Health round-up: Contraception, sick days and bowel cancer

Richard Laycock 27 July 2017 NEWS

Woman sitting on bed looking at contraceptive pills

A weekly round-up of Australia's latest healthcare news.

Aussies attitudes towards contraception are shifting

Australians are increasingly opting for risky contraceptive methods, according to a study from Monash University.

While 84.7% of those surveyed said they used a method of contraception, almost half rely on less effective short-term methods such as condoms (25.6%), withdrawal (12.5%) and fertility-awareness-based methods (2.8%).

In lieu of proven contraceptives such as contraceptive implants, the contraceptive pill and IUDs, many people are choosing "natural" forms of contraception. These natural methods include the withdrawal method and the sympto-thermal method.

The problem with some of these "natural" methods is that while they may be somewhat effective in preventing pregnancy, they offer no protection from STIs.

Interestingly, those who relied on the withdrawal method were more likely to live in a metro rather than a rural area.

Sick days and sleep problems go hand-in-hand

Roughly 25% of Aussies are forced to miss work due to a poor night's sleep, according to research commissioned by the Sleep Health Foundation.

The study found that just feeling you didn't get enough sleep can be all it takes to keep workers at home.

“Put simply, we found that if people think their sleep quality or quantity is reduced, they are more likely to have a day off work,” said Sleep Health Foundation spokesperson Professor Robert Adams.

Sick days cost Australian businesses an estimated $32.5 billion each year in lost productivity, which is why the Sleep Health Foundation is urging employers to make sure their staff are getting enough sleep.

Bowel cancer claims four times as many Victorians as the road toll

Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer of Victorians, accounting for the deaths of over 1,300 Victorians annually, according to the Cancer Council Victoria.

In a bid to minimise this number, the Cancer Council is trying to raise awareness with a Victoria-wide bowel screening program.

It is hoped that by raising awareness of the issue, more than 20,000 additional Victorians will seek out a screening for bowel cancer.

Currently, only 40% of eligible Victorians aged between 50 and 70 take advantage of the National Bowel Screening Cancer test.

“This is a real tragedy because many of these cancer deaths are preventable, in fact if you detect bowel cancer at stage 1 or 2, you have a 98% to 90% chance of survival respectively, but too many people are ignoring the free and simple test mailed to our homes,” said Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper.

What else is happening?

Researchers may have found a way to increase life expectancy by 10-15% with the aid of stem cell brain implants.

Scientists have already been able to slow the aging process of animals using this technique, which is giving rise to the hope that these results will be able to be replicated in humans.

Each week our round-up offers a summary of the latest developments impacting Australian healthcare and most importantly, you, the consumer. Check in every Thursday to find out what's happening in health.

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