Showing posts with label Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Health. Show all posts

Friday, March 6, 2020

Some Men Playing It Safe in Hong Kong

Like bike rides, outdoor games of xiangqi now occur in Hong Kong with the common addition of masks.

Men playing and watching xiangqi while wearing surgical masks
At the Sitting-out Area under Flyover in Hill Road in Shek Tong Tsui, Hong Kong

No bike helmets needed.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Protests, Coronavirus Fears, and Valentine's Day Converge at a Hong Kong Prison

On Friday in front of the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre - a maximum security institution — hundreds of people gathered to show solidarity with detained protestors. What one of the participants held and wore particularly captured the unique convergence of events in Hong Kong that night: a face covering used by some anti-government protestors to hide their identity, 3M safety goggles to protect against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, and a rose fitting the theme of the rally: "Valentine's Day With You".

person holding a rose and wearing a face mask and goggles

The gathering differed from several other rallies held at the same location during recent months in that the organizers did not apply for a letter of no objection from the police. Although the police were clearly keeping an eye on things, they didn't interfere with the rally until it had nearly reached the two hour mark, which is about how long some of the previous rallies lasted. At that that time, police came into the protest area while holding up blue warning flags with the text: "This meeting or procession is in breach of the law. Disperse or we may use force."

Disperse they did. And Valentine's Day came to an end at the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Medicina Chinesa and B.S. Medical Signs in Macau

I have had a cold for the past few days. At first I thought it would be low impact and quick. The cold has had other ideas though.

So in that spirit, I will share photos of two contrasting signs for medical establishments I recently noticed in Macau.

The first sign is for the Mestre de Medicina Chinesa Kong Tong Sam on Rua de Coelho do Amaral.

sign for the Mestre de Medicina Chinesa Kong Tong Sam in Macau

I liked the look of the sign.

The second sign is for a medical center with a focus on dermatology on Rua da Colina.

sign for the B.S. Medical Center in Macau

In this case I was struck by its English name — in particular, my first reading of "B.S." as "bullshit". For the obvious reasons, I doubt that was intended though.

In all likelihood, "B.S." represents the first letters of the romanization of the first two Chinese characters in its name. It also may be no coincidence that the doctor who practices there uses the English name Dr. Benny Si.

If I were now in Macau, I probably would have just gone to an outlet of a familiar health care and beauty chainstore with a pharmacy and picked up some medicine there. But these two places definitely have more interesting signs.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Cupping Alternative

In response to the post about some outdoor Chinese cupping therapy in Hengyang, an Asian American reader mentioned a related treatment also common in China — gua sha:
Cupping freaks me out I'll stick to gua sha, thank you.

Gua sha is becoming a "new thing" here in the US with therapy clinics offering it in places like NYC. I feel sorry for these people who have to go and pay for it because they don't have a Chinese for Vietnamese grandma who will pin them down at the first sign of illness and force it on them for free.

I have to say, I don't know why it works better than a standard deep massage, but it is still the only thing that can get rid of my migraines after a megadose of ibuprofen fails.
It seems I am missing out. Another person has raised the possibility that the practice is like a grandmother offering matzah ball soup, though, so perhaps I have made out OK.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Bit of Bamboo Cupping from Hengyang

I worried I might not have time for a post today. But instead of me copping out, how about some cupping — bamboo style?

back of man receiving cupping therapy using bamboo cups

back of man receiving cupping therapy with some bamboo cups removed

The therapeutic event captured above took place today in front of the northern entrance to Yanfeng Park in Hengyang, Hunan. If the technique of this particular practitioner didn't suit you, at least two other options were available nearby.

outdoor cupping therapy in Hengyang, Hunan

outdoor cupping therapy in Hengyang, Hunan

One woman did her best to convince me I was in dire need of some cupping. I passed even though the prices appeared to be hard to beat.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Non-Smoking Areas Above Macau's Streets

A few years ago I wrote about new regulations requiring non-smoking areas in Macau's many casinos. Casinos aren't the only places, though, where smoking is regulated, and government "no smoking" signs are easy to find these days.

no-smoking sign in Macau

The above sign especially caught my eye due to its location.

pedestrian bridge over Rua de Ferreira do Amaral in Macau

Even open-air pedestrian bridges can be smoke free in Macau.

After taking the above photograph I noticed someone walking towards me. I soon realized why. They didn't care about me but instead cared about what was next to me.

trash can with ashtray on top filled with cigarette butts and water in Macau

Plenty of people in Macau still smoke.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Umbrellas on a Dull, Rainless Day in Beijing

A scene today at the intersection of Fuchengmen Inner Street and Jinrong Street in Beijing:

female with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses riding a scooter and two others carrying umbrellas on a cloudy day in Beijing

The sky wasn't sunny for most of the day and the air pollution was noticeable. Yet I still saw people carrying umbrellas or taking other steps useful for avoiding a tan despite the low chances. I have no new comments to add, so I will simply mention earlier posts about the umbrellas I saw on a rather smoggy day in Changsha, Hunan, and how the desire for whiter skin might be a factor in China's large number of people with vitamin D deficiency.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sick and Tired in Shanghai

young woman in Shanghai wearing a coat with the words "SICK AND TIRED" on its back
Today at Qipu Lu in Shanghai

I had planned to be blogging quite a bit more the past week or so since returning to China. Plans . . .

Unfortunately, last week something decided to wreak havoc on my sinuses and seemingly my brain as well. I wasn't sure whether it was virus-related or pollution-related. I considered the latter since it somewhat reminded me of how my sinuses reacted when I first went running in Shanghai's pollution over a decade ago during a trip from the U.S. And yes, after starting to run again during my recent trip to the U.S., I ran in Shanghai during a couple not-so-great days for air (which is most). Whatever I have, it isn't a run-of-the-mill cold for me, especially in terms of how it ebbs and flows. I think I am over the worst.

On a related note . . . yes, it's best to exercise in clean air. And bad air is, of course, bad. That's straightforward. But the science I've seen on the health impact of exercise when polluted air is the only option seems to be a mixed bag. There's reason to think it might be a net good, at least for some health aspects. But these studies focused on Western-style pollution, so it's unclear how the findings apply to China-style pollution — different in both its content and amount.

I have my personal limits though. For example, once I had gotten myself into an outdoor running routine while in Zhuhai and Hong Kong. But that came to an immediate halt upon arriving in Changsha where I spent a couple of months. That first morning I looked outside the window at the awful air and despondently thought "no way".

I would like to keep up the outdoor running, so next time I may try it with a face mask. It's cold outside, so perhaps the heat the mask traps on my face will be a pleasant bonus. Anyway, soon I will be in parts of China with typically better air quality. Hopefully I'm not killing myself. If I am, there are the words of famed cache clearer Chester Walsh: "Like I always say, you gotta die prematurely of something."

So yeah, as the coat in the photo above proclaims, I've been sick and tired. Come to think of it, that applies to my feelings about China's air too.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Umbrellas More Common Than Face Masks on a Rainless and Smoggy Day in Changsha

Similar to what I found earlier this year in Chongqing, one thing that remains mostly the same in Changsha since previous visits is the air pollution. Today was no exception, and Changsha had some of its most polluted air for recent days.

a smoggy view of Furong Middle Road in Changsha

According to U.S. standards, the air quality in terms of a 24 hour exposure to the smallest particles was in the "very unhealthy" category. I saw few people wearing face masks, and those I did see were clearly not the types effective at filtering harmful pollutants.

Despite the smog, the sun at times did its best on a rainless and humid day to reach humanity. So far more than people wearing face masks, I saw people employing commonly used methods in China to avoid tanning.

two young women holding sun umbrellas walking down a street in Changsha

man blocking the sun from his face with a bag

woman holding an umbrella walking by a construction worker in Changsha

woman holding an umbrella at a street intersection in Changsha

Perhaps if these people knew the degree to which heavy smog blocks the radiation that causes tanning, they wouldn't have felt the need to take any extra precautions today.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Desire for Whiter Skin Possibly Connected to Vitamin D Deficiency in China

After mentioning the vitamin D deficiency she developed after moving to Beijing, Alyssa Abkowitz described a study indicating many others in China have the same deficiency:
A recent study conducted by seven Chinese hospitals across five cities found that more than half of the Chinese population suffers from the same problem. The study measured vitamin levels in more than 2,000 volunteers and found that only about 5% of participants had healthy levels of Vitamin D, which is crucial for strong bones and a healthy immune system. That’s compared to about 67% of the U.S. population whose Vitamin D levels are deemed sufficient, according to a 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.
In a fact sheet for health professionals, the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. explains the important connection between sun exposure and vitamin D:
Most people meet at least some of their vitamin D needs through exposure to sunlight. Ultraviolet (UV) B radiation with a wavelength of 290–320 nanometers penetrates uncovered skin and converts cutaneous 7-dehydrocholesterol to previtamin D3, which in turn becomes vitamin D3. Season, time of day, length of day, cloud cover, smog, skin melanin content, and sunscreen are among the factors that affect UV radiation exposure and vitamin D synthesis. Perhaps surprisingly, geographic latitude does not consistently predict average serum 25(OH)D levels in a population. Ample opportunities exist to form vitamin D (and store it in the liver and fat) from exposure to sunlight during the spring, summer, and fall months even in the far north latitudes.

Complete cloud cover reduces UV energy by 50%; shade (including that produced by severe pollution) reduces it by 60%. UVB radiation does not penetrate glass, so exposure to sunshine indoors through a window does not produce vitamin D. Sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 8 or more appear to block vitamin D-producing UV rays.
Unsurprisingly, the researchers in China suggest people spending less time outdoors and high levels of smog as causes for the large number of people with a vitamin D deficiency. But a possible contributing factor not discussed in the journal article exists as well.

In addition to people using mobile phones while driving motorbikes, this is something else I recently saw on a bridge in Hengyang, Hunan province:

young woman walking while holding a red bag over her head
I moved to the side just in time.

She was not hiding from my camera as she walked down the sidewalk. Instead, most likely she was trying to avoid the bright sun that day. I saw multiple similar examples, all involving females, just minutes apart on the same bridge. None of this surprised me in the least, since many women in China desire whiter skin or, at the very least, don't want their skin to become darker.

advertisement for skin whitening cream in Shenzhen
Advertisement for skin whitening cream which previously appeared in a set of scenes from Shenzhen

In addition to skin whitening cream for sale, a big business, in many parts of China it is common to see younger women using umbrellas outside on sunny days. When an umbrella isn't available, a variety of items, such as bags, extra clothing, and paper flyers, may instead be used as shields from the sun. So even if they are outside on a sunny day, they are missing out on a prime opportunity for vitamin D.

This type of behavior probably doesn't account for all of the researchers' findings, such as the significantly lower vitamin D levels for males in Beijing aged 49 to 59 years. Again, other factors such as time spent indoors and levels of smog likely play a role. Yet the well-established connection between UVB exposure and vitamin D levels, the prevalence of people actively blocking the sun's rays while outside, and the study's finding that vitamin D levels were overall "much worse among women and younger participants" make it more than fair to suspect the desire for whiter skin has contributed to China's vitamin D problem.

In the near future, I doubt many people who now prefer lighter skin would rethink their views and seek more outdoor UVB exposure, even if the air quality and their schedules allow it. Instead, as Abkowitz suggests, increased demand for vitamin D supplements and fatty fish, one of the better natural food sources for vitamin D, is far more likely. I can't imagine how much their prices would go up if they were found to also cause lighter-colored skin.