Diphtheria death
A 22-year-old Brisbane woman died in hospital after contracting diphtheria from a friend who had returned from overseas, The Daily Telegraph reports. Queensland Health said the last confirmed case of diphtheria in the state was in 1993, but AMA vice-president Dr Steve Hambleton said he had never heard of a case in Australia in 30 years of working as a health professional. Almost 90% of Australians are vaccinated against the infection.

Radical prostatectomy best
A NEW study has found that men under 65 with early prostate cancer had better survival odds if they had surgery right away instead of waiting for treatment if their cancer got worse, USA Today reports. The findings were true even for tumours thought to be low-risk because they didn’t look very aggressive under a microscope. The Swedish study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the benefit from surgery may depend on how a man is diagnosed.

Depression stigma
FOUR in 10 Australian professionals don’t feel comfortable working closely with colleagues experiencing depression, The Australian reports. White-collar workers under 30, particularly engineers and those working in the property sector, are most likely to hold stigmatising views about people with depression, and to suggest unhelpful ways to assist such as “taking them out for a drink to help them forget their worries”. A survey of 18 000 professionals by beyondblue shows a crisis of confidence among professionals in managing staff with depression.

Baldness treatment
A GROWING number of American men are experimenting with Latisse, a prescription eyelash-enhancing solution, as an antidote to encroaching baldness, the New York Times reports. While the US Food and Drug Administration has not approved Latisse as a hair-loss treatment there are no laws preventing doctors from prescribing it for that purpose. Dermatologists report that it strengthens and darkens hair in thinning areas, but can not bring a dead follicle back to life.

Indigenous chronic disease
PREVENTABLE chronic diseases are the main reason Indigenous Australians die far earlier than the rest of the population, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report found that about 80% of the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians could be attributed to chronic diseases, particularly heart disease, diabetes and liver disease. Indigenous men were expected to live to 67 and women to 73 ― meaning they die around 11 years earlier than other Australians.

Little for Indigenous affairs
AFTER two years of record investment, Indigenous affairs is unlikely to be a big Budget winner, The Daily Telegraph reports. The federal government put $1.3 billion towards closing the gap between black and white life expectancy in 2009, then followed up 12 months later with millions to expand its Community Development Employment Projects program and the sale of Opal non-sniffable fuel. Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation director Jacqueline Phillips said she wasn’t optimistic about what the sector would find in Tuesday’s Budget.

Mental health funding
THE federal government is expected to unveil a billion-dollar package for mental health in Tuesday’s Budget, The Advertiser reports. Mental health advocates anticipate that an independent mental health commission is likely to be a key part of that package. Professor Patrick McGorry said he expected the commission to be an independent body that would report to federal parliament on mental health access and services across the nation.

Aneurysm rupture triggers
HAVING sex, blowing your nose and drinking coffee can temporarily raise the risk of rupturing a brain aneurysm and suffering a stroke, a new study has found, The West Australian reports. The study, reported in Stroke, identified eight main triggers that increase the risk of aneurysm. Other triggers include vigorous exercise, straining to defecate, drinking cola, being startled and getting angry.

Posted 9 May 2011

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