STEPS FORWARD, STEPS BACK

The health highlights of 2012

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Filipinos kept pace with worldwide health trends, and even contributed some of their own to the international stage. Here are some of the more notable ones covered by Inquirer Health this year:

In January, Inquirer Health reported on the conditioning methods of Olympic athletes—and the growing trend of these athletes to achieve optimal performance through natural, plant-based methods.

In February, a 16-hectare eco-friendly retirement community in Silang, Cavite, with complete health and wellness facilities geared for retirees, senior citizens and the health conscious, was launched. Saujana Premier features the Medi-Spa, the first spa facility to incorporate medical-grade aesthetic services, alternative medicine with complementary energy-healing modalities, life coaching and mind-body classes.

Fountain of youth

In March, many health experts revealed that fasting and going vegan (100-percent plant-based nutrition) may also be age defying. Vegetarian doctors and nutritionists that Inquirer Health interviewed said that fasting would be as close as one can get to finding the fountain of youth. They, however, warned that fasting is not for everyone, as those who have certain medical conditions must consult with their trusted doctors first.

In June, Inquirer Health featured a medical center called The LifeScience Center for Wellness and Preventive Medicine at the Bonifacio Global City which offered gene testing to detect diseases their clients would most likely be predisposed to, and their food allergies as well. The center also prescribes supplements specifically customized for clients, conducts hormone tests and checks for skin defects at the cellular level.

Also in June, Inquirer Health reported how eating meat could increase cancer risk by up to 300 percent. Walter Willett, MD, chair of the Nutrition Department, Harvard School of Public Health, declared: “If you step back and look at the data (on beef and cancer), the optimum amount of red meat you eat should be zero.”

In the same month, Inquirer Health reported Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s “Presidential Address: Beyond Surgery” in the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons which revealed the risk of colon cancer for women who ate red meat daily compared to those who ate it less than once a month at 250-percent greater. The American Journal of Epidemiology study titled “Dietary Risk Factors for Colon Cancer in a Low-Risk Population” by PN Singh noted that the risk of colon cancer for people who ate poultry once a week compared to those who did not eat the same was 55 percent. The risk of colon cancer for those who ate poultry four times a week compared to those who abstained: 200 to 300 percent greater.

Stem cell therapy is in. In October, Health Secretary Enrique Ona told the media that the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the DOH have been drafting standards and regulations to ensure public safety and address ethical concerns regarding the use of stem cells in research and medicine.

Vegan food

Inquirer Health also wrote about food for astronauts. Scientists recently hatched a dietary plan for the eventual manned Mars exploration, and most notable about this plan is that it doesn’t involve any animal products whatsoever. The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) is attempting to integrate the plant-based diet in its space exploration program.

Prominent scientists recently declared the existence of consciousness in nonhuman species. George Dvorsky’s io9.com discussed the news saying “prominent scientists (have signed) a declaration that animals have conscious awareness, just like us.” In his article, he cited that “an international group of prominent scientists has signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness proclaiming their support for the idea that animals are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are—a list of animals that includes all mammals, birds and even the octopus.”

In December, the sin tax reform bill became a law as President Aquino signed Republic Act No. 10351. This would most certainly result in higher retail prices for cigarette and liquor in the country. The added income is seen to help in the government’s own health initiatives for the poor and marginalized sector.

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