Veröffentlicht am

Period products shown to contain ‘forever chemicals’, new research shows

Some of our favourite period products could contain traces of ‘forever’ substances, according to a recently published study. What does this mean, and how concerned should we be?

When you think about the plight generations of women before us had to endure when it came to their periods, it’s easy to see how lucky we are. 

These days, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the period products available on the market. Your average supermarket has an entire aisle stocked with shelves of pads, tampons, liners, menstrual cups and period underwear. 

As consumers, we place a lot of blind trust into the brands producing these products. But a new study presented at the 2023 American Chemical Society this week has found that some brands contain traceable amounts of some pretty nasty substances.

Like what you see? Sign up to our newsletter for more stories like this.

The study consisted of researchers analysing the concentration of fluorinated compounds in over 100 popular period products. Products containing higher amounts of the fluorinated compounds can be an indicator of potentially harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). 

The results? Whether added accidentally or intentionally, some products were indeed found to contain PFAS, highlighting the concerning fact that consumers aren’t always made aware of their presence.

According to the study, PFAS substances are described as a category of over 12,000 compounds that have stick, stain, and water-resistant properties. While these are often desirable characteristics for some products, they hold the potential to be harmful in some contexts. 

Nicknamed ‘forever chemicals’, these bioaccumulative compounds don’t break down easily in our bodies or the environment. 

Dr. Sherry Ross, an OB-GYN and women’s health expert spoke of her concerns about these compounds existing in our everyday period products to Medical News Today.

“PFAS’s harmful ‘forever chemicals’ can potentially linger in the body and cause hormonal and reproductive problems, immune suppression, and potential cancer risks,” she says. “It’s hard to know whether the period products contain PFAS since it’s not listed on the ingredient list.”

So what does this mean?

This highlights two major issues, according to the study authors. Firstly, any potentially harmful substance that is coming into contact with women through period product use indicates several health concerns. But the potential for harm exists for more than just the direct product users.  

“Of course, you’re concerned for the wearer, but we’re also concerned about the ecological impact because PFAS are ‘forever chemicals,’” says the principal investigator of the project, Graham Peaslee, Ph.D. 

“Once these products are thrown away, they go to landfills and decay, releasing PFAS into groundwater. And we, or later generations, could end up inadvertently ingesting them.”

Alyssa Wicks, a graduate student under Dr Peaslee, hopes to continue the research efforts, casting a wider net to further examine more products. According to the current data, some types of products were found to contain traces more often than others. 

“In general, tampons didn’t seem to contain fluorine,” says Wicks. “Same with menstrual cups and the layers of pads that come in contact with a person’s skin.”

The products themselves weren’t the only things placed under analysis, with the study finding fluorine present in the wrappers for some pads and tampons, as well as the outer layers of certain period underwear brands.

When it comes to the wrappers and outer layers of period clothing, the researchers have deduced some brands might be using PFAS as a moisture barrier to keep the products dry, or in the case of the underwear, to keep blood from leaking onto a person’s clothing.

So, is this even legal?

You might be wondering how manufacturers are possibly allowed to produce and sell products containing such serious substances, and you probably won’t be too thrilled to hear the answer. 

Across the world, there currently are very few regulatory guidelines limiting the inclusion of PFAS in period products and textiles, meaning even brands that were found to contain high traces aren’t technically breaking any laws. 

But, as concerning as some of the findings are, the study does highlight a pretty important silver lining. Given that some products tested were found to be completely free of fluorine and PFAS, it’s clear to see the compounds simply aren’t essential. 

With further research and subsequent tightening of consumer regulations, perhaps we’ll soon see a vast reduction in traces on the market.  

Source link

Veröffentlicht am

Australian sport: Almost half of Australia’s best athletes live below the poverty line

A new report claims almost half of Australia’s top athletes are earning below the poverty line. Shocking, right? Even more shocking is that these heroes‘ annual incomes come in at less than $23,000.

Australia has some of the greatest sporting talent on the planet. Our beloved Matildas stole our hearts – and earned millions of new supporters – since the FIFA Women’s World Cup this past few months, and the members of our national swimming team are household names after taking home medal after medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

But what if we told you some of our best athletes are actually earning below the poverty line?

That’s what the Australian Sports Foundation (ASF) has found, and now the organisation is urging for financial support to be thrown at our sports stars, or risk our top-tier talent throwing in the towel. 

Like what you see? Sign up to our newsletter for more stories like this.

After surveying more than 2,300 athletes, 600 being elite, or at an international level. Two in three elite Australian athletes aged between 18 and 34 have considered quitting their sport, while one in two who hoped to compete in the 2026 Commonwealth Games have considered quitting.

43 per cent of those training for the 2032 Olympic Games in Brisbane are contemplating quitting, too. Those are our youngest athletes, which says a lot.

The athletes surveyed by the ASF were earning an average annual income of between $23,000 and $49,000. They’re appalling annual earnings given the hours of training, and the sacrifices these athletes make, but also the revenue they make for TV networks, and tourism, too. These athletes work so hard in the pool, on the track, field and court court, that the vast majority don’t have time to create other forms of income.

And the worst news? A whopping 46 per cent of the talent surveyed earned less than $23,000 a year, and more than 40 per cent were even more worse off financially than they were 12 months ago. More than one in four have also found they’ve struggling mentally in the past 12 months.

„This is the green and gold decade, with so many such events for us to look forward to, but they are nothing without the athletes,“ ASF’s chief executive Patrick Walker said.

One of our top-tier stars, Bronte Campbell told the ABC how injuries alone caused strain financially, and that winning gold – like she did – at the Olympic Games didn’t mean you were swimming in cash.

„If you win an Olympic gold medal, you get a medal bonus — which is not, as someone once asked me, a million dollars,“ the swimming champion told the news site, adding that supporting herself in the years between each Olympic Games has been tough.

„There’s definitely been years where if I hadn’t had success in the previous year, I don’t know how I would have made it work.“

These are worrying stats, and without significant change to sportspeople’s pay we’re risk of losing our best sporting stars, purely out of necessity.

Just last week the Wallaroos, Australia’s national women’s rugby union team, penned an open letter to Rugby Australia demanding more equal pay and support for their players and the team, as compared with the Wallabies who receive exponentially greater pay packets and funding. 

In the wake of the Women’s World Cup, Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson and captain Sam Kerr also called for greater funding of women’s sports teams in Australia.

After their semi-final defeat, Kerr said „I can only speak for the Matildas. We need funding in our development. We need funding in our grassroots. We need funding. We need funding everywhere.“ 

Let’s hope that this increased awareness and conversations around players‘ dismal pay and the lack of funding in many sports is the catalyst for some serious change in our sporting landscape. 

Source link

Veröffentlicht am

Paper straws aren’t a better alternative to plastic, study finds

While it is a unanimous fact that plastic is bad for the planet, new research has found that paper and bamboo straws are bad for our health.

We all know plastic straws are a no-no for the environment, but when it comes to ease of use, paper straws definitely don’t cut it. Frustratingly flimsy, they go soggy, get clogged quickly, and let’s face it, can make your drink taste like damp newspaper when they’ve been sitting in it for too long.

Now, we’ve got an excuse not to use them after all. While plastic straws are a sticking point when it comes to sustainability, it turns out that paper and bamboo straws can be a health hazard. 

Some paper and bamboo straws contain ‘forever chemicals’; long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals that can linger permanently in the air, water and soil, according to new research. When scientists in Belgium tested straws from a range of supermarkets, fast food chains and retail stores, they found most of them contained synthetic chemicals called PFAS. 

Like what you see? Sign up to our newsletter for more stories like this.

“PFAS are chemicals that are very persistent and can accumulate in our bodies,” explains Dr Thimo Groffen, who authored the study. “They can remain there for long time periods. Exposure to PFAS in humans has been associated with several types of cancer, reduced immune response, and developmental and reproductive effects such as reduced fertility.” 

While this might sound scary, it’s not time to panic just yet. “The concentration of PFAS [in paper and bamboo straws] is small, so the risk is quite small too,” says Groffen. In other words, unless you’re chewing on several straws a day, you’re probably fine. “We really just wanted to create awareness to show people how they can be exposed to synthetic chemicals, and how we can reduce this exposure – however small,” he says.

It’s worth noting that because PFAS give water and stain-resistant qualities, they’re also found in low concentrations in plenty of consumer products, from food packaging to non-stick cookware. 

So, now you can legitimately shun paper straws, what’s the alternative? “None of the stainless steel straws we tested contained any PFAS,” says Groffen. 

That’s music to the ears of environmental activists such as Lottie Dalziel, named 2023 NSW Young Australian of the Year for her work on educating people about sustainable living. 

“Reuse is always better than single-use,” says Dalziel, who is also the founder of eco-store, Banish. When you consider the carbon emissions used to produce a single metal straw is equivalent to producing 90 – 150 plastic straws, it’s a no-brainer when it comes to the environment.

“Stainless steel straws are the best reusable straw for most people,” says Dalziel. “They are easy to clean, unbreakable and lightweight. Plus, they come in a size for every sipper; whether you want to drink bubble tea, smoothies or cocktails through them, there’s the right width for everything.”

From a health perspective, it’s still essential to clean stainless steel straws properly. While they don’t harbour bacteria in the same way glass or silicone straws have been shown to, it can be hard to see if they’re properly clean. If you’re given a stainless steel straw at a café, beware of ones with curves; these can trap food and germs if they’re not cleaned properly. 

“Most stainless steel straws come with a tiny pipe-cleaner-like brush which is great for a deep clean,” says Dalziel. “Otherwise, flush them out with hot water, then throw them into the dishwasher in the cutlery drawer.” When you’re buying them, “make sure they’re made from food-grade stainless steel and are BPA free.”

While stainless steel might not contain PFAS and have a lighter carbon footprint than reusable straws, there’s one even better solution, points out Groffen. “Ditch the straws altogether.” 

Source link

Veröffentlicht am

Extra Healthy-Ish podcast: sustainable travel

Want to be more mindful when travelling and in life? Author and travel journalist Nina Karnikowski shares her travel tales to extraordinary places and the lasting impact it’s had on her. 


You can grab Nina’s book The Mindful Traveller (Affirm Press, $34.99) here, follow her travels @nina_karnikowski or see her site here


Online: Head to for your daily digital dose of health and wellness.

On social: Via Instagram at @bodyandsoul_au or Facebook. Or, TikTok here. Got an idea for an episode? DM host Felicity Harley on Instagram @felicityharley

In print: Each Sunday, grab Body+Soul inside The Sunday Telegraph (NSW), the Sunday Herald Sun (Victoria), The Sunday Mail (Queensland), Sunday Mail (SA) and Sunday Tasmanian (Tasmania). 

Source link

Veröffentlicht am

Healthy-Ish podcast: climate anxiety and sustainable travel

Eco-anxiety is real. Author and travel journalist Nina Karnikowski eloquently explains how she was gripped by climate change anxiety after a trip to the Arctic and how it inspired her to tweak her mindset and life choices. 


To hear today’s full interview, where she shares her mindful lessons learnt from travelling…search for Extra Healthy-ish wherever you get your pods.

You can grab Nina’s book The Mindful Traveller (Affirm Press, $34.99) here, follow her travels @nina_karnikowski or see her site here


Online: Head to for your daily digital dose of health and wellness.

On social: Via Instagram at @bodyandsoul_au or Facebook. Or, TikTok here. Got an idea for an episode? DM host Felicity Harley on Instagram @felicityharley

In print: Each Sunday, grab Body+Soul inside The Sunday Telegraph (NSW), the Sunday Herald Sun (Victoria), The Sunday Mail (Queensland), Sunday Mail (SA) and Sunday Tasmanian (Tasmania). 

Source link

Veröffentlicht am

Fish oil supplement claims inaccurate, study finds

New research into the apparent health benefits of fish oil supplements has made a splash, warning consumers the supplement’s multiple health benefits may indeed be exaggerated.

Marketed to emulate the health rewards that come with a diet full of fatty fish and seafood, fish oil supplements have long been a go-to daily health habit for many people. For decades, people have been told taking a daily tablet (or a spoonful for the fearless) of the golden oil is a tactic guaranteed to improve their heart health, among other benefits. 

But the latest research into the benefits of our favourite golden tablets is a blunt reminder that we shouldn’t always believe what’s written on a label. 

And since they’re not the most pleasant pills to swallow, consumers might be more than relieved to have an excuse to ditch their bottles.

Like what you see? Sign up to our newsletter for more stories like this.

Like most questions regarding our health, different studies surrounding the impact of fish oil supplements on our long-term health have yielded remarkably contradicting results over the years.

However, the latest stream of research seemingly disproves the link between optimised heart health and fish oil supplement consumption. The findings have left experts sceptical that taking the supplements sufficiently prevents heart disease, one of the major reasons consumers swallow the pills.

Why we should think twice

Essentially, supplement companies have long been copying and pasting the list of cardiovascular benefits associated with seafood onto the labels of their products. 

A deep-dive analysis by JAMA Cardiology has found that despite supplement companies’ claims, the overwhelming majority of cardiovascular improvement is in fact solely derived from diet practices, not supplement use.  

If being rebranded as a heart health fad wasn’t damning enough, other studies have even suggested that fish oil tablets might be directly contributing to some heart conditions.  

The European Society of Cardiology released a study just two years ago that found direct evidence of a link between omega-3 fatty acid supplements and an increased link between developing atrial fibrillation in people with existing heart disease.

“Our study suggests that fish oil supplements are associated with a significantly greater risk of atrial fibrillation in patients at elevated cardiovascular risk,” says study author Dr Salvatore Carbone. 

Dr Alyson Kelley-Hedgepeth, a cardiologist, Published in Harvard Medical School’s publishing arm, cardiologist Dr Alyson Kelley-Hedgepeth describes how the inconsistencies in fish oil supplement studies have encouraged her to instead recommend more proven lifestyle practices to her patients.

“Eat a heart-healthy diet, get regular exercise, and pursue other lifestyle changes that have proven benefits for cardiovascular health,” urges Dr Kelley-Hedgepeth. 

But what about the real thing?

While the advantages of the oils and supplements have largely been discredited, experts still stand by the health benefits linked to eating fatty fish two to three times a week, especially types containing omega-3. 

And while the cost of fresh salmon per kilo is enough to make most people shudder at the moment, there are other, more cost-efficient alternatives. Omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in tinned sardines, mackerel, flaxseeds and chia seeds. 

To put it simply, fish oil tablets and oil should not be considered as a supplement for the real thing, and if you’re still taking the daily tablets, it might be time to find more direct ways to incorporate omega-3 into your diet. 

Source link

Veröffentlicht am

Oranges are the budget-friendly superfood dietitians approve

Raise your mimosas everyone, we now have science-backed evidence proving oranges are the key to long-lasting health.

Research or no research, it’s hard to fault the fruit. From Sunday morning Mothers’ Day breakfasts, to a refreshing break after the netball half-time whistle blows, oranges have always been a staple in Aussie homes.

The tangy citrus fruits are delicious, in season when most fruits go on strike, and always the last thing to go mouldy in a neglected fruit bowl. 

Now, according to the recently published findings of the Oranges Nutrition and Wellness Report, Australian Oranges are brimming with health benefits. 

Like what you see? Sign up to our newsletter for more stories like this.

The report author, Dr Emma Beckett, is a food and nutrition scientist with expertise in immunology and epidemiology. Prepared in collaboration with Nutrition Research Australia, the report examines 50 research articles spanning over 20 years, consolidating the most impressive benefits. 

And the best part? The newly published report will be welcomed news by anyone shopping on a budget, as unlike other trending superfoods and supplements we constantly hear and read about, oranges won’t leave your pockets feeling too empty.

“With family budgets stretched to the limit, Australian oranges are the fruit we should be adding to the shopping trolley, especially as we struggle through cold and flu season,” said Dr Beckett. “Oranges offer just as many nutrition credentials as exotic superfoods without the hefty price tag.”

Thanks to their refreshing taste, people have never needed too much convincing to divulge in an orange. But now, we have a science-backed report that details five undisputed health benefits associated with citrus fruits, so there’s never been a better time to snack on a segment.

#1. Oranges boost your immunity

Forget apples, it seems eating an orange a day will keep the doctor away far more effectively, according to the report’s findings. A healthy diet is a primary contributor to optimal immune health, and the fruit’s unique combination of bioactive compounds and nutrients makes it the perfect weapon against infection and illness. 

“Nutrient-dense oranges contain essential vitamins and powerful plant bioactives that support immunity, reduce the severity of common colds and fight infections,” Dr Beckett says. 

#2. They promote cardiovascular health

Oranges’ high concentrations of vitamin C and bioactives have been linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, the report details. The fruit’s folate reduces homocysteine levels, while fibre and bioactives lower cholesterol levels and fat absorption. 

“In two large cohort studies, citrus juice was found to reduce risk of ischaemic stroke by 25 per cent, one of the strongest protective links of all fruits and vegetables,” writes Dr Beckett. 

#3. They enhance the skin

Oranges have long been associated with gold-star levels of vitamin C, having the highest levels out of the entire citrus family. Any skin therapist, dermatologist and naturopath knows how important vitamin C is in boosting our skin’s health, but the report’s findings show the trusty citrus fruit may hold even more skin-enhancing ingredients. 

The high concentration of folate and flavonoids makes oranges a powerful tool for DNA synthesis and repair, as well as protection from the sun. 

#4. Oranges improve gut-health

Tips and recommendations to optimise your gut health have been trending non-stop for the past few years, but if you think you need to invest in fancy supplements to reap the benefits of good bacteria, think again. Both the insoluble dietary fibres in the contents of an orange and the juice have been linked to a higher production of short-chain fatty acids, essential for regulating bowel function and encouraging the growth of positive bacteria. 

A study within the report found that drinking just 300ml of pure orange juice daily for 60 days has been linked to improvement in gut microbiota profiles and citrus bioactives.

#5. They boost brain health

When it comes to prebiotic effects on the microbiome directly influencing the gut-brain axis, oranges stand out from their flavonoids and soluble fibres. Flavonoids move from the blood to the brain, taking their neuroprotective properties with them, protecting us from brain disease.  

Within the report, one study spanning over six years found a 23 per cent reduction in the risk of dementia with just one serving of citrus a day. 

Source link

Veröffentlicht am

Research reveals Australians are waiting an average of 251 days for elective surgery on public hospital lists

A recent survey of Australian patients has revealed a staggering backlog of post-pandemic elective surgeries, causing astronomical wait times for people in need. 

The global pandemic gripped our country and its population like never before, placing considerable strain on our public health system. And while life seems to be getting back into the swing of things, new research has revealed our hospitals are still struggling to catch up to pre-pandemic surgical rates. 

As COVID cases rose with each wave and strain, hospitals and medical staff across the nation were forced to take drastic measures in order to ensure healthcare facilities were sufficiently staffed and able to provide care to those in need. 

Telehealth services were introduced to local communities, medical staff wore PPE gear for months on end, and non-urgent elective surgeries were postponed for prolonged periods of time. 

Like what you see? Sign up to our newsletter for more stories like this.

Now, as airlines take to the skies once again, and masks disappear from the crowds, some responses to the pandemic seem to be lingering. 

New research from Compare the Market reveals the immense pressure our healthcare system is still facing in the way of the pandemic, with data showing Australians are waiting an average of 251 days for elective surgeries on the public waitlist. 

While elective surgeries are deemed non-life-threatening, and placed behind more serious procedures in terms of priority, they are only categorised in this sense as they can be planned in advance. Many elective surgeries, such as hip replacements, ligament repairs, and spinal fusion surgery for scoliosis, greatly improve a person’s quality of life and alleviate chronic conditions.

Which states have the biggest backlog?

Tallying data from around the country, the survey reveals the specific states with the longest average waitlist period for elective surgeries. 

In third place, with 224 days, sits New South Wales, while Queensland takes the silver medal with an average wait time of 273 days. Victorians, with an average of 281 days, wait longer than other states for elective surgery. 

How can Aussies reduce their wait time?

Compare the Market’s Head of Health Insurance, Lana Hambilton, knows better than anyone the best way people can reduce their waiting periods amidst the record high backlog. She says the only way to ensure your case doesn’t fall behind in the public system, is to avoid it entirely. 

“As a patient in a private hospital, not only can long public waitlists be avoided, there is also the option to choose an available doctor, with potential additional benefits such as having a private recovery room, if that’s available,” says Hambilton on the benefits of private cover. 

But, signing on to a private health cover doesn’t exclude you from waiting in every instance, warns Hambilton. 

“Private hospital cover is great for ensuring that people get the treatment that they need quickly, but if it’s their first time getting private hospital insurance or transferring to a higher level of cover, there will be some waiting periods that should be considered,” Hambilton says. 

“Generally, with any health insurance policy, a 12-month waiting period to claim on treatment for a pre-existing condition or pregnancy-related services applies, with other services involving inpatient hospitalisation requiring a two-month waiting period. 

“This is why it’s important to get private hospital cover as soon as possible so that when the unexpected occurs, the policy benefits can be accessed without having to wait,” says Hambilton. 

The health insurance expert says sometimes, even if people have private hospital insurance but choose to present as private patients through the public system, they may still be subjected to the public waitlists.  

While Australia is often praised for having a progressive and accessible public healthcare system, the recent health insurance price hike amidst these record-high waiting times suggests that we still have plenty to do in terms of improvement. 

Source link