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The Round-Up: Week of 22 June

A weekly digest of health and wellness stories from Singapore and around the world.

As we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, you'll find articles that help you stay informed about the novel coronavirus.



WHO urges people not to wear a mask whilst exercising

The story

Laboured breaths is a serious symptom of the coronavirus – wearing face coverings whilst being active may exacerbate the existing symptoms, according to the World Health Organisation.


Masks provide a barrier for potentially infectious droplets but...

In addition to making breathing difficult, WHO warns that sweat makes the mask wet, which hinders breathing and encourages the growth of microorganisms. This may trigger an infection that has nothing to do with the coronavirus. Experts have also pointed out previously that masks become less effective at warding off viruses when damp.


Read more in the Yahoo! Sports


Copper won't save you from coronavirus

The story

From wands (that apparently go up your nose), bedsheets to masks, there’s been a surge of interest in materials laced with copper, a metal known to have germ-killing properties. But University of Arizona microbiologist Dr Michael D.L Johnson says to think twice before buying into these claims.

What’s the deal with copper?

Copper's sanitising abilities have been known for centuries. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that under controlled laboratory conditions, the coronavirus couldn’t last more than a few hours on copper surfaces, compared with a couple days on stainless steel or plastic.


For humans, copper is an essential nutrient – involved in many physiologic processes, like brain development and immune system functioning – which you easily get enough of in a typical diet.


Why it could work

If copper face coverings do curtail the coronavirus assuming there's a hefty dose of copper in there it could diminish the chances of viable virus making it into the eyes, nose or mouth via a wayward hand that’s touched the front of a mask.


And why it may not work

First, not all metal-infused masks are created equal. “If your mask is only 1 percent copper, that means it’s 99 percent not copper,” says Dr Karrera Djoko, a biochemist and microbioloist at Durham University.


Second, copper on its own is no cure-all — and its effects aren’t instantaneous. It takes about 45 minutes for copper to reduce the amount of virus on a surface by half. To minimize transmission risk, people should still wash their hands, avoid crowds and maintain a safe distance from one another.


Read more in The New York Times


More people in Singapore diagnosed with young onset dementia

The story

More people here are being diagnosed with onset dementia at a younger age, between the ages of 35 and 65. Data from the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) showed that the number of new patients with the syndrome was 245; up from 228 in 2018, 184 in 2017 and 60 in 2013.

What’s young onset dementia?

Dementia usually occurs in people over 65. In younger people, symptoms include behavioural changes, forgetfulness and difficulties with planning, sequencing and judgement.

What causes it?

It could be due to the higher prevalence of vascular risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes. There is also a higher prevalence of 20-30 per cent for genetic causes for dementia in young onset dementia, compared with 5 per cent in the elderly with dementia.

Read more in The Straits Times


Daily coffee may lower risk for developing heart rhythm conditions

The story

Regular coffee consumption is associated with a significantly lower risk for arrhythmias (heart beats too quickly, too slowly or with an irregular pattern), according to a recent study.

It debunks a common myth

The common belief is that consuming caffeine in coffee and other drinks could lead to a faster heartbeat and may trigger arrhythmia.


In this case however, researchers analysed several types of arrhythmias in over 350,000 participants over a span of 5.25 years to understand the impact of caffeine on this common heart condition. The results demonstrated an affiliation between habitual caffeine consumption and a significantly lower incidence of arrhythmias.

Read more in Medical Xpress


Too much sitting increases risk of cancer

The story

A new study published in JAMA Oncology shows a strong association between inactivity and cancer death, and reinforces that it’s important to sit less and move more.

Some 8,000 people were tracked over a period of five years

They all wore a tracking device during their waking hours for seven consecutive days and none of them had cancer at the start of the study. By having these individuals wear fitness trackers, researchers were able to more accurately estimate the impact of exercise on the outcome.

The follow-up showed the most sedentary people had an 82% higher risk of dying from cancer, even after adjusting for age, sex and disease status.


Replacing 30 minutes of sitting with light-intensity activity, such as walking, reduced their risk of cancer by 8%.

Read more in CNN.