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How to add 14 more years to your life ?

While many in Singapore might be disillusioned about healthy living after seeing the sudden death last week (4th January) of Jimmy Nah, the healthy-looking 40-year-old comedian/actor who does not smoke or drink alcohol and have a clean bill of health, BBC this morning reported that a study shown “Taking exercise, drinking moderately, eating sufficient fruit and vegetables and not smoking can add as much as 14 years to your life”.

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The study between 1993 and 2006 by the UK’s Public Library of Science Medicine which involved 20,000 people aged between 45 and 79, suggested that regardless of how overweight or poor they were, they found those who failed on all criteria were four times more likely to have died than those who succeeded.

Participants were known during this period to be free from cancer or any heart problems.

The participants were awarded a point for :

1. not currently smoking
2. consuming between one and 14 units of alcohol per week (the equivalent of between half a glass and seven glasses of wine)
3. eating five servings of fruit and vegetables each day and not being inactive.

They found that the risk of

A 60-year-old person + score ZERO = a 74-year-old + FULL FOUR points

The conclusion was that many people through some simple changes can increase their lifespan as well as reduce their risk of dying from heart and circulatory disease as shown from the research participants.

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Are you killing your pets with your smoke ?

Pets are getting all kinds of cancers, no thanks to the smokers who passed the secondhand smoke to the hapless animals. 

Just a sidetrack – I am glad that there is no smoking in confined public places in Singapore. The most recently are the pubs. Secondhand smoke is attributed in the west with killing thousands of adult nonsmokers annually. No matter what is the figure in Singapore, kudos to our government for taking tough but well-appreciated progressive ban in public places. Since July this year, I can walk into any pub to have a nice cold beer and songs with business associates and friends and go home without smelling like a walking piece of shit.

But what about the private confined areas like the individual homes? While many smoking adults might not expose the secondhand smoke to their spouse or children, what about those irresponsible habitual smokers living with pets? 

Secondhand smoke kills cats fast

“Secondhand smoke has been associated with oral cancer and lymphoma in cats, lung and nasal cancer in dogs, as well as lung cancer in birds,” said Dr. Carolynn MacAllister, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service veterinarian. 

Cats that lived with smokers for five or more years had an even higher incidence of squamous cell carcinoma, simply known as mouth cancer.

Cats are twice as likely to have malignant lymphoma cancer compared to cats living in a non-smoking home. It is a type of cancer that occurs in the lymph nodes and is fatal to three out of four cats within 12 months of developing the cancer. 

MacAllister disclosed that one reason cats are so susceptible to secondhand smoke is because cats constantly lick themselves while grooming. By licking their fur, they expose the mucous membrane of their mouth to the cancer-causing carcinogens that accumulate on their fur.

What about dogs? 

MacAllister also pointed out that “a recent study conducted at Colorado State University shows that there is a higher incidence of nasal tumors in dogs living in a home with secondhand smoke compared to dogs living in a smoke free environment,”

She said. “The increased incidence was specifically found among the long nosed breed of dogs. Shorter or medium nosed dogs showed higher rates for lung cancer.” 

MacAllister said the longer nosed breeds of dogs have a great surface area in their noses that is exposed to the carcinogens. This also provides more area in which the carcinogens can accumulate. The carcinogens tend to build up on the mucous membranes of long nosed dogs so not as much reaches the lungs.

Unfortunately, dogs affected with nasal cancer normally do not survive more than one year

The reason short and medium nose dogs have a higher occurrence of lung cancer is because their shorter nasal passages aren’t as effective at accumulating the inhaled secondhand smoke carcinogens,” she said. “This results in more carcinogens reaching the lungs.”

What about birds? 

Pet birds also are victims of secondhand smoke. A bird’s respiratory system is hypersensitive to any type of pollutant in the air.

MacAllister said the most serious consequences of secondhand smoke exposure in birds are pneumonia or lung cancer. Other health risks include eye, skin, heart and fertility problems. 

Killing them at home without smoking  

Secondhand smoke is not the only danger faced by pets that live in smoke filled environments. Poisoning is another risk they face.

 “Curious pets can eat cigarettes and other tobacco products if the products aren’t stored properly,” MacAllister said. “When ingested, this can cause nicotine poisoning, which can be fatal.” 

It is important both for the health of pets and others living in the household, that the smoker has a designated area in which to smoke that is physically separated from the home. In addition, always keep cigarettes, cigarette butts and other tobacco products put away.

A better choice that could enhance your chances of enjoying a healthier lifestyle with your family and pets would be to stop smoking altogether,” MacAllister said. 

What’s in coffee drinking that lowers gout risk ?

There is no answer as it is not caffeine.

It is recently researched by the University of British Columbia that coffee (including decaffeinated) drinking (4 or more coffees a day) is more likely to have a much lower uric acid level in the blood.

I will take it that the kind of coffee mentioned in the research is the usual “diluted” “no-kick” morning coffee found in hotels and fast food restaurants and not those dark and strong kopi (coffee) that we drink in the kopitiam (coffee shop) in Singapore and other Asian countries. Drinking 4 or more local kopi per day even for a coffee drinker like me will be too much for my heart.

Normally, uric acid dissolves in the blood and passes through the kidneys and out of the body in urine. Uric acid comes from the breakdown of substances called purines. Although purines are found in all of our body’s tissues, uric acid can build up in the blood when a person eats too many foods high in purines, such as liver, dried beans and peas, and anchovies.

When the kidneys do not get rid of enough of the uric acid, it can later crystallize out of the blood into the joints. The result is gout, one of the most painful forms of arthritis. It can wake one up in the middle of the night with pain, swelling, heat and or stiffness in the joints in the big toe, ankles, heels, knees, insteps, wrists, fingers, etc.

A gout attack can be brought on by stressful events, too much beer, or eating too much red meat or drugs, or another illness. Early attacks usually get better within 3 to 10 days, even without treatment. The next attack may not occur for months or even years.

The main way to tackle the condition is to take anti-inflammatory pills, change diet and drink more water, or in more severe cases, to take more powerful drugs to reduce uric acid levels in the blood.

Researchers said that coffee drinking can lead to lower insulin levels in the blood, and that there is an established link between higher insulin levels and higher uric acid levels. However, high blood uric acid levels does not necessarily lead to gout attack as some people with high uric acid levels throughout life don’t suffer such attack.

So it looks like it is about not letting the uric acid crystallises out of the blood into the joints. That means healthy kidney, healthy diet with balanced purine-producing food. So, apart from my kopi-O (black coffee with sugar), I’m continuing with my daily consumption of Clerodendranthus Spicatus or Cat Whiskers tea and start drinking more red wine than beer.