IN THE KNOW
cloud nine Get up-to-date with these latest research findings. By JOLENE LIMUCO
Time check According to a study conducted by KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School between November 2010 and March 2011, a woman who experiences bleeding early in her pregnancy is at risk of having a miscarriage. But that risk increases if she’s older, has a previous history of miscarriage or a low blood progesterone (hormonal) level during pregnancy. The study also found that men above the age of 40 add to an eight-fold risk of miscarriage in their partners, and a mother more than 34 years old is twice more likely to miscarry. Lead researcher of the study, Assistant Professor Tan Thiam Chye said that the findings show that the biological clock not only ticks in women, but in men as well.
CHIN UP, SINGAPORE!
The verdict is out. Baby boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 — are the happiest people in Singapore. This is according to a survey conducted between December 2011 and March 2012 by integrated marketing communications agency, Grey Singapore. However, the study also found that the overall happiness levels among Singaporeans fell by 8.3 per cent to 44.5 per cent compared to last year’s figure,
while the number of unhappy Singaporeans went up to 25.3 per cent from 20.1 per cent. The survey, which gathered responses from 1,000 Singaporeans aged between 17 and 60, showed that money and confidence in the economy are what make people unhappy. Inversely, the top things that Singaporeans are happy about include their neighbourhood, closeness to their families and religious beliefs.
Mental illness alert
WELLNESS FOR ALL
the Singapore population at some stage of their life. Interestingly, Singapore has the highest rate for OCD in the world at 3 per cent of the population. In the United States, 2.3 per cent of the population has OCD, while 1.1 per cent of the population in Europe has the condition. The disease itself is affected by both genetic and environmental factors such as developmental upbringing and illness.
PHOTOS: Getty Images, Istockphoto
More than one in 10 people in Singapore will be affected by mental illness in their lifetime, said the Singapore Mental Health Study which surveyed 6,616 people between 2009 and 2011. The study, funded by the Singapore Millennium Foundation and the Ministry of Health, found that the most common mental illness is depression. This is followed by alcohol abuse and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Depression will affect 6.3 per cent of
Pepper your diet with this A new study provides a long sought-after explanation for the fat-fighting effects of black pepper. The research, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in April 2012, found that piperine — the pungent-tasting substance that gives black pepper its characteristic taste — can block the formation of new fat cells. Dr Soo-Jong Um and colleagues from Sejong University in Seoul are of the opinion that piperine reduces fat levels in the bloodstream and has other beneficial health effects. According to the researchers, black pepper and the black pepper plant have been used for centuries in traditional Eastern medicine to treat gastrointestinal distress, pain, inflammation and other disorders. Despite that long medicinal history, scientists know little about how piperine works on the innermost molecular level. Their laboratory study and computer models found that piperine interferes with the activity of genes that control the formation of new fat cells. In doing so, piperine may also set off a metabolic chain reaction that helps keep fat in check in other ways.
Scientists at the National University of Singapore (NUS) are now a step closer to finding the cure for dengue, which may be available in the next six to eight years. The research team, led by Associate Professor Paul Macary of the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine’s department of microbiology, has recently discovered a new antibody that can neutralise and kill the dengue virus at a much faster rate than existing anti-dengue compounds. They have also identified a way to reproduce this antibody in large quantities. The antibody works by attaching itself to the dengue virus and preventing it from attacking other cells in the body. The research team discovered the effectiveness of the anti-body after a two-year study on 200 patients who had recovered from the infectious disease. Assoc Prof Macary says that this discovery is currently the best therapy that exists for dengue. There is currently no specific medicine or antibiotic for the virus, and a person infected with it may take days to fully recover. However, the antibody that the researchers discovered only targets serotype one of the dengue virus, which accounts for up to 50 per cent of dengue cases in Southeast Asia. The virus has four serotypes, with serotype two being the most common in Singapore.
A CLEARER VIEW Fewer kids in Singapore are short-‐sighted, the results of a six-‐year study done by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has shown. The study found a 5 per cent drop in the number of children who have to wear prescription glasses. About 20,000 children between the ages of seven and 12 were screened for this survey
which found that while 38 per cent of children were diagnosed with myopia in 2004, the number dropped to 33 per cent in 2009. Singapore has one of the world’s highest rates of myopia where 65 per cent of children aged 12 are short-‐sighted. Comparatively, the rate is 40 per cent of children in China, and 12 per cent of children in Australia. To improve short-‐sightedness, HPB recommends that children spend more time outdoors and take breaks from looking at the computer after long stretches of time.