The Road Ahead : October 2014
QUEENSLAND'S LARGEST CLUB 21 OCT/NOV 2014 THE ROAD AHEAD WELLBEING | LIFESTYLE FROM EARLY 20TH century vehicles to the latest models, magnets have been an important part of car design. Even in our homes, there are hundreds of uses for magnets: from securing photos to the fridge and keeping cupboard doors shut to the switches in your front door bell. Because claims have been made that magnets have healing properties, they have even found their way into our beds. But can they, in fact, relieve pain? We have come a long way since the early days of hand-cranked cars, which used a magnet to produce a spark to start them. These days, there could be a hundred magnets in your car: in ignition systems, crash sensors, cruise control, power antennas, instrumentation, seat-belt sensors, central locking, washer pumps -- the list goes on. Each time you sit in your car you are surrounded by magnets, but are they bestowing any health benefits? Magnetism has been known about for thousands of years. Egyptian construction used magnetic stone effectively and the Chinese built artistic and functional compasses. From ancient times, magnetic stones have also been touted for correcting 'health imbalances'. Now, well into the highly scientific 21st century, these claims continue. Pharmacies, health food and department stores target customers with a range of 'magnetic therapy' products, promoted as 'natural' treatments for pain. Magnetic therapy is a multi-million dollar industry. The theories behind the healing powers of static magnets range from incorrect claims that our blood, because it contains iron, can be influenced by magnetic fields, to mysterious theories based on 'quantum physics'. While it is true that very powerful magnets have been successfully used for treating depression, these devices do not vaguely resemble the ones people wear or sleep on. As the US-based National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) states: "Overall, the research findings so far do not firmly support claims that magnets are effective for treatment of pain." Magnets' pull yet to be proven THEY MAY BE GOOD FOR YOUR CAR, BUT WHAT ABOUT YOU? STORY LORETTA MARRON, OAM LORETTA MARRON OAM is an RACQ member and Chief Executive Officer of Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM), which was founded in 2011. The organisation actively supports complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) that offers proven benefits. Loretta helped found FSM, which now has 1000 supporters primarily from the scientific and academic community, after her own battle with breast cancer. "As a breast cancer survivor, I understand the vulnerability of patients who may grasp at any intervention, no matter how bizarre, that claims to help them feel better," Loretta said. "It was the misinformation that was targeting major illness patients like me that started me on my own cancer journey and resulted in me receiving an OAM earlier this year for service to community health. "Before trying new CAM interventions, which may come at considerable cost, delay real diagnosis or delay proven treatments, people should know what the current research says so that they can make informed choices."