Cut Your Cancer Risk at Every Age

Awareness is key to the prevention and early detection of cancer. But which symptoms should be most in focus at each life-stage? Lisa Rabbaque investigates.

20s

Melanoma

Why at this age? Melanoma is one of the biggest medical killers of younger Australians, says professor John Thompson, director of the Melanoma Institute Australia, so it’s important to know the warning signs.

Prevention tips:

  • Avoid sunburn at all costs. Professor Thompson suggests using physical UV barriers like protective clothing, a hat and staying in the shade, especially between 10am and 3pm.
  • When out in the sun, cover up and wear a waterproof, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30+.
  • Don’t think a solarium is safer. There’s very strong evidence linking sun beds to melanoma and other types of skin cancers.
  • Professor Thompson advises checking your skin for changes once a month, enlisting the help of a partner to check those bits you can’t see yourself. “People who have a personal or family history of melanoma or those with lots of moles should have their skin regularly checked by a professional,” he adds.

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Does The Flu Vaccine Give You the Flu?

Fact or fiction? Are you worrying about nothing? Discover the truth about commonly held beliefs and your health.

The decisions we make regarding our health aren’t always based on truth. If you’re convinced the flu shot can give you the flu or you’ve ever blamed a child’s naughty behaviour on a sugar high, read on. Dr Ronald McCoy from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners shatters these and some other common medical myths. (more…)

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What Causes Bad Breath?

Do people tend to take a step back when you’re talking to them face-to-face? You could be among the 25 percent of people who suffer from halitosis or chronic bad breath.

“Most cases are caused by an imbalance of the 800 species of bacteria in your mouth,” says dentist Dr Geoffrey Speiser. “When this happens, the remaining bacteria, most of it coating your tongue and throat, produce the sulphur gases that cause bad breath.”

Take the bad breath test: Use a teaspoon to gently scrape your tongue at the very back, towards the gag reflex. This is where 90 percent of bad-breath bacteria live. If the spoon smells bad, so does your breath. (more…)

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The Real Effects of Drugs and Alcohol

Drugs & Alcohol's DangersExperimenting with drugs and alcohol is a rite of passage for many, but the health effects are no party.

Trying to find an Australian adult who has never used drugs to relax, stay awake or enhance the fun of a party would be no easy task. Whether it’s alcohol, tobacco or a recreational drug, what may have started out as a harmless lark can easily create problems ranging from psychological dependence to sudden death.

Here, we look at some of the health effects of drug and alcohol use and how to prevent them.

Alcohol

There’s no doubt about it, we’re a nation of drinkers and while most of us wouldn’t see alcohol as a drug, it is definitely an addictive substance that can lead to trouble in both the short and long term.

The latest government guidelines tell us we should all be consuming no more than two standard drinks on any day, and never more than four if we want to avoid alcohol-related injury or disease. “Drinking within these guidelines reduces the risk of long-term damage including cancer, liver disease and brain damage,” says Caroline Salom from Drug ARM Australasia.

What it does: Alcohol is a depressant. It makes you feel relaxed, lowers your inhibitions and slows reflexes and the ability to concentrate. There is some evidence that moderate drinking – one drink a day – may reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, type two diabetes and gallstones. (more…)

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The Amazing Mind Body Connection

Your feelings, and the way you interact with others, impact on your overall health in some surprising ways.

So you know that getting stressed can make you cry, and you might even have heard that being happy reduces your risk of catching any cold bugs that are going around but they aren’t the only ways your emotions and your body interact. Here are 12 surprising ways your feelings can impact your health.

1. Expressing love can help to lower your cholesterol

When Professor Kory Floyd from Arizona State University asked a group of people with high cholesterol to write about their loved ones three times a week, they ended up with lower cholesterol levels than the group not involved in writing the love notes.

“We aren’t completely sure why, but one reason could be that cholesterol is elevated by a class of stress hormones called glucocorticoids, and behaviours such as affection have stress-alleviating effects that include the reduction of these,” he says.

2. Being kind protects you against atherosclerosis

Being angry seems to speed up the rate at which your arteries harden, but doing nice things for people might lower your risk of the problem. “Kindness releases the hormone oxytocin and in studies this has been shown to reduce the release of inflammatory chemicals linked to artery hardening,” says David Hamilton, author of Why Kindness is Good For You (Hay House, $26.95).

Hamilton says you’ll get the best oxytocin release from acts of kindness that see you getting eye contact and a smile from the recipient so do something nice for someone today! (more…)

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Health Quick Fixes

Health Quick FixWho says there are no quick fixes when it comes to our health? In our fast-paced world, it’s good to know you can speed your way to optimal wellbeing, writes Helen Foster.

We all know that losing weight, fighting a cold or healing a broken bone can’t be done overnight but, in some instances, there are ways to speed up health results so you look, feel or perform better faster. Try these:

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