The Health News – 26 April 2017

Overview:

• Jason Prewett recently became the senior vice president of the Coffs Harbour RSL Sub Branch, because he wanted to help other returned service people accept the help that is available to them. Mr Prewett said while training covered services and emotional support, it was still difficult to put up his hand and talk to someone, because of the stigma around asking for help.

The chair of the SA branch of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Daniel Byrne, said there were no approved medicinal cannabis products in Australia which doctors could readily prescribe. “The South Australian Government has put in place the stepping stones, but there’s no actual product we can prescribe easily,” he said.

• Researchers believe an enzyme produced by the wax worm breaks down the plastic, which has similar chemical bonds to the beeswax in which the worms hatch and grow. “The next step is to isolate and produce this enzyme on an industrial scale,” said co-author Federica Bertocchini, an evolutionary biologist with the University of Cantabria.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  25th of April 2017. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-25/breaking-stigma-so-returned-soldiers-ask-for-help/8467508

A retired Australian Army corporal who spent more than a decade moving between conflict zones says society needs to make it OK for men to ask for help.

Jason Prewett was medically discharged after becoming badly injured in Afghanistan in 2012.

He lost six colleagues over seven months in that same deployment.

He recently became the senior vice president of the Coffs Harbour RSL Sub Branch, because he wanted to help other returned service people accept the help that is available to them.

Mr Prewett signed up to join the Army in 2000, and was aware he was likely to go into an active conflict zone, because the Second Gulf War was getting plenty of media coverage.

His father and brother were both police officers, and he said he was looking for his own way to help people, something similar to them but different.

It was while playing rugby for the Manly Marlins that Mr Prewett met an ex-serviceman who inspired him to join up.

He said the Army took away his identity quickly, and rather than an individual, he became the job.

While that became one of the hardest things to recover from after leaving the service, he said it had been crucial because that immersion in the role made people better soldiers.

In his final deployment, Mr Prewett lost six colleagues and broke his ankle badly.

He said the return home had been difficult because he was reassessing who he was, dealing with the trauma of losing colleagues, and adjusting to a civilian life.

Mr Prewett said while training covered services and emotional support, it was still difficult to put up his hand and talk to someone, because of the stigma around asking for help.

He does not think the stigma is unique to the armed forces — he has seen the same thing in his friends who work in the police service, or as paramedics.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-25/medicinal-cannabis-false-hope-college-of-gps-says/8468538

It is stretching the truth for the South Australian Government to suggest medicinal cannabis products can now be easily prescribed for patients in the state, doctors have said.

SA doctors are allowed to prescribe medicinal cannabis for periods of up to two months without having to get government approval, but a longer-term prescription still needs that formal approval.

The chair of the SA branch of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Daniel Byrne, said there were no approved medicinal cannabis products in Australia which doctors could readily prescribe.

“The South Australian Government has put in place the stepping stones, but there’s no actual product we can prescribe easily,” he said.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) must approve any imports of medicinal cannabis products.

Dr Byrne said the process could take weeks and prove expensive for patients.

The New South Wales Government has backed three medicinal cannabis trials, including for epileptic children, which could improve the medication supply.

Other parties have been seeking licences for cultivation or to manufacture medicinal cannabis products.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/plastic-bags-a-snack-for-polythene-eating-wonderworm/news-story/75e25eef702fd3b235bae3e30e9696d8

Scientists have stumbled on a natural disposal technique for trillions of plastic bags, after accidentally discovering that a common worm can ingest polythene.

British and Spanish researchers found the wax worm, a scourge of beehives worldwide, can chemically transform non-biodegradable plastic into an organic compound.

The discovery, revealed in the journal Current Biology, could spawn a biotechnological solution to the accumulation of polythene, which can take 400 years to degrade and clogs oceans and landfill sites around the world.

Researchers believe an enzyme produced by the insect breaks down the plastic, which has similar chemical bonds to the beeswax in which the worms hatch and grow. “The next step is to isolate and produce this enzyme on an industrial scale,” said co-author Federica Bertocchini, an evolutionary biologist with the University of Cantabria.

The study was sparked by Dr Bertocchini’s accidental discovery that plastic bags were no match for moth larvae.

An amateur beekeeper, she found honeycomb panels covered with worms feeding on leftover honey and wax. She trapped them in a plastic bag but returned to find “the bag full of holes” and worms everywhere.

The team put 100 of the worms in a bag from a UK supermarket. Holes emerged after 40 minutes, and within 12 hours the bag had lost 3 per cent of its mass.

Spectroscopic analysis revealed that the plastic’s chemical bonds were breaking. The team smeared mashed-up worms on plastic bags, with similar results — suggesting the degradation was due to a substance secreted by the worms, rather than their chewing action.

The paper says the degradation rate is “extremely fast” compared to other natural approaches. It is more than 700 times as quick as bacteria trialled last year in a study reported in the journal Science.

Scientists estimate that there are more than five trillion pieces of plastic debris in the oceans, with nine out of 10 of the world’s seabirds carrying it in their stomachs. Plastic buried in landfills leaches harmful chemicals into groundwater.