The News – 19 Jan 2015

Overview

  • The New South Wales Government says it will force high-range or repeat drink drivers to pay to have alcohol interlocks installed on their cars, from the start of next month.
  • A new study looking at the sun habits of young Asian Australians shows many are choosing to deliberately tan themselves, putting themselves at greater risk of developing skin cancer.
  • The team from Melbourne’s Monash University uncovered how the combined action of two naturally-occurring hormones can trigger the conversion of what is known as white fat to brown fat, which is easier to burn off.



News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 19th January 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-18/nsw-drink-drivers-to-pay-for-interlock-devices-next-month/6023830

The New South Wales Government says it will force high-range or repeat drink drivers to pay to have alcohol interlocks installed on their cars, from the start of next month.

The device requires drivers to record a zero level of alcohol in their system, before the car will start.

Roads Minister Duncan Gay said there would be fines of several thousand dollars for anyone caught tampering with the device, or damaging it.

Mr Gay said the devices would be mandatory for high-range and repeat drink driving offenders, in a bid to put a physical barrier between drinking and driving.
“This program is about protecting innocent people who unfairly have their lives shattered by a drunken idiot,” Mr Gay said.

He said while there had been a huge drop in alcohol-related road trauma over the last 30 years, it was a disgrace to see over 20,000 drivers in NSW convicted of drink driving offences every year.

From February 1, anyone caught with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or above and repeat offenders will be ordered to have an alcohol interlock for a minimum of 12 months.

The interlock device would be fitted to a car’s ignition and require drivers to pass a breath test before the engine would turn on.

Three technology providers have been selected to provide the program after undergoing a competitive tender process. The providers include Guardian Interlock Systems, Draeger Safety Pacific, and Smart Start Interlocks.

Mr Gay said the program could see up to 6,000 new drink driving offenders enter the program each year.

The program follows similar moves in Victoria and in the ACT introduced last year.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-16/young-asians-at-greater-risk-of-skin-cancer-study-shows/6022322

A new study looking at the sun habits of young Asian Australians shows many are choosing to deliberately tan themselves, putting themselves at greater risk of developing skin cancer.

The study, conducted by Dr Ashley Day for her PhD at the University of Adelaide, is the first of its kind aimed at better understanding the sun-related behaviours of young Australians of Asian background.

Dr Day surveyed 140 Asian Australians aged 18 to 26 years during a three-and-a-half-year period.

It found more than half the women and almost a third of the men had deliberately tanned at least once in the past few years, with many becoming seriously sunburnt.

“Although the prevailing attitude among Asian cultures is that lighter skin is better, there were a number of young people in this group who desired darker skin than their own perceived skin tone,” Dr Day said.

“These people engaged in behaviours that put them at increased risk of skin cancer.”

While researchers found the Caucasian population tanned more, those with Asian heritage were starting to follow suit with peer pressure playing a big part.

Dr Day said the study, which targeted university students, also showed lower levels of understanding about the risks of skin cancer.

She said more research was needed to better understand the impact of western culture on young people’s attitudes to skin health.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-16/brain-function-discovery-could-hold-weight-loss-secret/6021994

The secret to shedding stubborn weight may be all in the mind, according to researchers examining how brains can instruct our bodies to burn more fat.

The team from Melbourne’s Monash University uncovered how the combined action of two naturally-occurring hormones can trigger the conversion of what is known as white fat to brown fat, which is easier to burn off.

They unravelled a molecular mechanism that relies on the combined action of leptin, an appetite suppressant in fat cells, and insulin, produced in the pancreas when glucose levels rise.

Professor Tiganis said these hormones fired a group of neurons in the brain.

“The brain then in turn sends out signals via neurons to promote the conversion of white fat, fat that stores energy if you like, into brown fat,” he said.

“That burns off energy, and this way the body weight is regulated.”

One reason people might get fat is if this process is altered, and the brain no longer responds to insulin and leptin.

To test the theory, researchers reduced the levels of two insulin and leptin-inhibiting enzymes in laboratory mice.

Professor Tiganis said when those mice were placed on a high-fat diet they proved to be “remarkably resistant to diet-induced obesity and the development of type 2 diabetes”.

The key for researchers now will be turning this research into a drug that targets these two inhibitor enzymes, to trigger the conversion of white fat cells to brown fat cells.

Professor Tiganis admits any potential therapy is a long way off.

Nonetheless, the research is being welcomed by Diabetes Australia chief executive Greg Johnson.

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