“Early death” risks: More bad news for soft-drink lovers

A few weeks ago, we were the bearers of bad news when we announced that drinking two or more cans of any artificially sweetened drink each day could significantly increase your risk of stroke and heart disease.

Terrifyingly, as we reported then: “The risk of early death is 16 per cent higher for those who consume diet drinks, compared to those who don’t.”

Now, we have follow-up research that claims drinking regular, full-leaded soft drinks are equally as bad for your, well, you know – life expectancy.

This latest study crunched the data from more than 80,000 females and 37,000 men, who had each answered questionnaires about lifestyle factors every two years.

Researchers discovered that the more sugary-sweet drinks that a person consumes, the more his or her risk of early death from any cause increased.

Drinking two sugary drinks a day increased your risk of early death by 14 per cent, while those who drink more than two a day had a 21 per cent increased risk of early death.

Alarmingly, the latter group also had a 31 per cent higher chance of dying young from heart disease.

“These findings are consistent with the known adverse effects of high sugar intake on metabolic risk factors and the strong evidence that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, itself a major risk factor for premature death,” says Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition.

“The results also provide further support for policies to limit marketing of sugary beverages to children and adolescents and for implementing soda taxes – because the current price of sugary beverages does not include the high costs of treating the consequences.”

So, to recap…

Put unhealthy crap in your body.

And you’ll increase the chances of you checking out of this earthly plane a little earlier than you might have liked.

Sounds fair enough.

With two studies demonising fizzy drinks in the space of one month, all we can say is: you’ve been warned!

Jacinda Ardern

Look for the helpers…

The tragedy that unfolded at Christchurch on Friday is still sinking in for a lot of us.

New Zealand is so much more than our geographic neighbour. They’re our closest ally; we’re closely linked, like siblings, like family. When one of their cities is rocked by a tragedy like this, especially when it was an Australian criminal at the centre of it all, we deeply feel the impact here.

Which is why many of us have felt drained, devastated and broken over the weekend.

Those feelings are amplified when elected officials reveal themselves to be bigoted, racist xenophobes – but let’s not give that particular egghead any more attention.

It’s already so very difficult to stay positive amongst all of this.

So, we have to look for the helpers and the heroes.

The people who step up and remind us that humanity is always, always so much more beautiful and kind than the small but loud cluster of dissenters.

People like this woman, Jill, who, in the midst of an active shooter situation, helped to save a man’s life, and spoke to his wife on the phone to keep her updated.

And Abdul Aziz, who frightened the terrorist off and likely saved dozens and dozens of lives.

And Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, who has shown relentless grace and dignity in the face of the crisis – she has not only promised to fast-track law reform around gun control, but she has also pledged to fund the cost of funerals for all victims, whether they are New Zealand citizens or not.

And One Mother to Another, a Christchurch-based charity that supports parents who have sick children in the hospital; the group is currently preparing hundreds of beautiful care packages for the families, first responders and hospital staff who are still reeling from and dealing with the core cruelty of this horrific act.

Overseas, kindness has been multiplying, too. In an act of religious solidarity, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has set up a fund for Christchurch victims. And over in the UK, a beautiful man call Andrew Graystone stood out the front of a mosque with a sign that read, “You are my friends. I will keep watch while you pray.

“There are two ways you can respond to an attack like this,” Andrew says. “You can respond with fear or you can respond with friendship.”

What an incredible gesture – and something we can all be inspired by.

Let’s all respond with friendship. Fear never wins.

To show your support for the people of Christchurch, there are a number of ideas here.


Revealed: How often you should throw out undies

One in four men routinely wear the same underwear two days in a row.

That’s 25%. Of the men you know. Wearing their underwear for 48 hours in a row. Surely this is a cause for outrage?!

This isn’t the only (slightly gross) tidbit I picked up from recent Good Housekeeping Institute’s research, which gives a range of guidelines around how often we should be washing and/or binning our bits and pieces.

Underwear, obviously, should be washed after every wear – minimum daily.

Nightwear should be washed every 3 days.

And our towels and bedsheets should ideally be cycled through the washing machine every 3 days as well – lest they swell with “germs, sweat and skin cells”. Altogether now: “Eeeeeew!”

While I’m firmly in the camp that believes in daily (or even twice-daily) underwear shift changes, the suggested rotation on towels and sheets is a little ambitious to me.

We’re on a weekly roster and even then, it feels like I’m forever heaving heavy sheets out of the wash. So, I read this article with interest, before deciding that I’m quite happy with my current situation, thank you very much.

Yet, here’s the conundrum: failure to amp up my washing schedule could apparently allow bugs such as E.coli and dust mites to flourish… which could lay the groundwork for all sorts problems to arise, from urinary tract infections, to thrush, to allergies.

I once had a male friend who only changed the sheets on his bed every four months or so. He liked how “soft” they became after months and months of use. To him I would say: the risks of contamination are high. For the rest of us? I’m going to stick with a weekly washing roster…

Interestingly, it’s the advice they proffered around when we should actually get rid of our clothes and sheets that I found even more interesting.

Allegedly, we’re meant to ditch our underwear every 12 months.

I’m sure the fine manufacturers at Bonds are thrilled to hear this (in fact, they weren’t behind the research, were they?!) because I can confidently go on record to state that I have underwear in my drawer that is older than my eldest child.

She’ll be nine when she celebrates her next rotation around the sun.

Perhaps it’s time to get my Marie Kondo on for a spring clean of the most intimate kind…

What do you think of these recommendations? Do you refresh your underwear daily and bin it after 12 months – or are these suggested time frames wasteful?

Selfie Car

Why selfies should be banned

Okay, this is officially getting ridiculous.

Last week, a grandma had to be rescued from sea after floating away on an ice flow… which she had climbed on top of, to get a selfie.

She damn near floated away into the open ocean and had to be fetched by the Icelandic Coast Guard, and it was all in search of an epic photo.

This week, a woman has been attacked by a jaguar after she climbed over a barricade at the Wildlife World Zoo near Phoenix, Arizona to take a selfie with the animal.

What on earth did she expect would happen?! The jaguar would see her climb into to its safe, sacred habitat and then siddle over for a snuggle?

Fortunately, the woman survived with minor injuries, and the zoo posted on Twitter at the time: “We can promise you nothing will happen to our jaguar. She’s a wild animal, and there were proper barriers in place to keep our guests safe – [it’s] not a wild animal’s fault when barriers are crossed. Still sending prayers to (the woman) and her family.”

But, here’s the thing about these insanities: they keep happening. Again, and again, and again.

Wikipedia is keeping a catalogued list – and it’s not short – outlining known selfie-related injuries and deaths over the last few years, and some of the cases are downright mind-boggling.

As if “death by selfie” isn’t enough, we also have to grapple with “death of self-esteem by selfie”.

Which is to describe that particular feeling you get when someone posts a selfie, and they look exponentially hotter than you’ve ever seen them in real life. There’s a good reason for this: it’s probably not a real photo.

Apps like FaceTune have made it possible for everyday punters to enjoy “glossy magazine level” photoshopping on their everyday images. We’re talking, smoother pores, brighter eyes, shinier skin, plumper lips. The works.

And it’s insane.

What is that saying again: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing, but expecting a different result?

The more we embrace selfie culture, the more this insanity continues. It’s high time we start calling this nonsense out for what it is.


Boundary Fence Refugees Asylum

Our national shame: another death in custody

Am I the only one who is this devastated about our country’s policy around, and appalling treatment of, asylum seekers?

I know I can’t be. I know there are compassionate Australians out there who, just like me, find it despicable that we treat human beings like they’re worthless, simply because they’re not lucky enough to be born in Australia.

But judging by the deafening silence and lack of outrage on social media and in the news about the latest death in custody at Villawood in Sydney’s west, it sure feels like Australia doesn’t care about these people.

The asylum seeker from the middle east was found deceased in his room on Monday night.

His death comes six weeks after a Sierra Leone man died in the same facility. Refugee advocate Ian Rintoul said that man, Musa, “should never have been in detention in the first place”.

“This is a completely shocking and unnecessary death,” Rintoul, spokesman for the Refugee Action Coalition, said. “His severe mental health problems have been known for years, yet he was kept in detention with no hope of getting well.”

And then there is Omid. Last year, the Nauru detainee was admitted to hospital on the mainland a full 30 hours after suffering burns to 50% of his body. If he’d been admitted within 10 hours, his treating doctor, Professor Michael Muller, said he likely would have survived. Omid died at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH), due to unnecessary delays in getting him treatment.

A google search reveals countless more of these devastating stories. So many people have had their lives ruined, their families lives shattered; their mental health has deteriorated to the point where they will never be the same, or they have severely self-harmed. Many have taken their own lives and died of preventable illnesses.

The response from a loud contingent of everyday Australians?

“Well, they should have gone through the proper channels.”

“They should have stayed in their own country.”

“This is what happens when you try to jump the queue…”

This ignorant, hateful rhetoric is all too common when it comes to asylum seekers. Let’s remember that these people are not criminals – but we treat them worse than any offender in our prisons.

When we have reached the point where innocent people are suffering and dying at the hands of our government, simply because they “didn’t go through the proper channels” – we have failed.

This is our national shame. One day, when our children ask us, “How did you let this happen?”… what can we possibly say to justify our lack of compassion and human decency?