The News – 18 June 2014

Overview

  • An American study of more than 200 people has found that a person’s genetics can affect how they act when betting and investing.
  • A US study has found the e-cigarette market has more than 500 brands and is expanding at a rate of more than 10 a month with the product often purchased online.
  • As flagged in the Federal Budget in May, the Federal Government has announced a two per cent indexation increase in fees for a number of general practitioner services, which will take effect from 1 July 2014.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 18th June 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-17/study-finds-genetics-affect-betting-and-investing-behaviour/5529536

An American study of more than 200 people has found that a person’s genetics can affect how they act when betting and investing.

The genes in question affect the role of dopamine, a chemical released in the brain that signals pleasure and motivates people to seek rewards.

While dopamine is already known to play a role in social interactions, researchers at the University of California, Berkley, say their study is the first to show how genes govern the way dopamine functions in the brain.

The research involved studying the brain activity of 217 undergraduates at the National University of Singapore as they engaged in a competitive computer betting game against an anonymous opponent.

Using MRI imaging, researchers scanned the genomes of the participants for some 700,000 genetic variants and then focused on certain variants within 12 genes involved in regulating dopamine.

The results then showed a “surprising degree of consistency” between the genetics of those studied and their decision-making behaviour.

Those who were better at being able to imagine their competitor’s thinking and anticipate and respond to the actions of others had a variation in three genes that affect how dopamine functions in a certain part of the brain, known as the medial prefrontal cortex.

Those who were better at trial-and-error learning had a variation in two genes that primarily affect dopamine in the brain’s striatal region.

“Our results add to growing evidence that dopamine mechanisms critically underlie a wide class of value-based decision-making across both social and non-social settings,” said the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In 2008-09, Australians spent more than $19 billion on gambling and up to 500,000 Australians are at risk of becoming problem gamblers.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-17/e-cig-market-growing-at-10-brands-per-month-study/5529288

Doctors and health academics from around the world are urging the World Health Organisation (WHO) to regulate the sale of electronic cigarettes, which are booming in an uncontrolled global market.

A US study has found the e-cigarette market has more than 500 brands and is expanding at a rate of more than 10 a month with the product often purchased online.

In a trawl of the internet, US researchers found that as of January 2014 there were 466 brands, each with their own website, and 7,764 different flavours.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices which heat a liquid, typically propylene glycol, to a vapour. The liquid usually contains nicotine and flavouring.

Supporters say the gadget can help wean smokers off conventional tobacco, whose bouquet of toxins has been blamed for the death of millions.

Health watchdogs are cautious, saying the long-term impact of e-cigarettes use is unclear.

Sydney health expert Simon Chapman says anecdotal evidence has been used to promote the benefits of the devices.

He says not enough is known about the potential side-effects.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in April proposed barring sales to minors, placing the product on the same footing as tobacco in this regard.

https://ama.com.au/media/sleight-hand-mbs-indexation

As flagged in the Federal Budget in May, the Federal Government has announced a two per cent indexation increase in fees for a number of general practitioner services, which will take effect from 1 July 2014.

The increase was posted on MBS Online last week.

AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, said today that the AMA notes this modest increase for GP services, but warned it is inadequate and would be swallowed up by a range of cuts next year.

A/Prof Owler said that the costs of providing general practice services – including wages for practice staff, rent, electricity, computers, continuing professional development, practice accreditation and professional insurance – are rising.

http://www.mbsonline.gov.au/internet/mbsonline/publishing.nsf/Content/News-201407-July-MBS

The following changes to Medicare schedule fees will apply from 1 July 2014: A 2% increase in Schedule fees will apply to all items in Group A1, Group A5, Group A6, Group A17, Group A18, Group A20, Group A22, Group A27, Group A30 and Group M1. A 2% increase in Schedule fees will also apply to the following items; items 193, 195, 197, and 199 in Group A7, items 597 and 599 in Group A11, items 701 to 715 in Group A14, items 721 to 758 in Group A15, and item 139 of Group A29.

There has been no increase in the Schedule Fee for all the other items listed in the MBS.

The regulations giving effect to these increases will be tabled in the Parliament in either of the weeks commencing 16 or 23 June 2014. No other MBS fees are being indexed this year.

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