Healthful data


    ‘Smokers look older because the health and integrity of their skin (besides the lungs and other organs) are adversely affected by cigarettes and the chemicals in them.’

    ARE anti-radiation patches for cellphones effective?

    There are oblong patches, and similar gadgets, being sold as anti-radiation shield for cellphones. The claim that this “ear piece” attached to the cellphone will minimize or abolish radiation exposure is not scientifically proven. We think this is a useless item that might even give users a false sense of security to use the cellphone longer and without care. The other question that is not resolved either is whether extended use of handheld cellphones can cause tumor of the brain. We suggest getting a hands-free attachment rather than spending money for the “anti-radiation” gimmicks.

    Is it safe to drink beverages from the cans?

    If the can is clean, yes. Canned beverages (soda or beer, etc.) are usually warehoused in areas where they are exposed to possible contamination. There have been reports of illnesses among persons who drank directly from the can, which was contaminated with feces or droppings from mice or cockroaches. If one washes the can very well before putting it against the mouth, it might be safe, but the best is to wipe clean the area of the lid even before opening it, and either pour the drink into a glass or sip the soda through a straw.

    Why do smokers look older?

    Studies have shown that those who smoke look and, many even feel, older than those who do not. Smoker’s lung capacity and endurance are definitely less than those who do not smoke. Smokers look older because the health and integrity of their skin (besides the lungs and other organs) are adversely affected by cigarettes and the chemicals in them.

    Premature ageing among smokers results from increase in a protein (enzyme MMP-1) that degrades skin collagen and severely reduces the elasticity of the skin. The skin “grows old” and wrinkle sooner, and eye bags develop sooner. Even libido and sexual potency are reduced among smokers, especially among the males. Needless to say, smoking greatly increases the risk for stroke, heart attack and various forms of cancers.

    Is Iridology really as good as it is claimed to be?

    In these days of advanced medical science and technology, there is nothing superior to modern western medicine. Alternative Eastern and Herbal medicine are being explored and studied now in view of some promising initial observations, but it may take another decade or two for the objective and scientific verdict (relating to their efficacy, safety, standardization and long term effects) to be available. Iridology is the “science” (as the “iridologists” call it) of looking into the iris of the eye and making all sorts of diagnosis covering an endless list of diseases, without the usual complete physical examination and laboratory tests. There is no scientific basis for this claim. It is apparent that this is a money-generating scam to victimize the ignorant, the gullible and the unsuspecting. Many of these practitioners themselves actually sell medications (herbal, etc.) in their offices, one for each diagnosis they make, after only looking at the eyes of their “patients.” While hypertension or diabetes, for instance, show changes in the eyes, helping the physician make a diagnosis, majority (more than 99.9%) of illnesses cannot be diagnosed by simply looking at the iris. As always, consumers beware!

    Does eating salt increase the risk of cataract?

    A new study in Australia has shown that those who consumed the greatest amount of salt or salty foods (high sodium) have twice the risk of developing subcapsular cataracts, the most severe form of eye lens opacification, compared to those who ate the least amount of salt. The lesser the salt we ingest, the better for all of us, especially among those with hypertension (high blood pressure) and those with congestive heart failure or water retention. With this new finding, it behooves all of us to stay away from salt, MSG, patis, bagoong, toyo, tinapa and other salted fish or meats. The amount of salt in natural foods (fruits, vegetables, fish, etc) is already perfect, but many of us have the bad habit of automatically (instinctively) adding more salt or salty condiments to the food we eat even before tasting it.

    Is chocolate good for our heart?

    While chocolate, especially the dark kind, has one of the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) rating as an anti-oxidant, even compared to tea or concord grapes, chocolate is not good for our heart because of high caloric, fat and cholesterol content. A small bar (1.55 oz) of dark chocolate has 227 calories. Chocolate as an occasional treat is fine, but there is nothing superior to fruits, vegetables, tea, red wine, as daily sources of anti-oxidants.

    How much calories are there in nuts?

    These vary, but the following data can serve as a guide: peanut, about 8 calories a piece; cashew, 8.8; chestnut, 20; macadamia, 16.6; pistachio, 3.4; almonds, 7; hazelnut, 15; pecan halves, 12.7; walnut halves, 12.9; Brazil nut, 23.8. In moderation, an ounce serving of nuts every now and then is good for us. However, we have to watch the calories they provide, which can file up fast and negate the good health benefit from them.

    Can ampalaya cure diabetes?

    No, there is yet no cure for diabetes, which affects about 3 million Filipinos. Pancreatic tissue transplants (with its Islet of Langerhans, insulin secretor, which is deficient or absent among those with diabetes mellitus) have been done in some centers to cure diabetes mellitus, but the last word on this regimen has not yet been said. What has been observed with the vegetable called ampalaya (Philippine bitter gourd), which is a rich source of vitamin B, iron, phosphorus and calcium, is that it appears to lower blood sugar level when ingested by diabetics. In Cuba and Puerto Rico, ampalaya has been used by the natives to treat diabetes. The mechanism of action is not clear. While a herbal company has already come out with an ampalaya capsule, the medical community still awaits further and more definitive scientific studies to support this encouraging observation. As always, we recommend physician consultation and supervision when anyone tries a new medication or mode of treatment. But eating ampalaya (while the ingredients in the ampalaya capsule are being evaluated in the laboratory for efficacy, safety, long term effects, etc.) is in itself healthy, since it is natural food element, unlike many commercial herbal products that have been reported to have adverse side effects.

    The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

    Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a Health Public Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian and anti-graft foundation in the United States. Visit our websites: and Email:


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