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NZ doctors putting patients at risk

doctors shortage Auckland hospital

Mistakes by doctors are inevitable in the current working environment, says the union representing New Zealand’s resident doctors.

Recently, a man died in an Auckland hospital from a tear in his aorta after the doctor overlooked an X-Ray. According to the coroner’s report, Trevor Bourke, 69, could have been saved had the doctor at the North Shore Hospital not forgotten to review his X-ray.

Trevor arrived at the hospital with chest pain on 25 May 2013. He passed away the next day.

Dr Aik Haw Tan, overwhelmed by a busy night shift, failed to review the X-ray that could have led to the diagnosis of the tear.

The New Zealand Resident Doctors Association (NZRDA) national secretary Dr Deborah Powell is concerned with the safety level of patients.

“Both the workloads and the hours resident doctors continue to be asked to work is high. Mistakes are bound to happen if doctors are overworked and tired. It is inevitable that patients will suffer in such circumstances.”

“My heart also goes out to Dr Tan,” Deborah says. “Here we have a doctor working through the night and he’s rushed off his feet with 75 per cent more than the usual number of patient admissions to get through.

“When Dr Tan saw Mr Bourke, his symptoms were very vague and certainly not suggestive of something as serious as an aortic tear. The conditions were stacked against him. Now one of his patients has died. It’s a tragedy for all involved.”

Deborah says the reality is that cases like this are just symptoms of the wider problem within New Zealand hospitals.

“Tragedies like this will continue to occur unless the issue of shortages and proper resourcing are addressed.

The Auckland district health board plans to cut staff costs due to a $12 million budget deficit.

In addition to physical and emotional loss suffered by patients, medical errors are also costing taxpayers thousands of dollars in payouts by the country’s health welfare provider – Accident Compensation Commission (ACC).

ACC paid as much as $7.6 million in 2011  to victims of treatment injuries – missed or delayed diagnoses, medication errors and erroneous surgery.

Two people who topped the list ended up as paraplegics after medical treatment have received more than $200,000 each in compensation.

ACC paid $7.6 million to 3600 people for treatment injuries in 2011, with further 1200 claims to be processed.

Health News

Hep A scare in NZ following apple infection

Hepatitis A alert New Zealand

A small quantity of fresh fruit sold in New Zealand in late February and early March may have been contaminated with Hepatitis A virus.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says the risk of transmission of the virus is relatively low.

“We have been advised that a person packing some varieties of apples and peaches in a Hawke’s Bay packhouse has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A,” says MPI Deputy Director General Scott Gallacher.

“This worker handled Royal Gala and New Zealand Beauty apples and Golden Queen peaches over a four day period while they would have been infectious. Hepatitis A virus can remain infectious on the surface of fruit for some months and transmit infection to other handlers and consumers.

Scott says while some potentially affected fruit has been traced and withdrawn from sale, it is expected that approximately 1400 cartons have been sold, with fruit either consumed or still in some people’s homes.

Scott says all fruit involved in this case was for domestic New Zealand supply and has not been exported.

The fruit concerned was on sale between 27 February and 13 March 2014 at the following outlets.

Royal Gala apples from:
All Countdown supermarkets in the North Island.
The following Christchurch retailers – G Morris and Son, Fresh Connection, United Fresh, Edgeware Supervalue.

Golden Queen peaches from:
All Countdown supermarkets in the North Island.
Pak n Save, New World and Four Square supermarkets from Taupo to Kaitaia.

The following Auckland retailers –  Dahua Supermarket (Albany), Lim Chour (K-Road), Fruit World Pioneer Plaza (Henderson), Manukau Fresh Fruit and Vege, Fresh for Less (Henderson), Save Fruit and Vege Shop (Manukau), Green Field Fruit and Vege (Green Bay), New Lynn Fresh.

Also Fresh World in Hawera.

New Zealand Beauty apples from:
All Countdown, Fresh Choice and Super Value supermarkets in the South Island.

The Ministry recommends people who bought potentially affected fruit between 27 February and 13 March 2014 to either cook the fruit well before eating, or if in doubt, throw it out.

“We advise anyone who becomes ill with the following symptoms contact their doctor. Look out for skin jaundice (yellowish tinge), yellowing of the whites of eyes, dark coloured urine and pale bowel motions. Early signs of Hepatitis A are fever, loss of appetite, stomach pains and nausea.

More information



Health News

Are antibacterial soaps worth the hype?

antibacterial handwash

A consumer rights protection magazine from New Zealand believes that antibacterial soaps do more harm than good.

Antibacterial soaps are little more than a marketing invention and at worst could actually be doing us harm, says Consumer New Zealand.

“Ads trumpet the soaps’ 99% bacteria-killing power successfully playing on our fear of germs and boosting multimillion dollar sales,” says Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin.

“But evidence these products provide any extra benefit is lacking – and there’s a chance they are doing us harm by reducing the effectiveness of drugs we rely on to fight infections when we do get sick.”

Triclosan and triclocarban are among the most common bacterial agents manufacturers use in their products. Both are being targeted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency has said it will require manufacturers to prove antibacterial soaps are safe for everyday use, and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing the spread of infections, Sue says.

The antibacterial agents are found in many products on supermarket shelves in New Zealand from brands like Dettol, Health Basics, Select, Protex and Palmolive, she says.

They are approved for use here but there is growing concern (that) use of antibacterial agents in consumer goods are contributing to the development of antibiotic resistance.

The growing use of antibacterial agents in consumer goods is contributing to concerns about their potential role in the development of antibiotic resistance, says the Consumer magazine.

Lab studies show bacteria exposed to antibacterial agents, such as triclosan, can become resistant to antibiotics. Whether this can also happen outside the lab isn’t yet known. Real-world studies have been limited and haven’t delivered definitive data for assessing the risk.

Both the FDA and scientific advisers in the EU have raised the need for more research. In a 2010 report on triclosan, the EU Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety stated the conclusions from lab studies can’t be ignored. The committee said it could only recommend the “prudent use” of the chemical where, for example, there was a clear health benefit.

Triclosan has also been found in waste-water in New Zealand. It’s one of the chemicals being tracked by researchers from the government-funded Centre for Integrated Biowaste Research, investigating the environmental effects of ingredients used in common household products.

Project leader Dr Louis Tremblay told Consumer NZ triclosan was an effective broad-spectrum antimicrobial but it should only be used where there was a clear benefit. It was overkill to use it in household soaps.

His advice was, if people wanted to do something for the environment, choose a plain bar of soap.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, studies cited by manufacturers to support claims that antibacterial soap provides any health advantage over using plain soap and water, have largely been dismissed by the United States FDA.

In December 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed a new rule that would force companies that make antibacterial soaps to prove that their products are effective and safe.

Federal regulators said that the two most common active ingredients in antibacterial soaps — triclosan and triclocarban — are no more effective at preventing the spread of illnesses than washing with plain soap and water.

Sue says antibacterial soaps were a solution to a non-existent problem – regular soap and water would get your hands as clean as they needed to be.

Product claims

Dettol Moisture Hygienic Soap

Claims: “Helps to remove germs and contains added moisturiser that helps leave your skin feeling soft and smooth”

Contains: triclocarban

Dettol Touch of Foam Hand Wash

Claims: “Kills 99.9% of germs … soft on skin, hard on germs, for healthy skin protected from germs and dryness”

Contains: benzalkonium chloride

Health Basics Antibacterial Hand Wash

Claims: “Enriched with plant extracts, aloe vera, and the indigenous harakeke flax”

Contains: triclosan (product being reformulated)

Palmolive Antibacterial Defence Liquid Hand Wash

Claims: “Kills germs and defends … specifically formulated to provide you with long-lasting antibacterial action”

Contains: triclocarban

Protex Antibacterial Soap

Claims: “Eliminates 99% of bacteria … contains higher levels of antibacterial agent than most of Protex soaps and leaves you feeling confident and clean”

Contains: triclocarban

Select Anti-Bacterial Original Hygienic Liquid Hand Wash

Claims: “Kills 99.9% germs”

Contains: triclosan

(Source: Consumer New Zealand report on antibacterial soaps.)

Health News Travel

Measles alert on Brisbane-Auckland flight

Measles symptoms cure(Photo: Dave Haygarth)

Passengers flying from Brisbane to Auckland on 23 February on an Air New Zealand flight may have been exposed to measles, the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) advises.

ARPHS has reported two measles cases who were passengers on Flight NZ136 leaving Brisbane at 11:15am on Sunday 23 February.

These passengers would have been infectious at the time of their travel on this flight, says Medical Officer of Health Dr Richard Hoskins.

It usually takes 10 to 14 days for measles to start showing any symptoms. Anyone on this flight who may have caught measles should be starting to feel unwell, if they’re not already, by Sunday 9 March, a statement from the health service says.

“Passengers who sat nearest the two cases have the highest risk and are our priority,” says Dr Hoskins, “and will be contacted by their local public health service. However because measles is an infectious, airborne disease, we want all passengers to be vigilant.”

Measles symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and a rash that starts on the face and neck before spreading elsewhere.

Any passengers from this flight who feel unwell should phone their GP or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice. It is vitally important to call first before seeing a doctor because measles is highly infectious, and people with measles can infect others in the waiting room.

New Zealand has experienced measles outbreaks very recently.

There have been 57 measles cases in Auckland so far this year. Nine of these caught measles overseas and brought it home with them. A similar measles outbreak in the year 2011-12 had nearly 500 people affected and 82 required hospitalisation.

Measles is a serious illness, says Dr Hoskins, and there is no treatment. “The only way to avoid catching measles is to have had two measles vaccines after your first birthday. Please check with your GP to see if you and your family are protected.”

Health Lifestyle

Why apple cider vinegar is so good for weight loss

Is apple cider vinegar good for weight loss

Apple cider vinegar for weight loss is a forgotten home-remedy which is coming back in fashion. Among many health benefits, weight loss is the most widely known, because apple cider vinegar helps lose weight in a healthy way. Let’s find out how. (There’s an amazing video at the end of this article that explains the benefits of apple cider vinegar.)

Benefits of apple cider vinegar

Apple has been around since the time of Adam and Eve, and for a good reason. Apple is one of the most important fruits in our daily diet.

Apple provides potassium which helps us in staying young and delays the aging process. High calcium content in apple keeps our bones healthy.

Organic apple cider vinegar is made from naturally-grown apples, and provides the much-needed enzymes and minerals without any adulteration.

Apple cider vinegar strengthens our immune system by restoring nutrients in our body.

Including Apple cider vinegar in our daily diet helps in staying healthy and losing weight by:

  • Supporting our digestion system,
  • Removing toxins from the body, and
  • Improving our immune system.

Apple cider vinegar also improves the quality of skin, strengthens our joints and muscles, and removes skin irritation.

Because of its cleansing abilities, cider vinegar also improves liver function.

How to choose the right apple cider vinegar to buy

There are many brands and many variations available in the market. Most known brands like Bragg offer good products to buy.

One important consideration to keep in mind while buying apple cider vinegar is that it should be organic and natural. Organic ACV is made from naturally-grown apples and offer the most health benefits including weight loss benefit.

The important element of apple cider vinegar is the “mother”. It is the strand-like element that is visible at the bottom of the ACV bottle. This element contains the most nutritious part of apple cider vinegar. This mother provides all the health benefits.

Avoid buying pasteurized ACV which is made by heating the vinegar so as to remove harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, pasteurization also gets rid of important nutrients and enzymes – these are the elements that make the “mother” of ACV, which provides the health benefits.

The mother is found only in unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. Therefore it is important to buy unpasteurized cider vinegar.

Look for natural ACV in the market. The usual apple cider vinegar is distilled and refined, and does not contain the “mother” of cider vinegar.

Fresh and organic apples are used to make natural ACV.  It is then stored in wooden or steel barrels to mature. This helps in natural fermentation of cider vinegar, which produces the “mother” of vinegar.

Once opened, the bottle of apple cider vinegar can be stored for up to three to four years if it is stored in cool and dry place. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

How to drink apple cider vinegar

The recommended dosage of apple cider vinegar for weight loss is 1 to 3 tsp mixed in a glass of water, three times a day. You can drink more than the recommended quantity.

There’s nothing like too much apple cider vinegar. However, don’t go overboard with it. Let the taste be the guiding factor. See how you feel. You can start with 1 tsp a day and then increase it gradually.

Before drawing a teaspoon from bottle, shake the bottle well so that the “mother” gets mixed in your drink.

It is recommended that apple cider vinegar is not drunk by itself. Always dilute the vinegar with water. This is because of two reasons.

First, apple cider vinegar absorbs toxins from the tissues in the body, and drinking undiluted ACV may cause discomfort.

Second, because of its acidic content, undiluted ACV may erode the enamel on our teeth over a period of time. Therefore, always brush your teeth after drinking ACV. As an added precaution after drinking apple cider vinegar, you may rinse your mouth with water mixed with some baking soda, followed by rinsing the mouth with just water. This should remove the effect of ACV from your mouth.

You can also add honey to diluted ACV drink. Honey has many natural benefits and it will make your drink even healthier. Some people like to add cider vinegar to their tea or coffee or carbonated/aerated drink. Caffeine in tea/coffee may affect the absorption of vinegar by the body. It is advisable to have ACV with water.

The ideal time to drink apple cider vinegar is before breakfast and before dinner.

Apple cider vinegar for pregnant women and diabetics

Most brands of cider vinegar are safe for pregnant women as well as breast-feeding mothers. In fact, drinking ACV during and after pregnancy can be beneficial as it removes harmful toxins from the body and improves digestion, and may help in promoting normal delivery.

For diabetics, ACV may change the blood-sugar levels; it is advisable to consult the physician.

Apple cider vinegar has some fantastic external applications too. You can add it to your bath-water for a stress-relieving and skin-vitalizing bath.

ACV can be diluted and used to wash hair for a shiny hair. It helps in removing dead-skin built-up in your scalp, and improves the health of your hair by stopping hair loss.

For more details on how to use apple cider vinegar for weight loss, read this book: Magical Apple Cider Vinegar: Ultimate Guide for Weight Loss, Hair Fall and Skincare.

Health News

Do graphic anti-smoking ads work?

When a serious message is to be given, being subtle is not a strength. And if the advertisement is about effects of smoking, graphic images seem to work well.

If you are in India, you will be familiar with the grose and long anti-smoking advertisement that’s shown in cinemas, if the movie contains any smoking scenes.

Anti-smoking ads
India’s Ministry of Health has now picked up a similar line and released another advertisement, which is shorter, to drive home the direct message.

With technical assistance from the World Lung Foundation, the ministry has adapted an Australian ad that shows how smoking cigarettes and bidis leads to the build up of dangerous fatty deposits in the heart, leading to strokes, heart disease and heart attacks.

The campaign, called Artery (video at the end of this article), is timely –  smoking is the second leading cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD), after high blood pressure. One in 10 CVDs are caused by smoking.

According to WHO, heart disease and heart attacks are major causes of mortality in India, and smoking is the main risk factor.

As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS-India), 275 million people use tobacco in India. Each year tobacco use kills about 1 million Indians, and one in ten deaths is caused by smoking.

Beedi (a cheaper version of cigarette) are the most popular tobacco product used; beedi account for half of the tobacco products consumed while cigarette consumption is only 14% in India.

Smokers die 6 to 10 years earlier than non-smokers. As per ICMR, the majority of the cardiovascular diseases and lung disorders are directly related to tobacco consumption.

This nationwide campaign is being aired in 17 languages on all major TV channels and will run throughout January and February 2014.

Smokers need to know just how bad smoking is for the body, says Keshav Desiraju, secretary for health for Government of India.

“The ‘Artery’ campaign shows realistically what happens to the heart after years of consuming the toxic and cancerous chemicals found in both cigarette and beedi smoke.”

The campaign was extensively tested in 10 countries including India, by WLF and Cancer Council Victoria.

“In all countries, it emerged as one of the most effective ads for motivating smokers to quit,” says Dr. Nandita Murukutla, Country Director for WLF. “Artery was rated very highly as having a message that was understood, accepted, relevant, and likely to be effective. It also created feelings of concern and discomfort among smokers, and it was likely to be discussed.”

The Australian ad had to be adapted for Indian audience. “The original ad, which was developed in Australia, was adapted for local use,” says Dr. Murukutla.

“This essentially involved replacing all non-Indian people and contexts featured within the original ad with locally relevant people and places. Additionally, since beedi is the primary form of smoking tobacco consumed in India, WLF created two companion versions of the advertisement to depict the harms of smoking on both beedi and cigarette users.”

In India, too many people suffer from the health harms caused due to bidi and cigarette smoking, says Sandra Mullin, Senior Vice President, Policy and Communications for WLF. “And campaigns such as this, would not only warn the public but will also urge them quit before it’s too late”.


(Photo: Kenji Aryan)

Editor recommends Health Lifestyle News

Never leave kids alone in car – Plunket

not safe to leave child in car

A New Zealand-based parenting NGO is reminding parents not to leave children alone in cars after the latest incident in Porirua.

Passers-by spotted a 17-month old child left alone in a car at a Porirua supermarket earlier this week. When rescued by police, the toddler was crying and covered in vomit, according to a news report.

Sergeant Maurice Parker told media a window was wound down, but the car was heating up in the sun.

Plunket Clinical Advisor Allison Jamieson said the risks of leaving a baby or young child alone in a car were significant.
not safe to leave child in car

“It’s never safe to leave a child alone in a vehicle, even for a short time. Babies, particularly newborns, can dehydrate quickly and become very distressed.”

In New Zealand, it is illegal for a parent or guardian to leave a child under the age of 14 alone for an unreasonable time or in unreasonable conditions. Doing so could result in a fine of up to $2000.

People have been prosecuted for leaving children in cars in the past, says a police spokesperson. “But equally, short of prosecution, they may well be referred to Child, Youth and Family.”

Instances of children left alone in cars have resulted in casualties not just in New Zealand, but in many other countries.

“In the U.S. this year there has been a total of 23 children that have died from heat stroke inside vehicles and two in Canada,” says Amber Rollins, with Kids and Cars, a U.S. advocacy group, reported a Canadian media outlet. “In the U.S., children have died from heat stroke in vehicles on days when the temperature was in the lower 60s.”

What to do if you see a child left unattended

“The first step is to call 911, explain exactly what is happening and do what they tell you – they might tell you to break the window,” says Toronto EMS spokesperson Kim McKinnon. “If you can’t call 911, get them out of the car as quickly as possible.”

why not to leave child in car

Keep your child safe

Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Don’t overlook sleeping babies. (Source: Washington Post)

Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices. If a child is missing, check the car first, including the trunk. Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area.

Keep a stuffed animal in the carseat and when the child is put in the seat place the animal in the front with the driver. Or place your purse or briefcase in the back seat as a reminder that you have your child in the car.

Have a plan that your childcare provider will call you if your child does not show up for school.


Featured Health Lifestyle News

NZ to celebrate Diwali with Yoga

yogathon, dr prasad

While Diwali usually provides an excuse to eat sugary sweets and fattening dishes, a community group in New Zealand is hopeful of using Diwali to get people more active.

An yoga competition will try to improve health at Dipawali celebrations in Rotorua.

On Saturday, 12 October, the Rotorua Convention Centre will witness the “healthy” festival organised by Maori Indian community.

yogathon, dr prasad

In association with Yogathon New Zealand, Rotorua Deepawali Festival committee will run a ‘Health for Humanity’ Yoga competition from 10.30 am to 11.30 am, just after the opening ceremony.

The free competition “aims to create awareness about Yoga,” says a festival organiser.

“Before the competition, all participants will be taught how to do ‘Surya Namaskar’ (Sun salutations), which are a series of Yoga postures.”

New Zealand cities will also witness ‘Health for Humanity’ yogathon programme from 12th to 26 October.

Deepawali, a well-known Hindu festival, is not only celebrated by people of India, but also by people of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Africa, Fiji and many other countries.

“In an increasingly multi-cultural New Zealand not only Hindus from all over the world, but all communities participate in events like Deepawali and share their cultures with each other.”

Hindu Council of New Zealand made Deepawali a public festival in Rotorua in 2008.

“In the first year, a message of healthy lifestyle and care for environment was promoted through smoke-free, alcohol-free and meat-free festival, which is also in accordance with Hindu cultural practice.

Diwali celebrations New Zealand

“In the following years, the themes were Hindu Maori relations, Developing Youth Leadership, Women Empowerment, and Unity in Diversity.”

For more information, please contact: Dr Guna Magesan JP, by emailing at the gmail address: rotorua.deepawali

Featured Health Lifestyle

7 Clever Tricks To Thicken Your Hair

Think women are the only ones with a few beauty tricks up their sleeve? Guess again!

If you’re searching for ways to make your thinning hair appear thicker, these clever tricks will help you achieve a full, lush look.

1. Wash that hair!

One glance at the hair-clogged drain following a shower can understandably scare many men away from frequent washing.

After all, it would appear that a wash makes the hair fall right out! However, the average person can lose up to 100 hairs a day, regardless of how frequently they wash their hair.

In fact, skipping a wash allows dirt and grease to build up, which makes hair lie flat and appear to be filled with gaps. Wash regularly to maintain a look of thickness.

2. Be gentle

Though washing your hair doesn’t make it fall out, being rough with it can send it flying.

Keep in mind that hair is three times weaker when it is wet, so vigorous towel-drying or combing can easily cause hair to snap and break.

Let your hair dry naturally, or gently pat it try, to avoid damaging your strands. It is essential to protect the hair you still have!

3. Ditch the comb

Many men with thinning hair obsess over their hairdos, leading them to constantly comb or brush their locks. Don’t do this!

Over-combing thin hair will suck the volume right out of it, making it appear flat and limp. Forget the comb and instead use your fingers to style your hair.

Not only will this be less likely to flatten your ‘do, it will add texture and volume, making hair appear thicker.

4. Use the proper products

In times of desperation, many men reach for gels, waxes, and other heavy-duty styling products in an attempt to achieve the illusion of thickness.

However, such products can seriously weigh hair down, in turn making it appear flat and thin.

Mousse is actually the most effective product, followed closely by root-boosting hair sprays. Choose these over thick pomades and gels.

5. Banish cigarettes

You already know that smoking is bad for your health; but did you know it’s bad for your hair too?

Smoking harms your hair with a one-two punch. First, it increases the levels of hormones that can cause hair loss.

Second, it constricts small blood vessels, thus depriving hair of the nutrients it needs to grow. As if you needed another reason to quit!

6. Don’t underestimate the importance of a good cut

Everyone laughs at Donald Trump and his hideous combover that is fooling exactly zero people.

Yet many men attempt to disguise their baldness by growing their hair extra long and getting tricky with fancy parts.

However, a shorter, classic crop is much more flattering, as it will divert attention from your hair loss and back to your face.

If you still have some hair to work with, ask your stylist about cutting techniques like “slicing” and “brick cutting,” which will give you a textured look and make your hair seem thicker.

7. Include soya in your diet

When your body digests soya, your intestines are prompted to create a molecule that could potentially stop balding. How?

It takes a hormone that promotes hair loss and stops it in its tracks.

Try incorporating some soya in your diet and monitor the results!

Gina Volpe is a writer living in New York City, where she is constantly devising tricks to appear more attractive. Gina gets a lot of her hair tips and tricks from NuHart Hair blog.

Featured Health Lifestyle News

How Age Affects The Safety Of Having Children

If you’re thinking of having your first child later in life, you’re not alone. Over 20 percent of women in the United States are waiting till their mid 30’s to have their first child.
This is an exciting decision and most women don’t consider aspects regarding fertility. Unfortunately though, deciding on conceiving later in life can bring on a few extra hurdles to overcome.

However, this does not mean that you will be unable to conceive or even conceive naturally.

How Age Affects Pregnancy

There are many reasons you may have heard as to why it is more difficult for women to conceive as they get older: fertility drops after the age of 35; the chances of a pregnancy resulting chromosomal abnormalities are slightly higher; as well as risks in miscarriages are slightly higher.

There is also another reason that may not be as well known: reasons concerning your follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The follicles are stimulated to produce a mature egg, which in turn will be released during ovulation.

FSH levels increase as you get older, which actually sounds like a good thing. But FSH levels typically increase because the reserve of eggs a woman has is actually depleting. Thus, a high FSH level can actually decrease the likelihood of conceiving.

Using Assisted Reproductive Technology

Since in vitro fertilization (IVF) was introduced many decades ago, there has been an increase in the number of births via Assisted Reproductive Technology (also known as ART).

The reason for this increase is that this method is often prescribed as a first line of defense, resulting in ART methods becoming grossly overprescribed.

Dr. Sami David explains in his book, Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility, Dr Sami David, that in his experience, more than half of women who receive IVF treatments could have successfully conceived with minimal intervention or even naturally.

It’s important to understand that if you’re at first having difficultly conceiving, immediately turning to IVF treatments could do more harm than good, as these treatments come with risks.

Risks with IVF treatment

One of the major risks is multiple births – IVF treatment will increase the chances of  having multiple births, including early labor, complications and lower birth rates than if you were pregnant with a singleton. Both the mother and baby could face both short- and longterm health issues. Other risks:

    • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome – Using fertility drugs to induce ovulation can cause your ovaries to swell and become painful. This condition is known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Pregnancy may prolong the symptoms of this condition.
    • Birth Defects – As discussed previously, becoming pregnant after 35 years of age can increase the likelihood of a baby being born with chromosomal abnormalities. In addition, if you receive IVF treatments in this age range, can increase the risk of putting the woman into early menopause and even cancer.
    • Stress – The financial costs as well as the physical and emotional toll that IVF can have on the couple may cause chronic stress, making it harder to become pregnant even with the assistance of IVF.

Despite these risks, however, there is still hope. Dr. Sami David also explains that before committing to IVF treatments, natural remedies could be all that you need to conceive, no matter your age.

Simple changes like lowering bath temperature of the father-to-be by 4 degrees, cutting out alcohol, or even gaining a few pounds can all lead to a successful, natural pregnancy.

Featured image License: Creative Commons image source

Haley has been writing for more than five years in many industries. She has a varied background and enjoys sharing her knowledge with others.

Health Relationships

Causes and cure of menstrual irregularity

Women can experience irregularities in menstrual cycle if they are suffering from Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome, the most common women’s hormonal disorder.

Here I will discuss ayurvedic treatment for PCOS – a disorder involving Tridoshas, fat metabolism and water retention. Treatment involves -detox or Panchakarma.  Most important factor to remember here is body metabolism.

Symptoms of PCOS

Lack of regular ovulatory cycles (i.e. no ovulation), menstrual irregularity, infertility, obesity, acne, excessive hair growth, and even hair loss.

It causes increased weight, diabetic tendencies, coldness, slow metabolism, depression, mood swings.  Sometimes it has nothing to do with weight and patient still has all above signs in PCOS.

Premonitory signs

Slight irregularities in menstrual cycle or no cycles at all.

Mild pain on ovulation or severe pain

Weight gain

Irregular appetite


Mild acne

Facial hair

What causes PCOS

Eating excessive sweet and fatty food.

Low digestive fire-leads to toxins accumulation which blocks the channels

Stress, lack of love,  lack of contact with inner self, low self esteem

Simple remedies

Fenugreek : Good for detoxifications

Karela or bitter melon: reduces sugar levels

Guduchi: Helps to balance Tridosha

Organic Ashwagandha

Exercise: Enhances tissue sensitivity and increase body metabolism.

Trikatu is one good mixture to try. (Long pepper-black pepper and ginger mix.)

Black pepper is good to increase digestive fires. Breathing exercise (kapalbhati) doing daily for 20 minutes is the most important remedy.

(Dr Priya Punjabi (B.A.M.S.) is an Ayurvedic consultant based in Auckland, New Zealand. This article is for information only. Please consult your doctor.)

Health News

Micronutrients to help quit smoking – study

Taking micronutrients could stop relapses for people trying to quit smoking, says a New Zealand researcher.

The University of Canterbury masters student is hoping to demonstrate that micronutrients help with withdrawal symptoms. One in five adults currently smoke in New Zealand.

Researcher Phillipa Newton says there is a history of using nutritional supplements in the treatment of addiction, mood, anxiety and many more psychological disorders.

“Previous research on the use of micronutrients for addiction has shown that relapse rates and drug hunger can be reduced and psychological functioning can be improved while on the nutrients.

Phillipa Newton 1

“My study uses a broader array of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, to evaluate the impact micronutrients have on withdrawal symptoms from smoking.

Smoking costs government over $1.5 billion a year because of early death, loss of production due to illness and smoking-related healthcare costs, Phillipa says.

“Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand accounting for around 4300 to 4600 deaths a year. Second-hand smoke is the leading environmental cause of preventable death in New Zealand and kills around 350 people a year.

“More than 60 percent of Christchurch smokers have relapsed since the earthquake. Research indicates that the prevalence of smoking in Christchurch has increased since the earthquake while the rest of New Zealand rates are declining.

Phillipa is conducting a four-month trial, supervised by associate professors Neville Blampied and Julia Rucklidge, using micronutrients to reduce the withdrawal symptoms and improve the mood of the participants when they quit smoking.

“We expect that consumption of nutrients should result in the reduction of withdrawal symptoms at a faster rate compared to somebody who quits without the supplement on a placebo. Fewer withdrawal symptoms and better mood after quitting should in turn reduce the rate of relapse.

Business Health

Novartis loses court appeal, cancer drug to stay cheap

cancer pills, cheap drugs

Poor cancer patients in India would welcome Indian apex court’s decision, dismissing Novartis’ appeal for a patent for its anti-cancer drug, Gleevec. The Supreme Court judgement, delivered by Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Desai, has called for a strict interpretation of section 3(d).

India’s  Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA) has described the ruling as a huge victory for human rights. Y. K. Sapru of CPAA says, “Our access to affordable treatment will not be possible if the medicines are patented.”

cancer pills, cheap drugs

The ruling is a landmark for the interpretation of section 3(d) of the Patents Act 1970 which prevents patenting of new forms of already known molecules, also known as evergreening, unless the new drug offers a significant enhancement in efficacy.

The Swiss pharmaceutical company argued that better physico-chemical qualities would satisfy the test of enhanced efficacy.

Rejecting Novartis’ argument, the Supreme Court held that the physio-chemical properties of the drug may be beneficial for patients in some manner but they do not meet the standard of efficacy required by Section 3(d).

At the root of the case is Novartis’ Gleevec, a drug used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a type of blood cancer. Novartis’ price for its version of the drug, Gleevec or Glivec, is INR 120,000 (USD 2400) per month, while generic versions are available for INR 8,000 (USD 160) to INR 12,000 (USD 240) per month.

Cancer Patients Aid Association procures the generic versions at discounted prices, and provides them to their members at subsidised rates. About 25% of the generic versions are provided free of cost to cancer patients.

Anand Grover, Senior Counsel and Director of Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS Unit, who represented CPAA in this matter, says that the Supreme Court’s interpretation of section 3(d) keeps it intact. “It is alive and kicking. It gives life to Parliament’s intent of facilitating access to medicines and of incentivizing only genuine research.

“By refusing patent monopolies on minor changes to known molecules, this judgment will facilitate early entry of generic medicines into the market for other medicines and diseases too. The impact will be felt not only in India, but also across the developing world.”

In the past, Section 3(d) was also used as one of the grounds to disallow patents for minor modifications of several antiretroviral (ARV) medicines used to treat people living with HIV.

The Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+)  had been filing oppositions to patent applications on ARV medicines on the basis of section 3(d). “This is a crucial victory for people living with HIV and other diseases who can continue to rely on India for access to affordable treatment,” says Loon Gangte of DNP+.

The ruling will have significant benefit for many developing countries – as much as 98% of generic drugs that India manufactures are exported to other poor countries.

Leena Menghaney for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which relies on Indian-made generic drugs to treat AIDS and other diseases in Africa and many poor countries, says Novartis’s attacks on the elements of India’s patent law that protect public health have failed.

“The Supreme Court’s decision prevents companies from abusing the patent system to get secondary patents on existing medicines, to block price-busting generic competition on HIV and other essential medicines. This confirms that all patent offices in India have to use this interpretation and the law is now clear and must be strictly applied.”

Novartis has fought this battle for more than a decade. In 1998, Novartis filed a patent application in India for a product patent on the beta-crystalline form of imatinib mesylate (imatinib mesylate). The basic molecule, imatinib, had been discovered in the early 1990s and therefore was not patentable in India. India had not joined the WTO club then.

In 2005, the Chennai Patent Office heard patent oppositions filed by CPAA, represented by Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS Unit, and other Indian generic companies.

In 2006, the Patent Office rejected Novartis’ patent application on several grounds, including section 3(d). Novartis has been fighting this battle since.

In an expected reaction, Novartis says it will not invest on research and development in India, and will move its R&D facilities to “favourable destinations”.

The company will continue to introduce products in the country, but not invest in R&D here, Novartis India Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Ranjit Shahani told a media briefing in Mumbai.

Experts in pharmaceutical industry have expressed concerns over the implications of the decision. “The pharmaceutical industry is driven by innovation, and they need to be able to recover their cost of drug development,” said an industry observer in the United States.

“If cheaper alternatives are available in the market, major drug developers will struggle to recover money, and this will affect future drug development.”

It takes anywhere from $1 billion to $2 billion to develop a drug, and the complete process ranging from research to securing patent takes 12 to 15 years for one drug.

(With inputs from a media release by Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS Unit and Cancer Patients AID Association)