HCF Fit and Well : Summer 2012-13
all the latest health news MOUNTING A NEW ATTACK ON SKIN CANCER About 80 per cent of new cancers diagnosed each year in Australia are skin cancers. Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70. Melanoma is the most dangerous type and usually appears as a new spot, or as an existing spot that changes shape, size or colour. The Australian Melanoma Genome Project is a brand-new two-year national research program that will identify common gene mutations that lead to melanoma. The first stage of the project is currently under way and will identify as many mutations as possible in a library of 500 melanoma tumour samples. Identifying the mutations that drive melanomas could lead to the next generation of diagnostic tests and treatments that specifically target the disease. "We would be surprised if this work does not translate into a major extension of life for thousands of people worldwide with melanoma," says Sydney Medical School's Professor John Thompson, Executive Director of the Melanoma Institute Australia. FIT&WELL 4 UPDAT E Scoliosis Australia is urging parents to be aware of scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that usually develops between the ages of 10 and 13. The cause is still unknown but 80 to 90 per cent of cases occur in otherwise healthy adolescents. Experts say it is not caused by bad posture, a soft mattress or carrying a heavy school bag. Spotting and treating scoliosis in its early stages is important to prevent the curve becoming worse in adult life, which can lead to chronic pain and arthritis. There are several external signs of scoliosis to look out for: one shoulder positioned higher than the other, an obvious curve of the spine, one hip more prominent than the other, and the head not appearing centred over the body. Scoliosis Australia has produced a brochure that outlines the signs of scoliosis and treatment options. See scoliosis-australia.org SPOTTING SCOLIOSIS An international review of women's health studies has found women are at increased risk of gum disease because of fluctuating hormone levels. Hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause all take a toll on female oral health, says US periodontist Associate Professor Charlene Krejci. "There's definitely a gender-specific connection between women's hormones, gum disease and specific health issues impacting women," she Gender & gum disease says. "Although women tend to take better care of their oral health than men, the main message is women need to be even more vigilant about maintaining healthy teeth and gums to prevent or lessen the severity of some female-specific health issues." Changing hormone levels encourage bacteria to grow in the mouth. This build-up of bacterial plaque on teeth and under the gums leads to inflammation that erodes the bone anchoring the teeth, causing teeth to become loose and bleeding gums. The solution? Twice daily brushing, flossing daily, and dental check-ups every six months.