What we put down our throats

We have become accustomed to having fluoride in our water supply and a good idea as it turned out to be. Thiamine has been added to bread since 1991 and recently folic acid and iodine has been included. Vitamin D is added to margarine, and calcium to soy milk.

Iodine is particularly important in pregnancy and breastfeeding, when the iodine requirement is near doubled.

Protein appetite

Professor Stephen Simpson has produced a study indicating that many species, including humans, have a separate appetite for protein which causes the eating of more food when the protein content is lower, even if the energy component is high, eg fish and chips. This causes an increase in weight in the striving for the protein. (Australian Doctor October 2012)

Why are we treated like mugs?

For the last couple of years there has been an annual bleat about the alleged lack of training places for young doctors. To be clear, "training places" are jobs in hospitals. These are the young doctors you meet in Casualty and in hospital wards. The hospital system relies on them. But there is an annual outcry, as if with the lead time of five to six years from enrolment to graduation even the most simple politician or bureaucrat couldn't work out how many would be coming out the other end. It seems to be the old game of state and federal governments trying to get money out of each other.

Vitamin D deficiency in Yass

A major source of vitamin D is from sunlight, so how can that be a deficiency in Yass? It is probably because we have been taught to wear a hat when outside and to keep our bodies covered. This is a good idea to prevent skin cancer. It also limits the amount of vitamin D we can absorb from sunlight. A judicious amount of sun exposure is a good idea. Some people, especially in the winter months, find this not terribly practical. Sometimes people need medication to build up their vitamin D. In your regular blood tests you can check this.

The risk of poor kidney function

A recently published study of over 2 million people in the United States has shown that kidney disease is a major risk factor as people get older. Up to 15 per cent of adults have kidney disease and this rises to nearly 50 per cent after age 70 (at least in the US and probably here too). Blood tests can show the people who are at risk and who can have something done about it. (JAMA 2012;online 30 Oct)

 Flash Gordon returns

We have installed a video conferencing setup which enables us to have face-to-face conferences with specialists via our computers. This means that in some cases for regular follow-ups a patient does not have to go to Canberra or Sydney but can come to the medical practice and, by arrangement, see their specialist on the screen and just as importantly the specialists can see them. The advantages are obvious. I told the young man who was installing it for us that I had seen it before - in the 1930s on the Saturday afternoon serials shown at the local cinema where Flash Gordon spoke with Dr Zarkhov and Ming the Merciless. I don't think he knew the people I was speaking of.

Clinics by appointment

Dr Ann Stephenson, psychiatrist: TBA.

Sue Leitner, foot nurse: November 16 and 30, December 14.

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