Posts Tagged ‘public health’

Sarah Tait (L) alongside rowing partner Kate Hornsey. Photo: Getty Images.

Olympian Sarah Tait (L) alongside rowing partner Kate Hornsey. Photo: Getty Images.

 

When it comes to breast cancer and skin cancer prevention, you know the drill: Feel yourself up to make sure there are no unwanted guests and spot check your bod for any suspicious activity. But there’s another sneaky cancer you should keep tabs on just as much — and this one’s not so easy to spot.

800 new cases are diagnosed annually, according to Cancer Australia. Almost all cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually-transmitted virus so common that almost all sexually active women will get it at some point in their lives.

And here’s the kicker: most women with cervical cancer have no signs or symptoms of the disease, says David Cohn, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of gynecologic cancer research at Ohio State University.

 

cervical cancer postop

 

What makes this cancer super tricky is that symptoms don’t start cropping up until the disease has already progressed, and those can include watery or bloody vaginal discharge, spotting after sex or exercise, and periods that may be heavier and longer lasting than normal. And some of those symptoms can be ignored.

That’s the bad news. The good news is cervical cancer is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent. In fact, there are plenty of things you can do to protect yourself. Here, five prevention tips that could save your life – and the biggest one is quite simply, don’t wait till you think you may have symptoms!

1. Get Screened

The most important thing you can do is get a pap test regularly. “There’s a significant risk for the development of cervical cancer if a woman doesn’t get screened for the disease as recommended,” says Cohn. “Many women with cervical cancer have not had cervical cancer screening in the 10 years prior to diagnosis. The earlier the diagnosis is made, the higher the rate of cure.”

Typically, women should start getting pap tests at age 21. Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a pap test done at least every three years, while women between 30 and 65 should have both a pap and HPV test done every five years.

2. Get Vaccinated

One step before cervical cancer prevention is protecting yourself against HPV, says Cohn. Luckily, vaccines are available that can protect against the HPV subtypes that have been linked to cervical cancer. (They are now part of the standard vaccination regime for Australian teenage girls.) Women aged 13 to 26 who haven’t been vaccinated need to get “catch-up” vaccinations. That said, they don’t help combat an infection that’s already there. That’s why regular pap tests are so vitally important.

3. Have Safe Sex

Besides lack of screening, a good portion of other risk factors relate to HPV exposure, says Cohn. Statistically speaking, women who start having sex at a younger age and have multiple sexual partners will face more exposure. While more partners equals more exposure, don’t think monogamy gets you off the hook: it’s still possible to end up with HPV even if you’re only sleeping with one person.

Contracting other STDs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, also ups your risk of HPV. It all points to the same message: the best thing you can do is practice safe sex by always – always! – using barrier protection, such as condoms. Having sex means the risk factor will always be there, but the more vigilant you are, the better.

4. Stop Smoking

Ditching cigarettes can help prevent an HPV-related infection from morphing into cervical cancer, says Cohn. When you smoke, the nasty chemicals are absorbed through the lungs and carried in the bloodstream throughout your bod. According to the ACS, women who smoke are twice as likely as non-smokers to get cervical cancer. Plus, smoking messes with your immune system, making it harder to fight off an HPV infection.

5. Be Aware of Your Family History

If your mother or sis had cervical cancer, your chances of developing it are two to three times higher, according to the ACS. Obviously, you don’t have control over your family history, but you do have control over how often you’re screened and how well you’re protected against HPV.

“Since there’s a long time between the development of the precursors to cervical cancer and developing the disease, detection of precursors — and then treatment— will prevent cervical cancer,” says Cohn.

Don’t die for the sake of a pap smear. That’s the essential message.

As the Australian public health message says, “A little bit of awkward for a whole lot of peace of mind.”

OCD-AlphaOrderOnce upon a time, as we have described before, we went down with a bad dose of OCD. That’s the illness caused by f***** up brain chemicals that makes people do things over and over again … tap their feet a certain number of times, never say the letter P, or, most commonly, check that they’ve turned the gas cooker off thirty times or wash their hands repeatedly in very hot water with lots of soap.

We got the germy version. Big time. So we will confess to being 100% more aware of hygiene issues than  the average poor sap, even if that is about 10,000 times less aware of it than we used to be, as we are largely recovered from the illness, thank the Lord.

But being a bit germ aware does actually make some sense in today’s very busy and rushed world. We often take shortcuts with personal hygiene nowadays, or lay ourselves open to risk simply by being unaware, and there are some really nasty bugs around. Anti-biotic resistant staph we know about, and the world is positively swimming in E.coli (literally, often) which can make us very unwell, not to mention salmonella, which can hospitalise or kill you. (We have had members of our family go down with it – mythology it ain’t.)

Er, no thanks,

Er, no thanks,

So here’s today’s list of ten things you really need to think about. Even if you haven’t got OCD.

Unless you/re eating in this toilet-themed restaurant in China you wouldn’t eat off your toilet. But you might be surprised at the items that are dirtier in your world.

So 1. Your cell phone.

Your cellphone is disgusting. Trust me. It is an absolute holiday resort for germs.

If you don’t believe me, go here, where you can actually find out how many germs are living on your trusted companion right now.

germs on cell phoneWe are actually quite careful about our phone’s hygiene level, and we got the result that currently, there are 674,100 germs living on our cell phone: that’s the equivalent of 135 toilet seats!

Not that we’re paranoid, or nuffink. But seriously, who washes their hands after using their cell phone?

No 2. Your BBQ grill

Now we know you would never glance at the BBQ and say “I’ll clean it after”, right? Not even once.

You will always rigorously clean your grill immediately after cooking on it, even if you’re sitting down by the pool with a belly full of Vic Bitter and sausages with the biggest food coma of all time on the horizon.

dirty bbqOr even if you did leave it till next time, just that once, you would never hope for the best and stick a steak on top of the charred leavings of last time, on the basis that all the new fire you’re about to crank up is bound to clean up anything that’s grown there since last time? Eh?

Yeah, We hear you.

Just be aware that any food left on your grill immediately becomes a five star Michelin restaurant for nasty bugs of all kinds just floating around merrily in the sunshine.

Cooking on an unclean grill is seriously risking a tummy upset for you and the crowd, at the very least.

3. Your “clean” laundry

clean laundryNot to put too fine a point on it, crap clings to your underwear, whether you can see it or not. When you throw your undies in tub, you transfer about 500 million E. coli bacteria to the machine.

On top of that, water tends to settle in the bottom of front-loading machines, making it a breeding ground for germs. Then you wash your clothes in that mess.

To make sure your clean clothes come out actually clean, do a load of whites first so you can use chlorine bleach to sanitise the machine.

Or dedicate a cycle to underwear and use the hottest water the undies will bear without shrinking with a color-safe bleach substitute.

Also, run an empty cycle with bleach once every month to keep your washer free of bacteria. Easey-peasey.

4. Your toothbrush

Careful. They bite back.

Careful. They bite back.

When you flush your toilet, it can spray aerosolised droplets over six metres, says Dr Philip Tierno Jr, director of microbiology and immunology at NYU’s Langone Medical Center and the author of The Secret Life of Germs. It’s called a “plume”. Such a pretty name for such a horrid thought.

One option is to put the lid of the loo down before flushing. But it’s only a partial solution because it usually isn’t a perfect seal.

So if you leave your toothbrush out on the bathroom sink, it will almost certainly be showered with tiny drops of whatever you just flushed.

Stowing your toothbrush in a cabinet away from the flying faeces might be a good idea. Running it through the dishwasher will also eliminate germs, according to a 2011 study in the American Journal of Dentistry.

As a minimum, run it under a hot tap before using, or an even easier option would be to soak your toothbrush in a mouthwash that contains cetylpyridinium chloride, like Listerine, for 20 minutes.

5. Your kitchen sponge

Your dish or surface sponge is probably the nastiest thing in your kitchen. It’s just out to get you, we tells ya’allkeep-kitchen-sponges-clean-1!

It’s damp and constantly in contact with bacteria, making it a prime place for germs to proliferate.

Rather terrifyingly, there’s a one in three chance your kitchen sponge has staph just sitting on it, according to a Simmons College study. (That’s twice the contamination rate of your toilet.) And it could be harbouring up 10 million bacteria per square inch.

What can you do? Watch it in very hot soapy water or even in a light solution of disinfectant before using. If that seems a step too far, then vinegar is a natural disinfectant, so try dousing it in that, rinse it out with clean hot water, then do the dishes. Throw old sponges and cloths away more often, and use new ones.

6. The buttons in an elevator

5Going up? That elevator button could be crawling with more bacteria than a toilet, a new study from the University of Toronto found. Up to 40 times more.

And another large study from Saudi Arabia found that 97 per cent of elevator buttons in offices and residential buildings are contaminated. One in 10 had germs that could cause food poisoning or sinus infections.

Using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser after you press the “up” button should kill any bacteria you picked up, the researchers say. And for elevator button read … door handles, stair handrails … etc.

Sure, it’s not healthy to be constantly using hand sanitiser all day long, but before you touch food that you’re going to put in your mouth? That’s actually a smart idea.

7. Your computer

keyboardHow often do you chow down a sandwich at your desk while tapping away at your computer? Those keys, and now your hands, are swarming in potentially harmful bugs. Especially if more than one person use the computer.

Your hands, the keyboard. Your hands, the sandwich. The sandwich, your mouth. Your mouth, your gut. You get the picture.

But it’s not just your keyboard. It’s other people’s keyboards. And their mice. And other people’s tablets. It’s all because too many people don’t wash their hands thoroughly after visiting the loo despite health experts warning that rushed or ignored hand washing can lead to diarrhoea,vomiting, food poisoning, flu and the spread of MRSA.

Stop it already!

Stop it already!

There’s a new problem looming. British media regulator Ofcom suggest that consumers are so addicted to smartphones and tablet computers that over one in ten – 11%, in fact – now view video content on a device such as the iPad in the bathroom. It’s estimated that around 20% of 18-24 year-olds do so on a regular basis.

And if they’re not washing their hands, you can be damn sure they’re not washing their bloody iPhones and iPads.

8. Your ATM

atm-germsSwab tests recently conducted of public surfaces in six major cities revealed that ATMs are among the worst carriers of illness-causing germs. Starting to get the picture? Anything that is touched regularly by lots of people is a potential source of infection. The problem is very simple – bank staff don’t head outside to clean the keypads on their ATM with anti-bacterial or disinfectant wipes.

The tests showed that 41% of automated teller machine keypads carry germs that can cause colds and the flu.

Washing your hands afterwards or a hand sanitiser after using an ATM will help you in only picking up cold hard cash, and not a cold along with it.

9. The petrol pump.

everything bathroomYour hands could actually be germier after washing them than they were before.

That’s no exaggeration: one 2011 study from the University of Arizona found that one in four refillable soap dispensers in public bathrooms was contaminated and pumped out bacteria.

Another study tested whether those potentially disease-causing germs could be left on your hands after washing.

The short answer: yup.

Hot air dryers can also blow up to 45 per cent more bacteria onto your hands, according to a study in the Journal of Applied Microbiology.

If you have a choice, use soap dispensers that have bags of soap in them that are replaced, rather than those that are refilled by pouring more soap into them.

It might sound nuts, but you can wash the taps (faucet) before you use them, and after washing your hands, use paper towels to dry off, and then use them to turn off the taps and open the door as you leave.

Better momentary embarrassment because someone looks at you strangely than a handful of gut-wrenching oooby-goobries.

So, feel better now? Yeah, us too. Remember these simple rules to drastically reduce the risk to yourself and others.

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after going to the toilet.
  • Always wash your hands before eating.

It’s a warzone. Good luck out there.

Fukashima radioactive sea plume

Infowars, so often talking nonsense, today comes up with another important article. Where radiation is concerned, we don’t think people can be too jumpy. And we strongly suspect we are not getting the whole truth about Fukashima: we know full well we did not when the event happened. Our best advice? Look, read, learn, research, and demand that regulatory authorities in Japan, Asia, Australia and America – not to mention the South Pacific – both do their jobs properly and publish the results without redacting any “sensitive” material.

It might be nothing. Or … well, how would we know? Who do we trust?

“It’s not something that we feel is an immediate public health concern”

Mikael Thalen
Infowars.com
January 6, 2014

Health officials in California are attempting to brush off public concern after a viral Youtube video showed a large increase in radiation levels on a Coastside beach last week.

The video, which has garnered nearly half a million views, shows radiation levels over five times above the normal background level, prompting fears over the ongoing Fukushima disaster.

 

 

Following public outcry, a state investigation by health officials found similar levels while collecting ground samples several days later. According to County Environmental Health Director Dean Peterson, the public should not be concerned.

“It’s not something that we feel is an immediate public health concern,” Peterson told the Review. “We’re not even close to the point of saying that any of this is from Fukushima.”

According to “Dave,” the video’s author, radiation detected two inches off the beach surface several days prior produced levels even higher, nearly 13 times above normal.

Unconvinced of any link to Fukushima, Peterson pointed to items such as “red-painted disposable eating utensils” as a more likely cause of the heightened radiation levels.

“I honestly think the end result of this is that it’s just higher levels of background radiation,” Peterson said.

A group from GeigerCounter.com claims to have analyzed and found elevated levels of Radium 226 and Thorium 232 in the sand, two naturally occurring radioactive substances reportedly not associated with Fukushima.

According to Dave, after two years of measuring levels on the beach, the increase appeared almost overnight. Given estimates by physics experts that point to a massive radiation plume reaching the west coast by early 2014, some see the timing as more than coincidence.

Countless other issues plaguing the West Coast in recent months, such as the ongoing “melting sea star” epidemic, have raised increasing questions over the government’s handling of the disaster, or lack thereof.

Recent comments made by former MSNBC host Chenk Uygur have only fueled the public’s speculation over Fukushima’s severity. Attempting to speak out early on, Uygur was advised by the network not to warn viewers“because the official government position is that it’s safe.”

Unfortunately, initial concerns regarding Japan were validated after 71 U.S. sailors came forward last month, stricken with Leukemia, tumors and thyroid cancer after helping with initial Fukushima relief operations.

Just last week, the Department of Health and Human Services quietly ordered 14 million doses of potassium iodide, used to protect the thyroid gland during radiological disasters. Attempting to investigate the matter,DHHS officials hung up on Storyleak’s Anthony Gucciardi after questions regarding the incident produced conflicting answers.

As new mysterious plumes of steam continue to rise from reactor 3, Fukushima’s future remains increasingly uncertain.

This post originally appeared at Story Leak

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We noticed a comment made by a judge in America, sentencing a drunk driver who killed another driver to six and a half years in prison, that in America substance abuse was involved in 65 percent of criminal cases in which the accused pleaded guilty. We suspect the statistic is very similar elsewhere in the world.

Certainly visiting Old Melbourne Goal for the Whitelion charity “lock in” a couple of years ago means that Wellthisiswhatithink was made privy to some of the more alarming facts about the Victoria, Australia prison population. Specifically that over 80% of criminals in goal in Victoria on any given day are there for drugs offences. Most of them not drug kingpins, of course, but people a long way down the feed chain. People picked up for minor offences that would be better off in diversion or rehab programs than sitting in chokey, where access to their drugs of addiction, of course, are nearly always available.

The judge concerned commented that “I firmly believe that alcohol and drugs are almost an epidemic in this society. This is a very serious matter – a very serious matter – because it concerns all of society,” he said.

Every day in the United States, almost 30 people die in motor vehicle crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver, amounting to one death every 48 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control, a US government agency.

It put the annual cost of alcohol-related crashes at more than $51 billion and the total number of drunk-driving fatalities in 2010 at 10,228 – about a third of all traffic deaths.

Victoria leads the world in reducing road trauma, through an extremely aggressive program of driver education, (including extremely graphic TV ads), road speed cameras, and reducing speed limits. And at one level at least, the message on alcohol appears to have got through.

The proportion of drivers and motorcycle riders killed with a BAC greater than 0.05g/100ml has declined from 38% in 1987 to 16% in 2011.

Since 1991, Victoria Police have breath tested more than 20 million drivers and riders from Booze Bus operations, catching close to 70,000 drivers and riders  with an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over this period.

The vast majority (99.6%) of drivers tested do not exceed prescribed blood alcohol levels. This must surely be considered one of the most successful public health campaigns anywhere in the world. Personal behaviour has changed. The stats tell the story, but so does our anecdotal experience. “Drink driving” has become socially unacceptable. To drive home drunk from a dinner party or pub would now be considered unthinkable by most of our friends and colleagues. People arrange “designated drivers” who stay sober, or use taxis, trams and trains.

But not yet, tragically, everyone. Close to one in four drivers and riders killed in the last five years had a BAC greater than 0.05. It may just be that there is a level below which society cannot put the demon of drink driving back in the bottle.

Nevertheless, jurisdictions all over the world have taken note of Victoria’s success. In an era when random breath testing, for example, is still considered an infringement of civil liberties by some Americans, we would urge them to consider giving up some of their ‘rights’ to achieve a greater right.

Survival.

An example of the “Bloody idiot” campaign that has changed society’s views over 20 years runs below. What is sad is that one can imagine wowsers complaining that the ad has a mild swear word in it, when they would be silent on the death toll on our roads. Sometimes, we feel a little bluntness is very much the lesser of two evils.

The Transport Accident Commission ads pull no punches. Nor, in our very considered opinion should they. The stats are their own justification.

So would you welcome seeing ads like this on your TV screen at night? The general opinion of most Victorians is to grit their teeth and bear it. Even as they induce a wince, it is a wince of recognition. There is communal gratitude that families are being protected by both the advertising and the law enforcement. But there is little doubt: it is very challenging.

I guess yer pays yer money, and yer takes your choice. What do you think?