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Mobile phone cancer report a 'wake-up call': Teo

Mobile phone cancer report a 'wake-up call': Teo | Sem 1, PDHPE |

One of Australia's leading brain surgeons says a new report into the potentially harmful effects of mobile phones should serve as a "wake-up call" to users and the telecommunications industry.

Dr Charles Teo, founder of the Centre for Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, said he was "pleased" with the findings.

"There is an increasing body of evidence that there is an association between brain tumours and mobile phones," Dr Teo, also a former Australian of the Year finalist, said in a statement today.


"Today's report should serve as a 'wake up call' alerting both the public and the mobile phone industry to the link [between mobile use and cancer]."

A report released by the World Health Organisation's cancer research wing says radio frequency electromagnetic fields generated by such devices are "possibly carcinogenic to humans".

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said heavy usage could lead to a possible increased risk of glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer.

The IARC had previously stated that there were no real health risks associated with long-term mobile phone use.

Dr Teo, who has in the past spoken out publicly about the dangers of mobile use, said that, although no new evidence had been published, the IARC's conclusions drew on the "known medical literature" and could not be ignored.

"This panel has reviewed the growing evidence of a link between mobile phone usage and the formation of brain tumours," he said.

"This is not an alarmist report, but a considered statement by a group of eminent scientists in the WHO and as such it should not be ignored."

The IARC's classification of radio frequency electromagnetic fields as "possibly carcinogenic" will now be assessed by the WHO, which can be expected to provide further advice in due course.

Meanwhile, a leading Australian researcher into possible health effects of exposure to radio waves does not believe mobile phones cause cancer.

Associate Professor Rodney Croft from the Australian Centre for Radiofrequency Bioeffects Research thinks further research will prove there is no need for alarm.

"There are clearly a lot of things that we normally consume in our daily lives that IARC has said, we really don't have enough evidence to be sure [if it causes cancer], but there is a possibility," Professor Croft said.

When asked if he thought mobile phones caused cancer, he said: "No, I don't.

"I really think there's been a lot of research out there, certainly in terms of the short-term exposure, [that suggests] there isn't a problem.

"The only thing that really remains is whether long-term exposure might be a problem because we haven't had the chance to look at people over an extended period.

"But on the other hand we don't have any reason to think that it might be a problem."

He said, unlike other cancer studies, tests analysing the effect of radio waves on animals and the impact on their offspring suggested "that there is no issue".

He said the latest report "is very consistent with what we've known for a while".

But there seems to be more "prescriptive" advice to minimise mobile use, especially for children.

Professor Croft said he thought Australians might take note of the announcement, but when they understand the nature of the classification - "possibly" - they'll continue to chat on mobile phones, just as they'll still sip a latte or eat a gherkin.

The IARC said the "possibly carcinogenic" classification put mobile phone use in the same cancer risk category as exposure to pickled vegetables and coffee.

Professor Bernard Stewart, scientific adviser to Cancer Council Australia, said it could take decades before there was any clarity on the link between cancer and mobile phone use.

Alexis Hubble's insight:

This article is about the possibility of over usage of phones giving us brain tumours. I think that nowadays teenagers are always on their phones and the risk of possibly getting cancer is quite scary and that it is a "wake up call". Even thought it is only a possibility I think we still need to be careful.

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Worldwide interest in app to control eating disorders

Worldwide interest in app to control eating disorders | Sem 1, PDHPE |

Young women around the world are downloading a new application that is helping them manage eating disorders from the privacy of their phone.Serious eating disorders kill 20 per cent of sufferers if left untreated but with treatment that number falls to 3 per cent.That is why University of Wollongong PhD student Jenna Tregarthen decided to develop Recovery Record to place the tools for bulimia nervosa and anorexia recovery right in the palm of a hand.Less than three months after she came up with the idea, the app is downloadable on iPhone, iPod Touch, the iTunes app store and Android.There is so much interest in the concept at that Ms Tregarthen has suspended her PhD and moved to California to continue her work.

Recovery Record gives women with eating disorders an easy and accessible way to keep a food, mood and thought diary, schedule reminders, personalize their recovery program, construct a daily meal plan, track their progress and earn rewards for reaching goals.

Ms Tregarthen is supported by UOW’s iAccelerate initiative and is a member of the Wollongong eClub.

She was doing a PhD in clinical psychology when she realised the app, inspired from watching a close friend battle bulimia for a decade, could help women around the world.

She accepted an opportunity to become a Design for Health Service Innovation Fellow at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business after previously being accepted into the Summer Institute for Entrepreneurship at Stanford where she put her idea forward. It was chosen as one of 12 new ventures to develop. Ms Tregarthen moved back to Stanford last month to work with the Stanford Eating Disorder Clinic to document the app’s results and pilot it in a clinical setting.

‘‘I would like to see Recovery Record in the tool kit of every eating disorder therapist in America, and in the hands of the countless women who are toughing it alone,’’ she said.

‘‘There is also enormous potential for it to be utilized as a tool for prevention and incorporated into the continuous care plan for eating disorder patients coming out of therapy.’’

There are 11 million girls suffering eating disorders in the US, and in Australia one in 12 women are expected to have a serious eating disorder at some point. But they rarely tell their families or friends, instead continuing to suffer in silence.

Ms Tregarthen said more than 20 girls recently told her they had signed up to a therapist after Recovery Record helped them admit they had an eating disorder.

Alexis Hubble's insight:

This article is about a new app called Recovery Record, that can help millions of girls suffering from eating disorders, get better. This article shows that if you are struggling with an eating disorder, that you are not the only one and that you can get help and overcome it. I think this is an important article because it gives great awareness of the new app and it could help hundreds of girls.

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Teens 'tomorrow's heart attack victims'

Teens 'tomorrow's heart attack victims' | Sem 1, PDHPE |

HEALTH experts are warning that today's schoolkids are shaping up to be tomorrow's cancer and heart attack statistics, after a huge new survey of 12,000 pupils showed nearly 25 per cent were overweight or obese and many more led unhealthy lives.

The vast majority of the children, 85 per cent, did less exercise than the minimum healthy amount of 60 minutes daily, while less than a quarter ate the recommended amount of vegetables and just over one-third ate a healthy ration of fruit.

Experts from the Cancer Council Australia and the National Heart Foundation say the findings, based on children in years 8 to 11 from 237 schools nationwide, are a "wake-up call" for parents and politicians.

Cancer Council Australia chief executive Ian Olver said poor diets and inadequate exercise were turning children into a "chronic disease time bomb".

"The rule of thumb is that 75 per cent of obese teenagers will become obese adults," Professor Olver said.

"We now have unequivocal evidence that not only is obesity a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes, but also a risk factor for cancer, particularly of the bowel and breast.

"What we are going to see is the incidence of these diseases is going to rise. It was going to anyway, because of the ageing of the population, but it's going to again because of obesity."

The survey -- the first national nutritional and lifestyle survey of young Australians since 1985 -- found one-third of the 12,000 students drank more softdrink than was good for them.

Heart Foundation chief executive Lyn Roberts said she was concerned at the findings showing the influence of the food industry on unhealthy diet choices. More than half the children (55 per cent) said they tried a new food or drink product in the past month because they had seen it advertised.

In addition, 25 per cent had chosen a fast food outlet because it had a special offer or giveaway with a meal, while nearly 20 per cent chose a food or drink because it was linked to a movie or sports personality they liked.

"This piece of research confirms what we've feared for some time: that the high school students of today will grow up to be the heart attack victims of tomorrow," Dr Roberts said.

Alexis Hubble's insight:

This article is about if we don’t watch what we eat and do the recommended exercise as teenagers we will most likely be obese in adulthood and have possible risks of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes. This article makes teenagers aware of their eating habits and exercise and the consequences of them when they’re older. I think that we need to change our lifestyle so we can have happy, healthy lives.

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How to educate your teen about sex

How to educate your teen about sex | Sem 1, PDHPE |

It’s an issue that traditionally makes both teenagers and their parents squirm in their seats: sex.

Surging rates of sexually transmissible infections [STIs] among young Australians can no longer be ignored. Especially in light of the fact that a recent survey found that the majority of young people in years 10 and 12 are sexually active, and this has increased over the last decade.

Chlamydia is the nation's most common communicable disease with a record high of more than 58,400 cases registered last year, and 16 to 25-year-olds are worst affected. The real tally is likely to be much higher as many sufferers don't get diagnosed or treated.

Beyond any short-term discomfort and embarrassment, this virulent disease has the potential to cause far-reaching health problems down the track, such as infertility.

Building awareness

Yet research shows most young people have very little knowledge about common STIs, including chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhoea and genital warts. Nor do they feel comfortable going to their doctor for testing or treatment.

This doesn't, however, stop them from indulging in unprotected sex. Almost one in three Australian teens has sexual intercourse without a condom by the time they reach Year 12, according to the Secondary Students and Sexual Health survey. More than half also give or receive oral sex, which most do not equate with "real sex". However, it's an activity that can leave them with a nasty infection.

Professor Marian Pitts, director of the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University in Melbourne, which carries out the survey, believes more education and public awareness about STIs is needed.

"There's actually no evidence, certainly in Australia, as to what's being delivered as sex education in schools," she says. "So I don't think we can be confident that every student has access to good quality sex education. And young people leave school somewhere between the ages of 16 and 18 but certainly their sex lives don't stop there, so we also need broader education outside of schools."

Professor Pitts suspects the lack of public awareness campaigns may be due to the fact it's not "a sexy subject". "People don't want to read in broad detail about STIs," she says. But the price of ignoring them can be high. It may be more than a decade before the current generation discovers the damage silently wreaked on their health by STIs, usually when they want to start a family of their own.

This can include ectopic pregnancies, pelvic inflammatory disease and fertility problems in both men and women. Some experts predict a rise in demand for assisted fertility treatments because of complications related to untreated infections. Worryingly, many teens infected with STIs get no symptoms or only fleeting irritations, making them less likely to be diagnosed and treated.

Dr Chris Bourne, head of NSW Health's STI programs unit, says young people should be encouraged to get regularly tested and use condoms. "Even if you develop symptoms and they go away, you could still be infected," he says. "It doesn't mean you are cured." Dr Bourne says most teens are responsible about using condoms at their first sexual encounter, but tend to discard them thereafter.

By Year 12, research shows less than half always use a condom when they have sex. Young people are known for taking risks under a misguided sense of invincibility. It's what drives them to speed once they've got their driver's licence or take an ecstasy pill from an unknown source.

But Dr Bourne doesn't believe teenagers really understand the risks of STIs from unprotected sex. ''Whereas we have done very well with HIV in terms of community awareness, the rate of awareness of STIs is substantially lower," he says. ''The national survey [of secondary students] demonstrates widespread confusion."

For example, 80 per cent didn't know that boys could get chlamydia. And nearly 60 per cent were unaware they could pick up gonorrhoea from oral sex. This is more relevant now, as oral sex becomes increasingly mainstream, spawning new medical slang such as ''P&O throat", a term coined by an inner-city GP to describe oral infections picked up by young people on cruise holidays.

Professor Pitts believes the rise in oral sex among young people is more of a ''moral panic" than a major source of disease. ''There are potential health risks associated with oral sex but quite frankly, in the scheme of things, they are much less [than full intercourse]," she says. Genital herpes, which is incurable but can be controlled with medication, can also be spread through oral sex.

Experts agree that governments, teachers and the media have key roles in tackling the STI epidemic among young Australians through ongoing awareness campaigns.

Make time to talk

Closer to home, it's even more important for parents to drag the issue out from under the carpet. “Parents having honest discussions with their children helps form healthy attitudes towards sex, getting checked and condom use," Dr Bourne says. ''This is about sex, and people feel nervous about these discussions generally, so without the support of public campaigns, it is harder."

It's not all bad news. Professor Pitts says a new survey, due out later this year, will show STI warnings are beginning to filter through. "There's an indication that it's improving, but it's from a very low base," she says. "I think the time is absolutely right for getting messages around STIs out to the general population. The most important message is to get tested. The earlier it is treated, the better."

Alexis Hubble's insight:

This article is about the risk of unprotected sex and how the awareness of the risks is very low in schools and the public. It also discusses the consequences of this unawareness. This is related in class to show us the consequences of unprotected sex. My thoughts is that is a good article to show everyone the consequences and to teach us about what could happen.

Nicholas Kyriakoudes's curator insight, November 20, 2014 1:49 AM

This article relates to the risk involved with unprotected sex when the younger population wants to ''experiment'' with sex, unprotected. The article also talks about how campaigns and lessons about unprotected sex and its consequences aren't taught or discussed about in public schools. This is a major factor as to why younger people in particular, teenagers, don't know the risk of having unprotected sex. Its because they are uneducated in this area. I believe this must be changed and some active action must be taken swiftly by the government to introduce programs, campaigns, and lessons into public schools around the country. The education of the youth just like in any area {science, maths, culture, religion, no to racism, acceptance} is key to the out view and perspective of generations to come. In other words, if we teach the children of today about unprotected sex, the children of tomorrow will already have the foundations of these previous campaigns and programs their parents took to rely on and draw knowledge form, there will already be programs in place.      

Ruby Pallone's curator insight, November 25, 2014 10:06 PM

This article " How to educate your teen about sex" is explaining the surging rates of sexually transmissible infections [STIs] among young Australians which is said to be no longer ignored. This is because the rates are increasing immensely and infections and diseases are being passed on with unprotected sex. They did a study, including the year 10 to 12 age group range and the results found that by Year 12, less than half always use a condom when they have sex. Young people are known for taking risks under a misguided sense of invincibility.It was also mentioned in the article that young people have very little knowledge about common STIs, including chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhoea and genital warts. Nor do they feel comfortable going to their doctor for testing or treatment. This is showing that  more education and public awareness and knowledge needs to be taught about STI's is needed.


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HIV billboards go back to basics as Queensland cases shoot ahead of trend

HIV billboards go back to basics as Queensland cases shoot ahead of trend | Sem 1, PDHPE |

THE number of new cases of HIV in Queensland has darted ahead of the national trend.

The latest state figures show there were 206 new notifications in 2012 and most were young men. The number of cases have doubled in 10 years.

That's why Queenslanders are seeing in-your-face advertising billboards currently dotted around the state.

The bleak statistics sparked the launch of a $1.69m campaign as part of the END HIV project.

Forget the scare tactics of the 1980s Grim Reaper, the ads aim to take education back to basics and eliminate misconceptions.

Queensland Health research showed 22 per cent of the population think you can contract HIV from kissing and 14 per cent think you can contract the virus by sharing drinks or food.

The ads are part of a long-term preventive plan launched by the Queensland Government to curb the spread of the sexually transmitted disease.

"There was a lot more fear about the disease 30 years ago. People were shocked when they saw Rock Hudson's body being pushed across the tarmac,'' said Dr Darren Russell, who is chairman of the new HIV Foundation Queensland.

"Today, the virus is not a killer. We don't need to scare people, we need to educate and iron out the misconceptions."

The foundation is the first dedicated organisation focused on the fight against HIV in almost 10 years and it starts work tomorrow on World AIDS Day.

"The increased rate of infection is why this CanDo Newman Government has made a commitment to elevate HIV/AIDS as a priority health issue," said Health Minister Lawrence Springborg.

The good news is that 2013 to date is showing a reduction in numbers.

Nationally in 2012 between 28,600 and 34,300 people were living with HIV infection and in Queensland between 4260 and 4930 but it is estimated that 3450 are unaware they have it.

Queensland Health and community group Queensland Positive People are working hand in hand to increase voluntary testing, promote treatment uptake, emphasise the importance of safe sex and to address the discrimination that comes with the disease.

Dr Russell said: "I've been working in this field for over 20 years and this is the most progressive and comprehensive plan I have seen to tackle this issue.

"Treatment for the disease is very successful in 2013 and with the correct treatment it is unlikely that people will pass it on to sexual partners. It is very important we get the message of testing out to young Queenslanders who missed the big campaigns of the past,'' he said.

Alexis Hubble's insight:

This article is about the increase of HIV and an organisation that is trying reduce the number of people that have HIV by making people aware of it, so they can get tested. This article is awareness that HIV still is out there and that you need to get tested for it. I think the organisation is very good and that is shows good awareness.

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Long acting contraceptive device gets approved as experts warn poor access to such methods boosts the nation's abortion rate

Long acting contraceptive device gets approved as experts warn poor access to such methods boosts the nation's abortion rate | Sem 1, PDHPE |

A NEW three year contraceptive has been approved by the government as experts warn poor access to long acting contraceptives is contributing to a staggering abortion rate.

More than 70,000 women have an abortion every year and it is estimated that up to 60 per cent were using a contraceptive at the time of their unintended pregnancy.

Sexual Health and Family Planning Australia says the abortion rate is a "significant public health issue".

Long acting contraceptives such as implants, intra-uterine devices and injections can slash the risk of unintended pregnancies more than twentyfold, says Family Planning acting medical director Mary Stewart.


The nation's medicines regulator recently approved a new long acting hormonal intra-uterine device called Jaydess.

It is a soft, flexible device that releases small amounts of the hormone levonorgestrel into the uterus and is 99 per cent effective at preventing pregnancy.

The device must be inserted by a doctor or nurse, is reversible and lasts for up to three years.

It is smaller than the existing hormonal IUD Mirena and contains a lower dose of hormone.

It will soon be submitted for a government subsidy approval and could be available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in early 2015.

Dr Stewart says there may be advantages in the smaller size of the device for women who have not yet had children but the evidence is being reviewed.


Less than 10 per cent of Australian women are using these long acting devices which are better at preventing pregnancy because they do not require a woman to remember to take a daily pill.

"We need to make sure women are aware of these methods and that GPs are aware of the suitability of these options," Dr Stewart says.

Data from South Australian and Western Australia has found the abortion rate is highest in women aged 20-24 with 21.4 in every 1,000 women this age having an abortion.

Up to 87 per cent of those aged under 15 with an unintended pregnancy in these two states had an abortion.


The abortion rate for unintended pregnancies was 52 per cent for 15-19 year olds and 33-35 per cent for 20-24 year olds in those states.

Another factor behind our abortion rate may be that women overseas get access to a greater range of contraceptive methods.

Dr Stewart says many of these overseas products are not available to Australians because we are a much smaller market.

In the UK and US women have access to a contraceptive patch that delivers the same hormones as the pill through the skin, the patch has to be replaced every week.

A progesterone only pill is available in the US and UK can be taken within a 12 hour window each day compared to the three hour window of the pill available here.

A morning after pill available in the US and UK is more effective than the morning after pill available here.

Alexis Hubble's insight:

This article is about the high number of abortion rates and unintended pregnancies. Also that there is a new contraception pill that last for 3 years and it is 99 per cent effective at preventing pregnancy. Australians have higher abortion rates than overseas as they have a greater range of contraception method. This article is good awareness of the contraception pill and how we need to be careful.

Meena Jasim's curator insight, November 25, 2014 8:02 PM

This article explores the topic of different contraception methods and abortion. More than 70,000 women have an abortion every year and it is estimated that up to 60 per cent were using a contraceptive at the time of their unintended pregnancy. This just shows how the contraceptive methods women are using are just not working and needs improving. It also talks about teenage abortions is up to 87 per cent of those aged under 15 with an unintended pregnancy in these two states had an abortion. This is also a huge issue, which tells us that teens do not know the responsibility of their action. This relates to the topics we learnt in class such as contraceptive methods as well as teenage pregnancy. 

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Lift the drinking age, says expert

Lift the drinking age, says expert | Sem 1, PDHPE |

Australia's legal drinking age should be raised to 21, according to an expert who says there is mounting evidence the move would dramatically reduce alcohol-related harm among young people. 

Professor John Toumbourou, from Deakin University's School of Psychology and Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing Research, says the time is right for a reignited debate on increasing Australia's legal drinking age, with alcohol-related harm in teenagers and young adults "a very real public health issue". 

In an online essay published on Monday for the Medical Journal of Australia, Dr Toumbourou says there is growing evidence and support for the move.

"We are very concerned that there are rising and very high rates of youth alcohol-related problems in the young adult age group in Australia," he said. 

"We've had a number of surgeons telling us about the horrors they face over the weekends in Australia, having to treat young people who've been injured as a result of alcohol-related violence." 

He also warned that Australia was at risk of having "an epidemic of foetal alcohol problems in the next generation of children ... because young Australian women are drinking at such high levels now.

''So this is an issue that we've got to really get on top of because in addition to the alcohol-related violence, the heavy patterns of use that we see with the pre-loading and the absolute disregard for public health guidelines in alcohol, this is going to set us up so that we are likely to have problems when this generation has children," he said. 

Dr Toumbourou also points to "less challenging policy options" such as restricting purchasing rights until the age of 19 or 20, restricting the amount and type of alcoholic products young people can purchase and laws limiting the "secondary supply" of alcohol to minors. 

"The price of alcohol is too cheap – we need to look at doing what we did with tobacco and make it more expensive. The availability [of alcohol] is too easy and we do need to restrict the hours that alcohol is sold but the drinking age is an important one within the mix," he said. 

He said there needed to be a cultural shift around attitudes towards alcohol in Australia, much like what has occurred with smoking. 

"We used to have a very unhealthy relationship with cigarettes and we've managed to get a divorce there gradually and I think the same things need to happen now with alcohol," he said. 

"We think this next generation are ready for a change where we would see the drinking age raised and less normalisation of the idea that you need to get drunk to have a good time." 

Australian Medical Association ACT president Andrew Miller said the data on lifting the drinking age was "very mixed". 

"If we're trying to reduce harm associated with excessive alcohol consumption, the real big issue in younger people is binge drinking," he said.

"I think it's a really complex issue – whilst there's some data to show that raising the drinking age may have some benefits to it, by itself, it's not going to work. What we've really got to do is change people's attitudes towards alcohol consumption."

University students James Addinsall, 24, and Jack Hamill, 20, did not believe lifting the drinking age was necessary.

"Kids are going to drink anyway whether it's 18 or 21," Mr Addinsall said. "I think they'll be more likely to drink if it is lifted to 21. You get your licence at 17 and you're not allowed to drink until you're 18 so there's still that year if that's an issue."

Mr Hamill believed underage drinking would become an even bigger problem if the drinking age was raised. 

"Especially since the age of 18, you're technically an adult, everyone is finishing school, leaving home, doing gap years, going to uni, getting jobs, earning money. People our age want to have a good time so whether it's legal or illegal, it's going to happen one way or another so I think raising it is going to be unnecessary," he said. 

"I wouldn't be keen on it even though I don't consider myself a huge drinker." 

In the Perspective piece, Dr Toumbourou said evidence from the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia suggested increasing the drinking age reduced youth alcohol use and harm. 

He said evaluations of US states where the drinking age was lifted to 21 in the late 1970s and early '80s found crashes involving alcohol dropped, while Canadian data found a higher minimum drinking age reduced youth hospitalisation rates for alcohol use disorder, alcohol poisoning, suicidal behaviour and traffic crash injury. 

He said young people were not "neurologically full adults" at 18 and were more vulnerable to alcohol harm. 

Dr Toumbourou said public support for increasing the legal drinking age had grown. 

"People want there to be tougher government action around alcohol and in the end politicians will be seen in a good light because, just like tobacco, we look back at those politicians who took action and we actually respect them," he said.

Alexis Hubble's insight:

This article is about the debate on how the drinking age should be lifted. Some people think lifting the age wouldn’t change anything and it could make it worse. Where some people think that at 18 we are not neurologically full adults yet and we’re more vulnerable to alcohol harm and if the drinking age was lifted to 21, young teenagers have more of a chance of reduced hospitalisations and alcohol poisoning. This is related to our class because it shows us that teenagers can be so irresponsible with alcohol that they are thinking of raising the age. I think this article is a good message to teenagers to tell them to get their act together.

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