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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 9:44 am 
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Looming crisis as NSW hospitals increasingly fail to meet national targets to treat emergency patients

A LOOMING crisis in NSW emergency departments will see most of the state’s hospitals fail to meet the national target of treating 90 per cent of patients within four hours.

The Saturday Telegraph can ­reveal only 13 out of 77 NSW hospitals can meet the federal government’s 90 per cent emergency treatment target when it begins on January 1.

Sydney Hospital and Sydney Eye Hospital are the only two facilities in Sydney that can meet this target, ­according to figures from the Bureau of Health Information. The 11 others that can meet the new target are small rural hospitals.

An Auditor General’s ­report ­released this week ­revealed the health ministry concedes the 90 per cent ­target will be tough to meet, telling the auditor: “This is a very ambitious target, given increasing emergency ­department demand.”

Opposition health spokesman Walt Secord said NSW Health minister Jillian Skinner was responsible for the crisis.

Ms Skinner was unable to say if she was confident NSW hospitals could meet the new 90 per cent target. “The 90 per cent target for 2015 is part of the original National Partnership Agreement between states and territories and the Australian government, signed in 2011. A key feature of the deal was reward payments for achievement,” she said.

http://www.news.com.au/national/nsw-act ... 7154583376


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:47 am 
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New Zealand Warns of Dangers of Raw Milk After Australian Child's Death

The death of an Australian child due to raw milk has prompted New Zealand authorities to issue a warning. A 3-year-old child in Victoria has fallen seriously ill after drinking unpasteurised milk.

Victorian state health department also issued a warning about the consumption of raw milk, according to the New Zealand Herald. Raw milk is often sold as bath milk in some food shops. Australian chief health officer Rosemary Lester said the bacteria in raw milk can affect the bloodstream and kidneys.

A spokesperson for the Ministry for Primary Industries in New Zealand said there were risks when drinking unprocessed milk. She urged milk producers to warn their customers if their milk products might contain disease-causing bacteria. The people that were most at risk to illness from raw milk consumption were the old, young, pregnant and others with a weak immune system.

The ministry has recommended the heating of milk to 70 degrees Celsius to kill bacteria before drinking. The spokeswoman said that food safety risks should be managed and suggested an extensive consultation on policies involved in the sale of raw milk.

In a Radio NZ report, Dr David Everett, president of the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology, reacted to the news of the child's death and said it was both "sad and disturbing" especially if milk producers are unaware of the risks. He added that the problem may have something to do with the way the product was packaged, transported or stored since these are not always monitored. Everett warned that if certain conditions are not met, pathogenic bacteria might develop. He recommended that raw milk should not be sold for human consumption.

Meanwhile, Andrew Hoggard, dairy and food safety chairman at Federated Farmers, said milk sellers are required to inform consumers of the risks of buying raw milk. He believes unpasteurised milk is at risk of any bacteria that might have come into contact with the cow's milk. He also advised not to overstock on raw milk since it can't be stored for a long time.

http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/575839/2 ... I4CcVXqFpA


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:01 am 
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Sleep duration, sleep-disordered breathing linked to childhood obesity at 15 years

A child’s risk of becoming obese by age 15 years may be increased by sleep-related breathing problems and chronic lack of sleep, according to recent study findings published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

“In recent years, lack of sleep has become a well-recognized risk for childhood obesity,” Karen Bonuck, PhD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y., said in a press release. “Sleep-disordered breathing, or SDB, which includes snoring and sleep apnea, is also a risk factor for obesity but receives less attention. These two risk factors had not been tracked together in children over time to determine their potential for independently influencing weight gain. Our study aimed to fill in that gap.”

Bonuck and colleagues evaluated 1,899 children from birth to age 6.75 years to determine the effects of sleep duration and SDB on childhood BMI.

Participants were divided into five SDB clusters including: no symptoms (asymptomatic; 45%); peak at 6 months (symptoms peak at 6 months, then abate; 18.5%), peak at 18 months (symptoms peak at 18 months, then abate; 10.5%), worst case (symptoms rise at 18 months, peak at 30 to 40 months and remain high; 7%) and late symptom (modest symptoms appear at 42 months and remain high; 19%). Associations were examined for each SDB cluster and sleep duration at age 18 months, 2.5 years, 5.75 years and 6.75 years.

Compared with the asymptomatic group, the worst case group were twice as likely to become obese by age 7, 10 and 15 years. Snoring, sleep apnea and mouth-breathing were the most common SDB symptoms among the worst case group.

Participants in the late symptom group demonstrated an 80% increased risk for obesity at age 7 years and a 60% increased risk at age 15 years.

There was a significant association with obesity at age 15 years and short sleep duration at age 4.75 and 5.75 years. There was a 55% to 65% increased risk for obesity at age 15 years with short sleep duration at 5.75 years. Obesity at age 15 years was less likely among participants with the longest sleep duration at age 2.5 years (OR=0.5; 95% CI, 0.26-0.97).

“We know that the road to obesity often begins early in life,” Bonuck said. “Our research strengthens the case that insufficient sleep and SDB — especially when present early in childhood — increase the risk for becoming obese later in childhood. If impaired sleep in childhood is conclusively shown to cause future obesity, it may be vital for parents and physicians to identify sleep problems early, so that corrective action can be taken and obesity prevented. With childhood obesity hovering at 17% in the United States, we’re hopeful that efforts to address both of these risk factors could have a tremendous public health impact.”

http://www.healio.com/endocrinology/obe ... t-15-years


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:00 pm 
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Women Are More Empathetic Toward Their Partners than Men, Study Shows, But You Probably Already Knew That

It’s always nice to have something you’ve already suspected confirmed by science. Like today, when I found out a recent study showed that women are more empathetic toward their partners than men. It’s a little depressing, sure, but hey! Let’s focus on the silver lining: now we have research to back us up next time we accuse a partner of not caring about our problems. Thanks, science!

The research was conducted through Griffith University and the University of Queensland, which are both located in Australia. Using data from the Household, Income, and Labor Dynamic in Australia (HILDA) survey, which has more than 20,000 participants every year, the scientists analyzed how individuals’ emotional health changed when their partners went through difficult life experiences such as illness or a death in the family, Science Daily reports. When a partner experienced negative life events, women were significantly affected by their distress — in fact, on average, their levels of empathy were comparable to the event happening to themselves. However, the same couldn’t be said of men, who were found to be unaffected by the emotional state of their partner. And it’s not because men are stoic, unfeeling Clint Eastwood wannabes; according to researcher Dr. Cindy Mervin, they’re “quite strongly affected by what happens to themselves, but they simply are not very emotional when it comes to the feelings of their partner.”

Professor Paul Frijters went on to hypothesize that men might be more affected by the image they send to the world as partners than the actual emotional states of their girlfriend or wife. (The article doesn’t say anything about homosexual relationships, by the way, so I think it’s safe to assume this is restricted to heterosexuals.) There could be any number of reasons for this disconnect between men and their partners, but much more research would need to be done before anyone could comfortably say why men tend to be less empathetic.

These results are similar to a 2010 study that found that men feel less guilt than women. Women generally have higher levels of habitual guilt than men, but in the same study, researchers also found that girls had better interpersonal sensitivity at younger ages than boys. This led them to suggest that rather than women feeling too much guilt, men didn’t feel enough due to their lack of sensitivity. Gee whiz, I wonder how else that lack of empathy could manifest itself later in life!

Maybe we should start a campaign to make guys read more books.

http://www.bustle.com/articles/54622-wo ... ready-knew


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2014 8:40 am 
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Food pyramid to stage comeback against fad diets

The food pyramid - that childhood institution that showed us that eating grains was healthier than gobbling down butter and steak - is making a comeback.

Years of fad diets and questionable but persuasive advice from chefs and celebrities rendered the pyramid redundant to some people. But Nutrition Australia is preparing to relaunch its healthy eating advice system in an attempt to claw back influence.

Nutrition Australia chief executive Lucinda Hancock, an accredited nutritionist, said social media sometimes led to unreliable advice being spread by unqualified people.

"I think people are looking for a quick-fix solution, something that's popular or trendy. People tend to trust people who they see as celebrities or their family or friends," she said. "I think there's more confusion now than ever."

The traditional food pyramid advocated for a grain-based diet, followed by fresh fruit and vegetables, moderate amounts of meat, eggs and poultry and limited amounts of butter, oil and fat. It encouraged food variety with limited salt and adequate fibre.

The new pyramid is not expected to be drastically different, but will reflect the national 2013 dietary guidelines, which has an increased emphasis on plant-based foods. It is expected to be relaunched in January.

Ms Hancock said she hoped the new pyramid would be "a big talking point".

"I'm hoping we'll be able to cut through that level of noise out there and ensure our message gets out there," she said.

No-carbs, paleo, sugar-free, raw food and vegan diets have become increasingly popular in recent years as an increasing amount of research emphasised the link between lifestyle and health.

Television host Pete Evans and former magazine editor Sarah Wilson have been criticised by dietitians for advocating their respective paleo and sugar-free diets.

In response, Evans told Fairfax Media that doctors and dietitians as well as "everyday people" supported paleo because "they have seen the wonders it has manifested for people wanting to reclaim their health as well as their weight".

Tim Crowe, who lectures in nutrition at Deakin University, said the food pyramid may not be "sexy" but it remained the best source of healthy eating guidelines.

"There's so much misinformation out there for people and the question of what is healthy is harder to know," he said.

He said people such as Evans and Wilson had been successful in marketing their brands and diets.

"We could sell our information better. We could certainly learn a thing or two from them."

In July, Dietitians Association of Australia chief executive Claire Hewat said the evidence supporting the paleo diet's health claims "just doesn't stack up".

"Any diet excluding whole food groups should raise suspicion," she said. "The idea of cutting out grain-based foods and legumes is not backed by science and eating more meat than is needed by the body certainly has risks, according to the World Health Organisation."

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/victori ... 2a3f1.html


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2014 7:59 am 
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Competition tough for rural health scholarships

THE number of rural students looking to study health at university has outstripped supply for rural health scholarships four-fold this year, a key allied health group says.

More than 660 prospective students from regional Australia hoping to study degrees ranging from social work to physiotherapy applied for just 162 available scholarships this year.

The SARRAH scholarships (Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health) offer students up to $10,000 to help meet travel, accommodation and study costs to start degrees next year.

While the huge demand for scholarships showed the rising interest of young rural Australians in health work, SARRAH chief executive Rod Wellington said more funds were needed to meet demand.

He said rural students often faced bigger barriers to study, including travel costs and living expenses, because they "cannot study near home".

But Mr Wellington said scholarships were essential to help meet the demand for allied health workers in rural Australia, because students with rural backgrounds were more likely to return to work in the bush after finishing their studies.

While about 30% of people living in major cities hold bachelor degrees, less than 20% of people in inner regional, outer regional and remote areas have degrees, according to Australian Council for Educational Research figures.

But Mr Wellington said the demand was high, so SARRAH was still pushing for more funding.

The news comes as a federal Cabinet reshuffle means two women now lead health policy, with Sussan Ley promoted to Health Minister and Senator Fiona Nash maintained as Assistant Minister.

http://www.news-mail.com.au/news/compet ... s/2493133/


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 25, 2014 1:58 pm 
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All together now – three evolutionary perks of singing

We’re enjoying the one time of year when protests of “I can’t sing!” are laid aside and we sing carols with others. For some this is a once-a-year special event; the rest of the year is left to the professionals to handle the singing (except, perhaps, some alone time in the shower or car).

Music – and singing in particular, as the oldest and only ubiquitous form of music creation – plays a central role in our lives and shared community experiences, and this has been true for every culture for as far back as we can trace our human ancestors.

So does singing in a group provide specific and tangible benefits, or is it merely a curious ability that provides entertainment through creative expression?

This is a question currently of great interest to evolutionary theorists, linguists, psychologists and musicologists. The debate took off when psychologist Steven Pinker stated his opinion that music is a spandrel – a useless evolutionary by-product of another, useful, trait. In this case, he suggested that music is a spandrel of language development, providing no advantage and serving no purpose.

There are strong links between music and language development, although there is no consensus on the actual nature of the relationship. Arguments include theories that:

language developed from music
music sprang from language
they both developed from a proto-language that was musical in nature
they developed concurrently.

A strong body of research conducted with choirs indicates that membership has many benefits to individual wellbeing and physical health. It is possible these effects are due to people – the singers – participating in something they enjoy doing. Or, there may be something more elemental taking place.

If these findings are viewed through an evolutionary lens, though, there is compelling evidence that music making provided some very specific benefits for our ancestors. Specifically, there are three theories which have been proposed that, if true, may explain these effects while suggesting that group singing is still beneficial to all:

singing creates a shared emotional experience
singing increases social bonding
singing improves cognitive function.
Sing us a song, you’re the hominid

Our hominid ancestors used music to create shared emotional experiences. This would have been particularly important for early hominids struggling to survive, because emotions serve as a kind of “red flag” to our cognitive processing systems, signalling that something critical requires attention.

Emotions prioritise the many options that we may have at any given time, and reduces “data overload” from the bombardment of senses that we experience. Hominids, like many other primates, could have developed very small social groups, or even no social groups.

But the ability for a large group to work cooperatively together was more advantageous than individuals attempting to survive alone. In order to cooperate, individuals needed to subsume their individual priorities for action, and learn to delay gratification so that the good of the group could take precedence (such as forgoing eating or sleeping in order to build a shelter). Group singing likely provided a rewarding, positive activity where emotional empathy could be developed.

We know that interacting with music today is, for almost everyone, both an emotional and overwhelmingly positive experience. Music is also used to reinforce positive moods and manage negative moods. Adolescents regularly use music as an effective mood regulator.

Others put music to targeted purposes; many athletes use music to put them in a mood state that supports peak performance (and research shows it to be an effective strategy). Music’s ability to change or reinforce a mood relies on the same principle of emotion contagion.

Social significance

Second, music engagement would likely have led to increased pro-social behaviours. This would be supported by a shared emotional state, which relies on empathic skills (empathy) to spread.

But music is also at the centre of where we first learn to be sociable – in the mother-infant bond. Infants are mesmerised by their mothers’ infant-directed singing. It is a communication tool between mother and infant, and is highly companionable in nature.

Listening to a mother sing has an immediate and profound impact on an infant’s arousal and attention, including physical responses. These musical communications are highly effective despite the infant not understanding the linguistics involved. They are also universal; lullabies are recognisable as such in virtually every culture on Earth.

There are strong indications that group music making and social behaviours are still linked today. Individuals with Williams Syndrome, in addition to profound cognitive deficits, are known for both their love of music and their incredible sociability.

Music therapy has been shown to reliably improve social behaviours in individuals on the autism spectrum. Choir members consistently report that social bonds are one of the primary benefits of choir membership.

More experimental studies indicate that instrumental jazz musicians use the communication centres of their brains when coordinating play, and that guitarists and even audience members experience synchronised brain waves when a duet is played (see video below).

Studies also show that musical interactions increase both empathy and pro-social behaviours in children.

Taken together, the evidence points to a strong link between co-creation of music and improved social bonding.

Getting ahead

Finally, evolutionary theorists argue that it was their musicality that allowed hominids to develop what is known as the “social brain”, while others argue that the complex brain we enjoy today developed to keep track of large social networks. It may have been a bit of both.

By creating a shared emotional experience and increasing members' pro-social behaviours, group singing supported complex social networks. Tracking and managing complex social networks may have led to the development of the neocortex. This brain region supports the suite of abilities known as executive function, which provide the skills necessary to make and implement long-term plans.

It also supports cognitive flexibility, which is a style of fluid cognition that allows humans to successfully pair concepts that don’t generally go together, resulting in creative, insightful, and elegant ideas and solutions.

We already know that a positive mood state supports cognitive flexibility, while stress and anxiety act as inhibitors. Co-creating music may support improved cognitive skills through other pathways as well, although these links have not been explored.

Of course all theories concerning the use of music by early hominid groups is conjecture, resting on the scant pieces of evidence the fossil record leaves us as well as what we know about our own musicality today. But the questions are important, because it can inform us about our own relationship to music.

If the theories outlined here are correct, it may benefit us both as individuals and as a community to normalise and promote music co-creation. Participating in singing ought to be more than a once-a-year activity.

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014 ... ks-singing


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 1:17 pm 
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Brisbane's brush turkey explosion heads south

The number of brush turkeys has exploded in Brisbane and they have got their eyes on Sydney.

Behavioural ecologist Professor Darryl Jones said nothing - not cats or cars - was stopping the rise of the birds, which are also commonly known as bush turkeys, in urban Brisbane.

"They've increased by 700 per cent in the last 20 years [in Brisbane]," he said.

The birds had gone from being unknown in Brisbane except in a few parts, to owning virtually every suburb.

"I'm supposed to be the expert on brush turkeys and I still can't explain why that's going on," Professor Jones said.

Prior to the 1970s, brush turkeys were a major game bird and were hunted actively.

But once they were granted legal protection, they made a remarkable comeback from being an endangered species.

"Biggest news for me – I saw a brush turkey walking down the main street of [Fortitude] Valley this year," Professor Jones said.

In the bush the birds faced habitat destruction, but in Brisbane people could think they were an invading army.

John Carthew, a homeowner who lives about one kilometre from Brisbane's city, snapped 13 outside his back gate.

"I've seen 19 of them roosting in a tree just over in a park here," he said.

Professor Jones said the abundance of brush turkeys was especially surprising given that eggs were abandoned in nests.

"The chicks hatch by themselves, dig their way to the surface of the mound and spend their first 20 days of their lives absolutely alone with no parental care and no-one to tell them what a predator looks like, no-one to tell them what food looks like - nothing," he said.

"I'll be the first to admit they're not smart birds but they can actually deal with whatever been thrown at them."

It might come down to the sheer weight of numbers, with each female laying 30 eggs a year.

Professor Jones said brush turkeys were now invading Sydney "in a huge way".

"I'm constantly getting reports from down in Sydney about 'what the hell are we going to do about these big birds - they're destroying our gardens', which we've known about for 30 years," he said.

"Sydney can expect an avalanche in the next 20 years of more and more brush turkeys because they love it – somehow or other they survive."

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-26/s ... ection=qld


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 8:26 am 
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Your microwave is handier than you think

A microwave is perfect for reheating coffee and leftover takeaway but if you think that's all it can do you are seriously underestimating the kitchen appliance's ability.

While some remain anti-microwave, among other things, the microwave is actually a healthy, convenient way to cook,

From bringing condiments back to life to disinfecting your sponges, here are 10 handy uses for a microwave.

Cooks dinner in 10 minutes flat

The microwave's sole purpose isn't just to reheat, it can cook too. A healthy salmon and vegie dinner can be made using fresh ingredients, and be ready in less than 10 minutes.

Microwave fish covered with either a lid or a plate and ensure it stays moist.

Real Simple said to subtract about three-quarters of the recommended cooking time but as a rule of thumb fish should take about eight to 10 minutes.

Disinfects plastic cutting boards

Bacteria like salmonella and E. coli breed on your chopping board, even after giving them a good scrub.

A 1996 report based on microbiologist at the University of Wisconsin Dr Dean O. Cliver's research and advised microwaving chopping boards for five minutes to remove bacteria.

Dr Cliver told The New York Times that people should carefully watch the microwave and turn it off if any problems occur.

Real Simple suggests rubbing the board with the cut side of a lemon before zapping.

Brings honey back to life

The perception that crystallised honey has gone bad is false. When in fact, Wired said it's actually a sign of good quality honey.

If your honey has hardened in the jar, take the lid off and pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

The heat will bring the honey back to a delicious, gooey consistency.

Cooking vegetables

Don't waste time boiling water when your vegetables can be cooked in the microwave for a fraction of the time.

The Washington Post said, "Multiple studies have supported this, including a 2010 study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry that identified microwaving as the best cooking method for maintaining the colour and cancer-fighting phytochemicals in brussels sprouts."

To cook your vegetables, simply rinse with water, place in a microwave safe dish, cover and zap in the microwave for roughly five minutes, but it depends on your microwave.

Kills bacteria in sponges

To remove the colony of bacteria growing in your sponge, put it in the microwave.

Real Simple said soak the cloth or sponge in water; add some vinegar with lemon juice and microwave on high for one minute.

Proofing yeast for dough

Last-minute pizza dough isn't an option when dough needs at least an hour to rise, that is, unless you have a microwave.

Place your dough in the middle of the microwave, along with a cup of water at the back and heat for three minutes on the lowest setting possible.

Let the dough rest for three minutes before heating it again for another three minutes, this time let it rest for six minutes.

Cook a chocolate mug cake in five minutes

Have your cake in eat it too, in just five minutes.

Mug Cakes, by Lene Knudsen, is a whole book dedicated to making cakes in mugs.

Putting some of the recipes to the test, Fairfax Media said the "The mug cakes aren't a total disaster."

"They're a great idea, and they are very easy to whip up once you've got the ingredients. They slide smoothly out of the mugs (not much scraping required) and we're warned in advance to eat them straightaway."

Revives old makeup

Clumpy mascara means lumpy eyelashes. While some like this look, others loathe it.

Before throwing out your dried and chunky mascara, pop it in the microwave.

Home economist Jacqueline Mariani told the Daily Mail, "Remove the lid and brush, then place the open tube in your microwave next to a cup of water for humidity."

"Microwave on high for five seconds to loosen up the contents and get a couple more weeks of luscious lashes," she said.

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/homesty ... 1t3li.html


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2014 12:42 pm 
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Investing: Prevention is better than cure

Few things you learn as an adult are more important than the simple advice you learn as a kid.

Take medicine.

Advancements in treating lung cancer are astounding, and so important. But not smoking is far more important — smoking is responsible for about 90% of lung cancers in men, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Breakthrough drugs are amazing and becoming more effective. But it’s unlikely that anything will ever be as effective at fighting lung cancer as the simple and free advice of “don’t smoke.”

The scientists who develop these treatments are some of the world’s most valuable people. But those who can help others quit smoking, or never begin smoking, will probably save far more lives. Alas, the quit-smoking counsellors, social workers, nurses, and primary-care practitioners tasked with this job aren’t nearly as prestigious as the medical researcher who pioneers a breakthrough drug.

Same for heart disease. Few complicated and expensive treatments will ever be as effective at tackling heart disease as “eat right and exercise.” But who is viewed as more important to medicine: the nutritionist, or the cardiac surgeon?

Here’s the problem: Advice that sounds basic but is important isn’t as valued as complicated advice that is necessary only if you ignored the basic advice to being with.

Complex or effective? Your choice

It’s the same in finance. Advice that sounds complicated — chart patterns, trends, Greek symbols, market timing — is often more valued than basic advice that is far more important, like saving your money, investing for the long term, and reducing costs.

And just like medical advice, the only reason you need complicated advice is often that you ignored the basic advice to begin with. Do you need derivatives to hedge your portfolio? Maybe only if you don’t have a long-term attitude to begin with. Do you need to know when the next recession will come? Maybe only if you don’t have a good emergency fund to begin with.

It’s natural to assume that if something sounds complicated, it must be more important than the basics. But in many fields, it’s the other way around. What’s dangerous is that smart people can think the basics are beneath them and focus all of their attention on complicated manoeuvres. But since the basics can determine the majority of success, they end up with performance that’s far below average.

A US Vanguard index fund that invests 60% in stocks and 40% in bonds outperformed most US hedge funds with less volatility over the past decade. But I guarantee you that if you tried to sell this strategy to managed- and superannuation funds, they’d shake their heads. It sounds too simple. They want complicated hedge funds managed by rocket scientists.

Foolish takeaway

In my view, those who get people to save more money, teach people about the value of a long-term mind-set, lower costs, and reduce bad investing behaviour will always be more valuable than anyone engaging in complicated investing forecasts and techniques. But we'll always be more attracted to those with fancy charts, flashy formulas, and complicated jargon.

The choice is yours - choose wisely.

http://www.fool.com.au/2014/12/31/inves ... than-cure/


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 12:43 pm 
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Never have a back-up plan, put your money at stake and don't say 'don't': The tricks psychologists say will make your resolutions stick in 2015

Plan to eat a little less sugar, consume a drop less alcohol, spend a little more conservatively or make better use of that expensive gym membership in 2015?

It all sounds so simple on 1 January but making resolutions stick for the next 364 days is not so easy.

Luckily though, there are scientists and psychologists who ponder the key to goal setting all year round - and have some clever tricks on how to best go about it.

Recent research has found that simply sleeping longer hours can help us achieve our ambitions as can raising the stakes and putting our own money at risk.

But having a plan B at the back of the mind or simply using the wrong language to frame our resolution can end up scuppering the best intentions.

Here are some fresh ideas to help make 2015 the year you finally do it - whatever 'it' may be.

Don't have a back-up plan

A series of new studies found that people who were told to think up a plan B when goal setting were less likely to achieve their goal.

The research published in Time magazine found that back-up plans often backfire.

The theory goes that by making failure feel somehow more acceptable, a back-up plan zaps the desire to chase the main goal.

So don't give yourself a way out, just keep your eye on the big prize.

Sleep on it

New research from the University of Hertfordshire found that lack of sleep can reduce self-control.

The study asked 1,000 people to rate both the quality of their sleep and how successful they were at achieving their resolutions.

Sixty per cent of people who slept well said they were able to achieve their resolutions, compared to just 44 per cent of those who slept poorly.

Professor Richard Wiseman who led the study said: 'These findings build on previous work showing that sleep deprivation disrupts self-control and willpower.'

Don't say 'don't'

Framing your resolution in positive terms helps to make a goal more achievable, according to psychologist and author of Taming The Pound, Kim Stephenson.

'Your mind won’t do “you mustn’t spend money” or “don’t eat too much”. It’s like saying “don’t think of elephants” - you can’t help thinking of elephants because you have to dwell on what you are trying not to think about to know what to avoid.

'Make it positive like saying “eat the healthy choices” or "check what you're spending" to help make them become more achievable.

'Try also to make it something that you really want long term, that will motivate you. So rather than “lose weight”, or “go to the gym”, make it “get healthy”.

'Obviously you need to assess what that means in order to define your goal, but resolutions work better if they're something to look forward to.'

Chop it up

Why give yourself one tick when you you can have 20? It's more gratifying to work towards lots of smaller goals than one enormous (and potentially overwhelming) one.

That's according to George Wu, a professor at the University of Chicago's business school.

Aim to read 24 books this year? Why not give it a bite-sized time frame and be able to pat yourself on the back every month if you manage to finish two.

It will make your goal easier to achieve and spur you on to keep at it.

Try 'temptation bundling'

This idea is to bundle 'should' activities with ones we have a strong desire to do.

According to psychology professor Katherine Milkman, who coined the phrase, this strategy can help solve two problems at once - reducing the amount of time we spend indulging in activities we want to reduce (watching trashy TV for example) while upping those we want to increase (like going to the gym).

'You won’t feel guilty while watching that show, and time will fly while you’re at the gym,' she explains.

A 'temptation bundling' study run by Milkman looked at students who belonged to a university gym, all of whom indicated they wanted to work out more.

The students were given iPods loaded with four tempting novels of their choice. One group was only allowed to access them at the gym and these students ended up working out significantly more than a group who were allowed to access the iPods any time they liked.

Raise the stakes

Studies into weight loss have found that the most effective diet plans are ones in which participants have to part with cash if they don't meet their goals.

The success of goal setting websites, such as stickK.com, have found that the theory holds true in all other aspects too.

StickK.com was designed by behavioral economists and helps users achieve their goals using money-losing incentives.

The site asks users to sign a commitment contract, which they say helps define the goal. Users then decide how much money they'll put on the line and where the money will go if they don't fulfill that contract. (For extra motivation they can even designate an 'anti-charity', a cause you don't believe in, to receive their funds.)

So if you put your money where your mouth is you might just find the old adage helps you achieve what you wish for in 2015.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/artic ... -2015.html


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 8:53 am 
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Best and worst diets for 2015

As thousands of Australians soldier into their second week of weight loss resolutions, diet and nutrition experts are warning some of the most talked about diets last year are exactly the ones to avoid in 2015.

Local health and diet experts have endorsed a list of the "five worst diets for 2015" released by the British Dietetic Association.

Topping the list was the obscure urine therapy diet, followed by more popular eating plans such as paleo (which cuts out dairy, grains and legumes), quitting sugar (including fruit), and the vegan before 6pm diet. A diet that involved eating a spoonful of clay every day rounded out the list.

Veteran nutritionist Rosemary Stanton told Fairfax Media anyone who wanted to lose weight for good should be wary of diets that cut out whole food groups or require radical reworking of your diet.

"People love extreme diets and they work, you'll lose weight quickly. But you'll put it back on as it's almost impossible to stick to them," Dr Stanton said.

"Even if you could, any good nutritionist will advise you not to, as unbalanced eating is pretty bad for you long-term. For example with paleo, we know cutting out grains lifts your risk of bowel cancer."

She added intensive diets can be particularly harmful for children, which is increasingly pertinent with one in four children overweight.

Figures from the National Health Reporting Authority for the Council of Australian Governments also reveal the majority of Australians, 66 per cent, are now overweight, up from 44 per cent 15 years ago.

With so many Australians battling with their weight, Nutrition Australia's senior nutritionist Aloysha Hourigan said it was no surprise many opt for more drastic diets that promise quick fixes or complete health transformations.

"The advice that works for dieting isn't very sexy and hasn't really changed for decades so it's easily drowned out when a new diet based on a bit of science and a celebrity ambassador is launched," Ms Hourigan told Fairfax Media.

Paleo catapulted to popularity through vigorous advocacy from celebrity chef Pete Evans, who wrote several accompanying cookbooks.

Quitting sugar was bolstered by television presenter Sarah Wilson and the vegan before 6pm diet boasts Beyonce as a devotee.

Monash University Emeritus Professor and director at the Asia Pacific Health and Nutrition Centre Mark Wahlqvist told Fairfax Media an often unassailable issue with more radical diet regimes was making it work in real life.

"Just because it worked wonderfully for a celebrity doesn't mean it will for you. Intensive diets can be costly and tricky to find the ingredients for," Dr Wahlqvist said.

"Find something balanced you can stick to, eat a little bit less and exercise more. And if you regain it, feel encouraged that we now know even losing that weight for a bit does good things for your health."

Among the most talked about diets, nutritionists praised two in particular for offering the opportunity for a balanced diet: the 5:2 diet and the Mediterranean diet.

The 5:2 diet is also known as the "fast diet". It involves eating healthily but not restrictively for five days, with two days a week of restricted eating of only 500 calories, or about 2000 kilojoules.

The second popular diet was the Mediterranean diet, which local nutritionists said was in line with dietary mainstays such as the food pyramid. The Mediterranean diet involves eating lots vegetables, fruits, unrefined grains, legume and olive oil, as well as dairy, slightly more seafood than red meat.

Regardless of which diet is followed, all the nutritionists advocate balance and variety paired with exercise as essential for sustainable weight loss.

The most effective diets often don't even have a name or accompanying ambassadors and recipes.

Chef Teresa Cutter advocates for a philosophy rather than a codified cookbook. She told Fairfax Media avoiding strict rules and guilt by eating healthily 80 per cent of the time, with occasional treats, was a happier and healthier way to lose and manage weight.

"There's a sense of 'food anxiety' amongst many people who are trying their best to do the right thing," Ms Cutter said.

"Your body is a finely tuned machine that needs the right nutritional balance accompanied with adequate exercise and quality rest."

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/lifesty ... 2gzvm.html


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:18 am 
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Turning up the heat on exercise to lose weight

Baby, it's hot outside. And it's all the more reason to get moving.

A small new study has explored the effect of heated exercise on eating.

We all know that a six pack starts with what we put on our plates. But exercise can impact what we are likely to put on our plate.

It is well known that many of us exercise to lose or maintain our weight, yet exercise generally increases our appetite.

There is also a tendency to compensate for our exertion and reward ourselves by consuming more calories. This has been one explanation for why some people put on weight (fat, not muscle) when they begin exercising.

Now, the new study, by the University of Aberdeen in Scotland has found that the temperature during exercise also affects our appetite and how we are likely to eat once we've worked out.

The researchers knew that swimmers tend to eat more after exercise compared with those who complete a similar amount of exercise on land.

To test whether it was the cold of the water rather than the efforts exerted while swimming, they recruited 16 sedentary adults and put them through their paces on a treadmill.

After exercising in both cold (8 degrees Celsius) and warm (20 degrees Celsius) conditions, the participants were offered an all you can eat buffet.

Measures of metabolic rate, endurance capacity and appetite hormones (like the satiating ghrelin) were taken before and after the exercise as well as after the meal.

Interestingly, the participants burned no more calories while exercising in the cold (contrary to the belief that the body has to work harder in cold conditions).

In fact, the researchers found that working out in the warmer conditions burned more calories as, they hypothesised, the body had to work harder in order to keep itself cool.

Additionally, the researchers found that, after exercising in the cold, participants felt far hungrier, piled more on their plates and consumed more carbohydrates.

Associate Professor Corinne Caillaud, from the faculty of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Sydney says other research supports the finding that those who exercise in heat tend to eat less afterwards.

She also says that upcoming research will further explore the impact exercising in heat has on the metabolism.

There are, for instance, heat shock proteins in the body which are stimulated by heat. Future research, Caillaud says, will target the expression of these specific proteins for glucose control and weight management.

Indeed.

One 2010 study turned up the heat on exercise and compared the different ways we burn fuel in 40 degree Celsius heat versus 20 C.

It was found that exercising at the same intensity in the 40 C heat increased the muscle glycogen oxidation in all participants.

A separate study from 2010 found that exercising in the heat may improve athletic performance.

Results like these help to explain the increasing propagation and popularity of heated exercise classes like balmy Bikram (37 degrees C) yoga and power (30 C) yoga.

"Exercise in the heat can be beneficial," Caillaud says, but points out that exercise in the cold can too.

She explains that hot and cold temperatures target the metabolism differently. Although researchers didn't look at energy intake after exercise, she points to one body of research which is exploring how exposure to cold during exercise might stimulate brown adipose tissue, which helps to warm us up and which burns more energy.

She also reminds us that exercising in heat is challenging in terms of cardiovascular stress, that there is an increased risk of dehydration and that some people's bodies are better able to handle the heat.

"The way we adapt is different depending on the humidity," she explains, noting the difference between exercise in a temperature-controlled room versus going for a run in the heat of the midday summer sun.

"You have to be careful about how you go about it."

The good news is that it seems, whatever the weather, we can use it to our advantage to stimulate our bodies differently and keep them from plateauing.

"It's a very interesting field," Caillaud says. "It's a way to use the environment instead of avoiding it. The body will progressively adapt and the different stimulation will help."

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-an ... 2i33s.html


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 12:56 pm 
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BlackBerry Wants to Help Cure Cancer

LAS VEGAS— BlackBerry will interrogate your blood.

At BlackBerry's press conference here at CES, NantHealth CEO Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong showed off the HBox, a little gadget that acts as a secure health hub. But that's a boring way to describe it. Let me just give you a few quotes.

"You can have a genomic signal that can interrogate your blood, your cancer, your cardiac disease through a supercomputer, and then inform your doctor ... imagine us having an ability like Google Maps, but to browse every single human patient's genome, find the abnormal letter in real-time, and tell the doctor what treatment is to be given," he said.

He explained a little further: if you have a disease, you'd go to the doctor to get your blood drawn and your genome sequenced. Then NantHealth's computers would analyze your genes and tell a doctor, through his or her BlackBerry, what to do. The HBox is a BlackBerry-dependent platform because BlackBerry offers healthcare law-compliant data security, among other things.

With ongoing treatments, a patient could have an Android Wear smartwatch that would communicate securely through a doctor via the BBM messaging system. The watch would get and send BBMs alerting a patient to take medicine or checking up on treatments, for instance.

This is intense, amazing, and slightly scary stuff. Think about it: there's a database consisting of all of our genes now. Soon-Shiong also said that with an HBox in the home, your "quantified self" health-tracking information could be transmitted to your doctor, tracking your fitness, diet, and medication.

"We're about to launch 100,000 patients with pre-hypertension or hypertension ... we'll actually capture their weight, blood pressure, heart-rate and medication in real time, through the health box," he said.

Can Our Society Be Trusted?

This is all a great idea in a society that can be trusted. BlackBerry is selling this solution in part based on BlackBerry's renowned security, which is, so far, secure.

The potential problem with the HBox isn't hackers, but employers and health insurance companies. Those are the people who can't be trusted. Health insurance startup Oscar is already paying consumers bonuses for meeting fitness goals and transmitting them back to their insurers using a Misfit Flash wearable.

Science-fiction medical technology like this can far too easily lead to science-fiction levels of surveillance by the corporations who own us. I can see insurance companies—or even employers—requiring the use of an HBox and penalizing patients who don't meet fitness and nutrition goals, for instance.

BlackBerry and NantHealth can't address this problem, which is a larger issue with a society that does an extremely poor job of protecting individuals from the corporations they serve. But the HBox has amazing potential. We can only hope it will be used for good.

IBM is doing something similar, meanwhile. In November, its Watson Group announced an undisclosed investment in Pathway Genomics to create the first cognitive consumer app based on a user's genetic makeup.

http://au.pcmag.com/health-fitness/2745 ... ure-cancer


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:40 am 
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Study recommends broader use of cholesterol-lowering drugs

Many more Australians could soon be recommended cholesterol-lowering drugs to prevent a heart attack or stroke after a major international study found they were just as effective for women as they are for men.

The study of more than 174,000 people also confirmed the benefits of statin drugs outweighed the risks for people who do not have heart disease but are at risk of getting it. The findings have prompted calls for Australia to move towards more aggressive overseas guidelines that recommend the drugs for a broader range of people.

It has long been known that by reducing cholesterol, statins prevent heart attacks and strokes in people with a history of cardiovascular disease. The drugs are already so popular about 40 per cent of Australians aged over 65 are using them.

But their use in women has been controversial, mainly because women tend to develop heart disease later in life than men, and so have not been included in as many clinical trials investigating them.

Australian and British researchers say they have resolved this with a new study, though. Their meta-analysis of 27 clinical trials – the largest ever conducted – found that statins reduced the risk of a major vascular event (heart attack, stroke, stent insertion or bypass surgery) by 21 per cent for every 1 mmol/L reduction in LDL cholesterol the drugs achieved. The risk reductions were similar in women and men.

The research, published in the Lancet, also bolstered evidence for the drugs to be used in people who do not have cardiovascular disease but exhibit risk factors for it, such as high blood pressure and obesity.

The study said in people with a less than 10 per cent risk of a vascular event over five years, statin treatment reduced their risk of an event by 32 per cent per 1 mmol/L reduction in LDL cholesterol achieved. At the moment, guidelines written by Australia's National Vascular Disease Prevention Alliance recommend the drugs for people with a five-year risk over 15 per cent.

One of the lead investigators of the study at the University of Sydney, Dr Jordan Fulcher, said this finding could prompt Australian doctors to follow the US and UK where statins are now recommended for people with a 7.5 per cent and 10 per cent risk of a vascular event over 10 years respectively.

"This study gives us a lot of reassurance that starting treatment should not be something you leave until the last minute," said the cardiologist. "Whilst the benefits must be weighed against the potential side effects, in most cases they favour statin treatment."

Potential hazards of the drugs include muscle damage and diabetes, but the Lancet study said even in the lowest risk group examined, the number of prevented vascular events (heart attacks, strokes, stents or bypass surgery) outweighed major risks by about 18-fold.

Professor Len Kritharides, Chair of the Cardiovascular Health Advisory Committee of the Heart Foundation of Australia, said the study showed it was time to reconsider the lower risk threshold for when statin drugs should be prescribed.

"This does not mean everyone should be put on a statin, but we should define the baseline risk at which prescription is warranted," he said.

Dr Fulcher, a cardiologist, said more than 11,500 women died of hearts attacks and strokes every year.

"Far too few women realise they are at greater risk of dying from a heart attack than from breast cancer and this study should reassure them that, if advised by their doctor, they can reduce that risk by taking a statin," he said.

The research was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, UK Medical Research Council, British Heart Foundation and European Community Biomed Program.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/s ... 2l373.html


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