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Wed, 16th September 2015
 

The breast cancer saga winds relentlessly on. Mixed messages continue to proliferate, leaving women in a state of bewilderment and uncertainty. Some reports indicate the disease is lessening in America but increasing in Australia. What should women do? According to many reports the US figures may be declining. But then, other medical reports suggest American women are not bothering with mammograms with the same focus as Australian women. As mammography is the best early indicator of breast cancer ("even when the size of a grain of rice") heaps put their head in the sand and hope it will not happen.

Danger

This inevitably leads to a later and more dangerous diagnosis, when intervention is less likely to succeed. Good news short term, bad new long term. For the past decade Australian women have been brain washed to undergo annual mammograms from age fifty onwards, and forty in some states. The earlier diagnosis and treatment start the better the outcome. Also, in America, more women appear to have been influenced by the "oestrogen horror" theory. When a womens health study several years ago indicated a slightly greater risk of breast cancer in women taking HT (hormonal therapy, usually oestrogen), many dropped their treatment instantly. Some claim this has lead to a decline in cancer rates.

HT Is Safe

In Australia, the momentary halt in oestrogen intake quickly faded, as most doctors believed the studies were flawed (women were overweight and many smoked) and did not indicate the true picture. In Australia, the view is that HT is safe for up to five years in post menopausal women. Therefore, there is a fairly high use of HT here, but not US. There indeed is a growing number of breast cancer cases in younger women, specially in their late thirties and forties. Some still believe this may be due to the oestrogen factor in the contraceptive pill, others fiercely deny this. What to do? Regular breast self examination is still recommended, although in Britain has largely fallen from favour. It costs nothing and plenty of cancers are self diagnosed. Keep it up. The pill is considered safe. HT is OK for up to five years in older women. Talk to your doctor and participate in regular screenings.

 
VACCINE FOR BOWEL INFECTION

Q: 

It seems kids are now getting more and more vaccinations with the availability of the vaccine against bowel infections.

A: 

The number is gradually increasing. Although this throws an extra load on the infants immune system, the final outcome is excellent. It reduces risks from another disease which is potentially lethal. Gastric infections worldwide are one of the commonest causes of infantile death. This will soon become part of the normal immunisation schedule for infants. Today's little ones have never had it better. Deaths in infancy until a few years ago were the norm in a family - but now the exception.

 
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PARACETAMOL POISONING

Q: 

Is it safe to continue paracetamol tablets long term, and are there any dangers?

A: 

Today paracetamol is first line therapy for chronic pain and widely used in arthritis. However, maximum recommendation is 4g a day (2 x 500 mg tablets). Exceeding this maybe dangerous. It is the most common cause of liver toxicity and overdoses are fairly common. Symptoms may not occur for several weeks after injection, especially a very big dose. Liver damage is aggravated by alcohol and period of fasting, the latter which is more common in elderly people.

 
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SMALL POX VACCINATION

Q: 

Years ago small pox vaccination seemed to give long term protection from cold sores, but doctors wont talk about this today. My parents were vaccinated in earlier life and never suffered colds sores.

A: 

Small pox vaccination was mandatory for overseas travel until twenty years ago, when the disease was believed eradicated from planet earth and vaccination vanished. It certainly gave extremely high protection against small pox, once a common worldwide killer, and many viral disorders including the herpes virus which now causes cold sores.

 
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BLACK SPOT

Q: 

I often notice a black spot in the air about a metre in front of me and it moves when I move the eyes. I find this annoying. Then one day it has vanished.

A: 

This is caused by minute opacities in the vitreous, the gel material behind the lens and filling the eyeball. They are more common in older persons and often continue to proliferate, and many may be present. Fortunately, most gradually gravitate from the direct line of vision and vanish. Often to be overtaken by fresh ones a few days or weeks later.

 
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This health advice is general in nature. You are advised to seek medical attention from your doctor or health care provider for your own specific symptoms and circumstances.

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