Public Health Congress: Monday daily wrap up

Media releases, World Congress on Public Health
  • CT scans have raised kids’ cancer risks congress

  • Sex after 65: sexual activity and physical tenderness are important to healthy ageing

  • Are celebrities bad for your health? Just 12 per cent of star endorsements are for healthy choices

  • Your phone could be telling you to eat more veggies

  • Public health – enemies of the people?

Stories from the 15th World Congress on Public Health
Monday 3 April 2017, Melbourne Convention Centre

@wcph2017 #wcph2017


More at and @wcph2017 on Twitter.
Contact Niall on 0417-131-977, or Tanya on 0404-083-863 for interviews

CT scans have raised kids’ cancer risk

In 2013 Melbourne researchers reported that Australia kids exposed to CT scans were at greater risk of cancer in later years. Today John Mathews and his team report that the risk is higher than they initially thought especially at the youngest ages.

Sometimes CT scans are essential, sometimes they may not be and in the USA the average radiation dose per person has doubled in recent years thanks to overuse of medical imaging – everyone wants to use the new CT machine.

More below.

Pepsi loves Britney Spears, but Coca Cola loves Christina Aguilera

Could celebrities use their power for good?

Professor Vivica Kraak’s (Virginia Tech) study of celebrity marketing of food and drink brands in the US identified hundreds of stars endorsing fast food, alcohol, sweets and soft drinks. This could be contributing to obesity and other chronic diseases.

She tracked 543 celebrities. The breakdown of endorsements was 21 per cent alcohol, 17 per cent snacks and sweets, 15 per cent sugary drinks, 13 per cent fast food restaurants, 12 per cent for dairy/water/fruits and vegetables.

Vivica calls for coordinated policy actions to use celebrity endorsement, along with other integrated marketing communications, to promote healthy nutrient-profile products and behaviors that support healthy food environments.

In a second paper Vivicia will report on progress made by U.S. restaurants to create healthy food environments for customers, especially children and teens, using eight marketing-mix and choice-architecture or nudge strategies.

Stopping mothers, children and adolescents dying young

In 2015, nearly 6 million children under the age of 5 died in entirely preventable circumstances. That same year, the UN announced over $25 billion in commitments to help end preventable deaths of women, children and adolescents, and ensure their health and well-being as part of a global strategy for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health, developed in consultation with more than 7,000 individuals and organizations.

At the #WCPH2017 Professor Judy Lewis from the University of Connecticut, and colleagues will discuss what health gains the strategy has supported, where gaps still exist and how government and society can work together to meet the Global Strategy for Women, Children and Adolescents. (World Leadership Dialogue, 1.30 pm The Plenary)

Your phone could be telling you to eat more veggies

Can social media and mobile gaming persuade young adults to eat their recommended five serves of vegetables. University of Sydney researchers have found that young adults aged 18-24 were the worst at eating their veggies, consuming on average only 2.7 serves according to the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. To change that they’re now trialling a social media and mobile gaming intervention with goal setting, tailed feedback and short cooking videos delivered by phone. Monica Nour, 1.30 pm.

Sex after 65: sexual activity and physical tenderness are important to healthy ageing

Dr Rosanne Freak-Poli from Monash University evaluated sexual activity and physical tenderness in 2,374 dementia free adults over 65 years old in the Netherlands. She found that engaging in sexual activity and physical tenderness were generally associated with younger age and better socioeconomic position, lifestyle behaviours, physical and psychological health.

“Sexual behaviour is an important aspect of healthy ageing and is particularly important now that we are living longer and are capable for longer. Efforts to maintain sexual health should be expanded to older ages,”Rosanne says. (4 pm, Monday)

Other speaker highlights

  • ‘Enemies of the people’: public health in the era of populist politics and media – Martin McKee, past president European Public Health Association
  • What can we learn from past global pandemics to be ready for the next one? – Raina Macintyre, UNSW
  • How are Grindr and other apps changing the gay community, how gay men connect for sex
  • Economic abuse – how to spot this largely hidden form of domestic violence, Jozica Kutin, RMIT University
  • What works¾culturally, practically and though good governance¾in Indigenous public health – Michelle Deshong, 2015 Fulbright Indigenous Professional Scholar

The 19th World Congress on Public Health is on from 3 to 7 April at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.





The World Congress on Public Health (WCPH) is held every 2-4 years by the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA) and it attracts between 2,000-4,000 delegates.

The Congress serves as an international forum for the exchange of knowledge and experiences on key public health issues, contributing towards protecting and promoting public health at a national and global level.

CT scans have raised kids’ cancer risk – John D Mathews, University of Melbourne

The researchers from the University of Melbourne estimated the increase in cancer risk due to ionizing radiation from Computed Tomographay (CT) scans, the medical x-rays used to create detailed medical images of the body.

Ionising radiation is a well-recognised human carcinogen, though there is some controversy and disagreement about its affects at low doses. John D Mathews and his colleagues have found an increased cancer risk among children who have been exposed to ionising radiation CT scans.

CT scans provide a variety of benefits— helping to diagnose infections and tumours, and guiding doctors to the right area during surgery—but they also represent additional exposure to low-dose ionising radiation.

John and his colleagues have examined the Medicare and cancer records of 10.9 million Australians aged 0 to 19 years old. In 2013, they reported that 3,150 of kids exposed to CT scans had developed cancer by the end of 2007. This is 24% higher than kids who didn’t have CT scans. They also found that the risk of developing cancer increased by 16% for each additional CT scan.

John will present the results from more detailed analysis of the time interval between CT exposure and the diagnosis of cancer at the World Congress on Public Health. The results indicate that most of the excess cancers occurring more than 2 years after a CT scan were actually caused by radiation from the scan.

“Radiation risk is much greater than hitherto acknowledged, especially in those exposed at the youngest ages, and in a sub-group of susceptible individuals,” he says.

“While CT scans are a great medical advancement, we recommend that doctors weight the benefits against the potential risks to justify each CT scan,” he says.