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The latest health and medical news from The Conversation

Continuing a series of regular updates of health and medical reading at The Conversation

Thanks to Reema Rattan for providing this summary.

***

SensaSlim and me: how criticism of a weight-loss spray landed me in court

By Ken Harvey, Adjunct Senior Lecturer of Public Health at La Trobe University

On March 18, 2011, I submitted my first complaint about the promotion of SensaSlim to appropriate authorities – the Complaint Resolution Panel (CRP) which hears complaints about alleged breaches of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code 2007, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which administers the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) which administers the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

This complaint, and at least six others, alleged that the promotion of SensaSlim on the internet, television and in shops breached numerous sections of the above regulations. Read more

***

SensaSlim goes SLAPP, public interest crusader cops a legal whack

By Cameron Stewart, Associate Professor at Sydney Law School at University of Sydney and Ian Kerridge, Associate Professor in Bioethics & Director, Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine at University of Sydney

The SensaSlim company’s recent defamation suit against Dr Ken Harvey of La Trobe University highlights some of the regulatory problems facing complementary products in Australia.

Dr Harvey initiated a complaint against the weight loss advertisements of SensaSlim in March this year with the Complaints Resolution Panel (CRP), which deals with complaints about breaches of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code 2007. Read more

***

Lay out the welcome mat: naturopathy has come in from the cold

By Jon Wardle, NHMRC Research Scholar at the School of Population Health at The University of Queensland

Use of complementary medicine (CAM) is widespread but often condemned by medical practitioners as being baseless or quackery. But some practices that fall under the umbrella of CAM do have a basis in evidence and may even offer lessons to medical doctors.

Naturopathy is a health practice defined by its principles and philosophies. Read more

***

Why loosening genetic privacy law is a recipe for fear and frustration

By Bruce Arnold, Lecturer at the Law Faculty at University of Canberra

Doctors are supposed to keep patient information confidential unless told otherwise, right? Well, not any longer.

If you’re diagnosed with a genetic disorder, medical specialists are now allowed to contact anyone and everyone they suspect could be your relative. And they don’t need your permission.

Welcome to the brave new world of genetic privacy. Read more

***

Weighing up the options on obesity

By Michael Cowley, Professor of Physiology at the Monash University

Prevention is the cornerstone of society’s response to the current obesity epidemic. But even if no more people were to gain much more weight, those who are already obese face serious health problems.

The most critical issue in developing therapies for obesity is the durability of weight loss; many people can successfully lose weight, but few manage to keep it off for a long time. Read more

***

Health should take a pot shot: making a case for medical marijuana

By Jake Najman, Professor of Population Health at University of Queensland

Lawmakers in the United States introduced legislation overnight to legalise marijuana while giving states the right to regulate, tax and control it. Meanwhile, Australia doesn’t even allow the use of medical marijuana, despite its likely benefits.

Medical use of marijuana is permitted in 15 American states and national surveys show over 70% of the Australian population support the legal availability of medical marijuana. Read more

***

Nanny knows best: Why Big Tobacco’s attack on Mary Poppins ought to backfire

By Rob Moodie, Professor of Global Health at University of Melbourne

In its latest attempt to derail the plain cigarette packaging legislation, Big Tobacco has pulled out one of its favourite pro-tobacco messages: say no to a nanny state.

The print advertisements and website ask, “Do you really like living in a nanny state?” and explain, “The government doesn’t believe you can make your own decisions. Moreand more, the government is telling us what we should and shouldn’t do.” Read more

***

Playing number games with Indigenous Australians’ health

By David Paul, Senior Researcher at University of Western Australia

The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released its latest report on how much money the Commonwealth and State governments spend on the health of Indigenous Australians. Despite being packaged as good news, there are fundamental problems with the messages contained in the report.

Aptly titled Expenditure on health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 2008–09, the report estimates that average health expenditure per person was $6,787 for Indigenous Australians in 2008–09, compared with $4,876 for each non-Indigenous Australian.  Read more