Archive for April 2019

Scientist warns against vitamins

LATE-stage cancer patients could be thwarting their treatment by taking multi-vitamin pills containing antioxidants, Nobel prize-winning scientist James Watson has warned.

The benefits of supplements containing antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E are the subject of fierce debate.

While some studies suggest they could offer moderate protection against cancer, Professor Watson, who with Francis Crick discovered the ”double helix” structure of DNA in 1953, argues the pills could do more harm than good. In a new paper, he claims that the reason late-stage cancers often become untreatable is that they produce high levels of antioxidants which stop treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy from working.

In healthy people, antioxidants can be helpful because they attack molecules known as ”free radicals” which can damage DNA. But many cancer treatments use free radicals to kill tumour cells, meaning antioxidants could prevent them doing their job.

Professor Watson said studies should be carried out to test his theory, which he described as ”among my most important work since the double helix”.

Writing in the Royal Society’s Open Biology journal, he said: ”For as long as I have been focused on the understanding and curing [of] cancer, well-intentioned individuals have been consuming antioxidative nutritional supplements as cancer preventatives if not actual therapies.

”In light of the recent data strongly hinting that much of late-stage cancer’s untreatability may arise from its possession of too many antioxidants, the time has come to seriously ask whether antioxidant use much more likely causes, than prevents, cancer.”

Professor Nic Jones, Cancer Research UK’s chief scientist, said: ”We know from many large studies that, far from being potent cancer-fighters, antioxidant supplements seem to be ineffective for cancer prevention in healthy people, and some can even slightly increase the risk of cancer.”

Cancer Council Australia chief executive Ian Olver said the comments ”had merit”.

”Multivitamins are something that may be helpful in prevention, but they may not be helpful for treatment,” Professor Olver said.

Patients and doctors should ensure alternative medicine use is openly discussed, he said.

Dr Wendy Morrow, executive director of the Complementary Healthcare Council of Australia, agreed that doctors should ask patients about their use of complementary medicine, including multivitamins.

She said: ”What Professor Watson is doing is providing a theory. But to make a statement that multivitamins can’t be used with a treatment is a bit of a stretch.”

The sharemarket listed Blackmores and Swisse as Australia’s two largest vitamin and supplement sellers, a market analysts say is growing by 5 to 6 per cent a year.

A Swisse spokesman declined to comment on Professor Watson’s report, saying it was against the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s regulations for Swisse to talk about cancer treatment.


The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Flying frog …Sydney researcher discovers new species

Usually when the Australian Museum’s Dr Jodi Rowley searches for new species of frogs she has to trek to remote locations and through the difficult terrain of Vietnam’s mountains.

But Dr Rowley and her Vietnam colleagues were stunned to find their latest discovery of a new species of “flying frog” not too far from one of the largest cities in south-east Asia.

“It was really surprising to come across this huge frog so close to a heavily populated area,” Dr Rowley said.

Helen’s tree frog (Rhacophorus helenae), named after Dr Rowley’s mother, was discovered in a lowland forest in Vietnam, an area completely surrounded by agricultural land, less than 100 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh City.

Despite being commonly referred to as a “flying” frog, Dr Rowley says: “The name ‘flying’ frog is a little misleading as it doesn’t really fly. Rather it uses its feet as parachutes to help it glide through the canopy.”

But the canopy this 10-centimetre long frog calls home is under threat due to habitat loss and land degradation.

“Usually species are protected because they are in remote locations, but as this frog is so close to human activity it is at a great risk.” Dr Rowley said.

She says discoveries of new species are important to conservation as it ensures species are protected.

“These forests are some of the most threatened habitat in the world so discoveries like this are very important. The first thing we need to know is what we have and the second step is to conserve what we discover.”

Dr Rowley has been working in the area since 2006 and has made previous discoveries of new species, including the vampire flying frog and working in collaboration to discover and describe 12 new species in south-east Asia.

She says it is not uncommon for certain species to remain undiscovered when they live in the forest canopy.

“Species still do escape scientific attention, which makes every discovery exciting. We often don’t know about them and they are protected because they live in areas that are so hard to get to.”

Dr Rowley said naming the frog in honour of her mother, Helen, was the perfect way to thank her for years of support.

“At the time my mum had just been recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer and I thought it was about time I show her how much I appreciate all she has done for me over the years,” she said. “It was a very difficult time, but she finished chemotherapy about a year ago and she is doing OK.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Not-so-sleepy North Melbourne still a small business incubator

Mitch Marks, owner of Wooly Bully in North Melbourne, says many cafe regulars seemed to work from home, often in creative industries.AS THE inexorable creep of gentrification continues in Melbourne’s inner suburbs, some residents are quick to mourn the loss of local jobs, saying franchises and chain stores squeeze out small business.

But new data shows this is not the case in the former working-class area of North Melbourne, where small businesses such as barbers, cafes, bakeries and hairdressers employ a significant number of people despite the changing demographic.

North Melbourne businesses employing fewer than 20 staff account for about 50 per cent of the area’s employment – compared with about 15 per cent of the City of Melbourne as a whole – according to a new economic report from the council.

This figure has stayed steady over the past decade.

In the past two years, employment in North Melbourne has increased by more than 400 jobs, and the council describes it as one of the city’s most dynamic and complex areas.

When Nick Downie set up his barbershop All the Kings Men five years ago, his rationale for choosing North Melbourne was simple – ”It was cheap”.

”It has changed heaps, the demographic is completely different,” Mr Downie said. ”It’s much more young people and young families, it feels more dynamic.”

Although the area’s resident population has grown by only 8 per cent in the past seven years – compared with Docklands (48 per cent) and the CBD (36 per cent) – a new planning strategy is expected to trigger a flood of commercial and mid-rise residential development.

North Melbourne resident Mitch Marks is the owner of Wooly Bully, a local vinyl record and comic book shop that doubles as a cafe, which was established in 2011.

Ms Marks said many cafe regulars seemed to work from home, often in creative industries.

”It was quite sleepy when we moved here [in 2009] – we wondered how it stayed like that when it was so close to the city,” she said.

Both business owners commented on a marked anti-business sentiment among a minority of long-time residents, with Ms Marks saying some particularly vigilant residents regularly policed patron numbers at new cafes.

But it’s not all hipsters and boutique bars – North Melbourne has long been home to a range of crisis services, including VincentCare’s Ozanam House, established 60 years ago.

VincentCare area manager Amanda Alexander said residents were generally very supportive, but as the area became more gentrified the business community was ”probably less enamoured” with some of the crisis services.

There are still a large number of poor people in North Melbourne who had housing but came to the centres for food, with more than 200 meals served a day, Ms Alexander said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Green Guide letters

Watching Channel Ten’s Homeland proves to be a testing experience.Love the irony

IT’S ironic that GG had a half-page article on the ”I Love Green Guide Letters” podcast on December 27, yet no letters are published in this edition. Can I now expect Steele Saunders to have a mime artist to make informed comment in future podcasts?

Frank Stipic, Mentone

Sacking not my offence

ONE fatuous question does not, in my opinion, constitute a sacking offence. I liked Helen Kapalos, and reject Steele Saunders’ suggestion (Green Guide, 27/12) that my letter led to her sacking. My comment about an unshakeable conviction of being right was very much true. That said, I really do like Green Guide Letters.

Arthur Comer, Sebastopol

Home chopping network

HOMELAND was touted as the year’s best; however, I doubt the reviewer watched it on free-to-air. Channel Ten truly butchered this sophisticated, complex show. It started and finished late and I literally lost count of the five- to six-minute ad breaks, which destroyed the mood and one’s concentration. Even pre-recording couldn’t cope. I learnt, late, to ignore the Green Guide and just let the PVR go on and on.

Hilary Cook, Albert Park

Two peninsula points

WHY do Channel Nine presenters, when referring to geographical locations south of Melbourne, invariably speak of ”the” peninsula? There are actually two of these Port Phillip promontories, the Mornington and Bellarine. We frequently get weather details for places on one but not the other; towns on the Bellarine are hardly mentioned. Then there is the pronunciation of one of our major roads, the Princes Highway, as the Princess Highway!

Don Patrick, Barwon Heads

Through to the keeper

RICHARD Hinds’ assessment of the old and new commentators of Channel Nine cricket (GG, 20/12) was way off the mark. Bill Lawry is a ”late cut” above the rest. Quick to call and nearly always right.

Graham Wilce, Ormond

Persistence a virtue

CONGRATULATIONS to Leigh Sales, in being found not to have shown bias in her interview with Tony Abbott on 7.30 (The Age, 21/12). The charge should never have been made. All she did was persistently try to get him to answer an important question, which he persistently refused to do. Leigh is doing a fine job; Kerry O’Brien would be hard to follow.

Ron Hayton, Beaumaris

Conjuring excellence

I’M SURPRISED Dynamo: Magician Impossible has gone unnoticed by the reviewing fraternity. It is excellent, and encourages the pursuit of excellence.

Geoffrey Blakemore, Berwick

By gum, they are gone

I WENT to Port Melbourne to see the forest of towering gums that was proudly displayed on the ABC1 weather report three times last week but, strangely, could find only palm trees and apartment buildings. (And I think I now understand the reason the place name was dropped on the third day.)

Bruce Watson, Belgrave

Hear, hear to Ho

ANDREA Ho as the fill-in for Ian McNamara on ABC Radio’s Australia All Over was indeed a breath of fresh air. Andrea has a delightful delivery and showed great empathy when chatting to the various callers. It was somewhat of a relief as dear Ian has become a bit ”blokey” and certainly has skewed the program to be more ”Sydneycentric” in recent times.

Barrie Dempster, Balwyn

So long, in short

RE DIRTY Business on SBS: Michael Idato, is the story 150 years long or is it the story of 150 years of mining? If the former, I guarantee I will fall asleep before it finishes.

Andrew Moloney, Parkdale

Accent on quality

THE missing staples may be inconvenient and the savings on green ink understandable, but as long as there’s a Dan Burt article in the GG I’m happy. Thanks for his many insightful and witty articles. Also Craig Mathieson and Terry Lane et al, thanks for a year of interesting and insightful pieces. My wishes for the new year? More great articles; and for TV journalists to learn how to pronounce ”important”. It’s ”imporden”.

Andrew Zagdanski, Ocean Grove

Call for new columnist

THANK you for publishing Eddie Wilgar of Yarraville’s letters each week; we completely disagree with Leslie-John Newman (20/12/12). Wilgar’s knowledge and appreciation of television knows no bounds, and provides badinage so often lacking in other letters. Perhaps GG could offer Wilgar a weekly column so we can enjoy his insights more permanently?

The Eddie Wilgar Appreciation Society (EWAS), Melbourne

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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Aussie networks hit NZ to go fushing

Genders get bent on Kiwi fantasy The Almighty Johnsons, which screens on Channel Ten.Show of the week: Too much Kiwi television, all networks, all week

AUSTRALIA has long had a slightly icky inbred relationship with New Zealand, our choice cuz from across the sea. They gave us Russell Crowe, Split Enz, Phar Lap and pavlova. And in return we gave their long-term unemployed access to our generous welfare system.

In the spirit of such friendship, we say ”kia ora” to all the hobbits, elves, dwarves and Greenpeace protesters in the land of the long white cloud. While we have greater global significance and better cricketers, we are proud to be your brother/sister/estranged-cousin-twice-removed.

Saying that, though, the whole cultural-exchange thing has gone too far. Watching Australian television during the non-ratings period is like waking up in Whakatane, Waipu, Waikikamukau or any other patently made-up place in New Zealand.

Channel Seven is screening Wild Vets each night in what used to be known as prime time, so that we might watch New Zealand veterinarians counsel Priscilla the lioness through an identity crisis near Tahunanui Beach.

Staying on Seven, New Zealand ”fusheries” officers are holding back ”the relentless tide of reckless or carefree shell-food gatherers” in Coastwatch, while religious nutters trudge about lush forests in the drama The Cult.

Over on Channel Ten, the super-strong New Zealander Axl, who also has the power to turn himself into a woman, has been flexing his gender-confused muscles in the fantasy series The Almighty Johnsons. Channel Nine has no less than Mrs Rafter herself, Rebecca Gibney, seeing dead people with the aid of New Zealand psychics in Sensing Murder.

Such programs help commercial TV networks meet their quota of 55 per cent Australian content between 6am and midnight. Under the trade agreement between Australia and New Zealand, Kiwi programs count as Australian content. But Australian Communications and Media Authority chairman Chris Chapman noted in June that the networks were increasingly relying on the Kiwis to bolster their quota, perhaps at the cost of ”quality Australian stories”.

Indeed, more than 25 per cent of first-release Australian drama aired by Ten in 2011 was actually from New Zealand, while Seven relied heavily on Kiwi documentaries such as Border Patrol, Coastwatch and Wild Vets.

The networks save up such programs for the non-ratings period, when they don’t seem to care that some locals are still watching TV. So we might be on the beach in Bondi but in TV land we’re wearing jandals and packing Steinlagers in our chilly bins.

I’m all for importing content. The more we see of Estonia’s Next Top Model the better, in my book. But it’s a hard slog during the non-ratings period, when there are more bad Kiwi programs on the box than you could poke a sheep at (obligatory ovine joke).

With the exception of well-received shows such as Outrageous Fortune, most are poor cousins of genuine Australian programming.

There is also something farcical in fudging our maritime boundaries, particularly when it’s not the Australian government trying to keep out asylum seekers. Seven was thought to have once flirted with the idea of claiming The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as local content – though a forest-load of elvish Cate Blanchetts wouldn’t have floated that boat.

This summer, I say it’s time to excise New Zealand from our shores, in a metaphorical sense at least. If it comes down to a choice between Shortland Street and The Shire, I’ll choose the genuine Aussie show every time.

It’s bad television, but at least it’s our bad television.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.