Friday, 31 August 2018

Happy Teachers' Day 2018

8 teachers receive President’s Award

Receipients of the President's Award for Teachers 2018 (front from left) Ms Ng Sheh Feng, Ms Goh Wai Leng, Ms Tan Lay Khee, Dr Lim Yi-En, (back from left) Mr Ong Yong Cheng Matthew, Mr George Teo Keng Ann, Madam S Nirmala Devi, and Mr Edzra Iskandar.ST PHOTO


NHS approves enlarged prostate steam treatment - updated

The NHS has been given the green light to deploy a new steam treatment called Rezum, for enlarged prostates that could help millions of men avoid the risk of impotence and sexual dysfunction.

On Tuesday the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said there is enough evidence that the 5-minute procedure shrinks the swollen gland, is safe and effective as an alternative to surgery.

Enlarged prostate affects more than two million men, roughly half of men over the age of 50, and serious cases have relied on surgery using a laser or cauterising probe to cut back the gland.


You may want to read Prostate breakthrough with simple blood test

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Remembering Kampong Java park

NUS scientists produce probiotic drink from soya waste

Scientists at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have found a way to turn okara - the residue from the production of soya milk and tofu - into a nutritious probiotic drink.

Every year, about 10,000 tonnes of okara are produced, of which about 80 per cent are generally discarded as food waste due to its unpleasant taste and smell.

To reduce this waste, NUS scientists spent one year tweaking a recipe that experimented with 10 different yeasts and four different enzymes before coming up with their ideal recipe.

Unlike many commercially available probiotic drinks, which are mainly dairy-based and require refrigeration, NUS' creation can be stored at room temperature for up to six weeks.

Researchers are still fine-tuning the recipe and expect it to be commercialised in about 12 to 18 months.

Read more @

Scientists discover how to CONVERT types A and B into O

Scientists claim they may have identified gut bacteria that could convert blood types A and B into type O.

People with type O-negative blood are known as universal donors, meaning they can give to anyone with any blood type.

This is why people with this blood type are always in high demand in medical emergencies and natural disasters.

Researchers, from the University in British Columbia in Canada, however, say they've discovered an enzyme found in the human gut that could covert other blood types in type O - potentially putting an end to the massive blood shortage.


New painless jaundice test for newborns

Forum: Riders, not PMDs, are the problem

The Active Mobility Advisory Panel's recommendations make a mockery of the car-lite society that we are envisaging.

While I understand that accidents caused by reckless and inconsiderate riders are causing distress to pedestrians, the solution is to tackle the source of the problem, which is the rider and not the personal mobility devices (PMDs) themselves.

Image for illustration only

I would recommend that an age limit of 21 be set for PMD riders.

The riders should also not be allowed to ride together with another person. Riders should also be licensed before being able to purchase and ride a PMD.

The licensing model could be similar to that for drivers in which they are required to take basic and advanced theory tests as well as a practical one.

This would leave the riders with no excuse to claim ignorance about the rules governing the use of PMDs.

The panel should find a balance between pedestrians and PMD users, and not lean to either side.

Soh Kar Chiang


Exceptional company: China Taiping Insurance (S) donates to ST School pocket money

China Taiping Insurance Group, Singapore subsidiary, presented a $90,000 cheque to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund.

Smartphone could be covered in up to TEN times as much bacteria as a toilet seat

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Researchers took swabs from an iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy 8 and Google Pixel to test for the levels of aerobic bacteria, yeast and mold present.

For all three phones, the screens had the highest levels of bacteria, with 100 CFU (colony forming units) per cm2 for the Samsung Galaxy, 40 CFU for the iPhone, and 12 CFU for the Google Pixel.

This is compared to 5 CFU per cm2 of yeast and bacteria on an office keyboard and mouse, and 24 CFU on a toilet seat and flush.

Meanwhile, the study found that a beauty blender had 24 CFU per cm2, while a make-up brush had 0.4 CFU with high levels of mold.

  • Smartphone screen 
  • Back of the phone 
  • Lock button 
  • Home button/bar  

Read more @

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Forum: Clean up hawker centres to stand a chance to win Unesco award

I am thrilled by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's suggestion to nominate our rich hawker culture for Unesco's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity inscription during his recent National Day Rally speech.

Singaporeans and the Singapore Tourism Board will be able to promote our rich hawker culture to tourists with ease.

But when the United Nations officials are assessing our hawker culture, they will definitely take into consideration the cleanliness of our hawker centres.

If we are going to stand a chance of getting the award, the minimum that we must do is to clear up our eating area after we are done.

All of us in Singapore have been taught at home, in schools and at army camps to return our utensils and plates to designated places.

Strangely, our habits change when we start working.

It is disgusting to see prawn shells, chicken and fish bones, tissue paper and other rubbish on hawker centre tables after a person has eaten. Everyone must take the initiative to clean up and return his utensils and trays after he is done eating.

Our campaigns in the hawker centres over the last decade has not been very successful.

It is sad that even though Singapore has transformed from a Third World to First World country where our economy and education standards are concerned, we are still a long way off in terms of keeping our country clean and green.

David Goh Chee Hoe


Is it safe to use Apple Pay? What if I lose my iPhone?

Image for illustration only. Source: newpaper

First things first, the 16-digit number on the card is not saved on the phone. What is stored instead is the encrypted version of a unique digital identifier, created based on the actual credit card number.

This means there is also no need to call a bank to deactivate a card if phone is lost.

Some have also asked if a third party could extract credit card information through decryption if the phone is misplaced or stolen.

The answer is no.

Note: The above is the same for using other mobile phones for payment, just that the servers used are different but the principle is about the same.

Read more @

Wireless theft: RFID skimming of credit card demos on streets of NYC (video)

How to prevent wireless skimming?

1. Use RFID blocking wallet

2) Use anti-RFID sleeve for all your smart devices that support RFID

Can astigmatism be corrected during cataract surgery?

Monday, 27 August 2018

Blue light from smart devices and monitors DOES affect your vision - updated

We all know that the blue light that emits from our smartphones isn't good for our eyes, but a new study has discovered just how much damage it can cause.

Researchers say that this light is absorbed by vital molecules in our retina and triggers the production of a toxic chemical that kill cells.

This damage can lead to large blind spots in our vision that are the hallmark of macular degeneration, a disease that leads to blindness.


How to prevent blue light affecting your eyes

Exceptional people: Mak Kwok Fai running again after stroke

Source: ST, 15 August, 2018

Want to be a dad? Wear boxers, not skin-tight briefs

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Men trying to become a father the old-fashioned way are better off wearing loose underwear, according to a study published Thursday.

Compared to men who favour snug-fitting briefs, devotees of boxer shorts had a significantly higher count and concentration of sperm, researchers reported in the journal Human Reproduction.

The sperm were also more lively, and levels of a reproductive hormone were more favourable to generating offspring.


The painless, potent ‘shock’ treatment for men who struggle to perform in bed

"Shockwave therapy for the penis” can be an intimidating proposition, admitted Travis (not his real name), a Singaporean male in his late 30s. Yet five months ago he tried the treatment in a bid to fix his erectile dysfunction (ED) - and it worked.

“People might be put off by the word 'shockwave', but there’s nothing to be afraid of. It was painless, there was no discomfort,” he described. “And it is effective. My performance has improved … it’s much better now.”

Despite the name, shockwave therapy actually uses external, low-intensity acoustics to trigger a process that forms new blood vessels, improving blood flow to the nether regions to help enhance the firmness of an erection.

Read more @

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Buy a jar of honey, do not trouble your doctor with a cough, patients told

Patients with bad coughs should buy a jar of honey rather than visit their doctor, new guidance for the NHS says.

The new advice from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and Public Health England urges the public to buy “self-care” products such as honey, herbal remedies and cough medicines, instead of expecting antibiotics.

The draft guidance says most patients with an acute cough get better within three weeks without any medicines.

And it says antibiotics should be reserved for cases which linger, or for patients are at risk of complications, because their health is already compromised.


My 2 cents:

Immune system is built up not in 1 day. Therefore, to expect honey or other herbal remedies to have an effect on your illnesses, you should start using them before you have them.

In my experience, honey (best raw), tea (any type) in long term will help you avoid frequent sore throat, coughing or cold.

Forum: Let us get behind our sportsmen

Anyone who read assistant sports editor Rohit Brijnath's report (Rowing against the painful tide; Aug 18) will certainly have a burning question: Why would rower Joan Poh go through all the pain and effort, especially when she has to seek financial help for her training, to accomplish her goal of representing Singapore and winning a medal?

As a former sportsman who played hockey for my school, I can empathise with Poh's mental resilience, determination and resolve to train hard for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Looking back, we have had athletes like Theresa Goh and Yip Pin Xiu, whose performance at the Paralympic Games in 2016 inspired many of our athletes to "go for gold".

Goh took 17 years of training and perseverance to win the coveted bronze medal (At last, Goh wins elusive medal; Sept 13, 2016).

Likewise, para-paddler Jason Chee's determination and perseverance enabled him to win Class 2 gold medal at the Kuala Lumpur Asean Para Games last year. It certainly came as no surprise when Chee, who had lost both his legs, his left arm and three fingers in a naval accident in 2012 and, later, an eye due to cancer, was voted 2017 Straits Times Athlete of the Year.

With such inspiring stories, it is therefore not surprising that Poh, too, is persevering to make Singapore proud, regardless of whether a medal is eventually won.

We must, as a nation of caring Singaporeans, encourage and inspire the less fortunate, whether financially or physically, to never give up on their coveted sporting goals.

As a First World and progressive nation, we must provide the moral, psychological and financial support to keep their dreams alive.

Tan Teck Huat


Drink milk for breakfast! A glass every day with toast or cereal could keep diabetes and obesity at bay

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Drinking milk with your breakfast every day could make you less likely to be obese or diabetic, a study has found.

A 250ml glass of cow's milk or having it on your cereal in the morning could lower blood sugar throughout the day, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

It is thought to be the protein in the milk which causes this effect by releasing hormones which slow down digestion, and also making people less hungry later on.

The study found milk reduces blood sugar after eating – more so than drinking water – and the more protein in the milk the more it reduced the sugar level.


If you do not drink milk, you can drink other protein drink like soy, whey or almond, among others.

Tips for caregivers of infants who was fed contaminated powdered milk

Ref: ST 24 August, 2018

Scam warning: 80% of e-commerce scams in first half of 2018 took place on Carousell platform

The first half of this year saw the police investigating 1,277 e-commerce scam cases, a 58% spike from the same period the year before.

Of these cases, 80% took place on online marketplace Carousell, said the Singapore Police Force in its mid-year crime statistics report released on Thursday (23 August).

Dr Wong King Yin, of Nanyang Technological University's College of Business, said the platform is especially popular among scammers as it has many users and is mainly a consumer-to-consumer platform.

"Carousell was originally built to connect sellers and buyers of pre-loved items, so they did not plan to oversee the whole payment and delivery process. They let the sellers and buyers handle it themselves," said Dr Wong. "In this case, scammers can easily take advantage of it."

Carousell has a new pay service called CarouPay. It is an escrow service for more secure transactions, transferring a buyer’s funds to a seller only once the latter has confirmed that the item has been received.


Thursday, 23 August 2018

New saliva kit can detect HFMD cases before symptoms appear

Researchers at the National University of Singapore have developed a test kit that could soon allow children to be tested for hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) at home or at their childcare centres - with just their saliva - even before symptoms appear.

The researchers say the test kit allows for faster results, at greater accuracy and a cheaper price.

In collaboration with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), KK Women's and Children's Hospital and Taiwan's Chang Gung University, the test uses salivary microRNA as a diagnostic marker to accurately detect the HFMD virus.

HFMD is spread by contact via the bodily fluids of an infected person. There is currently no approved antiviral drug or vaccine available in Singapore.


Exceptional people: ITE nursing student aids accident victim on expressway

Miss Siti helping Madam Siti

Miss Siti Aida Juma'at was riding her motorcycle to Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College East for an 8am lecture on Aug 13 when she saw the motorbike in front of her swerve to avoid a car on the Tampines Expressway.

Both the motorcyclist and pillion rider were thrown off the motorbike.

The motorcyclist, Mr Mohammad Yuzri Razali, 34, had minor abrasions while the pillion rider, Madam Siti Fitriah Amran, 31, felt pain and numbness.

Miss Juma'at, who has eight years of experience as a healthcare assistant, laid Madam Amran down after assessing her motor responses and held her in supine position for around 30 minutes until the ambulance arrived.

The position helped prevent spine injury.


The surprising reason why mosquitoes bite some people more than others

The best evidence for what motivates a mosquito’s choice between different people is the variation in our skin microbiota.

We have an estimated 1m bacteria per square cm of skin, often comprising hundreds of species.

The odour this emits from our pores and hair follicles is the critical factor in telling mosquitoes how tasty we would be.

In other words, mosquitoes do not select somebody for their inner biology, but rather for the micro-organisms that live on their skin.

While we are pretty sure that mosquitoes choose their human hosts according to the bacteria which live on our skin, it is less clear why they prefer the odour signature of some skin’s microbial life over others.

If we could learn this secret, perhaps we could change our skin’s bacterial composition to make ourselves less appetizing targets.


Women do not want a man who is TOO clever or handsome

It is the age-old question - whether looks or brains are more important.

And now one study has concluded that while it is not possible for them to be too physically attractive, men can be too clever for their own good.

Figures from a paper published in the British Journal of Psychology show that women want men to be smart - but not too smart. But men are NOT put off by extreme intelligence or good looks in a potential partner.


Maple-leaf extract is as good as Botox

Maple-leaf extract is a 'plant-based Botox', researchers claim.

Leaves of the Canadian trees, which produce the natural sweetener maple syrup, contain compounds that prevent wrinkles forming, a study found.

Wrinkles develop when the enzyme elastase breaks down elastin, which maintains skin elasticity, as part of the natural ageing process.

Previous research suggests the maple-leaf extracts, known as glucitol-core-containing gallotannins (GCGs), also prevent skin inflammation and lighten dark blemishes, such as age spots.


Wednesday, 22 August 2018

AVA orders recall of Dumex Mamil Gold infant milk formula after detecting bacteria

Authorities have ordered the recall of Dumex Mamil Gold infant milk formula - Step 1 after detecting the Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria in samples of the milk powder.

Cronobacter infections are generally rare. However, they can be fatal to newborns as they may cause meningitis or sepsis, AVA said in an alert on Monday (Aug 20).

Symptoms include fever, poor feeding or lethargy, AVA added.

The affected products have the batch number 09117R1 and the expiry date Sep 11, 2019, AVA said. The products were made in Malaysia.

Read more @

'Exciting' cancer drug combination shrinks tumours and stops growth where other treatments failed

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An ”exciting” new cancer drug combination appears to shrink tumours and halt their growth for months, according to an early-stage clinical trial which could mean months of extra lfie for patients.

UK researchers have hailed the promising results from giving two chemotherapy drugs, vistusertib and paclitaxel, in tandem for late stage cancers which have become resistant to conventional treatments.

Though tests are in their early stages and set up to test safety rather than survival, the trial found over half of patients with ovarian cancer and 35 per cent of those with lung cancer saw their cancers shrink by at least a third.


More companies are hiring workers without degrees

Google and Ernst and Young are just two of the champion companies who realize that book smarts do not necessarily equal strong work ethic, grit and talent.

They are two of the many companies that are hiring workers without degrees. Yes, academic qualifications will still be taken into account as a whole, but it is not a requirement for some management jobs.

1) Google, Apple ditch college degree requirements