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Health & Environment

Health & Environment

Consumer Council finds many cooking oils contain cancer causing substances

Some 60% of commonly used cooking oils in Hong Kong contain chemicals which may pose cancer risk to humans, according to tests conducted by the Consumer Council from Nov. 2021 to Jan. 2022. The results are published in the latest edition of Choice Magazine yesterday (July 18).  They show that 47 out of 50 types of oil tested contain at least one type of harmful contaminant, and 29 of them contain carcinogens.  They also found that 30 out of 50 samples contain 3-MCPD, and 35 of them contain phthalates. For the 29 that contain carcinogens, two exceeded European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) standard. Of those, SuperFoodLab Coconut Cooking Oil made in Thailand exceeded the standard by 10 percent, and Yu Ping King Pure Peanut Oil manufactured in China contained twice the amount of carcinogen allowed. Two types of oil from mainland brand, Yuwanjia were found to contain harmful chemicals benzo[a]pyrene, which may cause cancer risk when cooked in high heat.Yuwanjia 100% Pure Corn Oil and Yuwanjia 100% Pure Peanut Oil, exceeded EFSA standard by 2.0μg/kg and 0.1μg/kg respectively. Of the 35 types of oil that contained phthalates, only Gallo My first olive oil Extra Virgin Olive Oil was worse than  Centre for Food Safety and EFSA standards.  “There is no recommended tolerant level (for carcinogens), the advise is: the less you absorb it is better for your health,” Gilly Wong Fung-han, Cheif Executive of Consumer Council said. She added everyone should be mindful of these pollutants as they may cause cancer.

Health & Environment

Study finds 70 percent recovered patients suffer from long Covid

A preliminary study conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2022 has found that nearly 70% recovered COVID-19 patients reported suffering from moderate or severe long COVID symptoms such as fatigue and coughing.   The pilot study that included 554 recovered patients found that fatigue (33.7%) was the most common symptom, with another 23.8%-31.9% reporting respiratory symptoms. Other “Long COVID” symptoms may include, insomnia, hair loss, anxiety, brain fog, chest pain, shortness of breath, and joint pain. CU Medicine claimed 76% COVID-19 patients had at least one symptom six months after recovery in Jan, 2022.  With the support of the Hospital Authority, medical researchers announced today that they will launch the first territory-wide long COVID study. The mass study will consist of two parts, an electronic survey and a self-volunteer follow-up in-depth microbiome research, with the purpose of facilitating long COVID healthcare policy, said Dean of CU Medicine Francis Ka Leung Chan.  The electronic survey will include a question about long COVID symptoms and duration, and seven multiple-choice questions on long COVID. Basic Information including name, age, sex, month of diagnosis, history of hospitalisation and vaccination will also be collected, but not phone numbers or HKID number. The authorities expect at least 10,000 respondents.   Physical poster with QR code of the electronic survey will be displayed at Western and Chinese medicine outpatient clinics under the Hospital Authority.    Respondents can also apply for the second phase of the study. This involves microbiome analysis of up to 1000 volunteers through bi-annual stool sample donation, for up to three years. 

Society

Food for sustainability: a local practice of organic and sustainable agriculture in Hong Kong

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Ziyu Bruce Zhao、Summer LiEdited by: Ziyu Bruce Zhao、Summer Li
  • 2022-07-02

With almost 8 million people crowding in a just over 1000km² land, Hong Kong is not famous for its agriculture. However, a number of local organic farms have started up for several years to teach people not only how to grow their own food, but also the benefits of improving the sustainability of agriculture. Link to full video: https://youtu.be/ZqWWuB0AvlM  

Health & Environment

Increased use of telemedicine during the Covid-19

The fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Hong Kong gives telemedicine a boost as many clinics are closed to prevent cross-infection and patients may be reluctant to attend the in-person appointments during the pandemic. Despite the constraints in video consultation such as being unable to physically examine the patients, it can provide the right medication and immediate medical suggestions for Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms.

People

Blind saxophonist in China’s national disabled performing troupe speaks on success and overcoming challenges

“One more time. Don’t make the audience feel your actions are too stiff, ” the director of the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Winter Games 2022 in Beijing said to Wang Qi as he practiced walking and turning on the stage. “Try to reduce the sense of performance,” the director said. Wang was practicing raising his hands to display the emblem of the winter Paralympic Games to the world at the opening ceremony on March 4.  “I had to practice once and once again to form muscle memory,” he said. “We have been rehearsing intensively since January.” Wang, 40, a leading saxophonist in China, has been performing in the China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe for more than a decade. His performance has been seen at many historic moments of China including APEC Summit and Shanghai Expo 2011.  “For visually-abled people, it's natural to go to the center of the stage and then turn around and face the audience. But because we blind people can't see, we don't know which position to go on the stage, and we don't know how much to turn around is appropriate,” he said. “But if we practice too much without correct guidance, our movements will be too deliberate.” Wang, who wears his hair long and is always in sunglasses, has been blind for almost 30 years. In 1995, when Wang was 15 and had been blind for two years, one teacher at the special education school in his hometown Dalian led a group of students to a room full of musical instruments, where Wang befriended the saxophone. “I was standing in the big room, trying to recall those instruments I saw before losing my sight,” he said. “Suddenly, the saxophone jumped into my mind. I walked ahead and held it in my arms.”  However, …

Society

Pandemic gives rise to depression and anxiety

Rachel Li Liang-yu, 24, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 12 years ago. It is a mental disorder associated with extreme mood swings, ranging from depressive lows to manic highs. She said her emotions are more unpredictable than before due to COVID-19, and her mood swings are the worst during lockdowns. “It is because the clinic where I used to meet my psychiatrist has been closed for a while due to the lockdown in Hebei, China,” Li said. Dr. Adrian Low, the president of the Hong Kong Association of Psychology, said it is common for people to feel stressed due to the massive amount of information during the pandemic. “For those who suffered from mental health issues before, they are more easily triggered,” Low said. “For the ordinary public, they may face depression easier than before as well.” According to the World Health Organisation’s research in 2022, the pandemic has triggered an increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide by 25%. Parents’ anxiety levels have also been elevated. Cheng Lihua, a mother of two primary school children in Hong Kong, said she feels anxious and depressed due to the pandemic. “As a parent, it is normal to be worried,” said Cheng, “especially when there is so much negative information on television, WeChat groups and other social media.” The depression rate of mothers increased from 19% before the pandemic to 35% in July 2020, while the anxiety rate increased from 18% to 31%, according to research by the Department of Psychology, University of Calgary. This research suggested that the mental states of parents taking responsibility for their children’s academics and daily lives at the same time are severely compromised. Cheng said when her children leave home for school, she often worries about the campus hygiene and is scared that her …

Society

Polycystic ovary syndrome patients regain menstruation by following the ketogenic diet

After Patricia Wong Oi-wai went a year without menstruating, she went on a ketogenic diet, a popular high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet commonly called “keto”. She weighed her meals, checked for fat content and only seasoned them with salt and pepper. Diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome at the age of 36, Wong refused to take medications. Instead, she read that a ketogenic diet could relieve her symptoms. She tried it to see whether it was real. PCOS is a common endocrine hormone condition among women of reproductive age that causes irregular menstruation, acne and excessive masculine features such as an overabundance of body hair. PCOS affects between 6% and 12% of women of reproductive age around the globe, according to a study from Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences. However, there is no precise clinical procedure to cure PCOS.  "If there is a way that would heal my sickness without taking any medication, why not give it a try?" Wong said. "After trying it out, it works." Wong used to cook for herself and cut back on social gatherings to meet the strict requirements of the ketogenic diet – a daily food consumption of 70% fat, 20% protein, 5% vegetables and 5% carbohydrates.  Wong lost nine kilograms after strictly following the ketogenic diet for a month and regained her menstruation four years ago.  A ketogenic diet is often used to lose weight and improve insulin resistance. PCOS patients said their emotions and hair condition improved on the diet and that it helped with weight loss and regulated menstruation cycles. It even increases the chance to get pregnant, according to a pilot study from Nutrition & Metabolism.  Wong, who said her PCOS symptoms have mostly been relieved by adopting a ketogenic diet, said it was tough for her to avoid carbohydrates and sugar …

Society

Desperate for drugs during the lockdown in China

Liu Tian, 27, in Changchun, Jilin province, suffers from a major depressive disorder. She has been off her medication for ten days since the city went into lockdown due to COVID-19 in March. Her medicine is only available at three pharmacies in the city far away from her home, and she cannot get it delivered. She tried to contact epidemic prevention staff in the community and the hospital for help. The community staff issued her an emergency medication certificate, but she could not go to the hospital because of local traffic control.  As a result, she had headaches, was irritated and emotionally unstable. She tried calling the hospital’s emergency number but was told that they were only responsible for emergency care and not prescriptions. “I don't want to keep looking for medicine anymore because I'm afraid of being rejected again,” Liu said. “When I was at my worst, I even thought about committing suicide.” Beijing has been sticking to the "dynamic zero tolerance" strategy for Covid. That means even a few positive cases would trigger a lockdown followed by large-scale testing.  During the lockdown, no one can travel and delivery services are limited. Chronically ill patients like Liu Tian face difficulties purchasing medications. They turn to local community staff, volunteers, and netizens for help. Cheng Yulong, 51, has diabetes. “My blood sugar level kept rising, and I was really desperate. I cannot solely rely on the blood sugar-lowering medications because they are not as effective as insulin,” he said. When the lockdown started in Changchun in early March, he had to stay at the construction site where he had been working for almost 30 days, but he only carried a limited amount of insulin.  The insulin Cheng needed was sold out in the nearby pharmacies. He sought help from community …

Society

Cornering caregivers at home puts them under intense pandemic stress

Debby Kwan Ho-kwan, 27, has been suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus for 10 years and stiff person syndrome for three years. Lupus is a form of immune system disorder that requires life-long medication and treatment, and stiff person syndrome leads to progressive muscle stiffness. Although Kwan can manage her own medical treatments like anticoagulant injection, her mother worries about a relapse of SLE. She frets over whether to seek hospitalisation if that happens, which may expose her daughter to COVID-19. The pressure builds when Kwan’s mother tries to understand new policies and chart new solutions almost every day.  “Sometimes, my mum suffers from insomnia. She has to take medication under such mental pressure,” said Kwan.  Since the start of the pandemic, caregivers like Kwan’s mother often prioritise the elderly, children and chronically ill patients over themselves. The restriction of face-to-face contacts during COVID-19 poses challenges to patient rehabilitation. Their caregivers often have to extend their working hours and more preparation work is required. “Many caregivers cannot withstand the pressure-cooker-like environment anymore,” said Zoe Chong Suk-yi, a dementia care planner working at Renascence Integrated Rehabilitation Centre. Chong and Alvin Shum Chun-kit have devoted their support to dementia patients and their caregivers throughout the pandemic.  Since the fifth wave of Covid outbreak, they have suspended on-site visits. Instead, they prepare extra cognitive training tools for home-training and help carers overcome technical issues when they engage with dementia sufferers during online training sessions because the patients often have a short attention span.  Dementia patients need a regular rehabilitation schedule in order to maintain their brain functions. They need constant cognitive therapy and practice, otherwise their conditions will deteriorate quickly, Chong explained.  “A number of them seemed to be more sluggish than before,” she said.  Before the fifth wave of pandemic struck Hong Kong, …

Society

Blind saxophonist in China’s national disabled performing troupe speaks on success and overcoming challenges

“One more time. Don’t make the audience feel your actions are too stiff, ” the director of the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Winter Games 2022 in Beijing said to Wang Qi as he practiced walking and turning on the stage.  “Try to reduce the sense of performance,” the director said. Wang was practicing raising his hands to display the emblem of the winter Paralympic Games to the world at the opening ceremony on March 4.  “I had to practice once and once again to form muscle memory,” he said. “We have been rehearsing intensively since January.” Wang, 40, a leading saxophonist in China, has been performing in the China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe for more than a decade. His performance has been seen at many historic moments of China including APEC Summit and Shanghai Expo 2011.  Wang, who wears his hair long and is always in sunglasses, has been blind for almost 30 years. “For visually-abled people, it's natural to go to the center of the stage and then turn around and face the audience. But because we blind people can't see, we don't know which position to go on the stage, and we don't know how much to turn around is appropriate, ” he said. “But if we practice too much without correct guidance, our movements will be too deliberate.” In 1995, when Wang was 15 and had been blind for two years, one teacher at the special education school in his hometown Dalian led a group of students to a room full of musical instruments, where Wang befriended the saxophone. “I was standing in the big room, trying to recall those instruments I saw before losing my sight,” he said. “Suddenly, the saxophone jumped into my mind. I walked ahead and held it in my arms.”  …