Last updated October 5, 2017 at 1:20 pm
The Check Up is a weekly feature highlighting some of the best, most fascinating, most important, or simply unmissable health, medical, and human stories from around the web. This week, guest contributor Josh Hixson takes over!
Before we get started, I would love to tell the unaffected genders to put their fingers in their ears and go to their happy place, but I must insist you read on. You may be able to inform someone that could use it (no mansplaining allowed though). For the females here, I feel like we should at least be on a first name basis before you read on, so … hi, my name is Josh!!
Women’s Health in the News
In last week’s edition we reported on the rate of US and Australian teens failing to finish their human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines, and this week HPV is back on the radar. It looks as though the beloved (?) pap smear is likely to change for the better. Currently, this test detects the presence of pre-cancerous changes to cells, but now the test can be used to detect the DNA of HPV itself. Doctors will be able to catch the virus before it leads to the production of pre-cancerous cells. Although the same procedure will be used to administer the test, the improved method means that women will only need a pap smear every 5 years, instead of every 2.
Also making the headlines in women’s health is the link between breast tissue density and the risk of breast cancer. Not only is it harder to detect tumours in denser breast tissues using a mammogram but it looks as though it may be linked with higher risks of developing breast cancer. Under current BreastScreen guidelines only those in Western Australia are told if they have denser breast tissue, but this looks likely to change next year.
The news is good for those living with HIV as scientists have managed to develop an anti-body that can defend people from most strains. We need anti-bodies to fight a disease, and we either produce them when we’re exposed to a disease, or we can use vaccinations to build them up. As promising as this new, HIV-fighting anti-body is, it’s only just been proven in monkeys – human clinical studies are still some way into the future.
Anarchy in the UK
There is controversy in the UK this week as advertising campaigns began to highlight the benefit of quitting traditional smoking in favour of e-cigarettes. Major health organisations then came out to dispute this – all in the same week that news broke of the link between the nicotine in e-cigarettes and heart disease. If you’re tempted to take up vaping, remember that although the evidence may point towards e-cigarettes being a better choice than traditional cigarettes, the jury is still out on the long-term effects.
Also out of the UK this week, and returning to the theme of women’s health, The Guardian has published many stories around the issues of mental health for school-aged girls. Along with highlighting the worryingly high rates of mental health issues, they opened channels for girls to share their experiences, and have been publishing these stories to try and diminish the stigma of mental health issues.
A Little Extra Stimulation
If all of the above sounds depressing, remember that increasing our awareness of potential killers can only lead to good. Plus, I have included a genuine good news story, where nerve stimulation has restored consciousness in a man who has spent the last 15 years in a vegetative state. Who knows, maybe one day this same technique could be used to get me to listen to my wife when I am watching TV??
Why Do Your Farts Smell Worse in the Shower?
And finally, farts!