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In Depth Articles

Four of the most lethal infectious diseases of our time and how we’re overcoming them

July 12, 2017

This is the first article in a four part series looking at how infectious diseases have influenced our culture and evolution, and how we, in turn, have influenced them.

In 2013, the World Health Organisation declared antibiotic resistance was a threat to global health security. It can seem hard to believe …

Vitamin D; The Skeleton In The Closet

July 05, 2017

Vitamin D levels
There is already a wealth of information around vitamin D[1] including simple Australian guidelines[2].
I like to open my discussion with a simple question: how do most mammals derive vitamin D since their skin is shaded by their fur?
The answer is that they secrete the provitamin D as ‘hair’ …

Probiotics Offer No Protection For Preschoolers

So it’s official. Probiotics will not prevent a toddler from the scourge of day-care infections.
That’s the conclusion made by Danish researchers following their randomised, placebo-controlled trial recently published in the journal Pediatrics.
Over the course of six months, 290 healthy infants aged eight to 14 months at baseline, were given either …

Three charts on: cancer rates in Australia, where liver cancer is on the rise while other types fall

June 27, 2017

Liver cancer is a looming health threat in Australia, recent findings from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) Burden of Cancer report suggest.
While rates of other cancers are falling or remaining static, liver cancer is the only “top ten” cancer for which rates increased between 2003 and 2011.

The …

Exercise no protection against dementia

A healthy body a health mind is a well-known mantra. It’s one of the motivators to get us out of bed in winter to play that soccer game, go to that spin class or raise a sweat while jogging.
But while your heart, your lungs, your cholesterol and your waistline will …

The great imitator strikes again

June 21, 2017

That tricky disease from the dark ages is making a resurgence. And yes, syphilis is once again living up to its long-held reputation as ‘the great imitator.’
In the latest issue of the MJA, doctors from Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide discuss a case 46 year old man with an erythematous, …

Thalassaemia in Australia

Haemoglobin disorders such as thalassaemia major or sickle cell disease cause significant morbidity and are associated with high healthcare costs.
For these reasons, couples at risk of producing a child affected by one of these disorders need to be offered screening. In addition, screening should be considered in patients who present …

New hope for alopecia

June 14, 2017

Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss and comes from the Greek word alōpekía referring to the skin condition, mange, in foxes. Alopecia areata causes a unique form of hair loss different to the more common age-related male and female pattern hair loss.
It’s also the most common autoimmune disease …

Weight Gain in Mental Illness

The widening gap between the life expectancy of people with mental illness and Australia’s general population is a problem that requires urgent attention and weight gain in mental illness has become a mental health national priority.
Statistics show that the average life expectancy of someone diagnosed with a mental illness is …

Margins for melanoma

June 07, 2017

Most melanoma diagnosed in Australia is melanoma in situ.
The recommended treatment for melanoma in situ, including lentigo maligna, is complete surgical excision with clear margins.
This recommendation comes from the Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Melanoma in Australia and New Zealand, published by the Cancer Council Australia, the Australian …

Alcohol and brain atrophy

It looks like even just a single glass of wine a day is bad for your brain, according to UK researchers.
Despite our current Australian guidelines suggesting that we are unlikely to come to harm if we limit our daily alcohol consumption to less than two standard drinks a day, this …

Fruit juices and kids

May 30, 2017

Fruit juice should form part of a child’s healthy diet, right?
Wrong, say US paediatricians in a policy statement recently published in the journal Pediatrics.
After examining all the currently available evidence on the health and nutritional effects associated with fruit juices, the US experts made a number of observations and recommendations.
Perhaps …