A tax on sugary drinks to improve health

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New modelling in a study published in the latest Nutrients journal shows a 30 per cent reduction in kilojoules in all sugar-sweetened drinks would not only reverse Australia’s obesity crisis, but drastically reduce the number of people succumbing to obesity-related diseases such as stroke, diabetes and kidney cancer. Two-thirds of Australian adults and one in four children are overweight or obese, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In the US Boulder in Colorado, four cities in California (San Francisco, Oakland, Albany and Berkeley), Seattle and Philadelphia have managed to introduce a tax on soft drinks. Philladelphia’s proceeds go directly into an educational fund paying for pre-kindergarten and community schools leading to heavy support for the tax by families. http://www.opc.org.au/

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Free genetic test for high risk cancer patients

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In Australia people at high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer will be offered free genetic testing. If someone has breast and ovarian cancer and has the mutations, all their relatives will be able to have the test for free. If they don’t have the mutation, they can go back to normal screening. This new service is expected to significantly improve the lives of Australians, offering more choice via access to affordable screening and treatment options, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-12/breast-and-ovarian-cancer-test-free-for-high-risk-patients/9040274

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See a doctor online

Push Doctor is a new medical service in the U.K. offering you a video consultation with a doctor at home. You can choose an appointment time or go into the online waiting room. Their competitive pricing is set up front and you can have your prescription sent to your local pharmacy and referrals emailed to you, as well as a sick note if needed. It’s open 6am – 11pm, 7 days a week. https://www.pushdoctor.co.uk

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Winning the war on drugs by treating it as a health issue

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Portugal decriminalised the use of all drugs in 2001. Possession and use of small quantities of these drugs was treated as a public health issue, not a criminal one. The drugs were still illegal but now getting caught with them meant a small fine and maybe a referral to a treatment program — not jail time and a criminal record. Drug-induced deaths have decreased steeply since then. Portugal’s drug mortality rate is now the lowest in Western Europe — one-tenth the rate of Britain or Denmark, and about one-fiftieth the latest number for the U.S. https://mic.com/articles/110344/14-years-after-portugal-decriminalized-all-drugs-here-s-what-s-happening

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A glue that could save lives

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Australian and American biomedical engineers have developed a stretchy surgical glue that rapidly heals wounds. It’s seen as a breakthrough that has the potential to save lives in emergencies. The injectable glue, MeTro, is based on a naturally occurring protein. It’s applied directly to the wound and then activated with UV light to form a complete seal, eliminating the need for staples or stitches. Its elasticity means it’s designed to work well on shape-changing internal organs like the lungs and heart. http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/human-body/injectable-stretchy-glue-that-heals-wounds-in-60-seconds-could-save-lives/news-story/f00161d15e7ae014d01380e5dba40ffc

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Using AI to prevent teen suicides

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An app has been developed that uses an algorithm to analyze speech and determine whether someone is likely to take their own life. It’s called Spreading Activation Mobile or SAM and is being tested in a handful of Cincinnati schools in the US this year. It arrives at a time when researchers across the country are developing new forms of artificial intelligence that may forever change the way mental health issues are diagnosed and treated. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2017/09/25/teenage-suicide-is-extremely-difficult-to-predict-thats-why-some-experts-are-turning-to-machines-for-help/?

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Gene editing could revolutionize IVF

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Genetic modification of a human embryo has led to a breakthrough that could transform our understanding of human biology. For the first time, researchers used a genome-editing technique to remove a gene from an embryo in an early stage of its development. This could revolutionise IVF, helping couples with fertility problems have children and also lead to advances in regenerative medicine. This involves using stem cells, which can form any kind of tissue, to replace missing structures in the body or repair damage. http://www.inkl.com/newsletters/morning-edition/news/gene-editing-breakthrough-could-transform-understanding-of-human-biology-say-scientists?

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A new way to diagnose and treat disease

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The effectiveness of smart pills, biosensors and drug-delivery systems depends on the surrounding tissue inside the body. To overcome this, researchers from Cal Tech have created a mini wireless chip that can vary its output frequency in relation to a local magnetic field, enabling a precise location to be determined. In addition to one day measuring factors such as pH, blood sugar, and temperature inside the body, developments like this should enable massive improvements in our ability to diagnose and treat disease as well as possibilities for life extension. http://www.kurzweilai.net/miniature-mri-simulator-chip-could-help-diagnose-and-treat-diseases-in-the-body-at-sub-millimeter-precision?

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World first- robot dentist fits implants

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A robot dentist in China has carried out the world’s first successful autonomous implant surgery by fitting two new teeth into a woman’s mouth. The implants were fitted to within a margin of error of 0.2-0.3mm, reaching the required standard for this kind of operation.The technology was designed to overcome mainland China’s shortage of qualified dentists and frequent surgical errors. The teeth were 3D printed. http://m.scmp.com/news/china/article/2112197/chinese-robot-dentist-first-fit-implants-patients-mouth-without-any-human

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Climate Change & Public Health – Threat or Opportunity

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Saturday morning 23rd September seminar in Sydney involving Nobel Peace Prize winner, Prof Jonathan Patz, Director of the Global Health Institute, Uni of Wisconsin will debate our options with leading Australian academics and advocates from 350.org, the Climate And Health Alliance (CAHA) and Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) Book via – https://www.humanitix.com/event/climate-change-public-health/

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A 10 sec check for cancer

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Scientists from the University of Texas at Austin have developed a pen called the “MacSpec pen” that can screen and analyze tissue samples for cancer in just 10 seconds when the process usually takes weeks. The pen, which looks like a white permanent marker with a cord down its back, is made with a 3D-printed surgical-ready plastic tip and uses water instead of gases and other harming solvents. The tool works by releasing a small water droplet onto a tissue sample and sucking the water, with some residual tissue, into a mass spectrometer to analyze the tissue samples in real time. With 93 percent accuracy, the researchers identified lung, ovary, thyroid and breast cancers using both mice and human tissue samples. https://www.google.com.au/amp/newatlas.com/macspec-pen-cancer-healthy-tissue/51238/%3famp=true

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A 3D printed device that could help you sleep better

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Sleep apnoea is a condition where the air passage in your throat becomes blocked during sleep and causes you to stop breathing. A new CSIRO-made solution can help. It’s a 3D-printed titanium mouthguard that lets air flow freely for you while you sleep. A clinical trial showed that 100% of patients experienced a significant reduction in snoring with 82% eliminating snoring completely. www.oventus.com.au

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