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Marathoners in Beijing Sport Masks as They Run Through Heavy Pollution

Posted: 10/20/2014 8:05 am

A runner wears a gas mask for the marathon on Sunday.

If the 34th Beijing International Marathon held on Sunday had a mascot, the animal of choice would surely come accessorised with a gas mask.

Many participants were seen wearing surgical masks, and even gas masks to protect themselves from Beijing’s hazardous smog, which was recorded at 331 micrograms of PM 2.5 particles per cubic meter on Sunday, Tencent reported. A level of 300 or more is considered hazardous by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The heavy smog prompted the Beijing Marathon Committee to issue a warning the night before the event, urging participants to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves. “(We urge) participants to pay attention to weather updates, and take necessary measures depending on one’s personal situation,” the Committee wrote, “If you experience physical discomfort, please withdraw from the run.”

One of many participants wearing a face mask

As one might expect from the photos, a number of contestants were forced to quit due to the heavy smog. One contestant from Kenya withdrew from the race after leading for more than 20 kilometres, Sohu said. The race started at Tiananmen and finished at the Bird’s Nest National Stadium.

Shortly after the race, the term “human de-smog machine” began trending on Sina Weibo. Users likened the marathon runners to vacuum-like machines sucking-up the city’s thick smog. Weibo user -曲高和寡- commented, “How wise of the government to use some 30,000-strong human de-smog machines to clean the air before the upcoming meeting.” The meeting 曲高和寡 was referring to is the Central Committee’s fourth plenum, scheduled to start today. At the plenum, China’s leadership will discuss a range of issues from rule of law to the possible fate of Zhou Yongkang, China’s former security tsar.

Another user 王志鈞_ZJDESIGN applauded the runners and their environmental impact: “#2014 Beijing Marathon, with concerted efforts from tens of thousands of participants, Beijing’s smog index has dropped slightly.” He posted a screen grab of three different readings by US Embassy, which showed the city’s PM 2.5 reading dropped from 405 at 10 am to 345 at noon on Sunday.

Even People’s Daily posted a comment on its official Sina Weibo account, asking participants to “be strong and not inhale (自强不吸)”, playing on the Chinese idiom 自强不息.

A contestant wearing a face mask ran in a shroud of grey smog.

Photos: Sina Weibo



Skeptic Offers Huge Reward to Debunk Traditional Chinese Medicine

Posted: 10/13/2014 1:51 pm

chinese medicine pulse takingThe clash between Eastern and Western cultures is no more apparent than in the practicing of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), a lifestyle passed down through multiple generations that focuses upon holistic healing through adjusting imbalances in the body.

For all the claims traditional Chinese medicine makes, it’s said to have the practical ability of determining whether a woman is pregnant just by feeling the prospective mother’s pulse.

This has become a point of contention for a popular Chinese doctor of Western medicine who has issued a RMB 50,000 reward to anyone who can prove he is wrong in saying “Chinese medicine is a fake science”.

A popular Weibo personality and burn injury specialist in Beijing, Ah Bao, doesn’t believe TCM doctors have this ability. Using his own money to back up his claims, Ah Bao has challenged TCM doctors to maintain an 80 percent accuracy rate of diagnosing pregnant women in a “debunking contest”..

Ah Bao has encouraged other “amateur scientists and enthusiasts” to add to the reward, an amount that is now over RMB 100,000.

A challenger has emerged to protect the pride of TCM. Beijing doctor of Chinese medicine Yang Zhen accepted the challenge shortly after it was issued.

yang zhen

Beijing Doctor of Chinese medicine Yang Zhen

Both parties are currently discussing the terms of the contest, which will likely include 32 women to be used as test subjects. The challenger will be separated by a curtain from his patients, and will be tasked with determining which of them are pregnant solely through checking their pulse.

With the hype building, this contest may in fact turn into a Mexican showdown with another party willing to join the fray. Not only does Chengdu TCM doctor Lu Jilai want to participate, he wants to raise the stakes and make it into a single-player elimination tournament:

Not only should we have to determine if they are pregnant or not, but we should also be able to determine how many days are left for a woman until her next period.

ah bao chinese medicine debunk contest

A Jishuitan, Beijing burn injury doctor and famous Weibo personality Ah Bao

Having written a 600-page book in 2006 explaining why Chinese medicine isn’t fake, Lu wants to make the results of this contest more authoritative by adding patients to the testing pool with a litany of ailments that include cancer, hepatitis B, and rheumatism.

Lu hasn’t yet been officially invited to take part in the contest, but he hopes it will help people better understand Chinese and Western medicine. Ah Bao also said no matter what the outcome of this contest is, it will be very meaningful.

Photos: Sina Newsnipic


Dengue Fever a Full-Blown Crisis in Guangzhou

Posted: 10/8/2014 9:00 am

A health workers sprays for mosquitos

Dengue fever has claimed another two lives in Guangzhou in the last two days according to Guangdong’s provincial health and family planning committee. That brings the total number of reported cases to 21,527, including six deaths, as Guangdong struggles to contain the worst outbreak the province has seen in almost two decades.

Five people have died in Guangzhou and one in Foshan, according to New Express Daily. The contagious disease, transmitted by mosquitos, continues to spread quickly. On October 5 alone, the province reported 1,431 new cases and one death, said China News.

Health experts still aren’t clear why this year’s infection rates have been so high, or why the disease struck so early in the year, wrote China Science Newspaper. “This is quite shocking; we expect cases of infection to increase in the near future,” said Qin Chengfeng, a researcher with the Academy of Military Medical Science. Qin said normally Dengue Fever strikes in October and November, but this year, there were cases as early as August.

Qin noted that China isn’t alone in struggling to contain Dengue. Other countries in Asia including Singapore and Japan have also had a number of cases. There are reports of a vaccination used in Central Africa that could lower the rate of infection by 60 percent, but the possibility of importing it to China is slim due to regulatory hurdles. “It will take a long time before the vaccination is allowed in China,” said Liu Fuqiang, an epidemiology expert and emergency department director at the Hunan Center of Disease Control.

Photos: AP


China Struggles to Come to Grips with Anorexia

Posted: 09/2/2014 10:52 am

Suzhou anorexia nervosaAnorexia nervosa is a well-known eating disorder around most of the world, but it’s still relatively new in China, which was impoverished for decades prior to the reform and opening period that began in 1978.

The Mayo Clinic describes it as a disease that results in people starving themselves as an unhealthy way to deal with emotional problems. For these people, being thin is the only thing that gives them self-esteem.

There are many causes of anorexia, ranging from psychological, biological, and sociological; some sufferers are even influenced by images in the media. But the perception of anorexia in China is still evolving as medical practitioners come to terms with it. Here, the disease is still viewed as something you “catch” if you diet too much.

Chinese media has recently profiled a 24 year-old Suzhou woman who has apparently been suffering from a “mysterious ailment” that has caused her to continually lose weight for six years.

Suzhou anorexia nervosa

Xiaoxiao (a pseudonym) was 169 cm (5’6″) tall and weighed 55 kg (121 lbs) when she was a second-year high school student in 2007. Today, she weighs a mere 39 kg (88 lbs).

The problem started in 2008 when Xiaoxiao returned to high school after taking a year off to recover from an operation to correct her spine. Discovering that many of her classmates were dieting, Xiaoxiao followed the trend of eating less as a way to become thinner. Xiaoxiao only ate one mouthful of food at dinner, and skip lunch all together.

By 2009, Xiaoxiao had dropped to 50 kg (110 lbs). She looked unhealthy, but her parents didn’t think much of it. When Xiaoxiao complained of being constipated, a doctor prescribed her a laxative that made things worse by giving her diarrhea. At this time, Xiaoxiao stopped having her period.

Xiaoxiao was later taken to a hospital where she received treatment from the Traditional Chinese Medicine department. She was prescribed nourishing medicine to increase her health, but this proved to be ineffectual.

This past April, Xiaoxiao was taken to a Wuxi hospital where she was diagnosed as not receiving enough nourishment and required drug supplements. This treatment was very effective at first: after two months, Xiaoxiao’s weight increased from 40 kg (88 lbs) to 44 kg (97 lbs). However, after three months, her intestines were found to be massively swollen as a result.

In July, Xiaoxiao was taken to Huashan hospital in Shanghai where she was given anti-allergy medication that proved to be very effective. Xiaoxiao got her appetite back, but the situation reversed itself after a week.

At no time was Xiaoxiao given any psychological counselling or even diagnosed with anorexia. Xiaoxiao’s parents have now stopped giving her any nutritional supplements, including expensive foreign imports. Instead, Xiaoxiao’s father, Mr Song, is desperately asking anyone for their help to solve his daughter’s ailment.

Suzhou anorexia nervosa

He has struggled to cope with his daughter’s problems, and confessed he often cries due to the unbearable pain of seeing his daughter suffering. He is at a loss of what to do to help her.

Xiaoxiao, though, does have some advice for others considering dieting:

Girls: be sure not to blindly follow trends just to torment yourself. I feel that being a bit pudgy is better in the end.

Despite the dire situation, Xiaoxiao has so far not received any emotional or psychological treatment to deal with her condition.

Photos: China News, Guangzhou Daily



Heinz Blasted For Delay In Recalling Tainted Baby Food in China

Posted: 08/22/2014 4:47 pm

heinz recall AD Calcium Hi Protein CerealHeinz is alleged to have waited nine days before announcing a recall when it was first confronted by government officials over infant food containing excess amounts of lead, reports Sina Finance.

Heinz announced last Friday that it is recalling four batches of Heinz AD Calcium Hi-Protein Cereal, an infant food, once Zhejiang food safety regulators said they had tested the product and found excessive amounts of lead.

The Hangzhou municipal inspection bureau first told provincial authorities about the problem on August 4. Two days later, Zhejiang authorities visited Heinz management and asked the company to fully comply with the investigation, to reveal the cause of the contamination, and to compensate consumers.

However, the recall was only made public on August 15, nine days later.

heinz recall AD Calcium Hi Protein Cereal

The delay in notifying consumers of the contaminated baby formula has outraged consumers in China, many of whom have called for strong punitive measures against Heinz. “There no need to doubt that Heinz was fully aware of the law when it acted in an untimely manner in dealing with this recall,” said Shanghai lawyer Wu Dong.

Famous food expert Wang Dingmian was much more specific in suggesting Heinz should be held responsible. “Heinz has repeatedly had problems with quality, and yet has not learned from its mistakes. For treating the health of babies as a game and for its vile nature, it should be punished severely.

The Zhejiang Food and Drug Inspection Bureau said 1,472 boxes of the product are contaminated. Heinz said it will destroy another 153 boxes held in a Guangzhou warehouse.

The Guangdong Food and Drug Inspection Bureau said it will be conducting its own investigation into the cereal, which is manufactured in Guangdong.

The specific batches named in the recall are 400g boxes of Heinz AD Calcium Hi-Protein Cereal with the production dates numbers of 20140413, 20140414, 20140508, and 20140509.

Photos: Sina Finance, CCTV


Ebola Test Kit Officially Approved for Production in Shenzhen

Posted: 08/21/2014 2:14 pm

ebola virusA test kit that can positively identify the Ebola virus has been approved for production with manufacturing set to begin soon in Shenzhen. The kit was invented by China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences, and is to be manufactured by Shenzhen Puruikang Biotech. It gained final official approval from the military’s logistics approval department and health department.

The test is able to identify the virus by using the virus’ gene sequence by means of a nucleic acid detection kit that utilizes a “compound probe”. That sounds quite confusing, so here’s all you need to know: it’s using the same technology previously used to develop test kits for the H1N1, H7N9 and NDM-1 viruses.

Because there is no vaccination for Ebola, doctors say early diagnosis is important for controlling the spread of the disease.

More than 1,300 people have been infected with the Ebola virus so far this year

Photo: International Business Times


Dengue Fever Spreading Fast in Guangzhou: Here Are The Top Infected Areas

Posted: 08/18/2014 5:55 pm

mosquito biteGuangzhou is dealing with an outbreak of dengue fever that has currently infected 400 people since the first case in June, reports Sina News. Yuexiu District accounts for over half of all cases, but it has spread throughout the city. Dongshan Street in Yuexiu is the hardest hit, followed by Baiyun District and Dagang County in Nansha. The infection area has widened from 33 streets on August 3 to 52 streets last week.

There have been no reported fatalities so far.

Dengue fever, also known as breakbone fever, is spread by mosquitoes. Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a skin rash similar in appearance to measles. While rare, the disease can become fatal in cases when it escalates to become dengue hemorrhagic fever, or dengue shock syndrome.

Huang Fuchu, director of the Yuexiu District health bureau, said, “According to the situation of the past few years, the epidemic this year has just commenced. The peak will come in the future. Therefore, it might prove more difficult to control the disease than we imagined.”

The Health and Family Planning Commission of Guangdong Province identified the origin of the outbreak to be Dagang, Nansha where 41 cases had been recorded as of July 11. The health bureau says there are 250 confirmed cases, 129 suspected cases, and 21 imported cases in Guangzhou as of August 13.

A breakdown by area shows Yuexiu District has 191 cases, Nansha with 97, Baiyun with 48, Haizhu with 33, Liwan with 18 cases, and Panyu with six.

Several local activities designed to educate the public about the dangers of dengue fever have been encouraging residents to guard themselves against mosquito bites as well as to get rid of stagnant pools of water.

Photo: Nature World News



Hong Kong Ebola Scare, But Nigerian Tourist Tests Negative

Posted: 08/10/2014 10:19 pm

ebola virusA suspected case of the Ebola virus put the scare into Hong Kong on Sunday, but fortunately the man tested negative.

According to a local TV station, the patient is a 32 year-old Nigerian national who arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday. The patient exhibited symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, and was quarantined at the Princess Margaret Hospital.

The patient had been staying at Chungking Mansions, a famous Hong Kong landmark long associated with migrants from India and Africa.

Meanwhile, a patent thought to have the Ebola virus has tested negative in Toronto, Canada. The patient had just returned from visiting Nigeria.

Yesterday, the World Health Organization declared the recent Ebola outbreak in Africa to be a global emergency as infection measures to stem the spread of the virus fail.

Photo: China News


“Too Fat To Breathe”, Obese Guangzhou Man Ends Up In Hospital [UPDATED]

Posted: 08/1/2014 3:58 pm

guangzhou obesity health danger breathingA Guangzhou man is lucky to be alive after experiencing breathing problems that hospital doctors attribute to the man’s obesity, reports Guangzhou Daily.

Three years ago, 31 year-old Guangzhou resident Ah Hua (a pseudonym) was considered normal, standing at 170 centimeters tall and weighing 120 kg. However, due to overeating, late hours as a hotel manager, and not having regular times of work and rest, Ah Hua’s weight steadily increased until he was 180 kg.

Recently, Ah Hua checked himself into a hospital when he wasn’t feeling well. His condition deteriorated badly on the second day he was there. Zhao Ziwen, Head Doctor of the General Medicine Lung Unit of the No. 1 People’s Hospital, said Ah Hua suddenly lost the ability to breathe on his own at 6am on the second day of his hospital stay.

Dr Zhao says due to his weight, Ah Hua suffered tremendous pressure on his windpipe that impacted his ability to breathe. As well, Ah Hua’s heart functions were also compromised, and he suffered from poor blood circulation, making him susceptible to edema.

Ah Hua’s treatment at the hospital proved to be challenging because of his excess weight. Ah Hua required the use of eight people to move him around, and destroyed two hospital beds that collapsed under his significant girth.

The good news? Ah Hua managed to get better in the hospital, and he was released yesterday.

UPDATE 10:44am August 2: The wrong weight was used for this story, and has since been fixed.

Photo: Guangzhou Daily


Newspaper: Serving Expired Meat a Problem Throughout China’s Food Industry

Posted: 07/26/2014 12:52 pm

meat counter China’s current food safety scandal involving expired meat products has focused on the Western fast food restaurants that were supplied with the tainted food, something that has led some people to directly accuse Western fast food restaurants of being the problem.

However, allegations have surfaced from the Shandong-based Qilu Evening Report claiming the use of expired meat is endemic throughout all of the Chinese food industry and is not limited to Western fast food restaurants. While there isn’t much conclusive evidence behind these allegations, they remain horrifying all the same.

An industry insider unwilling to reveal his name told the Shandong newspaper reporter why he doesn’t eat meat buns when he goes out:

I never eat meat buns when I’m out, this industry is all the same. Some factories sell expired meat to vendors processed with onions, ginger and garlic so that you can’t tell the meat isn’t any good. This expired meat is sold to vendors at 80% off the normal price. From their perspective, every mao (one tenth of a Chinese dollar) they save is worth it.

Meanwhile, a chef only known by the surname Mao explained that the food service industry has a particular way of dealing with expired meat, or meat that is close to being expired. Mao explained that since this type of meat has a limp flavor, the tainted meat is used in specialty dishes that have a heavier taste, such as Shandong or Sichuan cuisine. Specific examples of dishes include maoxuewang (duck’s blood, meat and tripe in spicy soup), and boiled meat strips because the customer will ask for a heavier mala (spicy) taste that ends up masking the taste of the old meat.

The reporter also alleges that Shandong supermarkets do not necessarily get rid of their stocks of meat at the end of the day. Rather, it’s said that some supermarkets will try to sell meat from the day before by mixing it in with the current day’s batch.

Any reprieve by purchasing imported meat is also not a vivable solution, according to the report, which says that meat products can be put into cold storage for a period of up to two years.


Photos: Sina

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