Wednesday, 27 February 2019

2 health ‘candies’ found to contain erectile dysfunction drug that could lead to death

Two candy brands sold online have been found to contain “very high levels” of an undeclared potent erectile dysfunction medicine that if consumed, could lead to heart attacks, strokes, vision and hearing loss, or even death.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) issued the advisory on Tuesday (Feb 26) after it found more than 30 times the usual prescribed dosage of tadalafil in the two products, Hickel and Solomon Island Soloco Traditional Candy.

Tadalafil is a potent prescription medicine used to treat male erectile dysfunction and the HSA warned that it should only be used under medical supervision.

For instance, if consumed together with heart medication such as nitrates, the drug could potentially cause life-threatening low blood pressure, which could lead to death.


Exceptional company: Grab - the 2nd most innovative company in the world for 2019

The top two most innovative companies in the world are from Asia, according to Fast Company, a US business magazine, in the latest sign that the West is waking up to the fact that a lot of innovation today is taking place beyond Silicon Valley.

China’s Meituan Dianping, which offers an app-based service that expedites the booking and delivery of services such as hotel stays, movie tickets and food, has taken Apple’s crown as the world’s most innovative company in Fast Company’s 2019 ranking of the world’s 50 most innovative companies. Apple fell to 17th spot.

Immediately behind Meituan Dianping’s No 1 position is Singapore-based Grab, a ride-hailing company that has expanded to offer its 130 million users not only food delivery and travel booking but also financial and other services. Grab operates in 225 cities across eight countries.

“They may not be well known in the US, but Meituan and Grab are changing the lives of hundreds of millions of consumers and millions of merchants with highly complex operations disguised as simple transactions – elegant tech to enable real-world experiences,” Fast Company wrote in an article published on Wednesday, explaining the rationale behind the ranking.


Pot-smokers may have healthier sperm

Men who smoked more than two joints in their lifetime had a significantly higher sperm concentration than those who had never smoked marijuana: on average, 62.7 million sperm per milliliter of semen versus 45.4 million/mL, Harvard researchers report in the journal Human Reproduction.

The pattern was similar when researchers looked at the men's sperm count. The count was higher, on average, in men who had ever smoked marijuana, with no significant differences between those who had only smoked weed in the past and those who were currently using it.

And they were also less likely to have poor sperm motility, which is the ability of sperm to swim toward an egg.

"These findings do not mean that using marijuana will increase sperm counts," lead author Feiby Nassan emphasized in an email. "These results should not be interpreted as a reason to smoke marijuana."

Read more @

My 2 cents:
Hopefully the results will spark interest in helping men with low semen count as this is a big problem in the world today. A study in  2018 showed that sperm counts in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and New Zealand have fallen by more than 50% over the past four decades.

More drug abusers arrested in 2018 as meth trafficking reaches 'alarming' levels: CNB

The number of drug abusers arrested rose last year, a significant proportion of whom were new abusers under 30, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) said on Monday (Feb 25).

The number of drug abusers arrested last year rose 11% to 3,438 from the previous year.

Among these, 40%, or 1,366, were new abusers. And among the new abusers arrested, 64% were under 30 years old.

These numbers come amid “a challenging backdrop”, as the global and regional drug situations remain worrying, the CNB said in a statement.


Tuesday, 26 February 2019

“Don’t let your child get too close to the maid.” - A Singapore mum's response

“1. Your child should love only you and your family.”

My child has enough love to give anyone who loves her. And anyone who loves and cares for her is family.

2. What if she calls the helper mama?

She’s a baby. She calls her daddy “mummy” and thinks the wind is alive. It’s not that big of a deal for a toddler to anyhow use words.

3. The helper is not family and the child needs to understand that.

I think indoctrinating a toddler with poisonous notions of class, racial and cultural divide in her home is worse than her calling her mama.

4. Your child should only love her mother.

I kinda think the kid needs more than me to form a full life. If anything, I will settle being in the top 10. Ok liao.

Read the full article @

Exceptional people: SAF medics help man, stabilise his spine in Mandai accident

Six medical personnel aid man hit by minibus outside Mandai Hill Medical Centre.

From left: Corporal Joseph Andrei Aczon Dacanay, Third Sergeant Ni Xu Gang Metta, Captain (Dr) Vikram Manian, Cpl B Aravind Krishna, Lance Corporal David Lee Wei Ming and Cpl Kinson Tan Kai Feng. PHOTO: FILE, THE SINGAPORE ARMY/ FACEBOOK

Read the full article @

Rates of cancer are rising five times faster in millennials 'because they're fatter than their parents'

Image for illustration only

Rates of cancer are rising quicker in millennials (Gen Y) because they are fatter than previous generations, scientists say.

Obesity-related cancers – including bowel, womb and pancreatic – are significantly increasing in under-50s, suggesting numbers will soar in decades to come.

Experts warned it is further evidence of a time bomb which threatens to reverse decades of progress in cancer survival.

Two thirds of Britons are now overweight and more than a quarter of the population is obese. Being fat is one of the biggest avoidable causes of cancer.


What your nails say about your health

Source: The New Paper, 25 Feb, 2019

Monday, 25 February 2019

Warning: Crocodile spotted at Lower Seletar Reservoir, water and fishing activities suspended - updated

A crocodile was spotted at Lower Seletar Reservoir on Thursday (14 February) morning, said national water agency PUB in a Facebook post.

The animal was spotted by a PUB contractor, said the agency, which added that it will be working with the National Parks Board (NParks) to capture it.

“For public safety, all water activities and fishing activities at Lower Seletar Reservoir have been suspended until further notice,” said the agency.

“The public is advised to be alert and avoid going near the reservoir water edge.”


You may want to read  Crocodile caught at Lower Seletar Reservoir, water activities remain suspended

Eat lots of onions, leeks and garlic to slash your chance of getting deadly bowel cancer

It might make you unpopular in confined spaces, but at least you have now got plenty of excuse to add extra onions to your hotdog.

Allium vegetables – which also include garlic, leeks, chives and shallots – dramatically cut the risk of bowel cancer, a study claims. Bioactive compounds in allium vegetables have previously been shown to protect against breast and prostate cancer.

Each year 42,000 Britons are diagnosed with the disease and it kills more than 16,000, but the research suggests one small onion a day could be enough to prevent it.

The study of more than 1,600 men and women found those with the biggest intake were 79% less likely to develop bowel cancer than those with the least.


Stay active and cultural to prevent Alzheimer's

Image for illustration only

Staying active and cultural in middle-age lowers the risk of developing Alzheimer's, a new study finds.

Researchers said women who exercised and performed activities such as playing instruments or going to concerts were nearly 50% less likely to develop Alzheimer's than women who did not.

Previous studies have focused on how dementia risk is associated with performing physical activities or cultural activities individually.

But the team, from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, says its study is among the first to show how the two work best in conjunction to prevent or slow down the symptoms of the age-related brain disease.


My photo - pinky flowers

pinky flowers

A public domain photo by me

Healthy foods for more energy

Source: TheNewPaper

Technology: Segway electric shoes - you do not need to walk anymore

Sunday, 24 February 2019

AVA recalls batch of Singlong peanut puff after metal piece found in product

A batch of Singlong brand peanut puff is being recalled after a small metal fragment was found inside a piece of the snack, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) on Friday (Feb 22).

The piece of metal came from a machine used to make the snack at a factory, AVA added.

This is the second recall in two months involving peanut puffs, a traditional Chinese New Year snack also known as kok chye.

Read more @

Public domain photo by US Air Force - F22 Raptor

A public domain photo by US Air Force.

Forum: MOH to review affordability of support services to Chas clinics

We refer to Ms Salma Khalik's commentary (Think through subsidy issue of Chas patients referred for polyclinic tests, Feb 15) and subsequent letters on this issue (GP-polyclinic tie-up will benefit all, by Dr Ho Ting Fei, Feb 19; Case of lack of subsidy for Chas patient raises questions, by Mr Lim Ang Yong, Feb 19; and GPs, polyclinic doctors want good outcomes for patients, by Dr Yik Keng Yeong, Feb 19).

General practitioners (GPs) play an important role in our healthcare system in providing effective and quality primary care.

They work with our public healthcare institutions to serve the needs of our patients.

To anchor chronic disease management in the community, we have worked with GPs through Primary Care Networks and other initiatives to deliver holistic and team-based care.

With the expansion of the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) announced in Budget 2019, participating GPs will now be able to offer subsidised care to all Singaporeans with chronic conditions.

Chas subsidies help to lower the cost of private GP services. They can be used for doctor consultations, medication, as well as investigations.

Chas GP clinics can refer their patients to private laboratories for investigative services, such as blood tests and X-rays, and then submit the bill for Chas subsidy claims.

Polyclinic diagnostic services are resourced to support mainly polyclinic patients, and GP patients who seek such services are charged as private patients.

The reasons GP patients do this vary, and they include employment or insurance-related matters.

Providing Chas subsidies for patients visiting a Chas doctor, and polyclinic subsidies for those visiting a polyclinic doctor, helps to ensure that Government subsidies are extended to where care is necessary and appropriate.

The Ministry of Health will review how we can better support Chas GPs and patients by providing easier access to subsidised services.

We will also review Chas regularly to ensure that the scheme continues to provide Singaporeans with access to affordable and quality primary care in the community.

Lim Siok Peng (Ms)
Director, Corporate Communications Division
Ministry of Health


Saturday, 23 February 2019

Expired drugs may remain effective, safe to use in a pinch

Image for illustration only

Even medicines that are years past their expiration date and haven't always been kept in strict climate-controlled conditions may still retain their original potency, a small study suggests.

That is good news for people working in remote areas of the world where sometimes an expired medication is the only one available and the alternative is having no way to treat a serious illness, the study authors write in the journal Wilderness & Environmental Medicine.

"The expiry date on a drug packet is the last date a drug company will guarantee the drug content and stability when stored in the recommended conditions and in the original packaging," said lead study author Dr. Emma Browne of the British Antarctic Survey Medical Unit in Plymouth, UK.

"This date is not necessarily the point at which the drug becomes ineffective or dangerous, and for many medications, this window may be far longer than the usual two-to-three-year expiry date," she told Reuters Health by email.

Read more @

My photo - Birds @ Pasir Ris park

birds @ pasir ris park - fishing

A public domain photo by me

Forum: Public should be aware of available medical subsidies

The public should be aware that the Medication Assistance Fund (MAF and MAF Plus) is readily available for non-standard drugs prescribed by public healthcare institutions.

These schemes are entirely different from MediFund and provide heavy subsidies for drugs which can be fairly costly, covering as much as 85% of the drugs' costs.

To be eligible, an applicant needs to possess either the Pioneer Generation or Community Health Assist Scheme cards, and the drugs must be listed within the schemes.

When in doubt, one can approach relevant healthcare workers to clarify and advise doctors to prescribe the applicable drugs once approved.

I had an unfortunate experience in which the availability of MAF was not communicated despite earlier clarifications, a lapse which was only realised after months of asking.

Information was still not forthcoming after corrective measures were taken. I sincerely hope this is a one-off case.

The general public needs to understand the various medical subsidies available, and public healthcare institutions should ensure that their staff is equipped with the relevant knowledge to advise patients accordingly.

Tham Zhi Qian


Eating nuts tied to lower heart disease risk for diabetics

People with diabetes who regularly eat nuts may be less likely to develop heart disease than their counterparts who rarely, if ever, consume nuts, a US study suggests.

Diabetics who ate at least five 28g servings of nuts a week were 17% less likely to develop heart disease than people with diabetes who had no more than one serving of nuts weekly, the study found.

Even just one serving of nuts might still be good for the heart, however.

For people with diabetes, adding just one extra serving of nuts a week was associated with a 3% lower risk of developing cardiac conditions and 6% lower risk of dying from heart problems.

Read more @

Friday, 22 February 2019

Smoking cannabis in your teens IS linked to depression in later life

Smoking cannabis in your teenage years raises the risk of depression and suicide in later life, a landmark new study has found.

Researchers from the US and UK have revealed the drug could impair a child's brain to the extent it triggers mental health disorders later in life. 

In the largest research of its kind, experts from Oxford University and McGill University estimated that over half a million adults in the UK and US could be saved from mental health disorders by avoiding the drug as a teenager.

The link between depression and juvenile cannabis use has in part been attributed to the increased strength of marijuana on the streets today - as opposed to the relatively mild strains available in the 1980s and 1990s,


Common yeast infection pill tied to miscarriages

Pregnant women who take fluconazole, an oral antifungal used to treat vaginal yeast infections, may be more likely to have miscarriages than women who don't take this pill during pregnancy, a Canadian study suggests.

About one in 10 pregnant women develop yeast infections, a risk that is up to 10 times higher than in nonpregnant women, researchers note in CMAJ.

While topical medicines are usually the first thing prescribed for yeast infections, women who don't improve with this approach may be given fluconazole even though using this drug in pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of certain birth defects including skeletal and heart malformations.

Read more @

Forum: SAF did it; time for schools to also modify uniforms

Ms Cindy Guo (Give children respect, privacy, Feb 11) and Ms Yong Su Lin (Redesign Nanyang Girls' High School uniform, Feb 18) called for certain schools to redesign their uniforms to make them more practical and comfortable.

With global temperatures rising, school uniforms that are double-, triple-or even quadruple-layered should be phased out.

Take the example of the pinafores worn by students of Raffles Girls' School and many convent girls' schools - part of uniforms designed decades ago. The pinafores themselves are pleated, and are hence triple-layered in most areas except at the top and on the sides. Beneath that, the girls are required to wear a blouse or polo T-shirt.

According to a report by Singapore's National Climate Change Secretariat, the annual mean temperature rose from 26.6 deg C in 1972 to 27.7 deg C in 2014. It warned of more occurrences of heat stress and discomfort among the elderly and sick.

In the light of this, it would be negligent to ignore the plight of students made to wear numerous layers of clothing in what may be stuffy, non-air-conditioned classroom environments.

I applaud the Singapore Armed Forces for leading the way by introducing cooler combat uniforms, and I strongly urge the Ministry of Education to follow suit.

We should not wait for incidents of heat-related injury among students before we are galvanised into action.

Yew Woon Si (Dr)


Wednesday, 20 February 2019

My photo - ending Chinese New Year celebrations with a BANG!

20Feb2019 - ending Chinese New Year celebrations with a BANG!

A public domain photo by me

Break these bad hair habits

Source: thenewpaper, 19 Feb, 2019

Exceptional people: Passers-by lift van to free trapped woman after crash

A 20-year-old woman was trapped under a RedMart van in the early hours yesterday and was rescued by passers-by who came together to lift the vehicle and free her.

The incident happened at the junction of Woodlands Avenue 9 and Riverside Road at about 12.15am.

A taxi driver who wanted to be known only as Mr Chen, 68, told Shin Min that the woman was pinned face down under the front wheels of the van for about 10 minutes and was "worryingly silent".

He said about seven or eight people, including the van driver, worked together to lift the van.


Budget 2019: $6.1 billion to be set aside for Merdeka Generation

Delivering his Budget in Parliament yesterday, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said that $6.1 billion will be set aside, most of it to subsidise healthcare for MG Singaporeans.

The Merdeka Generation Package (MGP), which will benefit nearly 500,000 Singaporeans, is part of a generous and forward-looking Budget aimed at building a caring, inclusive, safe and prosperous society.


Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Warning: Chinese food producer says swine fever found in dumplings

A major Chinese food producer said on Monday (Feb 18) that traces of the African swine fever virus had been found in its frozen dumplings.

China, the world's biggest consumer and producer of pork, has struggled to contain an outbreak of the virus since the first cases were detected last August.

Sanquan Food, based in central Henan province, issued a public statement confirming media reports published in recent days that contaminated pork dumplings were detected in two provinces that do not share a border.

Unconfirmed Chinese media reports have said that products manufactured by several other companies also contained traces of the virus.

Read more @

Why do South Asians have such high rates of heart disease?

People of South Asian descent, which includes countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and the Maldives, have four times the risk of heart disease compared to the general population, and they develop the disease up to a decade earlier in spite of a vegetarian diet, exercised regularly and maintained a healthy weight.

“South Asians represent almost 20 to 25% of the world’s population, and this is a major public health problem in this huge population,” said Dr Alka Kanaya, a professor of medicine at UCSF and one of the Masala principal investigators. Born in Mumbai and raised in California, Kanaya was inspired to launch the Masala project after seeing many of her friends and family members die from heart disease at relatively young ages.

Heart risks tended to be greatest in South Asians, the Masala researchers found. In one recent study, in the Annals Of Internal Medicine, they found that 44% of the normal weight South Asians they examined had two or more metabolic abnormalities, like high blood sugar, high triglycerides, hypertension or low HDL cholesterol, compared to just 21% of whites who were normal weight.

The Masala researchers also found that using the standard cutoff point to screen for diabetes, a BMI of 25 or greater, would cause doctors to overlook up to a third of South Asians who have the disease. “Many of them may never get to that BMI and they will have had diabetes for years,” Kanaya said.

Read more @

Liver cancer top cause of cancer death among men in their 40s and 50s

The statistics about hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of primary liver cancer, are troubling.

80% of all the cases in the world occur in Asia, and it has come to be known as an "Asian disease".

HCC is the third most common cause of cancer death in men, after colorectal cancer and lung cancer. And men are four times more likely to get it than women.

But perhaps the most concerning aspect of HCC is that it is the top cause of cancer deaths among men in their 40s and 50s.

Public domain photos by Arseniy Chekmarev



Monday, 18 February 2019

CPF 'retirement payout age' shifted to 70 - updated

Social media posts and messages claiming that the Government has shifted the payout age for the Retirement Sum Scheme (RSS) to 70 are "not true", the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board clarified in a Facebook post on Saturday (Jan 19).

"You may have recently come across social media posts and messages that claim that the Government has quietly shifted the 'retirement payout age' to 70 for the Retirement Sum Scheme," said the CPF Board.

"This is not true and here are the facts," the board said.

In its post, the board clarified that the payout eligibility age for the RSS is 65 for those born from 1954 onwards. This was announced in 2007 and has not changed.


1) 6 months before one reaches 65, CPF board will send the member an application form to confirm when he/she wishes to start receiving his/her payout (should be between 65 to 70). If the form is not returned, CPF board will only start paying the member at 70, hence the news CPF payout starts at 70 years old.

2) This is an opt-in rather than opt-out requirement.

You may want to read 
1) Forum:Don't blame the people for CPF rumour
2) CPF Board can do better in communicating messages on payouts: Josephine Teo

Forum: Take leaf out of Iceland's book

Image for illustration only

Mr George Pasqual is mistaken if he believes that the local football ecosystem has remained unchanged from when Singapore won three Asean Football Federation Championships (Why is FAS lamenting constraints that haven't changed in ages?, Feb 2).

In the years that the Lions were Asean football champions, we had three players recruited under the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme (FST) in 2004, five naturalised players in the 2007 squad and four new citizens representing Singapore in 2012.

The objective of the FST was to complement the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) Youth Development programme by filling key positions in the national team, which was short of local talents.

The foreign recruits were pivotal to our success in those three tournaments.

The constraints highlighted by FAS, such as a small population, limited land, national service commitments and priority to academia, have to be resolved in order for football to be developed further.

Iceland, with a far more challenging football ecosystem, managed to climb from 131st in the 2012 Fifa world ranking to 22nd last year.

During last year's World Cup, it became the smallest country to ever qualify for the competition.

With a population of only 340,000 compared with Singapore's more than five million, theoretically, it does not make sense that Iceland is at the forefront of world football.

The FAS cited land constraints as a key factor holding us back, but we should not forget that Icelandic footballers live in the Arctic region, where the sun does not rise for three months every year and the subsoil is permanently frozen.

It is one of the most inhospitable places to cultivate football talent.

Iceland's success in building a formidable national team lies in identifying, recruiting and developing young talent from the primary school level.

Football clubs in Iceland keep close tabs on the talent available to them because the country's population is too small for any player to slip through their fingers.

One cannot get more pragmatic than that.

Edmund Khoo Kim Hock


A good night's sleep can cut heart disease risks

Sleeping at least seven hours every night can reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke, a new study finds.

Research conducted on mice showed that rodents who didn't get enough shut-eye were more likely to develop atherosclerosis, a disease in which plaque builds up on the inner walls of the arteries.

Previous studies have found that a lack of sleep increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, but researchers have not been able to explain how.

The team, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, says its study is the first to show that a region of the brain involved in sleep is linked to bone marrow and can raise the production of white blood cells known to cause atherosclerosis.


Push-up capacity may predict men's heart disease risk

The number of push-ups a man can do in the doctor's office may be a good predictor of his risk of developing heart disease in the coming years, new research suggests.

In a study of more than 1,100 male firefighters followed for 10 years, researchers found that the risk of atherosclerosis and of cardiovascular events, such as stroke and heart attack, was 96% lower among men who could do 40 or more push-ups during timed tests compared to the men who could do fewer than 10.

The findings could lead to an easy test for heart disease risk, said the study's lead author Dr. Justin Yang, a researcher at Harvard's T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.


My photo - white flowers

17Feb2019 - white flowers

A public domain photo by me

Are you getting enough Vitamin D? Sunlight through glass does not count

Sunlight does not actually “provide” you with Vitamin D. Rather, your body produces Vitamin D when skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which trigger Vitamin D synthesis. The liver and kidneys convert this biologically inert form of Vitamin D into biologically active forms the body can use to promote calcium absorption and bone health.

But sunlight consists of both ultraviolet A or UVA, which penetrates deep within the skin layers and can cause premature ageing; and ultraviolet B or UVB, which causes the redness of sunburn. It’s the UVB rays that trigger the synthesis of Vitamin D.

Many people can derive the Vitamin D that their bodies need through direct exposure to sunlight. As little as 10 minutes a day of sun exposure is typically adequate.

And you cannot get adequate UVB exposure sitting indoors or in a car. Virtually all commercial and automobile glass blocks UVB rays. As a result, you will not be able to increase your Vitamin D levels by sitting in front of a sunny window, though much of the UVA radiation will penetrate the glass and may be harmful.


Saturday, 16 February 2019

GCE A-Level results out on Feb 22, those headed to poly can now enrol and graduate earlier

The A-Level exam results will be released on Feb 22 and school candidates will receive their results from their respective schools from 2.30pm onwards.

Private candidates will get their results through the post. They may also view their results online on the Examination Results Release System on the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board’s website from 2.30pm onwards on Feb 22.

GCE A-Level holders who are planning to enrol in a polytechnic will no longer have to wait an additional year for admission.

From this year, they will be able to do so within the same year of receiving their results. This means they are now able to complete a course within two and a half years instead of three.


Antibiotics still being used to 'fatten' animals in 45 countries despite health warnings

Antibiotics. Image for illustration only

Farmers in 45 countries still use antibiotics to boost animal growth, despite warnings from health experts and bans on the practice, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said on Thursday (Feb 14).

Of 155 countries that reported data between 2015 and 2017 for an OIE update on use of drugs in livestock farming, 45 said antibiotics were given to animals to prevent infections and fatten them up.

The use of antibiotics to promote growth in healthy animals has been banned in Europe since 2006 and in the United States since 2017 because it fuels the development of dangerous drug-resistant superbug infections in people.

The OIE report said that of the 45 countries reporting continued antibiotic use for growth promotion, 18 are in the Americas, 14 are in Asia and Oceania and 10 are in Africa.

Read more @

Eating lots of meat tied to higher risk of liver disease

People who eat a lot of animal protein may be more likely to have excessive fat in their livers and a higher risk of liver disease than individuals whose main source of protein is vegetables, a Dutch study suggests.

Researchers focused on what's known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is usually associated with obesity and certain eating habits. While dietary changes are recommended to treat this type of liver disease, research to date hasn't clearly demonstrated whether these changes can work for prevention.

Overweight people who ate the most animal protein were 54% more likely to have fatty liver than individuals who consumed less meat, the analysis found.

Most people have a little bit of fat in their liver. Fatty liver disease can occur when more than 5% of the liver by weight is made up of fat. Excessive drinking can damage the liver and cause fat to accumulate, a condition known as alcoholic fatty liver, but even when people don't drink much, they can still develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Read more @

Thursday, 14 February 2019

And the Number 1 cause of stress is ... money

If you cannot sleep at night, chances are it is because of cash woes.

Money is many Americans' top worry, ranking higher than health, family and work, according to BlackRock's annual Global Investor Pulse survey.

But there can be some relief, BlackRock found. Those who are saving for a retirement feel better overall than those without a retirement savings plan, the study said.

".....what we found is that there are immediate benefits for those who start early," he added. "Much as physical exercise has both short- and long-term benefits, focusing on retirement planning helps alleviate stress and improves your overall well-being today."


Video: Some dogs are having better life than humans

Researchers discover how sleep helps the body fight germs

It looks like your mother was right: when you've got a cold, sleep may be the best medicine.

German researchers have discovered one way sleep improves the body's ability to fight off a cold. Sleep, it seems, strengthens the potency of certain immune cells by improving their chances of attaching to-and eventually destroying-cells infected with viruses.

The researchers focused their attention on T cells, which battle infections. When T cells spot a virally infected cell, they activate a sticky protein known as an integrin that allows them to adhere to that cell. The researchers were able to prove that lack of sleep, as well as sustained periods of stress, lead to higher levels of hormones that appear to block the master switch that activates the sticky proteins.

If you want to have your immune system tuned up to fight off invaders, "get the needed amount of sleep every night and avoid chronic stress," said study leader Stoyan Dimitrov, a researcher at the University of Tubingen, Germany.


When you sleep, repair hormones will be released during the deep sleep period to repair damaged cells in your body. If you do not have 'good' sleep, you will have more and more damaged cells in your body as they are not repaired.

Is tea good for you? Here’s what the experts say

Image for illustration only

What’s the most widely consumed beverage in the world, after water? The answer is tea, which is consumed by about 3 billion people worldwide, reports the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

This hugely popular beverage has been around for centuries and plays a key role in many Asian cultures.

The main health-promoting substances in tea, produced from the Camellia sinensis plant, are known as polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help protect cells from damage. All types of tea have polyphenols, particularly catechins and epicatechins, but the amount they contain varies depending on the way they are processed.

Green tea, which is made with steamed tea leaves and is minimally processed, has higher amounts of polyphenols, including high concentrations of the catechin EGCG. Black tea, which is oxidised and then dried, has lower amounts of polyphenols. Instant and bottled teas have lower levels of polyphenols.


Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Warning: Canned dog food with high levels of Vitamin D recalled

One of the recalled products.

American pet food company Hill's Pet Nutrition has issued a recall on three batches of its canned dog food, following the discovery of elevated levels of vitamin D.

While seven of its products were affected, only three products have been released into the local market.

The three are Hill's Prescription Diet Derm Defense Canine Chicken and Vegetable Stew, Hill's Prescription Diet w/d Canine and Hill's Prescription Diet i/d Canine Chicken and Vegetable Stew.

High levels of vitamin D can lead to serious health issues in dogs, including renal dysfunction.


Philippines hit by deadly measles outbreak

A growing measles outbreak in the Philippines killed at least 25 people last month, officials said on Thursday (Feb 7), putting some of the blame on mistrust stoked by a scare over an anti-dengue fever vaccine.

Most of the dead are children and the toll is expected to rise as more cases are confirmed of the highly contagious disease, which has made a worldwide resurgence in recent years.

Figures from the Philippines' national health authorities show cases jumped from 791 in 2017 to 5,120 last year. There were 1,813 confirmed cases in January alone.

Authorities said vaccination rates in the Philippines have been declining for years, but also pointed to the recent controversy over the safety of the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine.

Read more @

You may want to read European measles cases highest in a decade as pockets refuse vaccination

My photo - dancing while cycling is not recommended

A public domain photo by me.

Women's brains are four years younger than men's on average

Women may have the advantage over men when it comes to brainpower.

Their brains appear almost four years younger than men's on average, a study suggests.

The discovery may help to explain why women tend to stay mentally sharp longer than men in their later years.

Brain scans for men and women aged 20 to 82 found female brains are 3.8 years biologically younger than men's.


Yoga could help millions of arthritis patients

Yoga could help millions of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, research suggests.

A study found the ancient exercise slashes inflammation and reduces pain in the joints of sufferers after just eight weeks.

And practicing downward dog, lotus and crab poses even protected the patients' from depression - a common side effect of the chronic condition.

Yoga is thought to target the 'mind-body communications' that cause sufferers to experience mental-health problems, the researchers claim.


Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Is there such a thing as too much exercise?

Many middle-aged marathon runners and other endurance athletes are familiar with concerns from their loved ones – and occasionally their physicians – that they might be exercising too much and straining or harming their hearts.

For all of them, a large-scale study published recently in JAMA Cardiology should be mollifying. It finds that middle-aged men who work out often and vigorously do tend to develop worrisome plaques in their cardiac arteries.

But those men also are less likely than more sedentary people to die prematurely from a heart attack or other cause.

In essence, these results suggest that large amounts of exercise can up someone’s risk of developing plaques, while also lessening the likelihood that he will die from a heart attack precipitated by those plaques, said Dr Laura DeFina, the chief science officer for the Cooper Institute, who led the study.


Cycling helmet safety standards

Should you need to buy a helmet for cycling, please note that for safety reasons, the helmet is best followed one of the following standards:
  • Snell Memorial Foundation
  • CPSC
  • EN1078
  • American National Standard Institute 
  • ANSA Z-90.4
  • ASTM (Do note that shatter-tests do not extend to visors.)


Doctors need not list all possible side effects of drugs or treatment: MOH

The case of the orthopedic surgeon who was fined S$100,000 — and the severity of the punishment which triggered an outcry among the medical community — received an airing in Parliament on Monday (Feb 11), with Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min saying there could be a review of disciplinary processes and the sentencing framework for errant doctors.

He clarified that the outcome of the case, in which orthopaedic surgeon Lim Lian Arn pleaded guilty to failing to inform his patient of the complications that could arise from a steroid injection that he was giving her, did not mean that a doctor must lay out “every possible side effect and potential complications” of a drug or treatment.

“Dr Lim admitted that he was guilty of failing to inform the patient of any risks and complications; he was not found guilty for failing to inform the patient of all possible complications that could arise from the H&L Injection.”

The Singapore Medical Council, which levied the maximum S$100,000 fine on Dr Lim, said the same about two weeks ago, when it reassured doctors here that they only need to convey “relevant and material” information to their patients and do not need to inform them of all possible complications of a treatment or procedure.


Not feasible to mark GCE-level exam scripts locally: Ong Ye Kung

It is not possible to have all GCE-level examination scripts marked locally bearing in mind the wellbeing of teachers, due to the large number to be marked over a short period of time during the school vacation, said Education Minister Ong Ye Kung on Monday (Feb 11).

Each year, there are about 1.1 million answer scripts generated in the GCE-level examinations. Of these, 300,000 — that of mother tongue languages, social studies and coursework components — are marked locally. The remaining 800,000 are marked by Cambridge Assessment.

Cambridge Assessment relies on about 2,200 professors and experienced educators from universities and higher institutions to mark the scripts.

With a tight timeline between the exams and release of results, the authorities need to be “mindful (of) the workload and wellbeing” of teachers, if all subjects were to be marked locally over the school vacation period, he said.


Monday, 11 February 2019

Forum: Be sensible about hongbao giving at crematorium - updated with reply

It is strange that the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) prohibits Mandai Crematorium workers from accepting red packets from bereaved families (Workers at crematorium in trouble over red packets; Feb 2).

There are several reasons why I think this is not only a non-issue but also a waste of the CPIB's time and resources.

First, the money that is involved is usually a token amount - sometimes as little as $5. I have received a hongbao of $4 for helping out at a funeral.

Second, the practice is more a cultural one, and for some, a religious one. It is done to express thanks or to extend blessings to the worker.

Finally, it is only respectful to accept the token of thanks from the bereaved family.

It can be hurtful for a person to express his heartfelt appreciation for the help received during a difficult period only to have it rejected.

Indirectly, CPIB is also accusing families who give these red packets of offering a bribe.

It is bribery if only the workers ask for it and/or stipulate an amount to be given in return for special services.

The authorities really need to be sensible about such matters.

Tan Whee Cheng


You may want to read other letters regarding workers at crematorium in trouble over red packets:
1) Red packets a token of appreciation
2) Red packets often given as a show of thanks


Giving red packets: Each case assessed on its merits

We thank Dr Ho Ting Fei for her letter (Red packets often given as a show of thanks, Feb 7).

The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) is unable to comment on the case that the writer referred to in her letter as investigations are ongoing.

However, we wish to highlight that each case is assessed on its merits to determine if it is a case of corruption. A gift given innocently and without any corrupt intention is not considered corruption. However, if a gift is given or received with a view to secure or to reciprocate with, for example, an unfair advantage, it may constitute corruption.

We assure the public that the CPIB evaluates all complaints and information it receives seriously - regardless of the value of gratification involved - in order to determine whether corruption offences are made out under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Ms Clare Tan
Senior Assistant Director (Corporate Relations)
Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau


Sunday, 10 February 2019

Why you should pawn your kids off on their grandparents as often as possible


If you have ever felt a little guilt about handing your kids off to your parents or your in-laws too often, I am here to set you free. As it turns out - and let us pretend we knew this all along - babysitting their grandkids is actually good for their health.

A study has found that grandparents who are involved in the care of their grandchildren not only live longer than seniors who do not actively care for other people, the numbers are actually quite impressive: They have a 37% lower mortality risk than adults of the same age.

The study does not prove cause and effect, but researchers do have some theories about the results, published on the United Kingdom’s National Health Service website:

Further research would be needed to find out what causes the increased life expectancy of caregivers. The researchers offer a number of explanations, such as spending time with grandchildren is a good way for older people to have a sense of purpose, while keeping them physically and mentally active.