Saturday, March 27, 2010

Oral Sex Can Cause Head and Neck Cancers

There are more serious consequences of sexually transmitted diseases caught through oral sex than you can think of. It's not only the virus and the disease, but the virus can cause serious head and neck cancers.

The cases of head and neck cancer called oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) have risen sharply. These cases are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), as reported in the British Medical Journal.
HPV can be prevented using 2 vaccines, i.e. Cervarix and Gardasil. These vaccines should be given to girls before they become sexually active. This HPV is the cause of cervical cancer, which is the second most common cancer in women.

A new study has found that the oropharyngeal carcinoma was linked to those people with history of 6 or more lifetime sexual partners, 4 or more lifetime oral sex partners. And for men, is due to earlier age at first sexual intercouse.

And because of the above reason, it is suggested that the vaccines should be given to boys too. However, all in all, abstinence before marriage and safe sex should be exercised carefully.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

How To Store Cooked Rice Correctly To Avoid Food Poisoning

If you think cooked rice cannot give you food poisoning, you are totally wrong. Rice has spores of bacteria Bacillus cereus. This bacteria remain dormant in rice, and will get active if rice is added heat and water.

After cooking, the rice will cool down and this phase allows spores of Bacillus cereus to grow, producing toxin. If you reheat the rice, it can kill the bacteria, but the toxin remains in the cooked rice.

So if you cook rice, store what you don't eat in a container and put inside the fridge after the rice is not steaming anymore. You can keep this cooked rice in fridge for 3 days.

But if you let the cooked rice out of fridge and stay in room temperature for more than 4 hours, you should throw this rice away as it is no longer safe and can cause food poisoning.

Raw vegetables and spices also might contain this bacteria. So do the same thing to your curries.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Chocolate Mousse Can Cause Salmonella Poisoning

Happy New Year 2010! Best wishes for you all!
I have been and still away for holiday. I will try to squeeze in some time now and then to blog.

So for you guys who are still in holiday, relaxing your muscles, tension, and your brain, enjoying good food, please do watch out for what you eat. You certainly do not want to get food poisoning during your holiday.

When you are out and about, hanging out in some cozy cafe, served with most delicious chocolate mousse, keep this in mind that this seemingly safe chocolate mousse can give you salmonella poisoning, if it is not prepared and stored correctly.

The explanation behind this is that chocolate mousse is made with raw egg. If contaminated, any kind of foods made with raw egg become a breeding ground for salmonella bacteria if it is leaved at room temperature for more than 4 hours.

This is especially true when the unwashed eggshell is cracked open during cooking, the bacteria from the shell contaminate and grow in the egg at room temperature.

So watchout for chocolate mousse, ice cream, tiramisu, which are all made with raw egg. These foods should be stored in a fridge at or below 5 degrees Celcius.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Butter and Margarine: Which One is Better and Healthier Choice

I used to be confused when it comes to choosing between butter or margarine. Which one is better? And which one is better to avoid?

To understand this, first you must understand that there are 3 different types of fats:

  • Saturated : occurs naturally in animal foods such as butter. This fat raises LDL (bad) cholesterol in blood, which can clog artheries, thus lead to heart disease.
  • Unsaturated : monounsaturated fats (eg. canola and olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats (sunflower and safflower oils and omega-3 varieties). This fat lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • Trans-fat : naturally found in meat and dairy products. Type of trans-fat to watch out for is a synthetic trans-fat, which produced when vegetable oils are hardened in presence of hydrogen.

There are 2 ways of hardening oils:

  • Partial hydrogenation : produces elaidic acid (nasty trans-fat)
  • Complete hydrogenation : does not produce elaidic acid, but increases saturated fat level

Synthetic trans-fat mentioned above is the one we really have to avoid. This type of fat, raises LDL (bad) cholesterol and at the same time, lower your HDL (good) cholesterol.

In a nutshell, we should not take too much butter, margarine or spreads as they all contain saturated fats and are high in calories.

- Butter : almost 60$ saturated fat, but no synthetic trans-fat. Butter usually has 52 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams
- Margarine : usually has less than half the saturated fats of butter. In order to be labelled margarine, it must have a minimum percentage of unsaturated fats and a limited amount of saturated fat. The level of saturated fat may be as low as 11 grams per 100 grams or higher.
- Spreads : Less overall fat (more water) and much less saturated fat than buter, straight margarine or cooking margarine.
- Dairy spreads: combined butter and liquid vegetable oil, reducing saturated fat content but still higher than vegetable-based spreads. Dairy spreads have 19 to 35 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams
- Cooking margarines usually have 35 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams
- Vegetable shortening (such as copha) may have as much as 98 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams.

So watch out the next time you go shop. Check the labels carefully. But if you still prefer ones that contain high saturated fats, limit the consumption and take it as a rare treat.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Health Risks Of Rapid Weight Gain In First Three Months Of Life

I've seen some of my friends' babies, born at low birth weight, around 2,5 - 2,7 kg. These babies seem so fragile, with bony hands, bony legs, even can literally see all the ribs. Actually, low birth weight is not a good thing. This can mean small brains and small organs, which is not a good start to life.

Research from Netherlands suggests that regardless of birth weight, how rapidly a baby gains weight in the first three months is associated with the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes risk later on in early adulthood.

In the past, people have thought that the circumstances in the womb which led to low birth weight, were what predisposed these children to heart disease later in life.

This new study though, has found that young adults with fat tummies, low levels of good cholesterol (HDL), less sensitivity to insulin (important to combat diabetes), were significantly more likely to have had rapid weight gain during the first 3 months of their lives. Unfortunately, the records didn't show which children were breastfed or formula-fed.

The study also found that these young adults who were born with a low birth weight are quite short as adults.

So, for parents, do check your baby's weight gain against the weight gain chart to make sure there is no significant increase in weight gain. Also, try to breastfeed your baby longer, for at least 1 year if possible, as recommended by AAP.

For reference:

Leunissen RWJ et al. Timing and Tempo of First-Year Rapid Growth in Relation to Cardiovascular and Metabolic Risk Profile in Early Adulthood. JAMA 2009;301(21):2234-2242

Friday, October 23, 2009

Causes of Varicose Veins, Definitely Not Crossing Legs

I remember when I was younger, I was kept being told by parents and also friends, not to cross legs after exercising or after a long walk, as this can cause varicose veins. I didn't know how true that was, but I just followed their advice anyway. Oh well, until I read on this health article. Crossing legs does not cause or exacerbate varicose veins.

What is varicose veins? These are veins with weakened walls, which cause them to bulge above our skin surface. And this damage to the wall affects the vein's job of returning blood circulation to our heart. Varicose veins can cause itching, pains, and sometimes eczema and ulcers.

According to Dr Ken Myers, a Melbourne vein expert, crossing legs does not affect the risks of varicose veins or even spider veins (smaller veins). It does not make the varicose veins any worse either.

A study was conducted to look at the risk factors for varicose veins conditions, and none points to crossing legs.

One of the causes of varicose veins is genetics. But many other causes remains unknown yet. An increased pressure in veins is not a cause, according to this study. The study also dismiss the previous beliefs that varicose veins was caused by the backwards pressure of blood in the veins, blowing them up like a balloon. The study concluded that when the damage to the veins is already done, then the back pressure can become a factor, thus is not the initial cause of varicose veins.

Below is the list of myths that was believed to worsen varicose veins:

  • Crossing legs, as the pressure in veins is minimal, thus this habit does not worsen the existing condition

  • Smoking

  • Having high blood pressure

  • Wearing heels

The known factors to cause varicose veins condition to worsen is:

  • Standing for long period, as it increases pressure on veins and worsen the condition slightly

  • Pregnancy, probably due to hormonal changes

  • Obesity, no known reason why this worsen the condition

Treatment for varicose veins involving closing off the affected veins by removing and/or letting it absorbed by the body. This can be done by means of surgical or non-surgical. This procedure does not harm circulation because other veins can take over the job of veins that no longer carry blood. But this does not guarantee that other veins will not be affected by varicose veins.

What you can do in the meantime is to wear support stockings, as this reduces swelling nd discomfort. Especially for my preggar friends, do wear support stockings (as your gynae might have suggested to you already)!

Friday, October 16, 2009

We All Can Die From Broken Hearted

It hit me long time ago, as I saw in some families, when one member of the family (be it the parent or the child) died due to some reasons, the other member of family will also die in the following weeks. It occurred to me back then, whether there might be some logical explanation that can justify why the other member of the family can die too? Is it dying because of broken hearted? Because of unbearable grieve and sorrow?

It turned out that this actually has a logical explanation behind it. I saw the news several days ago about dying because of broken hearted.

The fact is, you can die when someone you love dies, especially if the person is your partner or your child. This is due to increased risks of heart attack, according to Dr Thomas Buckley, a researcher and lecturer at the University of Sydney.

Based on their research, the bereaved people experienced:

  • psychological symptoms such as anger, depression, anxiety.

  • physical symptoms such as reduced sleep, reduced appetite, increase in blood pressure and stress hormones, changes in immune system and blood clotting

The biological risk of heart attack is most intense in the first few weeks after the death of the loved one. But it decreases considerably 3 months after the death, and still continue to reduce down to 6 months (at this point, the researchers stopped measuring).

What's worth noting is that it's not just older people who are at increased risks of a heart attack. Younger people are also at significant high risks of a heart attack.

It is recommended for people to be prepared for death as this seems to be very important. And also having the right social support also helps greatly.