Air travel comes at a price: Slightly elevated risk of cancer

Radiation doses from body scanners and baggage X-ray machines at airport security checks are minimal, compared to actual radiation exposure from the flight itself.

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In April, Mr Tom Stuker, 63, became the world’s most frequent flier, logging 18 million miles of air travel over the last 14 years.

If his travelling behaviour is typical of business fliers, he may have eaten 6,500 inflight meals, drunk 5,250 alcoholic beverages, watched thousands of inflight movies and made around 10,000 visits to airplane toilets.

He would also have accumulated a radiation dose equivalent to that of about 1,000 chest X-rays.

COSMIC RAYS COMING AT YOU

You might think the radiation dose comes from the body scanners and baggage X-ray machines.

But radiation doses from airport security checks are trivial.

The major source of radiation exposure is from the flight itself.

This is because at high altitude, the air gets thinner. The farther you go from the earth’s surface, the fewer molecules of gas there are per volume of space.

Thinner air means fewer molecules to deflect incoming cosmic rays – radiation from outer space.

In fact, it is the accumulation of radiation dose that is the limiting factor for the maximum length of manned space flights. Too long in space and astronauts risk cata- racts, cancer and potential heart ailments when they return home.

So, what would Mr Stuker’s cumulative radiation dose be and what are his health risks?

It depends entirely on how much time he has spent in the air.

Assuming an average flight speed of 550mph, his 18 million miles would translate into 32,727 hours or 3.7 years of flight time.

The radiation dose rate at typical commercial airline flight altitude of 35,000 feet is about 0.003 millisieverts per hour.

By multiplying the dose rate by the hours of flight time, we can see that Mr Stuker has accumulated about 100mSv dose of radiation.

The primary health threat at this dose level is an increased risk of some types of cancer later in life.

Studies of atomic bomb victims, nuclear workers and medical radiation patients have allowed scientists to estimate the cancer risk for any particular radiation dose.

Assuming that low doses have risk levels proportionate to high doses, then an overall cancer risk rate of 0.005 per cent per mSv is a reasonable estimate.

Thus, Mr Stuker’s 100mSv dose would increase his lifetime risk of contracting a potentially fatal cancer by about 0.5 per cent.

The question is whether that is a high level of risk.

Most people underestimate their risk of dying from cancer. Although the exact number is debatable, about 25 per cent of men ultimately contract a potentially fatal cancer.

Mr Stuker’s 0.5 per cent cancer risk from radiation should be added to his baseline risk – from 25 per cent to 25.5 per cent.

A cancer risk increase of that size is too small to measure in a scientific way, so it must remain a theoretical increase in risk.

If you want to know your cancer risk from flying, estimate your airline miles over the years.

If you have clocked 370,000 miles, you would have a 0.01 per cent increase in the risk of contracting cancer.

However, most people do not fly 370,000 miles, which is equal to 150 flights from Los Angeles to New York, within their lifetimes.

So, for the average flier, the increased risk is far less than 0.01 per cent.

List all the benefits that you have derived from your air travel, such as job opportunities, vacation travel and family visits, and look at your increased risk again.

If you think your benefits have been meagre compared to the elevated cancer risk, maybe it is time to rethink flying.

But for many people, flying is a necessity of life and the small elevated cancer risk is worth the price.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/air-travel-comes-at-a-price-slightly-elevated-risk-of-cancer

The surprising number of American adults who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows

Seven percent of all American adults believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows, according to a nationally representative online survey commissioned by the Innovation Center of U.S. Dairy.

If you do the math, that works out to 16.4 million misinformed, milk-drinking people. The equivalent of the population of Pennsylvania (and then some!) does not know that chocolate milk is milk, cocoa and sugar.

 

For decades, observers in agriculture, nutrition and education have griped that many Americans are basically agriculturally illiterate. They don’t know where food is grown, how it gets to stores — or even, in the case of chocolate milk, what’s in it.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/06/15/seven-percent-of-americans-think-chocolate-milk-comes-from-brown-cows-and-thats-not-even-the-scary-part/?utm_term=.f7e1c9540535&wpisrc=nl_az_most&wpmk=1

 

Ozone therapy treatments now banned in Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry today announced the ban on ozone therapy treatments as it could lead to severe medical complications.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said a health technology assessment carried out by the Malaysian Health Technology Assessment Section (MaHTAS) revealed there was no scientific evidence to support any therapeutic benefits from the therapy.

“Moreover, the therapy exposes the users to risks of bleeding from the usage of heparin (blood thinning medicine), embolism (blockage of blood vessel from air bubbles), and infection from non-sterile instruments.

“It could also lead to permanent disability resulting from impairment of organs such as the kidneys,” he told reporters today.

As such, the ministry views the practice of ozone therapy seriously, he added.

He said the therapy claims to rejuvenate one’s skin and beauty, whiten complexion and slow the ageing process.

Dr Subramaniam also said the usage of the ozone therapy machine has also never been approved.

“Under the Medical Device Act 2012, the machine is defined as a medical device which must be registered with the Medical Device Act (MDA).

“Therefore, any establishment, manufacturer, importer or distributors who import or place the machines in the Malaysian market need to apply for an establishment licence and register the licence under the Act.

https://www.nst.com.my/news/government-public-policy/2017/05/236163/ozone-therapy-treatments-now-banned-malaysia

14-year-old girl unable to straighten her neck after excessive mobile phone usage

Spending too much time on our mobile devices brings a slew of potential health problems, including worsening eyesight or disrupted sleep due to direct and prolonged blue light exposure from phone displays, or ‘text claw’, where users’ fingers feel stiff and cramped after continuously using their phones.

However, a less well-known but no less serious impact of mobile phone usage would be the stress exerted on the neck.

A 14-year-old girl from Shandong, China is no longer able to straighten her neck as the bone alignment in her upper spine has been deformed, reported New Tang Dynasty Television.

Her neck was reported to be like that of a 50-year-old person’s.

http://health.asiaone.com/health/body-mind/14-year-old-girl-unable-straighten-her-neck-after-excessive-mobile-phone-usage

Enter hospitals alive, exit dead – BN MP jabs deputy minister

Read more:  http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/374943

PARLIAMENT:    A BN lawmaker grilled Deputy Health Minister Dr Hilmi Yahya over hospital equipment and lack of specialist doctors, claiming that in remote areas in Sarawak, those who go to hospitals end up dead.

“In government hospitals, if an equipment breaks down, it is not a matter of how many days (to fix it) but months.

“In Bintulu, if patients want to meet specialists, they have to wait for months (too).

“In Sarawak’s remote areas, people walk in to the hospitals, but leave on a trolley. They are gone (dead),” said Tiong King Sing (BN-Bintulu).

He had initially asked how much the Health Ministry was spending to improve the infrastructure of rural hospitals, as well as the reasons why hospital equipment were not well maintained.

In his reply, Hilmi said the ministry was facing challenges with their equipment because it was often old or in need of maintenance.

On the upside, Hilmi said that in 2016, the uptime for hospital equipment was at 98 percent, with some exceptions where spare parts had to be procured from overseas.

He added that the Health Ministry was constantly monitoring the maintenance of hospital equipment to ensure that it is done properly and quickly.

As for specialists, Hilmi said the Bintulu hospital had 10 such doctors.

Tiong, however, disputed this.

“This answer is wrong. There are no specialists in Bintulu. All the experts go to Kuching or Sibu, don’t ‘kong kali kong’ (say empty words) again,” he said.

Tiong also rubbished Hilmi’s answers on equipment maintenance and drew parallels between the low quality of maintenance and the state of the newly re-opened and renovated parliament building.

“This House is new, but if we step on the carpet too much, the carpet fuzz comes out,” he said, describing it in Malay as “kalau kita pijak lebih-lebih di karpet sana, dia keluar bulu, bulu-bulu keluar.”

“This is not quality, this is low quality and hospitals are the same,” he added.

His comments about carpet fuzz confused deputy speaker Ismail Mohammad Said at first, who said he did not hear the remarks properly.

This provided Tiong with another chance to take a swipe.

“This is the problem with our sound system, when the mouth is near (the microphone) you can (hear what is said) but if you are far then you can’t hear,” he added.

 

 

Many housemen get culture shock

PETALING JAYA: Many housemen serving in government hospitals are ill prepared for the harsh realities of the job, according to a senior government doctor.

“They get a culture shock,” he told FMT, adding that this was especially true of those trained overseas.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said the interns didn’t realise, until they joined the service, that they would have to work long hours and to be at the bottom of the food chain, which would mean taking instructions even from nurses.

“Some come in thinking they will have a nice air-conditioned office, that they don’t have to run around and do certain things because those are nurses’ jobs,” he said.

“There are even some who can’t stand the sight of blood.

“There are also those who are just going through the motions to complete the housemanship. They don’t have the passion to become a doctor.”

Chief Secretary to the Government Ali Hamsa recently disclosed that housemen made up the highest number of civil servants served with termination notices. He said their inability to deal with the pressures of working in a public hospital caused many of them to disappear from work for days, at times hundreds of days.

Speaking of the long working hours for interns, the senior doctor said this was necessary because their large numbers meant that they tended to get less exposure to a doctor’s duties.

“If they want exposure and experience, they have to work long hours,” he said. “But this is a journey a houseman must go through. Doctors make life and death decisions and you must have the knowledge and experience to make those calls.”

He agreed with Ali that interns who couldn’t cope with the pressure would go absent. Because of this, he said, it was good that the government now employed some housemen as contract workers.

Last year, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that from December 2016, some 2,600 medical graduates who couldn’t find placement as interns could work at government hospitals on contract.

A news report in 2014 said about 7,000 students graduated as doctors annually from more than 300 locally and internationally recognised universities but only 5,000 housemanship slots were available each year.

Another doctor who declined to be named agreed that many housemen suffered a culture shock, but he said most of those he had come across could adapt.

“From what I have seen, the problem is isolated,” he said. “I’ve yet to see a houseman being sacked for discipline problems.

“Of course you will have some with an attitude problem. Essentially, housemen are interns and with interns in all industries, you’re going to get some bad interns. But most of those I’ve met are okay.”

 

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/02/16/many-housemen-get-culture-shock/

 

End of the road for 65-year-old traditional Chinese medicated tea stall

GEORGE TOWN, Feb 16 ― Back in 1953, a young couple started selling Chinese medicated tea from a pushcart stall along Cintra Street.

Chan So Han and her husband, Lim Ah Kong, did that for 38 years before the latter died in 1991, leaving Chan to fend for herself and their eight children.

Chan almost wanted to give up the stall but she thought of the four younger children who were still studying and needed her support.

“One had just started studying in Universiti Sains Malaysia, another was halfway through his course in university so I had to continue selling medicated tea,” she said.

With the help of her second and fourth daughters, she continued to operate the roadside stall at Cintra Street before finally opening Shong Hor Hin Medicated Tea at a shophouse along Kimberley Street.

“We opened the shop in 1995 so finally we didn’t have to be subjected to weather conditions,” the 85-year-old said.

One of her daughters continued to operate the roadside stall until she closed it a few years ago.

Chan said she would not have been able to continue without the support of her family: her father Chan Swee Foo who taught her the recipes for her medicated teas, her mother who babysat all her eight children over the years and her grandmother who helped her boil the tea.

Swee Foo was a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner who imported herbs from China and sold Chinese medicines and herbs.

“Operating this stall was hard labour with barely enough rest in between operation hours,” Chan said.

Even when her husband was still alive, they woke up at 6am to start preparing the ingredients for the teas and boiling them in large pots.

“The foo cha takes five hours to boil so we have to start preparing really early,” she said.

The foo cha (which is Cantonese for bitter tea) is known as kor teh in Hokkien. She also had to prepare the tek chia (bamboo cane tea) and kek hwa teh (chrysanthemum tea).

“Our stall opens till late, usually 1am, and when we push the stall back, we have to clean and wash everything before going to sleep and then after after a few hours, the day starts again,” she said.

It is much easier at the shop as she no longer has to push the cart back but the work involved remains the same although in the last two decades, her daughters helped her in most of the operations.

Saying goodbye

It was not an easy decision for Chan to call it quits especially when she had kept the business going for 65 years.

“My children and grandchildren kept telling me to close it down as they felt it was time I retire and rest instead of working so hard each day preparing the ingredients and the teas,” she said.

The oldest of her children is 63 years old, and her two daughters who had always helped her in the business also wanted to retire.

“They both needed to rest, they’ve helped me since small, they’d come back from school, eat, finish their homework and automatically help me at the stall,” she said. Both are already in their 60s and 50s now.

“I am old. I am 85 years old, I can’t keep going on like this, what if I fall down? Although it breaks my heart to close a business that I spent almost my whole life doing, I have no choice.

“As with everything in life, there must be an ending and this is the end of the road for the shop. I started it with my husband so now it is up to me to close it and say goodbye,” she said.

The shop closed on January 26 and to “protect” her regular customers’ feelings, instead of a notice of closure, she put up a “temporary closure” notice at the entrance.

“I don’t want my customers to celebrate Chinese New Year with such bad news so I termed it as temporary closure. This is so that they will think we are only taking some time off to rest,” she said when met at the shophouse along Kimberley Street.

Even as she tells us stories of her medicated tea stall at the shophouse, some regular customers saw the open doorway and stepped in to ask her when she would open again.

Each time she turned them away gently, telling them she needed to take a break and that she doesn’t know when the shop will open again. Each time she thanked them profusely for their support.

“You know the most heartbreaking thing about closing this shop are my regular customers. They have been with us for so many years, they keep coming back and supporting us, I feel so sad to let them down this way,” she said.

Chan has 18 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren but none of her grandchildren are interested in taking over the business.

“All of them have their own careers, I think each month, they probably earn more than what I earn each year from this shop,” she said.

She added that they have all seen how much work and the hours she put in each day for the shop and were not interested in it.

As with most traditional trades within George Town where businesses are operated on the ground floor while the owners live upstairs, Chan still lives on the first floor of the shophouse and will continue living there with one of her sons.

“All my pots and kettles I used are still here, I have yet to dispose of them, we will see what to do with these later. For now, I rest and truly retire after so many years,” she said.

The Shong Hor Hin Medicated Tea stall was one of the traditional trades in George Town that make up the living heritage of the Unesco heritage site.

It is one of many such trades that are slowly giving way to urbanisation and simply, a lack of interest among the younger generation to carry on.

 

– See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/end-of-the-road-for-65-year-old-traditional-chinese-medicated-tea-stal#sthash.Zfs8qDWo.dpuf