HomeTagsPosts tagged with "health"


Under current legislation, having or assisting a woman with an abortion in Ireland is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Challenging that before the Dáil next month, People Before Profit, who have previously pushed for the decriminalisation of abortions, are seeking to introduce a bill which, instead, imposes a €1 fine.

Commenting on the proposed legislation at a press conference in the capital, Bríd Smith insisted that the €1 fine acted as “a serious attempt to decriminalise abortion in the State and since we have been prevented from doing it outright.”

The party’s previous attempt was hindered after it was considered unconstitutional under the Eight Amendment.

Acknowledging that the bill is likely to face opposition in the Dáil, Bríd reasoned that the proposed legislation will force TDs to either support the 14-year penalty or propose an alternative ‘punishment’.

According to The Irish Times, abortion activist, Ailbhe Smyth, maintains that Ireland is under strict instruction from the United Nations to 'introduce less punitive abortion legislation'.

If the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise is a fairly accurate representation of your own sex life, chances are you've sustained more than a few injuries due to the kinkiness of your antics, right?

And while no one relishes the idea of revealing everything about their sex life to their GP, a recent report in Marie Claire highlights the importance of informing your general practitioner so as to ensure you receive the best treatment should you sustain a sex-related injury.

According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, more than 50 per cent of BDSM practitioners choose not to tell their GPs about their sex life for fear of judgement, even if this means failing to receive the proper treatment.

Highlighting the importance of transparency in such a situation, Carol Queen, sex educator and author of The Sex & Pleasure Book urges the public to speak up.

"Doctors aren't mind readers, and they're mostly very poorly trained about kinky sexual practices," she explained.

"Hearing real info from patients will help them put faces to sexual practices and help them better understand what the stakes are."

Refusing to attend a doctor after sustaining a sex-related injury leaves you vulnerable to further discomfort, with sex therapist, Anna Randall, saying: "Big bruises can develop into hematomas, for example."

"There are rare injuries from rough sex that may lead to serious complications, such as torn vaginal tissue or scrotum injuries, and because more risky sexual BDSM behaviors may include controlling the breathing of a partner, those with asthma face real risks if they're not treated for attacks immediately," she continues.

And if you do decide to seek treatment, but conceal the circumstances that led to a specific injury, you are limiting the medical professional's ability to properly treat the area. 

Addressing the reluctance exhibited by many BDSM practitioners, Anna insists that, on the whole, the fear has little grounding in reality.

"It's also important to know that people anticipate more stigma than they experience actual stigma," she says.

"There's a really good chance you're not going to get shamed and often even if doctors don't know the answers, they'll usually try to find out more."

Something to think about, right?

According to a recent study, women who suffer from severe PMS, also known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD, may have an irregularity in their genetic composition which could explain the severity of their symptoms.

A PMDD sufferer experiences a disabling anxiety or depression in addition to typical PMS symptoms – a condition which effects approximately 2 to 5 per cent of menstruating women.

Examining the potential causes for the condition, experts have identified that sufferers exhibit a specific irregularity when it comes to genetic composition at a molecular level.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry, elaborated on previous research which suggested that women with PMDD have a different sensitivity to the sex hormones released during menstruation.

After providing 10 PMDD sufferers with drugs to block the release of sex hormones typically released during their periods ― estradiol or progesterone – the women did not experience their typical symptoms.

Interestingly, the symptoms returned when the women were again exposed to the sex hormones.

After examining sufferers' cells alongside non-sufferers' cells, researchers established that the part of a cell which responds to hormones were different in sufferers of the condition.

Co-author and Chief of the Behavioral Endocrinology Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health, Peter Schmidt, elaborated on the findings while speaking to The Huffington Post.

"It’s the first evidence that this differential hormone sensitivity in PMDD is based on a biological difference that’s occurring on a cellular level,” he said.

"Many women with this condition feel that it’s neglected,” he continued. "Either their doctors tell them it’s normal to be moody around their periods or they say it’s in the women’s heads."

The results have reportedly been welcomed by sufferers of the condition.

Drinking and college life; they just go hand in hand, don't they?

Along with ditching lectures, sleeping until noon and buying countless spiral-bound notebooks which you will never use, the media would have us believe that binge drinking is the sole preoccupation of most third-level students.

And while –  generally speaking – they're not that wide of the mark, the vast majority of us make it out of this phase of our lives with a clearer knowledge of our limits, and a distinct distaste for certain alcoholic drinks which we associate with 'that one time'.

We graduate university with a degree, a sense of achievement and a handful of experiences we'd rather not repeat… if we're lucky, that is.

The less fortunate among us take a little longer to establish that drinking to excess is a fool's game, and make a valiant attempt to adopt a more level-headed attitude towards alcohol.

And the desperately unlucky among us don't get a chance to make it out at all.

Earlier this week, the Miami University Police Department released a 25-page report outlining the events which led to the death of 18-year-old Erica Buschick – a freshman at Ohio's Miami University.

Found dead in her college dorm after a night of drinking last month, the run-up to Erica's death is comparable to nights experienced by thousands of other college students around the world.

After sharing two bottles of champagne with a friend, the pair made their way to a party where they drank vodka which Erica had decanted into a reusable bottle.

An hour and a half later, Erica was considered too drunk to gain entry into a local establishment, and was ultimately brought home to sleep it off in her dorm

The following morning, the 18-year-old was found dead on a beanbag; cold to the touch, another statistic in an incredibly bleak narrative.

And while Erica's story is, without question, the worst case scenario, the lightbulb moment which encourages an individual to address their attitude towards alcohol is far from consistent across the board.

I mean, what needs to happen before you realise you're drinking too much?

How many cases of The Fear do you have to endure before you start questioning whether you've been overdoing it on the ol' drink front?

Should it be when you find yourself wading across a river in order to rescue the handbag you sacrificed to the water the night before?

Or is it when you discover you're sporting a black eye, bruised cheek and split lip only after your mother wakes you up, hands you a mirror and informs you 'liberated' a stranger's bike and crashed it into a wall the night before?

Or how about when you find yourself in a stranger's home with no memory of how you got there, and a distinct feeling you'd rather be anywhere else in the world at that moment?

As a college student, none of these scenarios were enough to tell me that drinking to the stage where I black out and put myself in danger was a bad move.

I mean, in theory, I knew they weren't my finest hours, but with just enough filtering and some clever perspective, I could spin these incidents into funny anecdotes I would willingly share with other people.

"Oh, that vodka. What will it have me doing next?" "Look at my black eye! Amn't I just GAS?"

An outsider looking in could have come to the blithe conclusion that I was drinking to silence some inner demon or getting drunk to drown out the bigger issues, but they'd be wrong.

I was drinking cos it was great craic. I was drinking cos I enjoyed it. And I was drinking to get drunk because it was the done thing.

It was accepted.

Getting hammered was the name of the game, coming home with war stories for your friends (if you could remember them) was encouraged, and doing it over and over again throughout your time in college was par for the course.

With the benefit of hindsight, the vast majority of us would do anything to prevent our younger selves from engaging in the carry-on we deemed acceptable at the time.

While we may look back fondly on most nights out, many of us have a handful that we'd rather bring to our grave than repeat in polite company.

And in extreme cases, there are still some which we struggle to believe didn't end with the arrival of an ambulance or police car to our family home.

Most of us will always be grateful that we made it out of this period with a clearer perspective on the importance of our wellbeing, but if Erica's story teaches us anything, it's that not everyone gets the chance.

After a campaign, initiated by the Irish Cancer Society, was met with mixed reaction last month, the chief executive of the organisation has decided to address the criticism.

Referring to the 'I Want to Get Cancer' initiative, John McCormack this week extended his apologies to anyone who was affected by the advertising campaign, but maintained that the purpose of the initiative was to raise even further awareness of the regularity with which people are diagnosed in Ireland.

"Cancer takes far too many lives, and being reminded of its destruction can make people feel vulnerable and raw," he said. "But I would like to get one thing absolutely clear, and that is that this campaign was undertaken to save lives.That was our one and only motivation."

"While the merits of our campaign were being debated in the papers and on the airwaves, 150 people a day were hearing the words, 'You have cancer'. One person every three minutes – that's 40,000 people a year," he added.

Acknowledging the distress the campaign caused among members of the public, Mr McCormack extended his sympathies and acknowledged the impact the nature of the campaign had on many.

"My team and I also deal with some very difficult calls, People reached out to us as they were hurt by our campaign and it reignited a grief that was so very hard to bear," he said.

"This was often a direct consequence of the cancer diagnosis that the person, their friend or their family had received."

"On behalf of the society, I want to acknowledge the hurt that our campaign may have caused people. That was never our intention," he insisted.

"And to anyone that has lost a loved one to cancer, I am truly sorry," he said.

A blogger, who suffers from rosacea, has been inundated with support after she made the decision to share a splitscreen shot of her face for her followers.

After using make-up on half her face and leaving the other half bare, Lex Gillies gave her followers an insight into her struggles with the skin condition.

"This photo was hard to take and is even harder to post. Every single time I take a photo of my bare skin I am still shocked, because this is not how I picture myself," she wrote in the post.

"When I imagine my face, I think of the girl on the right: happy, comfortable, wearing an amazing lipstick that screams confidence."

"So when I see the girl on the left, it's jarring. And it makes me upset," she added.


This photo was hard to take and is even harder to post. Every single time I take a photo of my bare skin I am still shocked, because this is not how I picture myself. When I imagine my face, I think of the girl on the right: happy, comfortable, wearing an amazing lipstick that screams confidence. So when I see the girl on the left, it's jarring. And it makes me upset. But I absolutely love seeing photos like these from other people. It shows that make up can be transformative and beautiful, but it's also so so much more than that. Wearing make up makes me feel stronger and helps me to be myself. To others this may sound silly or vain but to me it's a necessity. It gives me control over something I cannot change and that is so powerful. One of my missions this year is to try to pare back my make up in an attempt to feel more comfortable in my skin. But it's a slow process and one I'm really struggling with to be honest. I'd love to be more confident about the way I look, but for now I'm just trying to be a little kinder to myself. #perfectlyme

A photo posted by Lex Gillies (@talontedlex) on

Dismissing the notion that reliance on cosmetics is a sign of vanity, Lex continued: "Wearing make up makes me feel stronger and helps me to be myself."

"To others this may sound silly or vain but to me it's a necessity. It gives me control over something I cannot change and that is so powerful."

Turning her attention to the future, Lex says she hopes to pare back the amount of make-up she wears as an exercise in self-confidence, but insists it's not something she plans to do overnight.

"But it's a slow process and one I'm really struggling with to be honest. I'd love to be more confident about the way I look, but for now I'm just trying to be a little kinder to myself," she finished.

Instagram users have been quick to offer their support in light of Lex's post, with one writing: "You are so inspiring, especially for those of us who have just been dealt the blow."

"It's so hard to be kinder to yourself in all senses but I think you're amazing," added another.

And so do we.

There's no denying that the transition from secondary school to third-level education takes some getting used to.

And while some students thrive in their new environment, countless others struggle to adjust, and ultimately berate themselves for being unable to adapt to their new surroundings.

But according to a recent study, this default response to an apparent failing only serves to perpetuate the feelings of distress many students experience during their first year at university.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia have concluded that students who exhibit higher levels of self-compassion feel more energetic, alive and optimistic during their first year of university.

"Our study suggests the psychological stress students may experience during the transition between high school and university can be mitigated with self-compassion because it enhances the psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, which in turn, enriches well-being," explained the study's lead author, Katie Gunnell.

Researchers conclude that for a student to prosper during their first year, it is vital that they avoid negative self-judgement and feelings of inadequacy.

Research shows first-year university is stressful," said co-author and UBC kinesiology professor Peter Crocker.

"Students who are used to getting high grades may be shocked to not do as well in university, feel challenged living away from home, and are often missing important social support they had in high school."

"Self-compassion appears to be an effective strategy or resource to cope with these types of issues," he explained.

By initiating self-compassion exercises which promote self-kindness, students were less likely to be self-critical, and ultimately perform better over the course of their first year in third-level education.

Something to think about…

An Instagram page, which is currently memorialising people who lost their battle with AIDS, is gaining considerable traction online this week.

The AIDS Memorial Page allows members of the public to share photographs and memories of loved ones who died from the virus over the course of the last three decades, and there's no denying it makes for heartbreaking reading.

Reminding internet users that their siblings, partners and friends were much, much more than a mere statistic, contributors have given thousands of followers an insight into the people behind the diagnosis.

And here are just some of the posts which have struck a chord with the public over recent days.



"…..a photo of Peter (pictured left) and myself from 2011 (a little over a year before he left this world). This pic was at our 16th anniversary party (Peter always had the amazing tradition of celebrating monthly anniversaries rather than yearly ones…so actually this was our 192nd anniversary!) …. I recommit to Pete's spirit of never being silent, always being an advocate, always speaking truth to power. Even in his deepest, darkest days of depression, even when confined to institutions, Pete knew that making noise in the face of injustice was itself the highest form of social justice. Peter, thanks for your example of always celebrating all forms of diversity and embracing the dignity inherent in all. I'll carry you in my heart and soul as I take to the streets to ensure that we continue to "Lift every voice…." May our lives and actions continue to serve as our strong living memorials to those we lost to AIDS" – by Richard Carrillo #whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

A photo posted by The AIDS Memorial (@the_aids_memorial) on



"Springtime #Boston 1985, I was 25 and going to school at #Emerson & working various part time jobs. I came home to find my lover & partner sitting on the steps, with his face in his hands sobbing. I had an uneasy feeling what he was about to tell me. He lifted his head and sobbed that he had indeed he was infected with #HIV. All I could do was hold him, cry together and try to reassure him that somehow we would make it. He confessed, that much of his grief was not only about the terror of losing his life, which he did 6 years later, but also about his fear that he had infected me. I waited all of 9 months to a year to get the courage to get tested. I will never forget the moment the MD told me the news about my infection … #JudyCollins was on the radio singing #SendintheClowns…that song will always be profoundly memorable for me, as if it wasn't already. After the initial shock, horror & depression subsided at 26, I made a vow to live as deeply, purely and passionately as possible with whatever time I had left. I returned to my calling as a #VisualArtist. I was open about my status & became vocal & vigilant at every turn, for ways that we could work as a community of artists and #HIVpositive people, to fight the stigma, shame, misinformation, prejudice, exclusion & negligence we faced. I had my first solo exhibition in a gallery one year after my diagnosis and devoted the exhibition to the philosophical and spiritual ideas & imagery of personal transformation. I can say that after the first couple of years of my infection I began to find ways to frame #HIV as a "blessing" buried in the "beast" of this illness and as a catalyst for growth. There have been many long, lean, hard times, as well as some glorious & peak passages during this 31 year odyssey of both living #HIVpositive & as a working artist. Today at 57 my passion for spiritual focus & living the authentic life of artistry has never been greater!" – by Karlton Johnson #whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #neverforget #endaids #karltonjohnsonfineart #inspiredlivingmhs

A photo posted by The AIDS Memorial (@the_aids_memorial) on



#Repost @katherinezitterbart ・・・ #TBT Sunday dinner with our dear friend Joel. My twin brother and I were freshmen in high school, IIRC. Joel lived with us after his family #disowned him when he #cameout as #gay. He was the first person I saw deteriorate and die due to complications of #HIV #AIDS. Seeing his emotional suffering at the hand of his family, and the impact of witnessing his decline, are two factors that influenced me towards #activism around #humanrights. This was decades before we had acronyms like #lgbtq. I consider myself #queer, though my strong tendency is to partner with men. If you are curious about what life was like during the #AIDSCrisis, why I identify as I do.. if you need someone to talk to. I'm here. …….. ……… I SEE YOU ……. ……. #kayteezee #lovealwayslove ….. ….. @the_aids_memorial @lgbt_history @humansofsquirrelhill @humanrightscampaign #whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #endaids #neverforget

A photo posted by The AIDS Memorial (@the_aids_memorial) on




According to the results of a new study, 15 per cent of Irish women, who participated in a national screening programme, tested positive for Human Papillomavirus – a virus which is known to cause cervical cancer.

Of the 6,000 women who participated in the programme, which was funded by the Health Research Board, one in six carried traces of the virus.

According to The Irish Times, however, just five per cent of those who tested positive carried the two subtypes which are generally associated with cases of the disease.

Commenting on the results, John O’Leary, professor of pathology at Trinity College, explained that the results were actually in keeping with similar studies conducted in other countries, and were not a source of undue concern.

While most strains of the virus are low-risk, some are responsible for causing changes to cervical cells which can, in some cases, lead to a cancer diagnosis.

It has been established that women under the age of 30 are most likely to test positive for HPV, with one quarter presenting with DNA of the virus.

The interim results of the pilot screening will be discussed at a symposium in Dublin later today.

Nobody likes talking or even thinking about cancer, especially when you feel fit and healthy.

But cervical cancer doesn't have any symptoms – and the only way to detect it is through regular smear tests.

Thankfully, however, it IS treatable – and with early detection it is curable.

Early detection being the key words.

And this is why it is SO important you attend all scheduled smear tests.

Through screening, doctors can pick up abnormalities at the pre-cancer stage, when it is easily treatable, and having your smear test is a quick, free and painless.

This week is European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (22nd-28th January), and to coincide with it the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) and CervicalCheck have launched the Pearl of Wisdom campaign to highlight the vital importance of free regular cervical screening.

They are urging women aged 25-60 to check when their next smear is due, or to book their first test with a doctor or nurse registered with CervicalCheck.

And how can you do that? 

Simply click on CervicalCheck.ie and you'll be able to check when you're next appointment is due or make sure you're registered for your first one. 

“Each year in Ireland, around 300 women are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer and over 90 women die from the disease," Dr. Gráinne Flannelly said when speaking at the Pearl of Wisdom campaign launch.

"The cervical screening provided by CervicalCheck, combined with the HPV vaccination programme, provides the opportunity to significantly reduce these rates.

"So this week, we are calling on all women aged 25 to 60 to check when their next smear test is due, or arrange their first test with a doctor or nurse registered with CervicalCheck if they have never done so."

As part of their Go for Gold campaign, the Food Agency in the UK have issued a warning to the public over the dangers associated with overcooking starchy food like bread and potatoes.

The FSA warn that cooking these particular foods for long periods at high temperatures can lead to an increased risk of cancer.

The campaign seeks to educate the public on the development of a potential carcinogenic known as acrylamide – a chemical which is created when the aforementioned foods are cooked at unnecessarily high temperatures.

Elaborating on the campaign, Steve Wearne, Director of Policy at the Food Standards Agency said: "Our research indicates that the majority of people are not aware that acrylamide exists, or that they might be able to reduce their personal intake."

"We want our 'Go for Gold' campaign to highlight the issue so that consumers know how to make the small changes that may reduce their acrylamide consumption whilst still eating plenty of starchy carbohydrates and vegetables as recommended in government healthy eating advice."

"The FSA is continuing to work closely with the food industry to reduce acrylamide in the food you buy, including the development of practical tools like an industry toolkit and codes of practice which will be embedded throughout the food chain," he added.

Four specific guidelines have been issued to the public which the FSA believe will assist the public in reducing exposure to acrylamide.

If you have a job that requires you to be on your feet most of the day, you've probably cursed your friends and families who lord it over you with their sweet desk jobs, right?

Well, if recent research is anything to go by, your mates with the 'cushy' office jobs are biologically almost a decade older than you due to the fact they're sitting for most of the day.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers established that women who sit for at least ten hours a day and fail to do at least 40 minutes exercise were biologically much older.

Oh, joy.

It has been established that women whose jobs require them to sit from morning until evening have shorter telomeres which are the tiny caps found on the ends of strands of DNA.

These caps. which shorten with age, protect chromosomes from damage meaning that these particular women have a higher risk of disease, and are, from a scientific perspective, eight years older than their counterparts.

"Our study found cells age faster with a sedentary lifestyle. Chronological age doesn’t always match biological age.” lead author, Aladdin Shadyab explained.

The research was conducted across 1,500 women.