Posts Tagged "dont"


Don’t comment on someone’s weight loss — even if you mean well – National

by BBG Hub

Singer Adele ended 2019 with over a decade full of achievements, including 15 Grammys, millions of records sold worldwide, and welcoming a son.

But, instead of celebrating such milestones, the year ended with much media attention around her recent weight loss after she posted holiday photos online.

Many people complimented the British performer’s “transformation,” saying she looked “gorgeous” and “skinny.”

Others pointed out that praising weight loss is fat-phobic, and potentially harmful to not only the person who lost weight, but others, too.

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“Commenting on her weight really just boils all of her talent down to her appearance,” Rachael Hartley, a South Carolina-based registered dietitian told Global News.

“She was a majorly talented force before losing weight and still is.”

Instead of putting kids on a diet, teach them healthy habits, experts say

The interest in Adele’s physical appearance also highlights a serious societal problem experts say we need to move away from: commenting on people’s weight loss altogether.

“It’s a really peculiar way of complimenting someone because if you say, ‘Oh, you look great because you’ve lost weight,’ that implies they didn’t look good before,” said Dr. Valerie Taylor, the head of the department of psychiatry at the University of Calgary.

Why you shouldn’t comment on someone’s weight

Aside from implying thinner bodies are more attractive, Hartley says commenting on someone’s weight loss can be harmful for a number of reasons.

Oftentimes, people’s weight goes up or down without others knowing “what’s going on behind the scenes,” she says. Someone could be sick, for example, or struggling with a condition that has caused them to lose weight.

Selena Gomez says people were ‘attacking’ her for weight gain after lupus diagnosis

Selena Gomez says people were ‘attacking’ her for weight gain after lupus diagnosis

Depression can also cause changes in weight, as can personal issues like experiencing a death in the family or divorce, Taylor adds.

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If someone is dealing with an eating disorder, complimenting their weight loss can reinforce unhealthy and dangerous behaviours, Hartley says. Even if you don’t have a diagnosed eating disorder, hearing others discuss weight loss can be triggering.

“I think about all the people who have lived so much of their life chronically dieting and trying to get back to this body size in which they feel like they were perceived to be better because of compliments other people gave,” she said.

What’s more, Taylor says people can get incredibly uncomfortable with too much attention on their bodies.

4 unscientific — and sometimes dangerous — health trends of 2019

“I’ve seen lots of people in my work … get really overwhelmed with all of the comments from people who constantly mentioned their weight and weight loss,” Taylor said.

“[It can] actually derail them from getting healthy because they’re not comfortable with the focus always being about their weight.”

How to talk about weight in a healthier way

Hartley says it’s important to talk about weight and weight loss in a way that does not make people feel bad about their bodies.

If you know the context of someone’s weight loss, as in they’ve been openly trying to lose weight, it’s OK to acknowledge it in a healthy and sensitive way, Taylor says.

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Study says regular exercise can help prevent certain types of cancer

Study says regular exercise can help prevent certain types of cancer

They may be proud they’ve adopted new lifestyle habits and welcome conversation, but you still need to take their lead.

“[You can say], ‘You look well-rested, has something changed?’ and then let them direct the conversation,” Taylor said.

If you don’t know a person well or they’ve never discussed weight with you, it’s best to not comment on their appearance at all. Again, it comes back to not knowing the context of their weight loss.

4 health myths that need to disappear in 2020

If someone comments on your weight, Taylor and Hartley both suggest simply saying “thank you” and changing the topic, if that’s what you’re most comfortable doing.

You don’t need to give any further reaction or explanation for your body.

The important thing to keep in mind?

“Weight loss, regardless of whether it’s intentional or not, is not necessarily equal to health, and it’s not necessarily equal to happiness,” Taylor said.

“It’s important to be healthy and happy — those are priorities — regardless of your weight.”

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Don’t fall for these ‘money-saving’ schemes targeting holiday shoppers – National

by BBG Hub

Holiday marketers have your number — and they know how to entice you to spend.

You try to rein it in, but two favorite strategies can lead to spending more, according to a 2018 survey by the Center for the New Middle Class, a research organization funded by Elevate, which lends to credit-challenged borrowers.

Consumers who shopped at sales were 50 per cent more likely to say they spent more than they expected. Among shoppers who used coupons, 38.5 per cent said they overspent.

READ MORE: Christmas shopping could put 62 per cent of millennials in debt

Many shoppers try to be careful instead of making a spending plan. Using a budget can feel like it’s wringing the joy out of a happy season. Why? Giving feels good, says Jeff Kreisler, co-author of Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter.

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But simply being careful doesn’t work, “because a lot of the reasons we make poor financial decisions are unconscious,” says Kreisler, who is editor in chief of, which applies behavioral science to the marketplace.

However, you can position yourself to recognize — and overcome — overspending triggers.

Use the best defense: A holiday budget

Ashley Feinstein Gerstley, a financial coach and founder of the Fiscal Femme website, advises setting aside time — not over an hour — to list holiday expenses.

Build in a buffer, because you’ll forget some things. But you’ll be better off if you have a number in mind, she says.

Be realistic, not rigid, about your budget. Otherwise, controlling expenses can seem so futile you don’t bother trying, she says. “It’s like being on a strict diet and figuring if you cheated and had a cookie, you may as well eat the whole bag.”

Gifts ideas under $50 for everyone on your shopping list

Gifts ideas under $50 for everyone on your shopping list

If you worry about overspending, consider getting a prepaid gift card in that amount, Kreisler says. It can help you stay aware of what you are spending and what’s left.

Having a successful holiday spending plan may also inspire you to create a budget to help you achieve financial goals throughout the year.

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Understand how sales can cost you

Shopping sales can be smart, but only if you’re strategic and aware of the psychology at play.

Kreisler says if you see a $100 cashmere sweater marked down to $40, your brain registers “saving $60.” Train yourself to translate that to “spending $40” and compare how it fits into your spending plan.

Then, figure out how much the sweater is worth to you. Would you still want it if $40 was the regular price? It’s the same sweater and the same money but minus the rush of feeling that you got a deal.

READ MORE: Friends, bosses and in-laws — How much should you spend on holiday gifts?

Watch out for impulse purchases, too.

Gerstley says she’s encountered products she never knew existed while shopping (think cell phone sanitizer or weighted blanket) and suddenly wanted them. Badly.

She’s a fan of “the 48-hour rule”: Put the item back on the shelf or abandon your virtual cart, and if you still want it 48 hours later, go ahead and buy it. Often you won’t, she says.

Understand that marketers use one-day sales or even shorter buying windows to create urgency. Fear of missing out can lead to poor decisions; buy only the items you intended to anyway.

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Know the trouble with coupons

Coupons can save you money — or tempt you to upgrade because of your “savings.”

Kreisler says a coupon is great if you’ve been waiting for a discount to buy something specific on your list. If you’ve done your research and buy the item you intended to, using a coupon to drop the price, then you really are saving.

Ask an Expert: Holiday Parenting Tips

Ask an Expert: Holiday Parenting Tips

As with sales, it’s important to focus on your spending, not your “savings.” If you have a coupon for $10 off a $50 purchase or $30 off a $100 purchase, would you spend more to “save” more? Stick with what you intended to spend.

Keep these tips in mind as you shop

Kreisler offers these additional tips for spending less:

— Imagine how the holidays would be different if you spent a little less on a particular gift. Would it really detract from the joy?

— If you cannot afford to reciprocate with a gift of equal monetary value, consider giving something else of value, such as offering an evening of child care or creating a painting. Write a note about why you chose the gift especially for the recipient.

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— If you want to trim your gift list, discuss it with friends and family shortly after the holidays, when warm feelings abound. Announcing it late in the year isn’t a great idea.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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Many don’t understand the risk factors for dementia: study – National

by BBG Hub

Many older Americans inaccurately estimate their chances of developing dementia and do useless things to prevent it, new research suggests.

Almost half of adults surveyed believed they were likely to develop dementia. The results suggest many didn’t understand the connection between physical health and brain health and how race can affect dementia risk.

Substantial numbers of people who rated their health as fair or poor thought their dementia chances were low. At the same time, many who said they were in excellent health said they were likely to develop the memory-robbing disease.

READ MORE: What we know (and still don’t) about Alzheimer’s in 2019

Many said they tried at least one of four unproven memory-protecting methods, including taking supplements like fish oil and ginkgo. The most popular strategy was doing crossword puzzles.

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Mental stimulation is thought to help prevent dementia, but there’s stronger evidence for more challenging activities than puzzles — things like playing chess, taking a class, and reading about unfamiliar topics, said Keith Fargo, who oversees research and outreach programs at the Alzheimer’s Association. He was not involved in the study.

Research has shown that regular exercise, a good diet, limiting alcohol and not smoking make dementia less likely. Supplements have not been shown to help.

“We really haven’t done a good job of getting the word out that there really are things you can do to lower your risk,” said Dr. Donovan Maust, the study’s lead author and a geriatric psychiatrist at the University of Michigan.

The study was published online Friday in JAMA Neurology. It’s based on a nationally representative health survey of 1,000 adults aged 50 to 64.

Dementia patients in Calgary take a trip down memory lane through music

Dementia patients in Calgary take a trip down memory lane through music

The survey asked people to assess their likelihood of developing dementia and whether they had ever discussed ways to prevent it with their doctor. Few people said they had, regardless of their self-rated risk for dementia.

The results raise concerns because there are things doctors can do to help people manage conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes that have been linked with dementia risk, Maust said.

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Among those who said their physical health was only fair or poor, 40 per cent thought they were at low risk for Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. Almost the same portion rated their chances as likely even though they reported very good or excellent physical health.

READ MORE: Drugs shouldn’t be the first option to ease agitation from dementia, study finds

More white people than Black or Hispanic people surveyed believed they were likely to develop dementia and almost two-thirds of Black respondents said they were unlikely. Only 93 Black adults were surveyed, making it difficult to generalize those results. But U.S. minorities face higher risks for dementia than white people — Black adults face double the risk — and the Alzheimer’s group has programs in Black and Hispanic communities.

“There’s lots of work to do … to educate the public so they can take some actions to protect themselves,” Fargo said.

One in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. While there are no medicines or medical treatments proven to prevent it, rigorous European studies have shown that healthy lifestyles may help prevent mental decline. The Alzheimer’s Association is sponsoring similar U.S. research.

READ MORE: Support for medically assisted dying high in Atlantic Canada

The new study used data from the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging. Adults were surveyed online in October 2018. Funding came from AARP, the University of Michigan health system and U.S. government grants.

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© 2019 The Canadian Press

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Single by choice: Why these Canadians don’t date – National

by BBG Hub

Actor Emma Watson recently opened up to British Vogue about being happily single.

The 29-year-old acknowledged the social pressure to be partnered up by her age, but told the outlet she’s come to a place of self-acceptance.

“I never believed the whole ‘I’m happy single’ spiel,” she said. “I was like, ‘This is totally spiel.’ It took me a long time, but I’m very happy [being single].

“I call it being self-partnered.”

Watson’s remarks sparked debate online, with some taking issue with the term “self-partnered.” Jezebel even published an article questioning why Watson simply can’t call herself single.

READ MORE: The millennials who have never been in a relationship

In the piece, writer Hazel Cills argues the term “self-partnered” stigmatizes the idea “that a woman could be alone forever and be okay with it.”

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Others applauded Watson for her comments and said they, too, will co-opt the term.

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When being single is a choice

But for some Canadians, being happily single is not only a mindset — it’s a deliberate choice.

“I’m 100 per cent honestly not dating because I don’t want to at all,” said Vanessa Vakharia, founder of the Toronto-based tutoring service The Math Guru.

“I have no interest in being in a relationship whatsoever.”

Dating apps can exacerbate unhealthy habits

Dating apps can exacerbate unhealthy habits

Vakharia, who is in her 30s, says she is happy focusing on her career and genuinely enjoys spending time doing things that matter to her most. Between work, hosting a podcast and being in a band, Vakharia carefully considers what she puts her energy into.

Dating is not high on her priority list.

“Any time I evaluate whether I want to take on a new project or not, one of the main questions I ask is, ‘Do I have time?’” she said.

“I have made the decision not to take on a relationship because I know that to be a good partner, that means diverting the time I spend on the current projects that fill my schedule to that relationship.”

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READ MORE: Why some people have sex even when they aren’t in the mood

While Vakharia is happy with her lifestyle, she says others often have a hard time believing she is OK with her single status. Whenever people ask her about her love life, she often feels pressure to justify her situation.

“People make you to feel like you should be on the defensive, like you’re supposed to be like, ‘Oh, I’m not dating, but I’m fine!’ or, ‘I’m not dating but I just met this [person],’” she said.

“We act like our goal [in society] is to meet this dream person and have this fairy-tale ending and settle down — especially at my age.”

According to Laura Bilotta, a Toronto-based dating coach at Single in the City and host of The Dating and Relationship Show on Global News radio, there’s many reasons why people opt not to date.

These reasons can include wanting to spend time on themselves, focus on their careers or because they feel exhausted from a previous break-up.

The current landscape of online dating isn’t always appealing, either.

Are you digitally cheating? Here’s what an online dating expert has to say

Are you digitally cheating? Here’s what an online dating expert has to say

“In the online dating world, so many people play games and that gets really annoying and frustrating,” Bilotta said.

“And eventually you just take a break and say, ‘You know what? I’m better off being single right now.’”

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Twenty-nine-year-old Sasha Ruddock says women are often raised to believe that happiness is directly linked to marriage and kids.

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The Toronto-based body-positivity activist believes this can cause people to spend less time on themselves, and more time looking for a relationship.

“I believe it’s normal to want companionship, but we have to question our need for it,” Ruddock said.

“Do you know yourself? Do you like yourself? What are your heart’s desires? We weren’t taught self-love.”

READ MORE: Own a house with your partner? Here’s what happens if you break up

Despite all the valid reasons for staying single, the societal expectation that people should be in relationships by a certain age still harms single folks, Bilotta said.

One of the first questions people ask is, “Why are you single?” Bilotta said, which can make people feel like they should date, even if they don’t want to.

Carolyn Van, 34, has experienced this first-hand.

The Toronto-based educator and business consultant says she loves her life and happily chooses to be single. She is grateful for her life and feels no void.

When it comes to others accepting her situation, however, it’s often a different story.

“People have a tough time believing that I’m happy  — and then I’m treated like a lab subject,” she said.

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Lack of friendships impacts men’s mental health — here’s how to deal with it

Lack of friendships impacts men’s mental health — here’s how to deal with it

“I get a lot of questions. A lot of skepticism. A lot of assumptions of my life experiences.

“If anything, I think this reveals much more about those who ask these questions, so I mostly observe and take it as an opportunity to learn about people.”

Sometimes Van says she will challenge people and ask them questions back about their decisions to be in a relationship. Some folks get the hint.

“I say cheeky things like, ‘Maybe one day, you learn that you don’t want to be a partner or parent anymore. You should just keep your options open!’” she said.

“They aren’t used to getting these questions and comments. It’s my way of putting a mirror in front of them.”

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

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Cancer can severely damage your mental health. Why don’t we talk about it? – National

by BBG Hub

At first, it didn’t register with Serena F. that she’d been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

(Global News has agreed to withhold her last name to protect her anonymity.)

The Winnipeg resident was just 23 when she walked into the emergency room with a persistent cough and trouble breathing. It had become so bad, she couldn’t lie flat on her back without feeling like she was choking.

Eventually, Serena was given a chest x-ray, and doctors discovered she had a large tumour behind her sternum, crushing her lungs and her windpipe, and cutting off her vena cava artery.

READ MORE: Want to cut your cancer risk? Try changing these behaviours

It turned into a three-week hospital stay, where she was given a biopsy, emergency surgery and her first round of chemotherapy and radiation. For the first week, Serena was still focused on typical 23-year-old concerns — like when she could go back to work.

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“I was very disillusioned … about what cancer treatment entailed and how it would affect me.”

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Then the reality of her diagnosis hit her like a ton of bricks, the 33-year-old told Global News. “I just started crying … it started sinking in.”

Serena F. was just 23 when she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and it severely affected her mental health.

Serena F. was just 23 when she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and it severely affected her mental health.

Photo courtesy: Serena F. / Illustration: Laura Whelan

Serena’s experience is, unfortunately, very common for cancer patients.

A person’s mental health is hugely impacted by a cancer diagnosis, but it’s rarely prioritized in the treatment plan.

Serena’s mental health took a nosedive, so she started to use a journal to work through her thoughts. She was also assigned a psychiatrist for the duration of her stay, which she found extremely helpful.

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But once she left the hospital, she was on her own. Before the chemotherapy started to cause severe physical symptoms, she thought she was doing well.

Soon, the cumulative physical impact of treatment took hold and she struggled to do basic physical tasks. She was angry.

“At that point, I was pretty much still a newlywed — we’d only been married two years. We had plans to have kids, buy a house … get a career on track. That was the plan,” Serena said.

“Now, with the cancer, it was like, ‘well, f**k you.’”

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New guidelines on exercise during cancer recovery

New guidelines on exercise during cancer recovery

At the same time, she struggled to connect with her friends, none of whom knew what it was like to have cancer. All of this, in combination with the stress of undergoing a particularly intense form of chemotherapy called R-CHOP, led Serena to seek mental health support again.

“Every time you visit your doctor, you’re given this little chart and asked to fill it out. It says, ‘on a scale of one to 10, how are you feeling?’” she said.

“They had the right idea with the chart, but I found that as I went more on the scale feeling depressed, feeling angry, they didn’t actually ask about it. It wasn’t until I started telling them (that) I was constantly angry.”

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How a cancer diagnosis can damage your mental health

Experts say it’s totally normal for someone’s mental health to be impacted by their diagnosis.

“It varies a little bit depending on a patient’s situation, but the first common reaction (to hearing you have cancer) is overwhelming … anxiety and fear,” said Dr. Gary Rodin, head of the department of supportive care at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto.

“You get (something like) an acute stress disorder.”

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There’s plenty of data to support Rodin’s claims.

A 2018 study found that in patients with cancer, an average of 20 per cent develop depression and 10 per cent suffer from anxiety — both of which, left untreated, can lead to a reduced quality of life.

In severe cases, cancer diagnoses have been proven to increase the risk of suicide. A recent study of more than four million adults in England showed that cancer patients had a 20 per cent increased risk of suicide compared to the general population.

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

In her experience as a registered counselling therapist, Aimee Wilson has seen the way cancer can damage a person’s mental health.

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“A patient can start to grieve the loss of their health and the changes that come from their failing health,” she said. “This grief can bring … a host of feelings like anger, sadness, depression, anxiety and fear.”

Every patient copes differently, but it’s not uncommon to need professional help.

“(Some people), prior to their diagnosis, may have had a better outlook on life and are able to cope with such … devastating news,” she said. “On the other hand, people who struggle with everyday stressors may have a harder time with negative feelings, depression and anxiety.”

Stigma persists, even though mental illness can be life-threatening

Stigma surrounding mental health can prevent patients from coming forward about their concerns, but it can also prevent doctors from being proactive about mental health during cancer treatment.

This can cause patients who require mental health support to slip through the cracks, according to Todd Leader, vice president of support programs for Atlantic Canada at the Canadian Cancer Society.

“(Patients) talk about not knowing where to get help, not having timely access to mental health services and feeling embarrassed to ask for help,” he said. “Most report feeling unsupported.”

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Study says B.C.’s HPV vaccine program has cut pre-cancer rates in women

This gets even worse when cancer treatment ends because patients lose that tangible point of contact with their health-care providers.

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“People feel dropped or set adrift. They lose access to whatever minimal supports were available,” Leader said.

“In this survivorship period, they often have access to follow-up and management of their physical symptoms, but even less access to management of their mental health symptoms because of stigma, as well as … design problems in the public mental health programs.”

READ MORE: Precision medicine helping more people survive blood cancers: report

Mental illness can wreak havoc on a person’s quality of life — something that, in Rodin’s view, should be a priority for cancer patients.

“What we’re trying to do is help people manage cancer and face the progressive disease, but also to live their life at the same time,” Rodin said.

“That is something that gets lost. There’s only one life to live, and sometimes, there’s no later life to live. So how can they live their life as well as they can, even as they go through cancer treatment?”

Talking about mental health care from the start

When it comes to incorporating mental health into the typical cancer treatment plan, there are several factors to consider.

For Leader, it means to transition towards what he calls a “client-centred system of care.”

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“In a client-centred system, we would treat someone as a whole person and not as two parts: the cancer and the mental health,” he said.

“Mental illness symptoms are a part of cancer, not a separate or secondary issue.”

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Currently, most cancer care systems do have some psycho-social support built in, but Leader says most are under-resourced. This often means only those patients with the most severe mental illness receive care.

Dense breasts make breast cancer harder to spot

Dense breasts make breast cancer harder to spot

With this approach, both Leader and Rodin aim to confront mental health issues before they develop into something more serious.

“We know that many mental illnesses are progressive. That means when early symptoms begin, the problem will get worse if untreated,” said Leader. “Therefore, the less access people have to the right service, the more likely they are to become more ill and require even more intensive (and expensive) interventions.”

“Early support would help us keep healthy people healthy.”

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The power of people who understand what you’re going through

Charlene Charles, 42, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015, and she’s found the experience extremely isolating.

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The Markham, Ont., native has supportive friends and family, but none of them really understand what she’s going through.

“I have fear and anxiety about the unknown. I have a terminal diagnosis, and there are days when I’m just feeling hopeless … like I can’t go on,” Charles said.

Cancer now the number one killer in wealthy countries: study

Cancer now the number one killer in wealthy countries: study

She has accessed several mental health professionals throughout her treatment, and she’s currently working with a psychologist on a regular basis, which has been helpful. However, her mental health has improved most significantly since she started attending the Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC) peer-to-peer support group.

“When I went to a retreat for the first time … that was the first time I had people like me actually in a room,” she said.

“I didn’t have to sit there and explain everything. They just got it.”

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Charlene Charles, who has a terminal diagnosis, has found strength and comfort in peer-to-peer support groups.

Charlene Charles, who has a terminal diagnosis, has found strength and comfort in peer-to-peer support groups.

Photo courtesy: Charlene Charles / Illustration: Laura Whelan

Peer-to-peer support is a big part of the Canadian Cancer Society’s approach to mental health care.

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Leader advocates for a peer support network so cancer patients can “talk with someone who has been there, understands and can provide basic support to manage their mental health,” he said. When this support is successful, it can even prevent “escalation” to mental illness.

Currently, the Society has a program that connects cancer patients or survivors to others with similar experiences, and Leader says it’s been very effective.

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 Prevention, Depression 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.

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

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Don’t like any political party leaders? Here’s why you should still vote – National

by BBG Hub

The 2019 federal election is just around the corner, but some Canadians may feel uninspired to head to the polls.

Maybe you dislike all of the political party leaders, or you’re frustrated with debates turning into personal attacks.

So what do you if you don’t like any of the political party leaders and don’t want to vote? Here are some things to consider.

You vote for an MP, not a leader

Alex Marland, a professor of political science at Memorial University of Newfoundland, says it’s important Canadians remember that they don’t directly elect a prime minister, they elect Members of Parliament (MPs).

READ MORE: Here’s what you need to know to vote 

While media attention is usually focused solely on party leaders, Marland says, it’s actually quite useful for Canadians to think about individual candidates.

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“Reality is, research suggests that it’s anywhere from four to 10 per cent of Canadians who do actually consider their local candidate when they’re voting,” Marland says.

“I think it comes down to recognizing that the leader is powerful, yes, but the power that an individual MP can have comes from the ability of that MP to be willing to stand up, and willing to challenge authority.”

Federal Election 2019: Majority of Canadians surveyed say mostly heard negative news about PM candidates

Federal Election 2019: Majority of Canadians surveyed say mostly heard negative news about PM candidates

With this in mind, Marland says voters should choose a preferred local candidate who is likely to represent their interests irrespective of party affiliation.

Don’t destroy your ballot

Destroying your ballot because you don’t like candidates isn’t the best option, according to Laura Stephenson, a professor of political science at Western University.

“It doesn’t have any bearing on the outcome of the election because it’s still going to be decided by everyone else who did cast a ballot,” she explains.

READ MORE: Promises Trudeau, Scheer, Singh, May and Blanchet have made

Elections Canada does not consider spoiled or destroyed ballots, therefore making them essentially useless.

Marland echoes Stephenson’s stance, and says destroying a ballot is an “ineffective act of signalling dissatisfaction.”

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Instead, they both suggest voting for the candidate you dislike the least.

Vote for the person you dislike the least

“Recognize that elections are about trade-offs and making imperfect choices,” Marland says.

Marland says research shows that when people say they dislike all their options, chances are they haven’t fully read all parties’ platforms.

He says that people often don’t like someone because of how they physically look — not because they truly dislike all their policies.

Why voting is so important for Canada’s generation Z

Why voting is so important for Canada’s generation Z

“If you were to take a look at any political party leader or party’s policies, inevitably, there are policies that we are going to disagree with and you just choose the best of the available options,” Marland says.

“To me, that’s the best possible way to express frustration, because you say, well, I don’t like these alternatives, therefore this is the alternative I’ll support.”

It’s almost impossible to unseat a PM. Here’s why it’s worth it to try

(If you’re frustrated with your options, Marland says citizens can volunteer to help a local candidate on their campaign or connect with other members of the community.)


Stephenson argues that voting is often a better option than sitting out the electoral process. The point of a democracy is to voice your opinion, not withhold it.

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READ MORE: Diversity of federal candidates up from 2015 but advocates say more work to be done

“There’s lots of different forms of political expression out there when it comes to the ballot box,” she says.

“But the best form of political expression is actually just saying who you like better.”

For more information on when, where and how to vote, Global News has created this voter’s guide.

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

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Impetigo is a contagious skin infection — here’s how to ensure your kids don’t get it – National

by BBG Hub

If you have a young child in daycare or preschool, you’ve probably heard of the skin infection known as impetigo.

It’s a common and contagious bacterial contamination that typically affects kids ages two to five, although anyone can get it.

Impetigo can be uncomfortable and unsightly. Here’s what you need to know if you think your child might have it:

READ MORE: The stigma of more children after one is sick — Why some parents feel guilty

Signs and symptoms

The infection typically starts as “red sores on the face, especially around the nose and mouth, and on hands and feet,” according to Dr. Dina Kulik, a pediatric health expert and founder of

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The sores will quickly rupture and ooze for a few days, developing “honey-coloured crusts.”

“Sometimes, the lesions leak clear or yellow fluid,” said Kulik.

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Meghan Markle, Prince Harry bring baby Archie to meet Tutu on Africa royal tour

Dr. Jeffrey Pernica, head of the infectious diseases division with McMaster University’s department of pediatrics, considers impetigo to be a “mild” infection.

In his experience, impetigo can begin as “bumps that then turn into small blisters.”

“It doesn’t cause pain, but the areas of impetigo can spread if not treated,” he said.

What causes it?

The culprit behind this infection is typically bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus (commonly referred to as staph) or Streptococcus pyogenes (known as strep), according to Kulik.

“[They] live on the surface of the skin [and] enter the skin where the skin is broken,” she said.

“The bacteria that cause impetigo often enter the skin through a small skin injury such as a cut, insect bite or rash.”

Eczema can have a similar effect.

READ MORE: Your washing machine may be harbouring bacteria — here’s how to clean it

“Less commonly, it can also occur on healthy skin,” she said.

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Since it’s highly contagious, the infection is spread easily throughout schools and daycare settings.

“It can spread to other people if they touch the lesions or by touching things that the infected person recently touched,” said Pernica.

Thankfully, unlike the flu, it’s more common during the summer months because “bacteria thrive in warm and humid environments,” he said.

How to treat it

Antibiotics are “very effective” in treating impetigo, Kulik said.

“Most cases … will respond very well to topical antibiotics applied for seven days.”

It’s unlikely, but if an infection is more widespread, growing to multiple parts of the body, or if the child also has a fever, oral antibiotics are recommended.

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Canada records its first case of vaping related illness

Pills can also be prescribed if sores appear on the face, Pernica said.

Impetigo typically isn’t dangerous, and the sores will generally heal without scarring.

However, if left untreated, “a child may develop bigger or more sores, and the infection can lead to more serious infection, such as a blood infection,” Kulik said.

In rare cases, it can lead to more severe complications.

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“If the impetigo is caused by Group A Streptococcus … rheumatic fever or kidney problems can occur after the infection,” said Pernica.

The best ways to avoid it

As with most bacterial infections, the best way to avoid catching impetigo is practicing good hand hygiene.

“Wash your hands frequently. Gently wash any cuts, rashes or bites with mild soap and running water and then cover lightly with gauze or a bandage,” said Kulik.

“Minimizing open skin can decrease the risk of impetigo by healing rashes, such as eczema, and minimizing the scratching of bites.”

READ MORE: Does cold weather make you sick?

If someone in your house catches it, be sure to “wash [their] clothes, linens and towels every day,” she said.

“Don’t share them with anyone else in the family,” Kulik explained.

For Pernica, there’s really only one way to steer clear: “Avoid being in close contact with people who have impetigo.”

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

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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.”

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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?”

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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

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

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