The Health News – 1 July 2016

Overview:
• More than half of female university students in Australia are skipping meals before a big night out so they can save calories for alcohol, an Adelaide study has found conducted by PhD student and researcher Alissa Knight at the University of South Australia that looks into the social phenomena dubbed drunkorexia. Ms Knight said drunkorexia was the combination of two social cultures in Australia involving binge drinking and a desire to be thin.

•  A safe and effective vaccine against the Zika virus is an important step closer, with the results of a major study published in the journal Nature. The researchers said, based on their findings, a Zika vaccine for humans will likely be readily achievable. 

• Mandatory fortification of bread with folic acid and iodine was introduced in 2009 to address the prevalence of neural tube defects and to deal with the re-emergence of iodine deficiencies. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare said neural tube defects had fallen more than 74 per cent in Indigenous babies since the move.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  1st of July 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-30/drunkorexia-phenomena-prominent-in-young-australian-women/7556476

More than half of female university students in Australia are skipping meals before a big night out so they can save calories for alcohol, an Adelaide study has found.

The study, by PhD student and researcher Alissa Knight at the University of South Australia, looks into the social phenomena dubbed “drunkorexia”.

Ms Knight said drunkorexia was the combination of two social cultures in Australia involving binge drinking and a desire to be thin.

Ms Knight said women taking part in the study admitted to skipping meals on a Friday night in preparation for a big night of drinking on a Saturday.

The obvious concern of drunkorexia behaviour was the impact the practice was having on women’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Ms Knight said drinking on an empty stomach can make alcohol up to 10 times more potent.

“You’re at risk for developing very serious physical and or psychological health consequences, you’re looking at things like hypoglycaemia, liver cirrhosis, memory lapses, depression,” she said.

“For a lot of these young adults, most of them are at university or they’re trying to obtain something similar so they can also be at risk of developing cognitive function deficits, which can obviously lead to and impact upon their learning capabilities …and so forth.”

She said traditional eating disorders are driven by a desire to be thin, but research showed drunkorexia predominantly appeared to be motivated by the need to drink.

However, she said the additional danger of drunkorexia was the possibility the eating disorder pattern could become more prominent.

She said results from the Australian research showed a higher incidence of drunkorexia than research conducted in America.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-29/zika-vaccine-success-hailed-by-scientists/7551202

A safe and effective vaccine against the Zika virus is an important step closer, with the results of a major study published in the journal Nature.

The researchers said, based on their findings, a Zika vaccine for humans “will likely be readily achievable”.

Researchers tested two trial vaccines, a DNA vaccine and an inactivated virus vaccine, in mice.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of Zika virus vaccine protection in an animal model,” Dr Dan Barouch from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School said.

“We need to be cautious about extrapolating the results from mice to humans,” he said.

“But based on the robustness of the protection, the demonstration that antibodies protect and the similarity with other related viruses… these findings certainly raise optimism that the development of a safe and effective vaccine against Zika virus against humans may be successful.”

Dr Barouch said human clinical trials of the vaccine should start as soon as possible.

The vaccinated animals showed no evidence of active virus after being infected with the Zika virus and both vaccines were safe as well as effective.

The World Health Organisation has declared Zika virus a public health emergency, with the development of a safe and effective vaccine deemed a global health priority.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-28/fortified-bread-lowering-neural-tube-defect-rates/7550560

The gap between rates of neural tube defects in Indigenous and non-Indigenous babies has been eliminated by the decision to fortify bread with folic acid.

Mandatory fortification of bread with folic acid and iodine was introduced in 2009 to address the prevalence of neural tube defects and to deal with the re-emergence of iodine deficiencies.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare said neural tube defects had fallen more than 74 per cent in Indigenous babies since the move.

Neural tube defects are caused when the neural tube — which forms the brain and the spinal column — fail to form properly, leading to spin bifida or anencephaly.

Professor Carol Bower, senior principal research fellow at the Telethon Kids Institute, said they were serious birth defects.

The effect of the fortification of wheat flour with folic acid has also led to a 55 per cent decrease in neural tube defects in babies born to teenagers, and a 14 per cent drop in overall rates.

Professor Bower said they had witnessed a sharper fall among Indigenous women, because the public health promotion of taking folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy was not reaching them as well as it was the broader population.