Unhealthy eating is linked to 400,000 US deaths per year: Study

MIAMI — Unhealthy eating habits can be blamed for more than 400,000 US deaths a year due to heart disease and related illnesses, researchers said Thursday (March 10).

The problem is twofold: Americans are eating too much salty, fatty and sugary fare, and not enough fruit, vegetables and whole grains, experts said at a meeting of the American Heart Association in Portland, Oregon.

“Low intake of healthy foods such as nuts, vegetables, whole grains and fruits combined with higher intake of unhealthy dietary components, such as salt and trans fat, is a major contributor to deaths from cardiovascular disease in the United States,” said lead study author mr Ashkan Afshin, assistant professor of global health at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Trans fat has been largely phased out of the food supply, but can still be found in some margarines, biscuits, cookies, frosting and other processed foods.

If Americans were to alter their eating habits, many lives could be saved, Mr Afshin said.

“Our results show that nearly half of cardiovascular disease deaths in the United States can be prevented by improving diet.”

The study was based on data from a variety of sources going back to the 1990s, including the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

More than 600,000 people die annually because of heart disease, or one in four of all US deaths.

Smoking, obesity, diet, exercise and hereditary factors can all contribute to person’s likelihood of developing heart disease.

By examining data on US cardiovascular deaths in 2015, researchers found that dietary choices played a role in the deaths of an estimated 222,100 men and 193,400 women.

Experts at the American Heart Association encourage people to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish and poultry.

People should avoid or limit their intake of fatty or processed red meat, sugary soft drinks, salt, saturated and trans fats. AFP

http://www.todayonline.com/world/americas/unhealthy-eating-linked-400000-us-deaths-year-study

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.

 

 

Breast cancer study shows soy reduces the risk of mortality

LOS ANGELES, March 7 — A new study published in the journal of the American Cancer Society, Cancer, encourages breast cancer patients to increase their chances of survival by eating soy foods.

According to an American study conducted by Tufts University, Massachusetts, isoflavones contained in soy, which have the capacity to mimic the action of estrogen, can improve the prognosis for women affected by an aggressive form of breast cancer.

In the wake of of several controversial studies on this topic, which affirmed that these phytoestrogen compounds reduced the efficacy of hormone therapy and contributed to the growth of cancer cells, researchers at Tufts sought to evaluate the impact of dietary soy on the risk of mortality among breast cancer patients.

Of the 6,235 American and Canadian women who were monitored by the study for a period of nine years, those who had a high intake of dietary soy benefited from a 21 per cent lower risk of dying when compared with participants who consumed smaller quantities.

This protective effect of soy was largely confined to patients suffering from hormone receptor-negative tumors and to a lesser extent, patients who were not treated with anti-estrogen therapy.

In contrast to previous studies, a high intake of soy was not associated with higher levels of mortality among hormone therapy patients, point out the researchers.

Approximately 20 per cent of breast cancers are of the hormone receptor-negative (HR-) variety, which is more aggressive and has a lower survival rate than hormone receptor-positive (HR+) cancer.

To increase their chances of survival, the researchers recommend that women consume soy-rich foods as part of a balanced diet, take regular exercise, reduce their alcohol intake, avoid smoking and take steps to manage their levels of stress.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. — AFP-Relaxnews

– See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/features/article/breast-cancer-study-reports-that-soy-reduces-the-risk-of-mortality-by-21pc#sthash.gKhWkw4F.dpuf

Exercise more effective than meds at relieving fatigue for cancer patients

Psychological interventions, such as therapy to help change personal behavior and the way a person thinks about his or her circumstances, also had a similar, beneficial effect.

Exercise could be a more effective way of reducing cancer-related fatigue than medications suggests new research published this week in JAMA Oncology.

Led by the Wilmot Cancer Institute at the University of Rochester in the state of New York, the study analyzed more than 11,000 patients across 113 unique studies that tested various treatments for cancer-related fatigue.

All were randomized clinical trials, the highest standard for evaluating effective treatments.

Nearly half of the studies’ participants were women with breast cancer, with ten studies focusing on other types of cancer and including only men.

All of the participants suffered cancer-related fatigue, the most common side effect during and after cancer treatment.

This type of fatigue is different from being chronically tired, explains lead author Karen Mustian, and is a “crushing” sensation that’s not relieved by rest or sleep and that can persist for months or even years.

Even more concerning, Mustian explained, is that this fatigue can decrease a patient’s chances of survival because sufferers are less likely to complete medical treatments, with the National Cancer Institute putting cancer-related fatigue as a top research priority.

After analyzing the data, Mustian and her team found that exercise alone — including both aerobic or anaerobic — had the most significant effect on reducing cancer-related fatigue.

Psychological interventions, such as therapy to help change personal behavior and the way a person thinks about his or her circumstances, also had a similar, beneficial effect.

However, perhaps surprisingly, studies which looked at a combination of exercise and psychological therapy had mixed results, with the researchers unable to say for sure what is the best combination of both to make them effective.

With exercise and/or psychological therapy working better than medications used for treating cancer-related fatigue, the team now believe that these methods should be recommended first to patients.

“The literature bears out that these drugs don’t work very well although they are continually prescribed,” commented Mustian, “Cancer patients already take a lot of medications and they all come with risks and side effects. So any time you can subtract a pharmaceutical from the picture it usually benefits patients.”

“If a cancer patient is having trouble with fatigue, rather than looking for extra cups of coffee, a nap, or a pharmaceutical solution, consider a 15-minute walk,” she suggested.

Mustian has been studying exercise and cancer alongside Wilmot colleagues for almost 15 years. Much or her work looks at gentle yoga, walking, resistance bands, and other forms of movement to help ease side effects.

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/leisure/2017/03/05/exercise-more-effective-than-meds-at-relieving-fatigue-for-cancer-patients/

 

1 in 4 males, and 1 in 5 females are likely to get cancer by 75 years old

From a Straits Times article by Ms Salma Khalik1, the National Registry of Diseases Office reported 13,241 cancer cases in 2014, with lung cancer being the deadliest type of cancer. Over a period of 5 years, from 2010 to 2014, out of 6,899 people diagnosed with lung cancer 5,732 died of it.

The incidence rate can be rather high for some types of cancer as shown in the table below, data from Singapore Cancer Society2.

Top 3 cancer by gender:

Men % Women %
Colorectal 17.2% Breast 29.2%
Lung 115.0% Colorectal 13.3%
Prostate 12.2% Lung 7.6%

A general word of advice, if you find anything unusual with your body, seek proper medical advice. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment of cancer (or any critical illness for that matter), the better your chances of making a good recovery.

For more:  http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/more-people-getting-cancer-since-2010

 

 

 

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