Ahad, 6 April 2014

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

Aesthetic procedures still a taboo subject

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

You won't believe the lengths clients go through to hide the fact that they have had an aesthetic procedure carried out.

IN South Korea, parents would gladly pay for their children's nose or boob job as their 18th birthday present.

In Brazil, Venezuela and even Thailand, people would boast that they have had such and such a procedure done. Being able to afford an expensive aesthetic or plastic surgery procedure means you're keeping up with the times and up there on the social and economic ladder.

Not so in Malaysia. While the number of aesthetic procedures performed in the country has grown tremendously amongst male and female Malaysians of various races and age groups, it still seems to be a taboo to say that you've actually ventured into an aesthetic doctor's office and signed up for something.

When I tell my new acquaintances that I have had Botulinum toxin, fillers, skin peels, lasers and liposuction done, their jaws drop and eyes pop out as if I've suddenly sprouted another pair of heads on my shoulders.

It's obvious that widespread acceptance of aesthetic procedure amongst Malaysians is still lacking. This is perpetuated by the numerous misconceptions and myths regarding aesthetic procedures, its side effects and safety.

When talking about Botulinum toxin or face lifts, names of certain local artistes or minister's wives would surely be mentioned, followed by giggles and an occasional guffaw.

The conversation tends to veer into "You know ahh, her face is so expressionless, she looks like a robot!" or "She looks like a mannequin on the display window of Uniqlo!"

It is for these reasons that many of our aesthetic clients go to extreme lengths to hide the fact that they have had an aesthetic procedure done.

Some of our procedures such as Botulinum toxin injection, skin peel, microdermabrasion or lasers may result in some mild bruising or swelling, which will usually subside in a couple of days.

The busiest day for our clinic, or any aesthetic clinic for that matter, would naturally be Fridays and Saturdays.

This is because most clients prefer to rest and recover over the weekend before going back to work on Monday.

Hopefully, most of the redness or swelling would have subsided by then.

Some clients use concealer or thick make-up to try to hide the temporary side effects of their aesthetic procedure.

Not all bruising or swelling can be thoroughly hidden by make-up though, so a common excuse that our clients give to their family members, friends or co-workers to explain their beaten-up look is that they have had a fall or absent-mindedly knocked into something.

I have a 20-something-year-old client who stays with her mother in the Klang Valley, within easy reach of our clinic.

Each time she wants to come to our clinic, she will book a few nights' stay at a hotel in town and tell her mother that she would be working outstation for the next couple of days.

She would stay in the hotel while waiting for the tell-tale side effects to go off before going back to her mother.

One client likes having fillers and laser done every few months. It seems her husband is rather unhappy with the amount of money she spends "beautifying" herself. Thus, she will wait for him to go on long outstation work trips before coming to our clinic.

There was once she had some laser work done while her husband was away. She had some redness on her face due to the procedure, which was expected and absolutely normal, and would subside in less than a week.

Unfortunately, for some reason, her dearest hubby cut his work trip short and came back much earlier than expected, to find her face resembling a ripe tomato. Our quick-thinking lady blurted out that she had a sunburn from too much swimming.

Sunburn just on the face? Yeah, right!

Most clients look much younger or refreshed once we are done with them. Friends or relatives who have not seen them for some time will gush over their fabulous new appearance.

Instead of complimenting yours truly for a job well done, our clients would rather say that their glowing skin is thanks to that fabulous, relaxing vacation they had in Bali.

Or that their new taut, flawless face is due to that magical jar of youth serum they recently purchased from Isetan.

To admit that they have had a laser or two, or a few jabs of Botulinum toxin would a big social gaffe, they reason.

I hope that our fellow Malaysians will have a change in their mentality and accept aesthetic procedures as a normal, everyday thing, and a part of modern lifestyle.

But I don't see that coming in the near future. For the sake of aesthetic doctors in Malaysia, I hope that I'm wrong.

Dr Chen Tai Ho is an experienced aesthetic doctor who chills by the pool sipping expresso latte when he's not attending to his beloved patients. For further information, e-mail starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader's own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

My cat gave me TB

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Public health experts in the UK say transmission risk of cat-to-human TB infection is low, but recommend putting down cats confirmed to have the disease.

THE first documented evidence that TB can spread from cats to humans has been reported by public health officials, confirming long-held concerns about the disease's capacity to jump from one of Britain's favourite pets.

Public Health England (PHE) said a few days ago that the risk of the disease being transmitted from cats to people was very low. However, putting down cats confirmed to have TB was the most sensible course of action because people having close contact with them faced a potentially significant risk of infection, it said.

Two people were found to have developed active TB after close contact with cats last year following an outbreak involving nine animals in west Berkshire and Hampshire.

They are said to be responding to treatment.

Two other people were found to have latent TB, meaning they had been exposed to the disease at some point but it was not active.

The risk of the spread of TB from cats to humans had previously been regarded by UK advisers as negligible despite the potential for transmission being recognised after years of serious outbreaks in cattle, which have led to controversial badger culls.

The outbreak of the disease in cats, caused by a strain known as Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), came to light via a veterinary practice, and led to screening being offered to 39 people, 24 of whom accepted. Six of the nine cats were put down, three were treated.

The head of gastrointestinal, emerging and zoonotic diseases at PHE, Dilys Morgan, said: "It's important to remember that this was a very unusual cluster of TB in domestic cats. M. bovis is still uncommon in cats – it mainly affects livestock animals.

"These are the first documented cases of cat-to-human transmission, and so although PHE has assessed the risk of people catching this infection from infected cats as being very low, we are recommending that household and close contacts of cats with confirmed M. bovis infection should be assessed and receive public health advice."

Molecular analysis at the government's Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AVHLA) showed that M. bovis isolated from the infected cats and the people with active TB were indistinguishable, indicating transmission of the bacterium from an infected cat.

In the cases of latent TB, it has not been possible to confirm the source of their exposure or whether they were caused by M. bovis.

Transmission of M. bovis from infected animals to humans can occur by inhaling or ingesting bacteria shed by the animal or through contamination of unprotected cuts in the skin while handling infected animals or their carcasses.

The head of the bovine TB genotyping group at AHVLA, Noel Smith, said: "Testing of nearby herds revealed a small number of infected cattle with the same strain of M. bovis as the cats.

However, direct contact of the cats with these cattle was unlikely considering their roaming ranges. The most likely source of infection is infected wildlife, but cat-to-cat transmission cannot be ruled out."

Cattle herds with confirmed cases of bovine TB in the area have all been placed under movement restrictions to prevent the spread of disease. Experts are said to be on the lookout for further cases of disease caused by M. bovis in humans, cats or any other pet and livestock animal species.

In the 1930s, TB caused by M. bovis killed 2,500 people a year and infected 50,000, but now the route is diagnosed in fewer than 40 Britons a year, mostly in over-65s through reactivation of latent infection dating from before the introduction of hygiene controls, including routine milk pasteurisation.

This accounts for less than 1% of all diagnosed TB cases in the country, and those who work closely with livestock and/or drink unpasteurised milk are most at risk.

Fewer than 30 cats in Britain were identified as having TB between 2006 and 2012, although research from Edinburgh University last year suggested far more cats developed the disease than had previously been thought.

The government's cross-UK Human Animal Infections and Risk Surveillance group (Hairs) also considers present figures to be underestimated. Incidents usually happen where TB is endemic in cattle and wildlife.

The Berkshire/Hampshire outbreak, involving seven confirmed and two suspected cases between December 2012 and March 2013, has taken time to report because of the detailed investigations necessary.

The nine cats belonged to nine separate homes, six of them within 250 metres of each other. Seven cases matched a distinct M. bovis strain, detected in cattle in the area in 2008.

All the cats had severe systemic infection. Some had non-healing or discharging wounds, or a recent history of bites. – Guardian News & Media

Gerson therapy: An unorthodox treatment for cancer

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

A designer fashions an alternative route for cancer therapy.

AS a vegetarian and daily yoga practitioner, Amy Johnson thought she was healthy before she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last August. Now she consumes 22kg of carrots, 11kg of Granny Smith apples and 14 heads of romaine lettuce each week in an effort to keep it from coming back.

The 43-year-old fashion designer has embraced an unconventional and controversial cancer treatment called Gerson therapy, named for the doctor who developed the vegetarian diet to treat his migraine headaches in the 1940s.

Eventually, his practice grew to include numerous other maladies, including cancer.

The therapy is not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration or recommended by national cancer organisations. Patients pay US$11,000 (RM35,200) to spend two weeks at a Gerson clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, to learn the diet of juicing, supplements and enemas that they stay on for two years.

After surgery to remove the right ovary, doctors discovered Johnson's cancer was a rare and aggressive form of clear cell carcinoma that may not respond well to drugs.

Because Amy Johnson can't find some of the organic vegetables she needs for her green juices she's started to grow them, as seen Feb. 19, 2014 in St. Louis. (Stephanie S. Cordle/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT)

As Johnson can't find some of the organic vegetables she needs for her green juices, she's started to
grow them. -MCT

Johnson had more surgery, including a hysterectomy, and then decided against chemotherapy. She raised US$24,000 (RM76,800) from friends and family, and she and her mother traveled to Mexico in October to learn about the therapy that requires a drastic lifestyle change.

"I know chemo works for many people. It didn't make sense to me. I wanted to pump nutrients into my body, not toxins," Johnson said.

Doctors, friends, family members and her design clients tried to talk Johnson into going the traditional route with chemotherapy. Her mother, a nurse, was initially fearful of the decision.

"I was just very leery about it all, but Amy seems to adjust to things so well," said Carolyn Johnson. "She's gained back most of her energy, and emotionally, she's so much better. Her father and I are just amazed at how well she's handling all this."

Gerson therapy teaches that the body needs to be cleansed of toxins to allow the immune system to heal itself. Participants eat and drink 8-9kg of organic fruits and vegetables daily. They drink one fresh-squeezed glass of juice every hour, up to 13 a day. They also take up to 60 vitamins and enzyme pills each day.

Five times a day, they complete a liquid coffee enema to help the liver "in eliminating toxic residues from the body for good", according to Gerson's website.

Castor oil, a laxative, is also taken by mouth regularly.

Johnson still sees a doctor at Barnes-Jewish Hospital for follow-up blood work and scans, but she doesn't want to identify him out of concern for maintaining their relationship.

Her last scan in December showed no signs of cancer, and her blood work is normal.

The US National Cancer Institute disavows any evidence of the effectiveness of Gerson therapy without a peer-reviewed clinical trial. The idea of diet as cancer treatment is not widely accepted in the medical community.

Fruits and vegetables are thought to play some role in preventing cancer, but not treating it, according to the American Cancer Society. Coffee enemas can lead to infections and dehydration.

Critics take an even harsher stance, calling the Gerson method quackery that preys on the hopes of people with cancer.

"I can't figure out why anyone thinks it's natural," said Dr David Gorski, a surgical oncologist in Detroit and editor of the blog Science-Based Medicine. "What's natural about all these supplements? It's not natural to put coffee up your behind. The surgery is what cures the cancer, if the cancer's going to be cured. The chemotherapy decreases the chances of it recurring."

Dr Gorski said Gerson patients probably would have the same results with a typical, healthy diet after cancer surgery.

Amy Johnson's juicing schedule is posted above her kitchen sink of her Central West End neighborhood home in St. Louis, Feb. 19, 2014. (Stephanie S. Cordle/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT)

Johnson's juicing schedule is posted above her kitchen sink. -MCT

"The thing about cancer, its course can be really variable," he said. "Patients can live a lot longer than expected, they can live a lot shorter."

Gerson's website says the programme is "remarkably effective at treating a wide range of chronic degenerative diseases" including melanoma, lymphoma, ovarian cancer and lupus.

The clinic does not accept patients with acute leukaemia, brain tumours, organ transplants or kidney failure and says the therapy doesn't work for Parkinson's disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease).

Staff members from the Gerson Institute in San Diego did not respond to a request for comment.

Tracey Cain, a chiropractor, plans to travel to San Diego in May to train to be a Gerson practitioner. She learned about the programme after researching alternative diets to treat her gall bladder problems without surgery.

She said she sees patients who are frustrated with doctors who offer them little time and few answers for their health concerns.

Local fashion designer Amy Johnson, of KayOss Designs, sits at her home and studio in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis, Feb. 19, 2014. The 43-year-old fashion designer has embraced an unconventional and controversial cancer treatment called Gerson therapy, named for the doctor who developed the vegetarian diet to treat his migraine headaches in the 1940s. (Stephanie S. Cordle/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT)

Amy Johnson

"I really think that people are looking for something alternative," Cain said. "Not everybody has to go down the traditional route of Western medicine if that's what they want to do. Traditional medicine has its missing links. If it worked perfectly, we would have a cure for cancer."

About seven years ago, Johnson left a career as an environmental engineer to pursue her dream in fashion, creating KayOss Designs with a studio in the Central West End.

Her work has been featured in high-end boutiques, on runways and on national television. Because her new lifestyle keeps her essentially home-bound, she has temporarily given up social events, fashion shows and photo shoots. But she has started to take a few appointments in her studio again. And she recently walked to a nearby cafe to meet some friends, bringing her own tea.

"That's what cancer is telling you – something needs to change in your life," Johnson said. "I'm not saying this is for everybody. You have to do what you feel is best for you." – St Louis Post-Dispatch/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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