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Russell Hill's daughter shares her outrage over Greg Lynn's sentence

<p>Russell Hill's daughter has expressed her anger over the jury's verdict of former pilot Greg Lynn, who was found not guilty for Hill's murder. </p> <p>Greg Lynn faced a lengthy trial over the deaths of campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay, but after a week of jury deliberations, was only <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/shocking-verdict-in-trial-of-murdered-campers" target="_blank" rel="noopener">found guilty</a> for the murder of Carol and was cleared of charges relating to Russell's death. </p> <p>Following the shock verdict, Hill's daughter Debbi, said she was “angry” at the jury and that she felt her father didn’t get the justice he deserved. </p> <p>“It’s new, we’ve only just found out, but the more I think about it, the more angry I get at the fact that it didn’t have to be this way,” Ms Hill told <em>60 Minutes</em> on Sunday. </p> <p>“My dad was not a violent person in any way. He wouldn’t have provoked anything.”</p> <p>Ms Hill went on to say that she thinks about what happened to her father every day. </p> <p>“I’m just really angry that he went camping that day, that time, that he is the person he is and he happened to be right there with my dad and Carol, and this is what happened,” she said. </p> <p>“I think it was just really bad luck for Dad and Carol that they were there at the time, but it wouldn’t have happened if he [Lynn] wasn’t such an awful person.”</p> <p>After the trial concluded, more information has come to light about Lynn's past after non-publication orders were lifted.</p> <p>His first wife Lisa Lynn, 34, was found dead in the front yard of her home in 1999, with a coroner’s report indicating a blood-alcohol level of 0.21 and high levels of anti-depression medication present in her system at the time of her death. </p> <p>No suicide note was ever found and Lynn was never charged over her death, however detectives are now looking to have the Victorian coroner conduct a full inquest into the 1999 death.</p> <p>Ms Hill said it was quite concerning to learn about Lynn’s history, saying, “I hope he doesn’t get away with this, but I’ve lost a bit of faith in the whole system.”</p> <p>“I’m not trusting of it now. We’ll have to wait and see. He’s just such a terrible person.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook / Victoria Police </em></p>

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Here’s what happens to your body during plane turbulence – and how to reduce the discomfort it causes

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-taylor-283950">Adam Taylor</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/lancaster-university-1176">Lancaster University</a></em></p> <p>This week has seen another barrage of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/jan/22/uk-weather-storm-jocelyn-to-follow-isha-with-more-strong-winds-and-heavy-rain">unsettled weather</a> sweep across the UK, with many flights delayed or cancelled. Some of those who were fortunate enough to take off found themselves arriving at destinations that weren’t on their boarding passes – such as passengers travelling from Stansted to Newquay who eventually diverted to <a href="https://uk.news.yahoo.com/storm-isha-creates-flight-diversion-142821278.html">Malaga</a>.</p> <p>One thing that was consistently described by passengers was that parts of the flights and the attempted landings were some of the most unnerving they’d ever experienced, due to turbulence.</p> <p>Turbulence results from uneven air movement, which is <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2023GL103814">increasing</a> in frequency. If you turn your hair dryer on at home and hold it still, the air moves at a constant rate, but once you begin drying your hair and moving the hairdryer around, the air movement becomes uneven, that is to say, turbulent.</p> <p>Although turbulence may be unnerving and make you feel unwell, it is important to recognise that it is very common and typically <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18018437/">nothing to worry about</a> if you’re in your seat with your seatbelt fastened.</p> <h2>How the body detects and responds to turbulence</h2> <p>The body recognises itself within any environment. Its relationship with objects in terms of distance and direction is called <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/B9780123750006003414">spatial orientation</a>.</p> <p>When flying, this is typically moving forwards, ascending, some turns and a descent. However, turbulence disrupts this relationship and confuses the sensory information being received by the brain – it makes the body want to respond or recalibrate.</p> <p>Our inner ears play a pivotal role in all this. It consists of complex apparatuses that undertake more than hearing. These include the cochlea, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279394/">three semi-circular canals</a>, <a href="https://radiopaedia.org/articles/utricle-ear?lang=gb">the utricle</a> and <a href="https://radiopaedia.org/articles/saccule-ear-1?lang=gb">the saccule</a>.</p> <p>The cochlea is responsible for hearing. It converts <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531483/">sound energy into electrical energy</a> that is then “heard” by the brain. The remaining structures are responsible for the balance and position of the head and body. The semi-circular canals are positioned in a vertical (side to side), horizontal and front-to-back plane, detecting movement in a nodding, shaking and touching ear-to-shoulder direction.</p> <p>Attached to these canals are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532978/">the utricle and saccule</a>, which can detect <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK10792/">movement</a> and <a href="https://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdf/S0960-9822(05)00837-7.pdf">acceleration</a>.</p> <p>All of these apparatuses use microscopic hair cells in a specialised fluid called <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531505/">endolymph</a> that flows with the head to create a sense of movement. When the plane encounters turbulence, this fluid moves around, but unpredictably. It takes <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK518976/">about ten to 20 seconds</a> for the fluid to recalibrate its position, while the brain struggles to understand what is going on.</p> <p>When the aircraft hits turbulence, the balance apparatus <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2023.949227/full">cannot distinguish</a> the movement of the plane from that of the head, so the brain interprets the aircraft movement as that of the head or body. But this doesn’t match the visual information being received, which causes sensory confusion.</p> <p>The reason the inner ear causes so much confusion is because during flights you are devoid of your primary sensory tool relative to the external environment – your sight and the horizon.</p> <p>Eighty per cent of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK518976/">spatial information</a> comes from your eyes during flight. However, you only have the seat in front of you or the cabin as a reference point, which means your inner ear becomes the dominant sensory message to the brain during turbulence and disrupts the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK545297/">“vestibulo-ocular reflex”</a>. This reflex keeps your vision <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4130651/">aligned</a> with your balance or expected position.</p> <p>Vision is the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6777262/">most valued</a> of the senses and one-third of the brain is attributed to its function, reinforcing its importance in spatial orientation.</p> <p>This sensory mixed messaging often results in things like dizziness and sweating as well as gastrointestinal symptoms, such as <a href="https://www.airmedicaljournal.com/article/S1067-991X(02)70038-2/fulltext">nausea and vomiting</a>.</p> <p>Motion sickness can be triggered by turbulence and although research into specific airsickness is limited, other modes that induce motion sickness suggest that <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16018346/">women</a> are <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26466829/">more susceptible</a> than men, particularly in the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16235881/">early stages</a> of the menstrual cycle.</p> <p>The turbulence also causes an increase in your heart rate, which is already higher than normal when flying because of a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15819766/">decrease in oxygen saturation</a>.</p> <h2>What about the pilots?</h2> <p>Commercial pilots accrue thousands of hours at the controls, they are subject to the same forces as the passengers.</p> <p>Over time, they can <a href="https://academic.oup.com/milmed/article/180/11/1135/4160573">adapt to these forces</a> and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15828634/">experiences</a>, but they also have a couple of additional resources that most passengers don’t.</p> <p>They have the view out of the cockpit windows, so have a horizon to use as a reference point and can see what lies immediately ahead.</p> <p>If it is cloudy or visibility is low, their instruments provide additional visual <a href="https://www.faa.gov/sites/faa.gov/files/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/phak/19_phak_ch17.pdf">reference</a> to the position of the aircraft. This doesn’t mean they are immune to the effects of turbulence, with some studies reporting up to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26540704/">71% of trainee pilots</a> reporting episodes of airsickness.</p> <h2>How to reduce the discomfort</h2> <p>A window seat can help, or even looking out the window. This gives the brain some sensory information through visual pathways, helping calm the brain in response to the vestibular information it is receiving.</p> <p>If you can get one, a seat towards the front or over the wing reduces the effects of turbulence.</p> <p>Deep or rhythmical breathing can help reduce motion sickness induced by turbulence. Focusing on your breathing <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25945662/">calms the nervous system</a>.</p> <p>Don’t reach for the alcohol. While you may feel it calms your nerves, if you hit turbulence it’s going to interfere with your <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7610847/">visual and auditory processing</a> and increase the likelihood of vomiting.</p> <p>If you suffer from motion sickness and are worried about turbulence while flying, then there are also <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6241144/">drugs that can help</a>, including certain <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/cinnarizine/about-cinnarizine/">antihistamines</a>.</p> <p>Finally, it’s important to remember that although turbulence can be unpleasant, aircraft are designed to withstand the forces it generates and many passengers, even frequent fliers, will rarely encounter the most severe categories of turbulence because pilots actively plan routes to avoid 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/221780/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/adam-taylor-283950">Adam Taylor</a>, Professor and Director of the Clinical Anatomy Learning Centre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/lancaster-university-1176">Lancaster University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/heres-what-happens-to-your-body-during-plane-turbulence-and-how-to-reduce-the-discomfort-it-causes-221780">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Want to reduce your dementia risk? Eat these 4 foods, says new study

<p>If you are what you eat, this might make you hungrier for foods that are bright in every sense. Research has shown that living, vibrant foods can slow down aging at a cellular level; while fruit and vegetables in particular have been associated with lower incidence of cognitive decline as individuals age.</p> <p>However, research has been relatively lacking on just how much of these brain-healthy foods you really need and which fruit and vegetables are best for the job.</p> <p>In collaboration with public health experts at Harvard University, medical researchers at China’s Zhejiang University School of Medicine conducted a meta-analysis that’s slated to be published in the June 2024 issue of <em>The Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging</em>. They combined data from two large-scale population-representative studies that analysed the diets and cognitive function of more than 10,000 participants ages 55 and older from China and the US.</p> <h2>What daily diets revealed</h2> <p>The data included diet questionnaires that honed in on the average of participants’ total daily intake of several different types of foods, including fruit and vegetables, and also broke them down into sub-types like green leafy vegetables and berries. Over a period of five years, the participants also took part in activities designed to assess their cognitive function and the average rate of cognitive decline.</p> <p>Overall, participants who included the most fruit and vegetables in their daily diets performed best on the brain tests and maintained those results over time. This suggested that both fruit and vegetables had protective elements that slowed cognitive decline.</p> <h2>Vegetables that help protect cognition</h2> <p>Interestingly, certain types of vegetables appeared to be more beneficial than others—say the researchers: “Our findings support the potential beneficial roles of VF, especially cruciferous vegetables, green leafy vegetables, and red and yellow vegetables, in maintaining cognitive function and slowing cognitive decline in middle-aged and older adults.”</p> <p>The researchers pointed to several reasons these particular vegetables might have shown a substantial impact, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidation nutrients like flavonoids and various vitamins or even gut improvements that have been shown to help improve or protect cognition.</p> <p>While beans didn’t figure prominently in both studies, they showed a protective element in the US study, so they are also worth keeping on your plate. (Beans are also thought to be one of the top foods for longevity.)</p> <h2>Fruit that pack a punch</h2> <p>As for fruit, while some didn’t show as much of a protective effect across the board, berries and apples are two examples of fruit that experts have previously said provide major polyphenol and antioxidant effect.</p> <p>Participants whose brains maintained performance were shown to have eaten three or more servings of vegetables and two or more servings of fruit per day. This is on par with the five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit recommended we eat every day.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/want-to-reduce-your-dementia-risk-eat-these-4-foods-says-new-study" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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Australians lose $5,200 a minute to scammers. There’s a simple thing the government could do to reduce this. Why won’t they?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-martin-682709">Peter Martin</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/crawford-school-of-public-policy-australian-national-university-3292">Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University</a></em></p> <p>What if the government was doing everything it could to stop thieves making off with our money, except the one thing that could really work?</p> <p>That’s how it looks when it comes to <a href="https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams">scams</a>, which are attempts to trick us out of our funds, usually by getting us to hand over our identities or bank details or transfer funds.</p> <p>Last year we lost an astonishing <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/scam-losses-decline-but-more-work-to-do-as-australians-lose-27-billion">A$2.74 billion</a> to scammers. That’s more than $5,200 per minute – and that’s only the scams we know about from the 601,000 Australians who made reports. Many more would have kept quiet.</p> <p>If the theft of $5,200 per minute seems over the odds for a country Australia’s size, a comparison with the United Kingdom suggests you are right. In 2022, people in the UK lost <a href="https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/system/files/2023-05/Annual%20Fraud%20Report%202023_0.pdf">£2,300</a> per minute, which is about A$4,400. The UK has two and a half times Australia’s population.</p> <p>It’s as if international scammers, using SMS, phone calls, fake invoices and fake web addresses are targeting Australia, because in other places it’s harder.</p> <p>If we want to cut Australians’ losses, it’s time to look at rules about to come into force in the UK.</p> <h2>Scams up 320% since 2020</h2> <p>The current federal government is doing a lot – <em>almost</em> everything it could. Within a year of taking office, it set up the <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/national-anti-scam-centre">National Anti-Scam Centre</a>, which coordinates intelligence. Just this week, the centre reported that figure of $2.74 billion, which is down 13% on 2022, but up 50% on 2021 and 320% on 2020.</p> <p>It’s planning “<a href="https://treasury.gov.au/consultation/c2023-464732">mandatory industry codes</a>” for banks, telecommunication providers and digital platforms.</p> <p>But the code it is proposing for banks, set out in a <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-11/c2023-464732-cp.pdf">consultation paper</a> late last year, is weak when compared to overseas.</p> <h2>Banks are the gatekeepers</h2> <p>Banks matter, because they are nearly always the means by which the money is transferred. Cryptocurrency is now much less used after the banks agreed to limit payments to high risk exchanges.</p> <p>Here’s an example of the role played by banks. A woman the Consumer Action Law Centre is calling <a href="https://consumeraction.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Joint-submission-CALC-CHOICE-ACCAN-31012024-Scams-Mandatory-code-treasury-consultA.pdf">Amelia</a> tried to sell a breast pump on Gumtree.</p> <p>The buyer asked for her bank card number and a one-time PIN and used the code to whisk out $9,100, which was sent overseas. The bank wouldn’t help because she had provided the one-time PIN.</p> <p>Here’s another. A woman the Competition and Consumer Commission is calling <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Targeting%20scams%202022.pdf">Niamh</a> was contacted by someone using the National Australia Bank’s SMS ID. Niamh was told her account was compromised and talked through how to transfer $300,000 to a “secure” account.</p> <p>After she had done it, the scammer told her it was a scam, laughed and said “we are in Brisbane, come find me”.</p> <h2>How bank rules protect scammers</h2> <p>And one more example. Former University of Melbourne academic <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/377766055_Scams_Blaming_the_Victims">Kim Sawyer</a> (that’s his real name, he is prepared to go public) clicked on an ad for “St George Capital” displaying the dragon logo of St. George Bank.</p> <p>He was called back by a man using the name of a real St. George employee, who persuaded him to transfer funds from accounts at the AMP, Citibank and Macquarie to accounts he was told would be in his and his wife’s name at Westpac, ANZ, the Commonwealth and Bendigo Banks.</p> <p>They lost <a href="https://www.afr.com/wealth/personal-finance/i-lost-2-5m-of-my-super-to-scammers-20240423-p5flzp">$2.5 million</a>. Sawyer says none of the banks – those that sent the funds or those that received them – would help him. Some cited “<a href="https://www.choice.com.au/money/financial-planning-and-investing/stock-market-investing/articles/st-george-capital-investment-scam">privacy</a>” reasons.</p> <p>The Consumer Action Law Centre says the banks that transfer the scammed funds routinely tell their customers “it’s nothing to do with us, you transferred the money, we can’t help you”. The banks receiving the funds routinely say “you’re not our customer, we can’t help you”.</p> <p>That’s here. Not in the UK.</p> <h2>UK bank customers get a better deal</h2> <p>In Australia in 2022, only <a href="https://download.asic.gov.au/media/mbhoz0pc/rep761-published-20-april-2023.pdf">13%</a> of attempted scam payments were stopped by banks before they took place. Once scammed, only 2% to 5% of losses (depending on the bank) were reimbursed or compensated.</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.psr.org.uk/information-for-consumers/app-fraud-performance-data/">the UK</a>, the top four banks pay out 49% to 73%.</p> <p>And they are about to pay out much more. From October 2024, reimbursement will be compulsory. Where authorised fast payments are made “because of deception by fraudsters”, the banks will have to reimburse <a href="https://www.thomsonreuters.com/en-us/posts/investigation-fraud-and-risk/app-fraud-uk">the lot</a>.</p> <p>Normally the bills will be split <a href="https://www.psr.org.uk/news-and-updates/latest-news/news/psr-confirms-new-requirements-for-app-fraud-reimbursement/">50:50</a> between the bank transferring the funds and the bank receiving them. Unless there’s a need for further investigations, the payments must be made within five days.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.psr.org.uk/media/as3a0xan/sr1-consumer-standard-of-caution-guidance-dec-2023.pdf">only exceptions</a> are where the consumer seeking reimbursement has acted fraudulently or with gross negligence.</p> <p>The idea behind the change – pushed through by the Conservative government now led by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – is that if scams are the banks’ problem, if they are costing them millions at a time, they’ll stop them.</p> <p><a href="https://www.thepost.co.nz/business/350197309/banks-given-fraud-ultimatum">New Zealand</a> is looking at doing the same thing, <a href="https://www.biocatch.com/blog/mas-shared-responsibility-fraud-losses">as is Singapore</a>.</p> <p>But here, the treasury’s discussion paper on its mandatory codes mentions reimbursement <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-11/c2023-464732-cp.pdf">only once</a>. That’s when it talks about what’s happening in the UK. Neither treasury nor the relevant federal minister is proposing it here.</p> <h2>Australia’s approach is softer</h2> <p>Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones is in charge of Australia’s rules.</p> <p>Asked why he wasn’t pushing for compulsory reimbursement here, Jones said on Monday <a href="https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/stephen-jones-2022/transcripts/interview-mark-gibson-abc-perth">prevention was better</a>.</p> <blockquote> <p>I think a simplistic approach of just saying, ‘Oh, well, if any loss, if anyone incurs a loss, then the bank always pay’, won’t work. It’ll just make Australia a honeypot for these international crime gangs, because they’ll say, well, ‘Let’s, you know, focus all of our activity on Australia because it’s a victimless crime if banks always pay’.</p> </blockquote> <p>Telling banks to pay would certainly focus the minds of the banks, in the way they are about to be focused in the UK.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.ausbanking.org.au/submissions/">Australian Banking Association</a> hasn’t published its submission to the treasury review, but the <a href="https://consumeraction.org.au/scams-mandatory-industry-codes-consultation-paper/">Consumer Action Law Centre</a> has.</p> <p>It says if banks had to reimburse money lost, they’d have more of a reason to keep it safe.</p> <p>In the UK, they are about to find out. If Jones is right, it might be about to become a honeypot for scammers. If he is wrong, his government will leave Australia even further behind when it comes to scams – leaving us thousands more dollars behind per day.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228867/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/peter-martin-682709">Peter Martin</a>, Visiting Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/crawford-school-of-public-policy-australian-national-university-3292">Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National 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/australians-lose-5-200-a-minute-to-scammers-theres-a-simple-thing-the-government-could-do-to-reduce-this-why-wont-they-228867">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Property tycoon sentenced to death over $27 billion fraud

<p>A Vietnamese billionaire was sentenced to death on Thursday in one of the biggest corruption cases in history, an estimated $27 billion in damages - a figure equivalent to six percent of the country’s 2023 GDP. </p> <p>Truong My Lan, chair of major developer Van Thinh Phat, was found guilty of embezzlement, after looting from one of the country's biggest banks, Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB) for over a decade. </p> <p>“The defendant’s actions... eroded people’s trust in the leadership of the (Communist) Party and state,” the verdict read at the trial in Ho Chi Minh City. </p> <p>After a five-week trial, 85 others were also charged for their involvement in the fraud, with charges ranging from from bribery and abuse of power to appropriation and violations of banking law. </p> <p>Four were given life imprisonment, while others received jail terms ranging between 20 years and three years suspended. Lan's husband was Hong Kong billionaire Eric Chu Nap Kee, was sentenced to nine years in prison.</p> <p>Lan and the others were arrested as part of a national corruption crackdown.</p> <p>Lan was initially believed to have embezzled $12.5 billion, but on Thursday prosecutors have said that the total damages caused by the fraud now amounted to $27 billion. </p> <p>The property tycoon was convicted of taking out $44bn in loans from the bank, according to the <em>BBC</em>, with prosecutors saying that $27 billion of this may never be recovered. </p> <p>The court ordered Lan to to pay almost the entire damages sum in compensation. </p> <p>It is also <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-68778636" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reported</a> that she is one of very few women in Vietnam to be sentenced to death for a white collar crime. </p> <p>“In my desperation, I thought of death,” Lan said in her final remarks to the court, according to state media. </p> <p>“I am so angry that I was stupid enough to get involved in this very fierce business environment -- the banking sector -- which I have little knowledge of.”</p> <p>Police have identified around 42,000 victims of the scam, and many of them were unhappy with the verdict. </p> <p>One 67-year-old Hanoi resident told the AFP that she had hoped Lan would receive a life sentence so she could fully witness the devastating impact of her actions. </p> <p>“Many people worked hard to deposit money into the bank, but now she’s received the death sentence and that’s it for her,” they said. </p> <p>“She can’t see the suffering of the people.”</p> <p>The resident has so far been unable to retrieve the $120,000 she invested with SCB. </p> <p>Police have said that many of the victims are SCB bondholders, who cannot withdraw their money and have not received interest or principal payments since Lan’s arrest. </p> <p>Authorities have also reportedly seized over 1000 properties belonging to Lan. </p> <p><em>Image: Twitter</em></p> <p> </p>

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"Reduced me to tears": King Charles' candid admission

<p>King Charles has made a candid admission as he returned to his public engagement in over two months as he faces ongoing treatment.  </p> <p>The royal joined a meeting of the Privy Council at Buckingham Palace followed by an audience with the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak.</p> <p>Palace sources have said that the two events were a sign of “State business, as usual” <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">since his</span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> </span><a style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;" href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/palace-reveals-king-charles-serious-health-diagnosis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">shock cancer diagnosis</a><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> over two weeks ago, according to</span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> </span><em style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">The Sun</em><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">. </span></p> <p>The monarch, donning a navy pinstripe suit, appeared in good spirits as he shook hands with the UK prime minister and sat down for his first private audience with him since December. </p> <p>“Good evening Your Majesty, very nice to see you," Sunak told the King. </p> <p>“Bit of a gap,” Charles responded.</p> <p>Sunak replied: “A bit, but wonderful to see you looking so well.”</p> <p>The King also showed his playful side as he joked about the check-up process: “well, it’s all done by mirrors," he said and they both laughed. </p> <p>“Well, we are all behind you, the country is behind you," Sunak replied. </p> <p>“I’ve had so many wonderful messages and cards. Reduced me to tears most of the time,” Charles told him.</p> <p>“I can imagine, as I said, everyone is behind you, and it’s been nice to see the spotlight that it’s shone on the work the charities do in this area,” Sunak responded.</p> <p>“I hear there been a lot more interest on those main wonderful cancer charities many of which I’ve been patron for years," Charles added. </p> <p>“They’ve done incredible work up and down the country, nice to be recognised," Sunak replied. </p> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">The King's</span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">last public engagement was a trip to the Royal Courts of Justice on December 14th.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">His </span>last in-person engagement was an investiture at Windsor Castle on December 19.</p> <p>On Wednesday he held a Privy Council meeting and swore in new member Michael Tomlinson, Minister of State for Illegal Migration.</p> <p>This week, he’s been in London and Windsor Castle, but he is expected to continue getting cancer treatment at Windsor and Highgrove in the coming weeks. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Caring

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Elderly woman reduced to tears by irate postie

<p>Australia Post is investigating an incident of extreme road rage, after a postie reduced an elderly woman to tears. </p> <p>The postman was driving a three-wheeled electric delivery vehicle on the Gold Coast on Monday morning, when an elderly woman almost struck him on a roundabout. </p> <p>The mailman then instructed the woman to pull over, and began berating her until she burst into tears.</p> <p>The altercation was filmed by a passerby, who attempted to intervene to assist the older woman, an 80-year-old named Kay.  </p> <p>“You’re supposed to give way at the roundabout,” the man is heard yelling in footage of the incident aired by <em>Nine News</em>. </p> <p><iframe style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?height=314&href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2F9NewsGoldCoast%2Fvideos%2F1680294369165021%2F&show_text=false&width=560&t=0" width="560" height="314" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>“You’re supposed to stop at the roundabout."</p> <p>“Why were you not seeing me?”</p> <p>Bystander Melissa Burrows ran to the aid of Kay, who was visibly upset by the altercation, with Burrows asking the postie to tone down his tirade. </p> <p>“She’s an older lady,” Ms Burrows is heard telling the postie. “She’s scared. Please stop.”</p> <p>“I didn’t see you,” Kay told the postie.</p> <p>Ms Burrows then threatens to call the police on the postie, who responds with a “go away”.</p> <p>“Leave her alone and let her go,” she said.</p> <p>“Can you just slow down next time, please?” the postie asks the elderly woman.</p> <p>“I’m so sorry I didn’t see you,” Kay reaffirms.</p> <p>Speaking to Melissa after the postie drove away, Kay said, “I didn’t even touch him, but I didn’t see him either. I can’t believe how he’s reacted.”</p> <p>Ms Burrows later told the broadcaster the incident was “absolutely horrifying” and a “tirade of incredible abuse”.</p> <p>Australia Post told <a href="https://www.news.com.au/technology/motoring/on-the-road/tirade-of-incredible-abuse-furious-postie-unleashes-on-elderly-gold-coast-driver/news-story/2c9985732e80970951aa73a6f03e1988" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>news.com.au</em></a> an investigation will be conducted reviewing video captured before and after the incident. </p> <p>“Australia Post’s Electric Delivery Vehicles (eDVs) are equipped with on-board telematics which capture video footage and data designed to help keep our people safe on the roads,” a spokesperson said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Nine News</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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How risky is it to give card details over the phone and how do I reduce the chance of fraud?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/paul-haskell-dowland-382903">Paul Haskell-Dowland</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ismini-vasileiou-1031778">Ismini Vasileiou</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/de-montfort-university-1254">De Montfort University</a></em></p> <p>Paying for things digitally is so common, most of us think nothing of swiping or tapping our card, or using mobile payments. While doing so is second nature, we may be more reluctant to provide card details over the phone.</p> <p>Merchants are allowed to ask us for credit card details over the phone – this is perfectly legal. But there are minimum standards they must comply with and safeguards to protect consumer data.</p> <p>So is giving your card details over the phone any more risky than other transactions and how can you minimise the risks?</p> <h2>How is my card data protected?</h2> <p>For a merchant to process card transactions, they are expected to comply with the <a href="https://docs-prv.pcisecuritystandards.org/PCI%20DSS/Standard/PCI-DSS-v4_0.pdf">Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard</a>. This is a set of security requirements designed to protect cardholder data and the trillions of dollars of transactions each year.</p> <p>Compliance involves various security measures (such as encryption and access controls) together with strong governance and regular security assessments.</p> <p>If the information stored by the merchant is accessed by an unauthorised party, encryption ensures it is not readable. That means stealing the data would not let the criminals use the card details. Meanwhile, access controls ensure only authorised individuals have access to cardholder data.</p> <p>Though all companies processing cards are expected to meet the compliance standards, only those processing large volumes are subject to mandatory regular audits. Should a subsequent data leak or misuse occur that can be attributed to a compliance failure, a <a href="https://www.csoonline.com/article/569591/pci-dss-explained-requirements-fines-and-steps-to-compliance.html">company can be penalised</a> at levels that can escalate into millions of dollars.</p> <p>These requirements apply to all card transactions, whether in person, online or over the phone. Phone transactions are likely to involve a human collecting the card details and either entering them into computer systems, or processing the payment through paper forms. The payment card Security Standards Council has <a href="https://docs-prv.pcisecuritystandards.org/Guidance%20Document/Telephone-Based%20Payments/Protecting_Telephone_Based_Payment_Card_Data_v3-0_nov_2018.pdf">detailed guides for best practice</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>A policy should be in place to ensure that payment card data is protected against unauthorised viewing, copying, or scanning, in particular on desks.</p> </blockquote> <p>Although these measures can help to protect your card data, there are still risks in case the details are misplaced or the person on the phone aren’t who they say they are.</p> <h2>Basic tips for safe credit card use over the phone</h2> <p>If you provide card details over the phone, there are steps you can take to minimise the chance you’ll become the victim of fraud, or get your details leaked.</p> <p><strong>1. Verify the caller</strong></p> <p>If you didn’t initiate the call, hang up and call the company directly using details you’ve verified yourself. Scammers will often masquerade as a well-known company (for example, an online retailer or a courier) and convince you a payment failed or payment is needed to release a delivery.</p> <p>Before you provide any information, confirm the caller is legitimate and the purpose of the call is genuine.</p> <p><strong>2. Be sceptical</strong></p> <p>If you are being offered a deal that’s too good to be true, have concerns about the person you’re dealing with, or just feel something is not quite right, hang up. You can always call them back later if the caller turns out to be legitimate.</p> <p><strong>3. Use secure payment methods</strong></p> <p>If you’ve previously paid the company with other (more secure) methods, ask to use that same method.</p> <p><strong>4. Keep records</strong></p> <p>Make sure you record details of the company, the representative you are speaking to and the amount being charged. You should also ask for an order or transaction reference. Don’t forget to ask for the receipt to be sent to you.</p> <p>Check the transaction against your card matches the receipt – use your banking app, don’t wait for the statement to come through.</p> <h2>Virtual credit cards</h2> <p>In addition to the safeguards mentioned above, a <a href="https://www.forbes.com/advisor/credit-cards/virtual-credit-card-numbers-guide/">virtual credit card</a> can help reduce the risk of card fraud.</p> <p>You probably already have a form of virtual card if you’ve added a credit card to your phone for mobile payments. Depending on the financial institution, you can create a new credit card number linked to your physical card.</p> <p>Some banks extend this functionality to allow you to generate unique card numbers and/or CVV numbers (the three digits at the back of your card). With this approach you can easily separate transactions and cancel a virtual card/number if you have any concerns.</p> <h2>What to do if you think your card details have been compromised or stolen?</h2> <p>It’s important not to panic, but quick action is essential:</p> <ul> <li> <p>call your bank and get the card blocked so you won’t lose any more money. Depending on your situation, you can also block/cancel the card through your banking app or website</p> </li> <li> <p>report the issue to the police or other relevant body</p> </li> <li> <p>monitor your account(s) for any unusual transactions</p> </li> <li> <p>explore card settings in your banking app or website – many providers allow you to limit transactions based on value, restrict transaction types or enable alerts</p> </li> <li> <p>you may want to consider registering for <a href="https://theconversation.com/your-credit-report-is-a-key-part-of-your-privacy-heres-how-to-find-and-check-it-116999">credit monitoring services</a> and to enable fraud alerts.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>So, should I give my card details over the phone?</h2> <p>If you want to minimise risk, it’s best to avoid giving card details over the phone if you can. Providing your card details via a website still has risks, but at least it removes the human element.</p> <p>The best solution currently available is to use virtual cards – if anything goes wrong you can cancel just that unique card identity, rather than your entire card.<!-- 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/216833/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/paul-haskell-dowland-382903">Paul Haskell-Dowland</a>, Professor of Cyber Security Practice, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ismini-vasileiou-1031778">Ismini Vasileiou</a>, Associate Professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/de-montfort-university-1254">De Montfort University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from </em><a style="font-style: italic;" href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a><em> under a Creative Commons license. Read the </em><a style="font-style: italic;" href="https://theconversation.com/how-risky-is-it-to-give-card-details-over-the-phone-and-how-do-i-reduce-the-chance-of-fraud-216833">original article</a><em>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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"32 years of safe landings": Pilot's surprise speech reduces passengers to tears

<p>A pilot has brought his passengers to tears with an emotional speech on his final flight after 32 years in the skies. </p> <p>Jeff Fell, an American Airlines pilot, took off from Chicago on his retirement flight as he stood in front of his passengers and delivered a heartfelt message. </p> <p>At first, his message seemed routine, informing travellers of the weather and and flight time, before acknowledging it was strange for him to deliver the address from outside the cockpit. </p> <p>“I normally don’t stand up in front of everybody like this, I usually just stay in the cockpit and talk on the PA. If I get a little emotional please forgive me for that,” he said in the speech, which was captured on video by a passenger. </p> <p>With passengers still unaware of what was to come, he pointed out a group of “very important people” to him sitting at the back of the plane.</p> <p>“They’re the majority of my family who have come along with me on my retirement flight,” Mr Fell said.</p> <p>The plane was filled with applause as the pilot's voice wavered with emotion.</p> <p>“They’re on-board with me on my retirement flight after 32 years with American,” he said.</p> <p>He continued, fighting back tears, “Thank you all for coming along with me tonight and celebrating this very memorable time in my life. I love all of you."</p> <p>With another round of applause from his passengers, Mr Fell added:, “I didn’t want to get emotional but goodness gracious.”</p> <p>“Finally, for my wonderful wife Julie who has been at my side for the majority of my 32 years at American. She has been the rock, the solid rock in the foundation in our lives and our marriage. Her faith in the Lord, wisdom, strength and love has guided our marriage and family throughout these years. I love you and look forward to the next chapter in our lives. And welcome aboard everybody.”</p> <p>The video was uploaded to TikTok and has since gone viral, raking up millions of views, and you can watch the full video <a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@realjharrison/video/7299484162648509738" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>. </p> <p>Thousands of social media users left comments of support, with many confessing the clip had brought them to tears.</p> <p>“As soon as he said retirement flight my tears came,” one person wrote, while another added, "32 years of safe landings also. God bless him and all pilots.”</p> <p>“To think of the amount of families, people, and cultures he has single-handedly connected throughout the world. Thank you!” penned a third person.</p> <p>“32 years of bringing people closer together. I’m crying!” agreed another.</p> <p><em>Image credits: TikTok</em></p>

International Travel

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How do stimulants actually work to reduce ADHD symptoms?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mary-bushell-919262">Mary Bushell</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865">University of Canberra</a></em></p> <p>Stimulants are <a href="https://adhdguideline.aadpa.com.au/">first-line drugs</a> for children and adults diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But how do they actually work?</p> <h2>First, let’s look at the brain</h2> <p>ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition, which means it affects how the brain functions.</p> <p>Medical imaging indicates people with ADHD may have slight differences in their brain’s <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/195386">structure</a>, the way their brain regions work together to perform tasks, and how their brain’s chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters, pass on information.</p> <p>These brain differences are associated with the symptoms of ADHD, including inattention, impulse control and problems with memory.</p> <h2>What stimulants are prescribed in Australia?</h2> <p>The three main stimulants prescribed for ADHD in Australia are dexamfetamine, methylphenidate (sold under the brand names Ritalin and Concerta) and lisdexamfetamine (sold as Vyvanse).</p> <p>Dexamfetamine and methylphenidate have been around <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3666194/">since</a> the 1930s and 1940s respectively. Lisdexamfetamine is a newer stimulant that has been around <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2873712/">since</a> the late 2000s.</p> <p>Dexamfetamine and lisdexamfetamine are amphetamines. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2873712/">Lisdexamfetamine</a> is inactive when it’s taken and actually changes into active dexamfetamine in the red blood cells. This is what’s known as a “prodrug”.</p> <h2>So how do they work for ADHD?</h2> <p>Stimulant drugs are thought to alter the activity of key neuotransmitters, dopamine and noradrenaline, in the brain. These neurotransmitters help with attention and focus, among other things.</p> <p>Stimulants increase the amount of dopamine and noradrenaline in the tiny gaps between neurons, known as synapses. They do this by predominantly blocking a transporter that then prevents their re-uptake back into the neuron that released them.</p> <p>This means more dopamine and noradrenaline can bind to their respective receptors. This <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/sites/default/files/auspar-lisdexamfetamine-dimesilate-180515-pi.pdf">helps</a> connected neurons in the brain talk to one another.</p> <p>Amphetamines also increase the amount of dopamine the neuron releases into the synapse (the tiny gaps between neurons). And it stops the enzymes that break down dopamine. This results in an increase of dopamine in the synapse.</p> <h2>What effect do they have on ADHD symptoms?</h2> <p>We still don’t fully understand the underlying brain mechanisms that change behaviour in people with ADHD.</p> <p>But <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6109107/">research shows</a> stimulants that modulate noradrenaline and dopamine can improve brain processes such as:</p> <ul> <li>attention</li> <li>memory</li> <li>decision-making</li> <li>task completion</li> <li>hyperactivity.</li> </ul> <p>They can also improve general behaviour, such as self-control, not talking over the top of others, and concentration. These behaviours are important for social interactions.</p> <p>Stimulants <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15737659/">reduce ADHD symptoms</a> in about 70% to 80% of children and adults who take them.</p> <p>Some people will notice their symptoms improve right away. Other times, these improvements will be more noticeable to parents, carers, teachers, colleagues and partners.</p> <h2>Not everyone gets the same dose</h2> <p>The optimal stimulant dose varies between individuals, with multiple dosage options available.</p> <p>This enables a “start low, go slow” approach, where the stimulant can be gradually increased to the most effective dose for the individual.</p> <p>There are also different delivery options.</p> <p>Dexamfetamine and methylphenidate are available in immediate-release preparations. As these have short half-lives (meaning they act quickly and wear off rapidly), they are often taken multiple times a day – usually in the morning, lunch and afternoon.</p> <p>Methylphenidate is also <a href="https://www.ebs.tga.gov.au/ebs/picmi/picmirepository.nsf/pdf?OpenAgent&amp;id=CP-2010-PI-03175-3&amp;d=20231023172310101">available</a> in long-acting tablets (Concerta) and capsules (Ritalin LA). They are released into the body over the day.</p> <p>Lisdexamfetamine is a long-acting drug and is not available in a short-acting formulation.</p> <p>The long-acting stimulants are generally taken once in the morning. This avoids the need to take tablets during school or work hours (and the need to store a “controlled drug”, which has the potential for abuse, outside the home).</p> <h2>What are the side effects?</h2> <p>The most common side effects are sleep problems and decreased appetite. A <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD012069.pub2/full">recent study</a> showed children and young people taking methylphenidate for ADHD were around 2.6 times more likely to have sleep problems and 15 times more likely to have a decreased appetite than those not taking methylphenidate.</p> <p>Headache and abdominal pain are also relatively common.</p> <h2>Can someone without ADHD take a stimulant to improve productivity?</h2> <p>Stimulants are tightly controlled because of their potential for abuse. In Australia, only paediatricians, psychiatrists or neurologists (and GPs in special circumstances) can prescribe them. This follows a long assessment process.</p> <p>As stimulants increase dopamine, they can cause euphoria and a heightened sense of wellbeing. They can also cause <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK576548/#:%7E:text=The%20immediate%20psychological%20effects%20of,and%20may%20result%20in%20insomnia.">weight loss</a>.</p> <p>A common myth about stimulant medicines is they can improve the concentration and productivity of people without ADHD. A <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/full/10.1126/sciadv.add4165">recent study shows</a> the opposite is true.</p> <p>This study gave a group of 40 people online arithmetic tasks to complete across four sessions. At each of the sessions, participants were given either a placebo or a stimulant before completing the task.</p> <p>The results showed that while stimulants did not impact getting the correct answer, it increased the number of moves and time to solve the problems compared to a placebo. This indicates a reduction in productivity.</p> <p>However, the myth that stimulants improve study prevails. It’s likely that users feel different – after all, they are taking a medicine that speeds up messages between the brain and body. It may make them “feel” more alert and productive, even if they’re not.<!-- 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/215801/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/mary-bushell-919262"><em>Mary Bushell</em></a><em>, Clinical Assistant Professor in Pharmacy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865">University of Canberra</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-do-stimulants-actually-work-to-reduce-adhd-symptoms-215801">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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How 22 minutes of exercise a day could reduce the health risks from sitting too long

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matthew-ahmadi-1241767">Matthew Ahmadi</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emmanuel-stamatakis-161783">Emmanuel Stamatakis</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>People in developed countries spend an average of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2022-106568">nine to ten hours</a> a day sitting. Whether it’s spending time in front of a computer, stuck in traffic, or unwinding in front of the TV, our lives have become increasingly sedentary.</p> <p>This is concerning because prolonged time spent sitting is <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/24/1451?s=09&amp;int_source=trendmd&amp;int_medium=cpc&amp;int_campaign=usage-042019">linked to a number of health issues</a> including obesity, heart disease, and certain types of cancers. These health issues can contribute to earlier death.</p> <p>But a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2022-106568">new study</a> suggests that for people over 50, getting just 22 minutes of exercise a day can lower the increased risk of premature death from a highly sedentary lifestyle.</p> <h2>What the researchers did</h2> <p>The team combined data from two studies from Norway, one from Sweden and one from the United States. The studies included about 12,000 people aged 50 or older who wore wearable devices to track how active and sedentary they were during their daily routines.</p> <p>Participants were followed up for at least two years (the median was 5.2 years) during the study period, which spanned 2003-2020.</p> <p>Analyses took several lifestyle and health factors into account, such as education, alcohol intake, smoking status, and previous history of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. All this data was linked to national death registries.</p> <h2>A 22 minute threshold</h2> <p>A total of 805 participants died during follow up. The researchers found people who were sedentary for more than 12 hours a day had the highest risk of death (a 38% higher risk than people who were sedentary for eight hours).</p> <p>However, this was only observed in those who did less than 22 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. So for people who did more than 22 minutes of exercise, there was no longer a significantly heightened risk – that is, the risk became generally similar to those who were sedentary for eight hours.</p> <p>Higher daily duration of physical activity was consistently associated with lower risk of death, regardless of total sedentary time. For example, the team reported an additional ten minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day could lower mortality risk by up to 15% for people who were sedentary less than 10.5 hours a day. For those considered highly sedentary (10.5 hours a day or more), an additional ten minutes lowered mortality risk by up to 35%.</p> <h2>The study had some limitations</h2> <p>The team couldn’t assess how changes in physical activity or sedentary time over several months or years may affect risk of death. And the study included only participants aged 50 and above, making results less applicable to younger age groups.</p> <p>Further, cultural and lifestyle differences between countries may have influenced how data between studies was measured and analysed.</p> <p>Ultimately, because this study was observational, we can’t draw conclusions on cause and effect with certainty. But the results of this research align with a growing body of evidence exploring the relationship between physical activity, sedentary time, and death.</p> <h2>It’s positive news</h2> <p>Research has previously suggested <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/24/1499">physical activity may offset</a> health risks associated with <a href="https://www.jacc.org/doi/abs/10.1016/j.jacc.2019.02.031">high sedentary time</a>.</p> <p>The good news is, even short bouts of exercise can have these positive effects. In this study, the 22 minutes wasn’t necessarily done all at once. It was a total of the physical activity someone did in a day, and would have included incidental exercise (activity that’s part of a daily routine, such as climbing the stairs).</p> <p>Several studies using wearable devices have found short bursts of high-intensity everyday activities such as stair climbing or energetic outdoor home maintenance activities such as mowing the lawn or cleaning the windows can lower <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-022-02100-x">mortality</a>, <a href="https://academic.oup.com/eurheartj/article/43/46/4801/6771381">heart disease</a> and <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaoncology/fullarticle/2807734">cancer</a> risk.</p> <p>A recent study using wearable devices found moderate to vigorous bouts of activity <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(23)00183-4/fulltext">lasting three to five minutes</a> provide similar benefits to bouts longer than ten minutes when it comes to stroke and heart attack risk.</p> <p>Several other studies have found <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2596007">being active just on the weekend</a> provides similar health benefits as <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2794038">being active throughout the week</a>.</p> <p>Research has also shown the benefits of <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/2795819">physical activity</a> and <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2809418">reducing sedentary time</a> extend to cognitive health.</p> <p>Routines such as desk jobs can foster a sedentary lifestyle that may be difficult to shift. But mixing short bursts of activity into our day can make a significant difference towards improving our health and longevity.</p> <p>Whether it’s a brisk walk during lunch, taking the stairs, or even a short at-home workout, this study is yet another to suggest that every minute counts.<!-- 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/216259/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/matthew-ahmadi-1241767">Matthew Ahmadi</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Faculty of Medicine and Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emmanuel-stamatakis-161783">Emmanuel Stamatakis</a>, Professor of Physical Activity, Lifestyle, and Population Health, <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-22-minutes-of-exercise-a-day-could-reduce-the-health-risks-from-sitting-too-long-216259">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Do blue-light glasses really work? Can they reduce eye strain or help me sleep?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/laura-downie-1469379">Laura Downie</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>Blue-light glasses are said to <a href="https://www.baxterblue.com.au/collections/blue-light-glasses">reduce eye strain</a> when using <a href="https://www.blockbluelight.com.au/collections/computer-glasses">computers</a>, improve your <a href="https://www.ocushield.com/products/anti-blue-light-glasses">sleep</a> and protect your eye health. You can buy them yourself or your optometrist can prescribe them.</p> <p>But <a href="https://mivision.com.au/2019/03/debate-continues-over-blue-blocking-lenses/">do they work</a>? Or could they do you harm?</p> <p>We <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD013244.pub2/full">reviewed</a> the evidence. Here’s what we found.</p> <h2>What are they?</h2> <p>Blue-light glasses, blue light-filtering lenses or blue-blocking lenses are different terms used to describe lenses that reduce the amount of short-wavelength visible (blue) light reaching the eyes.</p> <p>Most of these lenses prescribed by an optometrist decrease blue light transmission by <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/opo.12615">10-25%</a>. Standard (clear) lenses do not filter blue light.</p> <p>A wide variety of lens products are available. A filter can be added to prescription or non-prescription lenses. They are widely marketed and are becoming <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/opo.12615">increasingly popular</a>.</p> <p>There’s often an added cost, which depends on the specific product. So, is the extra expense worth it?</p> <h2>Blue light is all around us</h2> <p>Outdoors, sunlight is the main source of blue light. Indoors, light sources – such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and the screens of digital devices – emit varying degrees of blue light.</p> <p>The amount of blue light emitted from artificial light sources is much lower than from the Sun. Nevertheless, artificial light sources are all around us, at home and at work, and we can spend a lot of our time inside.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549210/original/file-20230920-16-tsb23b.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549210/original/file-20230920-16-tsb23b.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549210/original/file-20230920-16-tsb23b.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549210/original/file-20230920-16-tsb23b.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549210/original/file-20230920-16-tsb23b.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549210/original/file-20230920-16-tsb23b.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549210/original/file-20230920-16-tsb23b.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549210/original/file-20230920-16-tsb23b.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Blue light-filtering lenses block some blue light from screens from reaching the eye" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Screens emit blue light. The lenses are designed to reduce the amount of blue light that reaches the eye.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-vector/blue-light-blocking-ray-filter-lens-2286229107">Shutterstock</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>Our research team at the University of Melbourne, along with collaborators from Monash University and City, University London, sought to see if the best available evidence supports using blue light-filtering glasses, or if they could do you any harm. So we conducted a <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD013244.pub2/full">systematic review</a> to bring together and evaluate all the relevant studies.</p> <p>We included all randomised controlled trials (clinical studies designed to test the effects of interventions) that evaluated blue light-filtering lenses in adults. We identified 17 eligible trials from six countries, involving a total of 619 adults.</p> <h2>Do they reduce eye strain?</h2> <p>We found no benefit of using blue light-filtering lenses, over standard (clear) lenses, to reduce eye strain with computer use.</p> <p>This conclusion was based on consistent findings from three studies that evaluated effects on eye strain over time periods ranging from two hours to five days.</p> <h2>Do they help you sleep?</h2> <p>Possible effects on sleep were uncertain. Six studies evaluated whether wearing blue-light filtering lenses before bedtime could improve sleep quality, and the findings were mixed.</p> <p>These studies involved people with a diverse range of medical conditions, including insomnia and bipolar disorder. Healthy adults were not included in the studies. So we do not yet know whether these lenses affect sleep quality in the general population.</p> <h2>Do they boost your eye health?</h2> <p>We did not find any clinical evidence to support using blue-light filtering lenses to protect the macula (the region of the retina that controls high-detailed, central vision).</p> <p>None of the studies evaluated this.</p> <h2>Could they do harm? How about causing headaches?</h2> <p>We could not draw clear conclusions on whether there might be harms from wearing blue light-filtering lenses, compared with standard (non blue-light filtering) lenses.</p> <p>Some studies described how study participants had headaches, lowered mood and discomfort from wearing the glasses. However, people using glasses with standard lenses reported similar effects.</p> <h2>What about other benefits or harms?</h2> <p>There are some important general considerations when interpreting our findings.</p> <p>First, most of the studies were for a relatively short period of time, which limited our ability to consider longer-term effects on vision, sleep quality and eye health.</p> <p>Second, the review evaluated effects in adults. We don’t yet know if the effects are different for children.</p> <p>Finally, we could not draw conclusions about the possible effects of blue light-filtering lenses on many vision and eye health measures, including colour vision, as the studies did not evaluate these.</p> <h2>In a nutshell</h2> <p>Overall, based on relatively limited published clinical data, our review does not support using blue-light filtering lenses to reduce eye strain with digital device use. It is unclear whether these lenses affect vision quality or sleep, and no conclusions can be drawn about any potential effects on the health of the retina.</p> <p>High-quality research is needed to answer these questions, as well as whether the effectiveness and safety of these lenses varies in people of different ages and health status.</p> <p>If you have eye strain, or other eye or vision concerns, discuss this with your optometrist. They can perform a thorough examination of your eye health and vision, and discuss any relevant treatment options.<!-- 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/213145/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/laura-downie-1469379"><em>Laura Downie</em></a><em>, Associate Professor in Optometry and Vision Sciences, <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/do-blue-light-glasses-really-work-can-they-reduce-eye-strain-or-help-me-sleep-213145">original article</a>.</em></p>

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What is cognitive functional therapy? How can it reduce low back pain and get you moving?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-osullivan-48973">Peter O'Sullivan</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/curtin-university-873">Curtin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jp-caneiro-1463060">JP Caneiro</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/curtin-university-873">Curtin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mark-hancock-1463059">Mark Hancock</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-kent-1433302">Peter Kent</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/curtin-university-873">Curtin University</a></em></p> <p>If you haven’t had lower back pain, it’s likely you know someone who has. It affects <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22231424/">around 40% of adults</a> in any year, ranging from adolescents to those in later life. While most people recover, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29112007/">around 20%</a> go on to develop chronic low back pain (lasting more than three months).</p> <p>There is a <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/12/698">common view</a> that chronic low back pain is caused by permanent tissue damage including “wear and tear”, disc degeneration, disc bulges and arthritis of the spine. This “damage” is often described as resulting from injury and loading of the spine (such as bending and lifting), ageing, poor posture and weak “core” muscles.</p> <p>We’re often told to “protect” our back by sitting tall, bracing the core, keeping a straight back when bending and lifting, and avoiding movement and activities that are painful. Health practitioners often <a href="https://theconversation.com/having-good-posture-doesnt-prevent-back-pain-and-bad-posture-doesnt-cause-it-183732">promote and reinforce these messages</a>.</p> <p>But this is <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/12/698">not based on evidence</a>. An emerging treatment known as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29669082/">cognitive functional therapy</a> aims to help patients undo some of these unhelpful and restrictive practices, and learn to trust and move their body again.</p> <h2>People are often given the wrong advice</h2> <p>People with chronic back pain are often referred for imaging scans to detect things like disc degeneration, disc bulges and arthritis.</p> <p>But these findings are very common in people <em>without</em> low back pain and research shows they <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24276945/">don’t accurately predict</a> a person’s current or future experience of pain.</p> <p>Once serious causes of back pain have been ruled out (such as cancer, infection, fracture and nerve compression), there is <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27745712/">little evidence</a> scan findings help guide or improve the care for people with chronic low back pain.</p> <p>In fact, scanning people and telling them they have arthritis and disc degeneration can <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33748882/">frighten them</a>, resulting in them avoiding activity, worsening their pain and distress.</p> <p>It can also lead to potentially harmful treatments such as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27213267/">opioid</a> pain medications, and invasive treatments such as spine <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19127161/">injections</a>, spine <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12709856/">surgery</a> and battery-powered electrical stimulation of spinal nerves.</p> <h2>So how should low back pain be treated?</h2> <p>A complex range of factors <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29112007/">typically contribute</a> to a person developing chronic low back pain. This includes over-protecting the back by avoiding movement and activity, the belief that pain is related to damage, and negative emotions such as pain-related fear and anxiety.</p> <p>Addressing these factors in an individualised way is <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29573871/">now considered</a> best practice.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15936976/">Best practice care</a> also needs to be person-centred. People suffering from chronic low back pain want to be heard and validated. They <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35384928/">want</a> to understand why they have pain in simple language.</p> <p>They want care that considers their preferences and gives a safe and affordable pathway to pain relief, restoring function and getting back to their usual physical, social and work-related activities.</p> <p>An example of this type of care is cognitive functional therapy.</p> <h2>What is cognitive functional therapy?</h2> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29669082/">Cognitive functional therapy</a> is about putting the person in the drivers’ seat of their back care, while the clinician takes the time to guide them to develop the skills needed to do this. It’s led by physiotherapists and can be used once serious causes of back pain have been ruled out.</p> <p>The therapy helps the person understand the unique contributing factors related to their condition, and that pain is usually not an accurate sign of damage. It guides patients to relearn how to move and build confidence in their back, without over-protecting it.</p> <p>It also addresses other factors such as sleep, relaxation, work restrictions and engaging in physical activity based on the <a href="https://www.restorebackpain.com/patient-journey">person’s preferences</a>.</p> <p>Cognitive functional therapy usually involves longer physiotherapy sessions than usual (60 minutes initially and 30-45 minute follow-ups) with up to seven to eight sessions over three months and booster sessions when required.</p> <h2>What’s the evidence for this type of therapy?</h2> <p>Our recent clinical trial of cognitive functional therapy, published in <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(23)00441-5/fulltext">The Lancet</a>, included 492 people with chronic low back pain. The participants had pain for an average of four years and had tried many other treatments.</p> <p>We first trained 18 physiotherapists to competently deliver cognitive functional therapy across Perth and Sydney over six months. We compared the therapy to the patient’s “usual care”.</p> <p>We found large and sustained improvements in function and reductions in pain intensity levels for people who underwent the therapy, compared with those receiving usual care.</p> <p>The effects remained at 12 months, which is unusual in low back pain trials. The effects of most recommended interventions such as exercise or psychological therapies are <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34580864/">modest in size</a> and tend to be of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32794606/">short duration</a>.</p> <p>People who underwent cognitive functional therapy were also more confident, less fearful and had a more positive mindset about their back pain at 12 months. They also liked it, with 80% of participants satisfied or highly satisfied with the treatment, compared with 19% in the usual care group.</p> <p>The treatment was as safe as usual care and was also cost-effective. It saved more than A$5,000 per person over a year, largely due to increased participation at work.</p> <h2>What does this mean for you?</h2> <p>This trial shows there are safe, relatively cheap and effective treatments options for people living with chronic pain, even if you’ve tried other treatments without success.</p> <p><a href="https://www.restorebackpain.com/cft-clinicians">Access to clinicians</a> trained in cognitive functional therapy is currently limited but will expand as training is scaled up.</p> <p>The costs depend on how many sessions you have. Our studies show some people improve a lot within two to three sessions, but most people had seven to eight sessions, which would cost around A$1,000 (aside from any Medicare or private health insurance rebates). <!-- 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/207009/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/peter-osullivan-48973">Peter O'Sullivan</a>, Professor of Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/curtin-university-873">Curtin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jp-caneiro-1463060">JP Caneiro</a>, Research Fellow in physiotherapy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/curtin-university-873">Curtin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mark-hancock-1463059">Mark Hancock</a>, Professor of Physiotherapy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-kent-1433302">Peter Kent</a>, Adjunct Associate Professor of Physiotherapy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/curtin-university-873">Curtin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-is-cognitive-functional-therapy-how-can-it-reduce-low-back-pain-and-get-you-moving-207009">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How a garden hose dispute between neighbours ended with a 30-year jail sentence

<p>An Aussie man has been sentenced to 30 years in jail after shooting two of his neighbours, in a months-long dispute that began over a disagreement over a garden hose. </p> <p>Rodney John Lee, a 74-year-old from Melbourne's south-east, was sentenced to 30 years behind bars in court on Monday, after showing little remorse for pulling out a shotgun and murdering Saumoto Gasio and Tibor Laszlo, who lived in the same unit block. </p> <p>The dispute between the neighbours began several months ago, with tensions escalating quickly in the lead up to the shooting, which occurred on January 13th 2022. </p> <p>Lee had accused one neighbour's grandson of being a drug dealer, and was angry others would turn off a hose he used to water a communal garden.</p> <p>On the day of the killings, Lee left the hose running and went inside his apartment, later screaming in anger when he realised that the water had been shut off.</p> <p>According to court documents, Lee yelled to his neighbours, "You turn the hose off again you bastards, I'll f***ing kill you."</p> <p>Later that night, Lee confronted residents in the garden when he got into an argument with Mr Gasio, who told him he would ignore demands about the hose because he was wasting water by leaving the hose running unattended.</p> <p>Lee then went back to his apartment and armed himself with his grandfather's shotgun, before he headed back to the group and from close range fired at Mr Gasio, who was sitting on a bench.</p> <p>Other residents of the building fled the scene looking for safety, while a badly injured Mr Gasio stumbled into a neighbour's unit. </p> <p>As neighbours tried to help Mr Gasio, Lee came through the door and fired the shotgun again, this time hitting Mr Laszlo.</p> <p>Both men died at the scene.</p> <p>Before handing down the sentencing, Justice James Elliott described the killer's actions as "senseless and brutally violent".</p> <p>"Nothing could justify the disproportionate, senseless and brutally violent way in which you responded," Justice Elliott said.</p> <div data-component="EmphasisedText"> <p>"You murdered two people in their places of residence, where they were entitled to feel safe, in the presence of other residents of the unit complex."</p> </div> <p>"Both victims were completely defenceless against you."</p> <p>Lee is likely to die in jail,  as h<span style="font-family: abcsans, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 16px;">e will be aged 97 by the time he is eligible for parole in early 2046.</span></p> <p class="paragraph_paragraph__3Hrfa" style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; font-family: abcsans, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif;">"You'll almost certainly be imprisoned for the remainder of your life," Justice Elliott said.</p> <p class="paragraph_paragraph__3Hrfa" style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; font-family: abcsans, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif;"><em>Image credits: ABC News</em></p>

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More than a game: Crosswords and puzzles may reduce dementia risk

<p>Playing games, doing crosswords, writing letters or learning something new are all associated with reduced dementia risk in older adults, according to a large, long-term study.</p> <p>A team of Melbourne and US-based researchers study tracked 10,318 older Australians over a period of ten years (2010 to 2020), collecting detailed information on the types of leisure activities they engaged in, along with regular health checks and cognitive assessments.</p> <p>The study is <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2807256" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">published</a> in <em>JAMA Network Open.</em></p> <p>Paper co-author Dr Joanne Ryan from Monash University says “the findings show that engaging in mentally stimulating activities can help preserve cognitive function and may help delay the onset of dementia.”</p> <p>“We know the importance of physical activity. We need to think about helping to keep our mind stimulated as well.”</p> <p><iframe title="Why do Women Live Longer than Men? And What About Gender Diverse People?" src="https://omny.fm/shows/huh-science-explained/why-do-women-live-longer-than-men-and-what-about-g/embed?in_playlist=podcast&amp;style=Cover" width="100%" height="180" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Adult literacy activities such as writing, using a computer or taking education classes were associated with an 11% lower risk of dementia, the study found. </p> <p>Active mental health activities such as playing games or doing puzzles were associated with a 9% lower risk.</p> <p>Creative activities like craft or woodwork and passive mental activities (reading books, watching television or listening to the radio) also reduced risks but to a lesser extent.</p> <p>Meanwhile, social activities were not associated with dementia risk. Ryan says this was a “little bit unexpected”. But she says it’s possible one of the reasons is those who volunteered to participate in the study were broadly already socially engaged. </p> <p>The median age of those participating in the study was 73.8 years. Around 2% of the cohort participating in the study developed dementia, Ryan says. </p> <p>Dementia risk varies depending on age and health status of individuals, she says.</p> <p>For instance, “we know that the risk of dementia actually increases exponentially as you get then over 80 years and over 90 years,” she says.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/more-than-a-game-crosswords-and-puzzles-may-reduce-dementia-risk/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/petra-stock">Petra Stock</a>. </em></p> </div>

Mind

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Cleo Smith's mother speaks out after abductor's sentencing

<p>Cleo Smith's mother has shared her thoughts on the jail sentence handed down to the man who abducted her four-year-old daughter. </p> <p>Ellie Smith was in Western Australia's District Court on Wednesday when Terence Kelly was <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/news/news/sentence-handed-down-for-cleo-smith-abductor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">sentenced</a> to 13 years and six months behind bars for abducting Cleo in October 2021. </p> <p>Shortly after the sentence was handed down, Ellie and her partner Jake Gliddon shared they will always feel "angry" towards Terence. </p> <p>"I think the anger always will be there," Ellie Smith told <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/terence-kelly-sentence-update-cleo-smith/6306636b-7c6d-4f6b-9b92-48dd3296dace" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Nine News</em></a>. </p> <p>However, she added she "also feels contentment he is behind bars".</p> <p>"And we do have a number to hold with us of how long he is away."</p> <p>"But there is always going to be anger, always - how could there not be?" she added.</p> <p>While Ellie and Jake largely avoided the media outside the courtroom on Wednesday, WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch was quick to condemn the kidnapper and suggested the 13-year-sentence was not long enough. </p> <p>"Early on in my career I spoke to a father of a victim of a serious crime. And he said to me, as a dad, a million years isn't enough and that's driven by emotion - and as a father I understand that," he said.</p> <p>"And I would expect that the community would never think that 13-and-a-half years is enough."</p> <p>Terence Kelly snatched Cleo from the Quobba Blowholes campsite, a remote coastal area in WA, as she slept beside her parents and baby sister on the night of October 16th, 2021.</p> <p>He then held her captive in his home in the rural town of Carnavon for 18 days before she was found by police. </p> <p>During the course of the sentencing hearing, new details came to light on <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/health/caring/frightening-new-details-emerge-on-cleo-smith-kidnapping" target="_blank" rel="noopener">just what went on</a> during those 18 days of Cleo's captivity.</p> <p>Commissioner Blanch added that the investigation to track down and rescue Cleo was the "gold standard" for an operation of this type.</p> <p>"This is an evil crime. He committed a heinous crime. A parent's worse nightmare. As I said before, I'm Police Commissioner and I respect the rule of law, but as a father, that's something I could never forgive."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Nine News</em></p>

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"Gross criminal neglect": Brisbane mum receives sentence for death of daughters in hot car

<p>Queenslander Kerri-Anne Conley has been sentenced to nine years in prison for the deaths of her two young daughters. </p> <p>The 30-year-old woman from Logan pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter - of two-and-a-half-year-old Darcey-Helen and 18-month-old Chloe-Ann - in Brisbane Supreme Court this week, and today received her sentence from Supreme Court Justice Peter Applegarth. </p> <p>Initially, she had been charged with the murder of her daughter under a law that expanded the definition of the offence, including reckless indifference to human life. However, this Tuesday Kerri-Ann gave a guilty plea to the downgraded manslaughter charges, as well as to the possession of dangerous drugs and utensils. </p> <p>In November 2019, Kerri-Ann had taken her daughters Darcey-Helen and Chloe-Ann to her friend’s house, and then made the “deliberate decision” to leave the toddlers in their car seats upon returning home, before going inside to sleep. Both girls died of hyperthermia at their Waterford West home.</p> <p>"Your first, grossly negligent conduct was in deciding to leave your children in that vulnerable place, uncared for, unheard, and unobserved in the dark," Justice Peter Applegarth declared when handing down Kerri-Ann’s sentence. </p> <p>"Not checking on the children and securing their safety at 6am was another aspect of your ongoing, gross criminal neglect of your duty of care as their mother,” he went on to say. </p> <p>"One can only hope that these little girls slowly succumbed to the growing heat of the day much earlier that morning and faded into a deep sleep from which they never returned.</p> <p>"The alternative of them being awake, distressed, and trapped in their seats is too much to bear thinking about for too long."</p> <p>Kerri-Ann allegedly went to sleep at 6am, after spending time on her phone, and came to find the girls nine hours later. It is estimated that temperatures within the car reached up to 61 degrees Celsius through the day, and the children were lifeless as she pulled them from the vehicle. </p> <p>When paramedics arrived, the girls were hot to the touch, covered in blisters, and had skin peeling from them. They were tragically declared dead at the scene. </p> <p>The court also heard that before Kerri-Ann even contacted emergency services, she attempted to dispose of drug paraphernalia. </p> <p>Justice Applegarth was firm in the belief that "no child should have a parent who uses methamphetamine". Kerri-Ann later admitted to the police that she had taken ice the day before. </p> <p>Of Kerri-Ann’s “egregious breach of trust” against her defenceless children, Crown Prosecutor Sarah Dennis stated that “they were left asleep and presumably restrained in their car seats without the ability or means to free themselves or to seek assistance or to protect themselves from the searing temperatures.”</p> <p>“They were entirely dependent on the defendant, their mother, for their basic needs, one being to keep them protected from harm,” she added. “Rather than doing that, the actions of the defendant exposed them to harm.”</p> <p>Sarah Dennis went on to tell the court that the girls’ deaths could easily have been avoided, and that it wasn’t forgetfulness that had been the cause, but instead Kerri-Ann’s carelessness. </p> <p>“Her behaviour,” she said, “represented an apathy to her own children that was callous.”</p> <p>Justice Applegarth noted that Kerri-Ann had been the victim of an abusive childhood, and acknowledged her diagnosis in custody of a depressive disorder and guilt induced psychosocial stress. </p> <p>"I accept you are remorseful and not a day goes by that you don't think about the death of your daughters and the effect this had on others," he said.</p> <p>Ultimately, Justice Applegarth said that Kerri-Ann’s meth use had led to her daughters’ deaths, and that her previous drug convictions had done nothing to inform her parenting. It was reportedly not the first time she had left her children alone in the car. </p> <p>Kerri-Ann has already served over three years on remand - the majority of which was in custody - with Justice Applegarth having declared this as time served, and will be eligible for parole late November 2024. </p> <p><em>Images: 9News</em></p>

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Yes, masks reduce the risk of spreading COVID, despite a review saying they don’t

<p>The question of whether and to what extent face masks work to prevent respiratory infections such as COVID and influenza has split the scientific community for <a href="https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-2007-03-06-0703060040-story.html">decades</a>.</p> <p>Although there is strong evidence face masks <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0020748920301139?via%3Dihub">significantly reduce transmission of such infections</a> both in health-care settings and in the community, some experts do not agree.</p> <p>An updated <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006207.pub6/full">Cochrane Review</a> published last week is the latest to suggest face masks don’t work in the community.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">"Wearing masks in the community probably makes little or no difference to the outcome of laboratory‐confirmed influenza/SARS‐CoV‐2 compared to not wearing masks"<a href="https://twitter.com/CochraneLibrary?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CochraneLibrary</a> Review.<br />Published: 30 January 2023 <a href="https://t.co/zODu6QEF1M">https://t.co/zODu6QEF1M</a> <a href="https://t.co/c26yHPaSCD">pic.twitter.com/c26yHPaSCD</a></p> <p>— Robin Monotti (@robinmonotti) <a href="https://twitter.com/robinmonotti/status/1620311528523304960?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 31, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p>However there are problems with the review’s methodology and its underpinning assumptions about transmission.</p> <p>The Cochrane Review combined randomised controlled trials (RCTs) using <a href="https://ebn.bmj.com/content/16/1/3">meta-analysis</a>. RTCs test an intervention in one group and compare it with a “control” group that doesn’t receive the intervention or receives a different intervention. A meta-analysis pools the results of multiple studies.</p> <p>This approach assumes (a) RCTs are the “best” evidence and (b) combining results from multiple RCTs will give you an average “effect size”.</p> <p>But RCTs are only the undisputed gold standard for certain kinds of questions. For other questions, a mix of study designs is better. And RCTs should be combined in a meta-analysis only if they are all addressing the same research question in the same way.</p> <p>Here are some reasons why the conclusions of this Cochrane Review are misleading.</p> <h2>It didn’t consider how COVID spreads and how masks work</h2> <p>COVID, along with influenza and many other respiratory diseases, is transmitted primarily <a href="https://theconversation.com/covid-how-the-disease-moves-through-the-air-173490">through the air</a>.</p> <p>Respirators (such as N95s) are designed and regulated to prevent airborne infections by fitting <a href="https://theconversation.com/high-filtration-masks-only-work-when-they-fit-so-we-created-a-new-way-to-test-if-they-do-155987">closely to the face</a> to prevent air leakage and by filtering out 95% or more of potential infectious particles.</p> <p>In contrast, surgical masks are designed to prevent splatter of fluid on the face and are loose-fitting, causing unfiltered air to leak in through the gaps around the mask. The filtration of a surgical mask is not regulated.</p> <p>In other words, respirators are designed for respiratory protection and cloth and surgical masks are not.</p> <p>The review starts with an assumption that masks provide respiratory protection, which is flawed. An understanding of these differences should inform both studies and reviews of those studies.</p> <h2>The studies addressed quite different questions</h2> <p>A common mistake in meta-analysis is to combine apples and oranges. If apples work but oranges don’t, combining all studies in a single average figure may lead to the conclusion that apples do not work.</p> <p>This Cochrane Review combined RCTs where face masks or respirators were worn part of the time (for example, when caring for patients with known COVID or influenza: “occasional” or “targeted” use) with RCTs where they were worn at all times (“continuous use”).</p> <p>Because both SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses are airborne, an unmasked person could be infected anywhere in the building and even after an infectious patient has left the room, especially since some people have <a href="https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2109229118">no symptoms</a> while contagious.</p> <p>Most RCTs of masks and N95s included in the review have not had a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/184819">control arm</a> – therefore finding no difference could indicate equal efficacy or equal inefficacy.</p> <p><a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2749214">Studies</a> examining wearing a surgical mask or respirator (such as an N95) only when in contact with sick people or when doing a high-risk procedure (occasional use) have generally shown that, when worn in this way, there is no difference.</p> <p>An RCT comparing occasional versus continuous use of respirators in health care workers <a href="https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/10.1164/rccm.201207-1164OC?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&amp;rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&amp;rfr_dat=cr_pub%20%200pubme">showed</a> N95 respirators and surgical masks were equally ineffective when only worn occasionally by hospital workers. They had to wear them all the time at work to be protected.</p> <p>We also combined only apples and apples in a <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/irv.12474">meta-analysis</a> of two RCTs conducted in exactly the same way and measuring the same interventions and outcomes. We found N95 respirators provide significant protection against respiratory infections when surgical masks did not, even against infections assumed to be “droplet spread”.</p> <h2>Most trials addressed only half the question</h2> <p>Face masks and respirators work in two ways: they protect the wearer from becoming infected and they prevent an infected wearer from spreading their germs to other people.</p> <p>Most RCTs in this Cochrane Review looked only at the former scenario, not the latter. In other words, the researchers had asked people to wear masks and then tested to see if those people became infected.</p> <p>A previous <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20092668/">systematic review</a> found face masks worn by sick people during an influenza epidemic reduced the risk of them transmitting the infection to family members or other carers. Preventing an infection in one person also prevents onward transmission to others within a closed setting, which means such RCTs should use a special method called “cluster randomisation” to account for this.</p> <p>Data from a RCT of N95 respirator use by <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0300060516665491?rfr_dat=cr_pub++0pubmed&amp;url_ver=Z39.88-2003&amp;rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org">health workers</a> showed even their unmasked colleagues were protected. Yet some of the trials included in the review did not use cluster randomisation.</p> <h2>The new paper combined health and community settings</h2> <p>This is another apples-plus-oranges issue. Different settings have widely differing risks of transmission, since airborne particles build up when sick patients are exhaling the virus in <a href="https://theconversation.com/heres-where-and-how-you-are-most-likely-to-catch-covid-new-study-174473">underventilated, crowded settings</a> especially if many infected people are present (such as in a hospital).</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Here’s where (and how) you are most likely to catch COVID – new study <a href="https://t.co/Ro88Shc897">https://t.co/Ro88Shc897</a> <a href="https://t.co/TlFA9EQskF">pic.twitter.com/TlFA9EQskF</a></p> <p>— Jeffrey J Davis (@JeffreyJDavis) <a href="https://twitter.com/JeffreyJDavis/status/1484210379093954564?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 20, 2022</a></p></blockquote> <p>A genuine protective effect of masks or respirators shown in a RCT in a high-risk setting will be obscured if that trial is combined in a meta-analysis with several other RCTs that were conducted in low-risk settings.</p> <p>A large <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abi9069">RCT in the community in Bangladesh</a> found face masks reduced the risk of infection by 11% overall and 35% in people over 60 years. In contrast, in <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/irv.12474">hospitals</a>, N95 reduce risk by 67% against bacterial infections and 54% against viral infections.</p> <p>Viruses like influenza also vary substantially from year to year – some years there is very little influenza, and if a RCT is conducted during such a year, it will not find enough infections to show a difference. The review failed to account for such seasonal effects.</p> <h2>But did they actually wear the mask?</h2> <p>The authors of the Cochrane Review acknowledged compliance with masking advice was poor in most studies. In the real world, we can’t force people to follow medical advice, so RCTs should be analysed on an “intention to treat” basis.</p> <p>For example, people who are prescribed the active drug but who choose not to take it should not be shifted to the placebo group for the analysis. But if in a study of masking, most people don’t actually wear them, you can’t conclude that masks don’t work when the study shows no difference between the groups. You can only conclude that the mask advice didn’t work in this study.</p> <p>There is a great deal of <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0246317">psychological evidence</a> on why people do or don’t choose to comply with advice to mask and how to improve uptake. The science of masking needs to separate the impact of the mask itself from the impact of the advice to mask.</p> <p>Mask-wearing <a href="https://www.ijidonline.com/article/S1201-9712(21)00274-5/fulltext">goes up</a> substantially to over 70% if there is an actual mandate in place.</p> <h2>It didn’t include other types of research</h2> <p>A comprehensive review of the evidence would also include other types of study besides RCTs. For example, a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673620311429">large systematic review</a> of 172 various study designs, which included 25,697 patients with SARS-CoV-2, SARS, or MERS, concluded masks were effective in preventing transmission of respiratory viruses.</p> <p>Well-designed <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7106e1.htm?s_cid=mm7106e1_w">real-world studies</a> during the pandemic showed any mask reduces the risk of COVID transmission by 50–80%, with the highest protection offered by N95 respirators.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20095070/">Many lab-based studies</a> have shown respirators are superior to masks at preventing airborne respiratory infections and the <a href="https://thorax.bmj.com/content/75/11/1024.long">incremental superiority</a> from a single to two layered cloth mask to a three-layered surgical mask in blocking respiratory aerosols.</p> <h2>Yes, masks reduce the spread of COVID</h2> <p>There is strong and consistent evidence for the effectiveness of masks and (even more so) respirators in protecting against respiratory infections. Masks are an important protection against serious infections.</p> <p>Current COVID vaccines protect against death and hospitalisation, but do <a href="https://fortune.com/well/2023/01/06/kraken-xbb15-omicron-covid-variant-most-transmissible-yet-could-spawn-more-immune-evasive-variants-study-china-vaccine-monoclonal-antibodies-breakthrough-infection/">not prevent infection</a> well due to waning vaccine immunity and substantial immune escape from new variants.</p> <p>A systematic review is only as good as the rigour it employs in combining similar studies of similar interventions, with similar measurement of outcomes. When very different studies of different interventions are combined, the results are not informative.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/yes-masks-reduce-the-risk-of-spreading-covid-despite-a-review-saying-they-dont-198992" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

Body

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Toxic pollutants can build up inside our homes. Here are 8 ways to reduce the risks

<p>We know everything in our homes gathers dust. What you probably don’t know is whether there are toxic contaminants in your house dust, and where these might come from. </p> <p>Our <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2022.115173">newly published research</a> found most of the dust inside homes came from outside and contains potentially toxic trace metals such as lead, arsenic and chromium. </p> <p>Worryingly, we found some contaminants can accumulate at higher concentrations inside homes than outside. This happened in homes with certain characteristics: older properties, metal construction materials enriched in zinc, recent renovations and deteriorating paint. </p> <p>Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to reduce your exposure, which we explain later.</p> <h2>What’s in house dust?</h2> <p>Our study explored the connected sources, pathways and potentially harmful exposures to trace metals at homes across Sydney. We collected and analysed 383 samples from nearby road dust (51 samples) and garden soil (166), as well as indoor dust (166).</p> <p>We found the dust in homes comes from a range of sources including outdoor environments and soil, skin, cleaning products, pet hair and cooking particles.<br />Nearly 60% of dust particles inside the homes originated from their immediate outdoor environment – it was <a href="https://theconversation.com/wearing-shoes-in-the-house-is-just-plain-gross-the-verdict-from-scientists-who-study-indoor-contaminants-177542">dirt from outside</a>! Wind, your shoes or your pets can carry in <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412021002075?via%3Dihub">soil</a> and <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.1c04494">dust</a>-related contaminants.</p> <p>The remaining 40% of home dust came from indoor sources. These included <a href="https://theconversation.com/microplastics-are-common-in-homes-across-29-countries-new-research-shows-whos-most-at-risk-189051">fibres from clothes, carpets and furnishings</a>, cleaning products, skin and hair.</p> <p>Some dust sources can carry a cocktail of potentially harmful contaminants including:</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2021.117064">microplastics</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2014.10.009">persistent organic pollutants</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.05.463">perfluorinated chemicals</a> (PFAS)</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2021.117593">trace metals</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2021.754657">bacterial communities</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.106501">antimicrobial resistance genes</a>. </p> </li> </ul> <p>The nature of the risk is related to how much of the contaminant you’re exposed to and for how long. The risks are greatest in children under the age of five. This is because they are small, closer to the floor and have frequent hand-mouth contact, which increases ingestion of contaminants.</p> <h2>How do contaminants build up in homes?</h2> <p>Industrial activity has left a marked legacy of contaminants in many city neighbourhoods. We analysed road dust, garden soil and vacuum dust samples from 166 homes in Sydney to see how this risk translated to inside homes. We used high-magnification microscopy and <a href="https://www.climate-policy-watcher.org/earth-sciences/lead-isotopes-as-tools-for-source-identification.html">lead isotopic ratios</a> to understand trace metal composition in the samples. </p> <p>On average, concentrations of trace metals arsenic, chromium, copper, manganese, lead and zinc were all higher inside homes than outside. This means homes are not only “accumulators” of trace metal contaminants but also important sources of a significant proportion of harmful contaminants that we can be exposed to. </p> <p>The lead isotopic ratios, or the lead “fingerprints”, of each home and its garden soil matched. This confirms the soil is the main source of lead inside homes. </p> <p>Most of this lead is the result of the pre-1970s use of high concentrations of lead in <a href="https://www.dcceew.gov.au/environment/protection/chemicals-management/lead/lead-in-house-paint">paints</a> and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2017.02.007">petrol</a>, which contaminated many garden soils. Even <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-lead-is-dangerous-and-the-damage-it-does-116506">low levels of lead exposure</a> can be harmful. Lead levels in some <a href="https://theconversation.com/elevated-lead-levels-in-sydney-back-yards-heres-what-you-can-do-68499">Sydney backyards</a> pose a risk for <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dib.2021.107151">urban veggie growers</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/backyard-hens-eggs-contain-40-times-more-lead-on-averagethan-shop-eggs-research-finds-187442">backyard chickens and their eggs</a>.</p> <p>High-magnification images of house dust showed mineral particles that have been blown in or tracked in on shoes. The rest of the dust was elongated fibres and hair from indoor sources.</p> <h2>Which homes are most at risk?</h2> <p>We also collected information about each house, relevant activities and renovations at the property. We found house age, proximity to the city centre and renovations had the greatest influence on levels of lead and other trace metals in the home. </p> <p>All homes more than 50 years old had higher concentrations of arsenic, copper, lead and zinc in their garden soil and house dust. They are typically <a href="https://iupui-earth-science.shinyapps.io/MME_Sydney/">located closer to city centres</a>, where early industrial activity has contaminated soils. </p> <p>As older homes in former industrial areas are renovated, trace metal loads in these homes and gardens can increase. Walls and ceilings contain decades of dust. Old paint buried under more recent layers can also be released, causing <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/3983094">lead exposure risks</a>. </p> <p>It is critical that home renovators take appropriate remediation steps or <a href="https://painters.edu.au/Training-Courses/CPCCPD3031-Work-safely-with-lead-painted-surfaces-in-the-painting-industry.htm">employ a qualified paint professional</a> so lead dust isn’t spread across the area.</p> <h2>8 ways to reduce your risk</h2> <p>We spend about <a href="https://escholarship.org/uc/item/1zg3q68x#main">70% of our time at home</a>, which the pandemic has increased. Understanding the environmental <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/exposome/default.html">conditions and contaminants we encounter</a>and their effects on our health is more important than ever. </p> <p>Armed with this knowledge, though, you can take some simple steps to reduce your exposure to contaminants in your home and garden:</p> <ol> <li> <p>regularly vacuum carpeted areas with a good vacuum cleaner fitted with a <a href="https://www2.education.vic.gov.au/pal/ventilation-air-purification/print-all">HEPA filter</a></p> </li> <li> <p>wet mop and wet dust hard surfaces</p> </li> <li> <p>mulch areas of exposed soil in your garden</p> </li> <li> <p>use a quality doormat and wash it regularly, which can roughly <a href="https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/51148/1/Manuscript_File_Global_Pb_Modeling_Final_clean_1%20%281%29.pdf">halve the amount of lead</a> in your home within three months</p> </li> <li> <p>leave your shoes at the door as they can <a href="https://theconversation.com/wearing-shoes-in-the-house-is-just-plain-gross-the-verdict-from-scientists-who-study-indoor-contaminants-177542">bring all sorts of nasties into the home</a></p> </li> <li> <p>wash your hands and your veggies thoroughly </p> </li> <li> <p>close windows on windy days</p> </li> <li> <p>when renovating, use dust-mitigation strategies and personal protective equipment (PPE).</p> </li> </ol> <p>You can dig a little deeper into what’s in your own home environment by sending your soil to <a href="https://www.360dustanalysis.com/">VegeSafe Australia</a> or <a href="https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/get-involved/citizen-science-program/gardensafe">EPA Victoria’s GardenSafe</a> for analysis. If you live in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom or Australia you can also send your vacuum dust to <a href="https://www.360dustanalysis.com/">DustSafe</a> for testing. You will receive a report outlining what was in your sample, with links and advice on what to do next where necessary.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/toxic-pollutants-can-build-up-inside-our-homes-here-are-8-ways-to-reduce-the-risks-197908" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

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