Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Tax refund email circulating on WhatsApp a scam, warns IRAS

An image of a tax refund email supposedly from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) is a scam, warned the authority on Monday (Dec 30).

The scam email is titled "Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore-Refund-Online-Confirmation", and has been circulating on WhatsApp, said IRAS in an advisory.

The message claims that the recipient is eligible for a tax refund, and then requests that the recipient click on a link to download a tax refund form and complete it to obtain the refund.

IRAS has advised the public to ignore the image, and not respond to or further circulate it.

Read more @ https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/tax-refund-email-circulating-whatsapp-scam-warns-iras

Electricity tariff to rise 3.5% in January-March to hit 5-year high

Household electricity tariffs will increase by an average of 3.5% for January to March 2020, said utility SP Group on Monday (Dec 30), to hit a five year high.

The rise of 0.81 cent per kWh - bringing the tariff to 24.24 cents from 23.43 cents per kWh in the previous quarter - is due to higher cost of energy, added SP Group.

Ref: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/latest-electricity-tariff-january-march-2020-first-quarter-12219854

Advertisement: Benefits of soya drink

Veterinarian says the Impossible Whopper ‘will make men grow breasts because of soy proteins' - True or Not?

Amid the growing popularity of plant-based products, a doctor of veterinary medicine has suggested that the Burger King's Impossible Whopper has so much estrogen from soy that it could make men grow breasts. 

Despite Stangle's claims, there has been little evidence that has definitively proven these claims. The apprehension surrounding soy has been an ongoing point of debate for many years. 

According to Nestle, the best thing to do is look at cultures who have historically consumed soy products.

She said: 'Asians have been eating soy products for millennia and don’t seem to be any the worse for it. They have among the longest lifespans and best health, at least in classic diets.'

Ref: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7832593/Veterinarian-says-Impossible-Whopper-make-men-grow-breasts-soy-proteins.html

My 2 cents:
1) If you think it is bad for men, than do not eat to much of soy food. Moderation is the key for all food, whether good or bad.

2) Control the food. Do not let the food control you. 

Dad died in his sleep

A good read. Short, but with emotions, love and sadness.

Please goto https://sg.yahoo.com/news/shishir-bhate-dad-died-in-his-sleep-164103654.html

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Technology: Information has been TELEPORTED simultaneously between two chips for the first time

Information has been 'teleported' between two computer chips for the first time, a move that could lead to a more secure 'quantum internet', researchers claim.

Experts from the University of Bristol and the Technical University of Denmark were able to 'instantly send the data' using a process called 'quantum entanglement'.

The information was exchanged without electrical or physical contact as the process allows these particles to instantly communicate over large distances.

This is useful in quantum computing and networks as changing one particle will automatically change the other, say researchers from Bristol.

Read more @
1) https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-7830043/Information-TELEPORTED-two-chips-time.html
2) https://www.tomshardware.com/news/researchers-teleport-data-between-two-chips-via-quantum-entanglement

Recall: Huy Fong Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce recalled over fears of exploding bottles

The authorities here have issued a recall of Huy Fong Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, because of the risk that the bottles could explode.

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said in a media release on Friday (Dec 27) that lactic acid build-up may cause some of the bottles to “bloat” and the sauce may continue to ferment. The build-up of pressure may also cause the bottles to explode upon opening.

The batches being recalled come with an expiration date of March 2021 and are sold in most supermarkets and retailers islandwide.

The product, which originates from the United States, comes in either 17-ounce (482g) or 28-ounce (793g) bottles.

Read more @ https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/huy-fong-sriracha-hot-chilli-sauce-recalled-over-fears-exploding-bottles

Forum: Lack of civic-mindedness apparent in Singapore

Source: Stomp

I share the sentiments expressed by Professor Tommy Koh in his commentary (Five tests of a truly First World people, Dec 21).

Littering and a lack of graciousness are just two reasons why I am suffering from a reverse culture shock after 12 years of living in Taiwan.

Cigarette butts, used tissue, paper cups, plastic bottles and plastic bags are strewn all over the streets and grass patches of Singapore, even when bins are in sight.

I had to lodge several reports with the National Environment Agency about dozens of cigarette butts littered around a bench at a covered walkway before the situation improved.

The Taipei MRT has a very effective poster on board the trains encouraging passengers to speak softly, keep their conversations short and send text messages instead. This results in peaceful and comfortable rides.

In Singapore, I cannot leave home without my earplugs, because of people talking loudly on their phones or students roaring with laughter, oblivious that they are in a shared, public space. I have had to pluck up my courage to ask bus passengers to lower their volume more than once.

The sight of priority seats being occupied by young, able-bodied passengers is rare in Taiwan, whereas it is rather common here, with passengers using their phones or napping to avoid eye contact with passengers who truly need the seats.

Furthermore, Taiwan has an exemplary recycling culture which we can learn from.

I was dismayed that recently at my estate, the four recycling bins for paper, plastic, glass and metal were replaced by a single large recycling bin. Although this makes it much more convenient for people to recycle, it increases the possibility of contamination such as from food stains on paper, rendering it unrecyclable.

It is ingrained in the Taiwanese to keep the environment clean and show consideration for others. One wonders what accounts for the difference in civic-mindedness between Taiwan and Singapore.

Liu I-Chun


1) http://str.sg/JTdP
2) https://stomp.straitstimes.com/singapore-seen/singapore/stomper-paiseh-after-bringing-foreign-friend-to-chinatown-food-centre-who

Swapping out eggs, white bread for oatmeal linked to lowered stroke risk

Image for illustration only

People who eat oatmeal for breakfast instead of eggs and white toast may be lowering their risk of stroke, a Danish study suggests.

Consuming breakfast every day, and oatmeal in particular, has long been linked to reduced stroke risk. But research to date hasn’t offered a clear picture of how substituting oatmeal for common breakfast foods like eggs, toast and yogurt might impact stroke risk, the study team notes in the journal Stroke.

Using a statistical model, the researchers calculated that a person who replaced one serving of eggs or white bread with oatmeal would have a 4% lower risk of stroke compared to someone who stayed with eggs or bread for breakfast. Eating oatmeal instead of yogurt didn’t appear to impact stroke risk.

While the study wasn’t designed to prove whether or how oatmeal might lower stroke risk, oats may do this by helping to lower cholesterol, Dahm said by email.

Ref: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-stroke-breakfast/swapping-out-eggs-white-bread-for-oatmeal-linked-to-lowered-stroke-risk-idUSKBN1YS1CF

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Waitrose pesto products recalled for undeclared peanut allergen


Two pesto products from the Waitrose brand are being recalled by their importer after the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) issued directions to do so.

The Waitrose brand pesto products - Waitrose Basil Pesto Green (190g) and Waitrose Pesto Tomato (190g) - were issued a recall notification by the European Commission Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed due to an undeclared peanut allergen on their product labels.

Consumers who have purchased the affected products and who are allergic to peanuts should not consume them, said the SFA.

Ref: https://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/waitrose-pesto-products-recalled-undeclared-peanut-allergen

Higher MediShield Life claim limits from Jan 1, 2020

Patients admitted to hospitals for surgical procedures from January next year will be able to claim more from MediShield Life, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday (Dec 27).

Currently, patients can claim between S$200 and S$2,000, depending on the complexity of their procedures. From Jan 1, the amount will be between S$240 and S$2,600.

MOH has also added 14 new tiers to the MediShield Life claim limits to cater to surgical procedures of different complexities under the Table of Surgical Procedures (TOSP). The TOSP is an exhaustive list of more than 2,000 procedures for which MediSave and MediShield Life can be claimed, subject to their respective limits.

There are seven claim tiers currently. From Jan 1, there will be 21.

Ref: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/medishield-life-higher-claim-limits-change-12215486

Video: Ring of fire eclipse over Singapore on Boxing Day (26-12-2019)

Ref: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/solar-eclipse-annular-ring-fire-sun-singapore-photos-cna-readers-12212506

Thursday, 26 December 2019

A reminder of what is BOXING DAY

Image for illustration only
In the old days, after Christmas, the servants and helpers of rich families were allowed to take home the leftovers of turkeys and other food after Christmas in boxes (what we call takeaway nowadays), in addition to gifts and bonuses given to them by their bosses to thank them for their services.

Samuel Pepys, a naval administrator and Member of Parliament, is famous for writing in his diary in 1663: “Thence by coach to my shoemaker’s and paid all there, and gave something to the boys’ box against Christmas.”

Ref: https://sg.yahoo.com/style/boxing-day-quick-explainer-154555795.html

Walking or cycling to work 'cuts your risk of a heart attack'

Commuters should walk or cycle to work to cut their risk of suffering a heart attack, research suggests.

Data from 43million people in England showed rates of heart attacks were lower in areas where 'active commuting' is popular.

The benefit was small – just a 1.7 per cent risk reduction – but applied to both men and women, Leeds University researchers found.

They have now called for employers to make it easier for workers, who often spend hours stuck in cars and on trains, to be active on their commute.

Ref: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-7805551/Commuters-prevent-heart-attack-walking-cycling-work.html

Forum: Sports can help develop a person's character

Image is for illustration only

While Singapore has punched above its weight in the sports arena, it is far from having developed a sports culture (Sporting Singapore Medals, top events, yes. But sports culture?, Dec 22).

Many parents and educators have overemphasised the value of academic subjects and underrated the importance of strengthening key life skills through co-curricular activities, including sports.

Active participation in sports can help to develop a person's character and leadership skills. Sports also help people learn to work in teams. Sports develop a fighting spirit and practitioners learn how to be flexible, agile and adaptable, and to commit to constant improvements.

These traits may help Singapore grow stronger and achieve greater success.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)
Wrestling Federation of Singapore

Ref: http://str.sg/JTNK

Overweight people generate an extra 700 MILLION tons of carbon dioxide a year

Obese people generate an extra 700 million tons of carbon dioxide per year than those with 'normal weight', according to a new study.

Research from The Obesity Society has revealed that obese people account for about 1.6% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

This is due to a combination of higher metabolic rates and the environmental impact of both producing the food and the increased fuel required to transport obese people, according to the researchers.

Ref: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-7813435/Obesity-contributes-extra-700-MILLION-tons-carbon-dioxide-year.html

My photo - the other side

A public domain photo by me

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Authorities issue safety advisory on 17 models of Elmark ceiling fans, products being recalled

Enterprise Singapore on Monday (Dec 23) warned consumers to stop using certain models of ceiling fans by Elmark Marketing, due to safety hazards such as possible electrocution.

Elmark, which distributes fans in Singapore and has a store in Ubi, is recalling the 17 models in question “with immediate effect”, Enterprise Singapore said in its statement.

The ceiling fan models being recalled are:
  1. AC 4054
  2. E502 Aeratron
  3. EC 888
  4. EC 999
  5. ED 866
  6. EL03 Cane
  7. EL03 Leaf
  8. ELS 52 HHA
  9. EL 3888 Elegant
  10. ES 380S
  11. ES 803
  12. ES 803 Mini
  13. Fanaway
  14. Fantasy UFO 38
  15. V6 Mini
  16. V8 Jazz
  17. VIP 99

Read more @ https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/elmark-recalls-17-models-ceiling-fans-due-potential-safety-hazards-enterprise-singapore

Eating chili peppers can dramatically reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack

Adding a little spice to your life may be the key to living longer. Literally. A new report finds that chili peppers can have a dramatic effect on your heart health.

After the study’s lead author, Marialaura Bonaccio, an epidemiologist at the Mediterranean Neurological Institute, analyzed data from 23,000 residents of Italy, she concluded that eating chili peppers at least four times a week can reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack by 40% and your risk of dying from a stroke by more than 50%.  From the report:

“The notion that minor dietary changes, such as adding chilies to the usual diet, could be valuable measures for improving health, especially cardiovascular health, independent of overall diet quality.”

Ref: https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/eating-this-vegetable-can-dramatically-reduce-your-risk-of-dying-of-a-heart-attack

Your desk job may cause cellulite

Ref: https://www.tnp.sg/lifestyle/health/your-desk-job-may-cause-cellulite

Forum: Spare a thought for food deliverers

food delivery

Let's spare a thought for the food deliverers who are barely eking out a living from putting food right at our doorsteps, whatever the weather, all for our convenience (Rising popularity of food delivery comes with unwanted consequences, Dec 18).

We can be far more tolerant of their shortcomings and more empathetic towards their plight.

As part of the gig economy, their job lacks stability, they do not enjoy the benefits and welfare associated with a fixed job, and there is little potential for advancement.

Now, their life has become far more hazardous as the ban on e-scooters on footpaths has forced delivery riders onto the roads, where they must take their chances with fast-moving heavy vehicles.

If they are brusque and always seemingly in a hurry, theirs is the same kind of impatience we display when dealing with inefficient restaurant service and tardy people who get in the way without due consideration for others.

Considering that before the advent of present-day fast, good and cheap food delivery services, all we had on a rainy day to sate a growling stomach were instant noodles and leftovers, do have a ready smile for food deliverers when they appear at the doorstep - and don't forget to tip.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

Ref: http://str.sg/JTqU

Monday, 23 December 2019

Five minutes of daily HOPPING could protect postmenopausal women from broken hips

Hopping. Image for illustration only

Hopping for five minutes a day may protect older women from broken hips, a study has found.

The quirky exercises could strengthen bones in the legs, making them more dense and less likely to break.

Brittle bones, caused by a condition called osteoporosis which makes holes inside the bones, is a common issue for women who have been through the menopause.

Weight-bearing exercise is the best way to keep bones strong but older people are not always able enough to lift weights or run.

Ref: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-7776241/Five-minutes-daily-HOPPING-protect-postmenopausal-women-broken-hips.html

What are the early signs of lung cancer?

Lung cancer treatment is much more effective when the disease is in its earlier stages. However, most people with lung cancer do not experience symptoms until the disease has spread.

Possible signs and symptoms of early stage lung cancer
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • General fatigue
  • Shoulder, chest, or back pain
  • Hoarse voice

When to see a doctor

The symptoms above usually result from issues other than lung cancer. However, anyone who experiences any of the following issues should visit a doctor:
  • a cough that lasts longer than 2–3 weeks
  • a persistent cough that worsens
  • a cough that produces blood
  • aches or pains when breathing or coughing
  • persistent shortness of breath
  • persistent tiredness or fatigue
  • recurrent chest infections
  • unexplained weight loss

Ref: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327371.php#summary

I am a massage therapist, and this is the one spot you should target to release years of tension

The answer is simple: it is always the buttocks.

“The prime movers for this region that I love to focus on are the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and the piriformis, which sits under the glutes,” she says. “The glute region is responsible for keeping us upright and so much of the movement in our hips and legs. When balanced, they help us run fast and jump high. When imbalanced, this area can also be responsible for anything from shoulder pain to low back pain, sciatica, hip, leg, and even ankle issues.”

1) https://www.wellandgood.com/good-sweat/how-to-release-tension-in-the-body/
2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEqRoCJ6UAY
3) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2a0SdpR8VE
4) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp8KPPffIJw
5) https://j0035001-5.blogspot.com/2017/11/3-stretching-exercises-to-ease-your.html

You may want to read
1) Pelvic discomforts
2) Piriformis Syndrome 

3) Sciatic pain

My 2 cents:

About 80% of people with leg problems (especially the knees) are due to problems from the buttocks, not the legs. The 20% are due to accidents or inborn. If you have a leg problem and no doctors can do anything except asking you to go for surgery, try stretching your buttock muscles for a few months. They include piriformis muscle, sciatic nerve, pelvis (groin area) and lower back.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Eczema-suffering mother, 36, claims going VEGAN healed her flaky skin

An eczema-stricken mother claims going vegan healed her flaky skin which was caused by steroids and made her go into hiding.

For a decade, steroid creams had managed to keep her condition under control but the powerful drugs slowly stopped working.

But she began to suffer from flaky skin, severe itching and even hair loss as a result of giving up the drugs – known as topical steroid withdrawal (TSW).

Mrs Pierce, from Los Angeles, claims her doctor recommended she cut out foods including dairy, eggs, and gluten to test whether they would help.

Ref: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-7809283/Mother-two-claims-reversed-severe-eczema-vegan-diet.html

Vegans warned about vitamin B12 deficiency as doctors say health risks are not a 'myth'

Doctors have warned vegans to take the danger of vitamin B12 deficiency seriously – or potentially risk nerve damage, irreversible numbness and degeneration of the spinal cord.

The warning comes ahead of Veganuary, when more people take up the plant-based diet for the first month of the year.

Doctors are concerned many see the dangers of B12 deficiency associated with a vegan diet as a “myth” and urged them to read up on how to ensure they get enough of the vitamin if they continue past the first month.

However it takes several years to become deficient in the key vitamin, which can lead to neuropathy, nerve damage, irreversible numbness, and degeneration of the spinal cord.

Ref: https://sg.yahoo.com/news/vegans-warned-vitamin-b12-deficiency-005840012.html

You may want to read Vitamin B-12: Foods for Vegetarians

Why are there still tuberculosis cases in Singapore

With the exception of Japan, TB is endemic in Singapore as well as most other Asian countries - meaning it is regularly found and is common in these places.

Tuberculosis, also known as phthisis and the white plague, is an air-borne infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, who heads the Infectious Diseases Programme at Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, said that TB is primarily spread through the air by the cough of those with undiagnosed or untreated TB.

Experts contacted by TODAY said that there are several possible factors why this might be the case in Singapore:
  • Ongoing community transmission due to a delayed diagnosis for infectious cases
  • Reactivation of latent TB in an ageing population
  • A large immigrant workforce from countries with high TB incidence

Read more @ https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/explainer-why-are-there-still-tuberculosis-cases-in-Singapore-how-does-disease-spread

Switching to unleaded petrol 'may be behind dementia rates falling 15% each decade

Switching to unleaded petrol may be behind a decline in cases of dementia across Europe and North America, research suggests.

Ageing populations have meant more people than ever are living with the memory-robbing disorder.

But other studies have shown dementia rates have actually been falling by up to 15 per cent every decade, since the 1980s.

This date coincides with Governments switching to unleaded petrol, according to researchers from the University of Toronto.

Ref: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-7810811/Switching-unleaded-petrol-caused-dementia-rates-fall-15-year-Europe-North-America.html

Forum: Cost of hospital MRI higher than private clinic's

I am a retiree unhappy with my recent experience at Changi General Hospital (CGH).

I made an appointment with the orthopaedic department on Dec 16 to have my shoulder looked into. I did an X-ray and saw the doctor, who decided I needed a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to ascertain the severity of a suspected rotator cuff tear.

But the earliest appointment for the MRI was in late March. I was quoted $1,450 for it.

Because my shoulder was causing me a lot of discomfort and sleepless nights, I decided to do the MRI privately. I was able to get an appointment almost immediately and did the scan for less than $600, including goods and services tax.

I am puzzled by the difference in charges between CGH and the private imaging clinic I went to. What is the basis for CGH charging so much more for a similar service?

My concern is whether, besides the MRI, general hospitals are over-charging patients for other services. I hope the hospital and the Ministry of Health will look into reviewing healthcare charges.

Lim Chuan Poh

Ref: http://str.sg/JTkW

Thursday, 19 December 2019

This School Did A Germ Experiment With Bread And The Results Are Disturbing


Ref: https://www.buzzfeed.com/kristatorres/this-schools-moldy-bread-experiment-went-viral-after-it

Blue-light blocking glasses: Workday eye saver or wellness scam?

Image for illustration only

“Blue light aids in regulation of our body’s natural clock and promotes alertness and memory,” says optometrist Danielle Richardson, OD, at Los Angeles vision lab Zak. “It plays a role in our color perception and can also improve our mood; it’s sometimes used as a therapeutic treatment for seasonal affective disorder.”

But blue light’s energizing effects may backfire when we are subjected to it after dark since we spend our evenings gazing at LED devices like mobile phones, computers, tablets, and TVs, our exposure is higher than it is ever been. “There is some evidence that blue light from screens may affect the body’s circadian rhythm, our natural wake and sleep cycle,” says Rahul Khurana, MD, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

While there is some research connecting high doses of blue light with vision issues, the American Academy of Opthamology does not consider it compelling enough to worry the average person.

If you find wearing blue-light blocking glasses can help ease the discomfort of extended screen time, just make sure you are not wearing orange lenses that screen out 100% of blue light all day long, says Dr. Richardson - they could potentially mess with your circadian rhythm. (Sorry, BluBlocker fans.)

Ref: https://www.wellandgood.com/good-home/holiday-decorating-ideas-target/

Note: Lutein from food is a good blue light blocker.

You may want to read
1) Eye stroke
2) Blue light filters for your screens may not actually help you sleep better

Bacteria can become antibiotic-resistant by closing pores on their surface to stop drugs getting in

Scientists have discovered how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics and say they may be able to work out how to get past their defences.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, known as superbugs, are a deadly and growing concern as increasing numbers of people are contracting hard-to-treat illnesses.

Resistance has been listed as one of the World Health Organization's biggest threats to human health and already kills tens of thousands of people per year.

Research has revealed how bacteria close tiny pores through which antibiotics enter, stopping the drugs from getting in and destroying them.

Ref: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-7418465/Bacteria-antibiotic-resistant-closing-pores-surface-stop-drugs-getting-in.html

Two apples a day may keep heart disease away


Two apples a day could keep heart disease away, research suggests.

The popular fruit is rich in fibre and antioxidants. Long known to boost cardiovascular health, it was unclear how many apples we should eat to reap the benefits.

To learn more, scientists from the University of Reading looked at 40 volunteers, 22 of which were asked to consume two apples a day for eight weeks.

Munching on the fruit-bowl staple lowered the participants’ “bad” cholesterol by just under 4% more than the controls’.

Ref: https://sg.style.yahoo.com/two-apples-a-day-may-keep-heart-disease-away-130400656.html

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Two new drugs finally hit ‘undruggable’ cancer target: lung and colon

Image for illustration only

Cancer researchers are making progress toward a goal that has eluded them for more than 30 years: shrinking tumors by shutting off a protein called KRAS that drives growth in many cancer types. A new type of drug aimed at KRAS made tumors disappear in mice and shrank tumors in lung cancer patients, two companies report in papers published this week.

It’s not yet clear whether the drugs will extend patients’ lives, but the results are generating a wave of excitement. And one company, Amgen, reports an unexpected bonus: Its drug also appears to stimulate the immune system to attack tumors, suggesting it could be even more powerful if paired with widely available immunotherapy treatments. “This is a nice demonstration that [a combination of drugs] might actually work,” says KRAS researcher Channing Der of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

A second company, Mirati, also reported promising human results this week at a meeting and in a paper in Cancer Discovery. Its KRAS(G12C) inhibitor shrank tumors in three of six lung cancer patients, as well as in one of four colon cancer patients.

Read more @
1) https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/10/two-new-drugs-finally-hit-undruggable-cancer-target-providing-hope-treatments
2) https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amgen-cancer-amg510/amgen-drug-shrinks-lung-cancer-tumors-in-half-of-patients-study-idUSKCN1VT06O

Forum: Consider legislating funeral industry so public is more informed

The lack of accreditation of embalmers and the widely differing embalming standards in Singapore should greatly concern the public (All is not well in embalming world, Dec 15).

It was reported that the National Environment Agency (NEA) had asked some funeral firms for updated information on their embalmers, such as their embalming qualifications and if they had undergone the basic infection control training.

NEA should make public the revised list of undertakers and embalmers, and include the newly incorporated funeral businesses since October 2016. It should also make public the list of funeral parlours with embalming facilities, and make known the conditions of their embalming facilities in image or video form.

NEA should also spell out the requirements needed to engage in embalming work.

A comprehensive piece of funeral legislation to safeguard the interests of the public, consumers and business owners should be considered.

The Government should also consider introducing a fund, similar to the Maritime Cluster Fund, to help grow Singapore's funeral industry by co-funding the cost of funeral companies' development of manpower, training initiatives and certification.

The responsibility to enhance practice, education and service regulations naturally falls on the shoulders of the Association of Funeral Directors Singapore and funeral directors.

The association has called on the public to exercise due diligence when choosing a funeral director, but this is difficult when there is not enough information to do so.

Chen Jiaxi

Ref: http://str.sg/JSVb

You may want to read Forum: Revamp area where funeral companies are located - updated with reply from NEA

My photo - Christmas decorations 2019

A public domain photo by me

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Obesity could be linked to mental function: US study

New results from the largest long-term study of brain development and children's health raise provocative questions about obesity and brain function.

The new research does not settle the matter and outside experts have cautioned that misinterpreting it could unfairly perpetuate weight stigma.

But an editorial published with the study in Jama Pediatrics called it an important addition to mounting evidence of a link between weight, brain structure and mental function.

If follow-up research confirms the findings, it could lead to new ways to prevent obesity that target improved brain function.

Ref: https://www.tnp.sg/lifestyle/health/obesity-could-be-linked-mental-function-us-study

You may want to read Excessive body fat around the middle linked to smaller brain size, study finds

Ways to get more fibre into your diet

Ref: https://www.tnp.sg/lifestyle/health/ways-get-more-fibre-your-diet

Compare interest rates to help you save or make more money

It might seem like it would be most convenient to deposit money to an account or get a loan at the bank you use.

In reality, though, interest rates can vary a lot and have a big impact on how much you can save or make.


One challenge in Singapore, NUS adjunct researcher Jodi Gardner said, is that a lack of transparency about the cost of loans affects consumer’s abilities to benefit from competition. With moneylenders, for example, “it is very difficult (and in some cases impossible)” for borrowers in Singapore to compare rates, she said.

Comparison website Value Champion also noted that even some savings accounts can be “quite complex”, while comparison website SingSaver said that fixed deposit rates can also be “a little tricky to determine”.

The easiest way to compare interest rates on deposits and loans is to use a comparison website such as GoBear, iCompareLoan, MoneySmart or SingSaver.

Read more @ https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/compare-interest-rates-help-you-save-or-make-more-money

You may want to read Did you know that you can actually earn a million dollars with your CPF accounts?

My 2 cents
I retired early even though I did not earn much because I was able to earn 6 figures sum from CPF interest. By paying up my housing loan early, I was able to earn compound interest from CPF by transferring OA money (that I did not need for other use) to SA. You should try it.

You may not know the total interest you are going to earn, the easiest way to calculate is to add your OA and SA annual interests from CPF.  Times this amount by the remaining years till you are 55 and this is the estimated amount you earn from CPF interest. If it is too low, then you should try to transfer more money from OA to SA whenever possible.

Monday, 16 December 2019

This is the age people find the most meaning in their lives, study shows

BIG 6 0h!
Searching for meaning in your life? It may take longer than you think to find it.

A new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, looked at more than 1,000 adults ages 21 to more than 100 years old, who live in San Diego, Calif. They were given what’s called the Meaning in Life Questionnaire, which assesses both the presence of meaning and the search for meaning.

The researchers found a U-shaped curve, showing that people at age 60 reported the highest presence of meaning and lowest in searching for meaning — in other words, they had found their purpose. “The most common pattern is that as our levels of meaning in life are higher, we tend to search for meaning less,” Michael F. Steger, PhD, director of the Center for Meaning and Purpose and professor of counseling psychology and applied social and health psychology at Colorado State University, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. Steger, who was not involved with this study, researches meaning and developed the Meaning in Life Questionnaire.

Trying to find meaning in your life isn’t just some deep philosophical quest — it’s something that can affect both your physical and mental health.

Ref: https://sg.news.yahoo.com/this-is-the-age-people-find-the-most-meaning-in-their-lives-study-shows-223938607.html

25 again? How exercise may fight ageing

Regular exercise throughout adulthood may protect our muscles against age-related loss and damage later, according to an interesting new study of lifelong athletes and their thighs.

The study finds that active older men’s muscles resemble, at a cellular level, those of 25-year-olds and weather inflammatory damage much better than the muscles of sedentary older people.

“A lot of studies show that higher circulating inflammatory factors in people are associated with greater loss of muscle mass,” says Dr Todd Trappe, a professor of exercise science at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, who oversaw the new study with his brother Scott Trappe and other researchers.

Dr Trappe and his collaborators, who long have been studying the physiology of older athletes, also knew that physically fit people tend to have lower levels of inflammation in their bodies than inactive people.

Read more @ https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/04/well/move/exercise-aging-inflammation-muscles-age-seniors-elderly-older.html

You may want to read Surprise, surprise: Marathon running may be good for your knee

My photo - Heron landing

A public domain photo by me

Can drinking coffee actually reduce dementia risk?

A new study from The Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee says that drinking coffee may reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

“Research suggests that a higher intake of coffee and caffeine, up to 5 cups of coffee per day, could act as [a] preventative on [the] risk of developing neurodegenerative conditions, including Parkinson’s disease,” Elisabet Rothenberg, the lead author of the study and associate professor at Kristianstad University in Sweden, told The Mirror.

It’s important to note that, according to its website, members of the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (a not-for-profit organization), include six major European coffee makers.

That said, this isn’t the first study to look at coffee and neurodegenerative diseases. “There have been some scientific studies that have found a relationship between coffee consumption and a delay in the onset of Alzheimer's,” Keri Gans, registered dietitian and author of The Small Change Diet, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “However, more research is needed.”

Ref: https://sg.news.yahoo.com/can-drinking-coffee-actually-reduce-dementia-risk-002417229.html

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Victims of China officials impersonation scam cheated of S$18.8 million from Jan to Nov 2019: Police

At least S$18.8 million has fallen into the hands of people impersonating China officials as the number of such scams continued to surge this year, despite the authorities’ efforts to tackle the scourge.

In an advisory on Friday (Dec 13), the police said that between January and November of this year, at least 401 reports on such scams have been made.

This came despite several advisories from the police who had put up anti-scam posters across the island to warn the public about the scourge. The police had also set up an Anti-Scam Centre in June as scam cases had been on the rise.

In their latest advisory, the police said that the scams typically involve scammers who would impersonate as staff members from courier companies, telecommunication service providers, or officers from government organisations.

Read more @ https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/victims-china-officials-impersonation-scam-cheated-s188-million-jan-nov-2019-police

Lutein Can Prevent Age-Related Vision Loss and Cataracts

Lutein is a carotenoid, or a plant compound that gives some fruits and vegetables their rich yellow and orange colors, related to other nutrients like beta-carotene and vitamin A. It's a powerful antioxidant that defends the body against free-radicals that can harm our health. More specifically, lutein is recognized for aiding in long-term eye health, and getting enough of it in your diet is important!

Lutein can help your vision in more ways than one. Since our eyes are exposed to both oxygen and light, they become vulnerable to oxidative damage. Lutein specifically targets these types of free-radicals and cancels them out, protecting the precious cells in the eye.

It’s said that lutein and another carotenoid called zeaxanthin are the only ones that accumulate in the macular area located at the back of the eye. The macula is highly responsible for our vision, and high concentrations of lutein in the area can protect your eyes from oxidative damage as well as damage from blue light.

Studies have also shown that lutein and zeaxanthin can actually ward off age-related vision loss, and could even prevent the progression to blindness. Research also suggests that a diet rich in lutein could also halt the formation of cataracts, the cloudy patches that can develop on the surface of the eye, hindering vision and more.

Read more @ https://www.womansworld.com/posts/lutein-for-eyes-174025

Some Y chromosomes mysteriously DISAPPEAR in 44% of men by the time they reach 70

Men's Y chromosomes are disappearing as they get older and could be putting them at a greater risk of cancer, a study has found.

The Y chromosome is considered the male chromosome and women don't have it – they famously have XX chromosomes while men have XY.

But researchers have found many men are lacking Y chromosomes in some of their white blood cells, as well.

A study of 205,011 men in the UK found that more than four in 10 men (43.6 per cent) had lost a noticeable proportion of their Y chromosomes by the age of 70.

Read more @ https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-7764827/Y-chromosomes-mysteriously-DISAPPEAR-44-men-time-reach-70.html

Rubbing fingernails together stimulates hair growth and reverses graying

It is a popular belief among the practitioners of complementary medicine and Indian culture, that rubbing fingernails together can give you thick, dense and healthy hair.

This practice is known as Balayam: where bal means hair and vyayam means exercise. It is a yoga exercise but based on TCM acupressure points.

Doing the exercise worked for some, not all. But remember that exercising alone is not enough. Diet is also important for your hair growth.

Ref: https://www.hairbuddha.net/rubbing-fingernails-together-stimulates-hair-growth-and-reverses-graying/

You may want to read
1) Why are young sportsmen going bald?
2) Food to eat for thicker hair

3 magic words that will make you a master conversationalist

It was not until I launched my podcast over a year ago that I seriously started to invest in improving my ability to hold a conversation. My early episodes make me cringe—and I still have plenty of room for improvement.

But over the past 50+ episodes with world-class athletes, authors, and entrepreneurs, I have discovered three principles that can help anyone excel in the dying art of conversation.

Here they are.
  • Listen with this one goal in mind. - listen more to whom you are talking to
  • Say these three magic words - TELL ME MORE
  • Ignorance is bliss - be curious by asking dumb questions

Ref: https://heleo.com/3-magic-words-will-make-master-conversationalist/22972/

Friday, 13 December 2019

Breakthrough: NTU scientists devise method to turn plastic waste into valuable chemicals using sunlight

Asst Prof Soo Han Sen, from NTU’s School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, holds a vial with a mixture that dissolves plastic when combined with sunlight. Source: todayonline
Scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have devised a way to turn non-biodegradable plastic waste into valuable chemicals using sunlight.

The technique uses a low-toxicity “catalyst” to dissolve the plastic molecules through exposure to sunlight, said Assistant Professor Soo Han Sen, who led a team of five scientists on the project.

At a press conference on Wednesday (Dec 11), Asst Prof Soo said the process resulted in formic acid – a highly versatile natural chemical that can be used as a food preservative, antibacterial cleaning agent or in fuel cells for hydrogen energy.

“The market for formic acid is millions of tonnes every year,” said the chemist from NTU’s School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.

Read more @ https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/ntu-scientists-devise-method-turn-plastic-waste-valuable-chemicals-using-sunlight

Obituary: Ann Elizabeth Wee, 'founding mother' of social work in Singapore, dies aged 93

Mrs Ann Elizabeth Wee, often described as the founding mother of social work in Singapore, died on Wednesday (Dec 11), aged 93.

Tributes have flooded in for Mrs Wee, who for more than six decades championed social work and advocated for those less fortunate.

Described as an “inspiration to social workers and women everywhere” by the Singapore Women's Hall of Fame, Mrs Wee — the longest-serving head of the Department of Social Work at the National University of Singapore (NUS) — was also recognised for her work with children and young people.

Read more @ https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/ann-elizabeth-wee-founding-mother-social-work-singapore-dies-aged-93-0

My photo - waterhen flying

A public domain photo by me

Air pollution tied to hospitalizations for wide range of illnesses

Older adults who are exposed to tiny particles in air pollution for just a day or two are more likely to be hospitalized for a wide variety of common health problems, a U.S. study suggests.

Researchers focused on so-called PM 2.5, a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that can include dust, dirt, soot and smoke. They confirmed previously-known links between short-term exposure to PM 2.5 and an increased risk of hospitalization and death from heart and lung diseases, diabetes, and clots in the large veins of the legs. They also found new links between short-term exposure and increased hospitalizations for conditions ranging from sepsis to kidney failure.

The study team examined hospital data for Medicare patients nationwide from 2000 to 2012. They focused on 214 different health conditions, and looked at data on average air pollution levels the day before and the day of each hospitalization based on patients' home zip codes.

Read more @ https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/air-pollution-tied-to-hospitalizations-for-wide-range-of-illnesses-12169816

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Blood donors needed as Singapore’s stocks for all blood groups have fallen to low levels

The Singapore Red Cross (SRC) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) have launched a public appeal for blood donations to replenish the low blood stock here.

Stocks are low across all blood groups, SRC and HSA said in a joint statement on Wednesday (Dec 11).

To raise the supply to healthy levels, they will need:
  • 1,500 donors with group O blood type
  • 750 donors with group A blood type
  • 750 donors with group B blood type

To qualify as a donor, individuals have to be between 16 and 60 years of age, weigh at least 45kg, and have group O, A or B blood. Donors under 17 will need a signed parental consent form.

Read more @ https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/blood-donors-needed-singapores-stocks-all-blood-groups-have-fallen-low-levels