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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 12:04 pm 
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Fewer Aussie teens getting suntans

GETTING a sun tan isn't as cool as it used it be among young Australians.

ONLY 38 per cent of teenagers are willing to bake themselves in the hot sun - compared to 60 per cent a decade ago, according to the Cancer Council's National Sun Protection Survey.

"It's wonderful to see teens understanding that a tan isn't the hallmark of health it was once made out to be," council CEO Ian Olver said.

"However, while most don't actively seek a tan, we do want them to actively protect themselves."

Professor Olver said adolescents continued to underestimate their risk of getting skin cancer, with one in two rating their chances of developing the disease as "low".

Around 23 per cent of those aged between 12 and 17 still get sunburnt on summer weekends, which has changed little since 2004.

Sixteen per cent believe a suntanned person is more healthy.

More than 1000 youngsters were interviewed over the 2013/2014 summer for the survey.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/la ... 7125036659


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 12:14 pm 
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Same gender public hospital stays promised for SA patients

Public hospital patients in South Australia will now be given more choice to share wards with people of the same gender.

Chief public health officer Stephen Christley said feedback from patients had prompted SA Health to alter its policy.

"Some patients have expressed the need for more privacy when staying in hospital overnight, saying they feel uncomfortable sharing their accommodation and bathroom facilities with the opposite sex," he said.

"Sometimes it's an age-related thing, sometimes it's just a perception-related thing but some people had a degree of discomfort being in wards with people of a different gender and so this is an attempt to accommodate that sensitivity."

Dr Christley said staff would talk with a patient and their family during the admission process about any preferences and the patient's medical needs.

"If clinically appropriate, patients will then be accommodated in a room or bay that is either male or female only, with access to a bathroom that is also same-gender," he said.

He promised that patients unable to go straight into such wards would have priority to get there within 24 hours.

"There will be some situations where the specialised or urgent care required will take priority over providing same-gender accommodation, such as in emergency departments, intensive care units and high dependency units," he said.

"Day surgery units and dialysis or cancer treatment areas may also not be covered by the policy as the patients are only in these areas temporarily."

Information about the policy is available at sahealth.sa.gov.au.

https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/25552240/sa ... -patients/


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 12:44 pm 
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Leaked report claims Canberra Hospital maternity patients at serious risk

Mismanagement and long-running cultural problems inside the Canberra Hospital maternity unit have put the health of patients at serious risk, an official report has warned, as adverse medical outcomes, inadequate supervision and critically low morale remain.

Extracts of an accreditation report from The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, obtained by The Canberra Times, show patient and doctor health has been compromised as staff levels tank, surgical and ultrasound training is limited and unresolved personal conflicts fester.

The maternity unit's training accreditation remains at risk of being revoked early in 2015 if officials cannot address urgent recommendations.

ACT Health officials declined to the release the full report earlier this month and have launched an investigation into what it described as its alleged and unauthorised release. Director-General Peggy Brown on Thursday rejected some suggestions made in the report about poor provision of care.

The extracts show the unit failed to meet standards in two of eight assessment areas including "registrar staffing, safe working hours and leave arrangements" and "core levels of clinical experience-competency and in-house credentialing".

A further three areas were only "partially met", including training and support with after-hours supervision, learning and educational resources. The unit met standards in three areas including supervisor appointments, coordinator appointments and research.

The review, completed in September, found management is unable to resolve training difficulties which date back years. Accreditors found "acute distress of registrars" due to unrealistic workloads, limited training and political and inter-personal difficulties.

"The unit is significantly at risk of both adverse medical outcomes and personal risk to the health and wellbeing of the registrars," the report said. One section contains an apparent error, stating provisional approval for the training program has been granted until April 2014, rather than 2015.

Canberra Hospital currently has a six-month accreditation for training of young doctors in obstetrics and gynaecology, the shortest possible accreditation period awarded by the professional standards body.

The report recommends the chair of the training accreditation committee for the ACT is "immediately involved" in resolving issues raised. It calls for patient numbers to be reduced in the unit to lessen pressure on doctors.

It highlights staff shortages, a lack of engagement by visiting doctors, increasing birth numbers, shortages of senior doctors, limited clinical experience, poor rostering, conflicting management protocols and "widespread disaffection."

Dr Brown said staff and the ACT community needed to allow ACT Health the time and opportunity to resolve the issues.

"[The accreditors] recognise that this will take some time and whilst ACT Health remain willing to provide regular updates, we do require the medical, nursing and midwifery staff to work together with us to implement the required recommendations."

Officials had raised some points ACT Health considered inaccurate and improvements were under way to a range of areas including booking systems, supervision, recruitment and rosters, Dr Brown said.

A working party has been established to progress implementation of the report's recommendations, with one accreditor involved.

"ACT Health remains of the position that it will not be releasing the report publicly as the purpose of any college accreditation process is to continually improve the training program provided and in order for this arrangement to work successfully, both parties need to feel confident that trust and morale exist between both parties," Dr Brown said.

"Responding to public commentary impacts on this trust and impacts negatively on the public perception of the service, which remains of a high standard."

She said officials were very concerned a member of staff appeared to have distributed the report without permission.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said she was monitoring the situation.

"Since being made aware, particularly of junior doctors concerns, I am satisfied that the Director-General of ACT Health has taken all steps necessary to address the concerns raised. I am being briefed frequently on progress."

Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson said the report appeared to be "extremely damaging and damning".

He will move a motion in the Legislative Assembly next week calling for the full release of the accreditation report and for Ms Gallagher to outline her own actions to address the urgent concerns.

"If indeed this is the accreditation report, it doesn't get more serious than this. What it is saying is that mothers and babies are at risk."

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-new ... 1qd7o.html


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 9:19 am 
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Lifeline phone counsellor to join Canberra fun run

Volunteering as a telephone crisis supporter at Lifeline began as a means to put Susana Dudas E Silva's psychology studies to good use.

Since graduating in November, the organisation has become not only a passion, but her new place of work.

"It's been such a good experience," she said. "I've met a lot of people that have been accredited for giving 10 years of volunteer service. I hope to get there some day."

Originally from Brazil, the 23 year old said there wasn't a service of Lifeline's ilk in her homeland and she was proud to work on the frontline helping people through crisis.

"Calls from younger people are the ones that really stay with you," she said. "Even off the phones I feel like I am just more aware of people's behaviour in general and what they might be going through."

Susana said taking her black labrador, Obama, running each day was a great way to wind down.

But she has stepped up the pace in preparation for the Run for your Lifeline Canberra Fun Run this Sunday.

The event includes a half marathon and five and 10-kilometres courses.

"I am doing 5 kilometres but now I am regretting it and want to walk for longer," Susana said.

The special event will raise money to support Lifeline Canberra and give more than 1000 registered runners and walkers the rare chance to use the brand-new Majura Parkway before it opens to traffic.

Parking is available for all registered runner however there is no room to accommodate race spectators.

With hot temperatures predicted for day organisers are reminding participants to take care of themselves and have arranged 14,000 litres of water to serve at the event.

The 21.1 kilometre half-marathon begins the day at 7.30am, followed by the 10 kilometre fun run at 8.30am and the 5 kilometre fun run at 9.30am.

http://www.smh.com.au/act-news/canberra ... 1rojr.html


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 12:29 pm 
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Vegetarians healthy but unhappy: study

Australian vegetarians might be healthier than meat-eaters but they are unhappier and more prone to mental health disorders, new research suggests.

The Alere Wellness Index shows vegetarians drink and smoke less and are more physically active than their carnivorous counterparts.

But they are also more likely to have depression and anxiety disorders, according to the Index made up of scores for nutrition, fitness, smoking, alcohol, psychological wellbeing, body mass and medical conditions.

Dr John Lang, who developed the wellness index for preventive healthcare company Alere, says the adoption of a vegetarian diet can sometimes follow the onset of mental disorders.

"So the diet isn't the cause but rather the symptom," he said.

"If you think of people that are committed to being a vegetarian it's a fairly significant commitment and it picks up people at the fringe of the obsessive-compulsive spectrum."

The study, which is based on 50,000 surveys a year conducted by Roy Morgan Research, also shows vegetarians are less optimistic about the future, with 28 per cent more likely to suffer panic attacks and anxiety disorders.

They are also 18 per cent more likely to suffer from depression than the general population.

In 2012, a German study of more than 4000 vegetarians and meat-eaters linked vegetarianism with higher rates of depression and anxiety.

An analysis of the respective ages at adoption of a vegetarian diet and onset of a mental disorder showed that the adoption of the vegetarian diet tends to follow the onset of mental disorders, they concluded.

But the good news for vegetarians is that they have the highest nutrition scores - with 105.9 points compared to 100.7 points for meat-eaters.

Vegetarian Victoria president Mark Doneddu said he's never felt happier since giving up meat.

"I've been a vegetarian for about 22 years and vegan for the last 18 of those," he said.

He switched from a meat-heavy diet to a vegetarian diet for health reasons.

"I used to get a lot of back pain, asthma and allergies but not anymore.

"And I've felt a lot healthier and happier generally since I've been a vegetarian.

"Certainly, when you have less pain you tend to feel happier and that's the case for me.

"I've got more energy as well, I can now run on the beach, which I couldn't do when I was younger."

http://www.9news.com.au/health/2014/11/ ... appy-study


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:47 am 
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4 Incredibly Easy Ways To Practice Everyday Gratitude

With Thanksgiving here, now is the time when many of us pause to reflect on all that we have and give thanks. But research shows there are major benefits to practicing gratitude -- which Robert Emmons, a professor in UC Davis' psychology department and author of Gratitude Works, defines as an "awareness of how we are supported and sustained by others, and a desire to give back the good that we have received" -- throughout the year. It boosts well-being, improves sleep and may even help improve immune system function.

In more poetic terms, "gratitude makes life freer, lighter and easier," Emmons tells The Huffington Post. "It empowers us to take control over our emotional lives, and not be at the whim of others or circumstances." Here are four simple ways to work gratitude into your daily life now -- and throughout the year.

Write a letter...

Steven Toepfer, an associate professor in the department of human development and family studies at Kent State University, has investigated the close connection between gratitude and well-being. In a 2011 study of more than 200 relatively happy undergraduate students, he and his team found that those who wrote one meaningful letter of gratitude per week over the course of three weeks -- spending about 15 to 20 minutes on each -- experienced significant gains in happiness and life satisfaction, and a decrease in depressive symptoms.

"You don't even have to mail the letters," Toepfer says. "The process is about reflecting, in a conscious way, on the things you are grateful for."

There is some suggestion in the body of literature on gratitude and well-being that those gains diminish with time, and some of the students in the study reported that they found it more difficult to write the third letter than the first, Toepfer says. But overall, the study suggests that a few minutes spent directing real gratitude toward a person once a week can make a big difference.

...or get out your journal.

There's a reason why Oprah is such a vocal proponent of the gratitude journal: Emmons' research has found that men and women who wrote a few lines each week about things that had occurred recently that made them feel grateful tended to feel more optimistic and better about their lives overall. (If pen and paper isn't your style, try one of the many gratitude apps available now, Emmons urges.) As Forbes reports, studies have even found that keeping a gratitude journal may help improve sleep.

"We all have this store of gratitude, and if we let it sit dormant, it's not going to benefit us," Toepfer says. "All these 'gratitude inductions' do is help us tap into that wonderful reservoir we have."

Watch what you say.

Gratitude is as much about what you don't say as what you do, according to Emmons -- and indeed, as NBC has reported, studies suggest that complaining about one's problems may be linked to depression and anxiety. Of course, research has also found that there can be benefits to venting, so it's all about striking a balance.

"Grateful people have a particular linguistic style," Emmons says -- they tend to talk about things like gifts, givers, blessings, fortune and abundance.

"Ungrateful people, on the other hand, tend to focus on deprivation, deservingness, regrets, lack, need, scarcity [and] loss," he adds. "The trick is to watch your mouth! We are what we say."

Immerse yourself in it.

If you still need an extra push to actually make gratitude a part of your daily life, reading inspirational materials can be a powerful means of, as Emmons puts it, "massaging the truths contained in them deep into our bones." Everyone from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Charles Dickens has weighed in on the importance of giving thanks, and spending a few minutes reading others' reflections on the importance of the practice will help you take it seriously in your own life, Emmons says.

Once you've embraced gratitude, give it some time before you expect changes. With most small gratitude practices, benefits emerge at around the three-week mark, Emmons says -- "long enough for a behavior to become a habit." Though few studies have looked long-term, there is evidence that the effects can last for months, even years. "Changes can be permanent," he says, "as the brain rewires."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/2 ... thy-living


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 12:25 pm 
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'Benefits of vitamin D tests not proven'

Experts say regular tests for vitamin D levels are not proven to be beneficial or harmful, despite previous research warning of damaging effects of vitamin D deficiencies in adults.

Studies have found that low levels of the vitamin can increase the risk of bone fractures, heart disease, colorectal cancer, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer's disease and death.

But the US Preventative Services Task Force said there was no evidence that getting regularly tested for sufficient vitamin D decreased health risks.

"Current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for vitamin D deficiency in asymptomatic adults," the task force said in a statement.

"We found no direct evidence on effects of screening for vitamin D deficiency versus no screening on clinical outcomes."

The experts from the US panel said tests should be ordered on a case-by-case basis and should not be conducted universally.

People get vitamin D from sunlight and from oily fish such as salmon, tuna or mackerel, as well as milk, eggs and cheese. It is also available in supplement form and is a key component for healthy bones and muscle strength.

A 2010 report by the US Institute of Medicine concluded that vitamin D was essential for bone health, but did not find that a deficiency causes disease.

The Institute recommends 600 milligrams per day for adults under 70 years old and 800 milligrams for older people.

A recent study in the British Medical Journal based on medical records from 95,766 people in Denmark found that reduced vitamin D levels increased the risk of mortality by 30 per cent and boosted the risk of cancer-related deaths by 40 per cent.

However, the researchers found no link between vitamin D deficiency and cardiovascular deaths.

About one billion around the globe are thought to have low vitamin D levels.

The elderly can be particularly vulnerable to such a deficiency because their skin is less adept at converting sunlight into vitamin D.

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014 ... not-proven


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:28 am 
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Do you really need to activate your nuts?

It's the 'ph' word most of us had never heard of until the Paleo movement began badmouthing legumes and grains because they contain phytates - compounds found in some plant foods that can make minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium less available for us to absorb. Theoretically this can increase the risk of becoming low in these nutrients, especially if you rely on legumes and grains instead of meat for much of your iron and zinc.

Except it's not that simple.

When dietitian Lisa Yates delved into the GP journal The Medical Observer for more recent research into phytates for a story, she came up with some surprises. Not only are phytates less of a problem than they're often claimed to be but they even have health benefits: they have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and some research suggests they can help reduce bone loss in older women. Animal studies have found they may help reduce blood glucose levels, and reduce the risk of kidney stones and of calcification in blood vessels, which can increase heart disease risk.

"While it's true that phytates can bind minerals like iron and zinc, the way in which we traditionally prepare and eat grains and legumes can help reduce this. So can the foods we eat them with," Yates says. "Eating a vitamin C-rich food like citrus fruit, tomatoes or broccoli with a plant source of iron helps us absorb more iron, for instance. Choosing sourdough bread is another - sourdough contains higher levels of lactic acid than other breads and lactic acid helps to break down phytates."

Soaking legumes and grains also breaks down phytates - and that's a common practice anyway. Most legumes need soaking before cooking and many of us soak breakfast oats too - think Bircher muesli. These are food habits that have been around for centuries, which suggests to Yates that humans instinctively figured out how to disarm phytates long ago.

A fear of phytates is also behind the trend for activating nuts by soaking and then drying them. Soaking will reduce the effects of phytates in nuts and release more nutrients according to Yates, who consults to the Australian Tree Nut Industry. But unsoaked nuts and seeds are still nutritious and are good sources of healthy fats, vitamin E, B vitamins, protein, potassium and fibre.

"If you're eating a healthy diet with a variety of different foods then there's really no need to soak nuts as you'll access adequate nutrients and have a high diet quality anyway," she says.

But another reason to soak nuts is that it sweetens their flavour and gives them a different, softer texture. Try soaked cashews added to stir fries or soaked almonds and pecans added to salads or breakfast oats or muesli - a smart idea for older people with fragile teeth who might otherwise be wary of nuts.

Our own bodies also help to break down phytates.

"Studies have found that by the time phytates reach the large intestine, they've been largely metabolised with the help of bacteria in the gut, especially in people following a vegetarian diet," says Yates.

"Some of the earlier research into problems with phytates occurred in developing countries where diets are less varied than they are in Australia and much higher in phytates because they rely on one or two main staple grains. In those circumstances there's a higher risk of nutrient deficiencies. But I think that in Australia, where we have a wide variety of food, we don't need to worry. If you eat a vegan or vegetarian diet you need to make sure you don't risk a nutrient deficiency by being conscious of how you prepare and eat grains, legumes and nuts.

"But we should also make sure we don't miss out on the health benefits of phytates. From a bowel cancer point of view, the fact that phytates bind to iron may be protective - too much iron in the diet is thought to be one reason behind the increased risk of bowel cancer that's been linked to a high intake of meat. Given Australia's high rates of bowel cancer, phytate protection is something to think about."

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/lifesty ... 1w443.html


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 2:11 pm 
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Researchers uncover links between schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s

A large MRI study has shown similarities in the brain abnormalities associated with schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s, despite the fact that the diseases appear at opposite ends of the age spectrum.

The researchers, led by Oxford University’s Dr Gwenaëlle Douaud, did MRI scans on 484 people of all ages, identifying a network of mainly transmodal regions that are vulnerable to both schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The network does not fully develop until late adolescence or early adulthood and is associated with intellectual ability as well as long-term memory.

The findings suggest these areas of the brain play a crucial role in the development of the two very different disorders.

The discovery is the first to demonstrate...

http://www.6minutes.com.au/neurologyupd ... phrenia-an


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 8:57 am 
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Green vegetables could improve heart’s efficiency, blood supply to organs and reduce risk of diabetes and obesity

In three independent studies, scientists from the Universities of Southampton and Cambridge have identified how a simple chemical called nitrate, found in leafy green vegetables, can help thin blood ensuring oxygen can be delivered to all corners of the body efficiently. Reducing the thickness of blood may also decrease instances of dangerous clots forming and reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks.

The same researchers, part-funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), also found nitrate can help the diseased heart to function more efficiently, help produce more of a compound that widens and opens blood vessels and help change bad white fat cells into good brown, fat-burning cells, which could combat obesity and reduce risk of type 2 diabetes.

In the first (1) study published this week in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, scientists have identified how eating more nitrate rich vegetables like spinach can reduce the production of a hormone, called erythropoietin, made by the kidneys and liver. This hormone determines how many red blood cells we have, thus affecting not only how much oxygen can be carried around our bodies but also how thick our blood is. In abundance, erythropoietin allows more red blood cells to be produced and when levels are low fewer red blood cells are made.

Increasing the number of red blood cells is a natural response triggered by the shortage of oxygen e.g. at altitude, or in some heart diseases. However, producing too many blood cells can do more harm than good; leading to altitude sickness and death. Thickening of the blood due to hypoxia, oxygen starvation, is also a very common symptom in many cardiovascular diseases. This research shows eating more green vegetables could help alleviate some of the debilitating symptoms of damaged hearts.

In cardiovascular diseases and at high altitude the blood often becomes very thick because the body is producing more red blood cells in an attempt to get more oxygen into the blood stream. Thick blood may carry more oxygen but is less able to pass through small blood vessels and therefore prevents tissues and organs from being supplied with the oxygen they need to function.

The researchers, working with Xtreme Everest (2), which also involved researchers from the University of Southampton, have filmed this using a special camera, capturing blood flowing through capillaries at sea level and at 6400 meters above sea level: here.

The findings from this new work indicate people may be able to alter the thickness of their blood through simple changes in their diet. This has important implications in management of some cardiovascular diseases (3) and in altitude related diseases (4). Sufferers may be able to improve their quality of life through simply introducing more nitrate rich vegetables into their diet.

This research may also help critically ill patients in intensive care units use oxygen more efficiently, speeding their recovery, and also has important ramifications for improving athletes’ performance.

This research was also part-funded by Research Councils UK, The WYNG Foundation, EU framework 7 inheritance project, and the Wellcome Trust.

Dr Andrew Murray from the University of Cambridge, who co-led the study, said: “Here we show that nitrate from the diet can help regulate the delivery of oxygen to cells and tissues and its use, matching oxygen supply and demand. This ensures cells and tissues in the body have enough oxygen to function without needing to over produce red blood cells, which can make the blood too thick and compromise health.”

“Lowering the blood’s thickness without compromising oxygen delivery may also help prevent blood clots, reducing the risk of a stroke or heart attack.”

Professor Martin Feelisch, from the University of Southampton, who also led the study said: “These findings suggest simple dietary changes may offer treatments for people suffering from heart and blood vessel diseases that cause too many red blood cells to be produced. It is also exciting as it may have broader implications in sport science, and could aid recovery of patients in intensive care by helping us understand how oxygen can be delivered to our cells more efficiently.”

The BHF-funded researcher and lead author Dr Tom Ashmore said: “The best thing about nitrate is that it is not expensive, treatment is not invasive and not much is needed to observe a significant effect. The only downfall is some people don’t like vegetables.”

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the BHF, which part-funded the research, said: “It has long been thought that nitrate-rich vegetables have cardiovascular benefits. This research suggests that a previously unsuspected mechanism by which nitrate controls red blood cell production is important. These findings add to the evidence that dietary nitrate promotes cardiovascular health.”

A second paper (5), led by Dr Murray, part-funded by the BHF and published in The Journal of Physiology, shows that consuming nitrate with the diet, consistent with eating a few more leafy greens or beetroot, could alleviate the symptoms of a large number of different heart and circulatory diseases by protecting vital proteins in heart cells and by increasing the production of a compound that causes blood vessels to widen, allowing the heart to pump more efficiently. This work was primarily funded by the BHF, but also part-funded by the Medical Research Council, Research Councils UK, Diabetes UK, EU Framework 7 Inheritance project, and the Wellcome Trust.

In a third study, published in Diabetes (6), the researchers from both Cambridge and Southampton identified nitrate’s ability to stimulate conversion of white, or bad, fat cells into beige cells in a process called browning. Beige cells are more similar to ‘good’ brown fat cells and burn fat to produce heat. These data suggest simple changes in the diet could reduce the number of bad white fat cells we have, reducing the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. This work was also part funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council.

Commenting on the results, Dr Murray, who worked on all three studies, said: “There have been a great many findings demonstrating a role for nitrate in reducing blood pressure and regulating the body’s metabolism. These studies represent three further ways in which simple changes in the diet can modify people’s risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity as well as potentially alleviating symptoms of existing cardiovascular conditions to achieve an overall healthier life.”

http://www.healthcanal.com/blood-heart- ... esity.html


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2014 5:29 pm 
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Health Star Rating System website re-launched after controversy

Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash has launched a system for rating the healthiness of foods 10 months after shutting down a website to promote the scheme.

In February, Senator Nash demanded a website for the Health Star Rating system be taken down a day after it was published. The controversy sparked claims of conflict interest that ended with the resignation of Senator Nash's then chief of staff, Alastair Furnival after Fairfax Media revealed he was the co-owner of a lobbying firm which had represented junk food clients.

On Saturday, health groups who had been critical of Senator Nash's earlier decision to pull the website appeared beside her outside a Canberra shopping centre to celebrate its rebirth.

Senator Nash said the rating system, the product of more than two years of collaboration between federal, state and territory governments, health and consumer groups and the food industry, would make it easier for shoppers to make informed choices about healthier food options.

"The five-star ratings clearly displayed on packaged foods will allow consumers, especially parents, to Healthymake healthy food choices for the whole family without spending hours reading labels at the supermarket," she said.

Under the system, products are assigned a score of between half a star and five stars according to their energy, fat, sugar and salt content.

The healthier the food, the higher the number of stars it will receive.

Eleven companies have signed up to the voluntary system so far, and seven already include the star ratings on their products. Sanitarium, SPC and Coles are among the brands which are already displaying star ratings on their products.

Senator Nash has dropped the threat, made by federal, state and territory food ministers during the former Gillard government, to make the scheme mandatory if an insufficient number of manufacturers voluntarily adopt it.

Companies will be encouraged to add the ratings to their products over the next five years, and a review of the level of take up will be conducted in June 2016.

Senator Nash said she had been encouraged by the interest companies had shown in adopting the rating system, and said they should be given time to apply it to their products.

"I think we need to give them the benefit of the doubt for a while," she said.

Appearing beside Senator Nash, Public Health Association chief executive Michael Moore acknowledged the development of the rating system had been a "rocky process" but paid tribute to Senator Nash for steering it through to completion.

"We thank Minister Nash for her determined work to make this a reality," Mr Moore said.

The chief executive of the National Heart Foundation, Mary Barry, who also joined Senator Nash at the launch, congratulated the minister for delivering the scheme, which she said would encourage companies to reformulate their products to make them healthier.

Obesity Policy Coalition executive manager Jane Martin welcomed the launch but said she was disappointed that companies would be allowed to continue using the "potentially misleading" daily intake guide favoured by some manufacturers in addition to the star rating panel. She said it was crucial that there was widespread and consistent adoption of the system by food makers, so that people could compare the nutritional value of similar products across brands.

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/ ... 21mcp.html


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 12:34 pm 
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Australia needs mentally healthy workplaces

A report this week makes a strong economic and business case for increased efforts to provide workplaces that are healthy for both mind and body.

The report - Creating Mentally Healthy Workplaces - has been produced by the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance and is being championed by National Mental Health Commission chairman Professor Allan Fels.

Mental health disorders are leading causes of absenteeism, reduced work performance, increased employee turnover, compensation claims and long-term work incapacity. The impact extends to family and carers, and work colleagues. Economic analyses shows mental health disorders result in more than six million lost working days and cost Australian businesses around $11 billion every year. That figure is almost double the $6.3 billion spent annually on treatment.

Internationally recognised economist Martin Wolf, writing in the Financial Times earlier this year, saysmental illness is the developed world's most pressing health problem. He argues that given the considerable economic costs, providing effective workplace programs will pay for itself. This is borne out by the findings of this report: every dollar spent on effective mental health actions by a business or organisation returns $2.30 in benefits.

There continues to be significant stigma around mental illness but is this sufficient justification for the fact that governments, healthcare systems and employers have largely ignored the severity of the impacts of mental health disorders? Only one-third of people with a mental health problem get the treatment they need and we know little about the outcomes of that treatment or patient satisfaction with their care.

Such a situation would be considered untenable for cancer or diabetes. Yet the same principles of prevention, early intervention, evidence-based treatment, recovery and recognition that there will be relapses and interruptions to working capacity apply. The case for treating mental illness at least as energetically as physical illness is overwhelming.

A recent Australian study calculates there are 9000 deaths every year because mental health patients are dying from preventable physical illnesses that are not diagnosed early and treated. On the other hand, depression is very common condition in people with chronic illness and is associated with a 17 to 46 per cent increase in healthcare costs and poorer health outcomes.

Having a healthy workforce is fundamental to the success of any business; and recognising and promoting mental health is an essential part of creating a safe and healthy workplace. The new report outlines six key areas for action - smarter work design, better work cultures, building resilience, early interventions, supporting recovery, and increased awareness - and provides evidence-based strategies for creating mentally healthy workplaces. A new website at HeadsUp.org.au explains how individual businesses can create a customised action plan and a supportive workplace culture.

With an estimated one in five employees affected by mental health problems, no business or profession is immune. Certain workplaces, both white and blue collar, are at increased risk. Truck drivers are more prone to depression and subsequent alcohol and drug abuse, than other Australians. Depression and other mental health disorders are comparatively high among the legal profession and doctors report substantially higher rates of psychological distress and attempted suicide compared to the Australian population generally.

Asking for help from an employer should not be viewed as a sign of weakness and it should not be delayed because of fears about adverse impacts on performance reviews or even the ability to retain a position. Disability discrimination legislation requires that workplaces do not discriminate against or harass workers with mental illness and the law should be effectively enforced in this regard. In the same way that workplaces have worked to encompass the flexible work needs of employees with physical disabilities, so too they must recognise that people with mental health problems can be valuable employees if they are provided with supportive environments.

The lead here must come from the federal government, itself a major employer. The timing is perfect; this week the government took delivery of the review of national mental health programs and services. It's time for action. Bold vision, clear articulated and evidence-based policies, well-targeted programs and sustained investment can deliver real returns - not just in the healthcare system but in welfare, employment, productivity and even tackling the budget deficit.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment ... 1z2s2.html


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2014 9:02 am 
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Long Radiation Treatments Faulted in Many Breast Cancer Cases

Two-thirds of women who have lumpectomies for breast cancer are getting radiation treatment that lasts nearly twice as long as necessary, a new study reports.

The conventional, longer treatment lasts five to seven weeks. But four rigorous studies and guidelines from a leading radiology society conclude that three to four weeks of more intense radiation is just as effective.

Women overwhelmingly prefer the shorter course of radiation, studies have found. It is also less expensive.

Even though 60 to 75 percent of women with breast cancer have lumpectomies — a total of about 140,000 to 160,000 women — doctors and health insurers say relatively few are getting the shorter treatment because it takes time to change ingrained medical practices, especially when a procedure has been used for decades and the new one offers no additional medical benefit. Its advantages are saving time for patients, and money for the health care system and insurers.

“If a physician is doing five to seven weeks of radiation for 25 years, particularly if the physician is not a specialist and not in an academic medical center, you will be a bit leery about going to something new,” said Dr. Bruce G. Haffty, professor and chairman of the department of radiation oncology at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. “You are comfortable with the outcomes, patients are satisfied. Now you’ve got something that perhaps costs a bit less, but you wonder: Is it as effective?”

In the new study, published Wednesday in JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, two University of Pennsylvania doctors, Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Justin E. Bekelman, and their colleagues analyzed data from 14 commercial insurance plans involving 15,643 women who had their breasts irradiated after lumpectomies.

Radiation is used after women have lumpectomies because it reduces the odds that another cancer will arise in the breast, and it improves the chances of survival.

The researchers considered two groups of women who had radiation therapy and asked how many got the shorter course. One group closely matched women in the previous randomized studies that evaluated the conventional treatment versus the shorter one. These women were older than 50 and had early-stage cancers. Practice guidelines published in 2011 by the American Society for Radiation Oncology recommend the shorter radiation therapy for this group.

The other group differed from participants in the previous studies because they were younger, had had prior chemotherapy or had cancer cells in their lymph nodes, indicating a more advanced cancer. The practice guidelines neither endorse nor discourage the shorter therapy for these women.

Use of the shorter course of radiation increased in both groups of women from 2008 to 2013, but still only a minority received this treatment. In the group that should have gotten the shorter therapy under the guidelines, 10.6 percent received it in 2008 and 34.5 percent in 2013. In the group that got no recommendation for or against the shorter treatment, the percentage who used it rose from 8.1 percent to 21.2 percent over that time.

In Canada and the United Kingdom, the statistics were far different. At least two-thirds of women in both groups received the shorter therapy.

In the United States, total medical expenses for the shorter therapy in women for whom it was endorsed were $28,747. For comparable women getting the longer course of treatment, the cost was $31,641. For the second group of women — for whom the shorter therapy was neither endorsed nor discouraged — medical costs were $64,723 as compared with $72,860 for conventional therapy. Health insurers pay for radiation in a piecemeal fashion, and the shorter course involves about 16 doses as compared with about 33 with the conventional therapy.

Dr. Harold J. Burstein, a medical oncologist at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, said that when the initial results of a Canadian trial on the shorter therapy were published in 2002, “there was real ambivalence about changing practice based on one study.” Doctors wanted to see what would happen as the women were followed over a longer time and they wanted to see the result confirmed.

The results of that study contradicted years of practice in the field, noted Dr. Gary M. Freedman, a breast radiation oncologist at the University of Pennsylvania and an author of the new study. In the 1970s and 1980s, when equipment was much less sophisticated, radiation oncologists found that shorter and more intense therapy burned women’s skin, scarred their breasts and made their breasts shrivel and shrink over the ensuing decade.

“I started my residency in 1993,” Dr. Freedman said. “That was drilled into us.” Shorter and more intense radiation therapy “was a bad idea and would have a bad cosmetic result.”

But with improved equipment and methodology, he said, the clinical trials found that cosmetic results were just as good with the shorter treatment. “They did not just publish that the cure rates were the same, but they published very in-depth cosmetic assessments, particularly the British, who took pictures that were graded by blinded observers,” he said.

“That’s when the tide started turning.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/11/healt ... .html?_r=0


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 10:08 am 
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Thieves behind old mags in waiting rooms

IF you've ever wondered why magazines in your doctor's waiting room are tattered, out-of-date and serious, the answer's simple: patients are stealing the new gossip rags.

AN Auckland University study published in BMJ has found that almost half of the magazines in an Auckland GP's waiting room had disappeared within a month.

Almost 60 per cent of the stolen copies were less than two months old and all of the stolen editions were gossip magazines.

Bruce Arroll, a GP and Auckland Medical School professor, set out to answer the "burning research question" of the lack of up-to-date magazines in his waiting room after growing fed up with complaints.

The researchers put 87 magazines in the waiting room of a south Auckland GP, making sure there was a mix of new and old magazines, and of gossip and non-gossipy magazines.

Gossip magazines were defined as having five or more photographs of celebrities on the front cover.

The researchers agreed to terminate the study before all the gossip magazines had disappeared for "fear of a waiting room riot".

"The clinic staff were asked to leave the magazines alone, and any failure to comply could result in the `death penalty' (actual words used)," the study authors wrote.

"If the death penalty had been invoked we would have sought retrospective approval by an ethics committee."

Within a month, during which time about 3000 patients had been in the waiting room, only one of the gossip magazines was left - but all of the non-gossipy magazines remained.

"Practices should consider using old copies of the Economist and Time magazine as a first step towards saving costs," Prof Arroll said.

He said future research in "waiting room science" could include identifying "who or what" is responsible for removing magazines, developing a "find my magazine" smart phone app, and examining the effects on receptionists in a waiting room without gossip magazines.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/la ... 7154662255


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 8:31 am 
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Mental health patients ‘doing it tough’: report

PSYCHIATRISTS handed out 351 forced mental health treatment orders in the Warwick-Toowoomba region last financial year.

Queensland Director of Mental Health William Kingswell's annual Parliamentary report reveals the number fell from 401 in 2012-13.

Courts or custodial officers sent 299 people for mental health treatment at the Darling Downs Network Authorised Mental Health Service - up 75 (or 33%) on the previous period.

There were 65 forensic order patients - people detained in an authorised mental health service or high-security unit for care - and 63 patients charged with a criminal offence.

Warwick Community Mental Health Service provides treatment programs to patients in the region.

Dr Kingswell said Warwick patients were doing it tough compared with city residents because many mental health professionals did not want to leave metropolitan areas.

"What you have in a lot of rural and regional Queensland is market failure," he said.

"So you don't have a well-developed primary care sector or a well-developed private psychiatry sector that you would see in an urban area.

"It's just really difficult to get private practitioners to move out of the postcode that ends in triple zero."

Mental Illness Fellowship Queensland president Tony Stevenson said getting services right at the community level would lower the number of interventions.

Mr Stevenson said more funding and introducing e-health and more support for GPs could make a world of difference for patients on the edge.

"It does help prevent crisis developing if people are maintaining their medication and they're connected well into the community, and the people they are connected with are able to recognise the changes and behaviour and try and get some more intensive support at that right time," Mr Stevenson said.

The facts

Darling Downs Network Authorised Mental Health Service key figures

Cases, 2013-14, 2012-13
Involuntary treatment orders: 351, 401
Involuntary patients: 299, 224
Forensic order patients: 65, 65
Patients charged with an offence: 63, 75

http://www.warwickdailynews.com.au/news ... t/2484809/


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