North Shore Times : January 11th 2013
www.northshoretimes.co.nz 5 NORTH SHORE TIMES, JANUARY 11, 2013 NEWS 5106476AA Learn about... • what business to avoid • current trends, timing & the industry that's growing • How creating better business means a better world Entrepreneur Seminar Free 1 hour Seminar January 22nd, 2013, 7.30pm in Auckland. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for your free ticket. Seats are limited. 54a Northcote Rd Ph: 360 0717 5108032AA Bring this ad to receive exclusive deals: 1st service free with any new scooter OR 15% off accessories See you in store! Vitamin D could benefit psoriasis sufferers For many people, sum- m e risatim etoe njoy the sun and work on their tans. But for the estimated one in 50 adult sufferers of psoriasis in New Zea- land the high tem- peratures can mean dis- comfort as they hide affected skin under clothing. A Massey University study is looking into the affect of vitamin D on psoriasis, a chronic, inflammatory skin disease. The trial is being managed by Massey University PhD student Michelle Ingram as part of her thesis. She says psoriasis can impact people's self esteem and they often avoid activities like swimming or going to the hairdresser while the condition is active. Simple decisions like what to wear can become a major exer- cise. Living with pso- riasis can become very stressful.'' The trial is following 112 psoriasis sufferers for a year and measur- ing the effects of a vitamin D treatment. Ms Ingram says tra- ditional treatments for psoriasis include lotions, creams, pills, injections or photo- therapy. They can be incon- venient, expensive and increase the risk of other health problems.'' She says the poten- tial of a low-cost alternative treatment is exciting. If we are able to prove that vitamin D can help relieve the symptoms of psoriasis, that's a big step towards helping people with psoriasis live a more normal life.'' Websites under fire over eating disease Internet sites glorifying eating disorders are compounding what is a serious psychiatric problem. Katasha McCullough reports. Stick thin: 'Thinspiration' websites feature celebrities like Amanda Bynes to motivate people with eating disorders. Don't eat:An example of photos used on a thinspiration blog on Tumblr. Kate* weighed 40kg when she was in her late teens. She was battling anorexia nervosa, which left her suffering from anxiety and depression and her education scarred from pro- longed absences. Kate, now a University of Auck- land student, has since recovered from her three-year struggle with the disease. It takes over everything else,'' she says. Eventually there becomes very little else in your life that has that much power over you.'' A common theme emerges from research, the work of practitioners and patients' firsthand experiences. Eating disorders are powerful, addictive and destructive. But if the easily accessible inter- net and its ever-expanding blogo- sphere are thrown into the mix, what is the impact on these vulner- able individuals struggling to fight life-consuming diseases? A quick Google reveals eating dis- orders are increasingly being glori- fied online. The range of content is varied, from entire websites dedicated to the promotion of anorexia and bulimia to personal blogs detailing people's experiences. Kate says she would use online calorie counters to achieve her aim of eating less each day and she also visited blogs which were blatantly pro-anorexia. People would tell what they'd eaten that day and how guilty they felt. How they couldn't believe they'd eaten a certain thing,'' she says. She says the websites also con- tained tips for patients on how to trick both family members and medical professionals into thinking they are eating. Many of today's websites incor- porate all of these elements, as well as thinspiration' -- photos of desir- able, skinny bodies. Some of the girls pictured seem healthy. Thin, but healthy. Others have protrud- ing collarbones and legs the size of arms. Kate found the accessibility of this content a surprise. It was readily available. It wasn't hard to find, which is quite alarming.'' But while those with eating dis- orders are accessing this content, so are the people who are trying to help them recover. Anorexia is the most fatal of all the psychiatric diseases per capita and pro-anorexia websites only wor- sen the problem, says Dr Charles Fishman, of the New Zealand Eat- ing Disorder Specialists. They're terrible. They normalise a life-threatening disease,'' he says. Internet safety organisation Net- Safe is often contacted by people who are concerned about what they find online. Operations manager Lee Chis- holm says it is usually parents who reach out to them for help. Sometimes older people don't really realise how much is on the internet and they get a bit of a shock.'' Earlier this year blogging website Tumblr altered its user guidelines to ban content promoting eating dis- orders. Blogs were deleted and bloggers were outraged. But many simply started anew and it only takes a quick Tumblr search of the tags pro-ana', pro-mia' or even just skinny' to discover the website is struggling to control its own users. Mrs Chisholm says there is no sil- ver bullet when it comes to getting patients away from their keyboards, mice and favourite thinspiration blogs. There's so much access these days, it's not viable to try and block something. People are determined to keep looking.'' For Thrive Centre psychologist Bridgit Bretherton-Jones it is a hard one to monitor''. For her, the solution lies in find- ing out how patients feel about the websites. We work hard not to tell clients what to do because it's their recov- ery,'' she says. I think it's really tricky when you say to someone those sites are terrible and bad and don't look at them'. It's probably going to result in them looking.'' Both Mrs Chisholm and Ms Bretherton-Jones believe the issue is not black and white as some web- sites offer support to people living an anorexic lifestyle, without encouraging them to continue. That may be the only place where the person is getting any kind of understanding of what they're dealing with,'' Mrs Chisholm says. Family can't understand it, friends can't understand it and everyone's trying to make them eat.'' Ms Bretherton-Jones echoes this outlook but says it is hard to define what content is actually helpful, because every website varies. Kate says it is still hard to keep on track. If I skip a meal I feel like the impulse is kicking in. You have to be quite disciplined.'' One irrepressible fact emerges from Kate's story, which is that anorexia is hard enough to deal with offline anyway. But when the internet gets involved, eating disorders have the potential to snowball to the point of no return. *Kate's real name has been withheld at her request.
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