Posts Tagged "dont"


Teen birth control pill use linked to adult depression, but don’t ditch them yet: experts – National

by BBG Hub

Women who used oral contraceptives as teenagers are at a greater risk of depression as adults, according to a new Canadian study, but experts say don’t jump off the pill wagon yet.

The researchers surveyed more than 1,200 women and grouped them into three categories – those who used hormonal birth control pills as teenagers, those who used as adults only, and those who never used them at all.

They found that women who used the pill as teens were between 1.7 and three times more likely to develop clinical depression than women who never used the pill.

The risk was consistent even years after first use – when women had stopped taking the pill.

The current way oral birth control is prescribed can be costly, ineffective: study

Lead researcher Christine Anderl, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia’s psychology department, said the relationship between the pill and depression also went unchanged when other factors – like smoking history and age of first sexual intercourse – were controlled.

However, she stressed that these findings do not prove that one causes the other.

“It’s impossible to say anything about causality just based on this data,” she told Global News. “None of these variables explain the link, but that doesn’t mean that we might not have unintentionally missed the real thing.”

Anderl said studies on animals have shown changes to sex hormones during puberty can have an “irreversible” impact, but studies on humans are “less clear.”

WATCH: Are fewer women using birth control pills?

While there appears to be a wave of women choosing to get off the pills, Anderl said that the findings shouldn’t deter people from the method.

She hopes the study fosters more discussion about the pros and cons of contraceptives of all kinds.

“The pill does have very obvious benefits.

“I think it’s a very personal choice for each woman,” she said. “Some options might just be better for one young woman than the other.”

Dr. Dustin Costescu, a family planning specialist and assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at McMaster University, agrees.

He suggested the study be taken with a grain of salt.

“Nobody is questioning the importance of birth control,” he told Global News.

“I think this study adds validation that if you’re having mood effects related to hormonal contraception use, there may be a better or different option out there for you.”

You can skip the sugar pills in your birth control, and choose to have fewer periods

This isn’t the first time researchers have looked at a possible link between the two.

In 2016, a Danish study surveyed more than one million women and found a link between women currently on the pill and an increased risk for depression. The same study, considered to be the largest on the topic to date, showed the link was particularly strong in teens.

Costescu said the problem with studies on this topic is how common both the pill and depression are in people independently.

“Birth control is one of the most commonly prescribed medications globally. Depression is well known to be what’s called multifactorial in nature,” he said.

“It’s hard to study things that everyone’s using against an illness that’s very common and caused by multiple factors.”

WATCH: Five factors that can impact the effectiveness of your birth control

Oral contraceptives come in a variety of hormonal strengths and are not always prescribed strictly to prevent pregnancies. The women surveyed in the UBC study were not asked about the type of pill they were using, so that was not factored into this study. The data also did not show whether the risk of depression increased for women who took the pill for a longer period of time, past adolescence.

Anderl said their research is just “one piece of a much larger picture” and that further study is needed on the long-term effects.

The team has launched a follow-up study which will look at hormone levels of women aged 13 to 15 over several years. Along with looking at a link to depression, the new study will delve into the type of pill or hormone level and the reasons why the teens are taking them.

“It [the new study] won’t allow us to say whether the relationship is causal or not,” Anderl said, “but at least it will tell us what comes first in these women – is it that they first use birth control pills and then get depressed? Or is it the other way around?”

Judge blocks Trump rules on birth control in 13 states including California, New York

As the UBC researchers point out, oral contraceptives are particularly popular among teens. In the U.S., more than half of sexually active women aged 15 to 19 use the pill. In Canada, oral contraceptive use has dropped, according to a survey by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, as more women rely on other forms.

Though the age of first sexual intercourse hasn’t changed, women are choosing to prevent pregnancies longer than in the past, Costescu said.

This means young women are on birth control pills for longer.

“We need to meet their goals and expectations,” he said, “which is a decade of not getting pregnant.”

The doctor’s advice for those experiencing mood changes on the pill – talk to a doctor first.

“With this study, it doesn’t mean stop the medication right now. It means have a conversation first.”

“I can tell you there is a method of risk control out there for everybody,” Costescue said. “The key is to have the conversation, listen to what the goals are, and find the right one.”

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

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What happens when children don’t take sex ed classes

by BBG Hub

What a child learns about sexual health can largely shape their own behaviour and views on sex, research shows.

But what happens when a kid skips out on formal sex education?

READ MORE: Parents can teach their own kids sex-ed — but that doesn’t mean they will

For years, parents in most of Ontario have been able to pull their kids out of certain sex-ed classes for religious reasons. On Wednesday, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government announced they will implement a province-wide standardized opt-out process. Children whose parents opt them out will miss lessons on sexual health and human development.

Sex education varies across Canada, with provinces and territories having their own curriculum, some more comprehensive than others.

When a child misses out on sexual health education, they are put at an increased risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies, among other things, says Alex McKay, the executive director at the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN).

WATCH BELOW: Ontario government releases new sex-ed curriculum, similar to scrapped version

“We know that sex education can have a positive impact… so it is worrisome that some children will not receive that education because their parents have opted out of those classes,” McKay told Global News.

Teen pregnancy rates

When a child does not learn about reproductive health and contraception, they may be at greater risk for teen pregnancy, McKay said. A recent study suggests that U.S. government spending on abstinence-only education programs doesn’t appear to reduce teen pregnancies, and in some areas, is having the opposite effect.

On the other hand, research has found countries with comprehensive sex-ed programs have lower teen pregnancy rates.

READ MORE: STIs rates in Canada are rising — decline in condom use may be to blame

“The very low teen pregnancy rate in Switzerland exists in the context of long-established sex education programs, widespread expectation that sexually active teens will use contraception, free family planning services and low-cost emergency contraception,” authors of one 2016 study wrote.

In the study, researchers noted teen pregnancy rates vary with levels of education and cultural background of adolescent girls.

McKay says research on teen pregnancy and its relationship to sex education has largely been done in the U.S., but has offered Canadian educators a strong framework.

READ MORE: 1 million people a day catch sexually transmitted infections, WHO warns

“On a general level, as sexual health education programs have been implemented in Canadian schools, that has occurred parallel to a pretty dramatic decrease in teen pregnancy in Canada,” McKay said.

Impact on sexual behaviour

One 2014 report on young adolescents and sexual health says early intervention is key in building healthy future relationships. When children are not properly educated on matters related to their sexual well-being, they are vulnerable to harmful sexual behaviours, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) noted.

A recent UNESCO study that looked at sex-ed courses from various countries across the world found that sexual education delayed initiation of sexual intercourse, decreased frequency of sexual intercourse, decreased number of sexual partners, reduced risk-taking, increased use of condoms and increased use of contraception.

WATCH BELOW: 5 signs a child may have been sexually abused

The report also found that sex-ed courses did not lead to earlier sexual activity in young people.

Other research suggests that teaching kids the proper names for their genitals at a young age is important “given that children are especially vulnerable to sexual abuse during the preschool years.”

McKay says that if a child does not know how to identify their genitals, they are going to be “less well equipped to report inappropriate touching or abuse.”

Understanding gender and sexual diversity

Not learning about gender and sexual identity in the classroom can have a lasting impact on children.

READ MORE: To close ‘orgasm gap,’ the National Film Board launches game to teach people about the clitoris

Specific groups are disproportionately affected by violence and harassment, including LGBTQ2 communities, women, and Indigenous women. According to SIECCAN’s Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education, sex education can be “effective in addressing discriminatory attitudes” towards such groups, improve gender-equitable attitudes and help prevent physical, sexual and emotional violence in relationships.

McKay says when kids received accurate and age-appropriate information about sexual and gender identity, they are more likely to practise acceptance and promote inclusivity. This is especially important for children who may identify as members of the LGBTQ2 community.

WATCH BELOW: Why fewer people are opting for condoms

“Classmates receiving that accurate information — not biased and inaccurate information they may have picked up in the schoolyard or through the media — [is] important in order to create an inclusive and respectful school environment,” McKay explained.

“Creating that kind of healthy school environment is difficult if the school curriculum is silent on those issues, and kids are left to the schoolyard and the internet to try to get that kind of information.”

— With a file from Reuters 

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

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Majority of Canadians believe in climate change — here’s why some still don’t – National

by BBG Hub

Scientists around the world are warning countries of the effects of climate change, yet some people still aren’t convinced global warming is real.

Recently deemed as one of the biggest issues of our time by the United Nations, experts say we are seeing the consequences of a warming planet in 2019: melting glaciers, wildfires and endangered species, to name a few.

While the majority of Canadians believe in climate change, there is some debate around how much humans have contributed to the state of the environment, said Matto Mildenberger, an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

READ MORE: From the anti-vaxxers to flat earthers: what makes people distrust science?

While he teaches in the U.S., Mildenberger is Canadian and his research focuses on climate change beliefs in Canada. He says there are some common reasons why people may be global warming skeptics or outright deniers.

One of the main reasons? Politicians who downplay or deny environmental issues.

People listen to leaders

“Many people form their policy preferences listening to politicians and to leaders who they rely on to help them make sense of difficult issues like climate change,” Mildenberger told Global News.

WATCH (Aug. 1, 2019): Prime Minister Trudeau addresses climate change in Canada’s Arctic

“When you have political leaders who are promoting climate skepticism, or climate denial, that’s going to trickle down and become part of the public’s perspective — particularly the public that relies on those leaders.”

In Canada, Maxime Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada, has expressed doubts about the legitimacy of climate change. As a result, Elections Canada recently warned that discussing climate change during the upcoming federal election could be deemed partisan activity.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump has previously called climate change a hoax and pulled the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017.

READ MORE: We need to rethink agriculture to help slow global warming, says UN report

Mildenberger said that both in Canada and the U.S. groups and sectors that depend on producing carbon pollution for their profits lobby hard for their interests. In turn, this can affect a politician’s stance on environmental issues.

This is a problem, Mildenberger explained, as climate change policy should not be up for debate; our planet needs protective measures.

“Those companies are seeking to try and delay climate reforms even at the expense of the public well-being,” Mildenberger explained.

“They’ve been successful in and sort of inducing or recruiting political leaders to join them in this quest to delay action, and then those political leaders, in turn, are communicating climate denialism and climate skepticism to the public.”

WATCH (Aug. 19, 2019): ‘This is lunacy’ — May urges Elections Canada to reconsider partisan warning on climate change discussion

A 2018 Gallup poll found that global warming has become a partisan issue in the U.S.: “about seven in 10 Republicans think the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated in the news.”

For Democrats, 64 per cent think the seriousness of global warming is underestimated.

Misunderstanding of the seriousness of climate change

While some people may not understand the science behind climate change, resulting in denying its existence, Mildenberger thinks the larger issue is that people underestimate how many scientists believe in climate change.

READ MORE: Canada warming up twice as fast as rest of the world, and it’s ‘irreversible’: report

The majority of scientists say climate change is human-made, but not everyone realizes that, he explains.

“Ninety-seven per cent or more of scientists are certain that climate change is real and human-caused, but the public often estimates far more division within the scientific community than that,” Mildenberger said.

This is largely because of the way climate change has been covered in the media.

For example, Mildenberger says that over the last few decades, newspapers and TV news shows have created a “balanced” perspective on climate change, meaning they would share the views of a climate scientist as well as the views of an industry official or someone to counter the scientist’s point.

This has made the issue look like it was up for debate when it isn’t.

WATCH (Aug. 9, 2019): Protesters march in Switzerland to demand action on climate change

“The whole way that climate coverage has been structured for the last few decades has actually misled the public and done them a disservice by giving them a sense that there is controversy when in fact there isn’t any controversy,” Mildenberger said.

Climate changes affects more people every day

The bad news is that climate change is affecting more people every day, but experiencing the effects of global warming can affect how seriously you take it, Mildenberger said.

For those who have survived a wildfire or watched floods wash over their community, they may be more likely to take action and advocate for environmental policies.

READ MORE: Turning off lights won’t save the planet but these ‘green’ actions will

On the other hand, if you’re a climate change denier, losing your home to a fire or seeing images of starving polar bears doesn’t mean your mind will be changed.

It doesn’t necessarily convert people who are not already engaged in thinking about climate change an issue, because they’re not filtering or experiencing these events through with an understanding that they’re actually victims of a changing climate,” Mildenberger said.

The need to take action

Canada is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world and that warming is “effectively irreversible,” a recent scientific report from Environment and Climate Change Canada noted.

WATCH (July 12, 2019): Climate change could lead to triple frequency of severe air turbulence

This means that it’s incredibly important for people to understand the realities of climate change, and work to take action — regardless of political lines, Mildenberger said. Leaders need to communicate the realities of global warming so skeptics or deniers can better understand its threat.

“There is a threat to the economic prosperity and well-being of Canadians… over the coming decade, and the capacity to talk about the science behind that threat [as a] partisan issue just strikes me as remarkably short-sighted,” he said.

“It’s an issue that cuts across political and ideological divisions as it should. It’s something that’s going to harm everyone equally.”

— With a file from the Canadian Press

[email protected]

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

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Big pharma paid $151M to doctors, hospitals in 2017-18, but we don’t know who got paid or why

by BBG Hub

This is the fourth and final story in a four-part series about the pharmaceutical industry and the hold it has on Canada’s health-care system — swaying doctors’ opinions, funding medical schools and, ultimately, affecting the type of drugs we are prescribed. You can also read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

The 10 largest pharmaceutical companies in Canada gave more than $151 million to doctors and hospitals across the country over the last two years.

But unlike the U.S. and many European countries, Canada has no legislation compelling drug companies to reveal which health-care providers got money or what it was for.

Now, experts and medical researchers are calling for greater transparency around the millions of dollars shelled out each year, as multiple studies have shown that even small transfers of value can have an effect on how physicians prescribe certain drugs.

WATCH: How drug reps pitch your doc

Quinn Grundy, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto who studies corporate influences on health, said that without so-called sunshine legislation in Canada, it’s impossible to gather data to produce studies similar to those done in the U.S. and track how pharma dollars are influencing the health-care sector.

“Researchers in the States have found that a physician who attends a presentation and eats just one sponsored meal is more likely to provide or to prescribe the brand-name drug, which tends to be higher-cost,” Grundy told Global News.

“It’s important for me to know what is happening behind the scenes.”

Participating companies: AbbVie Corp., Amgen Canada Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada, Eli Lilly Canada Inc., Gilead Sciences Canada, Inc., GSK Canada, Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. (Roche Canada) Merck Canada Inc. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. and Purdue Pharma Canada.

In 2018, 10 drug companies paid roughly $76.4-million to health-care providers and organizations, according to companies annuals reports. However, they do not include key details, like names of physicians and what they were paid for. There is also no central posting of the information, meaning it has to be collected from each company’s website.

The reports are part of a voluntary disclosure initiative approved in 2016 by Innovative Medicines Canada, a trade group representing 41 drug companies. Only 10 companies have agreed to sign. The initiative came amidst increasing pressure from advocacy groups for transparency around the financial relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and health-care professionals.

Shelling out the most to Canadian physicians and hospitals was AbbVie with just over $13 million in total payments, followed by Novartis with just over $12 million and Amgen with around $11 million, according to the reports for 2018. 

READ MORE: How these Canadians got hooked on opioids

Asked if Innovative Medicines Canada would compel more of its members to sign on to the initiative to reveal payments, the organization said the current framework is voluntary.

“Not all companies report. Ten member companies voluntarily self-reported payments on their respective websites,” Sarah Dion-Marquis, a spokesperson, said in a statement.

“For more information on an individual company’s business decisions, I invite you to contact them directly.”

Experts say Canada is falling behind developed countries

Medical experts say the voluntary disclosures are essentially useless and have put Canada behind countries like the U.S., Japan and several European nations, including France and Denmark, where transparency laws allow patients to see how much money their doctors take from the pharmaceutical industry.

“We are really lagging behind other advanced countries’ health-care systems, where there are transparent or transparency regulations that require mandatory disclosure on behalf of the drug companies,” said Andrew Boozary, a resident physician at the University of Toronto.

“The fact that we continue as a laggard in this area is troubling.”

WATCH: How lethal opioids devastated a small region of Ontario

There are a number of ways drug companies can pay doctors for work, including delivering paid speeches, participating in clinical trials, sitting on advisory boards and travelling to conferences.

Boozary helped found Open Pharma, a group of leading medical experts pushing to make the financial ties between the medical profession and pharmaceutical companies more transparent.

“There’s a real body of evidence that shows transfers of value have been associated with a higher likelihood of prescribing those drugs that may or may not be presented to them,” Boozary said.

Concerns around Canadian doctors being wined and dined by pharma companies led the College of Family Physicians Canada announcing last January that its more than 38,000 members can no longer earn educational credits for attending these events.

Money talks

In the U.S., studies have shown how even small transfers of value can influence health-care providers.

A 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that industry-sponsored meals of less than $20 were associated with an increased rate of prescribing the brand-name medication being promoted.

Another JAMA study published in January 2018 shows that U.S. counties that saw doctors receive higher payments from drug companies pushing opioids later experienced higher overdose death rates. The study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship; the link between the two is an association.

Canadian health care stuck in the ’60s, expert says (May 13, 2019)

Leigh Chapman, a Toronto nurse who lost her brother to an overdose in August 2015, said that many physicians and medical professionals are required to attend educational talks to keep their licences in good standing. And with over $150 million being handed out by drug companies, there are more questions than answers.

“There isn’t transparency at all. What is that funding for?” she said. “Is that remuneration that’s paid directly to physicians? How is it influencing their clinical practice? How is it influencing their prescribing practices, their patient care?”

WATCH: Drug companies pours millions into medical schools — here’s how it can impact education

In the U.S., the Physician Payments Sunshine Act requires any transfer of value to a doctor exceeding $10 to be disclosed by law. The information is publicly available and offers details about travel, meals and other payments. In July, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported the pharmaceutical industry in the U.S. had disclosed $9.35 billion in payments to physicians and teaching hospitals in 2018.

By comparison, the companies that voluntarily disclose payments in Canada paid $76.4 million in 2018, a small increase from roughly $74.9 million in 2017. The reports only include aggregate information: totals paid to health-care providers (HCPs), totals paid to health-care organizations (HCOs) and travel expenses of physicians attending scientific conferences.

“You essentially get a taste of the scope and extent of relationships between health professionals and industry,” U of T’s Grundy said.

Transparency around opioid producers

In this Aug. 17, 2018 file photo, family and friends who have lost loved ones to OxyContin and opioid overdoses leave pill bottles in protest outside the headquarters of Purdue Pharma, which is owned by the Sackler family, in Stamford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File

Grundy said it’s now known that the over-prescribing of highly addictive painkillers contributed to the opioid crisis. Transparency laws, she said, could have helped officials better track the problem and any inappropriate interactions between drug companies and the health-care sector.

“In the early days of these very powerful drugs, there was extensive, systematic, multifaceted marketing campaigns that not only involved payments to physicians for advisory boards and consulting and more formal arrangements, but lots of those little informal interactions,” she said.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, launched an aggressive marketing campaign aimed at promoting the pill, which made the company more than $30 billion in the U.S and Canada, according to lawsuits filed here and in the United States. Health Canada first approved OxyContin in 1996 to relieve moderate to severe pain.

As reports of overdoses exploded across North America in the early 2000s, Purdue began facing questions about the painkiller.

WATCH: A look at how opioid overdoses have risen in Canada

The company is now being sued in almost all 50 states and several provinces in Canada, with the lawsuits alleging Purdue downplayed the risks of addiction to OxyContin while exaggerating its benefits through a “web of illegal deceit.”

Purdue has denied the allegations outlined in U.S. lawsuits and maintained that it marketed its products in accordance with Canadian laws and guidelines.

“The opioids crisis is a complex and multifaceted public health issue that involves both prescription opioids and, increasingly, illegally produced and consumed opioids,” the company said in a statement. “All stakeholders, including the pharmaceutical industry, have a role to play in providing practical and sustainable solutions.”

Ontario government will join B.C.’s proposed class action against opioid manufacturers

Purdue reported last year that it gave around $1.8 million to health-care professionals in Canada but only stated that the money went to health-care professionals’ “services” and health-care organizations.

Other major pharmaceutical companies like Teva Canada and Janssen, which both produce opioid products, do not disclose any information on payments to doctors or hospitals.

Teva Canada did not respond to questions from Global News about why it does not participate in the disclosure program.

A spokesperson for Janssen Canada said the company is assessing the possibility of future participation.

“Because we understand there are plans to advance and evolve the voluntary disclosure of payments initiative, we are continuing to assess the possibility of future participation and how to best ensure any information we disclose is accurate, meaningful and aligned with Canadian privacy legislation,” spokesperson Laura Espinoza said.

How are governments responding?

WATCH: Health Minister Petitpas Taylor announces new measures to tackle opioid crisis

Last spring, Health Canada announced it was moving to further restrict the marketing of opioids, years after researchers first warned about the issue. As part of the move, the health agency began reviewing evidence of the benefits and harms of the promotional practices, which could lead to additional transparency measures like public disclosure.

However, there are still no concrete plans to pursue greater transparency at the federal level.

“We’re currently exploring options to increase transparency surrounding industry payments to doctors and other health-care practitioners,” said Alexander Cohen, a spokesperson for federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor.

“As these matters fall primarily under the purview of the provinces and territories. We’ll work closely with their governments and the medical world towards greater transparency.”

‘Public health like it’s 1999’: doctors say restrictions on opioid advertising won’t save lives right now

Ontario’s former Liberal government passed transparency legislation in 2017 forcing drug companies to disclose all payments of $10 or more and the names of those paid.

Last fall, the Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford’s government halted the Health Sector Payment Transparency Act.

A spokesperson for Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott did not answer questions from Global News but said in a statement that the government “has not yet made any final decisions related to the proposed regulations contained in the previous government’s legislation.”

Meanwhile, the NDP government in B.C. has looked at similar transparency legislation but has not yet committed to implementing any laws.

“Health-sector payment transparency was also identified as a potential element of a future national pharmacare program by the federal Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare,” said a spokesperson for the B.C. Ministry of Health.

“B.C is open to future Canada-wide collaboration on this topic to provide a consistent, national program for patients, health professionals and manufacturers.”

[email protected]

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

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Beyoncé’s 22 Days diet: Experts don’t recommend singer’s ‘restrictive’ meal plan – National

by BBG Hub

In a video posted to YouTube last week, Beyoncé gushed to her 19 million subscribers about the plant-based diet she went on to prepare for her 2018 Coachella performance.

It opens with a clip of the singer’s feet.

“This is Day 1 of rehearsals for Coachella,” Beyoncé says as she steps onto a scale. “Every woman’s nightmare… this is my weight. 175 pounds. Long way to go. Let’s get it.”

READ MORE: Macy’s pulls plates after being accused of body-shaming

In the rest of the video, Beyoncé and her trainer, Marco Borges, explained her rigorous diet — “no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol,” Beyoncé says — and exercise plan, which included hours of training per day.

Beyoncé also revealed that she did the diet for 44 days instead of 22, double the recommended length of time.

READ MORE: Skipping meals to drink more alcohol? Here’s why that’s a dangerous choice

At one point, she video-calls Borges to show him that she fits into an old costume.

“It’s a very big deal. She’s coming back. I’m coming back,” Beyoncé said.

She and Borges are now selling memberships to the 22 Days Nutrition meal planner for $18 per month or $130 per year. According to the website, members receive “access to tools and foods that empower everyone to become their healthiest self through proper nutrition.”

“Eating a more plant-based diet helped revolutionize the way they thought about food and nutrition,” said Borges.

The program was met with backlash online as fans expressed dismay that Beyoncé would promote such a restrictive diet.

Registered dietitian Abby Langer is also skeptical.

“I think people need to remember that they aren’t celebrities. Not that being a celebrity makes it OK to follow this sort of diet, but Beyoncé has resources that most of us don’t have — like a chef, trainers, assistants,”  she said. “They make it a lot easier for her to follow this kind of [restrictive] eating plan.”

Langer is concerned that the 22 Days diet is so restrictive, it’s actually punishing. She refers to a moment in the Homecoming film — a documentary about Beyoncé’s preparation for Coachella — when Beyoncé complained about being hungry.

READ MORE: ‘The Lion King’ review — Live-action version delivers exactly what you’d expect

“Our body has hunger cues for a reason. They exist because your body wants to tell you something. In our diet culture, we’re accustomed and conditioned to ignore these cues,” Langer said.

She compares being hungry to the urge to urinate.

“If you have to pee, you wouldn’t say to yourself: ‘I’m not going to pee right now, I’m going to wait another hour.’ Our hunger cues are just as important as any other cue your body gives,” she said.

A good way to tell if a diet is too restrictive is if you’re hungry “an hour or two” after you last ate, Langer says.

“This is how you know you’re not feeding yourself adequately,” she added.

READ MORE: When ‘fat acceptance’ movement leaders decide to lose weight

Another worry Langer has about Beyoncé’s diet is its lack of variation.

“I support a plant-based diet 100 per cent but I’m not supportive of diets that are restrictive,” she said. She recommends incorporating a lot of different “whole and minimally processed foods” in your diet, but Langer also believes a bad diet is one that fosters a negative relationship with food.

“I’m not supportive of emotionally and physically punishing diets hiding under the guise of a plant-based diet,” she said.

“We concentrate so much on what we eat but we push to the back-burner the emotional part of it and how food makes us feel. Having a good relationship with food [means] not feeling guilt or shame about eating.”

READ MORE: Anorexia may not only be psychiatric, it could be genetic — study

According to Langer, a plant-based diet can be a very healthy alternative, but it’s important to include “high-quality” protein sources at every meal.

“When people eliminate meat from their diet, they [tend to] rely on things like nuts to provide them their protein… but it takes a lot of those little foods to get what we need,” she said. The average person needs 20 to 25 grams of protein with each meal.

Examples of plant-based sources of protein are beans, lentils, tofu, egg and tempeh.

READ MORE: Katy Perry does enemas to ‘cleanse her body’ — here’s why you don’t need one

Heidi Murphy, a registered dietitian for Loblaw, agreed with Langer.

“A plant-based diet can be very healthy when done properly,” she said. However, she’s worried about avoiding carbs — the main source of “fuel and energy” for the average person.

“When following a plant-based diet, many of the protein sources (such as beans and lentils) also contain carbohydrates so [my concern is] one wouldn’t meet their nutritional needs following this diet,” Murphy said.

“[This diet] would also be limiting many iron- and B12-rich foods so [it] would be especially concerning for young women who are at a higher risk of anemia.”

Limiting your intake of carbs can cause several unpleasant side effects.

“Headache, fatigue, low concentration levels, flu-like symptoms and more,” said Murphy.

“Carbohydrate-rich foods, such as whole grains, are also a source of fibre, B vitamins, vitamin E and phytonutrients… when avoiding [them], you are limiting your intake of these essential nutrients.”

Both Murphy and Langer said short-term diets are mostly ineffective.

READ MORE: Forever 21 accused of ‘triggering’ plus-sized customers after including diet bars in online orders

“When an individual returns to their old eating habits, they regain the weight (and often more), resulting [in] the ‘yo-yo’ dieting effect,” said Murphy. “This not only puts an individual at higher risk of some chronic diseases, it can take a toll mentally and physically.”

Langer agreed, saying restrictive diets are unsustainable.

“As soon as you switch back to your previous eating habits — which will eventually happen whether you like it or not — you’re going to see those results slip away,” she said.

In her experience, short-term diets aren’t worth the physical, emotional, social and financial strain they can inflict. Langer believes it’s fine to want to lose weight but that you should take a more “moderate approach.”

READ MORE: Monkey see, monkey do: Teaching your kid to love their body starts with you

“It’s not worth it to feel like crap and not live your best life,” said Langer. “You want to play the long game here. Life is short. You want to live your best life.”

A diet that prevents you from going out and having dinner with friends is one Langer would avoid.

“Stay away from the more restrictive diets and cutting out things you don’t need to cut out just because a celebrity tells you they’re toxic,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be complicated.”

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

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Katy Perry does enemas to ‘cleanse’ her body — here’s why you don’t need one – National

by BBG Hub

Katy Perry is raising eyebrows with her current “detoxifying” regimen.

Last week in an interview with Australian radio show Smallzy’s Surgery, the 34-year-old pop star opened about using more “ancient remedies” to prevent the signs of aging, Women’s Health reported.

“I’m kind of into those type of things, like health and healing places and self-betterment places,” she told the show. “Especially as you get older and you have longer hangovers, you realize the cells in your body are dying.”

But she also added she had been doing enemas — a procedure where liquid or gas is inserted into the rectum to empty a person’s bowels.

READ MORE: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop expanding to Canada — and some medical experts aren’t happy

“I did this thing called Panca Karma. It’s basically Ayurvedic eating and cleansing; you do lots of enemas,” she explained. “It basically gets all the crap out of you — every pun intended. There are ancient ways to heal yourself besides just taking a pill, which is something I always love to investigate.”

Perry added that this 21-day system is giving her more energy.

Dr. Elaine Yong, a gastroenterologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, told Global News that Ayurvedic spa cleansing programs typically involve much more than just enemas.

“Things like rest and relaxation, unplugging from work and social media, massages, cutting out alcohol and caffeine and eating only vegetarian meals. The greatest benefit is the reduction of stress and the cleaner diet that is being introduced,” she explained.

Laxatives and enemas are also a part of the ritual and “cleanse” the bowel in a very visible way, she said.

“But the body is actually really good at maintaining balance and ridding itself of waste products by secreting them into the urine and feces for excretion. The enemas merely cause the bowels to empty,” she said.

“In other words, the enemas ‘cleanse’ the bowels, but the system cleanses itself.”

What are enemas?

Yong said enemas are commonly used to treat severe constipation or prepare the bowel for an examination.

“Medications can also be administered through enemas to treat various forms of colitis. This way, the drugs can be in close contact with the areas affected.”

Healthline adds that there are two types of enemas.

A cleansing enema is a water-based solution that helps bowels move more quickly. These enemas can be done with over-the-counter products.

READ MORE: ‘Clean eating’ trend has eating disorder specialists concerned

A barium enema, on the other hand, is performed by a doctor or radiologist.

“Your provider will insert a metallic liquid solution (barium sulfate mixed in water) into your rectum. After the barium has had time to sit inside and coat your distal colon, your doctor will perform a series of X-rays,” the site noted.

“The metal shows up as bright contrast on the X-ray images. This gives your provider a better view of what’s happening inside your body.”

But some claim enemas can also detoxify the body.

In 2018, Gwyneth Paltrow and her lifestyle site Goop came under fire for promoting products that included a do-it-yourself coffee enema to “supercharge your detox.”

Using coffee as a colonic has been debunked by several health experts, and Tim Caulfield, a health law expert at the University of Alberta, told the Canadian Press a coffee enema could damage your bowel.

WATCH: Does it hurt to poop? These 4 reasons may be why

“I think this is absolutely absurd, potentially dangerous, and there’s no way the consumer should consider using this product,” Caulfield said.

Yong adds that enemas, or a series of enemas, will not “cleanse” your body.

“One may feel cleansed after passing stools and fluids, especially if one was constipated to begin with, but that’s probably the extent of the effect,” she explained.

Yong said there could also be some health risks linked with enemas.

“We’ve seen bowel injuries with bleeding or perforation of the bowel related to enemas,” she continued. “The type of substance introduced can potentially lead to electrolyte disturbance or colitis. Herbal enemas have been reported to cause bleeding or colitis.”

Let our bowel systems do the work

Yong said that at the end of the day, our bowel and immune systems have the ability to regulate themselves.

“We rely on our microbiome, or population of microorganisms, for protection from infection and for digestion,” she said. “Disrupting the intestinal balance can have unexpected detrimental effects, as we are beginning to learn that the microbiome can impact many areas of health.”

READ MORE: Poop scoop — Everything you need to know about healthy pooping

Maintaining a regular bowel habit is an important part of feeling good, she added. Some people are constipated without even realizing it. 

“Maintaining a healthy diet with more fibre, more vegetables and less meat is an important part of any health regimen. Cleaning out your bowel by any means for one or a few days is not expected to have any long-lasting benefits,” Yong said. “Instead, make the best choices you can for what you put into your body every day.”

—With files from the Canadian Press 

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

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Don’t skip out on travel vaccinations — they could save your life – National

by BBG Hub

It’s a step experts say you shouldn’t skip — when you’re travelling abroad, make sure you have the right vaccinations.

Dr. Suni Boraston, medical director at Travel Clinic – Vancouver Coastal Health in Vancouver, told Global News that while there’s no data that tracks how many Canadians get travel vaccinations, she believes the majority of travellers don’t get vaccinated.

“Canadians need to know that vaccines are safe and still the best way to prevent many diseases,” she said.

“Travel medicine is hard to keep up with, most [general practitioners] are too busy doing other things so ideally one would see a specialist [like an emporiatrician] at a travel clinic prior to travel.”

Expert tips that can take the stress out of holiday travel

A travel clinic can recommend and administer vaccines, but also give travellers prescriptions for malaria, travellers’ diarrhea, altitude illness, leptospirosis (bacterial disease) prevention, among others.

“Ideally you would get vaccinated four to six weeks before travel, but we can protect you against many diseases the day you leave.”

How much will it cost?

Prices for travel vaccinations vary depending on where you live and where you go.

Some clinics are owned and run by public health and while others are private. Some clinics also require a consultation fee. And while government-run health insurance plans won’t cover the cost, some insurance companies may offer coverage.

‘You have to make it comfortable’: travel writer’s road trip tips

At Travel Medicine & Vaccination Centre, based in B.C., a consultation can cost $50, while vaccines for hepatitis A and B range from $30 to $70 (depending on the dose).

In Toronto, The Travel Doctor charges $50 for Dukoral and $165 for a full dose of the yellow fever vaccination.

Before you go to a clinic, request to see a price list to make your decision.

According to Canada’s Travel and Tourism department, travellers should also review their immunization history to see which type of dose they need.

“You may need additional vaccinations depending on your age, planned travel activities and local conditions. Preventing disease through vaccination is a lifelong process,” the site noted. 

The site allows you to see vaccination recommendations based on the destination you are travelling to. 

What Canadians need to know

Canada currently is facing a shortage of yellow fever vaccinations, the site noted. Travellers who need the shot should contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre in advance to see if it is available.

“Some countries require proof that you have received a yellow fever vaccination before allowing you to enter the country. Consult an embassy or consulate of your destination country in Canada for up-to-date information on its entry and exit requirements before you travel abroad.”

Some countries may need proof of a yellow fever vaccination — do you research before you travel.

WATCH: How to avoid illness abroad

According to experts at Shoppers Drug Mart, the most common illness Canadians pick up in other countries is travellers’ diarrhea (TD).

“It is an acute diarrheal illness that usually lasts two or three days. It can be caused by any of a number of bacteria (and, less often, parasites), which are usually different from home-based varieties and therefore pose a temporary challenge to the immune system,” experts noted.

“There is no vaccination against all organisms that can cause travellers’ diarrhea. There is an oral vaccine against cholera and a specific strain of E. coli bacteria that is sometimes recommended.”

TD can also be prevented or treated with off-the-counter medications.

Common vaccinations

“Everyone who is going to a developing country should at the very least have their tetanus vaccine updated, two doses of measles vaccine (unless they’ve had the disease) and hepatitis A vaccine,” Boraston said.

“Ideally tetanus would be combined with diphtheria and pertussis which is $50. Measles is free, hepatitis A vaccine costs $65 and is two doses six to 12 months apart.”

Boraston said most people born after 1982 in Canada have had the hepatitis B vaccine.

The shots can be given as a combination or separately, and she added hepatitis A is recommended for all travellers. Experts at Shoppers Drug Mark noted the vaccine can last a lifetime, or may need a booster shot in 10 to 15 years.

Twinrix is a combination of hepatitis A and B. “Only use if the patient needs both vaccines. Many Canadians have already had hepatitis B vaccine,” she explained.

The biggest travelling pet peeves for Canadian travellers — and how to deal with them

For measles, mumps, and rubella, Boraston said there are two vaccinations recommended for everyone (unless they have already had disease).

Yellow fever vaccine is needed and recommended for some parts of South America and Africa, and because of the current shortage, travellers should contact a clinic ahead of time.

The typhoid fever vaccine is recommended for anyone travelling to the Indian Subcontinent (Afghanistan, India, Nepal Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka) or taking long trips to developing countries, Boraston said.

According to HealthlinkBC, travellers are more likely to be exposed to contaminated food and water in these countries. The vaccine can be taken orally or injected.

Japanese encephalitis vaccine is needed for for parts of Asia, especially if you are travelling to rural destinations between the months of June and October, Boraston said.  HealthlinkBC noted the infection can be spread through mosquitos and infants and the elderly are most at risk.

The meningococcal meningitis is required for anyone travelling to Sub-Saharan Africa.  Boraston also recommends it for anyone travelling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj (you will need to show proof of vaccination). This disease is very dangerous and can be spread through coughing and sneezing (it is contagious). 

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

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Don’t watch ‘Game of Thrones’? It probably doesn’t matter – National

by BBG Hub

Every Sunday night, millions of people across the world have been tuning in to watch the wildly popular television show Game of Thrones.

The Season 8 premiere on April 14 drew a record 17.4 million viewers, becoming HBO’s biggest night ever for streaming.

The fantasy show is in its final season, which is an incredibly emotional experience for die-hard Game of Thrones (GoT) fans. During weekly episodes, social media is dominated with GoT conversations as people live-tweet their reactions, post memes on Instagram and share theories on fan forums.

READ MORE: ‘Game of Thrones’ — A primer for those who don’t watch the show

But what if you don’t watch the show? Are you missing out if you’re not able to talk spoilers at the office water cooler? Will you struggle to hold a conversation during a first date if you think the “Red Wedding” refers to a wedding where people wore red?

According to experts, not watching GoT is not really that big of a deal.

“It feels like everybody’s talking about Game of Thrones on social media, and this gives you a sense that everybody’s watching it,” said Deborah L. Jaramillo, an associate professor of film and television studies at Boston University.

“But that’s not necessarily the case.”

Does not watching Game of Thrones matter?

For writer Anne T. Donahue, GoT is not an appealing show.

“I’m just not a dragon person, or an armour and battle (person), and the whole genre is just not my bag,” Donahue told Global News.

“I watched the clip of the ‘Red Wedding’ when it happened because it was all over Twitter, and I was like ‘I hate this.’”

WATCH: Game of Thrones fans, including a dog, react to moments in the Battle of Winterfell

Donahue is so not into GoT that she even addresses her disinterest in her book of essays, Nobody Cares.

“Millions … of people watch it every week so, clearly, it’s quite cool and part of this massive subculture; it’s just not for me,” she explained.

Cathy Perron, an associate professor of film and television at Boston University, says people who don’t watch GoT have often opted out deliberately.

“There is a reason why they’ve turned away from the series,” Perron explained, citing things like the show’s violence and graphic nature. “I think that they are comfortable with not being part of that cultural conversation and just decided it was not for them.”

Missing out on conversations

If you’re someone who can’t point out Jon Snow in a lineup, you may feel like an outsider. GoT fans can be an enthusiastic bunch and may talk about the show online, at work, during social outings and, well, any time they can.

READ MORE: ‘I watched every episode in a single night’ — Have we forgotten how to enjoy TV?

But despite feeling like GoT conversations are everywhere, the show is not actually as popular as big shows of the past, says David Thorburn, an author and professor of literature at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“(Game of Thrones) is a much less significant phenomenon than many media outlets — especially newspapers — are making it out to be,” Thorburn said.

Thorburn says that a show like I Love Lucy — which was one of the most-watched shows in the U.S. — was so significant that you were on the fringe if you did not watch it. (For reference, in 1953, 44 million people watched the episode where Lucy had her son, Little Ricky.)

WATCH: Kelly Clarkson talks Game Of Thrones

Compared to I Love Lucy or MASH, where 106 million people tuned in for the show’s finale, GoT has a much less substantial reach.

“Although (GoT) has a large audience in … the cable and streaming era, it’s not really a large audience compared to the majority audiences that network television regularly got,” Thorburn said.

Of course, television and the way we consume media has greatly changed since the glory days of prime time, says Jaramillo, pointing out that we won’t likely have another “who shot J.R. moment,” referencing the 1980 episode of Dallas that garnered 83.6 million viewers, according to the L.A. Times.

While Jaramillo acknowledges that people may also watch GoT illegally, skewing the actual number of people who watch the show, she still thinks the attention around GoT is a bit over-hyped.

READ MORE: ‘The Simpsons’ Canadian-themed episode criticized for seal-clubbing ‘Newfie’ clip

“I don’t quite understand why Game of Thrones has kind of captured everyone’s attention, actually — and I use the word ‘everyone’ kind of ironically because there are TV shows, for example, that are more popular than Game of Thrones,” she explained.

Game of Thrones tends to do well in the 18 to 49 demographic … and a younger audience is very, very active on social media.”

There is a problem, however, if people are missing out on cultural conversations because they do not have access to TV or streaming services, Jaramillo said. She said that since GoT is streamed through HBO, it can be a barrier to those who cannot afford it.

READ MORE: ‘Game of Thrones’ fans upset about how dark — literally — the Battle of Winterfell was

“So much television now is behind a paywall, and television is a very, very important part of our culture,” Jaramillo said. “If people can’t access it then they’re… unable to experience cultural touchstones.”

The importance of the show

Even if dragons and drama are not for you, it’s important to acknowledge that the series has become an important moment in pop culture.

Perron says one of the reasons GoT is so successful is because it encompasses many areas of interest outside of fantasy. She says the show also tackles themes of power and politics.

“The other thing that’s really important is that it’s global in its reach,” Perron added, highlighting the fact that you can stream GoT on HBO across the world. “I think that that’s a different kind of social interaction than we usually have with television programs.”

WATCH: Popular brands rush to cash in on Game of Thrones fever

GoT‘s popularity has also encouraged others to watch, too, Perron said.

Thorburn says that GoT is also important from a cultural standpoint. He points out that as the show has grown in popularity over the years, more people have chosen to take part in conversations and experiences around it.

“The idea that there are shared cultural experiences that people watch together, discuss together, interpret together … and talk about at the water cooler — those kinds of events have an anthropological or cultural importance that often far exceeds the artistic value or the moral value of the experience being described,” he said.

Fine without GoT

Donahue, who often writes about pop culture, doesn’t feel like she’s missing out by skipping the show.

READ MORE: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 premiere pirated 54 million times in 1 day, says digital analytics company

While she acknowledges the cultural significance of GoT, Donahue says she would much rather engage in shows she actually enjoys, like Mad Men or Veep.

Still, despite never watching an episode, Donahue says she appreciates the show’s fan culture.

“The way you see people react to Game of Thrones on Twitter, in particular, is so funny and so clever that I’ll read a recap or something just so I understand where (the reference) fits,” she said.

“(That way) you are part of it enough to understand and can laugh at a meme — and there are so many good Game of Thrones memes.”

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

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‘Don’t suffer in silence’: How to treat your seasonal allergies – National

by BBG Hub

Spring is in the air, and with it, plenty of allergens that can make you itch, sneeze or cough.

According to Asthma Canada, one in five Canadians suffer from respiratory allergies. The most common is allergic rhinitis (AR), or hay fever.

Hay fever can be uncomfortable and, in some cases, debilitating. It can cause itchy eyes, a runny nose, sneezing and sometimes asthma.

READ MORE: Spring sniffles: Are you suffering from allergies or the common cold?

“People will develop allergy symptoms at certain times of year when certain allergens are out,” said Dr. Susan Waserman, a clinician-scientist at McMaster University.

Hence, why these are commonly referred to as “seasonal allergies.”

“Tree pollen occurs in March and April, grass in May, June and July, and ragweed in mid-August, until the first frost,” said Waserman.

An allergic reaction is caused by these allergens coming in contact with mast cells, which are primarily located in the lining of the nose, lungs, skin and intestinal tract.

In response, your body produces antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE) as a means of protection. These are attached to your mast cells.

The IgE antibodies cause the release of several chemicals — including histamine — into the bloodstream.

“Histamine is mainly responsible for those symptoms,” Waserman told Global News.

There are a number of different ways to treat seasonal allergies. What works for you will depend on a number of things — namely, what you’re allergic to and the severity of your reactions.

It could be as simple as closing a window

The first step to ridding yourself of allergy symptoms is to remove the known irritants from your environment.

According to Waserman, this can mean keeping windows and doors closed in the house and car.

“If you have a window air conditioner, keep the vent closed to the outside,” Waserman said.

If you like to garden or do other things outdoors, try to find a meteorologist or weather service that reports on pollen levels. Only do your outdoor activities when counts are lower.

WATCH BELOW: Study finds 1 in 5 adults who think they have a food allergy may not

You should also try to avoid cutting grass if you are allergic to grass pollen or outdoor mold.

If dust mites are the culprit, try to keep the humidity levels low in your home. “Keep home humidity between 30 to 50 per cent, ” said Waserman.

A device called a hygrometre can measure indoor humidity.

Next stop: your local pharmacy

Over-the-counter medicine is your first line of defence, according to Dr. Anne Ellis.

She is an allergist and a professor at Queen’s University. She’s also an executive member of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (CSACI).

Consulting with your pharmacist and explaining your symptoms can help he or she determine which might be the most effective. Cetirizine or Reactine are common recommendations.

“We do especially recommend people avoid the sedating antihistamines, like Benadryl, because they have a worse side effects profile,” said Ellis.

Consult your primary care provider

“If those don’t work, we recommend seeing your family physician for some very safe and effective prescription options,” said Ellis.

“We have lots of new effective antihistamines available by prescription which helps offset some of the out-of-pocket costs for patients.”

These can include eye drops and nasal sprays.

If your symptoms are severe and none of these medications have worked, you likely need to see an allergist.

“Don’t suffer in silence,” said Ellis. “Do reach out to your primary care provider and don’t be afraid to ask for a referral to an allergist for definitive relief.”


Immunotherapy can be delivered in two ways: through a series of injections, or via tablets. It depends on what you’re allergic to.

“[The shots will] treat everything that you’re allergic to, from house dust mites to pollen to animal dander,” said Ellis.

“We have tables that can be effective for grass, ragweed and dust mite allergies currently.”

READ MORE: Babies at risk of developing allergies should be fed allergenic foods at 4 to 6 months old: paediatricians

Both forms contain small amounts of allergens and are administered on a regular schedule in an attempt to make your body immune to the irritants which cause your symptoms.

Immunotherapy can be administered either year-round or just before your allergy season starts.

“For people who [are trying] to minimize their use of pharmaceutical therapies, immunotherapy is a nice option because [these substances] are derived from the natural allergens,” said Ellis.

Immunotherapy requires supervision by a health-care professional.

Don’t wait to ask for help

“Things can progress and get worse year after year,” warned Ellis.

Sometimes, there might be a lower-pollen season, so you might have a year where you have fewer symptoms or no symptoms at all. But that usually doesn’t mean they’re gone completely.

“Typically, these are allergies that don’t go away and that’s why it can be helpful to look out for more definitive options that can provide long-lasting relief — like immunotherapy,” said Ellis.

Both Waserman and Ellis recommend that you consult your physician to determine which treatment is best for you.

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

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‘It’s not one size fits all’: Why open office plans don’t work for everyone – National

by BBG Hub

At her last job working for a non-profit, Tanya Hayles shared an open concept office with four other people — but that didn’t mean the space fostered teamwork.

“While I never expected privacy, there was a clear hierarchy in the company,” the Toronto resident told Global News. “The office environment, by being ‘open,’ led to a very false sense of family and community. We worked together in an open environment, but we were not a team.”

Hayles’ experience isn’t an uncommon one.

READ MORE: Love and work: The ins and outs of dating your coworker

According to a recent report in the Harvard Business Review“open, unbounded offices reduce [face-to-face] interaction with a magnitude… of about 70 per cent.”

Researchers tracked interactions between coworkers in two different company headquarters using sociometric badges (or sensors that can record whenever you come face to face with another person). They then compared the amount of interaction in a closed office plan and, after both companies shifted, to an open office plan.

What they found was that, while the opening up of the office space was intended to increase face-to-face interaction, it actually increased the number of employees “choosing to isolate themselves as best they can (e.g. by wearing large headphones) while appearing to be as busy as possible (since everyone can see them).”

WATCH BELOW: Workplace stress is everywhere. How do you recognize it and how do you deal with it?

Hayles has since left that job to start her own two companies, but she still hasn’t pinned down the exact workspace that works best for her.

“Working from home — especially being newly self-employed — it can be hard to muster the discipline and self-motivation required to be productive,” said Hayles.

Now, she works in a co-working space, sub-leasing a desk within another company’s office. While she’s grateful for the human interaction, she also gets frustrated by the constant distractions.

READ MORE: Working moms 40% more stressed than women without kids: study

“Ironically, it is similar to my last place of employment in terms of set-up… [but that situation] was drastically different and had a negative impact on my mental health,” Hayles said.

Your work environment can have a huge impact on your psychological well-being, which is why it’s important that it’s a space you’re comfortable in.

“This is true for work and home life,” said Dr. Joti Samra, a registered psychologist and an expert on health and safety in the workplace. “Our environment has a significant impact on a number of things, [including] how relaxed we’re feeling [and] how motivated we might feel to do work.”

WATCH BELOW: Co-working the next trend in office environments

Samra believes factors like colour, lighting, noise and privacy can all make a difference in how we feel about our workspace — and, by extension, how we feel about our work.

On one hand, an open office seems perfect for humans because we are “social creatures, fundamentally,” said Samra.

“It’s not in our normal state to be in a little box with barriers around us, not interacting with people. One of the things an open office can do is… pull us away for short periods from our computer.”

READ MORE: 6 ways your workplace can be impacting your motivation

According to Samra, we recharge best when we can fully shift cognitive sets. “An open office can make us…connect with somebody socially,” and that helps us destress.

However, being pulled away from our work can also be a detriment to productivity — especially if you’re easily distracted. “An open concept can almost feel invasive. That need for privacy and focus can be jeopardized when we’re in a co-working environment.”

“It isn’t a fit for everybody,” said Samra.

WATCH BELOW: Dealing with workplace burnout

When choosing workspace elements, it really comes down to individual preference, personality and job description.

“This isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution,” said Samra. “Not all kinds of work or work tasks are going to be well-matched with coworking spaces.”

It’s also very important to consider what you’re actually doing on a day-to-day basis.

READ MORE: Stress is the reason 1 in 4 Canadians quit their job

“When we think about the best workplaces, one of the things that they do well is that they take a very individualized approach to understanding employee needs… and the workspace becomes an extension of that,” Samra said.

Her advice to organizations: Get input.

“Get input on tasks, get input on preferences, get input on the ‘why.’ What would be helpful? And thoughtfully consider both the pros and cons, given the unique demands of your workplace.”

WATCH BELOW: Workplace equality expert on building inclusive places of business

The open office trend can cause some ergonomic challenges

According to certified ergonomist Rachel Mitchell, an open office can also be detrimental to your physiological well-being.

“Employees are more likely to work directly from their laptops, resulting in forward bent head positions that are caused by the low viewing angle of a laptop screen,” Mitchell told Global News.

“The recently revised [guidelines] recommend that laptops only be used for short duration work, and that employees dock their laptops with an external keyboard and mouse and either raise the laptop screen up on a stand or use an external monitor for any longer duration work.”

READ MORE: Danish politician told baby ‘not welcome’ in Parliament — should kids be allowed at work?

This can be difficult to achieve in a shared workspace, where employees either share keyboards and mice or place their equipment in a locker or storage space at the end of each day.

“The hoteling set-up seems to discourage employees from setting up their workstations and adjusting their chairs properly since they may view the workstation as temporary,” said Mitchell. “The key to success is ensuring employees are provided with education on how to set up their workstations properly and are encouraged to do so.”

Noise is also an issue of ergonomics. “Where staff are collaborating or spending time on the phone… this can be distracting and cause detriments in productivity to surrounding employees,” said Mitchell. 

WATCH BELOW: Working in a shared workspace

Open offices may be more cost-efficient

One of the reasons companies are shifting to open office spaces could be because “people want their real estate to work harder for the organization,” said Caitlin Turner, director of design, interiors at HOK Toronto.

Flexibility is key, and it depends on what the employees need from the space. For example, you might have a large sales team, several of whom spend more than half their time out of the office with clients.

Organizations approach it a variety of ways,” Turner said. In her role, Turner strives to understand what employees are doing and what the company is trying to achieve before making a design recommendation.

Increasingly common is a “sharing ratio,” which Turner described as a “flexible, choice-based environment with a variety of settings” within.

READ MORE: Competitive workplaces: Do you know what your co-workers really think of you?

It’s less a shift away from private spaces and more a shift towards flexibility, said Turner.

“Everybody, no matter what point they’re at in the organization or in their career, needs private or heads-down space throughout the day. But maybe not the whole day,” Turner said.

“By democratizing those spaces, everybody can choose where they work, [which] creates employee empowerment. And when employees feel empowered to make those choices… we actually find their engagement, their productivity and the level of innovation increases.”

WATCH BELOW: Edmonton seeing a boom in co-working spaces

It’s the responsibility of individual companies to find what works best for its employees

Prior to recommending a design, Turner uses a variety of research tools to determine the day-to-day activities of a company’s employees.

“We ask them a variety of questions in a variety of ways. Even within an organization, there are a variety of teams that work differently throughout the day,” said Turner.

Our job as designers is to really find out what they’re trying to accomplish during the day and design the settings that best support that function.”

READ MORE: 6 ways your workplace can be impacting your motivation

Turner echoes Samra’s sentiments about the importance of extensive research so that employers know what their employees want and need from their office.

“Jumping into a… new type of workspace without the data to back [it up] is very risky,” said Turner. “They might have to go through the research phase to really understand the outcomes.”

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

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