Australian news, and some related international items

Cancer Council’s warning on sunburn

UV-radiationThe Cancer Council and the Australasian College of Dermatologists are joining forces this week during the National Skin Cancer Action Week    to remind Australians that damage from UV radiation adds up whether by accident or attempts to have a tan and increases the risk of skin damage and cancer

Australians’ risk for cancer-causing sunburn higher at home than the beach, study finds, IBT, By  on November 16 2015 Half of weekend sunburns occur while Australians are going about their day-to-day activities at home, a new study suggests.

According to Cancer Council’s National Survey, one in two adult sunburn cases occurs during daily activities such as gardening and chores around the house, along with passive recreation activities such as reading, enjoying a picnic in the park or having a barbecue. Continue reading

November 18, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment

Nuclear Medicine – the Fig Leaf on the Nuclear industry

Lucas-wastes Medical radioactive wastes — the nuclear industry fig leaf, Independent Australia, 17 Nov 15  With modern developments in the non-nuclear production of medical isotopes, perhaps it’s also time to shut down the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor and stop producing dangerous radioactive trash, writes Noel Wauchope.

Watching the Australian media last week, you would be sure that the government’s hunt for a nuclear waste disposal site was solely to do with medical wastes. Rarely do they mention the real impetus for this hasty search, which is Australia’s current obligation to take back processed nuclear wastes from France. Later, we will have to receive similar wastes returning from UK. …..


the vast majority of medical radioisotopes have very short half-lives, so there’s no need for them to be moved beyond the site of use…. The real problem is the returning intermediate level wastes from Australia’s used nuclear fuel rods reprocessed overseas….

it must be acknowledged that the medical radioisotopes produced at Lucas Heights do have their valuable uses in diagnostics and in the treatment of cancers.

However, it also must be recognised that all these radioisotopes can be produced without use of a nuclear reactor. This is happening increasingly and, rather like the distributed renewable energy boom, the world could be on the brink of a distributed medical radioisotope boom.  Continue reading

November 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Don’t forget the damage from UV radiation, even on cool days

UV-radiationThe damages of UV radiation are a daily risk even when you can’t feel the heat of the sun, News Local, Sydney  September 12, 2015 IT seems logical to assume that the red hot sunburn we get comes from standing under the hot sun we feel, but it is not quite correct.. Sun damage is a reality that Australians face every day of the year, regardless of how hot the temperature is or how cloudy the sky…….

 associate Professor Pablo Fernández-Peñas, who sees the detrimental effects of too much sun exposure.

“We can’t feel UV light and the heat sensation is not related to the amount of UV light,” he said.

“In winter, as days are cooler, people tend to stay longer outdoors.” A 2014 Australian study, ­“The influence of age and gender in knowledge, behaviours and attitudes towards sun protection”, found the use of sunscreen dropped to between 24 and 49 per cent outside summer.

“When you are just walking from your house to the car or dropping the kids to school, that sun exposure accumulates in the future,” Prof Fernández-Peñas said.

“Australia has the highest mortality of skin cancer in the world.”……..HEALTH EFFECTS OF UV RADIATION

■ Sunburn: can cause permanent and irreversible skin damage that can lay the groundwork for skin cancer

■ Eye damage: photoconjunctivitis, also known as snow blindness or welders flash, and skin cancer of the conjunctiva and skin surrounding the eye

■ Premature ageing: such as skin wrinkling, sagging, blotchiness and roughness …….

September 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment

Wind inquiry: Australia’s pro-nuclear Senate trio downgrades nation’s peak medical research body

The Committee also cast doubt on the reliability of National Health and Medical Research Council investigations of the issue, after the nation’s peak research body reported a lack of evidence to support claims of the harmful effects of wind turbines.

It proposed the IESC take the lead on conducting research on the issue, dismissing the NHMRC’s efforts in the area as “manifestly inadequate”.

But in a dissenting report, Labor Senator Anne Urquhart shredded the credibility of Sarah Laurie, who the majority senators relied heavily upon for evidence of the adverse health effects of wind farms, as an authority on the issue.

SenatorsSenators want federal health body sidelined on wind turbine investigations, REneweconomy,  By  on 4 August 2015 Australian Medicine The Federal Government has been urged to sideline the nation’s peak medical research body and set up a stand-alone scientific committee to investigate the health effects of wind farm noise.

The Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines, chaired by Democratic Labor Party Senator John Madigan, has recommended the establishment of an Independent Expert Scientific Committee (IESC) on Industrial Sound to research the health effects of wind turbines “and any other industrial projects which emit sound and vibration energy” and develop a national noise standard for wind farms.

The IESC, which along with a National Wind Farm Ombudsman, would be paid for through a levy on wind farm operators, would provide advice to State governments on the health effects of any proposed or existing wind farm, and the Senate committee called for states that did not accept expert advice or adopt the national noise standard to be overruled by the Commonwealth.

The recommendations are in keeping with Government hostility to the wind power industry. Continue reading

August 5, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, politics, wind | Leave a comment

New website advises on protection from UV rays

UV-radiationSlip, Slop, Slap 2.0: New website tells Australians how much sun protection they need A new index measuring ultraviolet rays will give sun-lovers Australia-wide a new way to figure out how much protection they need outside.

Exposure to sunlight is a balancing act, with too much UV radiation raising the risk of melanoma and premature ageing. However, sunlight also boosts vitamin D production, which is vital for the health of bones, boosting the immune system, and balancing mood.

 The new index can be found on the MyUV website or through the SunSmart app, and also provides daily forecasts. The developers of the website said sun protection is not recommended when the index is below three.

The UV index is not dependent on temperature, reaching 1.8 by 10am in Sydney today, peaking at three at noon, before dipping to 1.8 at 2pm.

In Australia’s southern states, the midday sun is mild enough to usually render protection unnecessary. However, in summer, a few minutes of exposure to mid-morning or late afternoon sun should produce enough vitamin D. It is also recommended to expose larger areas of skin in short bursts to avoid vitamin D saturation.

August 1, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment

An international Treaty that has saved lives – the Montreal Protocol

highly-recommendedOzone treaty ‘prevented skin cancer deaths’ Anna Salleh
The ozone hole over the Antarctic would have been 40 per cent bigger in 2013 if the Montreal Protocol hadn’t curbed the production of CFCs, according to a new study.

In this scenario, Australia and New Zealand would have experienced greater UV radiation, which in turn would have increased the rate of skin cancer, say the authors of a new paper today in Nature Communications.

The paper also shows that, by 2011, ozone depletion would have become a northern hemisphere problem too.

“There would have been an Antarctic-like ozone hole in the Arctic over populated regions,” says co-author Dr Richard McKenzie, an atmospheric physicist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand.

In the mid-1980s scientists discovered a hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica, and in 1987 the world agreed to the Montreal Protocol, which limited the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

Despite this, the concentration of CFCs continued to rise until 1993, and even today the ozone hole reappears each spring, and this contributes to an increase in cancer-causing UV radiation in Australia and New Zealand.

But without the Montreal Protocol it could have been so much worse, say the researchers. Continue reading

May 30, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment

Electromagnetic radiation as a cause of brain cancer

Australian Researcher: Phone Radiation is a Hotline to Brain Cancer, Sputnik News,   12.05.2015  A highly respected Australian doctor, currently in remission from brain cancer, is speaking out on his belief that radiation from wifi, cell phones and their towers is a major factor in increasing brain cancer rates.

radiation spectrum

 Dr. John Tickell is attempting to raise awareness and is calling for more funding for brain cancer research, as it has become the number one most deadly cancer for young people in Australia.  According to the Australian government, there are 35 new cases of the cancer discovered each week with four out of five cases being fatal in the first five years………..

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association is denying any detrimental health effects from their radiation, but the World Health Organization has recently upgraded the radiation threat to category B2, meaning “possibly carcinogenic.”

“You can say you can’t prove it — in my mind it is proven looking at the studies that are unfunded by industry,” he said.

The largest study to take place so far was conducted among 5000 cancer patients.  The study found that there was no increased risk of overall cancer, but cellphone use was linked to patients having a 40% increased likeliness of developing Glioma, a common type of brain cancer.

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association is denying any detrimental health effects from their radiation, but the World Health Organization has recently upgraded the radiation threat to category B2, meaning “possibly carcinogenic.”

“You can say you can’t prove it — in my mind it is proven looking at the studies that are unfunded by industry,” he said.

The largest study to take place so far was conducted among 5000 cancer patients.  The study found that there was no increased risk of overall cancer, but cellphone use was linked to patients having a 40% increased likeliness of developing Glioma, a common type of brain cancer.

May 13, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment

Medical warning on radiation risks in unnecessary CT scans

CT-scanLess is the new more: choosing medical tests and treatments wisely The Conversation,  A/Prof Clinical Epidemiology, Bond University; NHMRC Research Fellow at The University of Queensland Chris Del Mar Professor of Public Health at Bond University
29 April 2015  “……Not so long ago, getting an x-ray for acute back pain was the norm. Although it’s now known that they don’t help most cases, they are still used far more frequently than is necessary.

Acute non-specific low back pain is a very common problem that, most of the time, gets better without any treatment. We are not sure anything, except staying active, helps it resolve faster.

X-rays are only helpful to diagnose the rare causes of acute back pain such as cancer (spread from some other origin), infection (very rare nowadays), osteoporotic fractures in elderly folk, or exceptional narrowing of the spinal canal. Most of these have some clinical indications that doctors look out for.

X-rays not only have little to contribute, they have downsides too.

First, they detect problems that may not be relevant (such as disc-space narrowing) and can lead to more investigations, such as computed tomography (CT) scans. Rarely does anything detected from the x-rays or the further investigations contribute to the better management of the condition and resolve a person’s back pain faster.

Second, x-rays themselves are directly harmful: accumulated doses of radiation increase the risk of cancer. While the doses are very small for plain x-rays, they are much higher for CT scans…….

One move comes from government. Last week federal Health Minister Sussan Ley ordered a review of Medicare item numbers to prune away activities funded from the public purse that are useless.

Another initiative, launching in Australia this week, comes from the clinical professions themselves: the Choosing Wisely campaign. It aims to encourage a conversation between clinicians and patients about tests, treatments and procedures that may provide little or no value, and which may cause harm.

The Choosing Wisely campaign first launched in America in 2012 as collaboration between the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, Consumer Reports and nine medical speciality societies. Each society developed a list of five treatments, tests or services that were commonly provided but whose necessity should be questioned and discussed.

The campaign has expanded, with 70 societies now participating. Thirteen countries have adapted and implemented Choosing Wisely…….

These lists are not just for clinicians. As we recently wrote on The Conversation, our research showed most people overestimate the benefits and underestimate the harms of tests, screens and treatments.

These unrealistic and overly optimistic expectations often result in patients asking clinicians for tests and treatments. Some of these are unnecessary and will provide little, if any, benefit and may cause harm………

May 2, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment

Choosing Wisely campaign warns on unnecessary radiation medical procedures

CT-scanUnnecessary tests: Choosing Wisely campaign targets brain scans, food allergy tests SMH, April 29, 2015   Harriet Alexander  Common medical procedures including brain scans, food allergy tests and long-term reflux medication are unnecessary and possibly harmful for many patients and should be radically reduced, doctors have warned.

Five of the peak specialty medical groups has identified 24 tests and treatments that physicians and patients should question in a national campaign that aims to influence treatment standards in hospitals and medical practices across Australia.

Each college or association has listed five examples, including tests that lead to false positives or expose patients to radiation without generating a useful diagnosis and treatments that new research has proved ineffective…….

The Australian College of Emergency Medicine’s immediate past president Sally McCarthy said 40 to 60 per cent of diagnostic tests were of little or no benefit to patients.

“It’s phenomenal, so it’s in everyone’s interests to not waste resources by diverting them to stuff that doesn’t need to be done,” Dr McCarthy said.

Most of the tests and treatments identified by the colleges were known to be ineffective, but junior doctors and nurses could be more prone to ordering unnecessary tests because they did not want to miss anything, she said……..

The Choosing Wisely campaign, co-ordinated by the not-for-profit organisation NPS MedicineWise, has been modelled on an initiative of the same name launched in the United States in 2012 and has since been adopted in Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany.

NPS MedicineWise chief executive Lynn Weekes said few items on the list would be controversial among clinicians, but many recommended them anyway.

The aim of the campaign was to start a conversation.

“But doctors are careful, they’re worried that they’re going to be sued, they do practise a bit of defence medicine,” Dr Weekes said.

“It may be the system is putting pressures on them in terms of the way the hospital works that just makes this the easier route. So it’s a combination of factors.”………

April 30, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment

Dangers of UV radiation from backyard solariums

Backyard solariums creating a dangerous market, The Saturday Paper, MAX OPRAY FEB 28, 2015

A recent ban on commercial solariums has seen many turning to backyard operations, ignoring the cancer risk. “……On January 1 commercial solariums were banned in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, after a raft of studies confirmed indoor tanning was a particularly carcinogenic way to pass the time. According to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, sunbeds are responsible for an average of 43 melanoma-related deaths and 2572 new cases of squamous cell carcinoma every year in Australia.

Commercial use of these machines was banned, yet home use was left legal………

The Cancer Council strongly backs the ban, and in its position statement on solarium use cites a study published in the International Journal of Cancer in 2011 that, according to the council, found one in six melanomas in Australians aged 18-29 years “would be prevented if solariums were shut down”……. regular solarium users appeared six times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma before the age of 30, and that 16 per cent of melanoma cases of those aged 18-29 would be prevented by avoiding sunbed exposure. …..

February 28, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment

Is classroom exposure to electromagnetic radiation a danger to kids?

Something in the air By:   Elissa Lawrence Feb 15 Courier Mail

IT MAY be invisible but it’s everywhere — in our homes, parks, workplaces, shopping centres, hotels and schools.

radiation spectrum

Wi-fi has become a way of life — accepted, convenient and fundamental to how we live.

A type of electromagnetic radiation — the same as emitted from mobile phones — wi-fi, shorthand for “wireless fidelity”, is a means for computers, smart phones and other devices to wirelessly connect to the internet or communicate with each other. Data is transferred via radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) instead of through wires. Wi-fi has the same frequency and wavelength as the microwaves used in ovens, but is not contained within a closed unit, routers are usually permanently switched on, and they have a range of 30 metres or more.

The technology, which took hold in the early 2000s, is now widely seen as integral to education. All Queensland state schools have wi-fi access and there is a widespread rollout across schools of Bring Your Own Device schemes, starting in many primary schools from grade four.

But a growing body of researchers, educators and parents is concerned about the future effects of exposing children to long hours of wi-fi. In 2011, RF-EMF were classified by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer as a 2B carcinogen, or “possibly carcinogenic to humans”, Continue reading

February 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment

Australians ignoring the danger from UV radiation

UV-radiationSunburn cases continue to surge as Australians forget to slip, slop slap on the weekends SUE DUNLEVY NATIONAL HEALTH REPORTER NEWS CORP AUSTRALIA NETWORK FEBRUARY 03, 2015, COURIER MAIL, 

NEARLY 2.4 million Australians are ignoring the slip slop slap message and getting sunburnt on the weekend new research released by Cancer Council shows.

A 22 per cent surge in the number of Australians getting sunburnt was a wake-up call about the need for a new national skin cancer campaign the Cancer Council says.

The council’s National Sun Survey has found the number of sunburn cases was up by over 433,000 on the last survey four years ago.

Men are the worst offenders with 18 per cent getting sunburnt on the weekend compared to 12 per cent of women………

The failure of Aussies to protect themselves against the sun comes despite the fact we the melanoma capital of the world with more than 14,200 new cases a year.

Melanoma, which is caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, kills over 1,500 Australians a year……..

February 4, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment

Health of Australians already threatened by global warming

heatAs shepherds watched, it got hotter and hotter December 24, 2014  Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald Human health – and that of other animals and even plants – is likely to become an ever more pressing public issue as temperatures rise with global warming, cities grow and populations age………

Until recently, public health authorities would issue a warning whenever the temperature was likely to exceed a certain level.

However, heatwaves are also related to the conditions people are accustomed to. To reflect that, the Bureau of Meteorology last year pioneered a heatwave service that predicts the severity of coming heatwaves based on both how far temperatures are likely to deviate from historical averages but also taking into account the previous month’s weather.

In a further tweak, the bureau has added charts to assess the impact of each heatwave after it’s hit. That’s needed because people often don’t realise the damage to health can come from exposure to prolonged warmth rather than a particular temperature spike. Continue reading

January 5, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, health, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Australia’s high skin cancer rate: banning of tanning beds is welcome

Australia Launches Tanning-Bed Ban To Tackle High Cancer Rate 1 Jan 15 By   @ShuanSim on December 31 2014 Indoor tanning fans in Australia will soon have to go outdoors for a golden skin tone after their tanning beds are switched off because of a nationwide ban taking effect on Thursday. The ban, which the government has been planning since October 2013, is part of an ongoing effort to tackle the country’s skin cancer rate, one of the highest in the world.

The crackdown on tanning beds will take effect in five of Australia’s six states, and one of two territories –  New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. Western Australia said it will also ban tanning beds, but hasn’t announced a start date. The legislation does not affect the Northern Territory because there are no commercial tanning bed facilities in that part of the country.

Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world, affecting two out of three Australians by the age of 70. Continue reading

January 2, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment

The deadly effects of lingering hole in the ozone layer

The ozone hole is ‘rewriting’ Earth’s ecosystems, THE AUSTRALIAN  JONATHAN LEAKE THE TIMES DECEMBER 22, 2014 
 THE ozone hole over Antarctica caused by humanity’s toxic chemical emissions remains as large as ever and is “rewriting” entire ecosystems across Australia, Antarc­tica and South America, scientists have found…….The chemicals were banned but have lingered; the hole forms every year, ­allowing deadly radiation to reach Earth. The ozone hole is one factor behind Australia’s surging skin cancer rates.

Australian scientists have now found the radiation is having much wider effects. “Ecosystem impacts documented so far include changes to growth rates of South American and New Zealand trees, decreased growth of Antarctic mosses and changing biodiversity in Antarctic lakes,” say Sharon Robinson, of Wollongong University in NSW, and David Erickson, from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Because it is no longer absorbing UV light, the stratosphere has cooled, which is reducing air pressure over the South Pole and sucking the southern jetstream southwards, along with its associated weather systems.

That has helped cool the Antarctic and direct more extreme weather towards Australia.

December 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment


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