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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.<!-- 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/223008/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/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

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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

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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

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"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>

Caring

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"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

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Jackie O reveals the "worst diagnosis of my life"

<p>Jackie O Henderson has shared the "worst diagnosis of my life", announcing that she found a lump on her breast. </p> <p>The radio host was joined live on air by the show's resident medical expert Dr Sam Hay, explaining her situation and asking for advice. </p> <p>“There is a small lump there but it doesn’t look like cancer. I think it’s a seborrheic keratosis,” Hay told her after examining the area.</p> <p>“What do I do with it?” she asked him.</p> <p>“That one you can leave and if it’s continuing to get bigger, doctors will freeze it with liquid nitrogen,” he said.</p> <p>While discussing their medical concerns, Jackie O's co-host Kyle Sandilands shared a worry of his own with Dr Hay, asking for advice on a lump that had arisen on his cheek that was “the size of a pea”.</p> <p>“I have a feeling it’s exactly the same thing. It could be a viral wart,” the doctor told Sandilands.</p> <p>“I didn’t want to say that to Jackie but they’re called geriatric warts,” Kyle said.</p> <p>Henderson appeared horrified at this comment, asking, “Do I have a wart?”</p> <p>“This is the worst diagnosis of my life. I’m going to get it frozen off as soon as possible,” she said.</p> <p>It's not the first time Jackie O has discussed a health scare live on air, as in November last year, she was <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/health/caring/they-checked-the-lungs-jackie-o-rushed-to-hospital-mid-show" target="_blank" rel="noopener">rushed to hospital</a> during an episode of the <em>Kyle and Jackie O Show</em>.</p> <p>Returning to the radio studio in the days after, she shared that while her symptoms were similar to that of a heart attack, she was suffering from an infection that she was treated for at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital. </p> <p><em>Image credits: KIISFM</em></p>

Caring

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Play School star's heartbreaking health update

<p>Trisha Goddard, who was the host of <em>Play School</em> in the 1990s, has shared a devastating health update. </p> <p>The 66-year-old revealed that her breast cancer - which she was first diagnosed with in 2008 - has returned, and this time it's terminal. </p> <p>“It’s not going to go away,” Goddard revealed to <em>HELLO!</em> magazine.</p> <p>“And with that knowledge comes grief, and fear.</p> <p>“But I must keep enjoying what I have always enjoyed.”</p> <p>The English TV presenter shared that she found out that she had stage four cancer 19 months ago, but only just decided to make the news public. </p> <p>“I won’t hide it anymore,” she said, after sharing that her illness had become more apparent. </p> <p>“I can’t lie. I can’t keep making up stories.</p> <p>“It gets to a stage, after a year and a half, when keeping a secret becomes more of a burden than anything else.”</p> <p>Following the interview, Goddard took to <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C3f_eJmvZbk/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Instagram</a> to share an updated photo of her with a cropped blonde hairstyle. </p> <p>"Doing this is tough. .." she began in the caption.</p> <p>"I’ve been keeping a difficult secret for 19 months now, but like my new hairstyle – I can’t hide it anymore." </p> <p>Fans took to the comments to share their support for the TV personality. </p> <p>“You look beautiful Trisha. Only wish this image was accompanying brighter news,” one fan wrote. </p> <p>“Sending you strength, ease and all you need to get through this again 🖤.”</p> <p>“I saw your pic and thought how amazing you look ... which tells me all your good energy is going to get you through this,” another added. </p> <p>“You’re an inspiration, Trisha you’ve got this.”</p> <p>Goddard hosted<em> Play School </em>between 1987 and 1998 alongside Colin Buchanan. </p> <p><em>Images: 7NEWS</em></p>

Caring

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"I thought I was gone": Doctors reveal how close Jimmy Barnes came to dying

<p>Jimmy Barnes has shared how he fought to stay alive after being forced to undergo major surgery, admitting he didn't think we would survive. </p> <p>The rock legend underwent emergency heart surgery in December 2023, after being struck down with a dangerous infection that threatened his life. </p> <p>Speaking candidly to <a href="https://9now.nine.com.au/60-minutes/jimmy-barnes-cold-chisel-illness-how-rock-icon-fought-to-stay-alive/3717a0d8-25ff-4400-bab3-f556e0b417c2" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>60 Minutes</em></a>, the 67-year-old said he didn't have much hope in his survival. </p> <p>"I just said to Jane, 'I don't think I'm gonna make it'. I just had this horrible morbid feeling because I've never felt this sick before. I thought I was gone," he said. </p> <p>Barnes was first admitted to hospital the day after pushing through excruciating pain in November to perform at a tribute concert for his late friend Michael Gudinski. </p> <p>After being admitted to St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney with pneumonia, a team of specialists including cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Paul Jansz, soon discovered a much more sinister health issue was at play, as an infection quickly led to endocarditis: a life-threatening inflammation of the heart.</p> <p>"[The infection] was just eating at his heart. You see an abscess cavity forming around the valve, and that would've just grown and grown and grown," Jansz said.</p> <p>"It's fatal. If he didn't die of the infection, he would've died from heart failure, from the whole valve falling apart."</p> <p>By the time he was wheeled into theatre, his doctors say he had hours to live.</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-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C3e_KPSPsC-/?utm_source=ig_embed&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/reel/C3e_KPSPsC-/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by 60 Minutes Australia (@60minutes9)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>"When I contemplated dying before surgery, I just thought, 'you have to savour those moments; have I told my children that I love 'em enough? Have I told Jane? The people you love, make sure you tell 'em'," Barnes said.</p> <p>Surgeons managed to fix Barnes' heart in a marathon seven-hour surgery, as the musician then faced a lengthy recovery process. </p> <p>"It's like you've been ripped in half," he said.</p> <p>"Your best friend is a pillow. If you cough, it's just agony. If you breathe too deep, it's agony. And sneezing would be the end of you."</p> <p>"But I think it's made me stronger. I want to be better than I was. I've got all this new life from this and I want to make the best of it. I want every minute to count."</p> <p>Now two months into his recovery, Jimmy is getting stronger everyday, and has nothing but thanks for his loved ones that stayed by his side during the difficult journey. </p> <p>"Without a doubt, the fact that my family were there and Jane was there, I wasn't going anywhere. I wanted to spend every breath I could spend with Jane. And if that meant fighting to live longer, I was going to do it."</p> <p>When asked about his highly-anticipated <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/entertainment/music/huge-news-for-jimmy-barnes-fans" target="_blank" rel="noopener">return to the stage</a> in April, he joked it would be his version of resurrection. </p> <p>He said, "I miss being on stage, I have to do it, I don't have a choice. I need to get out there and scream, it just clears the emotions out of you."</p> <p><em>Image credits: 60 Minutes </em></p>

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Sad update after young Taylor Swift fan dies on way to concert

<p>The tragic incident involving the Pokarier family, en route from Queensland to attend Taylor Swift's Eras Tour concert in Melbourne, has garnered widespread attention and elicited an outpouring of sympathy from communities far and wide.</p> <p>The devastating collision between their SUV and a semi-trailer near Dubbo, NSW, resulted in the tragic loss of 16-year-old Mieka Pokarier's life, while her 10-year-old sister Freya remains in critical condition in a Sydney hospital.</p> <p>The girls' godmother, Karleigh Fox, has provided updates on Freya's condition, the severity of her injuries and the uncertain road ahead. Freya's delicate state, including brain injuries and other trauma, necessitates her being kept in an induced coma, a measure aimed at reducing further complications and providing her body with an opportunity to heal.</p> <p>Fox, who organised a <a href="https://www.gofundme.com/f/swifties-killed-critical-on-road-trip-to-concert" target="_blank" rel="noopener">GoFundMe</a> appeal for the devastated family, which has already raised over $60,000, says Freya is “not out of the woods yet”. </p> <p>“We had some thorough chats with the incredible doctors about the potential prognosis and we are not out of the woods yet with risks of swelling in the brain and infection still evident. This could still be life threatening.</p> <p>“We are keeping our girl in an induced coma for a few more days in order to give her body a chance to stay still and hopefully recover as much as possible.”</p> <p>Mieka, remembered fondly as a bright and creative individual, had long harboured a passion for Taylor Swift's music and was eagerly anticipating her first live concert experience. Her untimely passing has left a profound void in the lives of those who knew her, with friends and family expressing their grief and sharing memories of her warmth, humour and kindness. The hashtag #forever16 has become a poignant tribute to her memory, encapsulating the sense of loss felt by those who knew her.</p> <p>In the wake of Mieka's tragic death, her friends have found solace in commemorating her life through Taylor Swift-themed friendship bracelets. </p> <p>As the Pokarier family navigates this unimaginable tragedy, they have been enveloped in a wave of support from their community, who stand united in offering comfort and assistance during this difficult time. </p> <p><em>Images: GoFundMe / Instagram</em></p>

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"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>

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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>

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Socceroos great hospitalised following chest pains

<p>Mark Bosnich had a health scare this week that landed him in hospital. </p> <p>The former Socceroos and Manchester United goalkeeper was exercising at work when he began to experience chest pains. </p> <p>Not wanting to risk it, the  52-year-old made the quick decision to get himself checked out at a hospital in Sydney. </p> <p>The Aussie football great took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to update fans on his condition, straight from his hospital bed on Wednesday night. </p> <p>“Will not be able to see you all tomorrow morning,” he wrote, along with the schedule of matches for the Champions League airing on the streaming platform Stan. </p> <p>“But will be fine by Friday … but join us here in Oz from 6.35am (aedt).”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Will not be able to see you all tomorrow morning,but will be fine by Friday…but join us here in Oz from 6.35am(aedt) <a href="https://twitter.com/ChampionsLeague?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ChampionsLeague</a> Rd 16 <a href="https://twitter.com/PSG_English?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@PSG_English</a> VS <a href="https://twitter.com/RealSociedadEN?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RealSociedadEN</a> & <a href="https://twitter.com/OfficialSSLazio?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@OfficialSSLazio</a> vs <a href="https://twitter.com/FCBayernEN?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@FCBayernEN</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/StanSportAU?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@StanSportAU</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/UEFA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@UEFA</a> .xmb <a href="https://t.co/LRL5D9YtOu">pic.twitter.com/LRL5D9YtOu</a></p> <p>— Mark Bosnich (@TheRealBozza) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheRealBozza/status/1757715714583191600?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 14, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <p>Bosnich was missing from Stan Sport’s Champions League coverage on Thursday and his on-air colleagues, Max Rushden and Craig Foster, explained what had happened. </p> <p>“For those of you who don’t know, he (Bosnich) had chest pains, he’s had a stent put in,” Rushden said during coverage of one of the matches. </p> <p>He was making a lot of noise … and he said ‘I’m going to get it checked out’.</p> <p>“He did, he’s OK. He’s back tomorrow but we are sending you our love Boz, it is very quiet without you.”</p> <p>Fellow Socceroo Foster added: “We miss you buddy. I hope you’re well and feeling OK.”</p> <p>Bosnich's hospital admission didn't stop him from keeping up with the matches as he shared a photo of himself tuning in to Champions League on a tablet, and thanked everyone for their well-wishes. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Thank you all for your wonderful messages….will be back 2morrow on <a href="https://twitter.com/StanSportAU?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@StanSportAU</a> for <a href="https://twitter.com/EuropaLeague?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@EuropaLeague</a> Knockout <a href="https://twitter.com/acmilan?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@acmilan</a> vs <a href="https://twitter.com/staderennais_en?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@staderennais_en</a> on air from 6.35am(aedt)…xmb <a href="https://t.co/bVxj93CCWv">pic.twitter.com/bVxj93CCWv</a></p> <p>— Mark Bosnich (@TheRealBozza) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheRealBozza/status/1757893486920302943?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 14, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <p>During Thursday's game, Rushden was keen for anyone watching to heed the warning from Bosnich.</p> <p>“If you’re not sure about anything, health-wise, get checked,” Rushden said.</p> <p>“Men are useless at talking about it and doing anything about it.</p> <p>“The sooner you find anything is wrong, the better it is. That is our message and that is Bozza’s message too.”</p> <p><em>Images: X</em></p>

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"I'm lowkey dying": Brave young woman with terminal illness shares her final wish

<p>Samantha Bulloch was given three years to live after she was diagnosed with gut-wrenching stage four bowel cancer at the young age of 28. </p> <p>A year later, Bulloch has shared a heartfelt plea on social media in hopes of meeting her idol- pop star Taylor Swift. </p> <p>The Swiftie has scored a ticket to Taylor's final show in Sydney on the 26th of February, but she’s calling on “anyone to hook a sister up” so she can meet-and-greet the singer backstage. </p> <p>“I’m low key dying and honestly this would just make my year,” she said in a video shared to TikTok. </p> <p>“I’m going out on a limb here so I’m just shooting my shot and we’re going to see what happens.</p> <p>“If anyone has any connections... I would love you forever.”</p> <p>Bulloch has been a fan of the megastar since she was 15 years old. </p> <p>“Taylor means so much to me, and I’d love the opportunity to tell her just how much of an impact she’s made on my life,” she told <em>7Life</em>. </p> <p>“I’ve loved her since I was 15, and her music has seen me through so many chapters in my life — including this one.</p> <p>“I love that her music transcends all kinds of walks of life, and so many of us connect with it so personally, despite the differences in our situations.</p> <p>“She has a real talent for making you feel less alone.I recently got a new tattoo of the lyric, ‘For the hope of it all’, from her song called August.</p> <p>“I adopted that lyric during my experience with cancer. I’m choosing to live for the hope of it all.”</p> <p>As she faces terminal cancer, Bulloch said that she is determined to live the rest of her life to the fullest. </p> <p>"I’m hoping and praying for many more years than what I’ve been given. But if not, I intend to try and maximise these few I’ve got left to the best of my ability," she said. </p> <p>“Thankfully I’ve always been quite a positive and hopeful person, and that hasn’t left me during this experience.”</p> <p>Bulloch was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2023, after experiencing low iron levels, fatigue and blood in her stool. </p> <p>She is currently on a chemotherapy regime and an immunotherapy drug and added that she also hopes to tick off many of her bucket list destinations this year, including visiting UK, Paris, New York and Tasmania. </p> <p>“My doctor has said I can, providing the treatment I’m on now works," the hopeful 29-year-old said. </p> <p>“Thankfully treatment has been working so hopefully in a few months I’ll be able to do that."</p> <p><em>Images: Samantha Bulloch </em></p>

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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>

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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>

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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&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&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>

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Catriona Rowntree’s touching health update

<p>Catriona Rowntree has shared a positive health update following her sister Lucinda's <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/health/caring/catriona-rowntree-s-devastating-family-news" target="_blank" rel="noopener">stage four cancer diagnosis</a>. </p> <p>The <em>Getaway</em> host revealed that her sister was responding well to treatments after undergoing a  US trial which has shrunk her tumours and is finishing another round of chemotherapy, according to the <em>Herald Sun</em>. </p> <p>"Lucinda is doing well. Very tired as she nears the end of her chemo, but the doctors are happy and results will be in this week," Catriona told the publication. </p> <p>Catriona also revealed that her family have celebrated a number of other milestones, which have kept their spirits high. </p> <p>“In happy news, her daughter Katie, also a teacher like her mum, just got engaged and her other daughter Georgia, my goddaughter, has been asked by Blue Illusion to be in a shoot with my mum celebrating three generations of women," she said. </p> <p>"Lots to look forward to … and live for.”</p> <p>Catriona also said that her sister and their family have raised money and awareness for the charity called <em>Dreams to Live 4</em>, which grants the wishes of adults with Stage 4 cancer </p> <p>Lucinda's friends have also organised a <a href="https://www.gofundme.com/f/lucinda-wunderlich" target="_blank" rel="noopener">fundraiser</a>, which has so far raised over $50,000 for the Sydney teacher and mother of four, who couldn't continue working. </p> <p>In April 2023, Catriona marked her sister's birthday and opened up about her own heartache over Lucinda's "apparently incurable" cancer. </p> <p>Despite the devastating diagnosis, Catriona has <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/health/caring/bringing-bucket-list-wishes-to-life-catriona-rowntree-s-joyous-update" target="_blank" rel="noopener">shared that her sister remains positive</a> and has been determined to bring "Bucket List wishes to life," as they spend more time together.</p> <p>“I’m trying so hard to choose my words carefully here, other than to say a lot of tears have been shed, BUT Lucinda is fighting and positive. We all are," she said at the time. </p> <p>"She has started chemo (sheer hell) and immunotherapy (our bright light) at #royalnorthshorehospital Lucinda is now unable to work as she commits to the fight of her life." </p> <p><em>Image: Instagram</em></p>

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David Morrow steps down from 2GB

<p>David Morrow will step down from his role on 2GB's <em>Continuous Call Team</em>, following a brain cancer diagnosis.</p> <p>Morrow's colleague, Ray Hadley, announced the sports broadcaster's departure and cancer diagnosis on 2GB today.</p> <p>Hadley revealed that Morrow was stepping back from all commentary duties to focus on his treatment and to spend time with his loved ones.</p> <p>Morrow has been working at 2GB since 2015, with a career that has spanned 52 years, including over four decades of covering first-grade rugby league, eight Olympic Games, and six Commonwealth Games.</p> <p>His colleagues have shared their support for the sports broadcaster.</p> <p>Luke Davis, 2GB's Head of Content, said it had been an "honour" to have Morrow as part of the <em>Continuous Call Team</em> and the broader Nine Radio family.</p> <p>"For more than five decades, David Morrow's voice has been the soundtrack of some of the greatest sporting moments Australia and the world has seen," Davis said.</p> <p>"His knowledge and passion for sport has burst through Australian radios each and every weekend – a familiar and iconic sound.</p> <p>"'Thirsty' has called countless epic individual performances and sporting battles in his time. He now faces his own battle, but does so with the backing of many mates in his corner."</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">David Morrow is the most versatile sports commentator in Australia.</p> <p>To work alongside, learn and marvel at the ability of this incredible man is something I’ll cherish forever.</p> <p>Please spare a thought for Davey as confronts his current health battle.</p> <p>We all love ya Thirsty!!! <a href="https://t.co/DF1R8AitZr">pic.twitter.com/DF1R8AitZr</a></p> <p>— Mark Levy (@marklevy2gb) <a href="https://twitter.com/marklevy2gb/status/1755725233959645402?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 8, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <p>Mark Levy, who is replacing Morrow and will take on the lead commentator roll for the Continuous Call Team's 2024 season, also shared his support.</p> <p>"David Morrow is the most versatile sports commentator in Australia," Mark Levy wrote.</p> <p>"To work alongside, learn and marvel at the ability of this incredible man is something I’ll cherish forever.</p> <p>"Please spare a thought for Davey as confronts his current health battle," he continued.</p> <p>"We all love ya Thirsty!!!"</p> <p>Mark Levy will be joined by Mathew Thompson and Chris Warren for the 2024 season.</p> <p><em>Image: X</em></p>

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Sarah Ferguson makes first public appearance since skin cancer diagnosis

<p>Sarah Ferguson has made her first public appearance since her <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/fergie-reveals-second-cancer-diagnosis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">skin cancer diagnosis</a> was announced almost two weeks ago. </p> <p>The Duchess of York made an unexpected appearance at the <em>Haute Living Celebrates The Haute 100</em> event in Miami, Florida on Monday. </p> <p>Fergie rocked a military-style black and white blazer over a black dress for the cocktail event, and appeared happier than ever as she posed for the cameras. </p> <p>The 64-year-old was pictured cuddling up to and interacting with fellow guests at the event. </p> <p>This comes just two weeks after the Duchess <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/fergie-breaks-silence-amid-second-cancer-battle" target="_blank" rel="noopener">opened up</a> on her second cancer diagnosis in a year. </p> <p>"I have been taking some time to myself as I have been diagnosed with malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer, my second cancer diagnosis within a year," she said in the Instagram post at the time.</p> <p>She also recently opened up on her recovery from breast cancer, following her mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.</p> <p>The Duchess expressed her gratitude to her two daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, for their constant support. </p> <p>"My two wonderful daughters are my wholehearted cheerleaders, my devoted champions and my soulmates, and they have been as supportive as can be, as they always are," she told <em>People magazine </em>at the time.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty </em></p> <p> </p>

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Why are so many Australians taking antidepressants?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jon-jureidini-1609">Jon Jureidini</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</a></em></p> <p>Around <a href="https://australia.cochrane.org/news/new-cochrane-review-explores-latest-evidence-approaches-stopping-long-term-antidepressants">one in seven Australians</a> take antidepressants; more than <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/mental-health/topic-areas/mental-health-prescriptions">3.5 million</a> of us had them dispensed in 2021–22. This is <a href="https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2016/204/9/unfulfilled-promise-antidepressant-medications#:%7E:text=Summary,is%20lower%20than%20previously%20thought.">one of the highest</a> antidepressant prescribing rates in the world.</p> <p>Guidelines mostly recommend antidepressants for <a href="https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng222">more severe depression</a> and <a href="https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg113/resources/generalised-anxiety-disorder-and-panic-disorder-in-adults-management-pdf-35109387756997">anxiety</a> but not as first-line treatment for less severe depression. Less commonly, antidepressants may be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538182/">prescribed for</a> conditions such as chronic pain and migraine.</p> <p>Yet prescription rates continue to increase. Between 2013 and 2021, the antidepressant prescription rate in Australia <a href="https://www.publish.csiro.au/PY/pdf/PY23168">steadily increased</a> by 4.5% per year. So why are so many Australians taking antidepressants and why are prescriptions rising?</p> <p>The evidence suggests they’re over-prescribed. So how did we get here?</p> <h2>Enter the antidepressant ‘blockbusters’</h2> <p>In the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41573-022-00213-z">heavily promoted</a> new selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants, including Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and Lexapro (escitalopram).</p> <p>These drugs were thought to be less dangerous in overdoses and seemed to have <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC181155/">fewer side effects</a> than the tricyclic antidepressants they replaced.</p> <p>Pharmaceutical companies marketed SSRIs energetically and often exaggerated their benefits, including by paying “key opinion leaders” – <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/336/7658/1402">high-status clinicians</a> to promote them. This prompted <a href="https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2004/181/7/making-new-choices-about-antidepressants-australia-long-view-1975-2002">substantial growth</a> in the market.</p> <p>SSRIs earned billions of dollars for their manufacturers when on patent. While now relatively cheap, they still prove <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/antidepressant-drugs-market-to-reach-15-98-bn-by-2023-globally-at-2-1-cagr-says-allied-market-research-873540700.html">lucrative</a> because of high prescribing levels.</p> <h2>Why are antidepressants prescribed?</h2> <p>The majority (85%) of antidepressants are prescribed in <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/mental-health/topic-areas/mental-health-prescriptions">general practice</a>. Some are prescribed for more severe depression and anxiety. But contrary to clinical guidelines, GPs also <a href="https://www1.racgp.org.au/ajgp/2021/december/antidepressant-prescribing-in-general-practice">prescribe</a> them as a first-line treatment for less severe depression.</p> <p>GPs also prescribe antidepressants to patients experiencing distress but who don’t have a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4504011/#:%7E:text=Among%20antidepressant%20users%2C%2069%25%20never,current%20physical%20problems%20(e.g.%2C%20loss">psychiatric diagnosis</a>. A friend dealing with her husband’s terminal illness, for example, was encouraged to take antidepressants by her long-term GP, even though her caring capacity wasn’t impaired. Another, who cried when informed she had breast cancer, was immediately offered a prescription for antidepressants.</p> <p>There are several reasons why someone may take antidepressants when they’re not needed. A busy GP might be looking for a convenient solution to a complex and sometimes intractable problem. Other times, patients request a prescription. They may be encouraged by an <a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/inquirer/seratonin-theory-of-depression-under-attack-amid-to-push-to-deprescribe-antidepressants/news-story/f74ca1a6018110e3d680b8d5ce01bc2c">acquaintance’s good experience</a> or looking for other ways to <a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/321259/listening-to-prozac-by-peter-d-kramer/">improve their mental health</a>.</p> <p>Most patients believe antidepressants restore a chemical imbalance that underpins depression. This is <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41380-022-01661-0">not true</a>. Antidepressants are emotional (and sexual) <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC181155/">numbing agents</a> – sometimes sedating, sometimes energising. Those effects suit some people, for example, if their emotions are too raw or they lack energy.</p> <p>For others, they come with <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/antidepressants">troubling side effects</a> such as insomnia, restlessness, nausea, weight gain. Around half of users have <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6007725/">impaired sexual function</a> and for some, this <a href="https://annals-general-psychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12991-023-00447-0">sexual dysfunction persists</a> after stopping antidepressants.</p> <h2>How long do people take antidepressants?</h2> <p>Most experts and <a href="https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng222">guidelines</a> recommend specific prescribing regimes of antidepressants, varying from months to two years.</p> <p>However, most antidepressants are consumed by two categories of people. Around half of patients who start antidepressants don’t like them and <a href="https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-244X-9-38#:%7E:text=Medication%20possession%20rates&amp;text=Although%20the%20mean%20MPR%20of,group%20difference%20(Table%203).">stop within weeks</a>. Of those who do take them for months, many continue to use them indefinitely, often for many years. <a href="https://www1.racgp.org.au/ajgp/2021/december/antidepressant-prescribing-in-general-practice">Long-term use</a> (beyond 12 months) is driving much of the increase in antidepressant prescribing.</p> <p>Some people try to stop taking antidepressants but are prevented from doing so by <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S221503661930032X">withdrawal symptoms</a>. Withdrawal symptoms – including “<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35144325/">brain zaps</a>”, dizziness, restlessness, vertigo and vomiting – can cause significant distress, impaired work function and relationship breakdown.</p> <p>Across 14 studies that examined antidepressant withdrawal, around 50% of users <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S221503661930032X">experienced withdrawal symptoms</a> when coming off antidepressants, which can be mistaken for recurrence of the initial problem. We are conducting a <a href="https://adelaideuniwide.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3QqWrY5TBNUP1YO">survey</a> to better understand the experience in Australia of withdrawing from antidepressants.</p> <p>Antidepressants should not be stopped abruptly but gradually tapered off, with smaller and smaller doses. The recent release in Australia of the <a href="https://www.wiley.com/en-ca/The+Maudsley+Deprescribing+Guidelines%3A+Antidepressants%2C+Benzodiazepines%2C+Gabapentinoids+and+Z+drugs-p-9781119823025">Maudsley Deprescribing Guidelines</a> provides guidance for the complex regimes required for the tapering of antidepressants.</p> <h2>We need to adjust how we view mental distress</h2> <p>Overprescribing antidepressants is a symptom of our lack of attention to the <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wps.21160">social determinants of mental health</a>. It’s depressing to be poor (especially when your neighbours seem rich), unemployed or in an awful workplace, inadequately housed or fearful of family violence. It’s wrong to locate the problem in the individual when it belongs to society.</p> <p>Overprescribing is also symptomatic of medicalisation of distress. Most diagnoses of depression and anxiety are <a href="https://karger.com/psp/article-pdf/37/6/259/3489408/000081981.pdf">descriptions masquerading as explanations</a>. For each distressed person who fits the pattern of anxiety or depression, the meaning of their presentation is different. There may be a medical explanation, but most often meaning may be found in the person’s struggle with difficult feelings, their relationships and other life circumstances such as terrible disappointments or grief.</p> <p>GPs’ overprescribing reflects the pressures they experience from workload, unrealistic expectations of their capacity and misinformation from pharmaceutical companies and key opinion leaders. They need better support, resources and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4822978/">evidence</a> about the limited <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/article/S0140-6736(17)32802-7/fulltext">benefits</a> of antidepressants.</p> <p>GPs also need to ensure they discuss with their patients the potential adverse effects of antidepressants, and when and how to safely stop them.</p> <p>But the fundamental problem is social and can only be properly addressed by meaningfully addressing inequality and changing community attitudes to distress.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. 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More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jon-jureidini-1609"><em>Jon Jureidini</em></a><em>, Research Leader, Critical and Ethical Mental Health research group, Robinson Research Institute, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</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/why-are-so-many-australians-taking-antidepressants-221857">original article</a>.</em></p>

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