Category "Health"

20Mar

‘Dirty Dozen’: Do these fruits and veggies really have harmful amounts of pesticide? – National

by BBG Hub

A new report says pesticide residue is on most of your favourite fruits and vegetables — even after they’re washed — but health experts say there’s nothing to be worried about.

According to the Environmental Working Group’s 2019 “Dirty Dozen” list — a report that tests pesticide residue levels on produce — strawberries have the highest levels of pesticides, followed by spinach and kale.

WATCH BELOW: Yes, avocados need to be washed before consuming





“We were surprised that more than 92 per cent of kale samples had two or more pesticide residues detected, and some samples contained as many as 18 different residues,” Dr. Olga Naidenko, EWG’s senior science advisor for children’s environmental health, told Global News.

The report, released on Wednesday, used data from the United States Department of Agriculture to analyze which fruits and veggies are the most and least contaminated. This is the first time kale has appeared on the “dirty” list since 2009 as it hasn’t been included in USDA’s produce tests in recent years.

Naidenko said the produce samples were tested for pesticides after they were cleaned.

READ MORE: Rates of colon cancer have doubled among young people, and doctors still don’t know why

“This means the produce has been thoroughly washed and, when applicable, peeled,” Naidenko said. “After these preparations, pesticide residues are still detected on many of the fruits and veggies.”

Other fruit that was listed as having higher levels of pesticide residue include nectarines, apples, grapes and peaches, ranked fourth to seventh, respectively. (Full list here.)

Food that EWG ranked on their “Clean 15” list of lower-residue foods include avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, frozen sweet peas, onions and papayas.

Are pesticides really that harmful for you?

Despite the report, Erin MacGregor, a Toronto-based registered dietitian and co-founder of How to Eat, says that Canadians should not be worried about pesticide residue on their foods.

WATCH BELOW: Does Canada’s new food guide reflect the needs of all Canadians?





“A list like the Dirty Dozen makes it seems like we have something to be concerned about, when we don’t necessarily have anything to be concerned about at all,” MacGregor said to Global News.

“We actually have a very stringent regulatory system in Canada, which states there’s a very conservative amount of pesticide residue allowed to be on fruit and vegetables that Canadians buy in the grocery store.”

MacGregor says this means produce has to pass government safety standards, which determine how potentially harmful a pesticide may be. “[Regulators] look at what level of residue would cause harm — if we were to ingest it — and then they set a residue limit that falls far, far below that,” she explained.

READ MORE: Parents, vaping near children is just as dangerous as smoking: study

Pierre Petelle, the president and CEO of CropLife Canada, says that pesticides are a necessary part of farming. He says fruits — especially smaller ones like strawberries — are susceptible to a number of insect infestations and diseases that makes them unusable.

“If you rely on [only] nature to grow crops, you would consistently waste endless amounts of food,” he told Global News.

“We compete with lots of different organisms and insects for the same crops, and so farmers need to protect them. It’s a simple as that. [Farmers] try to make sure they only use [pesticides] when and where they need them, but they’re no doubt an essential part of fruit and vegetable production.”

Is organic better for you?

One of the recommendations made by EWG is that consumers buy organic versions of produce found on their Dirty Dozen list whenever possible.

WATCH BELOW: Affordability is one of several factors stopping some Canadians in following latest Food Guide





“When organic versions are unavailable or not affordable, EWG advises consumers to continue eating fresh produce, even if conventionally grown,” they said in the report’s press release.

While some people prefer eating organic fruits and veg, MacGregor says they’re not always free of pesticide.

“Pesticides are allowed to be used in organically grown produce as well; they simply cannot be synthetic [pesticides], they have to be naturally-derived,” she said.

Washing your food

What consumers should do if they’re concerned with pesticide residue is thoroughly wash produce under cool tap water, MacGregor says.

READ MORE: Infection during pregnancy increases your baby’s risk of autism, but not by much: study

Washing is also an important step in preventing food poisoning as bacteria can live on the skin of fruits and vegetables.

In December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a report that found more than 17 per cent of avocados had listeria monocytogenes on the skin. Even though you would never eat an avocado’s skin, the FDA noted this foodborne pathogen can be transferred by a knife.

Other produce, like lettuce and tomatoes, should always be washed, too. Even skinned fruits like melons and bananas should be cleaned before eating.

“Melons, in particular, are an extreme example because their flesh is the best growth medium for salmonella,” Keith Warriner, a professor of food science at the University of Guelph, previously told Global News.

WATCH BELOW: UBC study says fruit and veggie consumption is down





Bottom line

It’s important for Canadians to eat fruit and vegetables daily as part of a balanced diet. Produce offers nutritional benefits, including a variety of vitamins and minerals, that are vital to a healthy lifestyle.

Petelle says reports like the Dirty Dozen can scare Canadians into thinking that fruits and vegetables are potentially harmful — which may cause folks to avoid them.

“If this report from the Environmental Working Group has the effect of stoking fear in people around certain eating fruit and vegetables, it’s having a very dire consequence,” he said.

“Reports from scientists are saying we need to eat more fruits and vegetables — not less — and worrying about minute traces of pesticide is not where we should be focusing our attention.”

With a file from Arti Patel and Marilissa Racco

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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18Mar

Rates of colon cancer have doubled among young people, and doctors still don’t know why – National

by BBG Hub

While rates of colorectal cancer are down in adults over 55, a recent study found that more young people are now being diagnosed with the disease.

According to findings published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, rates of colon cancer have doubled in U.S. adults aged 20-39 since the mid-1980s. In adults between the ages of 40 and 54, incidents of colon cancer have increased from 0.5 per cent to 1.3 per cent since the mid-1990s.

“The cause for the rise in young adults is unknown and a growing area of research,” Dr. Rebecca Siegel, the study’s lead author and a scientific director at the American Cancer Society, told Global News.

WATCH: Colorectal cancers in Canada discovered too late — report





“The obesity epidemic has probably contributed but does not appear to completely explain the trend.”

When it comes to rectal cancer, the disease has been increasing “longer and faster” in adults aged 20-29 years old. The study, which analyzed the data of nearly 500,000 people, found rectal cancer rates increased 3.2 per cent annually from 1974 to 2013.

In Canada, health-care professionals are noticing a similar trend.

What’s causing the increase?

“What we’re seeing in Canadians under the age of 50 [is that] rates of colorectal cancer are increasing,” said Dr. Leah Smith, senior manager of surveillance at the Canadian Cancer Society.

“Overall, colorectal cancer rates are decreasing, but this decrease seems to be restricted to older age groups… There’s more research that needs to be done to investigate this increase as we’re not entirely clear yet what is causing it.”

READ MORE: Long periods of sitting puts men at higher risk of bowel cancer, study says

As Siegel pointed out, the rise in obesity rates in North America may be a contributing factor to colorectal cancer in younger adults.

“We know that excess body weight is a major risk factor for colorectal cancer,” Smith said. “Rates of obesity are increasing in our population so that could explain the increase.”

A sedentary lifestyle may also up one’s risk, Smith said, just like a diet high in red or processed meat, alcohol or tobacco can.

There have also been changes in diagnostic care that may play a role, but experts are unsure of how much.

WATCH: Colon cancer awareness month 





“More use of colonoscopy in young adults may contribute to the rise, although it is probably not a big factor because … the largest increase has been for advanced stage disease, whereas screen-detected prevalent cancers are typically diagnosed at a localized stage,” Siegel explained.

Despite the increase in rates, colorectal cancer is still primarily a disease that affects older adults, Smith says.

“About six per cent of all colorectal cancer cases occur under the age of 50, meaning … the bulk of colorectal cancer cases in Canada are occurring in older populations,” she explained.

How can Canadians help protect themselves?

Smith and Siegel both say that someone’s risk of developing colorectal cancer can be reduced by healthy lifestyle habits. These include being physically active, maintaining a healthy body weight, limiting red and processed meat consumption and avoiding large amounts of alcohol.

Smith also says that smoking increases your risk of colorectal cancer so avoiding tobacco is best.

READ MORE: These two cancers aren’t detected early enough, and it’s costing Canadian lives

Screening for colon and rectal cancers is also important. Smith says there are screening programs in place for adults over 50 but adds that anybody who is experiencing symptoms that indicate colorectal cancer should be checked for it.

“Some of the signs of colorectal cancer are things like changes in bowel moments, blood in the stool, stomach cramping and weight loss,” Smith said.

Early detection is key as colorectal cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in Canada and the second leading cause of cancer death. If it’s caught at Stage 1, it has a 90 per cent survival rate. If it’s caught at Stage 4, the survival rate is less than 15 per cent.

“It’s always important we are aware of our body and are communicating openly and honestly with our health-care providers about what’s going on,” Smith said.

—With a file from Leslie Young 

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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18Mar

Infection during pregnancy increases your baby’s risk of autism, but not by much: study – National

by BBG Hub

Babies born to mothers who had an infection during pregnancy are at an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder and depression, a new study has found.

The study found a 79 per cent increased risk of autism and a 24 per cent increased risk of depression in children exposed to infection while in utero, as well as an increased risk of suicide.

READ MORE: Yet another study finds no link between MMR vaccine and autism

Researchers analyzed patient data from pregnant women hospitalized between 1973 and 2014 in Sweden.

From a database of nearly 1.8 million children, researchers used hospital codes to determine which babies were exposed to infection. They then tracked those children and their mental health through the years, with some of the oldest babies now entering their forties.

Researchers divided infections into three categories: the first was any infection at all, the second was “severe maternal infections” and the third was “mild maternal infections” (namely, urinary tract infections).

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“We thought of (severe) infections as things that would cause a whole bunch of inflammation in the mother,” researcher Benjamin J. S. al-Haddad told Global News.

“Things like sepsis (when there’s bacteria in the blood), severe pneumonia (where moms need special help breathing because they have such a severe respiratory infection), meningitis or encephalitis (infections around the brain), pyelonephritis (where the kidneys have bacteria and puss), as well as influenza and chorioamnionitis (where the different parts of the placenta become infected over the course of giving birth).”

Researchers hypothesized that something as mild as a UTI would not be linked to such a high increased risk — but they were wrong.

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“From our results, it looks like we see similarly increased risk whether the mother had a UTI or something more severe,” al-Haddad said. “It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of infection it is.”

No link was discovered between exposure to infection in utero and other mental conditions, such as bipolar disorder or psychosis.

Researchers worried about other conditions present in mom (such as asthma or diabetes) that could taint the results.

WATCH BELOW: The importance of including autism training for public workers





However, even when they controlled for such conditions, the link between infection and an increased risk for autism and depression remained.

“The things that we controlled for included maternal age, maternal asthma, maternal diabetes, premature rupture of membranes (which is when the sac holding the liquid that the fetus is in breaks before mom goes into labour), maternal tobacco status (whether mom smoked or not), and then we also did special controls for siblings,” al-Haddad said.

The results of the study suggest that infection can “impart subtle brain injuries contributing to the development of autism and depression,” said researchers.

READ MORE: One third of pregnant women don’t think cannabis will harm their babies, study says

While these results sound scary, al-Haddad stressed that the increased risk is in addition to the preexisting baseline risk.

“In the United States, the risk of autism is one out of every 59 kids. Our results suggest that on top of that baseline, there would be a 79 per cent increased risk. We don’t know what that number would be, but the extra risk conferred on top of a baseline low risk, in terms of the population, is not high,” said al-Haddad. (Autism Speaks Canada reports that one in every 66 children have autism in Canada.)

“This is just one of a myriad of causes that we think increases risk. This is another piece of trying to understand what the causes of autism are and how we can prevent those causes.”

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What does “increased risk” really mean?

It’s important for parents to understand that the reported 79 per cent increase in risk sounds like a big number, but it’s actually quite a small increase on the pre-existing risk.

“It’s still (less than) 1 per cent in terms of the absolute increase (in risk) a particular child has. Basically, that means almost 98 per cent of kids whose mothers have an infection during pregnancy that would cause hospitalization are not born with autism or another neuro-developmental condition,” Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou. She works as a child neurologist and senior clinician scientist at the Bloorview Research Institute.

“So it’s a small absolute risk, but it’s a big risk biologically in the sense that we are learning that there is a mechanism to do with infection that likely interacts with our genes that may increase the chance of developing autism.”

READ MORE: New Canadian pregnancy guideline shows exercise cuts odds of major complications by 40%

On its own, exposure to infection during pregnancy is not enough to cause autism, but it can be a contributing factor.

“It’s one of the ways that our environment (in this case, infection) may interact with our genes to somewhat increase our risk,” Anagnostou added.

This study is helpful because it explains one of the many different changes that can happen in the brain and the body that can contribute to autism.

Some findings should be interpreted with caution, says one doctor

“It’s not the first time we’re learning this,” Anagnostou said. “We have lots of evidence from animal-model and previous human studies that significant infection during pregnancy increases risk for neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism.”

However, there are a few findings that should be interpreted with caution, Anagnostou told Global News.

READ MORE: Vancouver Canucks taking steps to help fans with autism enjoy the games

“(Researchers) tried to look at the severity of infection and whether the severity of the infection would change the impact, and… they said that severe infections were not different than a regular urinary infection, but we have to be careful because these people were admitted to hospital.”

For Anagnostou, those admitted to hospital didn’t have a “regular” urinary infection. Only a more severe infection would warrant a hospital stay. In a similar vein, the kids who later developed autism were also hospitalized.

“Both the people who had infection and the kids who had autism were hospitalized, so they are not representative of the larger population,” she noted.

Other factors which can increase your risk of autism

The most robust explanation for autism comes from our genetics, Anagnostou said.

“But our genes and our environment interact… and there’s a series of these environmental exposures that have small but consistent effects.”

One is infection during pregnancy, and some infections are worse than others.

“That’s why we want all moms to be vaccinated. For example, rubella during pregnancy (is linked with) a very high risk of autism.”

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“Other factors could be maternal diabetes, use of certain medications during pregnancy, an increased paternal age… all of these things are robust. We know they’re important to biology, but the actual increase is very small for each one of them… so no parent should be feeling guilt because they happen to develop an infection during pregnancy,” said Anagnostou.

“We have zero evidence that vaccines increase the risk for autism.”

Autism is a difference that comes with both “difficulties and advantages”

According to Anagnostou, autism is a developmental difference that causes the brain and the body to grow and connect in different ways than someone who doesn’t have autism.

“Sometimes, that’s associated with things that cause distress and dysfunction, and we want to treat those things,” said Anagnostou. “But sometimes, it actually comes with unique gifts and unique perspectives.”

Anagnostou said people with autism are more likely to think out of the box and they’re more likely to contribute to innovation.

READ MORE: New autism supports coming to Ontario schools due to therapy funding changes

“Speaking generally, they’re good employees, they have very low absenteeism (rates), they tend not to lie,” Anagnostou explained. “It’s a difference that comes with both difficulties and advantages.

“It’s important that we don’t lose perspective of the things that need to be treated, because a lot of these children need our support, but it’s also important to not lose perspective of all the unique qualities people with autism bring to society.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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14Mar

‘Depression isn’t like a broken bone’: Steps to overcome this common mental illness – National

by BBG Hub


Depression can slowly takeover a person’s routine, often making it difficult to go to work or even get out of bed.

A clinical state of depression can be intense, making it hard for some to balance their relationships or social life, often making them feel worthless, weak or sometimes suicidal, said Toronto clinical psychologist Dr. Maneet Bhatia.

But there are others with mild symptoms of the mental health illness: they may be “high-functioning” on the outside, but carry the burdens of feeling depressed from time-to-time.

READ MORE: 8 signs your child may be going through depression

“Mental health doesn’t exist in a vacuum, we have to live in a world where we have to continously think about it,” he told Global News. “Feeling depressed and being clinically depressed are two different (but common) things.”

Is there really a ‘cure?’

Bhatia said when people are diagnosed with depression, most healthcare professionals will set up a plan to overcome it. It’s different for everyone, he added, and many people go into it thinking depression can be a lifelong battle.

“Cure is a medical word, but mental health and depression isn’t like a broken bone,” he continued, adding that there are ways to “cure” your symptoms, but it doesn’t mean you are cured forever.

“Cure implies it is black and white and it’s not always the case,” he said. “You can manage it and overcome it, but it still means you have to take care of it.”

Steps to overcome depression

In a post for Psychology Today, psychotherapist Linda Esposito said if you want to overcome depression, you need to resist the urge to live in the past. “Time spent reliving, rewriting and recreating the past is like purchasing a one-way ticket to the dark depths of despair,” she wrote.

“This insidious mental habit is as much a threat to emotional well-being as any. Self-loathing or blaming others will not get you on the right side of feeling better, any more than believing the answer is found at the bottom of a bottle of Jack Daniels.

“You cannot do life differently if you don’t change your thought process.”

Dr. Jane Framingham, in article for PsychCentral, added that overcoming depression requires taking baby steps. “If you feel good one day, and decide to try and start a new business or make a new friend and you fail, it could be a forceful setback in overcoming depression,” she wrote in October 2018.  “Instead, try things out slowly, and experiment with change one step at a time.”

READ MORE: CMHA offering program to help people battling anxiety or depression

She also noted that not all paths to overcome depression are a straight line. “There will be setbacks in your journey recovering from depression, no matter if you focus on going it alone (e.g., without seeking formal treatment), or even if you are in treatment with an antidepressant or psychotherapy,” she continued.

“Take the setbacks in stride, though, and keep them in perspective — it wouldn’t be work if it was simple to recover from depression. Depression recovery is a process that will take time, but as long as you stick with the goal of change, you can overcome depression in due time.”

Here are some other tips Bhatia recommended:

Recognize the signs: Signs of depression in children and adults can include irritable moods, feeling of guilt or worthlessness, losing interest in things over time or trouble concentrating. Other symptoms of depression, Bhatia added, include loss of appetite, change in sleeping habits or isolation.

Reach out to your support network: Once you recognize the signs, reach out to a mental health professional and your close family and friends. Bhatia said this allows people in your network to check in on you and also allows you to update them.

Find the treatment that works for you: This one will vary depending on the person, but once your healthcare provider recommends a treatment option (medicine, mindfulness, therapy or all of the above), take this treatment seriously.

READ MORE: Depression leads to shorter lifespan — Canadian study

Try lifestyle changes: Sometimes managing or overcoming depression means making lifestyle changes. This includes eating healthier, getting more sleep, staying active or even picking up a hobby.

Be mindful of your thinking patterns: One of the biggest ways to advocate for your own health is to be mindful of how you feel, he added. This can be achieved through therapy, but sometimes this means keeping track of your day-to-day and seeing how your treatments or therapy are working for you.

Where to get help

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide PreventionDepression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868  all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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13Mar

How fertility apps are changing the way women conceive – National

by BBG Hub

When 28-year-old Iryna McVeigh wanted to get pregnant, she turned to her phone.

Using the fertility app Glow, McVeigh plugged in information like the date of her last period and the length of her cycle. The app, which lets women know when to expect their period and when they’re most fertile, also records data like sexual activity and health information.

“My goal was to learn more about my cycle, and in particular, my ovulation days,” McVeigh told Global News. “[The app] taught me about my most fertile days, and provided me with actual percentages of achieving pregnancy.”

Three months after McVeigh downloaded the app, she became pregnant.

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“I didn’t think an app could actually be precise in tracking my period or ovulation, but Glow was pretty spot-on,” she said.

How effective are fertility apps?

Like McVeigh, 29-year-old Ashley Szakal leaned on technology when she was ready to conceive.

The marketing and communications professional had used Glow for years to track her period, but in 2018, she updated her profile on the app to reflect her current life stage: trying to get pregnant. It was then that she started paying closer attention to when she ovulated.

READ MORE: One-third of pregnant women don’t think cannabis will harm their babies: study

“[My husband and I] used that to figure out when the perfect time was to start trying to get pregnant, and it actually worked really well for us,” she said. “We got pregnant right away.”

According to Ann Mullen, director of health education for family planning company Cycle Technologies, certain fertility apps are highly effective. She says an app’s accuracy depends on how well it interprets a user’s information and gives that information back to them.

DOT, a Cycle Technologies’ app that helps “plan or prevent pregnancy,” lets users know their chances of conceiving on any given day, Mullen explains. A user is asked to enter their period start date each month, and after a few cycles, the app can better predict a woman’s chance of pregnancy.

WATCH BELOW: Women should wait a year before getting pregnant again: study





“The DOT app is an algorithm-based method, so it takes vastly more information into consideration than just the user’s period start date,” Mullen said. “The entire method is based on a culmination of decades of research, [including] things like background in fertility awareness methods, reproductive biology, loads and loads of fertility statistics and research that we’ve done.”

Research found that DOT had a failure rate of 3.5 per cent within the first six cycles of using the app.

Dr. Karen Glass, the director of fertility preservation at Toronto’s CReATe Fertility Clinic, says that an app’s accuracy can vary, and a user’s cycle can play a role. “The more regular [the cycle], the better the app will work,” she said.

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Dr. Caitlin Dunne, a fertility doctor at Vancouver’s Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine, agrees.

“If the woman has cycles that typically vary outside of 21-35 days, then the app is not going to work as well,” she said. “This is because the app is simply using the calendar method to ‘average out’ the cycles and predict ovulation.”

Dunne says irregular cycles may also be a symptom of other issues, PCOS, thyroid problems and low ovarian reserve, which require a doctor’s attention. “An app can’t diagnose those things, and that is why a fertility specialist is so important for these women,” she added.

It’s also important for women to seek medical advice if they’ve been trying to get pregnant for a year without any success, or are over 40. Furthermore, if there are suspected fertility issues with a male partner, it’s important to see an expert.

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While both Glass and Dunne agree fertility apps can be useful tools, users should not solely rely on their information when trying to prevent pregnancy — even if your phone says your chances of pregnancy are low.

“Period tracking apps are much less reliable than other methods [of birth control],” Dunne said. “Other methods like birth control pills or IUDs are much, much more reliable if getting pregnant is not something the woman wants at that time. So it is a highly personal choice.”

Making the investment

Twenty-eight-year-old Kasey Petrie did her research before she bought Ava, a fertility-tracking bracelet. The daycare program director started trying to conceive two years ago with no luck.

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After she suffered a miscarriage, she said she “gave up” trying to get pregnant the “natural” way, and started looking at fertility devices.

The Fitbit-esque bracelet was quite costly for her at the time — it currently retails for $399 — but Petrie thought the investment was worth it.

The bracelet is worn at night, and collects a user’s data like sleep, physiological stress levels and resting heart rate. In the morning, the information syncs up with the bracelet’s app on your phone.

READ MORE: Single women aren’t freezing their eggs for health reasons. Some can’t find partners

“When you first set it up, they ask you all sorts of questions like when was your last menstrual cycle and how many days was your last menstrual cycle,” she said. “It then syncs you up with a calendar and it will give you your four best days to try to conceive, and [tells you] when you should be expecting your next period.”

Petrie said she used Ava for about four months before anything happened. She says because her periods were irregular, she didn’t have a reliable log. The company says Ava has been shown to detect an average of 5.3 fertile days per cycle at 89 per cent accuracy, but that stat can be affected by the regularity of a user’s cycle.

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After a few months of wearing Ava, Petrie got pregnant in December. “You can use [Ava] during pregnancy as well — it has a mode you can switch over — so I definitely feel like it’s become more in tune with [my body],” she said.

While Petrie found success with the device, the company says Ava has not been tested with “diagnosed fertility conditions that interrupt normal ovulation such as PCOS or hypothalamic amenorrhea.” It is also not to be used by women on birth control.

What about users’ data?

While apps rely on users’ data for accuracy, the amount of personal information given can be troubling to some.

Szakal says she likes using pregnancy apps now that she’s expecting her first child, and while she shares certain data like her due date, she avoids using her full name on message boards and forums.

READ MORE: Should we f***king swear around our kids? Parenting experts weigh in

“I’m very aware of what my phone can do, can hear, and what information it takes,” she explained.

McVeigh, however, says she doesn’t share any information online that she’s uncomfortable with, and was never concerned about her data being shared.

“I think if you are on an app like this, you should be comfortable with sharing your menstrual cycle and other info about your path to conceiving,” she said. “Otherwise, you wouldn’t use them in the first place.”

According to Mullen, DOT does not store women’s data, and does not share any information with third parties.

WATCH BELOW: New Canadian pregnancy guideline shows exercise cuts odds of major complications by 40%





“The apps [live] only on the person’s phone … and anything a user puts on there is only on the app on the phone,” she said. “The only way we would ever know [user’s data] is if the user contacted us and decided to share information.”

Are fertility apps empowering women?

Being able to track your fertility on your phone is “playing a huge part in making women more aware of their bodies” and giving them a sense of control, Szakal says.

“I have quite a few friends who are pregnant right now who had no idea… when they were ovulating, and it was a bit of a guessing game,” she said. “But I’m a big planner, so the [apps] helped me strategize.”

READ MORE: ‘My mood plummets’: When PMS symptoms could be something more

McVeigh agrees, and says that fertility apps allow women to better plan their lives. She also likes the community aspects of pregnancy apps, like online forums, as they allow women to connect with others “who are experiencing the same issues as you may be.”

But with all their perks, Szakal says the endless information from apps can be a lot. “I found in my first trimester, having access to a lot of this information and [having] apps tell you what you should and shouldn’t be feeling was almost overwhelming,” she said.

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Still, Mullen is confident apps give women greater control over their fertility.

“Women can track their health symptoms and moods, and have a lot of information in their hands,” she said. “I think that helps them see their own patterns, and know what’s usual or normal for them.”

“And if something is starting to come up, they can recognize it maybe a bit more quickly because they’ve been tracking things, and they can go talk to their doctor.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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12Mar

Parents, vaping near children is just as dangerous as smoking: study – National

by BBG Hub

A new study has found that an overwhelming number of parents believe e-cigarettes are safe to use around children, despite growing concerns about the toxic chemicals they contain.

“They’ve been marketed as a safer alternative to smoking,” said Jeremy Drehmer, co-author of the study. “To their credit, they are safer when compared to cigarettes. But pretty much if you compare anything to cigarettes, the other thing is going to be safer.”

READ MORE: Most smokers don’t know sugar is added to cigarettes, study finds

Researchers interviewed more than 900 parents who identified as current or former smokers.

The main finding was that “parents who were dual users of cigarettes and e-cigarettes were more likely to have strictly enforced smoke-free policies than vape-free policies for the home, suggesting that some may believe exposure to vaping inside the home is safe for children.”

In Drehmer’s view, the results of the study show that many parents believe these devices contain harmless water vapour, which isn’t the case.

WATCH: Butting out your smoking habit





Vaping devices are relatively new. There are several different products on the market, and each contains a different set of chemicals, which is the first cause for concern.

“We’re really in an unknown kind of abyss,” Drehmer said. “Studies have found that [e-cigarettes] have volatile organic compounds in them that are cancer-causing,” but we don’t necessarily know how much of these compounds exists in each product.

E-cigarettes also use aerosol — defined as particles dispersed in air or gas — which contains very small, ultra-fine particles.

READ MORE: Health Canada failing to address dangers of growing vaping ‘epidemic’: Cancer society

“Much like tobacco smoke, these can get in and embed into the lungs, causing inflammation and all sorts of health problems,” said Drehmer.

Another reason e-cigarettes are dangerous is due to a chemical used to produce flavour called diacetyl.

“Diacetyl has been used in things like microwave popcorn, and it’s been linked with something called popcorn lung disease.”

WATCH: Vaping study shows its effective





Second-hand smoke can cause several health problems for children, said Drehmer. Developmental delays and an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) are the two biggest concerns.

“Children who grow up in homes where people are smoking around them are much more likely to take up smoking themselves,” Drehmer said.

This could be through modelling — which is when a child mimics a parent’s behaviour — or by way of exposure to nicotine, which could make children predisposed to a nicotine addiction.

READ MORE: Health Canada advocates push for e-cigarette crackdown amid surge in teen vaping

Finally, the vapour from an e-cigarette — and all of its harmful chemicals — will remain on surfaces long after the vaping has stopped.

“The nicotine will coat all the surfaces in the home and car, much like cigarettes will,” said Drehmer. “Children can come by and still be exposed.”

Nicotine is a neurotoxic chemical, and it can be highly dangerous for the developing brains of children.

WATCH: The growing addiction and attraction to vaping among teens





“I think the thing is when people hear the word vapour, they’re thinking safe, and vapour doesn’t necessarily mean safe,” said Drehmer.

Instead, the exact same rules should be applied to vaping that are applied to smoking, he says.

“Avoid smoking in the home or car, even when kids are not present. Rather than vaping indoors, parents should consider using FDA-approved cessation medications instead, such as nicotine patch and gum, that do not expose children to toxic e-cigarette aerosol.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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10Mar

Hyaluronic to salicylic: A guide to using acids in your skincare routine – National

by BBG Hub

Acids can sound harsh, unforgiving and intimidating. But in reality, they’re an amazing tool.

In fact, according to Dr. Benjamin Barankin, a Toronto-based dermatologist and medical director of the Toronto Dermatology Centre, acids are the key to a thorough skincare routine.

“Most acids start by exfoliating the top layers of dead skin, allowing other products to penetrate better,” said Barankin. “The skin will also appear brighter.”

With continued use, your skin will become increasingly receptive to acid and your skincare routine will become more effective overall.

READ MORE: These are the skincare ingredients you should never mix

You can find some acid products at the drug store, but they likely won’t be as effective as prescription products.

“Using store-bought products are most likely safe, but due to Health Canada regulations, (they’re probably) ineffective due to the limited percentage of active ingredients.”

For the best bang for your buck — and to ensure you’re using the acid in a safe and controlled manner — you should consult a dermatologist or medical esthetician.

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A skincare professional can “assess you for your skin type, skin condition and suggest products,” said Barankin.

They can also show you how to use the products, decide how often you should be using them and help to set realistic expectations.

“It’s human nature to overdo (it) and try to speed up results,” Barankin told Global News. “This will backfire — have no doubt! Acids are strong and shouldn’t be misused. It isn’t difficult to burn the skin or have an adverse reaction. If this were to happen, having a professional available will help repair the skin more quickly and more aptly.”

READ MORE: Got acne scars? Here’s how to get rid of them for good

While acids, in all its different forms, will affect each person’s skin differently, there are some general rules of thumb.

“For acne- or oily-prone skin, using a cleanser or toner with glycolic and salicylic acid daily will help prevent the build-up of dead skin cells and reduce congestion,” said Barankin.

If you have pigmented or sun-damaged skin, reach for a daily serum. “A daily serum containing a low dose of kojic and arbutin during the day, used with a retinol at night or a weekly peel of mandelic or kojic acid will help reduce the appearance of dark spots and help brighten the skin,” Barankin explained.

“Daily vitamin C or ascorbic acid applied in the morning will also help protect against sun damage.”

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Serums and moisturizers are the best vehicles for those people with dry or sensitive skin. Those containing hyaluronic and lactic acid “will help keep skin hydrated and reduce irritation,” Barankin said.

Acid is touted as a skincare game-changer, but knowing which are best for you can be tricky. Here, Barankin breaks down the main players and their uses.

Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid adds volume to the skin, and it calms the skin through hydration.

We produce hyaluronic acid naturally, but the amount decreases as we age. “The hyaluronic acid molecule doesn’t last long and must reproduce regularly,” said Barankin. “The addition of it in our home skincare routine is very beneficial to every skin type.”

READ MORE: Want healthy skin? Stop these 8 bad skincare habits now

Retinol

Retinol is great at combating the bad stuff. The vitamin A is anti-aging, anti-acne and anti-pigmentation.

“Retinol is amazing for most skin types, except for those with sensitive skin or rosacea,” said Barankin. “It is sun-sensitive and needs to be used with caution if it’s medical grade. Store-bought retinol is very mild and has very little effect on the skin.”

Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid is “very good for anti-aging and reducing blocked pores,” according to Barankin. “It’s also the least likely to cause excessive peeling” after use.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is great for eliminating dead skin cells and breaking up excessive oil.

“It can also be used to reduce pigmentation when used in conjunction with other products,” said Barankin.

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Azelaic acid

Azelaic acid reduces pigmentation, and it’s usually tolerated well by most skin types.

Arbutin acid

Arbutin acid is good for “minimizing irritation and inflammation, as well as reducing pigmentation.” It’s good for most skin types.

READ MORE: Winter elements causing dry, cracked, flaky skin? Here’s how to fix it

Trichloroacetic acid

Trichloroacetic acid is a synthetic acid that is more aggressive than most acids.

“It’s great for textural concerns including scars and wrinkles,” said Barankin. “Visible peeling is expected and should only be used while at a clinic with your skincare specialist or doctor.”

Lactic acid

Lactic acid absorbs slowly into the skin, which helps it maintain your skin’s balance. It’s also great for hydration.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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7Mar

Pancreatic cancer can be tough to spot and even harder to beat – National

by BBG Hub

On Wednesday, Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek announced that he has been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

“Now normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working,” the 78-year-old Sudbury native said in a video shared to YouTube.

Unfortunately, Trebek was right.

According to Michelle Capobianco, the executive director at Pancreatic Cancer Canada, pancreatic cancer is predicted to become the deadliest cancer worldwide by 2030.

READ MORE: Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek says he has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer

“The five year survival for Stage 4 is unfortunately less than one per cent,” said Capobianco. “For all stages of pancreatic cancer combined, the one year relative survival rate is 20 per cent, and the five year rate is about seven to eight per cent.”

Pancreatic cancer may cause only vague symptoms, if any, and those symptoms can indicate a number of different conditions. This makes it very difficult to diagnose.

“Because most patients are diagnosed after the cancer has already spread, it is a difficult cancer to treat,” Capobianco told Global News. “While chemotherapy can help to keep the cancer at bay, it is ultimately not a curative treatment.”

WATCH BELOW: Support pours in for Alex Trebek after announcement of pancreatic cancer diagnosis





Another reason pancreatic cancer can be tough to spot is because it hasn’t been researched enough.

“While there is real momentum now in researching pancreatic cancer across the world, it has been woefully underfunded in comparison to other cancers,” said Capobianco, and its rising mortality rate reflects this.

In the video, Trebek said he is determined to beat the “low survival rate statistics for this disease,” joking that his Jeopardy! contract requires he work three more years.

READ MORE: ‘Don’t ignore the warning signs’: N.B. mother battling terminal ovarian cancer speaks out

Risk factors of pancreatic cancer

Smoking, a poor diet, alcohol consumption and obesity are all modifiable lifestyle choices that can increase your risk of developing pancreatic cancer, according to Pancreatic Cancer Canada.

Smokers are, “two to three times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than non-smokers,” said the organization. “Use of smokeless tobacco may also be associated with pancreatic cancer development.”

Drinking two or more alcohol beverages per day can increase your risk of both pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis, according to researchers.

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“A diet high in cholesterol, fried foods, red and processed meats may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer,” said the organization. “A diet high in fruits, vegetables and fibre may reduce risk.”

There are other non-modifiable risk factors as well, including a family history of the disease, diabetes, age, race, chronic pancreatitis and environmental factors, such as exposure to some chemicals.

Signs and symptoms

As Capobianco said, it can be especially difficult to recognize pancreatic cancer because its symptoms are the same as several other illnesses.

Pancreatic Cancer Canada lists pain in the upper abdomen or back, jaundice, changes in stool colour, itchy skin, loss of appetite, unintended weight loss, newly diagnosed diabetes in adults, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation as symptoms of pancreatic cancer.

However, many of these symptoms can also occur due to other issues.

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Pancreatic cancer is divided into 4 stages with some subsets within each.

The stages for pancreatic cancer are not the same for other cancers.

“It is recommended that all patients receive chemotherapy,” said Capobianco. However, “only a small percentage of patients can have the cancer removed by surgery.”

Stage 1

Stage 1 pancreatic cancer is also known as “resectable,’ and it usually entails “a relatively small tumour (about three centimetres or less) localized to the pancreas that does not involve important arteries and veins so it can be removed by surgery,” Capobianco said.

This is also known as “localized,” which means “there is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the pancreas.”

READ MORE: ‘Don’t ignore the warning signs’: N.B. mother battling terminal ovarian cancer speaks out

Stage 2

Stage 2 is also called “borderline resectable.” This usually refers to a “slightly larger tumour which involves some vessels that may be possible to be removed by surgery,” said Capobianco.

Stage 2 is split into two sub-groups known as IIA and IIB.

Stage IIA usually means the cancer is confined to the pancreas, it’s bigger than four centimetres across and it hasn’t spread to nearby lymph nodes or to other distant sites.

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Stage IIB has many sub-groups within it, but it’s usually similar to IIA, except that the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Stage 3

Stage 3 is “locally advanced,” which means “the tumour is still localized to the pancreas but encases or surrounds arteries and veins that are needed to feed other organs,” said Capobianco.

These tumours are not amenable to surgery.

READ MORE: Alberta mom shows off live-saving ostomy bag in powerful boudoir photo shoot

Another word used to refer to a cancer which has spread from the pancreas to nearby structures or lymph nodes is “regional.”

Stage 4

Stage 4 is also known as “metastatic pancreatic cancer,” defined by cancer cells which have “spread beyond the pancreas to lymph nodes or other organs,” Capobianco said.

Another word used for Stage 4 is “distant.”

“Generally, Stage 4 is nearly incurable in most cancers. The later the diagnosis and stage, the more advanced and likely spread the cancer has become.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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6Mar

Fact check: You probably won’t get sick from kissing your dog – National

by BBG Hub

A new study says the practice of feeding dogs a raw meat-based diet is on the rise, and with it, the chances of harmful bacteria being transferred from dog to owner.

“A great opportunity for dogs to transfer potential pathogenic and antimicrobial-resistant bacteria to humans is by ‘kissing’ people in the face immediately after they have eaten,” said researchers.

However, according to Jason Tetro, host of the Super Awesome Science Show, the likelihood of this is very low.

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“We already know that raw meat is going to have a number of different bacteria in it, and those potentially can be harmful,” Tetro told Global News. “So there is an obvious chance that if a dog is eating raw meat, then in that saliva — right after they’ve eaten — there could be the potential for these bugs to be there and to be transmitted to somebody else.”

But the bacteria — and the risk — only stick around for a few hours.

“Upon ingesting these foods, the saliva of the dogs are going to produce immune molecules which are going to help prevent the spread of these particular bacteria,” said Tetro, so you simply need to wait a while before you smooch your dog again.

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According to Tetro, the only way bacteria can be transmitted from dog to human is through blood, so open wound dog licking and dog biting are the only times you should be worried.

“You’re not going to be exposing your blood to your dog during a kiss!” Tetro said.

However, the same is not true for the reverse: You can transfer your bacteria to your dog through kissing as a result of poor hygiene.

“Wash your hands after touching the food and keep an eye on any contamination of the environment by the food,” said Tetro. “This is basic human hygiene and should be given even more attention when dealing with raw food.”

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Researchers in the study also warn against the transfer of bacteria through the handling and storage of food, the dog’s feed bowls and the possible contamination of kitchen equipment.

Tetro says that transferring bacteria this way is more likely than kissing, but there is an easy three-step process you can follow to avoid contamination.

Chilling

“Ensure that the food remains below 4 C to reduce the growth of bacteria,” said Tetro. Freezing is the best way to do this.

“You shouldn’t leave the food above 15 C for longer than one hour.”

Avoid cross-contamination

“Just as you do when preparing raw meat for dinner, make sure everything is done separately from other foods.”

Tetro recommends having utensils and dishes strictly devoted to handling the raw meat.

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Clean

“Bacteria dies at 74 C, so if you can use very hot water, that will help,” Tetro said.

“You may also want to use safe disinfectants such as hydrogen peroxide to reduce the levels of bacteria. It’s best to use non-porous items for your dishes as this makes it easier to clean them.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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6Mar

How do you know if your child is being sexually abused? Here are the warning signs – National

by BBG Hub

NOTE: This article contains graphic information about sexual abuse that may upset some readers. Please read at your own discretion.

The allegations that pop star Michael Jackson sexually abused young boys as outlined in new documentary Leaving Neverland is sparking larger conversations about childhood abuse, and, in particular, why it often takes survivors years to speak out.

In the two-part HBO doc, subjects Wade Robson and James Safechuck say that Jackson started sexually abusing them when they were young boys, and that the molestation happened “hundreds” of times. Despite the years of alleged abuse, both Robson 36, and Safechuck, 40, initially kept what was going on a secret, and even previously denied that Jackson had ever touched them inappropriately.

The men say they are now speaking out about their experiences as they are fathers themselves, and believe there are others who were abused by the star. In an interview with CBS This Morning, Safechuck said he previously “had no expectations of ever telling anyone” but his mindset changed after Jackson died in 2009.

(Jackson’s family denies all allegations and his estate is suing HBO.)

READ MORE: Michael Jackson accusers detail alleged sexual abuse in first TV interview

According to Dr. Jillian Roberts a child psychologist and associate professor at the University of Victoria, it’s not uncommon for survivors to keep childhood sexual abuse a secret.

“I believe that many, many people are abused without telling anyone,” Roberts told Global News. “Sexual abuse still has a stigma in our society.”

Because of the painful nature of abuse, Roberts says there are important warning signs adults should pay attention to that may indicate a child is in danger. “A child who is experiencing sexual abuse would likely show you some red flags in their behaviour,” she explained.

“[Their] behaviour can quickly change.”

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Differences in behaviour

According to RAINN, child sexual abuse can include sexual contact with a child, but also includes other behaviour, “like exposing oneself, sharing obscene images, or taking inappropriate photos or videos of a child.”

The organization states sexual abuse not only has an immediate impact on a child, but also their development, and can affect them into adulthood. Because sexual abuse can be very traumatizing, Roberts says that if a child is being harmed, their demenour may change.

“A child may become sullen and withdrawn or they may act out,” she explained.

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“The child may [also] recreate the trauma in their play, and so you might see sexual themes in their play or the child might be trying to ‘play’ with another child in an inappropriate way.”

Other times, Roberts says a child will become preoccupied with their genital area.

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The age of a child also affects how they may react to abuse.

“The young child will often act out the trauma in play situations. A tween may begin experimenting sexually,” Roberts said. “An older child may also turn to drugs or they may self-harm as a way to process the pain.”

Physical warning signs

According to the Ontario Association of Children’s Aids Societies, if a child is being sexually abused, there are also often physical indicators. These include frequent sore throats or urinary infections, bedwetting or soiling the bed, thumb-sucking, changes in appetite and disturbed sleep.

A child who is being abused may also refuse to change out of their clothes for baths, for example, and may not want to be left alone with certain adults. In some cases, there may also be trauma or soreness in the child’s genital area.

READ MORE: ‘My mood plummets’: When PMS symptoms could be something more

Why kids may keep the abuse a secret

Like Roberts pointed out, children often keep sexual abuse a secret — even into their adulthood.

“People often feel like it is easier for them to simply remain quiet,” she explained. “Children have the added burden of worrying about their parent’s reaction. Often, children worry that they have done something wrong and that they will get into trouble if anyone finds out.”

WATCH BELOW: Dealing with child anxiety





According to Robson and Safechuck, Jackson frequently told them they would be in trouble if their parents or others found out about their sexual relationship. Robson, who once defended Jackson in court during his 2005 child molestation case, told CBS that the singer “trained” him on how to deny the abuse.

“Michael’s training of me to testify began the first night that he started abusing me, in the sense that you know, that right away, after the first kind of experience of sexual abuse, he started telling me that if anybody else ever finds out, we’ll both go to jail, both of our lives would be over,” he told the outlet.

READ MORE: ‘Leaving Neverland’ documentary director responds to Jackson estate

How to help a child

Even if a child initially denies abuse, if an adult is concerned a child is in danger, Roberts says it’s important for them to get support.

“I would advise [adults] to reach out to Children’s Aid, or to the equivalent ministry in their province,” Roberts said. “An experienced social worker can [also] provide a great deal of advice.”

READ MORE: From suicide tips on YouTube to the Momo challenge hoax, parents have more to worry about online

The Ontario Association of Children’s Aids Societies echoes this advice, and says that adults should report any suspected abuse to their local Children’s Aid Society. Letting authorities know of abuse can help protect a child, as well as other children who have also be experiencing abuse.

Even when survivors of child sexual abuse become adults, speaking about their experiences can be hard. As Robson said in Leaving Neverland: “I want to be able to speak the truth as loud as I had to speak the lie for so long.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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