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“Buyers beware” is not a new message but does many care ? When come to purchasing health & wellness products, you better be safe than sorry.

Today’s “Today” newspapers reported that “According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than half the pills sold online are fakes”.

Offline in the streets, fake medicine are rampant too. It was reported that “In Indonesia, about a quarter of all medicine sales are fakes. In the Philippines, it is 30%; in India, 20%; in Cambodia, 13%; and in China, 8%”.

Internet is definitely a convenient and private way of shopping, but when faced with any issue such as fakes or those that are adulterated with dangerous or undeclared substances, who can the user go after? Definitely not WHO!

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The Internet is so convenient, so easy but yet it is so dangerous.

It came to light in Singapore that a man and a woman in their early 20s had suffered symptoms of psychosis such as hearing of voices, hallucinations, confusion and thyrotoxic symptoms such as anxiety and increased heart rate after using a product named Relacore, a product they bought over the Internet.

So what is wrong with this anti-‘belly fat and stress control’ dietary supplement?

This product was not declared to have included a Western drug, a potent substance known as Sibutramine. Sibutramine is a prescription drug marketed under trade names such as Meridia in the USA, Leptos in India, Reductil (read Want to slim down? Don’t count on weigh-loss drugs) in Europe and other countries. It is used as an appetite suppressant in the management of obesity. That means that it works by making you feel more ‘full’ with less food (it reduces appetite and enhances satiety).

On Wikipedia, it is documented that frequent encountered side effects from sibutramine are: dry mouth, paradoxically increased appetite, nausea, strange taste in the mouth, anorgasmia and delayed ejaculation, upset stomach, constipation, trouble sleeping, dizziness, drowsiness, menstrual cramps/pain, headache, flushing, or joint/muscle pain.

It can substantially increase blood pressure and pulse in some patients. Therefore all patients treated with sibutramine should have regular monitoring of blood pressure and pulse.

Infrequent but serious ones that require immediate medical attention: cardiac arrhythmias, paresthesia, mental/mood changes (e.g., excitement, restlessness, confusion, depression, rare thoughts of suicide).

Symptoms that require urgent medical attention are seizures, problems urinating, abnormal bruising or bleeding, melena, hematemesis, jaundice, fever and rigors, chest pain, hemiplegia, abnormal vision, dyspnea and edema.

Could what they have consumed a counterfeit version? Health Science Authority (HSA) is investigating now. In HSA’s press release today, it has said that Given the borderless nature of the Internet and the ease with which this product could be bought and sold in different countries around the world, HSA has alerted its international network of enforcement counterparts to be on a lookout for the adulterated product and where appropriate, to act against websites selling this product within their respective jurisdictions.”

This is the second case in the last 6 years concerning slimming product that created adverse reaction. Slim 10 pills in 2002 hit headlines in Singapore after it killed a woman and caused severe liver damage to local actress Andrea De Cruz which would have killed her if not for an emergency liver transplant done with the liver donation from her then-fiance actor Pierre Png (now husband). The China-made diet pills contained fenfluramine, an appetite suppressant that has been banned in the U.S. since 1997 for damaging heart valves and which doctors later confirmed also caused liver failure.

Conference exclusively opened to BNI 103,000 members across 37 countries only.

Visit http://www.bni-raffles.sg for more information on BNI, http://www.goodimagetea on the products.

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.

You grow fat because of ……

This morning, a nice lady called our hotline to understand more about our Good Image Tea which she saw on one of the online portals. 

She had wanted to reduce further her weight and she candidly lamented that “life is unfair” as her siblings are not obese except her and she sighed with laughter that “this world is cruel too, people around you including family members and neighbors can laughed at you when you are obese”.  Her weight gain she believed was due to genetics, underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) and slow metabolism. 

Within the survey of Synovate which showed Singaporeans as the least weight-obsessed community, 11% of the 19,000 respondents from 13 countries said that genetics is the main cause of their obesity. Of this figure, the highest number who blame on genetics were the Brazilians (20%) are followed by people from the UAE (19%) and Saudis (18%).

fat-brazilians.jpg

Other statistics were:-

* 40% of the respondents attribute food as the culprit
* 20% chose ‘unhealthy food choices’
* 20% chose ‘unhealthy food habits like eating at irregular hours’.
* 18% say it is ‘lack of exercise’
* 13% blame the individual (‘no self-discipline’)
 

Currently, obesity has reached epidemic proportions in developed nations as well as many developing countries. ‘No self-discipline’ is what respondents in the UK (21%) & USA (20%) believed is the leading factor in obesity. USA and UK tops the number of overweight and obese populations.

Interestingly, unlike other matters in which citizens will like to blame their government for, however when come to obesity, very few people blame it on their government. 

Other research showed the Americans blame obesity on the influence from family members and friends.

Is it true Singaporeans never weigh themselves?

From the recent global survey of 9,000 people across 13 countries (UK, USA, UAE, France, Czech Republic, Romania, Canada, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia) by a global market research firm, Synovate, Singaporeans are the least weight-obsessed people in the world as compared to the American and the French :-

  • 37% of Singaporeans saying that they never weigh themselves
  • 29% said their weight never change
  • 60% eat whatever they want, whenever they wantbathroom-scale.jpg

15% of Hong Kong people weigh themselves once or more every week and 60% only weigh when they remember.

Americans and French are most weight-obsessed, 15% of French people and 12% of Americans weigh themselves every single day and 50% of them will weigh at least once a week or more.

French attributed this to the fact that “French people take care of their image as a matter of course. Being thin is part of our culture and a point of pride. We are known for it. On top of this, there is increasing awareness of the devastation that obesity can cause to one’s health.

So, is it true that Singaporeans never weigh themselves?

Most homes do not have a weighing scale even though the price is so affordable now and they comes with digital meter (more accurate), all kinds of colors and design. Are we too busy to weigh or we are like the 29% who really believed that our weight never change or there a no necessity to weigh since we believed we are healthy or weight change doesn’t matter.

Some feedbacks are that they are afraid to see their weight fluctuate, especially when it has increased. Some felt weighing scale is quite a silly gadget to buy, a waste of money. Some Chinese old folks joked that Chinese don’t weigh themselves except to animals for sale (butcher’s family!?).

Going by the sprouting of health fitness and slimming centers, etc. around the island, weighing scales are everywhere. Moreover, all medical clinics will have it too. Those who are consuming weight-loss medicine, traditional herbal weight reduction beverages, etc should be weighing prior and after the dosage period to assess its effectiveness. So, most people would have themselves weighed.

I really wonder for those 29% who said that their weight never change, are they those who frequent the fitness center or exercise regularly themselves or resort to weight control medicine or supplements? In addition, for those 37% who do not weigh, do they eat whatever they want and whenever they want?

What killed MC King?

The entertainment industry and local public were shocked to learn from the TV and radio on 4th January afternoon that MC King, the chubby and lovable actor/comedian has died suddenly from breathing difficulties. The day after, news of him hit the front cover with many pages coverage in the 2 popular evening Chinese papers, Lianhe Wanbao and Shin Min Daily News.

.Comedy icon MC King

So well remembered as the character in the TV Channel 8 series Friends Next Door, who was perennially on medical leave (MC), his awarded stage name MC King overshadowed his actual name, Lan Qin Xi (蓝顉嘻), aka Jimmy Nah.

It was reported that this healthy-looking 40-year-old actor/part-time radio deejay/events host does not smoke; does not drink alcohol; no high blood pressure or high cholesterol; did not have other medical history and was given a clean bill of health in a recently medical checkup.

So, what killed him ?

His fengshui master had analysed his destiny and cautioned him about his heart. In 2005, he was advised by the fengshui master that for the well-being of his acting career, he was to drop to below 84kgs from 94kgs or to increase to 102kgs.

An actor/comedian had commented that he once seen him gasping for air after laughing hysterically and joked with him that it can become fatal.

Other acting colleagues and radio DJ friends have reported that he had not been looking well and displaying an obvious sign of fatigue. He was known to be very stressed up with acting commitments, worried over payment for his house and car as well as worried if his contract with MediaCorp (broadcasting company) will be renewed next month.

He was said to be consuming weight-loss medicine as he was weighing over 80kgs. In 2005, following his fengshui master’s advice, he invented his own “carbo avoidance” slimming method. His daily dietary routine according to Shin Min was :-

Breakfast : just plain water with 1 apple

Lunch : eat anything but non-starchy food

Dinner : eat less and still avoiding any food containing starch.

After work, he will walk up the 16 storeys to his house and he swam 200 meters at least once a week. That routine reportedly helped him lose 10kg in a short 2 months.

However, he was seen eating without any reservation at a recent party which raised the suspicion that he might have switched to using weigh-loss medicine.

Beauty consultants and doctors Shin Min interviewed had cautioned consumers about using weigh-loss medicines such as those which contain ingredients such as ephedrine. Ephedrine or ma huang (麻黄)is a traditional Chinese medicine that treats symptoms of upper respiratory infections, headaches, fevers, colds, and hay fever. Because of its appetite suppressing capability, it is used as weight-loss medicine. However, some of the recorded side effects are nervousness, dizziness, tremors, rapid heart rate, headaches, jitters, palpitations, insomnia, increase blood pressure. When taken at higher levels, drastic increases in blood pressure, as well as irregular, faster or slower than normal heartbeat can occur.

It was reported that weight-loss medicine are not suitable for those with heart, liver, kidney or thyroid gland problems; pregnant women as well as those under 18 years or over 65 years old.

As for MC King, we’ll have to wait for the Coroner’s report (expected in 1-2 months time) to know the cause of his death. However, whatever it might be, heart attack, stress or both, judging by the 50 Mediacorp artistes, broadcasting colleagues as well as nearly one thousand people who wept at his funeral and sent him off to the crematorium today (7th January), he is definitely missed badly by them who had enjoyed his entertaining and cheerful bubbly face.

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