Alternative Health Report

1/12/2011 According to the Moreland Leader women are avoiding vital tests. Figures available from BreastScreen Victoria show that only 48 percent of women aged over 50 living in the Brunswick electorate take advantage of free mammogram services. But can you blame them when just recently experts reported that thousands of women are potentially being diagnosed with breast cancer when the cancer would never have caused them any problems.

Monash University epidemiologist Associate Professor, Robin Bell has called for a review of the information given to women about the BreastScreen program after a study revealed that the screening was not as responsible for a reduction in cancer deaths as previously thought. The study found that the reduced deaths from breast cancer have been caused by improved treatments rather than early detection through screening programs. The researchers believe that the rate of over diagnosis may be as high as 30%. This is quite significant when you consider that in 2005 the Breast Screen program detected 3680 breast cancers – that could mean that over a thousand diagnoses were made that may not have caused any problem. Pity about all the unnecessary treatments and heart ache that followed these misdiagnoses. And if this is not enough to make you lose faith in the health system consider the latest news about malignant melanoma.

Rates of melanoma have been rising for at least three decades and this increase has been largely blamed on exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun. However, research published in the British Journal of Dermatology shows that the sun is likely nothing more than a scapegoat in the development of melanoma, and the sharp increase may actually be "an artifact caused by diagnostic drift." Diagnostic drift, according to the study, refers to a hefty increase in disease that is being fueled by non-cancerous lesions. Included in the numbers of people being diagnosed with melanoma are those with minimal stage 1 disease – these benign lesions are classified as stage 1 melanoma which help swell the numbers of those afflicted with melanoma. The story of skin cancer is fraught with misunderstanding: The disease has long been linked to sun exposure however the evidence is lacking although there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Studies have confirmed that appropriate sun exposure actually helps prevent skin cancer. Melanoma has been found to decrease with greater sun exposure and can be increased by sunscreens. In fact an epidemic of the disease has occurred among indoor workers who get three to nine times less solar UV exposure than outdoor workers. The reason for this has to do with the type of UV exposure. There are two types of UV rays that come from sunlight, the vitamin-D-producing UVB rays and the skin-damaging UVA light. Both of these can cause tanning and burning, although UVB does so far more rapidly. UVA, however, penetrates your skin more deeply than UVB, and may be a much more important factor in photoaging, wrinkles and skin cancers. A study in Medical Hypotheses suggested that indoor workers may have increased rates of melanoma because they're exposed to sunlight through windows, and only UVA light, and are missing out on exposure to the beneficial UVB rays, and have lower levels of vitamin D. These beneficial UVB rays appear to be protective against melanoma -- or rather, the vitamin D your body produces in response to UVB radiation is protective. To avoid the sun is to miss out on the production of valuable vitamin D, a steroid hormone that influences every cell in your body and is easily one of nature’s most potent cancer fighters. To minimize your risk of malignant melanoma, the middle of the day is the best and safest time to be in the sun. You only need ten to fifteen minutes in the sun to produce vitamin D for the UVB rays are at their most intense at this time, so there is little risk of burning and of course this must be avoided. So the message is that the sun has been vilified but when used safely it is health giving

Then there is the issue of vaccination: The Australian government is reforming the childhood vaccination program - for as always it wants to increase the rates of children vaccinated. Last week The Age reported that parents who don’t comply with the childhood vaccination schedule risk losing up to $2100. The $258 maternity immunization allowance will now be linked to the family tax benefit A. Failure to have your child fully immunized will mean that the three payments of $726 available under family tax benefit A will not be paid to you. The extremely busy vaccination schedule has been updated and will now include vaccines for meningococcal C, pneumococcal and chicken pox with a combination vaccine replacing the individual doses of vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella. The government is very good at offering bribes to busy parents but not so good at supplying information that parents need to make an informed choice regarding vaccination. We need to ask are these vaccines effective? Are they safe? these all really necessary and are they safe? Are they necessary? A pro-vaccine immunologist recently admitted that “No,” or, at least, “We don’t know,” to all three questions. Clearly vaccines are about profit, not health. If you decide to refuse vaccination you will still able to receive the family Tax benefit A payments. While newspapers have been full of the news that failure to comply with the schedule is to risk payments they have neglected to inform you that the conscientious objection clause will still apply to these payments so whether you vaccinate or not, you will still be able to get this money. There is so much that we do not know about how to look after our health especially if we only listen to the official keepers of health.