Thanks to Reema Rattan for this latest wrap on health and medical reading at The Conversation.
It covers articles on plain packaging, an argument for increased alcohol taxes, pain management, diabetes, Hendra research, the treatment of asylum seekers, lupus and a call for online public health advocacy and promotion.
Big Tobacco v Australia: dangers looming in the Trans Pacific Agreement
With the tabling of the Plain Packaging Bill in Parliament this week, Australia again stands at the forefront of the struggle against Big Tobacco.
But this stance is under attack in a whole new set of trade negotiations, the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. If successful, this attack could be the harbinger of tobacco-related harm to a number of countries on the Pacific Rim. Read more
Breaking the booze cycle: why we need higher alcohol taxes
By Courtney Breen, University of New South Wales
A coalition of representatives from leading national health bodies are briefing parliamentarians today, calling for alcohol pricing to be placed on the agenda of the upcoming Federal Tax Forum in October.
Alcohol is widely used in Australia but its misuse causes substantial health and social harms. Increasing taxes is an effective strategy to reduce these harms. Read more
Scrimping on pain drugs is bad medicine and worse economics
By Michael Vagg, Barwon Health
Not only is this a missed opportunity to improve treatment options for the growing number of Australians who have long-term pain – it overlooks a potential solution to the nation’s growing illicit market for prescription pain killers, which may end up costing the health system more in the longer term. Read more
Explainer: Diabetes and obesity – the biggest epidemic in human history
By Paul Zimmet, Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute
In the last few decades, the number of people with diabetes has more than doubled globally, making the combination of type 2 diabetes and obesity (known as diabesity) the largest epidemic the world has yet faced.
The most recent global predictions suggest that currently there are 285 million people with diabetes worldwide; in Australia alone, there’s been a 300% increase in the number of people with diabetes over the last 30 years. Read more
Bone of contention: can wrist X-rays really reveal the age of people smugglers?
By Richard Bassed, Forensic dentist and doctoral student at Monash University
The current Australian Federal Police practice of using X-rays of the hand/wrist to assess the age of Indonesian crew members of boats bringing refugees to Australia is based on a method developed in the 1950s. The technique is outdated, inaccurate and raises ethical concerns.
If the crew members, who claim to be under 18, are found to be adults, they must face mandatory five-year jail terms under people smuggling laws. Read more
Hope for Hendra virus vaccination… but not this year
By Deborah Middleton, Senior veterinary Pathologist at CSIRO
As Queensland authorities confirm the third outbreak of Hendra virus within a week, researchers are moving to fast track a horse vaccination for the deadly virus, which can spread from horses to humans and has killed four of the seven people infected in past outbreaks.
The vaccine has been in development for more than ten years, since shortly after the first outbreak of the disease was discovered in Hendra, Queensland. Read more
Why ‘It’s never lupus’ – television, illness and the making of a meme
By Fabien Vincent, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Immunology,
Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University and Fabienne Mackay, Professor and Chair, Department of Immunology at Monash Univesrity
On the television show House, doctors try to diagnose mysterious illnesses, and often when time is running out all other options have been exhausted, one of the characters will offer a diagnosis of last resort: lupus. But in oft-repeated words of main character Dr House, “It’s never lupus.” Or, with good cause, rarely ever.
Quit smoking texts send clear message to outdated health promoters
By Becky Freeman, Public Health Researcher at University of Sydey
Smokers who quit with the assistance of a text messaging service are nearly twice as likely to be smoke-free six months later than smokers with no support, according to a study published this week in The Lancet.
This underlines the fact health-promotion agencies need to up their game when it comes to social media to counteract the powerful influence of multinationals. Read more