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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

New to the driver’s seat? Read this

This isn’t just in their own interest – it can also help to keep other road users safe as well. Here are some things that all new drivers need to remember before they get behind the wheel.

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You might be super excited about passing your driving test. Now that you are legally able to drive on your own, you will be able to enjoy a lot more independence as you can now go wherever you want whenever you want. However, just because you do now have your license, that doesn’t guarantee your driving skills. After all, newly passed drivers are highly inexperienced and, as a result, are some of the unsafest road users. As a matter of fact, they are one of the biggest causes of road traffic accidents.

So, that is why it is crucial that all new drivers try to be as safe as they can be out on the roads. This isn’t just in their own interest – it can also help to keep other road users safe as well. Here are some things that all new drivers need to remember before they get behind the wheel.

Get More Experience

Just because you have passed your test, it doesn’t mean that you can stop learning. There is always plenty of driving experience to be had, and it will certainly make you a better driver. The more experience you get, then the less likely you will need to talk to a car accident lawyer after being involved in a pile up. There are also lots of different kinds of driving experiences that you should try to get under your belt as well. From driving on busy highways to using the roads in poor weather, it all adds up to make you a better driver.

Find A Safe Car

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If you don’t already have your own car, it’s worth spending some time thinking about the best make and model for you. All cars are built differently and have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. So, you need to consider all of these and make sure you are getting the best possible one for you. One tip is to go for a car that is considered to be safe. These are often family cars that can’t get up to excessive speeds. As these are thought to be quite safe to drive, you should find that your insurance premiums aren’t too expensive.

Take Out Car Insurance

Don’t forget that you will need to buy car insurance. In fact, this is a legal obligation that all drivers have, so make sure you don’t hit the roads without any or else you could face prosecution. This insurance will cover you in the event of an accident and will also payout should you face any unexpected repairs and maintenance.

Always Remove Any Distractions From The Car

It’s hard to be a good driver if there are a lot of distractions going on in the background. So, play it safe and remove any distractions that there might be in your car. For instance, it’s best to turn your cell phone to silent and place it in the glove compartment.

Hopefully, all of these handy tips keep all you new drivers safe on the road.

Health & Wellness

Fiber consumption linked to lower breast cancer risk

Lifestyle factors, such as modifiable dietary practices, may affect breast cancer risk.

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Photo by Pontus Ohlsson from Unsplash.com

Consuming a diet high in fiber was linked with a reduced incidence of breast cancer in an analysis of all relevant prospective studies. The findings are published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Because studies have generated inconsistent results regarding the potential relationship between fiber intake and breast cancer, Maryam Farvid, PhD, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and her colleagues searched for all relevant prospective studies published through July 2019.

When the investigators pooled data from the 20 observational studies they identified, individuals with the highest consumption of fiber had an eight percent lower risk of breast cancer. Soluble fiber was associated with lower risks of breast cancer, and higher total fiber intake was associated with a lower risk in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women.

“Our study contributes to the evidence that lifestyle factors, such as modifiable dietary practices, may affect breast cancer risk,” said Dr. Farvid. “Our findings provide research evidence supporting the American Cancer Society dietary guidelines, emphasizing the importance of a diet rich in fiber, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.”

Importantly, the findings do not demonstrate that dietary fiber directly reduces breast cancer risk, and a randomized clinical trial is needed to test such cause and effect.

Breast cancer is an important issue for members of he LGBTQIA community. A 2019 study, for instance, noted that transgender patients had 70% lower odds of being screened for breast cancer, 60% lower odds of being screened for cervical cancer, and 50% lower odds of being screened for colorectal cancer.

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A separate 2019 study also noted that male breast cancer (MBC) (including members of the LGBTQIA community) comprises one percent of all breast cancer cases, yet no prospective randomized clinical trials specifically focused on MBC have been successfully completed.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Australia’s top 5 finest mortgage rates

Hiring a mortgage broker may help you find the best deal that fits perfectly with your budget.

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When planning to apply for a mortgage, we always look into details, especially regarding the rates and fees. We don’t want to pay more on hidden charges, so we become very vigilant when it comes to the costs in our mortgage.

Hiring a mortgage broker may help you find the best deal that fits perfectly with your budget. If you’re curious about the process of hiring a mortgage broker, you can check out https://darwinbroker.com.au/

The Role Of A Mortgage Broker

If you are not sure about the type of mortgage you should get or want to land a good mortgage deal, then you should hire a mortgage broker. Listed below are the roles and tasks that your mortgage broker can do for you.

  • Brokers know a lot of lenders and can find you a perfect lender based on your situation and budget. They will act as the middleman between you and your lender throughout the process, so you don’t have to settle the negotiation yourself.
  • They can find the best option for you and your budget. Brokers have access to all possible plans that can help you save more money. They are knowledgeable of the offers lenders could give, and can also ask them to waive some fees for you. 
  • One day of processing your mortgage is not enough, so doing it alone can take you days to finish. This can get in the way of your life’s daily routine. By having a broker, you will be spared from all of the hassles. Your broker will gladly handle the process for you. 
  • Your credit rating may also benefit from having a broker. In the event that a lender will decline your application, it will show on your credit report. However, a broker can secure your anonymity during mortgage shopping and spare your credit report from any possible records of rejection. 
  • Brokers will handle all the paperwork during the mortgage application process. Your only role is to provide them with the necessary documents for the application. Their years of experience can help you immediately settle everything with your lender.
  • Brokers are trained to help those who have limited knowledge with the mortgage process and ensure that they experience a smooth mortgage application process. With their years of experience, it is safe to say that they are already an expert in this field. They know about all the ins and outs of a mortgage more than anyone you can think of. 
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Now that you already know what a mortgage broker can do for you,  you can now decide if you’re better off doing it by yourself, or if it’s better if you are going to hire a professional make the process easier. Sure, you can do it on your own, but you will not have the knowledge and the access that a broker has. 

Top 5 Best Mortgage Rates

There are lots of banks and lending companies that offer a reasonable rate for their borrowers. Check out this list of the top 5 best mortgage rates in Australia to give you an insight. Aside from the mortgage rates, each lender’s real-time ratings and other relevant information will also be mentioned below.

  1. Reduce Low Rider Home Loan. With an advertised rate of 2.44%pa and a comparison rate of 2.47%pa, Reduce Low Rider Home Loan is the lowest amongst 47 home loan offers. They have a real-time rate of 4.36 out of 5 stars. There will be no ongoing fees charged and offers a free redraw facility. Its maximum Loan-to-Value ratio is 80%. The rate provided is variable.
  2. Star Essentials Home Loan. Having an advertised rate of 2.49%pa and a comparison rate of 2.52%pa, Star Essentials Home Loan comes second in the list. With a real-time rating of 4.36 out of 5, the loan offers a variable rate and a Loan-to-Value ratio of 80%. Just like the Low Rider Home Loan, they don’t charge ongoing fees and come with a free redraw facility. 
  3. Smart Home Loan. Being the third on the list, Smart Home Loan has an advertised rate of 2.53%pa and a comparison rate of 2.55%pa with a variable rate structure. It also has an 80% Loan-to-Value Ratio, with no ongoing fee charges and a free redraw facility. This loan plan is almost similar to the loans in numbers 1 and 2. It also has an equal real-time rating of 4.36 out of 5 with the top 2 lenders. 
  4. Yard Home Loan. The fourth-best rate in Australia, Yard offers a 2.66%pa advertised rate and a 2.69%pa comparison rate under the variable rate structure. They’re also offering a fixed rate structure with a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 5 years repayment period. They have the highest real-time ratings, with 4.50 out of 5 stars. It has no ongoing fees, and you can even sign your parents as guarantors. They also offer an 80% Loan-to-Value Ratio.
  5. Macquarie Basic Home Loan. This Bank offers a fixed interest rate structure with three years repayment period and a Loan-to-Value Ratio of 70%. Macquarie provides two kinds of home loan: the Basic and the Offset. Their Basic Home Loan has a lower comparison rate than the Offset and offers an advertised percentage of 2.84%pa and a comparison rate of 2.84%pa. Macquarie also has a low real-time rating, with 4.04 out of 5 stars. 
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Having a broker with vast knowledge about the best mortgage rates in your country can make you feel secure with your mortgage plan. You can mention these lenders to your broker and see what they can say about it. Your broker might already have one of them in mind.

Takeaway

Don’t just rush into applying for a mortgage without knowing anything about the process. Having someone like a broker that knows what they’re doing will benefit you. But do not forget to do your research and decide if an offer leans in your favor. There is nothing wrong with being careful, especially if it involves the money we’ve worked so hard to earn. 

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Not all men idolize Western ideals of muscularity

A study examining attitudes and behaviors among males from three different countries found men in non-Western cultures were less preoccupied with body appearance.

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It turns out that there may be some limits to the influence of Western culture on the rest of the world, after all. A new paper in Frontiers in Psychology that examined men’s attitudes towards and behaviors around muscularity in three countries found than non-Western men were generally less hung up about their body image and pursuing a muscular physique than Western men.

“However, we did still find evidence that men in these populations are influenced by both other men around them and by the media,” said lead author Dr. Tracey Thornborrow at the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom.

Most of the research on sociocultural influences, like media portrayals that shape male ideals and behaviors around muscularity and masculinity, have focused on so-called WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic) populations. That means many of the conclusions around the drive for muscularity and its negative behaviors, such as steroid use and unhealthy dieting, are very Western-centric.

But men in all populations are influenced by both other men around them and by the media.
Photo by Dollar Gill from Unsplash.com

Thornborrow and the other UK scientists on the team wanted to learn if those attitudes translated to countries with different cultural norms, so they compared a cohort of British men against Ugandan and Nicaraguan males.

The study collected and assessed a number of parameters from each group, ranging from demographics and body mass index (BMI) to feelings about media influences and peer pressure on achieving an idealized appearance to personal body goals.

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Participants also ranked the perceived level of muscularity of their current body and their ideal body on the Male Adiposity and Muscularity Scale (MAMS). Designed by the Person Perception Lab at the University of Lincoln, the new scale uses two-dimensional images created from 3D software, providing a more realistic range of body types and sizes based on measurements of real people.

The researchers also used a form of artificial intelligence to find patterns in that data that might predict which ethnic groups would be driven toward behaviors to achieve more muscle regardless of country of origin.

“We used machine learning methods because they are good at determining if sociocultural factors, such as media and ethnicity, and a drive for muscularity, make it more likely that men will actively want to change their bodies,” said co-author Tochukwu Onwuegbusi, also out of the University of Lincoln, who crunched the numbers on the study.

For example, the data from the current study suggest that being a Caucasian man in the UK or a Miskitu man in Nicaragua means that he would more likely believe that one should be muscular. Such men are more likely to engage in muscle-building activities, such as weight training or drinking protein shakes.

Motivations behind the drive toward a more muscle-bound frame can be complex, Thornborrow noted. For instance, men from certain ethnic groups in Nicaragua who reported being less concerned with physical appearance were still likely to try to increase muscle mass.

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These non-media influenced motivations “could include local ideas about masculinity, and a muscular body being a visual indicator of a working man, not a lazy man,” Thornborrow explained. “In rural Nicaragua, many men will engage in physical work, such as farming, fishing, and construction, so a muscular body is associated with being a hard-working man.”

While there is growing evidence that men in Western countries are experiencing a lot of pressure to conform to stereotypical body ideals, similarly to women, the picture emerging in non-WEIRD populations is less clear. More research is needed to better understand the consequences of these other cultural attitudes and behaviors around body image.

Motivations behind the drive toward a more muscle-bound frame can be complex.
Photo by Amsnel Gorgonio from Unsplash.com

“This study, in particular, shows how there can be variation within groups — for example, nations or ethnic groups — and so it becomes more important to ensure any strategies or interventions are tailored to the specific cultural context,” Thornborrow said.

Weight is a big issue in the LGBTQIA community.

In February 2019, for instance, a study noted that 44% to 70% of LGBTQ teens reported weight-based teasing from family members, 41% to 57% reported weight-based teasing from peers, and as many as 44% reported weight-based teasing from both family members and peers.

Meanwhile, in October 2019, another study noted that weight stigma affects men using dating apps. Specifically, Grindr, the most popular dating app for gay, bisexual, two-spirit and queer men, had a negative effect on men’s body image, especially when it came to weight. Three out of four gay men are reported to have used Grindr.

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Health & Wellness

Heavy drinking into older age adds 4 cm to waistline

More than half of drinkers aged 59 and over have been heavy drinkers and this is linked to a significantly larger waistline and increased stroke risk, according to a new UCL study.

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More than half of drinkers aged 59 and over have been heavy drinkers and this is linked to a significantly larger waistline and increased stroke risk, according to a new UCL study.

The study, published in the journal Addiction, examined the association between heavy drinking over a lifetime and a range of health indicators including cardiovascular disease.

The researchers used data from the Whitehall II cohort, which collected information from UK civil servants, aged 34-56 years at study outset, since 1985-88. The final sample for this study was made up of 4,820 older adults, aged between 59 and 83 years. The mean (average) age was 69, and 75% were male.

It found that heavy alcohol consumption over a lifetime is associated with higher blood pressure, poorer liver function, increased stroke risk, larger waist circumferences and body mass index (BMI) in later life, even if you stop drinking heavily before age 50. However, stopping heavy drinking at any point in life is likely to be beneficial for overall health.

Dr Linda Ng Fat (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care), first author on the study, said: “Alcohol misuse, despite the common perception of young people binge drinking, is common among older adults, with alcohol related hospital admissions in England being the highest among adults aged over 50.

“Previous studies have focused on single snapshots of consumption, which has the potential to mask the cumulative effects of drinking. This study raises awareness of the effect of alcohol consumption over the life-course.”

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A heavy drinker was identified using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test for Consumption (AUDIT-C), a standard screening tool for GPs. The screening tool consists of just three questions, and assesses how often you drink, how much you drink, and how often you binge (have six or more drinks). To provide an example a person who has three or four drinks, four or more times a week, would score positive as a hazardous drinker on the AUDIT-C.

Participants were asked on a single occasion to complete the AUDIT-C retrospectively for each decade of their life, from 16-19 to 80 and over. This information was used to categorise their life-time drinking pattern: never hazardous drinker, former early hazardous drinker (stopped before age 50), former later hazardous drinker (stopped at age 50 or after), current hazardous drinker, and consistent hazardous drinker (during every decade of their life).

More than half of drinkers (56%) had been hazardous drinkers at some point in their life, with 21% being current hazardous drinkers and 5% being consistent hazardous drinkers.

Current and consistent heavy drinkers were mainly male (80% and 82%, respectively), predominately white, and likely to be in senior level jobs (61% compared with 52% in the total sample).

Former later, current and consistent hazardous drinkers had significantly higher systolic blood pressure and poorer liver function, than never hazardous drinkers, after adjusting for lifestyle factors. Among current hazardous drinkers, systolic blood pressure was 2.44 mmHG higher and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), a marker of liver disease, was elevated by 22.64 IU/l, compared with never hazardous drinkers.

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Current hazardous drinkers had three times greater risk of stroke and former later hazardous drinkers had approximately two times higher risk of non-cardiovascular disease mortality compared with never hazardous drinkers.

Lifetime hazardous drinkers had significantly larger waist circumferences and BMI than never hazardous drinkers, with the magnitude increasing with more current and consistent hazardous drinking.

Former early hazardous drinkers on average had a 1.17 cm larger waist than never hazardous drinkers, whereas former later hazardous drinkers, current hazardous drinkers and consistent hazardous drinkers had a waist circumference that was 1.88 cm, 2.44 cm and 3.85cm larger respectively.

Dr Ng Fat added: “This suggests that the longer adults engage in heavy drinking the larger their waistline in older age. That is why it is beneficial, along with other health benefits, that adults reduce heavy drinking earlier rather than later.”

Professor Annie Britton (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care), senior author on the study, said: “Despite high prevalence of stroke and liver disease steadily increasing… heavy drinking remains common among older adults.” And so “early intervention and screening for alcohol consumption, as part of regular check-ups, could help reduce hazardous drinking among this demographic.”

The research was carried out with University of Cambridge. It was funded by the UK Medical Research Council/Alcohol Research UK and European Research Council.

It is worth noting that alcoholism is an issue for many members of the LGBTQIA community. In 2017, for instance, a study found that bisexual people have higher odds of engaging in alcohol use behaviors when compared with people from the sexual majority. This is according to a study that – also worth highlighting – similarly found that bullying mediated sexual minority status and alcohol use more particularly among bisexual females.

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Travel

A third of Poland declared ‘LGBT-free zone’

Local municipalities in Poland adopted resolutions that are specifically “against LGBT propaganda” or are “pro-family”, thereby creating hostile spaces for non-heterosexual people or those who are not deemed to be for the so-called “natural family”.

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Hate thrives in parts of Poland, apparently.

Local municipalities in Poland adopted resolutions that are specifically “against LGBT propaganda” or are “pro-family”, thereby creating hostile spaces for non-heterosexual people or those who are not deemed to be for the so-called “natural family”.

According to an “Atlas of Hate” map, a Polish area greater than the size of Hungary has effectively become an “LGBT-free zone” in the heart of Central Europe. Almost 100 municipalities adopted the resolutions (with municipalities starting to pass the first revolutions in March 2019), including five voivodships (the largest administrative unit in Poland) in the southeast of the country, and dozens of counties and other smaller units.

The resolutions are actually non-binding; but these still highlight how a handful of Polish politicians are denouncing of “LGBT ideology” as a “foreign import” that is supposedly threatening the Polish nation and its antiquated Christian values.

One of the resolutions, passed in April 2019 by the local council in Ryki, a town 100 kilometres southeast of Warsaw, states: “In relation to the aggressive homosexual propaganda, promoted and conducted as part of the ideological war by leftist-liberal political circles and ‘LGBT’ groups, which are threatening our fundamental norms and the values of our social and national life, our council adopts the declaration ‘Powiat Rycki free of gender ideology and LGBT.’”

This resolution also states that its purpose is to “defend children, youth, families and Polish schools from sexual depravity and indoctrination, which lead to many pathologies already existing in Western countries, such as accepting pornography, abortion, sexual criminality, the crisis of the family and many others”.

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It similarly decries the “promotion of homosexuality” and sexual education in schools, the “early sexualisation of children” promoted by the World Health Organization, the “pressure exercised by homopropaganda” and the “imposition by LGBT activists of… programmes and an ideology leading to the depravation of children”.

Human rights campaigners – including the European Parliament – have condemned the resolutions, saying they are discriminatory and undermine LGBTQIA rights.

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Health & Wellness

Study finds more mental heath visits decreases risk of suicide among youths

Youths with psychiatric disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, and substance use should be routinely assessed for suicide risk and receive high-intensity, evidence-based treatments for suicidality, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

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A multistate study of Medicaid enrollees led by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that suicide risk was highest among youth with epilepsy, depression, schizophrenia, substance use and bipolar disorder. In addition, the odds of suicide decreased among those who had more mental health visits within the 30 days before the date of suicide.

Researchers compared the clinical profiles and mental health service patterns of children and adolescents who had died by suicide to see how they differed from the general population. The findings published today in JAMA Pediatrics.

“To the best of our knowledge, no studies have examined the clinical profiles and health and mental health service utilization patterns prior to suicide for children and adolescents within the Medicaid population,” said lead researcher Cynthia Fontanella, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral health at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. “Understanding how health care utilization patterns of suicidal decedents differ from the general population is critical to target suicide prevention efforts.”

This population-based case-control study merged mortality data with US Medicaid data from 16 states spanning all regions of the country and accounting for 65% of the total child Medicaid population.

The study looked at 910 youth aged 10-18 years who died by suicide between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2013 compared to a control group of 6,346 youth that was matched based on gender, race, ethnicity, Medicaid eligibility category, state and age.

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For both groups, researchers examined health and behavioral health visits in the six-month period prior to date of suicide. Associations between visits, clinical characteristics and suicide were examined.

Clinical characteristics included psychiatric diagnoses (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorders, depression, bipolar disorder and other mood disorders, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia/psychosis, substance use and other mental health disorders) and chronic medical conditions (diabetes, seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, asthma or cancer.)

“Our study found that 41% of youth who died by suicide had at least one mental health diagnosis in the six months prior to death, a finding similar to those of previous studies on adults,” Fontanella said. “Our findings suggest that youths with psychiatric disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, and substance use should be routinely assessed for suicide risk and receive high-intensity, evidence-based treatments for suicidality, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.”

In the US, the suicide rate among people aged 10-24 years has increased by 50% since 1999. Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death in this age group, accounting for nearly 6,800 deaths in 2017.

“Suicide among young people is a major public health problem. Based on our findings, we believe that implementing suicide screening protocols for youth enrolled in Medicaid – targeted on the basis of frequency of visits and psychiatric diagnoses – has the potential to decrease suicide rates,” Fontanella said.

Members of the LGBTQIA community encounter more issues related to mental health.

In November 2019, for instance, a study noted that sexual minorities were around five times more likely to experience high depressive symptoms (54% vs 15%) and self-harm (54% vs 14%). They also had lower life satisfaction (34% vs 10%), lower self-esteem and were more likely to experience all forms of bullying (i.e. peer bullying 27% vs 10%) and victimization (i.e. sexual assault/harassment 11% vs 3%) .

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In September 2017, another study suggested that experiencing anti-bisexual prejudice, internalized heterosexism, and identity concealment appears to be related to feelings of loneliness and ultimately psychological distress and suicidality among bi individuals.

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