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Thu, 25 Aug 2016
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Health & Wellness


Vaccinate or no pay - Vaccination rates skyrocket in Australia

© Sputnik/Igor Zarembo
Vaccination rates in Australia have hit an all-time high after the government introduced a "No Jab, No Pay" program, which withholds up to $15,000 of a parent's income for those who refuse to have their children immunized.

The campaign launched on January 1, and has resulted in 5,738 children being vaccinated for the first time, and another 148,000 receiving booster shots, Science Alert reported.

Citizens can still "conscientiously object" to vaccinating their children for religious or philosophical reasons, but they will take a huge hit to their wallet if they do so, without exception.

Families had until March to comply with the program before their Child Care Benefits, Child Care Rebates and Family Tax Benefits would be cut.

The new policy also prevents parents from enrolling unvaccinated children in child care, pre-school, or kindergarten.

Vaccination rates had fallen to such a historically low level, that we were seeing the reemergence of diseases that we had been free of for years," Social Services Minister Christian Porter told ABC News.


Brazil: Zika baby cases defy predicted patterns - is co-infection the culprit?

© Daniel Ramalho for The Globe and Mail
The bulk of the cases of congenital Zika syndrome, fetal brain defects that sometimes cause microcephaly, remain clustered in the northeast region of Brazil, leading experts to wonder if there are other contributing factors.
Brazil's Ministry of Health has launched an investigation into the cluster of babies born with brain defects linked to the Zika virus, after an expected "explosion" of cases across the country did not occur.

The bulk of the cases of congenital Zika syndrome - fetal brain defects that sometimes cause microcephaly, or abnormally small skulls - remain clustered in the northeast region of the country where the phenomenon was first identified last October, the ministry says.

And that has epidemiologists and infectious disease experts asking what is going on: Is it Zika and another virus working together that damages the fetal brains? Is it Zika and an environmental factor? Or something about the women themselves whose fetuses are affected?

The research in Brazil won't have conclusions for months, but will have implications across the Americas, where the Brazilian experience and the rapid spread of Zika has caused governments to take protective measures and even warn women to delay getting pregnant.

Book 2

Knowledge protects: Those who read books live longer

Reading books is tied to a longer life, according to a new report.

Researchers used data on 3,635 people over 50 participating in a larger health study who had answered questions about reading.

The scientists divided the sample into three groups: those who read no books, those who read books up to three and a half hours a week, and those who read books more than three and a half hours.

The study, in Social Science & Medicine, found that book readers tended to be female, college-educated and in higher income groups. So researchers controlled for those factors as well as age, race, self-reported health, depression, employment and marital status.

Compared with those who did not read books, those who read for up to three and a half hours a week were 17 percent less likely to die over 12 years of follow-up, and those who read more than that were 23 percent less likely to die. Book readers lived an average of almost two years longer than those who did not read at all.

Bookworms rejoice: Research shows reading may make you happier:

Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers. "Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines," the author Jeanette Winterson has written. "What they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination."
More on the benefits of reading:


Sleep disorders increase stroke risk, harm recovery

© Unknown
Sleep disorders increase the risk of stroke and hinder recovery from the condition. This is the conclusion of a new review published in the journal Neurology.

Around 50-70 million adults in the United States have some form of sleep disorder and, as a result, are at increased risk of health problems.

Study co-author Dr. Dirk M. Hermann, of University Hospital Essen, Germany, and colleagues note that previous research has suggested a link between sleep disorders and stroke risk and recovery.

In order to gain a better understanding of this association, the team conducted a meta-analysis of 29 studies that assessed how sleep disorders, such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), may be associated with stroke and stroke recovery.

Comment: For more information on how to optimise your sleep, listen to our broadcast of The Health & Wellness Show: The Importance of Sleep.


How night shifts can increase cancer risk

© Unknown
Researchers have shed light on how shift work may increase cancer risk.
Working night shifts disrupts the body's circadian rhythm, which a number of studies have found may raise the risk of cancer development. Now, researchers have shed light on the mechanisms behind this association.

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) reveal that disruption to the circadian rhythm also leads to the impairment of two tumor suppressor genes, which can spur tumor growth.

Lead author Thales Papagiannakopoulos, of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and colleagues publish their findings in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Around 15 million people in the United States work night shifts or other irregular schedules, which studies have shown may have negative implications for health.

A study reported by Medical News Today last year, for example, found a link between rotating night shift work and increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and all causes.

Comment: For an in-depth look at the importance of our circadian rhythm, be sure to check out our SOTT radio show on the topic:

The Health & Wellness Show: Sleep, Light and Circadian Rhythms


Do opioids make pain worse?

© A pump for pain control, with highly addictive drug fentanyl
Wikimedia. DiverDave, CC BY-SA
The opium poppy is arguably the oldest painkiller known to man, with its use being described by the ancient civilizations. Opium mimics the body's home-made painkillers — endorphins and the like — and has given rise to the modern class of drugs called opioids that include morphine, fentanyl, methadone, and oxycodone. Opioids are very effective, and they remain the cornerstone of moderate to severe pain management.

Opioid prescriptions have dramatically escalated over the past few decades, a fact that has attracted significant media attention. With evidence-based medicine only becoming mainstream at the close of the 20th century, the science is still catching up on the long-term effects of opioids; older drugs like morphine have largely been grandfathered into modern medicine. Consequently, we're still learning new things about this old class of drugs.

The latest finding is that opioids may actually worsen pain. My colleagues and I have just published a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA showing that morphine can persistently exacerbate pain in rats. The medical community has recognized that opioids can cause abnormal pain sensitivity — termed opioid-induced hyperalgesia — but the sensitivity was only understood to occur while opioids were still present in the body. The surprising new twist is that morphine can increase pain for months after the opioid has left the body.

Comment: See also:

Life Preserver

Transitioning to a fat-based metabolism? How to overcome low-carb 'flu'

The low-carb flu is real and it's terrible. While it doesn't kill as many as the Spanish flu of 1918 did or inspire the amount of panic seen during the 2009 swine flu epidemic, low-carb flu has dissuaded millions of people from pursuing and sticking to a healthy diet. You can laugh now that you're fat-adapted and humming along on stored body fat, but you've forgotten just how terrible the transition from sugar-burning to fat-burning can be. Do any of the following symptoms sound familiar?
  • Crippling headaches.
  • Brain fog so thick you almost welcome the headaches for cutting through it.
  • Malaise, fatigue, listlessness, and other synonyms for "exhaustion."
  • Lightheadness and dizziness.
  • Irritability.
  • A sense of impending doom that you suspect would give way to bliss if only you'd have some ice cream.
At some point, you'll just have to accept the reality of the situation: you're shifting from a sugar-burning metabolism to a fat-burning metabolism. You're building the metabolic machinery necessary to burn fat. You're updating your body's firmware, and it's a big update (coincidentally, this is why I recommend plugging into a power source for the duration). That takes time. If the results of one study are representative, it takes about five days on a low-carb, high-fat diet to increase AMPK and start building new fat-burning mitochondria. And sure enough, most people report that the low-carb flu lasts from 4-7 days—right on target.

But that doesn't mean we have to like it. So, what can you do to speed up the transition and/or reduce the pain and suffering?

Comment: Read more about the many health benefits of being a fat-burner versus a sugar-burner and how to safely adapt:


For your Zika protection: Florida to spray neighborhoods with microcephaly-causing insecticide

© jarun011/fotolia.com
The zika psyop continues...

An aerial insecticide spraying campaign began at dawn this morning in Florida to kill mosquitoes that might be infected with the zika virus. The spray will cover a 10-mile area in Miami. Health officials claim the the chemical to be sprayed, an organophosphate neurotoxin called Naled, is "safe" to breathe and no one really needs to take any special measures while they are being sprayed like bugs (although it has been "recommended" that people with allergies stay inside).

While health officials still have yet to find a mosquito actually carrying the virus in Miami, 15 people have reportedly been diagnosed with zika there, mostly concentrated in the north downtown Miami area, and officials claim to have ruled out transmission via other means such as travel or sexual intercourse.

Comment: More on the Zika craze:

Cupcake Choco

Do touch pad menus increase the likelihood of ordering junk food? Researchers say, 'yes'

When hunger strikes, we often eat with our eyes and it creates a fine line between eating those foods which we consider pleasurable or healthy. This then often forms the connection between the mind and the mouth dictating our health and weight. A series of five studies suggests that when one sees a self-indulgent food on a touch screen, the hedonistic centers of our brain are facilitated.

Order a meal these days and there's a good chance you're using some kind of electronic device--a smartphone, tablet, computer or even a touch screen at the restaurant. As so-called "i-ordering" becomes more common, it raises a question for restaurant owners, researchers and policymakers: Does the kind of interface used by customers affect their food choices?

New research at the University of Michigan shows it can.


Head lice have mutated and are now resistant to treatment

Lice are becoming more difficult to eradicate in young children's hair, according to a study released last week in the Journal of Medical Entomology (JME).

New evidence shows that head lice have developed resistance to two types of common over the counter insecticide treatments for lice infestation. JME studied 48 states and found that, on average, 98 percent of head lice in at least 42 states managed to grow gene mutations that enable them to become resistant to different insecticides other wise known as pyrethrins, pyrethroids, and permathrins.

According to the study, "Lice were collected from 7 July 2013 to 11 May 2015 by 71 volunteers (school nurses and professional lice combers) from 138 collection sites in 48 states. Four of these states (AZ, CA, FL, and TX) had collection sites that had been sampled twice before (1999 - 2006 and 2006 - 2008) and an additional eight states (OH, MA, MI, MN, NY, SC, TN, and WI) had been sampled only once before (2007 - 2009), allowing the determination of kdr-type mutation frequency changes in those locations over time."

Comment: How to Get Rid of Head Lice Naturally