Friday, December 3, 2010

Fat at buttock and thigh is good?

University of Oxford researcher's June 2010 article Gluteofemoral body fat as a determinant of metabolic health is generally cited by popular health science articles as saying it's a good thing to have gluteofemoral fat, or fat at buttocks and thighs. I wonder if it's a misreading. It seems to me the article is saying if you must have excessive fat, you would rather have it at gluteofemoral position, because it's a good place to store it. If we could find two identical people except for the fact that one is generally lean in the whole body and the other has a great amount of gluteofemoral fat, should we say the latter is more likely to be healthy?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Many Scented Cleaning Products Contain Toxic Chemicals

Dr. Weil's report on a recent medical research:
"They detected 133 chemicals in 25 popular products they analyzed, including laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, soaps, hand sanitizers, lotions, deodorants, shampoos and air fresheners...All the products emitted at least one chemical classified as toxic or hazardous,... and 11 of them emitted at least one chemical considered a probable carcinogen"
Dr. Weil's "Natural Household Cleaning Products" at 
is useful.

The original research article is titled Fragranced consumer products: Chemicals emitted, ingredients unlisted, whose abstract says "For 'green' products, emissions of these compounds were not significantly different from the other products."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Moles linked with slower aging

The report Moles linked with slower aging prompted me to find the original article. It's in the July 2007 edition of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, "Nevus Size and Number Are Associated with Telomere Length and Represent Potential Markers of a Decreased Senescence In vivo". "Nevus" includes moles and other types of birthmarks. "Telomere" is the free-moving end of a chromosome; the longer the "telomere", the better, e.g. slower aging and possibly (not confirmed) lower risk of cancer. "Senescence" means aging. The study only includes white women. But we hope the link between more and bigger moles on your body and slower aging, also exists for people that are not white and female, and I wish the researchers had commented whether cosmetically removing the moles affects the mole count.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Is "枇杷花蜜" syrup or honey?

I bought a bottle of "枇杷花蜜" in China town. Back home I saw "syrup" under the big Chinese label. The following is my email to New York State Department of Health and an abstract of their reply (with written permission).

Dear Sir/Madame,

A New York-based food company, S & M (U.S.A) ENTERPRISE CORP.,

makes Grow Notes brand syrup with a Chinese name "枇杷花蜜" (pronounced "pipa huami"). I believe there's a mismatch between the two names. The Chinese name is literally "loquat honey". If the product is indeed honey, they may be missing out on some customers who only know English. If the product is syrup, they're misleading customers to buying something that they thought would be more healthful and valuable. The label has a big bright title of "枇杷花蜜" with a small dark "Syrup" under it.

Could you tell me where I should address this email? Thank you.

Their reply:

In NYS, the term “honey” is reserved, by law, to mean “the nectar of flowers that has been transformed by, and is the natural product of the honey-bee, taken from the honeycomb and marketed in a liquid, candied or granulated condition.” (NYS Agriculture and Markets Law §205).

Unless the item meets this definition, they would not be able to label it, in the English translation, as honey. If it contains added sugars/ other ingredients, it would need to be labeled as syrup, in English ...

My email again:

Thanks very much to you both. I don't have the knowledge and obviously no scientific instrument to tell whether this particular product is syrup or honey. I'll personally avoid it for now.

Cancer: disease after industrialization

If you search on Google using these keywords

"nature reviews cancer" cancer industrialized
(quotation marks as is), you'll find many reports on the research by Dr. Michael Zimmerman et al. of Manchester University. According to their study of Egyptian mummies, cancer is mainly a disease after industrialization due to pollution and unhealthy diet. If that's true, it explains why Traditional Chinese Medicine never made allusion to a disease similar to what modern medical science calls cancer. And search for a cure of cancer in TCM is probably bound to be a futile effort. Nevertheless, TCM is remarkably successful in improving the patient's general health after cancer treatment, as well as in keeping you fit as a healthy person.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Optimal heart rate when you exercise

Too low, your exercise is not intensive enough to stimulate your heart or tone up other parts of your body. Too high, that's not good to your heart either. According to the study published in a July 2010 issue of Circulation, on average, women's peak heart rate in exercise is 206 - (0.88 x age). Dr. Weil's recount of the study is more readable to non-medical-professionals. He also noted that the formula "that works for men is 220 minus age".

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Herb Classification

In memorizing herb names and their functionalities, I find it easier to first classify or group, sometimes kind of arbitrarily, each herb into one single category. So I know the single major use of one herb before I memorize its other uses later when I have time. The following two links have fairly good classification of them.

單味藥 (single herb medicine):
成方藥 (mixed herb medicine):

As of this writing, their web pages still have problems displaying two symbols that mean something to them; both are shown as a question mark. According to their email to me, one is 飲片 and the other 濃縮藥.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Which sports have the highest exercise values?

The following is an English translation of my old note made almost 30 years ago of an article in Zhongguo Qingnian Bao (China Youth Newspaper), March 22, 1981, issue#3689. The article is titled "Which sports have the highest exercise values?". It has no information on what methods they used to create this table and what medical science research was behind the numbers. But for what it's worth, it looks interesting, and seems to be consistent with our common sense.

jogging bicycle swim-
skating hand-
tennis gymnas
walking softball
21 19 21 18 19 19 16 10 13 6
20 18 20 17 18 17 16 13 14 8
17 16 14 15 15 15 14 16 11 7
flexibility 9 9 16 13 16 13 14 19 7 9
balance 17 18 12 20 17 16 16 15 8 7
21 20 15 17 19 19 16 12 13 7
14 15 14 17 11 13 13 18 11 5
digestion 13 12 13 11 13 10 12 11 11 8
sleep 16 15 16 15 12 12 11 12 14 7
sum 148 142 140 140 140 134 128 126 102 64

The word "gymnastics" is actually "柔软体操" in Chinese, or "flexibility gymnastics" literally, and "walking" is "散步" or "slow walking", not vigorous walking as in modern day health advice. Needless to say, the sports in the table are to be treated as sports, not leisurely activities. For instance, swimming does not mean you immerse your body in the pool for a whole afternoon and swing your arms once every few minutes, and biking is not slowly cycling around a beautiful lake in a family outing. Have you heard of people say they gained weight by "swimming"? Now you know why.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My first herb concoction

5 钱 (about 25 grams) of the following each:

丁香 (Syzygium aromaticum)
红花 (Safflower)
玉桂 (Cinnamon)
细辛 (Manchurian Wildginger)
川芎 (Rhizoma Chuanxiong)

bought from a local herb store. It only cost about $3 in total. I don't know the best way to use it. But I figure the easiest is as follows: take each a little and put them in a bowl; add a little water; heat it in microwave for a minute. Use a small piece of paper towel to dab at the liquid and apply it to wherever I feel joint pain, such as my wrist. Wrap around the wrist, and place the wrist in the bowl without touching the very hot water. Cover the wrist and bowl so as to keep the steam inside.

The above are from a prescription on a newspaper that (if I remember right) is supposed to treat women's mentrual cramps. But looking up the herbs in my "中药大辞典" I know they all serve to 舒筋活血 (help blood circulation). I don't remember the amount of each I should use and don't care how to best use it. So I take each just a little and only for 外用 (external use). Since 细辛 is toxic, this is even more important.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Scimitar syndrome patients birth month and surface water pesticide usage

Scimitar syndrome is a rare congenital heart disease. Recently I read of the following research and thought of some possible connection between this disease and surface water pesticide usage in the US.
Month Of Conception Linked To Birth Defects In United States

"the researchers found a strong association between the increased number of birth defects in children of women whose last menstrual period occurred in April, May, June or July and elevated levels of nitrates, atrazine and other pesticides in surface water during the same months."

For those that need more academic details, read

So I thought it would be very interesting to see what month a Scimitar syndrome patient was born in. To that end, I set up a poll at Yahoo Scimitar syndrome group (

As of today there're 13 data points. (One person told me the child was prematurely born so the actual number of valid points is 12.) The data are as follows

Month - Count of Patients - Percentage
January - 1 - 7%
February - 3 - 23%
March - 1 - 7%
April - 1 - 7%
May - 2 - 15%
June - 0 - 0%
July - 1 - 7%
August - 2 - 15%
September - 0 - 0%
October - 0 - 0%
November - 2 - 15%
December - 0 - 0

I wish I had more data points. But it looks like there's a trend: more scimitar syndrome patients are born early in a year. Let's say it's February. That means the mother's conception time is May. That fits well with the US surface water high pollution period in a year.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Oil for mouth ulcer

Mouth ulcer, or canker sore according to Wikipedia, has no easy cure. But not mentioned in any article I know of is that you can simply apply any edible oil to the ulcer to greatly ease the pain, and in fact expedite recovery, rather like putting a bandaid on wound. I think the way this works is oil covers the ulcer to prevent water (mostly saliva) to get to the spot. Since you would move your tongue onto the ulcer accidentally or intentionally during the day, covering the ulcer with oil at night before you sleep is the best.

According to Dr. Weil, if the ulcer is a cold sore, you may also want to avoid chocolate, beer, grain cereals, nuts, etc.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

All tunas are bad

Too much mercury. If you must eat tuna, maybe yellowfin tunas are less dangerous to eat, because they're caught younger so they have accumulated less mercury in their bodies. But then do you eat more of them to satisfy your appetite? If you do, the same amount of harm is done. Just avoid tunas.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New "golden" ratios for facial beauty

January 2010 issue of "Vision Research" has an interesting paper:
New "golden" ratios for facial beauty. If you look at these faces (source from their article):

don't you think the two in the black frames look better? That's because, as the researchers find out, given a specific person, i.e. not comparing one person with another, there is something you can do to beautify yourself. Specifically, when the vertical distance between the line connecting two pupils and your mouth is 36% ("length ratio") of the distance between the lower edge of the frontal hair and the chin, the face looks the most attractive. Similarly, a most attractive image is achieved when the distance between the pupils is 46% ("width ratio") of the face width (measured between inner edges of ears). Since both widths can be controlled with hairs, these findings should be exciting news for people seeking natural beauty.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Doctors may have given you too much X-ray

I've known this for years. Your doctor may have ordered too many X-ray's or CT scans on your body, increasing the risk of cancer, particularly leukemia, thyroid, and breast cancers. Children are at significantly higher risk, because (as a medical professional friend told me) their bone marrows are still developing. Next time when you visit your doctor, refuse or question the decision to take X-ray. Read Dr. Weil's latest article at

"doctors order all these scans not for medical reasons but to protect themselves from the ever-present threat of malpractice litigation... the owners of for-profit health care centers must use them [X-ray or CT scanners] a lot to recoup their investment."

Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do once the genes are already damaged by the X-rays.

CT's are much stronger X-rays, in case you don't know. For the dosage and their risk, see "Table: Average Radiation Doses Associated With Common Imaging Studies" at

(It needs an account, which is free.)

For your convenience, this is the interesting part of that article,

Table: Average Radiation Doses Associated With Common Imaging Studies

Diagnostic Examination, Effective Dose (mSv)

Chest (PA film), 0.02
Head, 0.07
Cervical spine, 0.3
Thoracic spine, 1.4
Lumbar spine 1.8
Abdomen, 0.53
Pelvis/hip, 0.83
Limbs/joints, 0.06
Upper GI, 3.6
Lower GI, 6.4
Screening mammogram, 0.13
Head, 2.0
Abdomen, 10.0
Chest, 20-40
Pulmonary angiography, 20-40
PET - CT, 25

Other interesting readings:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bitter Melon (苦瓜) Extract Inhibits Breast Cancer Cell Proliferation

February 23, 2010, in Cancer Research (a journal of the American Association of Cancer Research)

News on Dr. Weil:

Abstract of the research article:
Full text:

This humble bitter melon (bitter gourd, 苦瓜, ku3 gua1) very popular in China is rarely found in grocery stores in the US. It's gratifying to see the medicinal effect scientifically tested and proved, not just for breast cancer prevention, but for diabetes control and AIDS. Since bitter melons are grown in the southern part of China, I wonder if more Chinese women in the north than the south are diagnozed with breast cancer.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Non-Stick Pans and Thyroid Disease

Association Between Serum Perfluoroctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Thyroid Disease in the NHANES Study

Higher concentrations of serum PFOA and PFOS (perfluoroctane sulphonate) are associated with current thyroid disease in the US general adult population.

Other interesting points from the publication (click "Download: PDF"):

Individuals with more education had higher PFOA levels...Similar differences were
found in PFOS concentrations.

people reporting having Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) may be less likely to be in the highest PFOA concentration quartile

Production of PFOS was halted in 2002 in the USA by its principal producer, due largely to concerns over bioaccumulation and toxicity. Since then, voluntary industry reductions in production and usage of other perfluorinated compounds, such as the US EPA initiated PFOA Stewardship Programme (US EPA 2006) have contributed to a decreasing trend in human exposure for all perfluorinated compounds (with the notable exception of perfluorononanoic acid, PFNA)

Modest associations between PFOA and thyroid hormones (negative for free T4 and positive for T3) were reported in 506 PFOA production workers across three production facilities (Olsen and Zobel 2007). There were no associations between TSH or T4 and PFOA and the free hormone levels were within the normal reference range.