in <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/health-equity/diabetes-by-the-numbers.html">rates of diabetes</a>, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/obesity-child-17-18/overweight-obesity-child-H.pdf">obesity</a>, depression, PTSD, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db433.htm">suicide</a> and addictions points to one contributing factor that these different illnesses share: toxic stress.</p> <p>Toxic stress increases the risk for the onset, progression, complications or early death from these illnesses.</p> <h2>Suffering from toxic stress</h2> <p>Because the definition of toxic stress varies from one person to another, it’s hard to know how many people struggle with it. One starting point is the fact that about 16% of adults report having been exposed to <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/fastfact.html">four or more adverse events in childhood</a>. This is the threshold for higher risk for illnesses in adulthood.</p> <p>Research dating back to before the COVID-19 pandemic also shows that about 19% of adults in the U.S. have <a href="https://doi.org/10.7249/TL221">four or more chronic illnesses</a>. If you have even one chronic illness, you can imagine how stressful four must be.</p> <p>And about 12% of the U.S. population <a href="https://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/introducing-second-edition-world-banks-global-subnational-atlas-poverty">lives in poverty</a>, the epitome of a life in which demands exceed resources every day. For instance, if a person doesn’t know how they will get to work each day, or doesn’t have a way to fix a leaking water pipe or resolve a conflict with their partner, their stress response system can never rest. One or any combination of threats may keep them on high alert or shut them down in a way that prevents them from trying to cope at all.</p> <p>Add to these overlapping groups all those who struggle with harassing relationships, homelessness, captivity, severe loneliness, living in high-crime neighborhoods or working in or around noise or air pollution. It seems conservative to estimate that about 20% of people in the U.S. live with the effects of toxic stress.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WuyPuH9ojCE?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Exercise, meditation and a healthy diet help fight toxic stress.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Recognizing and managing stress and its associated conditions</h2> <p>The first step to managing stress is to recognize it and talk to your primary care clinician about it. The clinician may do an assessment involving a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000001051">self-reported measure of stress</a>.</p> <p>The next step is treatment. Research shows that it is possible to retrain a dysregulated stress response system. This approach, <a href="https://lifestylemedicine.org/">called “lifestyle medicine</a>,” focuses on improving health outcomes through changing high-risk health behaviors and adopting daily habits that help the stress response system self-regulate.</p> <p>Adopting these lifestyle changes is not quick or easy, but it works.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/index.html">National Diabetes Prevention Program</a>, the <a href="https://www.ornish.com/">Ornish “UnDo” heart disease program</a> and the <a href="https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand_tx/tx_basics.asp">U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs PTSD program</a>, for example, all achieve a slowing or reversal of stress-related chronic conditions through weekly support groups and guided daily practice over six to nine months. These programs help teach people how to practice personal regimens of stress management, diet and exercise in ways that build and sustain their new habits.</p> <p>There is now strong evidence that it is possible to treat toxic stress in ways that improve health outcomes for people with stress-related conditions. The next steps include finding ways to expand the recognition of toxic stress and, for those affected, to expand access to these new and effective approaches to treatment.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222245/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lawson-r-wulsin-1493655"><em>Lawson R. Wulsin</em></a><em>, Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-cincinnati-1717">University of Cincinnati</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-much-stress-is-too-much-a-psychiatrist-explains-the-links-between-toxic-stress-and-poor-health-and-how-to-get-help-222245">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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Summer’s over, so how much sun can (and should) I get?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katie-lee-228942">Katie Lee</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachel-neale-891731">Rachel Neale</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/qimr-berghofer-medical-research-institute-1811">QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute</a></em></p> <p>As we slide of out summer, you might be wondering how careful you need to be about sun exposure. Excessive exposure causes <a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/about-us/policy-and-advocacy/prevention-policy/national-cancer-prevention-policy/skin-cancer-statistics-and-issues/uv-radiation">skin cancer</a>, but sun exposure also has <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9976694/">benefits</a>. How do you balance the two?</p> <p>A new <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1326020023052949?via%3Dihub">position statement</a> from cancer, bone health and other experts <a href="https://www.assc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Sun-Exposure-Summit-PositionStatement_V1.9.pdf">aims to help</a> Australians balance the good and bad effects of sun exposure by taking into account their skin colour, risk of skin cancer, and where they live.</p> <h2>What are the benefits of sunlight?</h2> <p>Ultraviolet (UV) radiation (the wavelengths in sunlight that cause skin cancer) also leads to vitamin D production. <a href="https://dermnetnz.org/topics/vitamin-d">Vitamin D</a> is very important for maintaining strong bones, and is likely to have <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9976694/">multiple other health benefits</a>.</p> <p>But vitamin D probably isn’t the whole story. Sunshine, including UV radiation, is thought to affect health in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9976694/">other ways</a> such as improving our mood and reducing the risk of autoimmune diseases and infections. So for many people, avoiding the sun and taking a vitamin D supplement may not be the best approach.</p> <h2>How much time does it take to make vitamin D?</h2> <p>It’s complicated, but for most people and most of the year across most of Australia, it’s a lot less than you think.</p> <p>The <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/php.13854">amount of time needed</a> depends on the amount of skin covered by clothing and the intensity of UV radiation (indicated by the UV index). More skin exposed and higher UV index equate to less time needed.</p> <p>Both the UV index and the amount of the year that UV radiation is high increase as you get closer to the equator. In summer, all of Australia is bathed in sunshine. But in winter, opposite ends of the country have <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/php.13854">very different exposures</a>.</p> <p>In summer, everybody except those with deeply pigmented skin can make enough vitamin D in <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1326020023052949?via%3Dihub">just five minutes</a> between 9am and 3pm, anywhere in Australia, provided they are wearing shorts and a T-shirt.</p> <p>In winter it’s a different story. In <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1326020023052949?via%3Dihub">Darwin and Brisbane</a>, 5–10 minutes between 10am and 3pm will do the trick, but in <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1326020023052949?via%3Dihub">Hobart</a>, factoring in winter clothing, it will take nearly an hour in the middle of the day.</p> <p>Hover your mouse over the lines below to see the length of exposure needed at specific times of day.</p> <p><iframe id="X5szQ" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/X5szQ/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Staying out for longer than needed doesn’t necessarily make more vitamin D, but it <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1326020023052949?via%3Dihub#bib25">does cause skin damage</a>.</p> <h2>Hang on, what about those with darker skin?</h2> <p>People with deeply pigmented, brown to black skin accumulate both vitamin D and DNA damage at a much slower rate than people with lighter skin tones.</p> <p>When UV radiation hits a DNA strand, it causes the DNA to become distorted. If the distortion isn’t fixed, it will cause a mistake when the DNA is copied for a new cell, causing a permanent mutation that sometimes leads to cancer.</p> <p>Melanin, the brown pigment in the skin, absorbs UV photons before that can happen, and the high melanin content in the darkest skin tones provides <a href="https://faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1096/fj.201701472R">60 times</a> as much UV protection as the small amount in very fair skin.</p> <p>The flip side is the risk of vitamin D deficiency is much higher than the risk of skin cancer.</p> <p>The new statement accounts for this by putting people into <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1326020023052949?via%3Dihub">three groups</a> based on their risk of skin cancer, with specialised advice for each group.</p> <h2>Highest skin cancer risk</h2> <p>This includes people with very pale skin that burns easily and tans minimally, but also people with darker white or olive skin who can tan easily but have extra skin cancer risk factors because they:</p> <ul> <li>have had <strong>skin cancer</strong> before</li> <li>have a <strong>family history</strong> of melanomas</li> <li>have many <strong>moles</strong></li> <li>are taking <strong>immunosuppressant</strong> medications.</li> </ul> <p>For these people, the harms of sun exposure almost certainly <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1326020023052949?via%3Dihub">outweigh the benefits</a>.</p> <p>These people should wear sunscreen every day the <a href="https://www.arpansa.gov.au/our-services/monitoring/ultraviolet-radiation-monitoring/ultraviolet-radiation-index">UV index</a> is forecast to get to <a href="https://www.assc.org.au/peak-health-bodies-recommend-new-approach-to-sunscreen-use/">three or more</a>, and use the <a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/cancer-information/causes-and-prevention/sun-safety/be-sunsmart">five sunsmart steps</a> whenever the UV index is above three:</p> <ul> <li><strong>slip</strong> on clothing covering as much of the body as possible</li> <li><strong>slop</strong> on SPF30+ sunscreen on areas that can’t be covered up</li> <li><strong>slap</strong> on a hat</li> <li><strong>seek</strong> shade</li> <li><strong>slide</strong> on sunglasses.</li> </ul> <p>They shouldn’t spend time outdoors deliberately to make vitamin D, but should discuss vitamin D supplements with their doctor.</p> <h2>Intermediate skin cancer risk</h2> <p>This means people with dark white/olive skin that sometimes burns but tans easily, and who don’t have other skin cancer risk factors.</p> <p>These people should still apply sunscreen as part of their usual routine on all days when the UV index is forecast to get to <a href="https://www.assc.org.au/peak-health-bodies-recommend-new-approach-to-sunscreen-use/">three or more</a>, but they can spend enough time outdoors to get a “dose” of vitamin D on most days of the week.</p> <p>Once the time needed for their vitamin D dose is up, they should also use the <a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/cancer-information/causes-and-prevention/sun-safety/be-sunsmart">slip-slop-slap-seek-slide</a> steps to avoid accumulating DNA damage.</p> <p>If they’re unable to do this because of health or lifestyle factors, like being housebound, working night shifts, or always covering up with clothing, they should see their doctor about whether they need vitamin D supplements.</p> <h2>Lowest skin cancer risk</h2> <p>This covers people with deeply pigmented brown to black skin that rarely or never burns.</p> <p>These people can <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1326020023052949?via%3Dihub#bib14">safely spend enough time outdoors</a> to make vitamin D and get the other benefits of sunshine. But because more time is needed, it can be difficult, particularly when the weather is cold. Vitamin D supplements might be needed.</p> <p>They don’t need to routinely protect their skin, but might need to <a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/cancer-information/causes-and-prevention/sun-safety/be-sunsmart">slip-slop-slap-seek-slide</a> if they are outdoors for more than two hours.</p> <h2>How do I get the feel-good effects of sunshine?</h2> <p>Spending time outdoors in the early morning is the best way to get the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9976694/">feel-good effects</a> of sunshine. An early morning walk is a great idea for all of us, but it won’t make vitamin D.<!-- 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/224144/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/katie-lee-228942">Katie Lee</a>, PhD Candidate, Dermatology Research Centre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachel-neale-891731">Rachel Neale</a>, Principal research fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/qimr-berghofer-medical-research-institute-1811">QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute</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/summers-over-so-how-much-sun-can-and-should-i-get-224144">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Only walking for exercise? Here’s how to get the most out of it

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ken-nosaka-169021">Ken Nosaka</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p>We’re living longer than in previous generations, with <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/older-people/older-australians/contents/demographic-profile">one in eight</a> elderly Australians now aged over 85. But the current <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26561272/">gap</a> between life expectancy (“lifespan”) and health-adjusted life expectancy (“healthspan”) is about ten years. This means many of us live with significant health problems in our later years.</p> <p>To increase our healthspan, we need planned, structured and regular physical activity (or exercise). The <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity">World Health Organization recommends</a> 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise – such as brisk walking, cycling and swimming – per week and muscle strengthening twice a week.</p> <p>Yet few of us meet these recommendations. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-019-0797-2">Only 10%</a> meet the strength-training recommendations. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32488898/">Lack of time</a> is one of the most common reasons.</p> <p>Walking is cost-effective, doesn’t require any special equipment or training, and can be done with small pockets of time. <a href="https://link.springer.com/epdf/10.1007/s00421-024-05453-y?sharing_token=1vDsDJTN5WzPxi5YmSEkOfe4RwlQNchNByi7wbcMAY5hnPeFvF3FY4v2z1P9M2M0oiR78kXv1Yzj0ODMgckqhKOGHUABEd9UOPOfV5kPAj1jf1IYMIYkdIBv-DUEcKCOiDdNyj6MFypeDhSyeYQrWu_bvlAYtPUmOSaldFpmycA%3D">Our preliminary research</a>, published this week, shows there are ways to incorporate strength-training components into walking to improve your muscle strength and balance.</p> <h2>Why walking isn’t usually enough</h2> <p>Regular walking <a href="http://theconversation.com/health-check-in-terms-of-exercise-is-walking-enough-78604">does not appear</a> to work as muscle-strengthening exercise.</p> <p>In contrast, exercises consisting of “eccentric” or muscle-lengthening contractions <a href="http://theconversation.com/its-ok-to-aim%20lower-with-your-new-years-exercise-resolutions-a-few-minutes-a-day-can-improve-your-muscle-strength-193713">improve</a> muscle strength, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31130877/">prevent muscle wasting</a> and improve other functions such as balance and flexibility.</p> <p>Typical eccentric contractions are seen, for example, when we sit on a chair slowly. The front thigh muscles lengthen with force generation.</p> <h2>Our research</h2> <p>Our <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31055678/">previous research</a> found body-weight-based eccentric exercise training, such as sitting down on a chair slowly, improved lower limb muscle strength and balance in healthy older adults.</p> <p>We also <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28291022/">showed</a> walking down stairs, with the front thigh muscles undergoing eccentric contractions, increased leg muscle strength and balance in older women more than walking up stairs. When climbing stairs, the front thigh muscles undergo “concentric” contractions, with the muscles shortening.</p> <p>It can be difficult to find stairs or slopes suitable for eccentric exercises. But if they could be incorporated into daily walking, lower limb muscle strength and balance function could be improved.</p> <p>This is where the idea of “eccentric walking” comes into play. This means inserting lunges in conventional walking, in addition to downstairs and downhill walking.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wAI7z3XdY9o?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Eccentric walking means incorporating deep lunges into your movement.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>In our <a href="https://link.springer.com/epdf/10.1007/s00421-024-05453-y?sharing_token=1vDsDJTN5WzPxi5YmSEkOfe4RwlQNchNByi7wbcMAY5hnPeFvF3FY4v2z1P9M2M0oiR78kXv1Yzj0ODMgckqhKOGHUABEd9UOPOfV5kPAj1jf1IYMIYkdIBv-DUEcKCOiDdNyj6MFypeDhSyeYQrWu_bvlAYtPUmOSaldFpmycA%3D">new research</a>, published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, we investigated the effects of eccentric walking on lower limb muscle strength and balance in 11 regular walkers aged 54 to 88 years.</p> <p>The intervention period was 12 weeks. It consisted of four weeks of normal walking followed by eight weeks of eccentric walking.</p> <p>The number of eccentric steps in the eccentric walking period gradually increased over eight weeks from 100 to 1,000 steps (including lunges, downhill and downstairs steps). Participants took a total of 3,900 eccentric steps over the eight-week eccentric walking period while the total number of steps was the same as the previous four weeks.</p> <p>We measured the thickness of the participants’ front thigh muscles, muscle strength in their knee, their balance and endurance, including how many times they could go from a sitting position to standing in 30 seconds without using their arms. We took these measurements before the study started, at four weeks, after the conventional walking period, and at four and eight weeks into the eccentric walking period.</p> <p>We also tested their cognitive function using a digit symbol-substitution test at the same time points of other tests. And we asked participants to complete a questionnaire relating to their activities of daily living, such as dressing and moving around at home.</p> <p>Finally, we tested participants’ blood sugar, cholesterol levels and complement component 1q (C1q) concentrations, a potential <a href="https://faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1096/fj.14-262154">marker of sarcopenia</a> (muscle wasting with ageing).</p> <h2>What did we find?</h2> <p>We found no significant changes in any of the outcomes in the first four weeks when participants walked conventionally.</p> <p>From week four to 12, we found significant improvements in muscle strength (19%), chair-stand ability (24%), balance (45%) and a cognitive function test (21%).</p> <p>Serum C1q concentration decreased by 10% after the eccentric walking intervention, indicating participants’ muscles were effectively stimulated.</p> <p>The sample size of the study was small, so we need larger and more comprehensive studies to verify our findings and investigate whether eccentric walking is effective for sedentary people, older people, how the different types of eccentric exercise compare and the potential cognitive and mental health benefits.</p> <p>But, in the meantime, “eccentric walking” appears to be a beneficial exercise that will extend your healthspan. It may look a bit eccentric if we insert lunges while walking on the street, but the more people do it and benefit from it, the less eccentric it will become. <!-- 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/224159/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/ken-nosaka-169021">Ken Nosaka</a>, Professor of Exercise and Sports Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/only-walking-for-exercise-heres-how-to-get-the-most-out-of-it-224159">original article</a>.</em></p>

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"How could he do it to me?": Grandmother broken over grandson's alleged fraud

<p>In a courtroom in Perth, emotions ran high as a heartbroken grandmother awaited a reunion with her grandson, Jack Endersby. But this wasn't a typical family gathering. It was a courtroom confrontation, where Lyn Newby hoped her grandson would look her in the eye and confront the pain he allegedly caused by defrauding her of more than $320,000.</p> <p>Endersby, a 24-year-old <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/perth-news-grandmother-lost-320000-after-investing-in-grandson-business-alleged-ponzi-scheme/e3ea6396-750c-452c-8e87-c0ef53d65ede" target="_blank" rel="noopener">accused of orchestrating a Ponzi-style scheme</a> that allegedly swindled around $2 million from victims across Australia, faced the scrutiny of the law and the anguish of his own family. The accusations against him span from February 2021 to February 2024, a period during which he allegedly promised lucrative returns to investors, only to leave them empty-handed and disillusioned.</p> <p>For Newby, the betrayal cut deep. She had entrusted her grandson with a substantial sum, believing it to be an investment in his trading business, Codex Investments. His promises of monthly returns seemed enticing, but when the payments abruptly ceased, Newby's world shattered.</p> <p>"He has ruined our lives," she lamented. "How could he do it to me? I'm his grandmother." </p> <p>Endersby's arrest earlier this month marked a turning point in the unravelling of his alleged scheme. Facing 11 charges of fraud, he appeared in Perth Magistrates Court, where his family, including his mother, sought answers and reconciliation. However, Endersby remained aloof, ignoring their attempts at communication.</p> <p>In the lead-up to his court appearance, Newby expressed her desire for her grandson to acknowledge the pain he caused. "He will feel terrible when he sees me, and I want him to look me in the eye and know how much he's hurt me," she said, her anguish palpable.</p> <p>The allegations against Endersby paint a stark contrast to his earlier life. Once a telesales consultant and labourer, he purportedly transformed into a "self-taught investor" with a multimillion-dollar portfolio and a lifestyle of luxury. Flashy holidays, upscale accommodations and a Maserati adorned his newfound prosperity, allegedly funded by the deceitful machinations of a Ponzi scheme.</p> <p>As the details of Endersby's alleged deception emerged, more victims came forward, each recounting their own stories of financial loss and shattered trust. Michael Dawson, who invested in Endersby's business 18 months prior, described initial returns followed by a troubling silence. Others spoke of referral schemes that seemingly built trust but ultimately ensnared unsuspecting investors in a web of deceit.</p> <p>Amid the courtroom drama and legal proceedings, questions linger about the true extent of Endersby's alleged scheme and the lives it impacted. As he awaits his next court appearance on April 19, the echoes of broken trust and shattered dreams serve as a stark reminder of the devastating consequences of financial fraud.</p> <p><em>Images: Nine News</em></p>

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On a climate rollercoaster: how Australia’s environment fared in the world’s hottest year

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/albert-van-dijk-25318">Albert Van Dijk</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/shoshana-rapley-711675">Shoshana Rapley</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tayla-lawrie-1517759">Tayla Lawrie</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>Global climate <a href="https://wmo.int/media/news/wmo-confirms-2023-smashes-global-temperature-record">records were shattered</a> in 2023, from air and sea temperatures to sea-level rise and sea-ice extent. Scores of countries recorded their hottest year and numerous weather disasters occurred as climate change reared its head.</p> <p>How did Australia’s environment fare against this onslaught? In short, 2023 was a year of opposites.</p> <p>For the past nine years, we have trawled through huge volumes of data collected by satellites, measurement stations and surveys by individuals and agencies. We include data on global change, oceans, people, weather, water, soils, vegetation, fire and biodiversity.</p> <p>Each year, we analyse those data, summarising them in an <a href="https://bit.ly/ausenv2023">annual report</a> that includes an overall Environmental Condition Score and <a href="https://ausenv.online/aer/scorecards/">regional scorecards</a>. These scores provide a relative measure of conditions for agriculture and ecosystems. Scores declined across the country, except in the Northern Territory, but were still relatively good.</p> <p>However, the updated <a href="https://tsx.org.au/">Threatened Species Index</a> shows the abundance of listed bird, mammal and plant species has continued to decline at a rate of about 3% a year since the turn of the century.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?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/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=357&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=357&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=357&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=448&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=448&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=448&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Environmental condition indicators for 2023, showing the changes from 2000–2022 average values. Such differences can be part of a long-term trend or within normal variability.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.wenfo.org/aer/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/2023_Australias_Environment_Report-1.pdf">Australia's Environment 2023 Report.</a></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Riding a climate rollercoaster in 2023</h2> <p>Worldwide, <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-2023s-record-heat-worsened-droughts-floods-and-bushfires-around-the-world-220836">77 countries broke temperature records</a>. Australia was not one of them. Our annual average temperature was 0.53°C below the horror year 2019. Temperatures in the seas around us were below the records of 2022.</p> <p>Even so, 2023 was among Australia’s eight warmest years in both cases. All eight came after 2005.</p> <p>However, those numbers are averaged over the year. Dig a bit deeper and it becomes clear 2023 was a climate rollercoaster.</p> <p>The year started as wet as the previous year ended, but dry and unseasonably warm weather set in from May to October. Soils and wetlands across much of the country started drying rapidly. In the eastern states, the fire season started as early as August.</p> <p>Nonetheless, there was generally still enough water to support good vegetation growth throughout the unusually warm and sunny winter months.</p> <p>Fears of a severe fire season were not realised as El Niño’s influence waned in November and rainfall returned, in part due to the warm oceans. Combined with relatively high temperatures, it made for a hot and humid summer. A tropical cyclone and several severe storms caused flooding in Queensland and Victoria in December.</p> <p>As always, there were regional differences. Northern Australia experienced the best rainfall and growth conditions in several years. This contributed to more grass fires than average during the dry season. On the other hand, the rain did not return to Western Australia and Tasmania, which ended the year dry.</p> <h2>So how did scores change?</h2> <p>Every year we calculate an Environmental Condition Score that combines weather, water and vegetation data.</p> <p>The national score was 7.5 (out of 10). That was 1.2 points lower than for 2022, but still the second-highest score since 2011.</p> <p>Scores declined across the country except for the Northern Territory, which chalked up a score of 8.8 thanks to a strong monsoon season. With signs of drought developing in parts of Western Australia, it had the lowest score of 5.5.</p> <p>The Environmental Condition Score reflects environmental conditions, but does not measure the long-term health of natural ecosystems and biodiversity.</p> <p>Firstly, it relates only to the land and not our oceans. Marine heatwaves damaged ecosystems along the eastern coast. Surveys in the first half of 2023 suggested the recovery of the Great Barrier Reef plateaued.</p> <p>However, a cyclone and rising ocean temperatures occurred later in the year. In early 2024, <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-great-barrier-reefs-latest-bout-of-bleaching-is-the-fifth-in-eight-summers-the-corals-now-have-almost-no-reprieve-225348">another mass coral bleaching event</a> developed.</p> <p>Secondly, the score does not capture important processes affecting our many threatened species. Among the greatest dangers are invasive pests and diseases, habitat destruction and damage from severe weather events such as heatwaves and megafires.</p> <h2>Threatened species’ declines continued</h2> <p>The <a href="https://tsx.org.au/">Threatened Species Index</a> captures data from long-term threatened species monitoring. The index is updated annually with a three-year lag, largely due to delays in data processing and sharing. This means the 2023 index includes data up to 2020.</p> <p>The index showed an unrelenting decline of about 3% in the abundance of Australia’s threatened bird, mammal and plant species each year. This amounts to an overall decline of 61% from 2000 to 2020.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?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/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=440&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=440&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=440&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Line graph of Threatened Species Index" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Threatened Species Index showing the abundance of different categories of species listed under the EPBC Act relative to 2000.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.wenfo.org/aer/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/2023_Australias_Environment_Report-1.pdf">Australia's Environment 2023 Report</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>The index for birds in 2023 revealed declines were most severe for terrestrial birds (62%), followed by migratory shorebirds (47%) and marine birds (24%).</p> <p>A record 130 species were added to Australia’s <a href="https://www.dcceew.gov.au/environment/biodiversity/threatened/nominations">threatened species lists</a> in 2023. That’s many more than the annual average of 29 species over previous years. The 2019–2020 <a href="https://theconversation.com/200-experts-dissected-the-black-summer-bushfires-in-unprecedented-detail-here-are-6-lessons-to-heed-198989">Black Summer bushfires</a> had direct impacts on half the newly listed species.</p> <h2>Population boom adds to pressures</h2> <p>Australia’s population passed <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/population/population-clock-pyramid">27 million</a> in 2023, a stunning increase of 8 million, or 41%, since 2000. Those extra people all needed living space, food, electricity and transport.</p> <p>Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions <a href="https://www.dcceew.gov.au/climate-change/publications/australias-emissions-projections-2023">have risen by 18% since 2000</a>. Despite small declines in the previous four years, emissions increased again in 2023, mostly due to air travel rebounding after COVID-19.</p> <p>Our emissions per person are the <a href="https://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/report_2023">tenth-highest in the world</a> and more than three times those of the average global citizen. The main reasons are our coal-fired power stations, <a href="https://theconversation.com/australian-passenger-vehicle-emission-rates-are-50-higher-than-the-rest-of-the-world-and-its-getting-worse-222398">inefficient road vehicles</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/mar/11/how-many-cattle-are-there-in-australia-we-may-be-out-by-10-million">large cattle herd</a>.</p> <p>Nonetheless, there are reasons to be optimistic. Many other countries have dramatically <a href="https://ourworldindata.org/co2-gdp-decoupling">reduced emissions without compromising economic growth</a> or quality of life. All we have to do is to finally follow their lead.</p> <p>Our governments have an obvious role to play, but we can do a lot as individuals. We can even save money, by switching to renewable energy and electric vehicles and by eating less beef.</p> <p>Changing our behaviour will not stop climate change in its tracks, but will slow it down over the next decades and ultimately reverse it. We cannot reverse or even stop all damage to our environment, but we can certainly do much better.<!-- 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/225268/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/albert-van-dijk-25318">Albert Van Dijk</a>, Professor, Water and Landscape Dynamics, Fenner School of Environment &amp; Society, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/shoshana-rapley-711675">Shoshana Rapley</a>, Research Assistant, Fenner School of Environment &amp; Society, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tayla-lawrie-1517759">Tayla Lawrie</a>, Project Manager, Threatened Species Index, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</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/on-a-climate-rollercoaster-how-australias-environment-fared-in-the-worlds-hottest-year-225268">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Dean Ingwerson | NSW.gov.au</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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How 8-year-old Ruby McLellan became Australia's youngest home owner

<p>Move over, monopoly tycoons and pretend princes of pretend kingdoms – meet Ruby McLellan, the pint-sized powerhouse who's rewriting the rules of real estate and giving the term "property ladder" a literal twist.</p> <p>That's right: Ruby is just eight years old and already owns a four-bedroom house. Meanwhile, most of us can barely find matching socks in the morning.</p> <p>Now, before you start picturing a tiny landlord with a playhouse adorned with "No Girls Allowed" signs, let's delve into Ruby's remarkable tale of fiscal responsibility and pocket money prowess.</p> <p>While most kids her age were still trying to figure out if they preferred chocolate or strawberry milk, Ruby was busy checking out property market trends and crunching numbers like a seasoned Wall Street mogul. With the help of her siblings, Angus (14) and Lucy (13), Ruby pooled their collective pocket money - a grand total of $6000 - to secure a deposit for their first property. Their weapon of choice? Not lemonade stands or tooth fairy funds, but good old-fashioned hard work and frugality. The result? A four-bedroom home in Clyde, southeast of Melbourne, bought by the McLellan kids for $671,000.</p> <p>Their dad, Cam McLellan, CEO of a property investment company, guided them through the labyrinth of real estate jargon, teaching them about positive gearing and growth corridors. While other kids were learning their times tables, Ruby was calculating potential rental yields. Talk about a head start in life!</p> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">And while their friends were blowing their allowances on the latest toys and gadgets, these pint-sized property moguls were saying no to impulse buys and yes to long-term investments. It's like they were born with calculators instead of rattles.</span></p> <p>Now, you might be wondering, what's next for these mini-magnates? Well, they plan to hold onto their property until Lucy and Angus hit their early 20s, ensuring they've waited through one full "growth property cycle". After that, it's off to the races, with hopes that their humble abode will fetch a cool million bucks.</p> <p>But Ruby's not stopping there. She's already asking about tax implications and property sales, proving that she's got the brains to match her business acumen. Who needs a lemonade stand when you can have a diversified investment portfolio?</p> <p>So, while most kids are busy mastering Fortnite dances or perfecting their TikTok routines, Ruby McLellan is out here making moves in the property market. Who knows? Maybe one day we'll all be renting from her property empire.</p> <p>But just remember, when you're paying rent to an eight-year-old landlord, be sure to pay on time. Late fees might include extra homework assignments or a mandatory bedtime story session. Hey, it's all in the lease agreement...</p> <p><em>Image: The Today Show</em></p>

Money & Banking

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How will Meta’s refusal to pay for news affect Australian journalism – and our democracy?

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-greste-616885">Peter Greste</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p>When we speak of media freedom, we generally mean it in terms of freedom <em>from</em> unnecessary legal restrictions, so journalists and their sources are not threatened with prosecution for exposing the misdeeds of governments.</p> <p>But the announcement by Meta (Facebook’s parent company) on March 1 that it will <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-03-01/meta-won-t-renew-deal-with-australian-news-media/103533874">stop paying for Australian news content</a> poses a different kind of threat to media freedom.</p> <p>The most progressive <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-push-to-make-social-media-companies-liable-in-defamation-is-great-for-newspapers-and-lawyers-but-not-you-127513">media freedom laws</a> in the world are meaningless if news companies can’t afford to hire experienced journalists to run expensive investigations. It doesn’t matter how free the laws are if there are no journalists to do the reporting.</p> <p>A <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-37265-1_4">key part of any successful democracy</a> is a free media, capable of interrogating the powerful and holding governments to account. Even in a world overflowing with digital content, we recognise the need for good journalism, produced to ethical and professional standards, to help inform public debate and good policy-making.</p> <h2>It was always going to fall apart</h2> <p>Three years ago, in 2021, under <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/by-industry/digital-platforms-and-services/news-media-bargaining-code/news-media-bargaining-code">the News Media Bargaining Code</a>, the government forced Meta and Google to negotiate with news organisations and pay for the right to access and post their stories.</p> <p>The government introduced the code after <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2024/3/1/facebook-owner-meta-to-end-deals-funding-news-in-australia-germany-france">Facebook and Google were accused of putting news content on their platforms</a>, while denying news organisations the advertising revenues that used to pay for journalism.</p> <p>Although we don’t know exactly who gets paid what, it is estimated that the two digital giants injected <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/1b-for-journalism-at-risk-in-new-warning-over-google-facebook-20240223-p5f78j.html">about $250 million a year</a> into Australian journalism.</p> <p>It wasn’t enough to end the crisis in news caused by the collapse of the old business models, but it <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Communications/Regionalnewspapers/Report/Section?id=committees%2Freportrep%2F024888%2F79305">helped prop up</a> a lot of struggling companies. In some cases, it helped pay for otherwise unprofitable forms of journalism.</p> <p>One of the big problems with the code was that it pushed media companies into inherently unstable and unpredictable deals with commercial behemoths, whose only interest in news was as a commodity to help drive profits. It was always going to fall apart, if and when news became too expensive and Facebook users became disinterested.</p> <p>It is hard to criticise Meta for deciding the deals weren’t worth it. The company is doing what it is supposed to, making hardheaded commercial decisions and maximising shareholder returns. But Meta’s interests are not the same as the Australian public’s.</p> <p>Or more accurately, Meta’s interests are not the same as our democracy’s. Meta doesn’t need high-quality news, particularly if its users are more interested in sharing family photos than sober reporting on inflation rates. But collectively, our society does need it.</p> <p>High-quality news is expensive. It doesn’t cost much to send someone to report on <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-are-taylor-swift-tickets-so-hard-to-get-the-economics-are-complicated-208567">Taylor Swift’s</a> Melbourne concert, but it is hugely expensive to cover <a href="https://theconversation.com/other-nations-are-applying-sanctions-and-going-to-court-over-gaza-should-nz-join-them-224132">the war in Gaza</a> or investigate allegations of government corruption.</p> <p>I suspect not that many Australians have read Adele Ferguson’s reporting about the <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace/adele-ferguson-on-the-cost-of-whistleblowing-and-need-for-a-bank-royal-commission-20160505-gomxc4.html">corrupt practices of our biggest banks</a>. Her investigations took years of work, and cost far more than the Sydney Morning Herald would have recovered in subscriptions and advertising revenue for her stories.</p> <p>But her reporting triggered the <a href="https://www.royalcommission.gov.au/banking">Banking Royal Commission</a> and a suite of reforms that benefit everyone with a bank account.</p> <h2>A news levy?</h2> <p>If we accept that news is a public good, not something we can treat as a product to be traded like soap, then we have to develop economic models that somehow get the public to pay for it. It could be something like a levy – similar to Medicare’s – that recognises even if we don’t all consume news equally, we are collectively better off by having good journalism that’s free from commercial or political pressure.</p> <p>It is a difficult conversation to have, particularly when most Australians say <a href="https://www.edelman.com.au/trust/2023/trust-barometer">they don’t trust the media</a>, and more and more of us are <a href="https://www.canberra.edu.au/uc-alumni-canvas/canvas-articles/posts/news-blues-over-half-of-australians-avoid-the-news">giving up on news altogether</a>.</p> <p>And that brings us to the other truth this crisis has exposed: our consumption of media <a href="https://www.canberra.edu.au/about-uc/media/newsroom/2023/june/digital-news-report-australia-2023-tiktok-and-instagram-increase-in-popularity-for-news-consumption,-but-australians-dont-trust-algorithms">has changed irreversibly</a>. Fewer and fewer people are reading long news stories or wading through heavy TV bulletins. Now, short-form videos on TikTok, YouTube and Facebook are dominant. The news industry needs to meet audiences where they are, and accept that the ways of presenting news must also radically change.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3RW1U9Q-lzw?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Our ways of consuming the news have changed, with short-form videos now dominant.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>This is not to suggest all journalism should henceforth be presented as TikTok videos. But forcing digital giants to prop up analogue-era news companies cements a system that is no longer fit for purpose.</p> <p>By trying to make the big digital giants pay for content they ultimately profit from, the News Media Bargaining Code started with the right intention. But now that Meta has decided it is no longer worth it, we have a chance to radically rethink and redesign how we finance and deliver news – in a way that works for us all.</p> <p>Our democracy depends on it.<!-- 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/224872/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-greste-616885">Peter Greste</a>, Professor of Journalism and Communications, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-will-metas-refusal-to-pay-for-news-affect-australian-journalism-and-our-democracy-224872">original article</a>.</p>

Legal

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How long does menopause last? 5 tips for navigating uncertain times

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/yvonne-middlewick-1395795">Yvonne Middlewick</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p>Around half of the world’s population are women or people who menstruate – yet the way their body works can be a mystery, even to them.</p> <p>Most women will experience periods roughly every month, many will go through childbirth and those who live into midlife will experience menopause.</p> <p>While menopause is a significant time of change, it isn’t talked about much, other than as a punchline. This may contribute to keeping it a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/membership/2019/sep/21/breaking-the-menopause-taboo-there-are-vital-stories-we-should-continue-to-pursue">taboo topic</a>.</p> <p>So, what happens during menopause? How do you know when it is happening to you? And – the thing most women want to know – how long will it last?</p> <h2>What is menopause?</h2> <p>Menopause is <a href="https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-menopause">defined</a> as the permanent cessation of menstruation, which is medically determined to be one year after the final menstrual period. After this time women are considered to be postmenopausal.</p> <p>The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26598775/">average age</a> of “natural menopause” (that is not caused by a medical condition, treatment or surgery) is considered to be around 51 years.</p> <p>However, natural menopause does not occur suddenly. <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Riitta-Luoto/publication/46425690_Prevalence_of_menopause_symptoms_and_their_association_with_lifestyle_among_Finnish_middle-aged_women/links/5c5704ac458515a4c7553c7b/Prevalence-of-menopause-symptoms-and-their-association-with-lifestyle-among-Finnish-middle-aged-women.pdf">Changes can begin</a> a number of years before periods stop and most often occur in a woman’s 40s but they can be earlier. Changes <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25686030/">can continue</a> for 10 years or more after periods have stopped.</p> <p>Using hormones such as the oral contraceptive pill or hormone intrauterine devices may make it more <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31934948/">difficult to determine</a> when changes start.</p> <p>Menopause that occurs <a href="https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/early-or-premature-menopause#:%7E:text=Menopause%20that%20happens%20before%20age,to%20come%20earlier%20than%20usual.">before 45</a> is called “early menopause”, while menopause before 40 is called “premature menopause”.</p> <h2>What about perimenopause?</h2> <p>Various <a href="https://www.menopause.org.au/hp/information-sheets/glossary-of-terms">terms</a> are used to describe this period of change, including “menopause” or “the menopause”, “menopausal transition”, “perimenopause” or “<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12188398/">climacteric</a>”.</p> <p>These terms tend to refer to the period before and after the final menstrual period, when changes are considered to be related to menopause.</p> <p>The difficulty with the definition of menopause is it can only be decided retrospectively. Yet women can experience changes many years before their periods stop (a lead up usually called “perimenopause”). Also, any <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/sdfe/pdf/download/eid/1-s2.0-S0889854518300627/first-page-pdf">changes noticed</a> may not be associated with menopause (because people might not be aware of what to expect) or changes may be associated with a combination of factors such as stress, being busy or other health issues.</p> <h2>So, what is going on?</h2> <p>Through a feminist lens, menopause can be seen as a <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/354652248_The_volcano_within_a_study_of_women's_lived_experience_of_the_journey_through_natural_menopause">complex and diverse experience</a>, influenced by biological, psychological, social and cultural aspects of women’s lives.</p> <p>However, it is usually viewed from the biomedical perspective. This sees it as a biological event, marked by the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091302220300418">decline</a> in ovarian hormone levels leading to a reduction in reproductive function.</p> <p>The female reproductive system operates because of a finely tuned balance of hormones managed by the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6466056/#:%7E:text=The%20hypothalamic%2Dpituitary%2Dovarian%20(HPO)%20axis%20must%20be,priming%20the%20endometrium%20for%20implantation.">hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis</a>. International <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3340903/">experts</a> have developed a staging system for female reproductive ageing, with seven stages from “early reproductive” years to “late postmenopause”.</p> <p>However, female reproductive hormones do not just affect the reproductive system but <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091302220300418">other aspects</a> of the body’s function. These include the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26007613/">neurological system</a>, which is linked to hot flushes and night sweats and disrupted sleep. Hormones may also affect the <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrdp20154">heart and body’s blood circulation</a>, bone health and potentially the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091302220300418">immune system</a>.</p> <p>Menopausal hormone changes may <a href="https://www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/menopause-information/menopause-symptoms/">cause</a> hot flushes, night/cold sweats, mood swings, sleep disruption and tiredness, vaginal dryness.</p> <p>Medical confirmation of menopausal changes in women over 45 years is based on two biological indicators: vasomotor symptoms (those hot flushes and night sweats again) and an <a href="https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/early-or-premature-menopause#:%7E:text=Menopause%20that%20happens%20before%20age,to%20come%20earlier%20than%20usual.">irregular menstrual cycle</a>.</p> <p>In early perimenopause the changes to the menstrual cycle may be subtle. Women may not recognise early indicators, unless they keep a record and know what to watch for.</p> <h2>How long does it last?</h2> <p>The body demonstrates an amazing ability to change over a lifetime. In a similar way to adolescence where long-lasting changes occur, the outcome of menopause is also change.</p> <p>Research suggests it is difficult to give an exact time frame for how long menopausal changes occur – the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085137/">average</a> is between four and eight years.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085137/">Penn Ovarian Ageing Study</a> found 79% of the 259 participants experienced hot flushes starting before the age of 50, most commonly between 45 and 49 years of age.</p> <p>A later report on the same study found one third of women studied experienced <a href="https://womensmidlifehealthjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40695-016-0014-2">moderate to severe hot flushes</a> more than ten years after their periods had stopped. A <a href="https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/2017/03000/Cultural_issues_in_menopause__an_exploratory.11.aspx">2017 study</a> found a small number of women continued to experience hot flushes and other symptoms into their 70s.</p> <p>So overall, the research cannot offer a specific window for perimenopause, and menopause does not appear to mark the end of changes for everyone.</p> <h2>5 tips for uncertain times</h2> <p>Shifts and changes can be recognised early by developing knowledge, paying attention to changes to our bodies and talking about menopause and perimenopause more openly.</p> <p>Here are five tips for moving from uncertainty to certainty:</p> <p><strong>1.</strong> talk to people and find out as much information as you can. The experiences of mothers and sisters may help, for some women there are familial similarities</p> <p><strong>2.</strong> notice any changes to your body and make a note of them, this will help you recognise changes earlier. There are <a href="https://www.redonline.co.uk/wellbeing/a36980118/menopause-apps/">menopause tracking apps</a> available</p> <p><strong>3.</strong> keep a note of your menstrual cycle: start date, duration, flow and note any changes. Again, an app might help</p> <p><strong>4.</strong> if you are worried, seek advice from a GP or nurse that specialises in women’s health. They may suggest ways to help with symptoms or refer to a specialist</p> <p><strong>5.</strong> remember changes are the indicator to pay attention to, not time or your age.</p> <p>Menopause is a natural process and although we have focused here on the time frame and “symptoms”, it can also be a time of freedom (particularly from periods!), reflection and a time to focus on yourself.<!-- 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/195211/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> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lhosPUwWhfI?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Women speak about their experiences of menopause.</span></figcaption></figure> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/yvonne-middlewick-1395795">Yvonne Middlewick</a>, Nurse &amp; Lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-long-does-menopause-last-5-tips-for-navigating-uncertain-times-195211">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Altitude sickness is typically mild but can sometimes turn very serious − a high-altitude medicine physician explains how to safely prepare

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brian-strickland-1506270">Brian Strickland</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-colorado-anschutz-medical-campus-4838">University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus</a></em></p> <p>Equipped with the latest gear and a thirst for adventure, mountaineers embrace the perils that come with conquering the world’s highest peaks. Yet, even those who tread more cautiously at high altitude are not immune from the health hazards waiting in the thin air above.</p> <p>Altitude sickness, which most commonly refers to <a href="https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000133.htm">acute mountain sickness</a>, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2010.02.003">presents a significant challenge</a> to those traveling to and adventuring in high-altitude destinations. Its symptoms can range from <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2017.0164">mildly annoying to incapacitating</a> and, in some cases, may progress to more <a href="https://doi.org/10.1183/16000617.0096-2016">life-threatening illnesses</a>.</p> <p>While <a href="https://doi.org/10.18111/9789284424023">interest in high-altitude tourism is rapidly growing</a>, general awareness and understanding about the hazards of visiting these locations <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2022.0083">remains low</a>. The more travelers know, the better they can prepare for and enjoy their journey.</p> <p>As an <a href="https://som.cuanschutz.edu/Profiles/Faculty/Profile/36740">emergency physician specializing in high-altitude illnesses</a>, I work to improve health care in remote and mountainous locations around the world. I’m invested in finding ways to allow people from all backgrounds to experience the magic of the mountains in an enjoyable and meaningful way.</p> <h2>The science behind altitude sickness</h2> <p>Altitude sickness is rare in locations lower than 8,200 feet (2,500 meters); however, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430716/">it becomes very common</a> when ascending above this elevation. In fact, it affects about <a href="https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2024/environmental-hazards-risks/high-elevation-travel-and-altitude-illness">25% of visitors to the mountains of Colorado</a>, where I conduct most of my research.</p> <p>The risk rapidly increases with higher ascents. Above 9,800 feet (3,000 meters), up to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430716/">75% of travelers</a> may develop symptoms. Symptoms of altitude sickness are usually mild and consist of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2017.0164">headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue and insomnia</a>. They usually <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rceng.2019.12.009">resolve after one to two days</a>, as long as travelers stop their ascent, and the symptoms quickly resolve with descent.</p> <p>When travelers do not properly acclimatize, they can be susceptible to life-threatening altitude illnesses, such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resp.2007.05.002">high-altitude pulmonary edema</a> or <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/1527029041352054">high-altitude cerebral edema</a>. These conditions are characterized by fluid accumulation within the tissues of the lungs and brain, respectively, and are the <a href="https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2024/environmental-hazards-risks/high-elevation-travel-and-altitude-illness">most severe forms of altitude sickness</a>.</p> <p>Altitude sickness symptoms are thought to be caused by <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093%2Fbjaceaccp%2Fmks047">increased pressure surrounding the brain</a>, which results from the failure of the body to acclimatize to higher elevations.</p> <p>As people enter into an environment with lower air pressure and, therefore, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.18036">lower oxygen content</a>, their <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093%2Fbjaceaccp%2Fmks047">breathing rate increases</a> in order to compensate. This causes an increase in the amount of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/s1357-2725(03)00050-5">oxygen in the blood as well as decreased CO₂ levels</a>, which then increases blood pH. As a result, the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093%2Fbjaceaccp%2Fmks047">kidneys compensate</a> by removing a chemical called bicarbonate from the blood into the urine. This process makes people urinate more and helps correct the acid and alkaline content of the blood to a more normal level.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iv1vQPIdX_k?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Tips for preventing or reducing the risk of altitude sickness.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>The importance of gradual ascent</h2> <p>High-altitude medicine experts and other physicians <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(76)91677-9">have known for decades</a> that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2010.1006">taking time to slowly ascend is the best way</a> to prevent the development of altitude sickness.</p> <p>This strategy gives the body time to complete its natural physiologic responses to the changes in air pressure and oxygen content. In fact, spending just <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2010.1006">one night at a moderate elevation</a>, such as Denver, Colorado, which is at 5,280 feet (1,600 meters), has been shown to <a href="https://doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-118-8-199304150-00003">significantly reduce the likelihood of developing symptoms</a>.</p> <p>People who skip this step and travel directly to high elevations are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/jtm/taad011">up to four times more likely</a> to develop altitude sickness symptoms. When going to elevations greater than 11,000 feet, multiple days of acclimatization are necessary. Experts generally recommend ascending <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2010.1006">no more than 1,500 feet per day</a> once the threshold of 8,200 feet of elevation has been crossed.</p> <p>Workers at high altitude, such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2020.0004">porters in the Nepali Himalaya</a>, are at <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2018.06.002">particular risk of altitude-related illness</a>. These workers often do not adhere to acclimatization recommendations in order to maximize earnings during tourist seasons; as a result, they are more likely to experience <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2024/environmental-hazards-risks/high-elevation-travel-and-altitude-illness">severe forms of altitude sickness</a>.</p> <h2>Effective medications</h2> <p>For more than 40 years, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1056/nejm196810172791601">a medicine called acetazolamide</a> has been used to <a href="https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682756.html">prevent the development of altitude sickness</a> and to treat its symptoms. Acetazolamide is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557838/">commonly used as a diuretic</a> and for the <a href="https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/glaucoma">treatment of glaucoma</a>, a condition that causes increased pressure within the eye.</p> <p>If started <a href="https://doi.org/10.1378/chest.09-2445">two days prior</a> to going up to a high elevation, acetazolamide can <a href="https://doi.org/10.1378/chest.09-2445">prevent symptoms of acute illness</a> by speeding up the acclimatization process. Nonetheless, it does not negate the recommendations to ascend slowly, and it is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2019.04.006">routinely recommended only</a> when people cannot slowly ascend or for people who have a history of severe altitude sickness symptoms even with slow ascent.</p> <p>Other medications, including ibuprofen, have <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2012.08.001">shown some effectiveness</a> in treating acute mountain sickness, although <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2018.10.021">not as well as acetazolamide</a>.</p> <p>A <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2028586/">steroid medication called dexamethasone</a> is effective in both treating and preventing symptoms, but it does not improve acclimatization. It is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2019.04.006">recommended only when acetazolamide is not effective</a> or cannot be taken.</p> <p>Additionally, it is important to <a href="https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/travel-to-high-altitudes">avoid alcohol during the first few days at higher altitudes</a>, as it impairs the body’s ability to acclimatize.</p> <h2>Unproven therapies and remedies are common</h2> <p>As high-altitude tourism becomes increasingly popular, multiple commercial products and remedies have emerged. Most of them are not effective or provide no evidence to suggest they work as advertised. Other options have mixed evidence, making them difficult to recommend.</p> <p>Medications such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2007.1037">aspirin</a>, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1183/13993003.01355-2017">inhaled steroids</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2011.0007">sildenafil</a> have been proposed as possible preventive agents for altitude sickness, but on the whole they have not been found to be effective.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/qjmed/hcp026">Supplements and antioxidants have no proven benefit</a> in preventing or treating altitude sickness symptoms. Both normal and high-altitude exercise are popular ways to prepare for high elevations, especially among athletes. However, beyond <a href="https://doi.org/10.1097/jes.0b013e31825eaa33">certain pre-acclimatization strategies</a>, such as brief sojourns to high altitude, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tmaid.2013.12.002">physical fitness and training is of little benefit</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://missouripoisoncenter.org/canned-oxygen-is-it-good-for-you">Canned oxygen</a> has also exploded in popularity with travelers. While <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/0140-6736(90)93240-p">continuously administered medical oxygen</a> in a health care setting can alleviate altitude sickness symptoms, portable oxygen cans <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2019.04.006">contain very little oxygen gas</a>, casting doubt on their effectiveness.</p> <p>Some high-altitude adventure travelers sleep in <a href="https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200131040-00002">specialized tents</a> that simulate increased elevation by lowering the quantity of available oxygen in ambient air. The lower oxygen levels within the tent are thought to accelerate the acclimatization process, but the tents aren’t able to decrease barometric pressure. This is an important part of the high-altitude environment that induces acclimatization. Without modifying ambient air pressure, these <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2014.04.004">tents may take multiple weeks</a> to be effective.</p> <p>Natural medicines, such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1580/08-weme-br-247.1">gingko</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s40794-019-0095-7">coca leaves</a>, are touted as natural altitude sickness treatments, but few studies have been done on them. The modest benefits and significant side effects of these options makes their use <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2019.04.006">difficult to recommend</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8469948/">Staying hydrated</a> is very important at high altitudes due to fluid losses from increased urination, dry air and increased physical exertion. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186%2Fs12889-018-6252-5">Dehydration symptoms</a> can also mimic those of altitude sickness. But there is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1580/1080-6032(2006)17%5B215:AMSIOF%5D2.0.CO;2">little evidence that consuming excessive amounts of water</a> can prevent or treat altitude sickness.</p> <p>The mountains have something for visitors of all interests and expertise and can offer truly life-changing experiences. While there are health risks associated with travel at higher elevations, these can be lessened by making basic preparations and taking time to slowly ascend.<!-- 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/222057/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/brian-strickland-1506270"><em>Brian Strickland</em></a><em>, Senior Instructor in Emergency Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-colorado-anschutz-medical-campus-4838">University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus</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/altitude-sickness-is-typically-mild-but-can-sometimes-turn-very-serious-a-high-altitude-medicine-physician-explains-how-to-safely-prepare-222057">original article</a>.</em></p>

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