Health authorities are now warning people to avoid eating seafood caught from or fishing near the potentially contaminated area around the lower reaches of the Brisbane River, from Bulimba Creek to Fisherman Island, and north to Shorncliffe. Photo: Edwina PicklesPeople are being warned not to go fishing oreat seafood caught fromwaterways near theBrisbane Airport after firefighting foam spewed out of a Qantas hangar and escaped into the stormwater system.
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The Queensland government confirmed on Friday about 22,000 litres of the foam was released from a failed deluge system within the hangar on April 10.

While about three-quarters was contained, some of the remaining portion appearedto have seeped into the wider environment and caused the deaths of 20 nearby fish.

Health authorities are now warning people to avoid eating seafood caught from or fishing near the potentially contaminated area around the lower reaches of the Brisbane River, from Bulimba Creek to Fisherman Island, and north to Shorncliffe.

It’s believed the foam contained perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) but chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said there was “no consistent evidence” that exposure posed a threat to humans.

“(But) I understand this was a significant spill (and) avoiding seafood consumption from the impacted area in the short term is a sensible, cautious approach,” Dr Young said.

A joint investigation between the Queensland and Commonwealth governments is now underway and environmental officers have taken water samples from the polluted site.

Environment Minister Steven Miles was expected to address the media later on Friday.


First appeared on Brisbane Times

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Devil of a bun? Nope. Photo: iStock”Your Hot Cross Buns Could Be Giving You Dementia”.
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This was the subject line of an email I was sent this week. Seriously.

“‘s anti-ageing doctor, Dr [Michael] Elstein, says this Easter we should avoid stocking up on hot cross buns, an Easter favourite, as eating gluten could be setting us up to develop obesity and dementia,” the attached press release said.

If you’re not terrified already, read on:

“Research into the claims that gut inflammation caused by foods high in gluten are characteristic of a broad spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases that can manifest into dementia, support Dr Elstein’s warning that this Easter we should ditch the buns.”

First things first:Elstein is not the first to make the gluten/dementia connection (although targeting the attack at the humble old hot cross buns is new).

Neurologist Dr David Perlmutter writes about the apparent link in hisNew York Timesbest-selling book,Grain Brain.

“The biggest issue by far is that carbohydrates are absolutely at the cornerstone of all of our major degenerative conditions,”he said in 2013. “That includes things like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and even cancers. What we know is that even mild elevations in blood sugar are strongly related to developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

Apart from lumping all grains and all forms of gluten into the same bag (highly processed carbs and fermented glutenare absorbed by and affect the body in completely different ways), it is at odds with the latest research which suggests that a Mediterranean diet (which includes wholegrains) can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’sby as much as 53 per cent. Also, such advice fails to see the full picture.

“His book is filled with a whole bunch of nonsense, that’s why it’s a best-seller,” Yale’s Dr David Katz said ofGrain Brainin 2013. “Because that’s how you get on the best-seller list. You promise the moon and stars, you say everything you heard before was wrong, and you blame everything on one thing. You get a scapegoat; it’s classic. Atkins made a fortune with that formula. We’ve got Rob Lustig saying it’s all fructose; we’ve got T. Colin Campbell [author ofThe China Study, a formerly best-selling book] saying it’s all animal food; we now have Perlmutter saying it’s all grain. There’s either a scapegoat or a silver bullet in almost every best-selling diet book.”

I send the scapegoat, I meanhot cross bun press release, to Alzheimer’s . The gluten/brain health linkis still floating around – is there any substance toit, I ask?

They decline to comment, saying “we’re just not aware of any link [between the two]” and point me to their formal advice on brain health. It does discuss how diet might increase or decrease risk of Alzheimer’s, themost common form of dementia, which is not an inevitable part of ageing according to the Florey Institute. “It is an ‘unnatural’disease which begins 30 years before symptoms become so severe that we would say someone has Alzheimer’s disease,” they say in a new study.

But, back toAlzheimer’s ‘s advice, which does mention gluten (in its highly processed form):

“Several studies have found that a high intake of saturated fats, such as those found in meat, deep fried foods and takeaway food and trans fats often found in pies, pastries, cakes, biscuits and buns are associated with an increased risk of dementia. So what you eat could affect your brain,” they explain.

“Follow theNational Dietary Guidelinesby eating a variety of foods including vegetables, fruit, fish, grains, nuts, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), and lean meat. Reduce foods high in saturated fats including full fat dairy products, fried food and desserts.”

Seems reasonable. I also send the press release to Dr Rosemary Stanton.

She agrees with Dr Elstein that consuming gluten, in the form of cakes and biscuits, is unnecessary for human health, but that’s about it.

She notes one line from the release stating that “gluten is a non-digestible substance with no nutritional value”.

“Not sure that this Dr Elstein knows what he’s talking about,” Stanton says.

“This is a commonly held view from Dr Google. Gluten is the composite name for proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. For people with coeliac disease – which is about oneperson in every 100 – gluten can damage the villi that line the small intestine. For most other people, gluten is not a problem and is broken down by enzymes to its component peptides and eventually to amino acids. If gluten was non-digestible, it would emerge in stools and I can find no evidence that this occurs.

“For those who don’t have coeliac disease, there is no problem consuming foods made from wheat, rye or barley.

“Dr Elstein says we can get all the fibre we need from fruits and vegetables. In fact, different foods contain different kinds of dietary fibre. It’s a bit like vitamins. Those in some foods are not found in others and having loads of vitamin C won’t provide, say, vitamin E.”

Dr Stanton adds that no evidence from “quality journals” shows that gluten causes dementia or neurodegenerative diseases.

“Again, this is something favoured by Dr Google blog sites.”

Where does that leave us with the hot cross bun – frankly one of the best parts of Easter as far as I’m concerned?

“Frankly, I think a hot cross bun is not a bad food. Sure – eating a dozen loaded with lots of butter would be a problem, but as a once-a-year treat, no problem – except for the 1 per cent who have coeliac or the small number who have an allergy to wheat,” Stanton says.

“Enjoy your Easter and I hope you enjoy a quality hot cross bun!”

First appeared on SMH

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She first had chest pains while working as a resident in intensive care, and put them down to stress. But when Sashie Howpage had difficulty breathing, her GP sent her for a chest x-ray.
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“The radiographer, recognising I was a doctor, said, ‘Do you want to come and have a look at your x-ray?'” she said. “I saw a huge mass in my chest. I’d seen it before; I knew what I was facing. No one told me that I had cancer – I figured it out in that dark room, alone.”

Dr Howpage was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She started treatment on her 24th birthday, undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy – a process she described as “fighting evil with evil”.

She has been in remission for three years, but severe side effects almost drove her to give up treatment. She felt she had lost control of her life. Blogs written by other sufferers terrified her.

“Doctors have no idea of the fear patients have,” she said.

Dr Howpage said she made the mistake of thinking “it was all my own journey”, not realising her family had also struggled to cope with her cancer diagnosis. “The support from a network of people who are in a similar place would have been wonderful,” she said. “It’s not just the patient who’s grieving.”

Knowing first-hand the challenges faced by cancer patients such as Dr Howpage, as well as their caregivers, Sydney doctors Nikhil Pooviah and Raghav Murali-Ganesh, from the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse cancer hospital, developed an app designed to improve cancer care.

CancerAid is now the most popular cancer app on the Apple store in , the US and the UK, used by 30,000 people in 24 countries.

Licensed to cancer institutions and provided to patients free of charge, CancerAid organises medical records and streamlines information on appointments, treatments and specialists. It gives patients and caregivers accurate information about their illness and treatment plan, as well as access to online journals and a supportive community of patients and carers.

Dr Howpage said the app would have been invaluable when she was battling cancer. “It helps give back some control, knowing you can track what’s happening with your treatment,” she said. “Better informed patients … are willing to keep going with treatment, even when it’s too hard or they don’t see the benefits.”

Having all the patient’s information available on the app would also make it easier for clinicians, she said. Hospital data systems were “not in the modern age yet. This app is leading the way with how we store medical records on the phone.”

Almost 135,000 new cases of cancer are expected to be diagnosed in this year; an estimated 21.7 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed worldwide in 2030.

“When a patient gets a diagnosis of cancer it hits them like a freight train,” Dr Murali-Ganesh said. CancerAid aims to “put the power within the hands of the patient. [We’re trying] to change the way care is delivered, to improve the journey for many, many thousands of patients.”

Dr Murali-Ganesh and Dr Pooviah, both aged 30, are now working full time on CancerAid, which was one of six start-ups selected for this year’s elevate61 accelerator program in the US.

Dr Pooviah said the two world-first studies, on cancer nutrition and rehabilitation, were being conducted within the app, which also collects data in a secure, anonymised way to fuel research, further innovation and improvements in clinical care.

“We’re looking at trends to help improve clinical decisions,” he said. “A lot of the components we have designed could apply to other chronic diseases.”

Chief executive of the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, Eileen Hannagan, said the research opportunities offered by CancerAid were exciting.

“Hospital settings need to start adopting new technologies in this digital age,” she said. “With AI, VR and other digital tools like CancerAid improving patients’ lives, it’s a very exciting time to be in health care.”

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Finals football is on the A-League horizon. Theory goes out of the window, tactical niceties are forgotten and it’s win at all costs as the pressure is on to secure a spot in the play-offs or make the championship-decider.
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Well, no, at least not according to Kevin Muscat, as he supervises his Melbourne Victory team for its final game of the regular season at home to Central Coast Mariners on Friday night.

The Victory boss is preparing his side for the most decisive few weeks of the campaign but he is not fretting over Victory’s fate in any sudden-death scenario.

Muscat said the most important factor for him and his team is to keep on doing what it has done all season – concentrate on the processes and the performances and trust his players’ proven abilities and the tactics that have seen Victory secure second place on the ladder.

Things won’t change just because the team is in a sudden-death situation.

“If we are just worried about results and come away from what we have been trying to do, working on and practicing over a long period of time, we will rely heavily on luck,” he said.

“Over a period of time performance is what counts. That’s what’s going to reward you with results.

“I am not going to steer away from that … I am not going to rely on luck.”

The logic behind his “stay calm and trust yourselves” mantra is straightforward.

“When we do score goals and we do win, we need to understand how and why, and the reason for that is so that we can reproduce it. If we don’t understand that, well, its bloody hard to reproduce,” Muscat said.

“Without doubt it’s important to win. I am not trying to put a performance together not to win, but we do believe that when we perform anywhere near our capabilities the result normally looks after itself.”

Having said that, the coach acknowledged it is important for Victory to approach the finals with some momentum.

Muscat’s side has taken only four points from its last 15, suffering three defeats along the way, including one of its worst home performances in memory when it crashed 3-0 to Wellington Phoenix. It has not scored in its last three games, its worst record in six years.

To some extent such slackness might be explained by the fact that Victory have been guaranteed second spot on the table and the home semi-final that goes with it for several weeks now. Still, the fans are showing some nervousness, even if their coach is not.

“I am not concerned. Our form over 26 weeks has been bloody good, but over three weeks maybe not so good,” he said.

“If we look at last week [a 0-0 draw in Western Sydney, where Victory played the bulk of the second half with 10 men after Daniel Georgievski’s dismissal] and talk about form … for 50 minutes away to Western Sydney who had scored three goals in their last three games, we completely dominated and created a number of chances.

“In the remaining 40 minutes [after Georgievski’s red card] we showed a lot of grit, care and determination not to concede. There were a lot of positives to come out of last week.”

Muscat accepts that the departure of Oliver Bozanic, the oft maligned marquee midfielder, has come at some on-field cost as Victory no longer have quite the same offensive drive from midfield. Rashid Mahazi, Carl Valeri and Leigh Broxham are much more defensively-oriented midfielders than Bozanic, who moved to the J League.

“Ollie had some good performances here. But everyone was judging him based on some status [marquee player] that everyone gets excited about. He was good for us, but we made a calculated decision to go down the route we did knowing we would have less depth,” Muscat explained.

The versatile Leigh Broxham – “he’s tried and trusted” – will most likely fill the left-back spot in Georgievski’s absence through suspension.

“He has passed with flying colours when he has had to do it in the past. We could look at Stef Nigro as well but it’s an unfamiliar position for him, probably wouldn’t do him any favours,” said Muscat.

“I felt Rashid was very good for his first game for a while. Defensively he was very good for us, setting up and not allowing Western Sydney to get any momentum.”

Central Coast could still take the wooden spoon if they lose in Melbourne and Adelaide beat Western Sydney or Newcastle upsets Sydney.

Muscat remains wary of the threat they pose, particularly with their speedy attacking players.

“They scored off a set-piece last week, but in transition they have got some lively players. Fabio Ferreira joining in the attack, Conor [Pain, an ex-Victory winger] we know about, they always have pace with [Trent] Buhagiar, [Kwabena] Appiah on the right.”

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Flemington in the first week of November. There’s no greater certainty than Lloyd Williams having a fancied runner – or several – in this country’s greatest race, the Melbourne Cup.
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Royal Ascot in June has seen the country’s most famous owner taste success on the international stage, with his part-owned Order of St George dominating in the Ascot Gold Cup as recently as last year.

But could the Mount Macedon-based Williams be donning the top hat and tails for a spot in the winners’ enclosure at Epsom after the most famous race in the world – The Derby – in just a few months?

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility after his blueblooded colt Rekindling sprung a 16-1 shock in Ireland last weekend when he made his seasonal reappearance in a Group 3 Derby trial over 2000 metres, the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown.

Williams is no stranger to Irish racecourses as he has owned a number of gallopers in partnership with the Coolmore empire, where they have been trained by Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle in County Tipperary.

What makes Rekindling unusual is that he is in the care of Aidan’s 23-year-old son Joseph O’Brien, who gave up his unequal battle with the scales last year and retired as Irish champion jockey at the age of 22 to become a trainer.

He has not lacked for support and when the Coolmore-connected David Wachman surrendered his licence at the end of last season the then two-year-old Rekindling was one of a number of horses who found a new home with the fledgling trainer, and Williams was happy to lend his support. Rekindling was in fact Wachman’s last runner as a trainer when he finished unplaced a Group 1 two-year-old race in France last October.

“Joseph has a number of horses for me and I am very enthusiastic about his future,” Williams says.

“I have raced horses for over 50 years, and experience tells me that he is perfectly placed to reach the top.”

Williams also has various horses in training with Aidan O’Brien, who was on the receiving end of Rekindling’s success for the n and his son, as O’Brien senior saddled the second, third and fourth in the race behind Rekindling.

“I have known Aidan since his time as a jumping rider in the JP McManus days before he was at Ballydoyle,” Williams reminisced. “JP (Ireland’s leading owner of jump racing horses) is one of my very old friends.”

And what of Rekindling? Could the son of High Chaparral, sire of n champion So You Think, go on to glory at Epsom and emulate his sire, who won both the English and Irish Derbies of 2002?

“The race has a history of producing good horses but Rekindling would need to step up in a race like the Dante Stakes (England’s leading Derby trial run at York over 2100 metres in May) if he is to be a genuine chance,” Williams says.

“Aidan’s horses ran second, third and fourth and he likes them, so time will tell.”

*Williams certainly has history on his side, as derby winners Galileo, High Chaparral and Harzand have all won the Ballysax in the past 16 years, with Ascot Gold Cup winners Yeats and Fame And Glory also getting on the honour roll in that period.

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