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Archive for April, 2013

Smartphone users who text while they walk becoming a hazard


On a busy commercial street in Tokyo, Mr A, while about to climb the steps to a train station, staggered as he was struck from behind. He turns and sees a youth, who appears to be a student, who had been so wrapped up in his smartphone that he’d banged right into him from behind.

At least no bones were broken.

“He just muttered, ‘Aw, I couldn’t help it,’ and I stood there and glared at him,” Mr A relates.

By the end of 2016, according to a study by the MM Research Institute, 67.3% of the mobile phones in use will be smartphones. Which means, says Shukan Post (May 3-10), there will be that many more people perambulating while blissfully unaware of their surroundings, as they squint at and tap the screens of their personal communications devices.

Research confirms that walking while using one of these gadgets is dangerous, Takahiro Higuchi, associate professor of cognitive science at Tokyo Metropolitan University, tells the magazine.

“While their attention is focused on the screen, they disregard other pedestrians,” he says. “More than in crosswalks where caution is needed, they pay even less attention on regular streets.”

Particularly at risk are seniors or the handicapped, with whom phone users frequently collide, says a Mr B, a volunteer who works with the handicapped.

“While using the phones, people’s walking speed slows and they tend to only look right in front of them,” says Toshikazu Shimazaki of the Nihon University Faculty of Engineering. “The more they focus on the display, they less attention they pay to people walking around them.”

The smartphone user thus becomes a “moving barrier,” and his victims the elderly, the handicapped and small children.

Professor Katsumi Tokuda of Tsukuba University cites a survey in which 42% of mothers with small children said they had the experience of colliding with a smartphone user.

According to Kazuhiro Kozuka, professor of media informatics at Aichi University of Technology (AUT), if a person walks with empty hands his or her view lingers on objects for less than half a second, permitting the eyes to wander about to take in the surroundings. If walking while conversing by telephone, this field of vision narrows, and the time for views to linger becomes longer.

But if walking while sending a twitter message, even if the person still looks forward, there’s hardly any peripheral vision at all.

“When you send a Twitter message via a smartphone while walking, your field of vision shrinks to one-third,” says Kozuka. “This adversely affects judgment and sense of caution, making it easier to bump into people and vehicles.”

Be as it may, Shukan Post continues, more people are at last starting to raise objections to this hazardous behavior. According to one survey via the Internet, 83% of respondents said they were in favor of a regulation banning or restricting use of smartphones while in motion.

The desk for fielding complaints from citizens in Tokyo’s Minato Ward says it has received requests from people asking for anti-phone statutes after they “collided with a phone user and got knocked down.” Reports of accidents on station platforms and steps are gradually being collated, and while the numbers are still small, indications are that broken bones and fatalities as a result of smartphone mishaps, occasionally result.

“From surveys taken around 2007, people felt it was a problem that could be dealt with simply by encouraging phone users to ‘mind their manners’ and ‘show consideration for others,’” says the aforementioned Tokuda. “But since then,  the number of smartphones has increased exponentially and the problem has only grown worse.

“Just as regulations were put into place to deal with smokers on the street, if people can’t control themselves with phones, then isn’t it going to be necessary to make laws? Even just by raising it to the level of debate, this will hopefully send a wake-up message to phone users,” Tokuda says.

One possible solution might be to convince telephone manufacturers to build in functions to prevent phone use while in motion.

“The time is fast approaching when the manufacturers will have to seriously take up measures to deal with this ‘aruki-sumaho,’” AUT’s Kozuka remarks. “And some moves in this direction have already begun, of their own volition.”

Hop aboard with a tasty boxed meal

Variety of fresh boxed meals to be available at Seoul Station from June

One of the fun things about a train trip is eating boxed meals or snacks while enjoying the view. With the anticipation and excitement of a train ride, train meals offer a different dining experience.

But some boxed meals and snacks sold on trains or at train stations don’t live up to passengers’ expectations, and often become the reason passengers look toward arriving at their destination for a proper meal.

The Korea Railroad Corporation stepped up efforts to make train rides more memorable and fun by offering a diverse selection of fresh boxed meals that will be available for purchase on the platforms of Seoul Station starting June.

“KORAIL is presenting new menus that will meet different needs of our passengers. Boxed meals are an indispensable part of a train trip and we are bringing change to its taste and nutrition,” said Chung Chang-young, CEO of the KORAIL, at the tasting event for press on Tuesday.

Boxed meals will be available for passengers to purchase before boarding their trains at Seoul Station starting in June. The Korea Railroad Corporation plans to offer 40 different options. (The Korea Railroad Corporation)

It presented 40 choices, including Korean food, Japanese food, Southeast Asian noodles, Korean kimbap, rice balls, salads and fruits and rice cakes.

Korean boxed meals present five regional specialties including Eonyang bulgogi (grilled marinated beef), Chuncheon dalkgalbi (spicy grilled chicken), Damyang tteokgalbi (roasted ground rib) and Jeonju bibimbap.

“Tteokgalbi usually cost 22,000 won to 27,000 won in Damyang, but here you can eat the same regional specialty for 8,000 won,” said Oh Jae-rang, a reporter from Tour Korea, a travel magazine.

The Korean boxed meals offer, on average, four to six side dishes in addition to the main course.

Japanese boxed meals made by the bento brand Hotto Motto target Japanese tourists. These treats have shrimp tempura, grilled salmon and Japanese hamburger steak accompanied with pickled vegetables. The prices range from 6,000 won to 13,000 won.

Most of the boxed meals tasted better than the usual boxed meals, but some who sampled the food at the tasting event felt the meals were a bit on the salty side.

For young people, KORAIL presented five different kinds of Southeast Asian fried noodles including pad thai, mee goreng and khao phat.

The noodles were something that young people at the tasting event would favor over other boxed meals as they tasted good despite being served cold.

Snack options include “drug” gimbap, which is originally sold at Gwangjang market in Jongno, Seoul, and named after its addictive taste; rice cake by Nakwon Food; and rice balls, which will be made fresh right after an order is placed.

A participant suggested the boxed meals should be available nationwide and KORAIL should develop more regional specialties like Japan’s ekiben (station bento), which are sold at regional train stations. Ekiben has played a key role in attracting tourists to provinces to taste the boxed meals based on regional specialties.

“Developing more regional specialties and having them available at train stations on each regional line will boost local tourism,” the participant said.

By Lee Woo-young  (

Feelings of Zoophoria

Local zoos increase visitors’ interaction with animals for more hands-on experience

“So, we are now going to take pictures with a snake. It doesn’t bite and it’s not scary at all!” Kim Dong-ok, a zookeeper at Seoul Children’s Grand Park Zoo, said Monday morning in a classroom inside the tropical animal zone.

She was talking to about 50 children from a nearby kindergarten who had come to the park and zoo on a field trip.

Slightly anxious and excited, the children let Kim wrap a Burmese python around their necks. While even some teachers, evidently scared, refused the animal, many of the children soon enjoyed having the reptile so close. Some stroked it and observed the yellow pattern on its body.

A girl holds a snake at a class for familiarizing people with animals at Children’s Grand Park Zoo in Seoul on Monday. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)

“Well, I cannot say it feels very good, but it’s so surprising!” a boy giggled as he tried to grab the snake’s tail. The students also had a chance to take pictures and touch a rabbit, a cockatiel, turtles and a squirrel monkey.

“The children overall took it very nicely. They were enjoying it,” Kim said.

Zoos are becoming places of greater interaction between people and animals. Instead of locking animals behind bars and just watching them, there are many ways for people to enjoy “friendship” with the creatures. More people are visiting zoos as a way to not only pass the time but learn about animals and gain a sense of fulfillment.

During April and May, when cherry blossoms peak and the weather is mild, tens of thousands of people visit zoos. About 250,000 people had visited the Seoul Children’s Grand Park Zoo ― which has 4,100 animals of 95 species ― on April 20 and the number is expected to peak on May 5, Children’s Day.

Instead of just letting people watch animals in cages, the zoo offers a number of programs to familiarize the visitors with the animals. Classes where children can pet animals are held twice a day, while mothers can bring their children and befriend the residents of the zoo. Volunteers ― usually retired zoologists or vets ― guide the visitors with background stories and details about each animal.

Visitors at the zoo observe a goat. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)

“If you understand the characteristics of an animal ― for example, how they survive in a harsh environment and how they manage to fool their natural enemies ― you have double the fun! The zoo is full of wonders and great things for all people,” said Kim Hak-jo, a former veterinarian and volunteer at the zoo.

Also, targeting children, on tags in front of the fence and hutch are pictures and simple explanations about the animals.

Many animal rights activists oppose the idea of zoos, arguing that keeping creatures secluded from their natural habitat and locking them in a cage for the enjoyment of humans is inhumane.

Reflecting such views, zoos are trying to improve the welfare of the animals.

“Animals in the zoo nowadays are mostly born and bred within the zoo rather than being captured in the wild. We are also prioritizing animal welfare,” said Cho Kyung-uk, manager of the park’s zoological department. She said from feeding the animals ― instead of feeding them directly, the managers hide the food so that the animals can sniff to find their prey ― to creating sand and sawdust floors were all in line with the welfare policy.

Zoos around Korea

– Seoul Zoo

Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m., March-October; 9 a.m.-6 p.m.,

November-February; 9 a.m.-10 p.m., July 21-Aug. 26.

Admission: 1,000 won-3,000 won. Free for children under 5

(02) 500-7335 /

– Everland

Hours: 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m. on weekends, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. on weekdays for Zootopia.

10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on weekends for safari tours.

Admission: 25,000 won-40,000 won, which includes Everland admission.

(031) 320-5000 /

– Daegu Dalseong Park Zoo

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. in March, April, September and October; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. from May through August and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. from November through February.

(053) 554-7907 /

– Incheon Park Children’s Zoo

Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday; closed on Monday.

(032) 466-0375 /

– Uchi Park Zoo in Gwangju

Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Admission: 400 won-1,500 won.

(062) 613-5860~5 /

– Cheongju Land Zoo

Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.

Admission: 400 won -1,000 won

(043) 200-4705 /

– Daejeon O-World Zoo

Hours: 10 a.m.-5:50 p.m. in March, April; 10 a.m.-6:50 p.m. in May, June; 10 a.m.-9:50 p.m. in July, August; 10 a.m.-8:50 p.m. in September; 10 a.m.-7:50 p.m. in October; 10 a.m.-4:50 p.m. in November and December.

Admission: 3,000 won-20,000 won.

(042) 580-4820 /

By Bae Ji-sook (

More men don the apron

Middle-aged and elderly men learn to cook as hobby or second career

When Han Jin-se enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu-Sookmyung last year, he had no cooking experience. Now, Han has mastered three levels and is completing the academy’s final program this June.

An expert in the kitchen now, Han tosses out culinary lingo with ease, explaining how learning to cook not only helped prepare him to open his own restaurant, but also fostered family time with his son.

“I bring home the food that I cook in class and my son brings a bottle of wine,” said Han, 61, an insurance broking firm chairman and soon-to-be restaurateur.

Not only does Han’s newfound second career-hobby give him more quality time with his son, he finds it personally rewarding as well.

“I get this rush once I feel I have essentially mastered a dish,” Han said.

Though Han said he was the only one among his friends who can cook, in the big picture, he is far from alone.

For instance, Lee Byung-wan, 61, started to learn how to cook for volunteer work purposes. Lee continued to learn how to make cake and bread and then enrolled into the Gangnam district-run Daddy’s Cooking Class at the Long Learn Academy to further his culinary expertise.

Lee is one of over 15 fellow classmates who have signed up for the men-only cooking program held in Gaepo-dong every Monday evening.

Daddy’s Cooking Class launched in 2009, according to Gangnam-gu Lifelong Learning team manager Moon E-seul, and currently holds two separate classes, one on Mondays and one on Wednesdays. Both are exclusively for men.

“It is very popular,” said Moon, 27. “Our students are men in their late 40s to 60s who are facing retirement or who have retired.”

Daddy’s Cooking Class is one of the programs throughout the nation that is geared specifically towards men, signaling that the class is not an anomaly but part of a growing trend.

Participants learn to cook at the male-only Daddy’s Cooking Class at the Long Learn Academy in Gaepo-dong, Seoul, on Monday. (Ahn Hoon/The Korea Herald)

“I think there are two major reasons why more older men are cooking these days,” food cable channel Olive team head Seo Won-yea, 36, said in a phone interview with The Korea Herald.

“Firstly, men who like to eat out, who are basically gourmands, take on cooking as a hobby to be able to make food that meets their own standards,” Seo said.

That theory seems to apply, in part, to Le Cordon Bleu-Sookmyung student Han Jin-se.

“Insurance broking was no longer fun,” said Han, explaining how after 18 years of work, he decided to try something different.

“Whenever I traveled abroad, I would visit an oyster bar,” Han said. And when he realized there was a scarcity of oyster bars in Korea, he decided to open one himself.

To realize his dreams, Han enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu, where he would amass the know-how that would help him open a restaurant born of his own passion for oysters.

In essence, it was his own gourmet tastes that led him down the path to finding a second career. However, for Han, cooking is more than just a hobby ― it is partly a profession, in that it will help him as a restaurateur.

Le Cordon Bleu-Sookmyung PR manager Yang Jin-won said that like Han, most men in their 50s or older who enroll at the academy are either interested in opening their own restaurant or are working in the food industry.

That used to be the case for another prominent South Korea-based culinary academy, tsuji+1. According to marketing team manager Park Sun-jung, however, there has been an increase in the number of middle-aged male students enrolling in classes as a hobby.

Park revealed that while middle-aged male students are primarily interested in French and Italian food, they are also interested in the academy’s wine and food pairing gourmet classes. This shows that men seem to be, as Olive’s Seo said, taking on cooking as a leisurely pastime that enables them to satisfy their own hunger for good grub.

In Seo’s opinion, a new hobby prompted by a love of food is only one of the reasons why more men are entering the kitchen.

“The second reason comes from social circumstances, from an increase in the number of those who eat alone,” Seo said.

“Lots of men are living a single lifestyle,” Seo explained. “For example, there are fathers whose families are living abroad or husbands who work in a different city than their spouses, so they need to cook for themselves.”

According to Statistics Korea, there was a notable increase in the number of divorces in men in their late 50s and 60s and over between 2011 and 2012. There was an 8 percent increase in divorces of men in their late 50s and a 6.1 percent increase in men in their 60s and over divorcing. Furthermore, from 2000 to 2010 there was a 103.6 percent increase in the number of men living alone.

While the numbers point to a rise in the number of men who are likely leading the lifestyle of a singleton and who therefore may need to learn to cook as a necessity, Gangnam-gu Lifelong Learning’s Moon stressed that societal perceptions also play an important role in bringing more men into the kitchen, with a society that upholds gender equality as the norm increasingly focused on the role men play within their families.

“My wife welcomes it,” said Kang Tae-hong, 63, who enrolled at Daddy’s Cooking Class after a few other men at his office started attending the program.

Kang, who runs his own business, explained how the class is also practical because now “I can make food when I am home alone.”

Fellow student Kim Kon-seok, 69, revealed that after he quit his job two years ago, he ended up eating at home two to three times a week. Aware of the toll that cooking all those meals would take on his wife and of his own personal desire to be able to eat a wide variety of dishes throughout the week, he acted upon a relative’s suggestion that he take a cooking class.

“So I came here, I tried it and it was not that hard,” Kim said, adding that he plans to keep on going to Daddy’s Cooking Class. “I feel happy when I cook my own food.”

Gone are the ancient perceptions of the alpha male’s role in society.

Jin Yang-ho, 60, a professor of food service and culinary management at the college of tourism sciences, Kyonggi University, recapped that age-old concept, explaining how in the past, “the older generations saw the kitchen as no-man’s territory.”

That attitude has changed. Now, men are taking cooking on as a challenge, says Jin. The key, however, is that it is a challenge that is not too daunting. If cooking may have possessed an air of the formidable in the old days, now it is far more approachable and accessible.

“Now that many restaurants have open kitchens, people feel like they can do it themselves,” Jin explained, adding that being able to see how the experts concoct dishes like pasta and steak makes cooking less of a mystery.

Furthermore, the development of ready-made sauces and other such products has made cooking easier, said Jin.

“One can look up recipes online,” Jin added.

While single-style living, gourmet tastes and the increased approachability of cooking may all play a key role in getting more men to cook, current trends towards holistic well-being and changes in how men in the kitchen are perceived seem to have also wielded some influence.

“Well-being, healing trends have made us a very health-conscious generation and cooking is a natural extension of that,” said Jin.

Not only have trends like “well-being” and “healing” potentially spurred the increase in the number of men who cook, so has the way that men cooking are looked upon.

“Women no longer seem to harbor dreams of meeting a tough, macho alpha male,” said Olive’s Seo. “Now that women are working hard, they seem to harbor dreams of a guy who can whip up brunch in the morning.”

By Jean Oh (

Company Eggs

Company Eggs


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 bunches Swiss chard, thick center ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped (about 12 cups)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 large eggs
  • 2 ounces sharp white cheddar, grated (about 1/2 cup)


  • Preheat oven to 400°. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 8-10 minutes.
  • Add chard to skillet by the handful, tossing to wilt between additions. Cook, tossing often, until tender, 8-10 minutes. Add cream and simmer until thickened and almost evaporated, 8-10 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
  • Spread chard mixture evenly in a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Using the back of a spoon, make 12 small, evenly spaced divots in the chard mixture. Crack 1 egg into each divot. Season eggs with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese over.
  • Bake, rotating dish once, until egg whites are almost set and yolks are still runny, 15-18 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
  • DO AHEAD: The chard and cream mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Reheat before transferring to baking dish.

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It was hard to get overly excited about Mailbox back when it first released, seeing as by the time you got on the waiting list you were probably looking at a few weeks wait time. Frustrating as it was, the service continued to gain momentum as the user base multiplied, and to date Mailbox has filled more than 1 million reservations and is responsible for the sending of about 100 million messages every day… So, maybe there’s something to this simplified Gmail client for iOS. Fortunately, the annoying wait list is a thing of the past, and you can download/start using Mailbox Mailbox - Orchestra, Inc. today!


The change in process comes just after Mailbox was updated to version 1.2—an update that came with better snooze settings and new swipe gestures… For those who were still several hundred thousand deep in the waiting list and haven’t got to try it yet—Mailbox distinguishes itself from the built-in iOS Mail app by unifying your inboxes and letting you swipe left or right to do things like archive, delete, or snooze emails. The system is ideal for those who enjoy an empty inbox and want to sift and sort emails for better organization. Even though it works like a charm, I’ve found that the workflow it dictates doesn’t sync with my old habits—but when I force myself to work with Mailbox, I end up being more organized.

So, if you thought you had weeks to wait before finding out what Mailbox is all about, this is great news. On the other hand, maybe the anticipation has been part of building so much excitement around this app? It’ll be interesting to see if the Mailbox adoption rate holds its pace now that it’s freely available.

Measles vaccination plan in England targets 1m children

Boy getting measles jab

Drop-in clinics have been set up during the outbreak in Swansea


One million schoolchildren in England who missed MMR jabs are to be targeted by a vaccination plan aimed at curbing the growing threat of measles.

Health officials warn epidemics similar to the one in Swansea, which has seen nearly 942 cases, could occur anywhere.

There are fears that a generation of children have low levels of protection after the MMR scare a decade ago.

The catch-up campaign, run through GPs, schools and community groups, will focus on children aged 10 to 16.

The campaign is expected to cost £20m and the Department of Health already has 1.2 million vaccines ready to go.

It will aim to vaccinate children yet to be protected with the MMR – measles, mumps and rubella – jab by September.

Measles is a highly contagious disease characterised by a high fever and a rash. In one in 15 cases it can lead to severe complications, such as pneumonia and inflammation of the brain, and can be fatal.

In 2012, there were nearly 2,000 cases of measles in England – the highest figure for nearly two decades.

Which areas are at risk?

This year could be another record with cases already higher than at the same point last year.

Discredited research

Children aged between 10 and 16 are the most likely to have missed jabs when research linked MMR with autism and caused vaccination rates to plummet. The research has since been discredited.

The most urgent need for vaccination is in the third-of-a-million completely unprotected children in that age group. They should be given their first MMR jab before the next school year and a booster jab later.

A similar number of children who had only their first MMR vaccine will be targeted with their booster.


Travel back in time to the mid-90s and measles was not a worry. It had been effectively eradicated in the UK with cases only coming from abroad.

It seems remarkable that two decades later such campaigns are needed.

Discredited claims by Andrew Wakefield of a link between MMR and autism led to vaccination rates falling to 80% by 2005, far below the level needed to prevent the spread of the disease.

Those unvaccinated children are now entering a vulnerable period in their lives as they move to secondary school.

It is a significant moment as mixing with far more pupils significantly increases the risk of infection.

Being older also means the dangers of complications will be higher.

Vaccination rates have since recovered to record levels. It suggests measles will be confined to the Wakefield generation and not be a long-term problem.

Q&A: Measles and MMR

The aim is to give a further third-of-a-million children in other age groups, who are not totally protected, their vaccines as well.

Prof David Salisbury, the director of immunisation at the Department of Health, said parents needed to act to prevent outbreaks on their doorstep.

“Swansea is the wake-up call for parents and it tells us just how infectious measles is – it just spreads like wildfire.

“If you think your child has not had one or even two doses of MMR, for goodness’ sake contact your GP and get it sorted out.

“The message from Swansea is very clear and it is trivialised at the risk of your children’s health.”

Similar plans are already under way in Wales.

Both Scotland and Northern Ireland maintained relatively high MMR uptake but NHS boards in Scotland are to write to parents of all unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children aged 10 to 17 with an invitation to attend for vaccination over the next few weeks.

Danger zones

Figures from Public Health England show there have been 587 confirmed cases of measles in the first three months of 2013.

Regional breakdown

Measles outbreak: In graphics

A fifth of cases needed hospital treatment and 15 people developed complications such as pneumonia, meningitis and gastroenteritis.

Mandatory vaccination

Scientist Dr Craig Venter, who was one of the first to sequence the human genome, has called for all unvaccinated children to be banned from school.

He told the Times that said such children were a “hazard to society”.

It echoes calls Dr Paul Offit, a US-based measles expert, that vaccination should be mandatory.

He says such a policy, which can affect school admittance and job offers in the US, had prevented similar outbreaks there.

It is not compulsory as people can object on health, philosophical and religious grounds.

A similar scheme is not expected in the UK and schools cannot independently choose to exclude those who have not been vaccinated.

‘Make measles jab mandatory’ call

The cases were mostly in the north-east and north-west of England, even though the north of the country generally maintained high levels of vaccination at the height of the MMR scare.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said: “We have potential for school outbreaks in many areas of the country.

“The areas most likely to be affected would be London and the south and east of the country, where we know that the historical coverage was not as high.”

Prof Salisbury said he worried about London because of the high density of people, who were rapidly moving.

He warned that children who received single jabs, instead of the combined MMR, may also need additional protection as there had been “major problems” with the quality and storage of some of the vaccines handed out.

He added that nobody should be considering single jabs now.

Dr Paul Cosford, the director for health protection at Public Health England, said: “Although nationally the numbers needing catch-up vaccination is quite large, there are relatively few in each local area.

“We are confident that local teams have the resources to identify and vaccinate those children most at risk.”


Latin America ‘threatened by rising cancer cases’

Street market, Ecuador
Many Latin American communities do not have easy access to healthcare

Cancer is threatening to overwhelm Latin American countries, experts writing in Lancet Oncology warn.

There are far fewer cases of cancer in the region than in the US or Europe – but the proportion who die is far higher, they say.

Late diagnosis and poor access to treatment are the main reasons for the disparity, they add.

They said as life expectancy increased, cancer would become more common, and many countries would not cope.

The experts looked at cancer incidence and care in the Latin American and Caribbean region, including the following countries: Argentina, Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, French Guiana, Guyana, Honduras, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Paraguay and El Salvador.

Risk factors

Writing in a Lancet Oncology report that is being officially launched at a specialist conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, they say as the economies of these countries grow, and standards of living increase, people are increasingly adopting the habits of more developed countries.

This burgeoning cancer problem threatens to cause widespread suffering and economic peril to the countries of Latin America ”

Prof Paul GossHarvard Medical School

They are living more sedentary lifestyles, eating more unhealthily, smoking more and drinking more alcohol.

Sun exposure and indoor pollution from burning solid fuels are also risk factors.

The researchers say that in Latin America, there are around 163 cases of cancer per 100,000 people.

In the US, the comparable figure is 300 cases per 100,000, while in Europe it is 264 cases per 100,000.

But the death rate is much higher. In Latin America it stands at 13 deaths for every 22 cancer cases, while it is 13 deaths for every 37 cases of cancer the US, and approximately 13 deaths for every 30 cases in Europe.

Researchers estimate that in 2030, there will be 1.7 million cases of cancer diagnosed across Latin America and the Caribbean, and there will be more than 1 million deaths.

Paul Goss, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, who led the research team, said: “More widespread adoption of lifestyles similar to those in developed countries will lead to a rapidly growing number of patients with cancer, a cost burden for which Latin American countries are not prepared.

“This burgeoning cancer problem threatens to cause widespread suffering and economic peril to the countries of Latin America.

“The region is poorly equipped to deal with the alarming rise in cancer incidence and disproportionately high mortality rates compared with other world regions, underscoring the magnitude of the cancer-control problem.”


Diabetes warning over soft drinks

Soft drinks
People should consume fewer sugar-sweetened soft drinks, say European scientists

Drinking one or more cans of sugary soft drinks a day is linked to an increased risk of diabetes in later life, a study suggests.

A can a day raises the relative risk of Type-2 diabetes by about a fifth, compared with one can a month or under, say European scientists.

The report in the journal Diabetologia mirrors previous US findings.

A diabetes charity recommends limiting sugary foods and drinks as they are calorific and can cause weight gain.

The latest research was carried out in the UK, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Sweden, France and the Netherlands.

Some 350,000 individuals were questioned about their diet, as part of a large European study looking at links between diet and cancer.

“The consumption of sugar sweetened soft drinks increases your risk of diabetes – so for every can of soft drinks that you drink per day, the risk is higher,” lead researcher Dora Romaguera from Imperial College London told BBC News.

She called for clearer public health information on the effects of sugary soft drinks.

In and of themselves, sugary soft drinks are only part of the picture – they’re just one of the potential risk factors for Type-2 diabetes”

Professor Patrick WolfeUniversity College London
Living with type 1 diabetes

“Given the increase in sweet beverage consumption in Europe, clear messages on its deleterious effect on health should be given to the population,” Dr Romaguera and colleagues conclude in their research paper.

‘Not definitive evidence’

An increased risk of diabetes was also linked to drinking artificially sweetened soft drinks, but this disappeared when body mass index was taken into account.

Fruit juice consumption was not associated with diabetes incidence, however.

Commenting on the results, Dr Matthew Hobbs, head of research at Diabetes UK, said the link between sugar-sweetened soft drinks and Type-2 diabetes persisted even when body mass index was taken into account.

This suggests the increased risk is not solely due to extra calories, he said.

“Even so, it is not definitive evidence that sugar-sweetened soft drinks increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, other than through their effect on body weight,” he added.

“We do, though, already recommend limiting consumption of sugary foods and drinks as these are usually high in calories and so can lead to weight gain if you have too many of them.

“This is important for Type 2 diabetes because we know that maintaining a healthy weight is the single most important thing you can do to prevent it.”

Statistics expert Professor Patrick Wolfe, from University College London, said the absolute risk of Type-2 diabetes is low at about 4% of the adult UK population.

“In and of themselves, sugary soft drinks are only part of the picture – they’re just one of the potential risk factors for Type-2 diabetes,” he said.

“But since they are one we can easily eliminate – by switching to diet soft drinks or, even better, cutting them out of our diets altogether – it makes good sense to do so.”

Gavin Partington, director general of the drinks industry body the British Soft Drinks Association said: “Soft drinks are safe to consume but, like all other food and drink, should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.”


Taiwan reports first bird flu case outside China

A nurse (R) introduces the front desk for the negative pressure isolation rooms section, which will be used to treat potential H7N9 avian influenza patients, at Taipei Hoping Hospital, 6 April 2013

Taiwan is stepping up prevention measures against bird flu


A 53-year-old businessman in Taiwan has the first case of the H7N9 bird flu virus outside mainland China, health officials there have confirmed.

The man is in a serious condition in hospital days after returning from the Chinese city of Suzhou, officials say.

China has confirmed 108 cases of H7N9 since it was initially reported in March, with at least 22 people dead.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says this strain appears to spread more easily from birds to humans.

The man in Taiwan was brought to hospital three days after he arrived from Suzhou via Shanghai, officials say.

He was not in contact with poultry, nor had he eaten undercooked birds while in Suzhou, Taiwanese Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta told local media.

Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou has ordered the health department to step up prevention measures, says the country’s Central News Agency.

‘Unusually dangerous’

Experts are still trying to understand the H7N9 virus, and it has not yet been determined whether it could be transferred between humans.

“This is definitely one of the most lethal influenza viruses we have seen so far,” WHO flu expert Dr Keiji Fukuda said at a news conference in Beijing.

“When we look at influenza viruses this is an unusually dangerous virus.”

He added that the WHO team was just beginning its investigation. But he said that based on the evidence, “this virus is more easily transmissible from poultry to humans than H5N1”, a strain which spread in 2003.

Dr Fukuda led a team from the WHO on a one-week China visit to study H7N9, along with Chinese officials from Beijing and Shanghai.

The WHO believes that poultry is still the likely source of the H7N9 outbreak in China.


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