Addressing the psychological impact of BRCA testing

Addressing the psychological impact of BRCA testing

As someone with a faulty BRCA2 gene, I’m glad to see that someone is paying attention to the psychological impact of being on the receiving end of this diagnosis. I’d already had all of my treatment when I agreed to take the test and I didn’t give the matter much thought. It felt like something I should do because it might be helpful in terms of research. I must have been...

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Man beats cancer – or man gives himself cancer?

Man beats cancer – or man gives himself cancer?

This is the kind of ‘beating cancer’ story that I find really disturbing. In the Guardian article, the photograph is captioned ‘Jonathan Acott: ‘I wanted to prove that I would not be beaten by my cancer.’ So, at first sight it’s about a remarkable man who has used increasingly extreme forms of exercise to beat cancer three times. He says that: ‘Working with researchers...

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Is your environment making you fat?

Is your environment making you fat?

It seems obvious that ease of access to green space and pleasant places to walk would influence the amount of walking and other outdoor exercise you do but this report from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) set out to prove a connection.  The researchers compared the rates of physical activity, childhood obesity and diabetes in England’s nine most populous cities and found a...

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If I can’t walk or cycle while I work do I have to change my career?

If I can’t walk or cycle while I work do I have to change my career?

I keep on reading how bad it is for your health to sit still for long periods, even if you exercise every day. I spend about 99 per cent of my time in front of a computer or on the sofa so, other than changing my career and becoming a gym instructor, what are the options? There’s the treadmill desk, of course. But they’re huge – and hugely expensive. And I’ve never been convinced I...

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When it comes to exercise, I’m definitely with the tortoise

When it comes to exercise, I’m definitely with the tortoise

I was just asked by a journalist writing for a health magazine whether I had any tips on starting and maintaining an exercise program. She wanted something different from the usual ‘ get a personal trainer’, ‘set goals’ and ‘start by walking’ advice that we’ve all heard a million times. My talk on Wednesday was on exactly that, so I was ready with my...

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Should we ditch the nuclear family?

Should we ditch the nuclear family?

Young people are staying at home for longer because they can’t afford to study, or to pay rent and save for a deposit on a house or flat. When they do have children, their parents often look after them because child care is so expensive.  And, at the other end of the spectrum, increasing pressure on residential care is causing growing concern as to the fate of the oldest members of the...

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Folic acid decreases/increases breast cancer risk. So do I take it or not?

Folic acid decreases/increases breast cancer risk. So do I take it or not?

A few years ago I was at a breast cancer conference where researchers were discussing the effect of alcohol. I had sat through a couple of hours of doom and gloom when, right at the end, one of them mentioned that taking a folic acid supplement appeared to reduce the associated risks. So, on the way home, I bought a jar of folic acid tablets and a bottle of wine to celebrate. I’ve been...

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Do scientists overlook human nature?

Do scientists overlook human nature?

It’s about six months  since Angelina Jolie put faulty genes in the headlines. The news now is that, while her story increased awareness of breast cancer, it didn’t do much for the public’s understanding of breast cancer risk. According to this article in Oncology Nurse Advisor, 75 per cent of 2,500 Americans surveyed were aware of Jolie’s story, but fewer than 10 per...

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Does traditional Chinese medicine work or not? We could be about to find out…

Does traditional Chinese medicine work or not? We could be about to find out…

I’m excited to be involved in a research project being run by the department of Traditional Chinese Medicine at the University of Western Sydney. The researchers are looking for evidence that acupuncture and Chinese herbs could help prevent or manage the side-effects of conventional breast cancer therapies. My role is ‘consumer representative’ as part of the Breast Cancer Network of...

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Step away from the Lemon Detox Diet – now!

Step away from the Lemon Detox Diet – now!

More than 200 Australian Accredited Practising Dietitians recently voted for what they consider to be the worst diet. The winner, for the third year running, was the Lemon Detox Diet said to be favoured by celebrities including Beyoncé and Mariah Carey. It’s 60 years since the late Hawaiian naturopath Stanley Burroughs ‘stumbled upon’ the purported benefits of living on water, lemon...

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