Placeholder Content Image

Why do I keep getting urinary tract infections? And why are chronic UTIs so hard to treat?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/iris-lim-1204657">Iris Lim</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p>Dealing with chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs) means facing more than the occasional discomfort. It’s like being on a never ending battlefield against an unseen adversary, making simple daily activities a trial.</p> <p>UTIs happen when bacteria sneak into the urinary system, causing pain and frequent trips to the bathroom.</p> <p>Chronic UTIs take this to the next level, coming back repeatedly or never fully going away despite treatment. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557479/">Chronic UTIs</a> are typically diagnosed when a person experiences two or more infections within six months or three or more within a year.</p> <p>They can happen to anyone, but some are more prone due to their <a href="https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/u/urinary-tract-infections-in-adults">body’s makeup or habits</a>. Women are more likely to get UTIs than men, due to their shorter urethra and hormonal changes during menopause that can decrease the protective lining of the urinary tract. Sexually active people are also at greater risk, as bacteria can be transferred around the area.</p> <p>Up to <a href="https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/u/urinary-tract-infections-in-adults#Related%20Resources">60% of women</a> will have at least one UTI in their lifetime. While effective treatments exist, <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/bladder-and-bowel/when-urinary-tract-infections-keep-coming-back#:%7E:text=Your%20urine%20might%20be%20cloudy,they%20take%20on%20your%20life.">about 25%</a> of women face recurrent infections within six months. Around <a href="https://sciendo.com/article/10.33073/pjm-2019-048?tab=article">20–30%</a> of UTIs don’t respond to standard antibiotic. The challenge of chronic UTIs lies in bacteria’s ability to shield themselves against treatments.</p> <h2>Why are chronic UTIs so hard to treat?</h2> <p>Once thought of as straightforward infections cured by antibiotics, we now know chronic UTIs are complex. The cunning nature of the bacteria responsible for the condition allows them to hide in bladder walls, out of antibiotics’ reach.</p> <p>The bacteria form biofilms, a kind of protective barrier that makes them nearly impervious to standard antibiotic treatments.</p> <p>This ability to evade treatment has led to a troubling <a href="https://theconversation.com/rising-antibiotic-resistance-in-utis-could-cost-australia-1-6-billion-a-year-by-2030-heres-how-to-curb-it-149543">increase in antibiotic resistance</a>, a global health concern that renders some of the conventional treatments ineffective.</p> <p>Antibiotics need to be advanced to keep up with evolving bacteria, in a similar way to the flu vaccine, which is updated annually to combat the latest strains of the flu virus. If we used the same flu vaccine year after year, its effectiveness would wane, just as overused antibiotics lose their power against bacteria that have adapted.</p> <p>But fighting bacteria that resist antibiotics is much tougher than updating the flu vaccine. Bacteria change in ways that are harder to predict, making it more challenging to create new, effective antibiotics. It’s like a never-ending game where the bacteria are always one step ahead.</p> <p>Treating chronic UTIs still relies heavily on antibiotics, but doctors are getting crafty, changing up medications or prescribing low doses over a longer time to outwit the bacteria.</p> <p>Doctors are also placing a greater emphasis on thorough diagnostics to accurately identify chronic UTIs from the outset. By asking detailed questions about the duration and frequency of symptoms, health-care providers can better distinguish between isolated UTI episodes and chronic conditions.</p> <p>The approach to initial treatment can significantly influence the likelihood of a UTI becoming chronic. Early, targeted therapy, based on the specific bacteria causing the infection and its antibiotic sensitivity, may reduce the risk of recurrence.</p> <p>For post-menopausal women, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00192-020-04397-z">estrogen therapy</a> has shown promise in reducing the risk of recurrent UTIs. After menopause, the decrease in estrogen levels can lead to changes in the urinary tract that makes it more susceptible to infections. This treatment restores the balance of the vaginal and urinary tract environments, making it less likely for UTIs to occur.</p> <p>Lifestyle changes, such as <a href="https://journals.lww.com/co-nephrolhypertens/FullText/2013/05001/Impact_of_fluid_intake_in_the_prevention_of.1.aspx">drinking more water</a> and practising good hygiene like washing hands with soap after going to the toilet and the recommended front-to-back wiping for women, also play a big role.</p> <p>Some swear by cranberry juice or supplements, though researchers are still figuring out <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001322.pub2/full">how effective these remedies truly are</a>.</p> <h2>What treatments might we see in the future?</h2> <p>Scientists are currently working on new treatments for chronic UTIs. One promising avenue is the development of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10052183/pdf/pathogens-12-00359.pdf">vaccines</a> aimed at preventing UTIs altogether, much like flu shots prepare our immune system to fend off the flu.</p> <p>Another new method being looked at is called <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12223-019-00750-y">phage therapy</a>. It uses special viruses called bacteriophages that go after and kill only the bad bacteria causing UTIs, while leaving the good bacteria in our body alone. This way, it doesn’t make the bacteria resistant to treatment, which is a big plus.</p> <p>Researchers are also exploring the potential of <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2079-6382/12/1/167">probiotics</a>. Probiotics introduce beneficial bacteria into the urinary tract to out-compete harmful pathogens. These good bacteria work by occupying space and resources in the urinary tract, making it harder for harmful pathogens to establish themselves.</p> <p>Probiotics can also produce substances that inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and enhance the body’s immune response.</p> <p>Chronic UTIs represent a stubborn challenge, but with a mix of current treatments and promising research, we’re getting closer to a day when chronic UTIs are a thing of the past.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223008/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/iris-lim-1204657">I<em>ris Lim</em></a><em>, Assistant Professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-i-keep-getting-urinary-tract-infections-and-why-are-chronic-utis-so-hard-to-treat-223008">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

3 cholesterol myths debunked

<p>For years, cholesterol has been seen as the villain in your diet – responsible for many of the health woes people experience daily. But many of the “facts” about cholesterol are actually just misconceptions. So let’s clear up some of these myths now.</p> <p>As with everything to do with your diet, any major changes should be made in consultation with your healthcare professional or a nutritionist to make sure it’s right for you.</p> <p><strong>Cholesterol is bad for you</strong></p> <p>Just like cake, cholesterol should be enjoyed in moderation. Interestingly, it actually performs many important functions. It helps produce cell membranes, vitamin D, hormones, and helps with digestion. It also plays a role in helping to form memories. </p> <p>And, believe it or not, cholesterol is naturally created by your body. So most of the cholesterol in your bloodstream is not there because of your diet.</p> <p><strong>Eggs are the enemy</strong></p> <p>People with high cholesterol levels used to be advised to avoid eating too many eggs, but they’ve recently been put back on the “safe list.” Research at Yale University actually showed that even people with coronary heart disease could eat two eggs each day for six weeks without any effect on their cholesterol levels.</p> <p><strong>Low-fat diets are the best</strong></p> <p>While saturated fats do increase the “bad” cholesterol (LDL), it also increases the levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL). A study published in Annals of Internal Medicine showed no link between the consumption of saturated fats and an increased risk of heart attacks. </p> <p>Foods that are high or low in saturated fat can have a positive, negative, or neutral effect on your body – it all depends on the type of food. A diet that is low in carbohydrates is more effective at raising the levels of “good” cholesterol in your system.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

The one thing you must do before retirement

<p>When you think about planning for retirement, the standard advice is to take a thorough look at your superannuation and finances. Although money is undoubtedly an important aspect of retirement planning, making a plan for your emotion and physical wellbeing is just as crucial.</p> <p>New research from the UK has found that retirement can have a negative impact on your mental and physical health. The study, published by the Institute of Economic Affairs, looked at the impact of retirement on 7,000 people aged 50 to 70, and found that while retirement gives most people a small health booth, over the medium to long-term it causes a “drastic decline in health”. </p> <p>For both men and women, retirement decreases the likelihood of "very good” or "excellent" self-reported health by 40 per cent, increases risk for depression by 40 per cent, and diagnosis of a physical illness by 60 per cent. The study’s lead author, Gabriel Sahlgren, noted: "Work, especially paid work, gives many people a sense of purpose. Losing that may lead to declines in health."</p> <p>The lesson: Make a plan for your emotional and physical health.</p> <p>“Don't wait until you retire to decide how you're going to keep busy,” Dave Bernard, retirement blogger and author of Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life?, told Prevention, adding, “And you need to look well beyond the first six months.”</p> <p>Just as it’s necessary to make sure your finances are in order before retirement, it’s crucial to ask yourself: What will my new sense of purpose in retirement be?</p> <p>“Many times, adults might not think about what it actually means to be retired, or they think about retirement in abstract terms,” says Angela Curl, an assistant professor in the University of Missouri School of Social Work.</p> <p>She says you need to make concrete plans for retirement. “If you want to volunteer when you are retired, ask yourself where and how often. Having specific plans and steps to follow will help you enter retirement more easily,” says Curl.</p> <p>Creating a plan of how you’ll spend your time when you retire will keep you mentally and physically strong, ensuring that you’ll be healthy enough to enjoy your well-deserved retirement.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Retirement Life

Placeholder Content Image

"What a life I’ve had": Author announces own death after years of battling dementia

<p>Wendy Mitchell has died aged 68 after documenting her brave battle with dementia. </p> <p>The author from Walkington, East Yorkshire, became the best-selling writer after she was diagnosed with early onset vascular dementia and Alzheimer's in July 2014. </p> <p>She shared her philosophical outlook on living with the condition in her acclaimed 2018 memoir <em>Somebody I Used To Know </em>and in her 2022 book <em>What I Wish I Knew About Dementia</em>.</p> <p>In an <a href="https://whichmeamitoday.wordpress.com/2024/02/22/my-final-hug-in-a-mug/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">open letter</a> shared online, the author announced her death and revealed that she had refused to eat or drink towards the end of her battle. </p> <p>"If you’re reading this, it means this has probably been posted by my daughters as I’ve sadly died," she began. </p> <p>"Sorry to break the news to you this way, but if I hadn’t, my inbox would eventually have been full of emails asking if I’m OK, which would have been hard for my daughters to answer… </p> <p>"In the end I died simply by deciding not to eat or drink any more," she wrote. </p> <p>She added that the last cup of tea she had, her "final hug in a mug" was "the hardest thing to let go of". </p> <p>"Dementia is a cruel disease that plays tricks on your very existence. I’ve always been a glass half full person, trying to turn the negatives of life around and creating positives, because that’s how I cope." </p> <p>Mitchell said that the language used by doctors can "make or break" how someone copes with dementia, and instead of saying there's "nothing they can do" it is better to tell them they will have to "adapt to a new way of living". </p> <p>"Well I suppose dementia was the ultimate challenge. Yes, dementia is a bummer, but oh what a life I’ve had playing games with this adversary of mine to try and stay one step ahead," she wrote in her final blog post. </p> <p>She also said that she had always been resilient, which has helped her cope with whatever life throws in her way. </p> <p>Mitchell has been an advocate for assisted dying in the UK, and said that "the only legal choice we shouldn’t have in life is when to be born; for everything else, we, as humans, should have a choice; a choice of how we live and a choice of how we die." </p> <p>She added that the way she died was an active choice as she doesn't want "to be an inpatient in a hospital, or a resident in a Care Home," as "it’s just not the place I want to end my years."</p> <p>"My girls have always been the two most important people in my life. I didn’t take this decision lightly, without countless conversations. They were the hardest conversations I’ve ever had to put them through. </p> <p>"This was all MY CHOICE, my decision. So please respect my daughters' privacy, as they didn’t choose the life I chose, of standing up to and speaking out against dementia." </p> <p>She then thanked everyone for their support and left with a touching final message. </p> <p>"So, enjoy this knowing that dementia didn’t play the winning card – I did."</p> <p><em>Images: Daily Mail</em></p> <p> </p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

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

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

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

"I was not alone": Another royal diagnosed with cancer

<p>Not long after King Charles announced his <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/palace-reveals-king-charles-serious-health-diagnosis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cancer diagnosis</a>, Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia felt inspired by his "dear cousin and friend" and decided to go public with his own prostate cancer diagnosis. </p> <p>In a statement, Prince Alexander shared that he was moved by Charles’ courage in sharing his diagnosis with the public, as royal health matters are usually kept private. </p> <p>The 78-year-old royal then shared details of his own medical intervention. </p> <p>"The love of all of us who know him, and of his people, we deeply care for him, will support His Majesty in persevering and winning this most important battle. The news that it is early stage gives high hope," he said.</p> <p>"The unfortunate news about cancer is not something you wish to hear.</p> <p>"And I can say it personally, as I very well know how you feel once you hear it. How frightening and terrifying it is also for the family, how all the feelings get mixed up, and how you cannot think about anything else." </p> <p>He then revealed: "I can say it now because I only recently defeated cancer.</p> <p>"I had avoided speaking about it, as it is a personal matter concerning only me and my family, but King Charles' openness moved me and encouraged me to also speak up," he added. </p> <p>"I am sharing this now, because this kind of tragic news can encourage people to react and take care of their health."</p> <p>He added that news of King Charles' cancer diagnosis and his honesty about getting a check-up had resulted in a rise in online searches and appointments for medical check-ups in the UK.</p> <p>“That is why people should hear my story, to see it is something that can happen to all of us,” he said.</p> <p>“But when we are responsible, the outcome can be good.”</p> <p>He shared details of his own treatment, which began two years ago, after results from an MRI found a cancerous growth. </p> <p>"At that moment, I was terrified. But I was not alone.</p> <p>"I am not speaking about family and friends who knew this and shared their support, which meant so much and cannot be described in words, but also all the other people who are fighting this disease."</p> <p>He then underwent pre-intervention tests, surgery, and mandatory checkups, and has since received “the most joyous words from my doctor — ‘All is clear now’.”</p> <p>He then urged the public to be more vigilant about their health, and to not put of their doctors appointment any further. </p> <p>“Be responsible with yourself, listen to the doctor’s advice, and monitor your health,” he said.</p> <p>“Preserve it and nurture it as the greatest wealth and gift you will ever receive.”</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

Your unique smell can provide clues about how healthy you are

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/aoife-morrin-1478132">Aoife Morrin</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/dublin-city-university-1528">Dublin City University</a></em></p> <p>Hundreds of chemicals stream from our bodies into the air every second. These chemicals release into the air easily as they have high vapour pressures, meaning they boil and turn into gases at room temperature. They give clues about who we are, and how healthy we are.</p> <p>Since ancient Greek times, we’ve known that we smell differently when we are unwell. While we rely on blood analysis today, ancient Greek physicians used smell to diagnose maladies. If they took a whiff of your breath and described it as <em>fetor hepaticus</em> (meaning bad liver), it meant you could be headed for liver failure.</p> <p>If a person’s whiff was sweet or fruity, physicians thought this meant that sugars in the digestive system were not being broken down, and that person had probably diabetes. Science has since shown the ancient Greeks were right – liver failure and <a href="https://tisserandinstitute.org/human-volatilome/">diabetes</a> and many <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00216-023-04986-z">other diseases</a> including infectious diseases give your breath a distinctive smell.</p> <p>In 1971, <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1962/pauling/facts/">Nobel Laureate chemist Linus Pauling</a> <a href="https://edu.rsc.org/feature/breath-analysis/2020106.article#:%7E:text=The%20'modern%20era'%20of%20breath,in%20an%20average%20breath%20sample.">counted 250 different</a> gaseous chemicals in breath. These gaseous chemicals are called volatile organic compounds or VOCs.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RzozmYPfCmM?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Since Pauling’s discovery, other scientists have <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40291-023-00640-7">discovered hundreds more VOCs</a> in our breath. We have learned that many of these VOCs have distinctive odours, but some have no odour that our noses can perceive.</p> <p>Scientists believe that whether a VOC <a href="https://tisserandinstitute.org/human-volatilome/">has an odour</a> that our noses can detect or not, they can reveal information about how healthy someone is.</p> <p>A Scottish man’s Parkinson’s disease onset was <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-47627179">identified by his wife</a>, retired nurse Joy Milner, after she was convinced the way he smelled had changed, years before he was diagnosed in 2005. This discovery has <a href="https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/smell-of-skin-could-lead-to-early-diagnosis-for-parkinsons/">led to research programmes</a> involving Joy Milner to identify <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-supersmeller-can-detect-the-scent-of-parkinsons-leading-to-an-experimental-test-for-the-illness/">the precise smell</a> of this disease.</p> <p>Dogs can <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-01629-8">sniff out more diseases</a> than humans because of their more <a href="https://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/news/the-science-of-sniffs-disease-smelling-dogs%20-%20I%20think%20the%20previous%20nature%20link%20has%20more%20credibility%20for%20here%20also">sophisticated olfactory talents</a>. But technological techniques, like <a href="https://www.britannica.com/science/mass-spectrometry">analytical tool mass spectrometry</a>, picks up even more subtle changes in VOC profiles that are being linked to <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/ebiom/article/PIIS2352-3964(20)30100-6/fulltext">gut</a>, <a href="https://www-sciencedirect-com.dcu.idm.oclc.org/science/article/pii/S0165993618305168">skin</a> and <a href="https://err.ersjournals.com/content/28/152/190011">respiratory</a> diseases as well as neurological diseases like Parkinson’s. Researchers believe that one day some diseases will be diagnosed simply by breathing into a device.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Xjo2M-XMYfs?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>Where do VOCs come from?</h2> <p>Breath is not the only source of VOCs in the body. They are also emitted from skin, urine and faeces.</p> <p>VOCs from skin are the result of millions of skin glands removing metabolic waste from the body, as well as waste generated by bacteria and other microbes that live on our skin. Sweating produces extra nutrients for these bacteria to metabolise which can result in particularly odorous VOCs. Odour from sweat only makes up a fraction of the scents from VOCs though.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrmicro.2017.157">Our skin</a> and also our gut microbiomes are made up from a delicate balance of these microbes. Scientists think <a href="https://journals.lww.com/co-gastroenterology/abstract/2015/01000/the_gut_microbiome_in_health_and_in_disease.12.aspx">they influence our health</a>, but we don’t yet understand a lot about how this relationship works.</p> <p>Unlike the gut, the skin is relatively easy to study – you can collect skin samples from living humans without having to go deep into the body. <a href="https://www-sciencedirect-com.dcu.idm.oclc.org/science/article/pii/S1471492221002087">Scientists think</a> skin VOCs can offer insights into how the microbiome’s bacteria and the human body work together to maintain our health and protect us from disease.</p> <p>In my team’s laboratory, <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1752-7163/abf20a">we are investigating</a> whether the skin VOC signature can reveal different attributes of the person it belongs to. These signals in skin VOC signatures are probably how dogs distinguish between people by smell.</p> <p>We are at a relatively early stage in this research area but we have shown that you can tell males from females based on how acidic the VOCs from skin are. We use mass spectrometry to see this as the average human nose is not sophisticated enough to detect these VOCs.</p> <p>We can also predict a person’s age with reasonable accuracy to within a few years from their skin VOC profile. This is not surprising considering that oxidative stress in our bodies increases as we age.</p> <p><a href="https://www.metabolismjournal.com/article/S0026-0495(00)80077-3/pdf">Oxidative stress</a> happens when your antioxidant levels are low and causes irreversible damage to our cells and organs. <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jasms.3c00315">Our recent research</a> found by-products of this oxidative damage in skin VOC profiles.</p> <p>Not only are these VOCs responsible for personal scent – they are used by plants, insects and animals as a communication channel. Plants are in a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-10975-x">constant VOC dialogue</a> with other organisms including pollinators, herbivores, other plants and their natural enemies such as harmful bacteria and insects. VOCs used for this back and forth dialogue are known as pheromones.</p> <h2>What has science shown about love pheromones?</h2> <p>In the animal kingdom, there is good evidence VOCs can act as aphrodisiacs. Mice for example have microbes which contribute to a particularly <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982212012687">smelly compound called trimethylamine</a>, which allows mice to verify the species of a potential mate. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0093691X21003083">Pigs</a> and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/4381097a">elephants</a> have sex pheromones too.</p> <p>It is possible that humans also produce VOCs for attracting the perfect mate. Scientists have yet to fully decode skin – or other VOCs that are released from our bodies. But evidence for human love pheromones so far is <a href="https://www.science.org/content/article/do-human-pheromones-actually-exist">controversial at best</a>. <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3835-colour-vision-ended-human-pheromone-use/">One theory suggests</a> that they were lost about 23 million years ago when primates developed full colour vision and started relying on their enhanced vision to choose a mate.</p> <p>However, we believe that whether human pheromones exist or not, skin VOCs can reveal who and how we are, in terms of things like ageing, nutrition and fitness, fertility and even stress levels. This signature probably contains markers we can use to monitor our health and diagnose disease.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/215311/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/aoife-morrin-1478132"><em>Aoife Morrin</em></a><em>, Associate Professor of Analytical Chemistry, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/dublin-city-university-1528">Dublin City University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: </em><em>Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/your-unique-smell-can-provide-clues-about-how-healthy-you-are-215311">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

Young boy beats rare brain cancer in world first

<p>A 13-year-old boy from Belgium has become the first person in the world to be cured from a deadly brain cancer. </p> <p>Lucas Jemeljanova was only six-years-old when he was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare and aggressive brain cancer which kills 98 per cent of sufferers within five years. </p> <p>He was randomly assigned to receive everolimus, a type of chemotherapy drug during a clinical trial. The drug is commonly used to treat kidney, pancreas, breast and brain cancer, but up to this point has not been successfully used to treat DIPG. </p> <p>Seven years later, Lucas has responded well to the treatment and has no trace of cancer, and has officially been in remission for five years.</p> <p>His doctor, Jacques Grill said that Lucas "beat the odds" and his case "offers real hope". </p> <p>Lucas was one of the first few people enrolled in the BIOMEDE trial in France, which was testing potential new drugs for DIPG. </p> <p>The drug works by preventing the cancer cells from reproducing and decreasing blood supply to the cancer cells, and it is an FDA approved prescription drug for cancer.</p> <p>Doctors were initially hesitant to stop the treatment until a year ago and a half ago. </p> <p>"I didn’t know when to stop, or how, because there was no reference in the world," Dr Grill told the <em>AFP</em>. </p> <p>"Over a series of MRI scans, I watched as the tumour completely disappeared," he added. </p> <p>Seven other children who were also in the trial have been considered "long responders", as they haven't had any relapses for three years after their diagnosis, but only Lucas was cured. </p> <p>The reason behind his complete recovery is still unknown, but it could be because of "biological particularities" in his tumour. </p> <p>"Lucas' tumour had an extremely rare mutation which we believe made its cells far more sensitive to the drug," Dr Grill added. </p> <p>DIPG is typically found in children between ages five and nine. </p> <p>The cause of the tumour is unknown but some of the first symptoms include problems with eye movement and balance, facial weakness, difficulty walking and strange limb movements.</p> <p>Researchers are currently trying to reproduce the difference seen in Lucas' cells. </p> <p>"Lucas is believed to have had a particular form of the disease," Dr Grill said. </p> <p>"We must understand what and why to succeed in medically reproducing in other patients what happened naturally with him." </p> <p>However Dr Grill said that this process won't be quick. </p> <p>"On average, it takes 10-15 years from the first lead to become a drug – it's a long and drawn-out process."</p> <p><em>Images: Facebook</em></p> <p> </p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

Why it’s a bad idea to mix alcohol with some medications

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nial-wheate-96839">Nial Wheate</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jasmine-lee-1507733">Jasmine Lee</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kellie-charles-1309061">Kellie Charles</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tina-hinton-329706">Tina Hinton</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Anyone who has drunk alcohol will be familiar with how easily it can lower your social inhibitions and let you do things you wouldn’t normally do.</p> <p>But you may not be aware that mixing certain medicines with alcohol can increase the effects and put you at risk.</p> <p>When you mix alcohol with medicines, whether prescription or over-the-counter, the medicines can increase the effects of the alcohol or the alcohol can increase the side-effects of the drug. Sometimes it can also result in all new side-effects.</p> <h2>How alcohol and medicines interact</h2> <p>The chemicals in your brain maintain a delicate balance between excitation and inhibition. Too much excitation can lead to <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324330">convulsions</a>. Too much inhibition and you will experience effects like sedation and depression.</p> <p><iframe id="JCh01" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/JCh01/1/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Alcohol works by increasing the amount of inhibition in the brain. You might recognise this as a sense of relaxation and a lowering of social inhibitions when you’ve had a couple of alcoholic drinks.</p> <p>With even more alcohol, you will notice you can’t coordinate your muscles as well, you might slur your speech, become dizzy, forget things that have happened, and even fall asleep.</p> <p>Medications can interact with alcohol to <a href="https://awspntest.apa.org/record/2022-33281-033">produce different or increased effects</a>. Alcohol can interfere with the way a medicine works in the body, or it can interfere with the way a medicine is absorbed from the stomach. If your medicine has similar side-effects as being drunk, those <a href="https://www.drugs.com/article/medications-and-alcohol.html#:%7E:text=Additive%20effects%20of%20alcohol%20and,of%20drug%20in%20the%20bloodstream.">effects can be compounded</a>.</p> <p>Not all the side-effects need to be alcohol-like. Mixing alcohol with the ADHD medicine ritalin, for example, can <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/ritalin-and-alcohol#side-effects">increase the drug’s effect on the heart</a>, increasing your heart rate and the risk of a heart attack.</p> <p>Combining alcohol with ibuprofen can lead to a higher risk of stomach upsets and stomach bleeds.</p> <p>Alcohol can increase the break-down of certain medicines, such as <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0149763421005121?via%3Dihub">opioids, cannabis, seizures, and even ritalin</a>. This can make the medicine less effective. Alcohol can also alter the pathway of how a medicine is broken down, potentially creating toxic chemicals that can cause serious liver complications. This is a particular problem with <a href="https://australianprescriber.tg.org.au/articles/alcohol-and-paracetamol.html">paracetamol</a>.</p> <p>At its worst, the consequences of mixing alcohol and medicines can be fatal. Combining a medicine that acts on the brain with alcohol may make driving a car or operating heavy machinery difficult and lead to a serious accident.</p> <h2>Who is at most risk?</h2> <p>The effects of mixing alcohol and medicine are not the same for everyone. Those most at risk of an interaction are older people, women and people with a smaller body size.</p> <p>Older people do not break down medicines as quickly as younger people, and are often on <a href="https://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/our-work/healthcare-variation/fourth-atlas-2021/medicines-use-older-people/61-polypharmacy-75-years-and-over#:%7E:text=is%20this%20important%3F-,Polypharmacy%20is%20when%20people%20are%20using%20five%20or%20more%20medicines,take%20five%20or%20more%20medicines.">more than one medication</a>.</p> <p>Older people also are more sensitive to the effects of medications acting on the brain and will experience more side-effects, such as dizziness and falls.</p> <p>Women and people with smaller body size tend to have a higher blood alcohol concentration when they consume the same amount of alcohol as someone larger. This is because there is less water in their bodies that can mix with the alcohol.</p> <h2>What drugs can’t you mix with alcohol?</h2> <p>You’ll know if you can’t take alcohol because there will be a prominent warning on the box. Your pharmacist should also counsel you on your medicine when you pick up your script.</p> <p>The most common <a href="https://adf.org.au/insights/prescription-meds-alcohol/">alcohol-interacting prescription medicines</a> are benzodiazepines (for anxiety, insomnia, or seizures), opioids for pain, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and some antibiotics, like metronidazole and tinidazole.</p> <p>It’s not just prescription medicines that shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol. Some over-the-counter medicines that you shouldn’t combine with alcohol include medicines for sleeping, travel sickness, cold and flu, allergy, and pain.</p> <p>Next time you pick up a medicine from your pharmacist or buy one from the local supermarket, check the packaging and ask for advice about whether you can consume alcohol while taking it.</p> <p>If you do want to drink alcohol while being on medication, discuss it with your doctor or pharmacist first.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223293/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nial-wheate-96839"><em>Nial Wheate</em></a><em>, Associate Professor of the School of Pharmacy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jasmine-lee-1507733">Jasmine Lee</a>, Pharmacist and PhD Candidate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kellie-charles-1309061">Kellie Charles</a>, Associate Professor in Pharmacology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tina-hinton-329706">Tina Hinton</a>, Associate Professor of Pharmacology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-its-a-bad-idea-to-mix-alcohol-with-some-medications-223293">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

Sir Richard Branson in serious bike crash

<p>Richard Branson, the adventurous billionaire and founder of Virgin Group, is no stranger to pushing the limits. However, his latest escapade – a biking mishap on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands – left him with shocking injuries, adding to a long list of near-death experiences throughout his life.</p> <p>In a recent Instagram post, Branson shared the aftermath of his bike crash, recounting how he flew off his bike after hitting a pothole on the picturesque island.</p> <p>The accident resulted in severe cuts on his elbow and a haematoma on his hip. Remarkably, despite the intensity of the crash, Branson escaped without any broken bones, though the same could not be said for his biking companion, Alex Wilson, who also took a spill but thankfully emerged relatively unscathed.</p> <p>"Took quite a big tumble while cycling in Virgin Gorda a little while ago!" Branson wrote. "I hit a pothole and crashed hard, resulting in another hematoma on my hip and a nasty cut elbow, but amazingly nothing broken.</p> <p>"We were cycling with Alex Wilson, who fell after me, but thankfully he was ok as well. I’m counting myself very lucky, and thankful for keeping myself active and healthy."</p> <p> </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C3OP6hBMP7B/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C3OP6hBMP7B/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Richard Branson (@richardbranson)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>This incident is just the latest in a series of biking accidents for Branson. In 2018, during an endurance charity race, he feared he had broken his back after another biking mishap. Similarly, in 2016, while cycling with his children in the British Virgin Islands, he had a terrifying headfirst collision with the road, leaving him fearing for his life.</p> <p>Branson's penchant for adventure has led him into numerous dangerous situations over the years. From surviving a sinking fishing boat during his honeymoon to crash-landing a microlight aircraft he didn't know how to fly, his life reads like a catalogue of adrenalin-fuelled escapades. Even the inaugural test flight of Virgin Atlantic in 1984 wasn't without drama, as an engine exploded mid-air.</p> <p>Skydiving accidents, near misses with hot air balloons, and daring stunts like wing-walking on a Virgin Atlantic plane or jumping off the Palms Casino in Las Vegas further illustrate Branson's willingness to embrace risk in pursuit of thrills.</p> <p>Despite the multitude of close calls, Branson maintains a resilient spirit, viewing each brush with danger as an opportunity for growth and appreciation for life. His Instagram post following the bike crash in Virgin Gorda captures this sentiment, as he reflects on his luck and gratitude for staying active and healthy.</p> <p>For Branson, it appears that the thrill of the unknown far outweighs the comfort of caution. As he aptly puts it, "After all, the brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all."</p> <p><em>Image: Instagram</em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

What happens if King Charles can no longer perform his duties?

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anne-twomey-6072">Anne Twomey</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>King Charles III’s <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-06/king-charles-cancer-diagnosis-revealed-by-buckingham-palace/103430320">cancer diagnosis</a> will turn minds to the question of what happens if he becomes unable to fulfil his constitutional duties. Buckingham Palace has announced he will continue performing his official paperwork and his weekly meetings with the prime minister throughout his treatment.<br />But what happens if he becomes seriously ill?</p> <p>There are three options: counsellors of state, regency and abdication.</p> <h2>Counsellors of state</h2> <p>First, King Charles can delegate some or most of his royal functions to <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Edw8and1Geo6/1/16/section/6">counsellors of state</a>, as happens most commonly when he is travelling overseas. Two counsellors of state act jointly in exercising royal powers such as assenting to laws, receiving ambassadors and holding <a href="https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-7460/">Privy Council</a> meetings.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.royal.uk/counsellors-of-state">counsellors of state</a> are the spouse of the sovereign and the next four adults in line of succession to the throne – being Queen Camilla, Prince William, Prince Harry, Prince Andrew and Princess Beatrice.</p> <p>However, Prince Harry is excluded while he is outside the United Kingdom, and in practice Prince Andrew and Princess Beatrice are not called on to act as they are not “working royals”.</p> <p>As this left only Queen Camilla and Prince William to perform the role, a <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2022/47/2022-12-07/data.html#:%7E:text=An%20Act%20to%20add%20His,delegated%20as%20Counsellors%20of%20State.">law</a> was passed in the UK in 2022 to <a href="https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/creating-more-counsellors-of-state/">add Princess Anne and Prince Edward</a> to the list.</p> <p>Counsellors of state may carry out most of the sovereign’s functions while he is ill, but they cannot dissolve parliament, except on his instruction, and they cannot create peers. Whether they can appoint a prime minister remains a matter of debate. Most significantly, they cannot exercise powers with respect to the King’s other realms, such as Australia.</p> <h2>Regency</h2> <p>The second option is a regency. This occurs if the King “is by reason of infirmity of mind or body <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Edw8and1Geo6/1/16/section/2">incapable</a> for the time being of performing the royal functions”. The sovereign does not control when or for how long a regency occurs. Instead, it is initiated by a declaration of three or more of: the sovereign’s spouse, the lord chancellor, the speaker of the House of Commons, the lord chief justice of England and the <a href="https://www.judiciary.uk/about-the-judiciary/who-are-the-judiciary/judges/profile-mor/">master of the rolls</a>.</p> <p>The UK’s Regency Act <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Edw8and1Geo6/1/16/section/3">requires</a> Prince William to be regent, as he is the next adult in line of succession to the crown. The regent has the powers of the King with respect to the United Kingdom, but cannot change the order of succession to the crown.</p> <p>The Regency Act does not give the regent powers in relation to realms such as Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand resolved the problem by inserting a <a href="https://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1986/0114/latest/DLM94216.html">section</a> into its Constitution Act which provides that whoever is made regent under the law of the UK may perform the royal functions of the sovereign with respect to New Zealand. Australia, however, has done nothing in this regard, so a British regent would have no powers with respect to Australia.</p> <h2>Abdication</h2> <p>The final option for an incapacitated monarch is abdication. This leads to difficult questions about how an abdication would operate in relation to each of the realms.</p> <p>When King Edward VIII abdicated in 1936, it was achieved by both a signed <a href="https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/significant-events/abdication-of-edward-viii-1936/">instrument of abdication</a> and the enactment of <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Edw8and1Geo6/1/3/enacted#:%7E:text=(1)Immediately%20upon%20the%20Royal,and%20there%20shall%20be%20a">legislation</a> to which the various realms, including Australia, assented. This is not possible today, as the UK can <a href="https://www6.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/legis/cth/num_act/aa1986114/s1.html">no longer legislate</a> with respect to Australia.</p> <p>Abdication would therefore raise difficult questions about whether there needed to be a separate abdication of the King of Australia, to trigger the application of the rules of succession that are now part of Australian law, or whether <a href="http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/legis/cth/consol_act/coaca430/s2.html">covering clause 2</a> of the Constitution, which defines the sovereign by reference to Queen Victoria’s “heirs and successors in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom”, would apply.</p> <p>Because of the potential constitutional messiness of dealing with the King’s role in his 14 realms beyond the United Kingdom, it is likely abdication would be avoided.</p> <h2>Consequences for Australia</h2> <p>If King Charles were incapacitated and counsellors of state or a regent were appointed, would this cause any real problem in Australia?</p> <p>The King’s only remaining substantial powers with respect to Australia are the appointment and removal of the governor-general and the state governors. The governor-general’s term is expected to expire in the middle of the year. If King Charles were then seriously ill and unable to appoint a new governor-general, no one could do so, as neither counsellors of state nor a regent could do so.</p> <p>Instead, the current governor-general, David Hurley, could choose to continue in office, as there is no formal termination of his office until he is replaced.</p> <p>Alternatively, he could resign and his office could be filled on a temporary basis by a state governor as <a href="http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/legis/cth/consol_act/coaca430/xx4.html">administrator</a>, as is the usual practice when there is a vacancy in the office. If the office of a state governor becomes vacant, the <a href="https://www.governor.nsw.gov.au/governor/lieutenant-governor/role-of-the-lieutenant-governor/">lieutenant-governor</a>, who is often the chief justice of the state, can exercise the governor’s functions.</p> <p>However, if a regency were to continue for a long time – perhaps years – this could become unsustainable.</p> <p>The other consideration is that if there is a regency, there is no power to <a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/opinion/in-race-to-palace-governor-general-has-inside-running/news-story/d3918f42af1d081f203daa65f5b53e0f">dismiss a governor-general</a>. So if a constitutional crisis arose, such as that in 1975 with the dismissal of the Whitlam government, the governor-general would know that he or she could act without the prospect of dismissal on the advice of the prime minister. This unbalances the constitutional pressures that are deliberately built into the system, giving a stronger hand to the governor-general and weakening the position of the prime minister.</p> <p>The <a href="https://michaelwest.com.au/king-charles-illness-affects-australia/">problem</a> could be addressed in the same way as the rules of succession to the throne were changed <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2015A00023/asmade/text">in 2015</a> to remove gender discrimination. It would involve each state enacting a law requesting the Commonwealth to enact a law that recognised the authority of a regent to exercise the sovereign’s powers with respect to Australia.</p> <p>While it is not essential to fix this problem, it would still be wise, as a matter of orderly constitutional housekeeping, to address it before any real difficulties arise.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222870/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anne-twomey-6072"><em>Anne Twomey</em></a><em>, Professor emerita, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-happens-if-king-charles-can-no-longer-perform-his-duties-222870">original article</a>.</em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

The royals have historically been tight-lipped about their health – but that never stopped the gossip

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lisa-j-hackett-458612">Lisa J. Hackett</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-new-england-919">University of New England</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/huw-nolan-1309470">Huw Nolan</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-new-england-919">University of New England</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jo-coghlan-1585">Jo Coghlan</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-new-england-919">University of New England</a></em></p> <p>King Charles III has been diagnosed with cancer. This is an unexpected announcement: it is unusual for the royal family to release details of medical conditions to the public.</p> <p>“<a href="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2986">Don’t let the daylight in</a>” was how British essayist Walter Bagehot advised the British monarchy to deal with the public in 1867. “[A]bove all things our royalty is to be reverenced […] its mystery is its life,” he wrote.</p> <p>For Queen Elizabeth II this attitude framed her response to public information about the royals, quipping “<a href="https://www.news24.com/you/royals/news/royal-author-explains-queens-never-complain-never-explain-mantra-20220620">never complain, never explain</a>”. Maybe this explains why Princess Kate’s <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/feb/05/king-charles-diagnosed-with-cancer-buckingham-palace-announces">recent abdominal surgery</a> has not been disclosed to the public, with media reports saying she is “determined to keep her medical details private”.</p> <p>In revealing the fragility of the royal body much of the mystique about them as anointed by God fades away. But the royals’ health has, occasionally, been the subject of official news, and, more commonly, the subject of gossip.</p> <h2>Henry VIII’s ‘soore legge’</h2> <p>Henry VIII’s (1491–1547) health was well-documented and discussed in state-papers and diplomatic dispatches of the day.</p> <p>In his early years, he was known for his robust health. In his later years, he would be described as “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2789029/">cursed</a>” by his deteriorating health.</p> <p>As Henry aged, his access to fine food led to an increase of weight. Doctors today might diagnose him with obesity, and it has been <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2789029/">speculated by contemporary medical historians</a> he suffered from hypertension and Type II diabetes.</p> <p>This disease, which can lead to diabetic neuropathy and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/healthy-feet.html">serious foot complications</a>, could account for the persistent and odorous ulcers on his “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2789029/#:%7E:text=In%20the%20same%20year%20Henry,annual%20salary%20of%2020%20shillings.">sorre legge</a>”, as described by his contemporaries.</p> <p>Knowledge about Henry’s health was not widespread. The king had sequestered himself in his private apartments. Even his attending <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2388216/pdf/annrcse00840-0011.pdf">physicians did not keep notes</a>, perhaps concerned about being accused of treason in the volatile politics of the time. Most of our knowledge today is gleaned from diplomatic reports sent by diplomats to their own leaders.</p> <h2>Queen Anne’s lupus</h2> <p>Queen Anne (1665-1714) had 17 pregnancies, 11 of which resulted in miscarriages or stillbirths, with the remainder all dying in childhood. Despite the regularity of her failed pregnancies, her physician, John Radcliffe, repeatedly declared she was in good health and her miscarriages were due to “<a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1540-6563.1986.tb00702.x">the vapours</a>”, a vague diagnosis often attributed to aristocratic women.</p> <p>It is <a href="https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA12456274&amp;sid=googleScholar&amp;v=2.1&amp;it=r&amp;linkaccess=abs&amp;issn=17592151&amp;p=AONE&amp;sw=w&amp;userGroupName=anon%7Ee39109f7&amp;aty=open-web-entry">now believed Anne</a> may have been afflicted with the autoimmune condition lupus.</p> <p>For Anne’s contemporaries, the name of the illness perhaps mattered less than the real political issue it presented: who would become monarch after her? With no heirs, there was real political fear her Catholic half-brother <a href="https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/manuscriptsandspecialcollections/learning/biographies/jamesfrancisedwardstuart(1688-1766).aspx">James Francis Edward Stuart</a> (“The Old Pretender”) would claim the throne.</p> <p>But the law <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/evolutionofparliament/parliamentaryauthority/revolution/collections1/parliamentary-collections/act-of-settlement/">excluded Catholics</a> from the taking the crown, and ensured Anne would be succeed by her second cousin, George I of Hanover and Britain.</p> <h2>George III and mental illness</h2> <p>George III (1738–1820) famously suffered from bouts of mental illness, more recently been speculated to be caused by <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/porphyria">Porphyria</a>, a hereditary blood disorder.</p> <p>Throughout his illness <a href="https://blogs.ncl.ac.uk/speccoll/2023/11/01/bulletin-on-the-state-of-king-george-iiis-health-october-2011-2/">bulletins were issued</a> by his doctors informing the public of his condition.</p> <p>These were kept <a href="https://blogs.ncl.ac.uk/speccoll/2023/11/01/bulletin-on-the-state-of-king-george-iiis-health-october-2011-2/">deliberately vague</a>, with the aim to reassure the public rather than divulge details. His repeated bouts of illness mean his health was <a href="https://oro.open.ac.uk/92656/3/92656.pdf">a constant in the media of the time</a>, with frequent, at times twice-daily, updates during episodes.</p> <p>His illness called into <a href="https://oro.open.ac.uk/92656/3/92656.pdf">question his ability to be monarch</a>, a situation eventually resolved by the installing of his son, later George IV, as Prince Regent.</p> <h2>A family of haemophilia</h2> <p>Queen Victoria has been called the “<a href="https://hekint.org/2020/02/10/royal-blood-queen-victoria-and-the-legacy-of-hemophilia-in-european-royalty/?highlight=%E2%A3%82%E2%A3%9A%20Buy%20Viagra%20from%20%240.31%20per%20pill%20%3A%20%F0%9F%8F%A5%20www.LloydsPharmacy.xyz%20%F0%9F%8F%A5%20-%20Pharma%20without%20prescription%20%E2%A3%9A%E2%A3%82Viagra%20Cialis%20Levitra%20Staxyn%20Online%20Viagra%20Online%20Information">Grandmother of Europe</a>” due to her many descendants. This also came with a deadly legacy, haemophilia, given the moniker “the royal disease”.</p> <p><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hemophilia/facts.html">Haemophilia</a> is an inherited disorder which mostly affects males, where the blood does not clot properly. This can lead to severe or spontaneous bleeding which can be dangerous if not treated properly. While the illness can be managed well today, in Victoria’s time little was known about it.</p> <p>It is believed Victoria passed on the trait to <a href="https://www.hemophilia.org/bleeding-disorders-a-z/overview/history">three of her nine children</a>, at a time when life expectancy for those who had the disease was just 13 years old. Two of her daughters were asymptomatic carriers, however her fourth son Prince Leopold (1853-1884) was afflicted with the disease.</p> <p>While the royal family were careful to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21764831/">manage what information was publicly released</a> about his illness, his status meant it garnered public attention. It was covered in medical journals of the time, and later in newspapers.</p> <p>As knowledge of the illness grew, both the public and members of the royal family were able to use it to guide decisions on marriages to limit its spread.</p> <h2>A new approach</h2> <p>In the days leading up to Elizabeth’s death on 2022, the media reported her as resting “<a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/siladityaray/2022/09/08/queen-under-medical-supervision-as-doctors-are-concerned-for-her-health/?sh=42c483e9140e">comfortably</a>” and provided no information on the nature of her illness. Even her <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/News/queen-elizabeth-iis-death-revealed-death-certificate/story?id=90696648">death certificate</a> failed to reveal her cause of death, other than as old age.</p> <p>Charles has signalled he wants to do monarchy differently than his mother. After his recent prostate surgery, his office stated he wanted to inspire men to look after their prostates. Anecdotal evidence suggests more men have sought medical tests in response which is being called the “<a href="https://www.ausdoc.com.au/news/king-charles-effect-spurs-aussie-men-to-consult-their-gp-for-prostate-symptoms/">King Charles effect</a>”.</p> <p>Now, the announcement of Charles’s cancer diagnosis signals a new approach by the royals. <img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222873/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lisa-j-hackett-458612"><em>Lisa J. Hackett</em></a><em>, Lecturer, Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-new-england-919">University of New England</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/huw-nolan-1309470">Huw Nolan</a>, Animal Welfare scientist and pop culture researcher, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-new-england-919">University of New England</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jo-coghlan-1585">Jo Coghlan</a>, Associate Professor Humanities Arts and Social Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-new-england-919">University of New England</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-royals-have-historically-been-tight-lipped-about-their-health-but-that-never-stopped-the-gossip-222873">original article</a>.</em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

Should you be worried about the amount of coffee or tea you drink?

<p>Before you reach for that cup of coffee or tea, have you ever thought about whether that caffeinated beverage is <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/debunks-vices-coffee-caffeine/">good or bad for you</a>?</p> <p><iframe title="Vices: Is coffee good or bad for you?" src="https://omny.fm/shows/debunks/vices-is-coffee-good-or-bad-for-you/embed?style=Cover" width="100%" height="180" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Most of us will drink coffee or tea each day.</p> <p>It helps keep us alert, especially in a world of the nine-to-five grind. Some workers rely on caffeine to get them through shift work and night shifts.</p> <p>Many, like me, would just collapse in a heap if it weren’t for that liquid black gold to keep us peppy in the morning.</p> <h2 class="wp-block-heading">What is caffeine?</h2> <p>To get a better picture of how coffee or tea affects us, let’s examine the active ingredient: <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/podcast/huh-science-explained-stirring-the-science-of-caffeine/">caffeine</a>.</p> <p>Caffeine is a <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/caffeine" target="_blank" rel="noopener">drug</a>. It’s a white, odourless substance known to chemists as 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine and is made up of 8 carbon, 10 hydrogen, 4 nitrogen and 2 oxygen atoms.</p> <p>Caffeine occurs naturally in coffee beans, cocoa beans, kola nuts, and tea leaves.</p> <p>It is an adenosine antagonist, blocking the A1, A2A, and A2B receptors in the brain and body to promote wakefulness. Normally, adenosine (a chemical compound with a similar 3D structure to caffeine) binds to its receptors, slowing neural activity and making you sleepy.</p> <p>When caffeine, instead, binds to the receptors, adenosine is blocked and brain activity speeds up, making you feel more alert.</p> <h2 class="wp-block-heading">History lesson</h2> <p>Tea and coffee are the most common way for humans to get their caffeine fix.</p> <p>Drinks made using coffee beans date back more than a thousand years to the coffee forests of the horn of Africa.</p> <p>Legend says that, around 800 CE, an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi noticed his goats were energetic and didn’t sleep when they ate the coffee beans. Coffee then spread eastward to the Arabian Peninsula, reaching Yemen in the 15th century, and Egypt, Syria, Persia and Turkey in the 1500s. From their it made it to Europe and eventually the whole world.</p> <p>But caffeine is also present in other beverages like tea, cola and even some foods like chocolate.</p> <h2 class="wp-block-heading">Is it bad for you?</h2> <p>Given how prevalent the drug is, are there negative side effects we should be worried about?</p> <p>For one thing, it is an addictive substance. And the more you drink, the more you need.</p> <p>“Our body tends to adjust to a new level of consumption,” Kitty Pham, a PhD candidate at the University of South Australia and expert in nutritional and genetic epidemiology, tells <em>Cosmos</em>. “Your body does develop a tolerance to the caffeine. So, you start to need to drink more and more to feel the same effect as before.”</p> <p>Caffeine can also act as an anxiogenic – a substance that can trigger heightened levels of anxiety.</p> <p>Pham notes some risks associated with too much caffeine consumption over a long period of time.</p> <p>“Greater than 6 cups per day, we did see an increase in dementia risk,” she notes. “There’s also some research on how it might increase your cholesterol. There’s a substance in coffee called cafestol that can regulate your blood cholesterol. If you’re drinking too much coffee, it might be increasing your cholesterol. So, there are risks, but often they are at really high consumption.”</p> <h2 class="wp-block-heading">What’s the limit?</h2> <p>So, how much caffeine is too much according to science?</p> <p>“That’s, the million-dollar question, isn’t it?” Pham laughs. “There’s a lot of varying research on it. It’s hard to tell a definite limit. But generally, most studies really agree that one to two cups of coffee, or an equivalent of 100 to 200 milligrams of caffeine is safe and okay.”</p> <p>The average cup of coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine. On average, instant coffee with one teaspoon of powder contains about 70 mg of caffeine, while a coffee pod has 60–90 mg.</p> <p>Other drinks containing might have even more caffeine, making it important to monitor your consumption more carefully.</p> <p>A 355 mL can of Red Bull energy drink has more than 110 mg of caffeine. Meanwhile, an average bar of dark chocolate has about 70 mg of caffeine.</p> <p>Many people are moving away from coffee to drinks like tea and matcha which may have <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/flavonoids-black-tea/">additional</a> <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/tea-drinkers-may-well-live-longer/">health</a> <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/black-tea-mortality-risk/">benefits</a>. A 100-gram cup of black tea has only about 20 mg of caffeine, while matcha can have 140–170 mg of caffeine!</p> <p>“Looking at the US, they usually recommend less than 400 milligrams. So overall, moderation and keeping your consumption to one to two cups – that’s what I’d recommend.”</p> <p>Now that I’ve written about caffeine, I think I need another cuppa. It’s only my second of the day, I swear. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <div> <h3><em><a href="https://link.cosmosmagazine.com/JQ4R"><noscript data-spai="1"><img decoding="async" class="alignleft size-full wp-image-198773" src="https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/spai/ret_img/cosmosmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/Apple-Podcasts.svg" data-spai-egr="1" alt="Subscribe to our podcasts" width="300" height="54" title="should you be worried about the amount of coffee or tea you drink? 2"></noscript></a><a href="https://link.cosmosmagazine.com/JQ4U"><noscript data-spai="1"><img decoding="async" class="alignleft size-full wp-image-198773" src="https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/spai/ret_img/cosmosmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/Spotify.svg" data-spai-egr="1" alt="Subscribe to our podcasts" width="300" height="54" title="should you be worried about the amount of coffee or tea you drink? 3"></noscript></a></em></h3> </div> <p><em><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/coffee-tea-caffeine-debunks/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/evrim-yazgin/">Evrim Yazgin</a>.</em></p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

Your skin is a mirror of your health – here’s what yours might be saying

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dan-baumgardt-1451396">Dan Baumgardt</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-bristol-1211">University of Bristol</a></em></p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12095893/">Skin accounts for around 15% of our body mass</a>. It is the largest and most visible organ in the human body.</p> <p>Yet many of the skin’s functions are often overlooked. It’s a sunscreen, a shield from germs, a reservoir of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28994020/">vitamin D</a> and a means of tightly regulating our body temperature.</p> <p>Being the most visible of our organs, the skin also offers us a view into the body tissues that it protects. So don’t think of your skin merely aesthetically – think of it as a reflection of your health. Disorders of the gut, blood, hormones and even the heart might first be seen on the skin in the form of a rash.</p> <p>Here are a few to look out for.</p> <h2>Bullseye</h2> <p>Ticks are pesky creatures that no one will want to return home from a country walk with.</p> <p>But while the vast majority of tick bites <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36116831/">won’t make you ill</a>, there is one rash that should prompt a visit to your doctor if you spot it.</p> <p>Erythema migrans, a rash named for its ability to rapidly expand across the skin, is a hallmark of <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1041.long">Lyme disease</a>, a potentially severe bacterial illness. This rash forms a classic target pattern, like a bullseye on a dartboard.</p> <p>Be vigilant for a few weeks after being bitten to check this rash doesn’t make an appearance – especially if you noticed a red lump that wasn’t there before or if you had to remove a tick from your skin. You should also keep an eye out for other associated symptoms of Lyme disease – such as swinging temperatures, muscle and joint pains and headache.</p> <p>The condition is treated with antibiotics, which can prevent long-term complications, including chronic fatigue symptoms.</p> <h2>Purpura</h2> <p>Some rashes are given a <a href="https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1538-7836(22)01880-3">colourful namesake</a> – purpura is one such example. This rash’s name is derived from a mollusc which was used to make purple dye.</p> <p>Purpura refers to a rash of small purple or red dots. The cause is pooling of blood into a deeper layer of the skin (dermis). When pressed with a finger – or even better, the side of a glass – it refuses to blanch away.</p> <p>Purpura signals an issue with either the walls of the tiny blood vessels that feed the skin or the blood within them. This might be from a deficiency in platelets, the tiny cell fragments that allow blood to clot – perhaps from bone marrow failure, or an autoimmune condition where the body turns on itself and attacks its own cells.</p> <p>At worst, purpura may signal the life-threatening condition <a href="https://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/full/10.12968/hmed.2017.78.8.468">septicaemia</a>, where an infection has spread into the bloodstream – perhaps from the lungs, kidneys or even from the skin itself.</p> <h2>Skin spiders</h2> <p>Skin rashes can also take on <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32513406/">recognisable shapes</a>.</p> <p>Spider naevi represent an issue within skin arterioles (small arteries which supply the skin with blood). Arterioles open and close to control the loss of heat from the body’s surface. But sometimes they can get stuck open – and a spider-like pattern will appear.</p> <p>The open arteriole is the spider’s body, and the even tinier capillaries fanning out in all directions are the thready legs. Crush the body under a fingertip and the whole thing disappears, as your touch temporarily stops the blood flow.</p> <p>Often, these are benign and not associated with any specific condition – especially if you only have one or two. However, more than three suggest higher circulating levels of the <a href="https://dermnetnz.org/topics/spider-telangiectasis">hormone oestrogen</a>, often due to liver disease or from the hormonal changes seen in pregnancy. Treat the underlying cause, and the spiders often vanish with time – though they may persist or reappear later.</p> <h2>Black velvet</h2> <p>Changes to the folds of your skin (usually around the armpits or neck) – especially if it becomes thickened and velveteen to the touch – may suggest a condition known as <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jocd.13544">acanthosis nigricans</a>. This “black velvet” skin appearance is more commonly seen in darker skins.</p> <p>Usually, the condition is associated with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29241752/">disorders of the metabolism</a> – namely type 2 diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome. If either of these conditions are successfully treated, the rash may fade. In rare cases, it can also be a sign of <a href="https://www.hkmj.org/abstracts/v29n4/355.htm">stomach cancer</a>, which should be considered in patients with few or none of the key signs of metabolic disease (obesity and high blood pressure).</p> <h2>Butterfly rashes</h2> <p>Even disorders of the heart can be visible on the skin.</p> <p>Cardiac valves have the important role of correctly directing the journey of blood through the heart and preventing backflow. The valve between the chambers on the left side of the heart (the mitral valve – so called because of its resemblance to a bishop’s hat, or mitre) can sometimes become narrowed, causing the heart’s function to deteriorate. The body’s natural response is to preserve core blood volume, shutting off flow towards the skin.</p> <p>The net effect can produce a purple-red rash, high across the cheeks and the bridge of the nose, like the outstretched wings of a butterfly. We call this <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2050313X231200965?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&amp;rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&amp;rfr_dat=cr_pub%20%200pubmed">mitral facies</a> which, depending on the extent of damage to the heart and great vessels, may persist despite treatment.</p> <p>It’s important to pay heed to your skin. It’s constantly talking to you, and any changes in its texture, colour or if new marks or patterns appear, may indicate something is going on beneath the surface.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/221937/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dan-baumgardt-1451396">Dan Baumgardt</a>, Senior Lecturer, School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-bristol-1211">University of Bristol</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/your-skin-is-a-mirror-of-your-health-heres-what-yours-might-be-saying-221937">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

Eating leafy greens could be better for oral health than using mouthwash

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mia-cousins-burleigh-1201153">Mia Cousins Burleigh</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-the-west-of-scotland-1385">University of the West of Scotland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/siobhan-paula-moran-1506183">Siobhan Paula Moran</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-the-west-of-scotland-1385">University of the West of Scotland</a></em></p> <p>Over half the adult population in the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26052472">UK and US</a> have gum disease. Typical treatments include <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-61912-4">mouthwash</a> and in severe cases, <a href="https://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/abs/10.12968/vetn.2017.8.10.542">antibiotics</a>. These treatments have side effects, such as dry mouth, the development of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30967854/">antimicrobial resistance</a> and increased <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-61912-4">blood pressure</a>.</p> <p>But research has indicated that a molecule called <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-69931-x">nitrate</a>, which is found in leafy green vegetables, has fewer side effects and offers greater benefits for oral health. And it could be used as a natural alternative for treating oral disease.</p> <p>Inadequate brushing and flossing leads to the build up of <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-69931-x">dental plaque</a>, a sticky layer of bacteria, on the surface of teeth and gums. Plaque causes tooth decay and gum disease. Sugary and acidic foods, dry mouth, and smoking can also contribute to bad breath, tooth decay, and gum infections.</p> <p>The two main types of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. <a href="https://www.spandidos-publications.com/10.3892/etm.2019.8381">Gingivitis</a> causes redness, swelling and bleeding of the gums. <a href="https://www.spandidos-publications.com/10.3892/etm.2019.8381">Periodontitis</a> is a more advanced form of gum disease, causing damage to the soft tissues and bones supporting the teeth.</p> <p>Periodontal disease can therefore, lead to tooth loss and, when bacteria from the mouth enter the bloodstream, can also contribute to the development of <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/bdjteam2015163">systemic disorders</a> such as cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.</p> <h2>Leafy greens may be the secret</h2> <p>Leafy greens and root vegetables are bursting with <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666149723000312">vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants</a> – and it’s no secret that a diet consisting of these vegetables is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight, boosting the immune system, and preventing <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2048004016661435">heart disease, cancer and diabetes.</a> The multiple health benefits of leafy greens are partly because spinach, lettuce and beetroots are brimming with <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-69931-x">nitrate</a>, which can be reduced to nitric oxide by nitrate-reducing bacteria inside the mouth.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7zrRlMGeBes?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Popeye knew a thing or two about the health benefits of eating leafy greens. Boomerang Official, 2017.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>Nitric oxide is known to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006295222004191">lower blood pressure</a> and improve <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0243755#:%7E:text=Nitrate%2Drich%20beetroot%20juice%20offsets,healthy%20male%20runners%20%7C%20PLOS%20ONE">exercise performance</a>. However, in the mouth, it helps to prevent the overgrowth of bad bacteria and reduces <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0243755#:%7E:text=Nitrate%2Drich%20beetroot%20juice%20offsets,healthy%20male%20runners%20%7C%20PLOS%20ONE">oral acidity</a>, both of which can cause gum disease and tooth decay.</p> <p>As part of our research on nitrate and oral health, <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0243755#:%7E:text=Nitrate%2Drich%20beetroot%20juice%20offsets,healthy%20male%20runners%20%7C%20PLOS%20ONE">we studied competitive athletes</a>. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9839431/">Athletes are prone to gum disease</a> due to high intake of carbohydrates – which can cause inflammation of the gum tissues – stress, and dry mouth from breathing hard during training.</p> <p>Our study showed that beetroot juice (containing approximately 12 <a href="https://www.nursingtimes.net/students/an-easy-guide-to-mmols-09-02-2012/">millimole</a> of nitrate) protected their teeth from acidic sports drinks and carbohydrate gels during exercise – suggesting that nitrate could be used as a prebiotic by athletes to reduce the risk of tooth decay.</p> <p>Nitrate offers a lot of promise as an oral health <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-69931-x">prebiotic</a>. Good oral hygiene and a nitrate rich diet could be the key to a healthier body, a vibrant smile and disease-free gums. This is good news for those most at risk of oral health deterioration such as <a href="https://www.news-medical.net/health/Periodontitis-and-Pregnancy.aspx">pregnant women</a>, and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8771712/">the elderly</a>.</p> <p>In the UK, antiseptic mouthwashes containing <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-61912-4">chlorhexidine</a> are commonly used to treat dental plaque and gum disease. Unfortunately, these mouthwashes are a blunderbuss approach to oral health, as they indiscriminately remove both good and bad bacteria and increase oral acidity, which can cause disease.</p> <p>Worryingly, early research also indicates that chlorhexidine may contribute to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30967854/">antimicrobial resistance</a>. Resistance occurs when bacteria and fungi survive the effects of one or more <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4768623/">antimicrobial drugs</a> due to repeated exposure to these treatments. Antimicrobial resistance is a <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)02724-0/fulltext">global health concern</a>, predicted to cause 10 million deaths yearly by the year 2050.</p> <p>In contrast, dietary nitrate is more targeted. Nitrate eliminates disease-associated bacteria, reduces oral acidity and creates a balanced <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2944498/">oral microbiome</a>. The oral microbiome refers to all the microorganisms in the mouth. Nitrate offers exciting potential as an <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-69931-x">oral health prebiotic</a>, which can be used to prevent disease onset or limit disease progression.</p> <h2>How many leafy greens for pearly whites?</h2> <p>So how much should we consume daily? As a rule of thumb, a generous helping of spinach, kale or beetroot at mealtimes contains about 6-10 mmol of nitrate and offers immediate health benefits.</p> <p>Work we have done with our collaborators has shown that treating <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-69931-x">plaque samples</a> from periodontal disease patients with 6.5 mmol of nitrate increased healthy bacteria levels and reduced acidity.</p> <p>For example, consuming <a href="https://aap.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/JPER.20-0778">lettuce juice</a> for two weeks reduced gum inflammation and increased healthy bacteria levels in patients with gum disease.</p> <p>Growing evidence suggests that nitrate is a cornerstone of oral health. Crunching on a portion of vegetables at mealtimes can help to prevent or treat oral disease and keeps the mouth fresh and healthy.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/221181/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mia-cousins-burleigh-1201153"><em>Mia Cousins Burleigh</em></a><em>, Lecturer, School of Health and Life Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-the-west-of-scotland-1385">University of the West of Scotland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/siobhan-paula-moran-1506183">Siobhan Paula Moran</a>, PhD candidate, School of Health and Life Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-the-west-of-scotland-1385">University of the West of Scotland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/eating-leafy-greens-could-be-better-for-oral-health-than-using-mouthwash-221181">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

Palace reveals King Charles' serious health diagnosis

<p>In a sombre announcement from Buckingham Palace, it has been confirmed that King Charles III, aged 75, has been diagnosed with cancer following his recent hospital treatment for benign prostate enlargement.</p> <p>The news has sent shockwaves across the nation and beyond, prompting an outpouring of support and concern for the monarch.</p> <p>The palace statement, released early on Tuesday morning, revealed that the king is set to commence treatment immediately, expressing gratitude to his medical team for their swift intervention. The announcement also disclosed that King Charles III will be stepping back from "public-facing" duties during the course of his treatment.</p> <p>"Throughout this period, His Majesty will continue to undertake State business and official paperwork as usual," the palace said. "The King is grateful to his medical team for their swift intervention, which was made possible thanks to his recent hospital procedure. He remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible.</p> <p>"His Majesty has chosen to share his diagnosis to prevent speculation and in the hope it may assist public understanding for all those around the world who are affected by cancer."</p> <p>While the monarch reassures the public that he will continue to undertake state business and official paperwork, the decision to reduce public appearances reinforces the seriousness of the situation. This news has raised questions about the nature and extent of the king's illness, as the palace has not specified the type of cancer he is facing.</p> <p>Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak have both extended their well-wishes for a speedy recovery. As the public absorbs this disconcerting news, concerns deepen with additional developments within the royal family. Prince Harry, who has been estranged from the family, is reportedly set to travel to the UK to be with his ailing father. This comes at a time when the family is already grappling with strained relationships, particularly between Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, and the rest of the royals.</p> <p>The situation is further complicated by the recent withdrawal of the Prince of Wales, William, from public duties to care for his wife, Catherine, who underwent abdominal surgery. </p> <p>King Charles III ascended to the throne after the passing of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in September 2022, and his coronation took place in May of the following year. The unexpected revelation of his battle with cancer adds a layer of uncertainty to an already tumultuous period for the royal family and the nation as a whole.</p> <p>While the king remains positive about his treatment, the absence of specific details about the type of cancer and the potential impact on his public duties leaves the public in a state of unease.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

Alzheimer’s may have once spread from person to person, but the risk of that happening today is incredibly low

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/steve-macfarlane-4722">Steve Macfarlane</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p>An article published this week in the prestigious journal <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-023-02729-2">Nature Medicine</a> documents what is believed to be the first evidence that Alzheimer’s disease can be transmitted from person to person.</p> <p>The finding arose from long-term follow up of patients who received human growth hormone (hGH) that was taken from brain tissue of deceased donors.</p> <p>Preparations of donated hGH were used in medicine to treat a variety of conditions from 1959 onwards – including in Australia from the mid 60s.</p> <p>The practice stopped in 1985 when it was discovered around 200 patients worldwide who had received these donations went on to develop <a href="https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/epidemiology-fact-sheets/creutzfeldt-jakob-disease-cjd/">Creuztfeldt-Jakob disease</a> (CJD), which causes a rapidly progressive dementia. This is an otherwise extremely rare condition, affecting roughly one person in a million.</p> <h2>What’s CJD got to do with Alzehimer’s?</h2> <p>CJD is caused by prions: infective particles that are neither bacterial or viral, but consist of abnormally folded proteins that can be transmitted from cell to cell.</p> <p>Other prion diseases include kuru, a dementia seen in New Guinea tribespeople caused by eating human tissue, scrapie (a disease of sheep) and variant CJD or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, otherwise known as mad cow disease. This raised <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_BSE_outbreak">public health concerns</a> over the eating of beef products in the United Kingdom in the 1980s.</p> <h2>Human growth hormone used to come from donated organs</h2> <p>Human growth hormone (hGH) is produced in the brain by the pituitary gland. Treatments were originally prepared from purified human pituitary tissue.</p> <p>But because the amount of hGH contained in a single gland is extremely small, any single dose given to any one patient could contain material from around <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00000563.htm">16,000 donated glands</a>.</p> <p>An average course of hGH treatment lasts around four years, so the chances of receiving contaminated material – even for a very rare condition such as CJD – became quite high for such people.</p> <p>hGH is now manufactured synthetically in a laboratory, rather than from human tissue. So this particular mode of CJD transmission is no longer a risk.</p> <h2>What are the latest findings about Alzheimer’s disease?</h2> <p>The Nature Medicine paper provides the first evidence that transmission of Alzheimer’s disease can occur via human-to-human transmission.</p> <p>The authors examined the outcomes of people who received donated hGH until 1985. They found five such recipients had developed early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.</p> <p>They considered other explanations for the findings but concluded donated hGH was the likely cause.</p> <p>Given Alzheimer’s disease is a much more common illness than CJD, the authors presume those who received donated hGH before 1985 may be at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.</p> <p>Alzheimer’s disease is caused by presence of two abnormally folded proteins: amyloid and tau. There is <a href="https://actaneurocomms.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40478-017-0488-7">increasing evidence</a> these proteins spread in the brain in a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8086126/">similar way to prion diseases</a>. So the mode of transmission the authors propose is certainly plausible.</p> <p>However, given the amyloid protein deposits in the brain <a href="https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/estimates-amyloid-onset-may-predict-alzheimers-progression">at least 20 years</a> before clinical Alzheimer’s disease develops, there is likely to be a considerable time lag before cases that might arise from the receipt of donated hGH become evident.</p> <h2>When was this process used in Australia?</h2> <p>In Australia, donated pituitary material <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2022/07/the-cjd-review-final-report.pdf">was used</a> from 1967 to 1985 to treat people with short stature and infertility.</p> <p><a href="https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2022/07/the-cjd-review-final-report.pdf">More than 2,000 people</a> received such treatment. Four developed CJD, the last case identified in 1991. All four cases were likely linked to a single contaminated batch.</p> <p>The risks of any other cases of CJD developing now in pituitary material recipients, so long after the occurrence of the last identified case in Australia, are <a href="https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2010/193/6/iatrogenic-creutzfeldt-jakob-disease-australia-time-amend-infection-control">considered to be</a> incredibly small.</p> <p>Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (defined as occurring before the age of 65) is uncommon, accounting for <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4356853/">around 5%</a> of all cases. Below the age of 50 it’s rare and likely to have a genetic contribution.</p> <h2>The risk is very low – and you can’t ‘catch’ it like a virus</h2> <p>The Nature Medicine paper identified five cases which were diagnosed in people aged 38 to 55. This is more than could be expected by chance, but still very low in comparison to the total number of patients treated worldwide.</p> <p>Although the long “incubation period” of Alzheimer’s disease may mean more similar cases may be identified in the future, the absolute risk remains very low. The main scientific interest of the article lies in the fact it’s first to demonstrate that Alzheimer’s disease can be transmitted from person to person in a similar way to prion diseases, rather than in any public health risk.</p> <p>The authors were keen to emphasise, as I will, that Alzheimer’s cannot be contracted via contact with or providing care to people with Alzheimer’s disease.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222374/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/steve-macfarlane-4722"><em>Steve Macfarlane</em></a><em>, Head of Clinical Services, Dementia Support Australia, &amp; Associate Professor of Psychiatry, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/alzheimers-may-have-once-spread-from-person-to-person-but-the-risk-of-that-happening-today-is-incredibly-low-222374">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

How much weight do you actually need to lose? It might be a lot less than you think

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993">Nick Fuller</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>If you’re one of the <a href="https://www.finder.com.au/new-years-resolutions-statistics">one in three</a> Australians whose New Year’s resolution involved losing weight, it’s likely you’re now contemplating what weight-loss goal you should actually be working towards.</p> <p>But type “setting a weight loss goal” into any online search engine and you’ll likely be left with more questions than answers.</p> <p>Sure, the many weight-loss apps and calculators available will make setting this goal seem easy. They’ll typically use a body mass index (BMI) calculator to confirm a “healthy” weight and provide a goal weight based on this range.</p> <p>Your screen will fill with trim-looking influencers touting diets that will help you drop ten kilos in a month, or ads for diets, pills and exercise regimens promising to help you effortlessly and rapidly lose weight.</p> <p>Most sales pitches will suggest you need to lose substantial amounts of weight to be healthy – making weight loss seem an impossible task. But the research shows you don’t need to lose a lot of weight to achieve health benefits.</p> <h2>Using BMI to define our target weight is flawed</h2> <p>We’re a society fixated on numbers. So it’s no surprise we use measurements and equations to score our weight. The most popular is BMI, a measure of our body weight-to-height ratio.</p> <p>BMI classifies bodies as underweight, normal (healthy) weight, overweight or obese and can be a useful tool for weight and health screening.</p> <p>But it shouldn’t be used as the single measure of what it means to be a healthy weight when we set our weight-loss goals. This is <a href="https://theconversation.com/using-bmi-to-measure-your-health-is-nonsense-heres-why-180412">because</a> it:</p> <ul> <li> <p>fails to consider two critical factors related to body weight and health – body fat percentage and distribution</p> </li> <li> <p>does not account for significant differences in body composition based on gender, ethnicity and age.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>How does losing weight benefit our health?</h2> <p>Losing just 5–10% of our body weight – between 6 and 12kg for someone weighing 120kg – can significantly improve our health in four key ways.</p> <p><strong>1. Reducing cholesterol</strong></p> <p>Obesity increases the chances of having too much low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – also known as bad cholesterol – because carrying excess weight changes how our bodies produce and manage lipoproteins and triglycerides, another fat molecule we use for energy.</p> <p>Having too much bad cholesterol and high triglyceride levels is not good, narrowing our arteries and limiting blood flow, which increases the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.</p> <p>But <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4987606/">research</a> shows improvements in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels are evident with just 5% weight loss.</p> <p><strong>2. Lowering blood pressure</strong></p> <p>Our blood pressure is considered high if it reads more than 140/90 on at least two occasions.</p> <p>Excess weight is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7082272/">linked to</a> high blood pressure in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7082272/">several ways</a>, including changing how our sympathetic nervous system, blood vessels and hormones regulate our blood pressure.</p> <p>Essentially, high blood pressure makes our heart and blood vessels work harder and less efficiently, damaging our arteries over time and increasing our risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.</p> <p>Like the improvements in cholesterol, a 5% weight loss <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.21358">improves</a> both systolic blood pressure (the first number in the reading) and diastolic blood pressure (the second number).</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/01.hyp.0000094221.86888.ae">meta-analysis of 25 trials</a> on the influence of weight reduction on blood pressure also found every kilo of weight loss improved blood pressure by one point.</p> <p><strong>3. Reducing risk for type 2 diabetes</strong></p> <p>Excess body weight is the primary manageable risk factor for type 2 diabetes, particularly for people carrying a lot of visceral fat around the abdomen (belly fat).</p> <p>Carrying this excess weight can cause fat cells to release pro-inflammatory chemicals that disrupt how our bodies regulate and use the insulin produced by our pancreas, leading to high blood sugar levels.</p> <p>Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious medical conditions if it’s not carefully managed, including damaging our heart, blood vessels, major organs, eyes and nervous system.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmoa012512">Research</a> shows just 7% weight loss reduces risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%.</p> <p><strong>4. Reducing joint pain and the risk of osteoarthritis</strong></p> <p>Carrying excess weight can cause our joints to become inflamed and damaged, making us more prone to osteoarthritis.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21425246/">Observational studies</a> show being overweight doubles a person’s risk of developing osteoarthritis, while obesity increases the risk fourfold.</p> <p>Small amounts of weight loss alleviate this stress on our joints. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15986358/">In one study</a> each kilogram of weight loss resulted in a fourfold decrease in the load exerted on the knee in each step taken during daily activities.</p> <h2>Focus on long-term habits</h2> <p>If you’ve ever tried to lose weight but found the kilos return almost as quickly as they left, you’re not alone.</p> <p>An <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5764193/">analysis</a> of 29 long-term weight-loss studies found participants regained more than half of the weight lost within two years. Within five years, they regained more than 80%.</p> <p>When we lose weight, we take our body out of its comfort zone and trigger its survival response. It then counteracts weight loss, triggering several <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25896063/">physiological responses</a> to defend our body weight and “survive” starvation.</p> <p>Just as the problem is evolutionary, the solution is evolutionary too. Successfully losing weight long-term comes down to:</p> <ul> <li> <p>losing weight in small manageable chunks you can sustain, specifically periods of weight loss, followed by periods of weight maintenance, and so on, until you achieve your goal weight</p> </li> <li> <p>making gradual changes to your lifestyle to ensure you form habits that last a lifetime.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Setting a goal to reach a healthy weight can feel daunting. But it doesn’t have to be a pre-defined weight according to a “healthy” BMI range. Losing 5–10% of our body weight will result in immediate health benefits.</p> <p><em>At the Boden Group, Charles Perkins Centre, we are studying the science of obesity and running clinical trials for weight loss. You can <a href="https://redcap.sydney.edu.au/surveys/?s=RKTXPPPHKY">register here</a> to express your interest.</em><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/217287/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993">Nick Fuller</a>, Charles Perkins Centre Research Program Leader, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-much-weight-do-you-actually-need-to-lose-it-might-be-a-lot-less-than-you-think-217287">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

The best diet for 2024

<p>Over years of research and diet rankings, there is one regimen that scientists have crowned the "Best Diet Overall" for seven years in a row. </p> <p>The Mediterranean diet has topped the list in <a href="https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-diets-overall" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>US News and World Reports’</em></a> annual ranking for 2024, followed by the DASH diet, and the MIND diet coming in third.  </p> <p>The ranking is based off the findings of a panel of leading medical and nutrition experts, who analyse the nutritional completeness, health risks and benefits, long-term sustainability and  effectiveness of the diet in addressing its goals. </p> <p><strong>What sets it apart from other diets? </strong></p> <p>The Mediterranean diet emphasises multiple servings of fruits and vegetables daily, alongside whole grains, legumes, nuts, olive oil and seafood. </p> <p>Red meats, dairy and poultry are consumed occasionally and in moderation, and highly processed foods and added sugars are generally avoided. </p> <h4><strong>What are its benefits?</strong></h4> <p>The experts found that following the diet long term can increase the odds of living a longer, healthier life, with a few other studies suggesting it lowers the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, while potentially slowing cognitive decline.</p> <p>“It’s a way of life, it’s a cuisine, it dates back thousands of years, and in the last five to six decades, it is the most highly researched cuisine in the world,” said Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos, a professor of nutrition and dietetics at RMIT University in Melbourne.</p> <p><strong>Lowers risk of heart disease</strong></p> <p>A 2021 research review found that the diet has been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in women by 29 per cent and stroke by 13 per cent. </p> <p>A 2017 analysis found that on average it lowers the risk of coronary heart disease, heart attacks and strokes by 40 per cent. </p> <p>Experts suggest that this may be because  the fats in olive oil, seeds, fish and nuts are monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats aka healthy fats. </p> <p>Additionally, because of its emphasis on fruits, vegetables and legumes, which contain antioxidants and other beneficial compounds, it is believed to combat chronic inflammation. </p> <p><strong>Lowers chances of developing type 2 diabetes </strong></p> <p>Because this diet relies heavily on honey and cinnamon as sweeteners, and fruits as a primary source of sugar, it reduces the risk of developing this disease. </p> <p>One study conducted on 300,000 participants found that those who were on the Mediterranean diet had a nearly 30 per cent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. </p> <p><strong>Good for your gut</strong></p> <p>The diet contains a lot of fibre which are associated with more regular bowel movements, lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, according to the Food and Drug Administration.</p> <p>This is because good bacteria in our stomachs feed off fibre, which creates a stronger lining in the intestines. </p> <p>There are a few other potential health benefits including reducing risk of dementia among seniors by almost 25 per cent, and lowering the risk of death from cancer including breast, colorectal, head and neck and lung cancers. </p> <p>See the full list <a href="https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-diets-overall" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Body

Placeholder Content Image

Bruce Willis' heartwarming reaction to granddaughter amid dementia battle

<p>Bruce Willis' daughter Rumer has shared what the actor is like as a grandfather, amid his battle with frontotemporal dementia.</p> <p>Rumer candidly revealed that the now-retired actor is “incredibly loving and kind” and despite his FTD, his face “lights up” whenever he sees his granddaughter Louetta.</p> <p>“His face lights up when he sees Louetta,” Rumer told <a href="https://nypost.com/2024/02/01/entertainment/bruce-willis-face-lights-up-with-granddaughter-amid-dementia-battle/?utm_medium=browser_notifications&amp;utm_source=pushly&amp;utm_content=Entertainment/Living%20Audience&amp;utm_campaign=4164834" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>The New York Post</em></a>.</p> <p>“And I’m just so grateful to have that kind of spark of mischief and fun and and play no matter what age I am.”</p> <p>Louetta is Rumer’s 9-month-old baby girl with partner, Derek Richard Thomas.</p> <p>Rumer also shared that her father is most like David Addison Jr, a character he played on the hit 80s show <em>Moonlighting</em>.</p> <p>“So charming, so funny, so silly … kind of mischievous glint in his eye, kind and sweet,” she said.</p> <p>“And so I feel like that’s really the epitome of who my dad is.</p> <p>“And that is so true to this day.”</p> <p>Despite his dementia diagnosis, Rumer said that her father has not lost any of his trademark silliness and sense of humour.</p> <p>“He’s so incredibly loving and kind,” she said.</p> <p>“My dad is absolutely the reason I (have) my taste in music (and) some of my humour.</p> <p>“Both of my parents are so silly.”</p> <p>In 2022 Bruce's family announced that the <em>Die Hard</em> star was going to retire, as he was diagnosed with <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/news/news/bruce-willis-forced-to-retire-after-medical-diagnosis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">aphasia</a>, a disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate.</p> <p>A year later it was revealed that it had progressed to <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/cruel-disease-bruce-willis-given-heartbreaking-new-diagnosis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">frontotemporal dementia</a>.</p> <p>His family have since kept fans updated on the star's health.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p> <p> </p>

Mind