Health

We can change our brain and its ability to cope with disease with simple lifestyle choices

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Our life expectancy has increased dramatically over the past several decades, with advances in medical research, nutrition and health care seeing us live well into our 80s. Yen Ying Lim The Conversation But this longer life expectancy has also come at a cost, as the longer we live, the more likely we are to develop neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia. Despite the lack of treatments for these diseases, there’s now a growing body of research to suggest there are a ... Read More »

GM plant tech boosts malaria drug yield

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Scientists have modified a plant’s genetic sequence to make it produce high levels of a key malaria drug, potentially helping meet the large global demand. Paul Rincon BBC The team identified genes involved in making artemisinin, altering their activity to produce three times more of the drug than “normal” plants make. The plant-based production of the drug sometimes fails to meet demand. The shrubs don’t produce enough of the chemical in their leaves. The work appears in the journal Molecular Plant. ... Read More »

Bangkok’s bad air driven by car-making success

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Forward-looking policies promoting electric and hybrid auto production could soon have Thailand’s polluted capital breathing easier Peter Janssen Asia Times During Thailand’s February-April hot season, when the winds off the Gulf of Thailand die down and there is little rainfall, air pollution in the capital, Bangkok, is often palpable. In mid-February, the situation got so bad that the government’s Pollution Control Department advised residents to stay home, especially those who suffer from asthma and other respiratory ailments. Some Bangkok schools ... Read More »

Judge rules against Trump administration in teen pregnancy prevention case

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A federal judge in D.C. ruled Thursday that the Trump administration’s cuts to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program were unlawful. The Hill Last summer, the administration notified 81 organizations that their five-year grants through the program would end in 2018, rather than in 2020, prompting multiple lawsuits. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson ruled in one of those cases Thursday, ordering the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to accept and… “We are disappointed… Judge rules against… Read More »

Australia should tax and regulate cannabis, not prohibit it

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The decision to ban cannabis was an accident of history. There was no careful root and branch review of the evidence. Alex Wodak ABC Instead, Australia was represented at a League of Nations meeting in Geneva in 1925 where delegates from several countries decried the dangers of cannabis. As Robert Kendell outlines in his book Cannabis Condemned: “A claim by the Egyptian delegation that [cannabis] was as dangerous as opium, and should therefore be subject to the same international controls, ... Read More »

France’s autism problem – and its roots in psychoanalysis

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France has a problem with autism. The country’s highest administrative court estimates that there are 700,000 autistic people in France. Richard Bates The Conversation However, only 75,000 are diagnosed. Autistic children have historically been diagnosed later in France than in neighbouring countries. They have often been excluded from mainstream education and lacked access to support services and extracurricular activities. Many French autists are confined to day hospitals and live-in institutions, isolated from the community and frequently unable to communicate through ... Read More »

Legal highs: arguments for and against legalising cannabis in Australia

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Greens leader Richard Di Natale wants Australia to legalise cannabis for personal use, regulated by a federal agency. Nicole Lee Jarryd Bartle The Conversation This proposal is for legalisation of recreational use for relaxation and pleasure, not to treat a medical condition (which is already legal in Australia for some conditions). According to the proposal, the government agency would licence, monitor and regulate production and sale, and regularly review the regulations. The agency would be the sole wholesaler, buying from ... Read More »

WA health minister launches plan to ease access to medicinal cannabis

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Sick West Australians who have been prescribed medicinal cannabis by a doctor will be able to get access within 48 hours under a plan agreed to by Health Minister Roger Cook. Phoebe Wearne The West Australian At the Council of Australian Governments health council meeting in Sydney yesterday, Mr Cook and his State and Territory counterparts gave the nod to having a single approval process for all… The deal means patients will no longer have to apply to both State ... Read More »

Theatre connects migrant communities with government NDIS services

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An amateur theatre production about disability services might not be the typical feature on a playbill but Everlyn Tsavalas thinks the stage is the perfect way to engage the Greek community on the topic. Luke Wong ABC “For us, theatre is a school,” Ms Tsavalas said. “In any of our productions we always want people to leave here enriched in some way or another, whether it’s a comedy or a tragedy. “It was quite challenging making such a serious subject ... Read More »

Medical cannabis is legal. That does not mean it works

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These days, when Deb Lynch reads that medical cannabis is legal, she just laughs and laughs. “We used to get annoyed about that,” she says. Liam Mannix The Canberra Times “Not any more.” Ms Lynch expected legalisation would mean she could access the drug to treat her autoimmune disease. But, like many, she has been knocked back and told there is no evidence it would help her. For medical cannabis, some experts believe the hype has surged way past the ... Read More »

Antipsychotics used to manage autism and intellectual disability behaviour can have serious side effects – new study

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Antipsychotic medication is typically licensed in the UK for people with serious mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia. Sinead Brophy The Conversation But in recent years, some antipsychotic drugs have been prescribed more and more “off label”. That is, for a condition for which they do not have approval from the medicines regulatory agency to treat. Off label prescribing can be done under certain circumstances, such as when the prescriber believes it is in a patient’s best interests. For example, ... Read More »

Europe struggles to face down Big Pharma

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Knocking down drug prices requires more than bargaining as a group. Belgium and the Netherlands teamed up three years ago to negotiate cheaper drugs in the hopes of forming a new front against Big Pharma’s high prices. Carmen Paun Politico It was an attractive idea: Banding together, EU health ministries would wield bargaining power against pharma companies based on their bigger patient pool. Luxembourg, Austria and Ireland agreed with the logic and signed on, stung into action as drug prices reached eye-popping highs. Hepatitis ... Read More »

Time for change: Anne Enright on Ireland’s abortion referendum

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In the coming weeks, voters in Ireland will have the chance to repeal the eighth amendment, which recognises the equal rights to life of a foetus and the mother during pregnancy. We must send a message to the world, the author declares Anne Enright The Guardian Recently I spoke to a reasonable, sane Irish woman who said that she was against abortion and because she was so reasonable and sane, I was curious what she meant by that. Was she ... Read More »

What if we have got it wrong on Alzheimer’s?

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Science is about getting it wrong, until you get it right. What if we’re refusing to admit we’re wrong about a horrifying disease? Liam Mannix The Sydney Morning Herald “The hard but just rule is that if the ideas don’t work, you must throw them away,” wrote astronomer Carl Sagan. But when your career and everything you’ve ever worked for is on the line, admitting you might be wrong is very hard to do. Despite decades and billions of dollars ... Read More »

The lost children of the Empire and the attempted Aboriginal genocide

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The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has concluded that British children who suffered abuse when they were forcibly sent abroad should now be paid compensation from the government. David Pilgrim The Conversation The inquiry has looked into the cases of children who were sent to Australia and parts of the British Empire from 1945 to 1970 by charities and the Catholic church. Its findings are damning. But if society is looking for a fuller social and historical account of ... Read More »

Court orders that boy, 10, at risk of suicide on Nauru be treated in Australia

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Exclusive: Home affairs department argued against move but judge cites ‘significant risk’ he would die if left on island Ben Doherty The Guardian A 10-year-old refugee boy who has made repeated attempts to kill himself while held on Nauru has been ordered moved to Australia for acute psychological care, with a judge saying the boy would be at imminent risk of dying if left in the regional processing centre. In the federal court this month, lawyers representing the boy – known in court documents ... Read More »