cardiovascular


Its advertisements were pretty attractive in English and Chinese. Its target market is practically the whole world of people (yes, it has Halal certification to cater to the world’s Muslim community) with “Symptoms of Cell Deterioration” – nocturia, lethargy, urinal disability, arthritis, incompetence, fatigue, skin aging, obesity, cold-averse). Its news coverage is all over the Internet. It had been sold through the Internet and possibly through multi-level-marketing (MLM).

Some of its online promotions have even stated that a certified laboratory in Singapore has tested that it is not adulterated withAphrodisiac Western Medicines or Illegal Drug Ingredients” and that it was “categorized as food and no MAL number is required” (MAL number is a approval number issued by the Ministry of Health of Malaysia). As listed on some promotional pages, it is stated that its main ingredient is the “Ginseng of The Desert” (Cynomorium Songaricum ) which “Helps invigorates the kidney and supplements essence for kidney YANG and insufficiency of blood manifested as impotence, nourishes the intestine and relaxes the bowels“. Other ingredients include “Ginseng Extract, Hydrolysed Protein, Enzyme, Pomegranate, Polyphenol, Malt“.

Why then would post-market analysis by the Health Science Authority (HSA) of Singapore proved otherwise for Mentalk, “The World First Energizing Candy” ? HSA’s press release on their website stated they found the presence of “Aminotadalafil, which is chemically similar to tadalafil,” It “can cause serious adverse reactions such as heart attacks and strokes in susceptible individuals. Heart patients who are on nitrate drugs may suffer severe hypotension which may be fatal.

What is more worrying as HSA put it was that As the product is marketed as a food-like item, there is potential danger to the wider population if the candy is unwittingly eaten by consumers, including teenagers and young children. . One of its advertisement stated “One world, One Candy”.

As of this writing, follow-up actions by HSA and relevant authorities are underway.

Is it a case of trying to cheat passed the health authorities by submitting a truly safe sample for the lab test and then launching the adulterated version ? If so, it really took guts to have so many ads and one of them to state that “Mentalk does not contain any steroid, western or illegal drug ingredients”.

Or is this a case of product that fell short of its effectiveness after launching and thus with the pressure to maintain the growth plan after pouring some much into the marketing of it, a decision was made to “refine” the product resulting in the adding of extra undeclared ingredients into the formula? If so, it is really foolish to do it in countries like Singapore where our HSA and AVA (Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority) are very proactive in conducting post-market survey and analysis of products, especially those that are too good to be true. HSA has been doing public education and awareness campaign.

Oh, I am surprised that Mentalk had included the actual Singapore ALS Laboratory report in their advertisement. Didn’t the report has the same statement “This report cannot be used for advertising purposes.” printed at the top of each of their test reports just like those from laboratories of HSA and SGH (Singapore General Hospital), etc.

Well, Members of the public are strongly advised not to buy or eat ‘Mentalk’ candy. If they have already purchased the candy, they should throw it away immediately. If they feel unwell after eating this candy, they are urged to seek medical advice as soon as possible.

For more update on this candy issue, visit http://www.hsa.gov.sg

Can 4 Red Bull really kill a man ?

2 years ago, a Bolivian man working in Oxfordshire, UK died of heart attack after consuming 4 cans of the ‘It gives you wings’ energy drink, Red Bull

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Last week, Oxfordshire coroner recorded a verdict of “death by unascertained natural causes” which he compared the death to sudden adult death syndrome which is linked to cardiac illness.

What killed Alfredo Duran since the coroner stated that he was healthy and Red Bull has such a long sale record as far back as 1982 and had since sold 3.5 billion drinks in 140 countries in 2007?

Overdose of caffeine and an enlarged heart are probably the resultant cause.

As he had to work up to five night shifts a week, 40-year-old Alfredo, a father-of-two was known to consume at least 4 cans of the Red Bull each night. The amount of caffeine found in him although not fatal by itself, could have triggered a card­iac arrest for someone who has already an enlarged heart. According to the pathologist, this will not have any effect in people with a normal heart.

Looking at a chart from the American Beverages Association, taking a can of Red Bull is pretty close to a cup of instant coffee (hmm, Sprite & 7-Up no caffeine).

Although caffeine is not addictive, a consumer may go for additional can of energy drink to stay awake once he starts to lose that peppy feeling.

However, it is also known that when people take too much caffeine, side effects like nervousness, insomnia and elevated blood pressure will be experienced. That being the case, one can imagine how it will be like downing 4 cans of the Red Bull. In fact, some countries banned it because of fears of causing high blood pressure.

Still, Red Bull said that “clin­ical tests and toxicological evaluations by independent experts had concluded it was safe to drink for adults” . Just don’t drink more than 2 cans, they said. Understandably, they are in a market which according to market research firm ACNielsen clocked $4.7 billion in 2007 up from $3.5 billion in 2006 and expecting to grow to $10 billion by 2010.

Yes, many consumers will swear by it as several studies have indicated that energy drinks may help boost cognitive performance, verbal reasoning and attention levels. However, other experts are saying that there is nothing unique in them that sustain the alertness. Rather, it is the work of the high sugar and caffeine in them which one can easily get from other sources like coffee and candy bars.

For me, no coffee during my “night-shift” writing this blog. I will just head for the aromatic kopitiam’s coffee-O in the morning.

Every day, over 5 Singaporeans suffered heart attack (2,000 per year). 50% of them died when proper medical help cannot arrive on time. Shocking ?

This is case of MC King, although the actual cause of his death resulting in “breathing difficulties” is awaiting the coroner’s report. Few days ago, a Chinese evening daily reported that a healthy fat Indian working in Singapore suffered breathing difficulties as he was riding on his motorcycle back to Johor Baru (Malaysian city across from Singapore) and died soon of heart failure. Heath Ledger, the Academy Award-nominated Australian actor is now suspected of dying from heart attack instead of drug overdose.

No one will die from cancer instantly, but when the heart stops pumping, that can the end of it! So what is the point of just having the best brain?

Heart disease is now the NUMBER 2 killer in Singapore, closing in cancer. In the USA & Europe, heart disease has already dethroned cancer as the #1 killer.

According to the “State of Health 2001” report, it showed that heart disease accounts for 26.3% death; that is 1in 4 persons. In the USA, it is only 1 in 5. Scary huh ?

If anyone has one or more of these major risk factors (identified by the World Heart Federation) which is associated with coronary heart disease and stroke such as smoking, alcohol consumption, high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity, unhealthy diets, he/she is likely to add to this statistics.

According to the same report, 27.3% of Singaporeans are hypertensive; 58% are physically inactive during their leisure; and 24% are overweight, of whom about 6% are obese.

That is 7 years ago, based on the modern increasingly “unhealthy” living and the deteriorating mother earth, what will be the statistics now ?

On 16th November 2007, the Prime Section’s headline of the Straits Times, “Want to slim down? Don’t count on weigh-loss drugs” would have a lot of Singaporeans and those reading in the air (e.g. Singapore Airlines) fitting their eyes on this piece of news.

What a great catchy headline as many Singaporean particularly the female population considered themselves overweight, judging by the continuous flood of slimming advertisements in all appropriate local media. Is this to wake Singaporean up as their online version was not punchy – Weight loss drugs may slim users down – but at high costs” ?

It has been reported obesity and overweight affect over 1.1 billion individuals worldwide and are highly and increasingly prevalent chronic conditions associated with premature mortality, chronic morbidity, and increased healthcare use.

Apart from traditional non-medicinal herbal options, the commonly used treatments are through the use of anti-obesity drugs such as orlistat, sibutramine and rimonabant. They are approved for long term treatment of obesity and choked up an estimated US$1.2 billion in global sales in 2005. The 3 drugs are prescribed for severe cases of obesity as obese people can reduce their risk of getting diabetes by 30 to 40 percent if they were to lose 4 kg.

Orlistat also known as tetrahydrolipstatin is marketed under the trade name Xenical. Its primary function is preventing the absorption of fats from the human diet, thereby reducing caloric intake.

Sibutramine is marketed under the trade name Meridia in the USA and Reductil in Europe and other countries. It acts by increasing serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain. The S$4 pill makes the patients feel full with less food and is needed to be taken for between 6-12months.

Rimonabant which is also known as Accomplia, Riobant, Slimona, Rimoslim, Zimulti and SR141716, is an anorectic anti-obesity drug. Its main avenue of effect is the reduction in appetite. On 15 June 2007 the BBC News reported that a committee advising the US FDA has voted not to recommend the drug’s approval because of concerns over suicidality, depression and other related side effects associated with use of the drug.

The Straits Times report was following up on the British Medical Journal’s article published a day ago on their meta-analysis that :-

  • 30 per cent of patients on Xenical lost an average of 3 kgs and had unpleasant digestive and intestinal side effects, such as incontinence.
  • Patients on Reductil lost 4 kgs and had improved cholesterol levels. But up to 20 percent suffered from raised blood pressure and pulse rates, insomnia and nausea.
  • Patients on Accomplia lost the most weight – 5 kgs on average. Their blood pressure and cholesterol levels also improved but their risk of mood disorders rose 6 percent.

Straits Times reported that another study released on Friday by a different medical journal, The Lancet, found that patients on Accomplia were far more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and, in severe cases, suicidal tendencies.

Thus the conclusion from the BMJ article is that “Orlistat, sibutramine, and rimonabant modestly reduce weight, have differing effects on cardiovascular risk profiles, and have specific adverse effects.”