Guest Speaker: Professor Max Kamien
Review written by: Jo Kreibich

Professor Kamien spoke to our U3A earlier this year and we were happy to welcome his return with a talk proving both informative and entertaining. After a brief introduction by Dr Jim Leavesley outlining  his friend Max’s lifetime involvement in medicine, Max presented a panorama of life before food fortifications and the dramatic improvements seen in health issues since the addition of such substances as iron, folic acid, fluoride and thiamine.  Information ranged from pictures of young aboriginal children living on reserves where food was scarce and lacking in so many things we take for granted today; scurvy, dental decay, vitamin deficiencies  etc. etc.,  to the attempts to fluoridate the water delivered to them only to discover that people drank only the unfluoridated water from their rain tanks!

An interesting story involved how a lack of iodine leads to goitre and cretinism and nobody was surprised to hear that that there had been a severe lack of iodine in Canberra’s water supply. Another time it was decided by the powers-that-be that thiamine should be added to our beer, unfortunately changing the taste slightly. It irked the beer manufacturers that whilst they were forced to fortify their product, beer could be imported from overseas minus thiamine.

The discovery of the cause of many neural tube defects in babies, spina bifida being probably the worst scenario, led to the need for folic acid in the mother’s diet in pregnancy. Another interesting point – we can now be vaccinated to prevent the horrors of shingles and it is now available on the PBS!

Max finished his presentation taking questions from the floor; one topic which Max had already raised was the reluctance of some people to having their children vaccinated  and this touched many of our member’s sensibilities, most of us being old enough to remember the horrors of seeing a healthy child disabled by polio or listening to a small infant with whooping cough. The good old days?

After the presentation, Dee Squires, U3A Guest speaker organizer, thanked Max warmly and presented him with a thankyou card from U3A.

A great afternoon to finish off the year.