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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.

 

In a move which has made countless headlines this morning, the government in Finland have announced that they plan to make the Nordic country 'cigarette-free' by 2030.

Officials initially understood that it would be 2040 before the goal could be properly realised, but new legislation indicates that the aims can be achieved over the course of the next 13 years.

The country is known for its limited tolerance towards cigarettes. Having banned the advertisement of nicotine products back in 1978, Finland then went on to ban smoking in the workplace in 1995 before implementing a ban in bars and restaurants in 2007.

With their 2030 goal in mind, the Nordic version of Business Insider reports that housing associations will enforce smoking bans on balconies as well as yards belonging to the housing complex.

It is understood that capsule cigarettes which activate a taste such as menthol or blackcurrant when squeezed will be receiving an outright ban.

Further to this, retailers will be charged for selling nicotine products and considering the increase in cost, this will render the endeavour almost non-profitable for retailers.

 

Earlier this month we reported on a dubious trend which saw members of the public avail of a 'nose lifter' device which helps to reshape an individual's nose without the aid of surgery.

Made of soft PVC plastic, the device is inserted into the nostrils to help redefine their shape, and, according to Racosmeofficial, "gives an instant, dramatic result and is the world's best selling nose job alternative!"

However, it doesn't look like everyone is a fan, with members of the medical community issuing cautionary advice to the public over the use of the device.

Speaking to News.com.au, Head of Rhinology at Australia's University of New South Wales and Macquarie University, Professor Richard Harvey highlighted the dangers associated with attempting to rehape the framework of your nose.

"It's putting pressure on the cartilage framework of the nose," he explained. "It's being manipulated. It's stretching and distorting it and putting pressure on the lining of the nose."
 
While the folk behind the invention advise the public to only wear the device for an hour at a time during the first week, Professor Harvey reminded the public that wearing it for any time period could result in accidental inhalation should it become dislodged.

Urging the public to reconsider quick-fixes which can be bought online, Professor Harvey added: "If people really have concerns about the shape and function of their nose, they should see a doctor who deals with cosmetic treatments."

"They can educate you about the pros and cons of such treatment."

Following the untimely death of 16-year-old Michael Cornacchio in Cork earlier this week, the HSE has issued a warning to the public over the dangers of a synthetic drug known as U-4.

Michael was found unresponsive in his bedroom in Deerpark, Friars Walk on Monday, and despite medical intervention was pronounced dead at the scene.

Following the teen's death, David Lane, Co-Ordinator of Drug & Alcohol Services with the HSE, spoke with RTÉ, and highlighted the dangers associated with the drug which many may mistake for cocaine.

"It hasn't appeared in an Irish context previously. We are aware that this particular drug has been implicated in deaths in the United States, other parts of Europe and the UK," he explained.

"So we are issuing this public health message to let people know that it has made an appearance on the streets in Cork. We are appealing through various networks in Cork city for drug users to avoid taking the substance."

Echoing these sentiments, Dr Eamon Keenan, HSE National Clinical Leader for Addiction Services, said: "The substance has been discovered in Ireland for the first time. In this case this substance was sold as something else and bought as something else, cocaine."

"You never know what you're buying when you go into the drug market. There is no security or control."

According to The Irish Independent, the HSE has advised the public to dispose of the drug, which has been linked to 50 deaths in the United States since 2015, if they believe they are in possession of it.

If ever there was a month you needed reminding that social media is little more than strategic angles, slick filters and clever lighting, it's January.

Struggling to get your gym gear over your thighs after a prolonged festive hiatus is perhaps the most difficult aspect of getting back on the horse, and it's made all the more agonising by social media feeds chock-full of taut arms and toned abs.

Aware of this, fitness instructor, Anna Victoria, set about reminding her followers that after posting shots highlighting her hard work, she then shakes herself out of her pose, unclenches her abs and becomes reacquainted with a figure more akin to a regular woman than a superhero.

Uploading a splitscreen shot of photos taken moments apart, 28-year-old Anna wrote: "Me 1% of the time vs. 99% of the time. And I love both photos equally. Good or bad angles don't change your worth."

 

Me 1% of the time vs. 99% of the time. And I love both photos equally. Good or bad angles don't change your worth ❤️ I recently came across an article talking about how one woman stated she refuses to accept her flaws, because she doesn't see them as flaws at all. I LOVED that because it sends such a powerful message that our belly rolls, cellulite, stretch marks are nothing to apologize for, to be ashamed of, or to be obsessed with getting rid of! As I'm getting older, I have cellulite and stretch marks that aren't going away, and I welcome them. They represent a life fully lived (for 28 years so far :)) and a healthy life and body at that. How can I be mad at my body for perfectly normal "flaws"? This body is strong, can run miles, can lift and squat and push and pull weight around, and it's happy not just because of how it looks, but because of how it feels. So when you approach your journey, I want you to remember these things: I will not punish my body I will fuel it I will challenge it AND I will love it If you're following my page, you're a part of helping me spread this message and creating this movement – thank you. #fbggirls www.annavictoria.com/guides

A photo posted by Snapchat: AnnaVictoriaFit (@annavictoria) on

"I recently came across an article talking about how one woman stated she refuses to accept her flaws, because she doesn't see them as flaws at all. I LOVED that because it sends such a powerful message that our belly rolls, cellulite, stretch marks are nothing to apologize for, to be ashamed of, or to be obsessed with getting rid of!"

Refusing to see perceived flaws as such, Anna celebrated her figure (at any angle), writing: "This body is strong, can run miles, can lift and squat and push and pull weight around, and it's happy not just because of how it looks, but because of how it feels."

The post which has amassed more than 271,000 likes since its upload yesterday has been inundated with comments from the public.

"I have started to slowly convince myself these things lately and the message you are spreading is both inspiring and important. Thank you and continue on this path," wrote one.

Tagging a friend, another follower wrote: "I love this ! See we don't need to worry about rolls when we bend or sit down! It's how it should be!"

Anna, take a bow.

 

 

According to a recent study, one in three individuals who have been diagnosed as asthmatic do not, in fact, suffer from the condition.

Researchers from the University of Ottawa studied 613 individuals who had been diagnosed with asthma in the last five years, and established that one-third did not actually have the condition.

With the assistance of a lung specialist, researchers were able to conclude that 33 per cent of their participants did not have active asthma, and a staggering 90 per cent were able to stop their medication and remain off it for a year.

The study established that almost half of those diagnosed had not undergone airflow tests to ensure a correct diagnosis  – something which Dr Shawn Aaron, lead author and respirologist at the Ottawa Hospital and professor at the University of Ottawa, struggles to understand.

"Doctors wouldn’t diagnose diabetes without checking blood sugar levels, or a broken bone without ordering an X-ray. But for some reason, many doctors are not ordering the spirometry tests that can definitely diagnose asthma," he said.

"It wasn’t a surprise to most patients when we told them they didn’t have asthma," he added while the study confirmed that those who had been misdiagnosed actually suffered from allergies or heartburn.

Elaborating on the study's findings, Dr  Aaron acknowledged that it was difficult to ascertain which patient was misdiagnosed and which had 'inactive' asthma.

"It’s impossible to say how many of these patients were originally misdiagnosed with asthma, and how many have asthma that is no longer active," he said.

“What we do know is that they were all able to stop taking medication that they didn’t need – medication that is expensive and can have side effects.”

Reflecting on his participants' reaction to the news of their misdiagnosis, Dr Aaron said: "Some knew all along that their puffer wasn’t working, while others were concerned that they might have something more serious."

"Thankfully, the majority of the conditions were mild and easily treated."

The study has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

We're all used to seeing snaps of people before and after considerable weight loss.

Whether they're pulling their (now extra large) waistband away from their stomach or using their (now oversized T-shirt) as a bed sheet, when it comes to social media weight loss is always in… until now.

Deciding to turn the trend on its head, body positive social media star, Arianna Dantone, initiated a brand new trend at the start of the year, and Twitter is officially loving it.

The #GainingWeightIsCool hashtag is Arianna's attempt to highlight the importance of weight gain when it comes to countless people's personal journeys.

Whether it's as a result of muscle development through exercise or during the recovery process of an eating disorder, #GainingWeightIsCool seeks to highlight that in many cases relating to physical and mental health, weight gain is just as worthy of celebration as weight loss.

And we're going to let Twitter take it from here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ladies, it's time to gather around for we have some very interesting news to share.

According to those in the know, the decision to go cold turkey on the alcohol front for the first month of the year is actually not as smart a move as many of us have been led to believe.

Putting it simply, Dr. Marc Romano, an addiction specialist at Pompano Beach, Florida's Ocean Breeze Recovery, explained that avoiding alcohol for thirty days is akin to going on a very strict, but short-term diet.

"It's been shown that people who engage in intense short-term diets actually end up putting on more weight when it's all said and done," Dr. Romano said. "And the same logic applies here, for sure."

"It's definitely possible, and probably likely, that anyone doing a Dry January run will probably bounce back even harder once their month is over," he continued. "In reality, there's a much better way to go about this."

While cutting down on drink is not to be discouraged, if you are embarking on a Dry January because you are genuinely worried about your relationship with alcohol, you definitely need to rethink your approach.

"If you are at the point where you need to take a month off drinking, or take stock in your relationship with alcohol, the 'cold turkey' method could present some serious health issues," said Dr Romano.

If you have been drinking at least three or four times a week, your body may react negatively to a sudden period of abstinence.

"Of course, not everyone is going to have seizures if they give up drinking. It all depends on gender, height, weight, frequency of alcohol consumption, all those variables," Dr Romano said.

"But there's really no way to know till it happens. Is that a risk you are willing to take?"

Well, when you put it like that Dr Romano…

According to emerging reports, the lifetime ban which prevented men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service has been officially lifted.

It has been established that as of today any man who has had sex with another man in the last 12 months will be allowed to donate as long as they meet specific blood donor selection criteria.

Health Minister Simon Harris has welcomed the news and assured the public that he is confident in the services provided by the IBTS.

"In June of last year, I accepted the recommendations of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) to change their blood donation deferral policies for men who have sex with men," he explained.

"The IBTS provides a safe, reliable and robust blood service to the Irish health system and has the necessary programmes and procedures in place to protect both donors and recipients of blood and blood products."

"Furthermore, the IBTS will continue to keep all deferral policies under active review in the light of scientific evidence, emerging infections and international experience."

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the IBTS for its work over the past six months, which today sees these recommendations brought to fruition within the timescale agreed," he added.

Prior to blood donation, the IBTS tests all prospective blood donors for a number of diseases, including HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

With more than 103,000 likes and 33,000 shares, Charmaine Briggs's post on the important role by healthcare assistants has clearly struck a chord with the public.

Taking to social media to dismiss the notion that any one position in medicine is more important than another, Charmaine celebrated the team work which goes into treating and caring for the ill.

"Today someone said to me "Why would you want to be a nurse and wipe people's asses for a living? You may as well just be a HCA" This made my blood boil. No one is "just a HCA" for a start," Charmaine began.

"I've been a health care assistant before being a student nurse and you are your patients only support in some cases. We are the staff with the patients 24/7."

"We are the ones changing the beds, changing our own clothes for the fourth time due to other people’s bodily fluids, the ones mopping up the nosebleeds and cleaning comodes on a loop," she reminded the public.

"We are up close and personal with our patients – we hold their hands when they fear the unknown, we listen to them when they need someone to talk to, we’ve cried with them. We work around the clock 365 days of the year, we sometimes sit with patients who have no family so they simple don't pass away alone."

Highlighting the impact the job has on the individual doing it, she continued: "It is physically and emotionally challenging, and one day you'll need that help from "just a health care assistant" not just when you're old, you don't know what tomorrow holds."

"Nurses save lives everyday. I don't know if people think it is only doctors who save your life but it's really not the case. Everyone comes together as a team and doctors wouldn't be able to do their job without nurses, as nurses wouldn't without HCA's."

"Some people really do need to stop and think what they say to people, as one day you might need that life saving help from the people you run down," she finished in a post which has been widely lauded since its upload at the beginning of the week.

Charmaine has been inundated with messages of support since taking to social media with her message, with one user writing: "Thank you. We HCAs get overlooked and put down a lot. You being a nurse and sticking up for us front line workers really made my day."