Healthy Lifestyle Lowers Odds of Breast Cancer’s Return

There’s more evidence that when a survivor of early stage breast cancer takes up healthy eating and regular exercise, the odds of the disease returning go down.

The key is sticking with such programs, said study lead author Dr. Wolfgang Janni.

Healthier lifestyles “might improve the prognosis of breast cancer patients if adherence is high,” said Janni, who directs obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Ulm in Germany. His team developed and implemented a new program to help keep those lifestyle changes on track.

The findings were presented at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

In the study, Janni’s team tracked outcomes for nearly 2,300 early stage breast cancer patients who’d been treated with chemotherapy. Half of these cancer survivors were randomly assigned to two years of ongoing telephone-based, personalized healthy living advice. The other half (the “control” group) received standard, general advice on a healthy lifestyle.

Those in the personalized lifestyle intervention group were coached in areas such as improving their diet, reducing fat intake, and increasing physical activity.

After two years, people in the intervention group saw an average weight loss of 2.2 pounds, while those in the control group experienced an average weight gain of 2.1 pounds, the findings showed.

But the real difference was in cancer outcomes, Janni’s team said. The rate of disease-free survival among the nearly 1,500 patients who completed the lifestyle intervention was 35 percent higher than that of those who didn’t complete the program. And it was 50 percent higher than women who didn’t get the intervention at all.

The findings shouldn’t come as a big surprise, Janni said.

Prior research “has shown that obesity and low physical activity are associated with higher risks of developing breast cancer, as well as an increased risk of recurrence and reduced survival,” he noted in a meeting news release.

One U.S. expert agreed.

Many women who’ve survived breast cancer may feel helpless, but “it is great to be able to tell patients that, yes, there is something they can do to help prevent a recurrence,” said Dr. Alice Police. She is regional director of breast surgery at the Northwell Health Cancer Institute, in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.

She said sometimes women need a little nudge, though, to stay healthy.

“This is a very specific and focused look at the issues and includes information on exactly how a program of diet and lifestyle changes should look and function,” Police said, “and that makes it very important.”

Dr. Lauren Cassell is chief of breast surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Looking over the new study, she agreed that the new program appears to have merit.

“By providing the patient with a systematic telephone lifestyle intervention program — which was not difficult to develop and implement — they were able to increase patient compliance and as a result improve outcomes,” Cassell said.

“I believe patients want to help themselves,” Cassell said. “Sometimes they just need a little extra support.”

Source: HealthDay


Why I Won’t Stop Slurping My Soup Noodles

Luisa Tam wrote . . . . . . . . .

Whenever I travel to Europe, the same dilemma always crosses my mind, which is: to slurp or not to slurp when I eat in the company of Westerners or anyone unfamiliar with Asian cultural norms.

When travelling abroad, it is reasonable to assume the need to respect and follow certain universally accepted table manners, like not talking with your mouth full or chewing loudly, and rightly so because these habits are rather unsavoury in most countries.

However, certain rules must be enforced. Given that table manners differ from culture to culture, it is necessary to follow a reasonable level of dining etiquette to avoid giving offence or committing any undue faux pas.

For example, eating with your left hand is taboo in India. The culture rarely uses cutlery, so the right hand is reserved for eating while the other one is strictly for doing your business in the toilet. In Chinese culture, it is ominous to put the chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice because it resembles incense sticks being burned in memory of the dead.

Having stayed in France for the past several weeks, I have been aware of my table manners, but I decided to slip back to more familiar ways once I felt settled. I made myself a bowl of noodles and ate it in the traditional Chinese way, which meant I slurped through it unashamedly till my bowl was completely empty. I felt great afterwards, or, dare I say, liberated. All this was done in the presence of my French host, but only after I sounded the slurp alert to forewarn him.

Every culture has its own rules at the dining table and what is considered acceptable in one culture might be perceived as disrespectful in another.

When planning and serving a great Chinese meal, the chef often goes to great lengths to ensure the dishes are colourful, aromatic and tasty. This means the diner often feels obliged to make an audible effort to show how much they have enjoyed their meal.

I do agree that chewing like a cow is without doubt the most unpalatable dining behaviour, no matter how delicious the food is. But there is one habit which I would be reluctant to break; slurping soup and noodles, which to most Chinese people is the definitive expression of culinary enjoyment.

Soup noodles can only be fully enjoyed when eaten with loud slurping sound effects, and the louder it is the stronger the recognition. It can be likened to what almost every driving enthusiast would swear by, which is that driving a sports car is most fun when shifting a manual transmission. Many would agree that without it, the excitement and authenticity of racing simply isn’t there.

I am not saying we should shove all “Asianness” down the throats of others who have opposing views of cultural conduct. But we should try to make people understand that while some of these traditions might appear odd, or even annoying at times, they are unique and have their distinct values. And people sometimes do it out of habit and without any intention to offend others.

In this globalised era, different cultures are constantly overlapping and interacting with one another. We work, live, study and even marry people from diverse ethnic backgrounds. There is no denying how significant it is for us to understand each other better in order to bridge diverse differences and coexist in harmony.

There is absolutely no need to feel embarrassed and hide or abandon your cultural behaviour, provided they are harmless and not unethical. Neither should you feel the pressure to assimilate and bury your heritage. We should be proud of our ancestry but remain respectful and accommodating to others, which means not looking down on their customs.

We have to increase cultural awareness and sensitivity. Many of us already know this principle intuitively; the best cultural practice is to make sure we manoeuvre delicately and respectfully in dealing with other cultures, for fewer misunderstandings.

We need to be more aware of our individual behaviours, be mindful of cultural differences, show respect, communicate openly and explain our reasons (like my slurp alert). It is essential to find common ground so that we can allow each other to accept differences in a mutually comfortable manner and make room for cultural diversity to flourish.

Source : SCMP

Healthy lifestyle Is Crucial for Heart Health of Middle-aged Women

A healthy lifestyle during the transition to menopause may offset the acceleration of atherosclerosis, the slow narrowing of the arteries that increases with age, according to new research in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Women participating in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), ages 42-52 at enrollment, were evaluated using a 10-year “Healthy Lifestyle Score,” developed for this study. Each woman had annual medical exams and completed questionnaires about their physical activity, eating habits and tobacco use. In addition, participants had at least one coronary artery ultrasound, which is a non-invasive test that provides images of the inside of an artery leading to the heart.

Compared to women with the lowest ”Healthy Lifestyle Score,” those with the highest scores had significantly wider arteries, less arterial thickening and buildup of fatty plaque. The risk factor most associated with unhealthy arteries was smoking tobacco.

“Midlife is a crucial window for women to take their cardiovascular wellness to heart and set a course for healthy aging. The metabolic changes that often occur with menopause, especially increases in cholesterol levels and blood pressure, can significantly increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and cognitive impairment later in life, said Ana Baylin, M.D., Dr.P.H., an associate professor of nutritional health sciences and epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“The good news is that middle-aged women can take their wellbeing into their own hands and make healthy lifestyle changes, such as avoiding tobacco smoke, eating a healthier diet and getting more physical activity to reduce their cardiovascular risk,” Baylin said.

The study also notes that only 1.7 percent of the study population adhered to the three components of the “Healthy Lifestyle Score” throughout the study.

”The low prevalence of a healthy lifestyle in this group of midlife women highlights the potential for lifestyle interventions aimed at this vulnerable population,” added co-author Dongqing Wang, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan. “Our prospective analysis clearly suggests that women approaching menopause can significantly lower this risk if they adopt healthier behaviors, even if cardiovascular issues have never been on their radar.”

Source: American Heart Association

Today’s Comic

Opinion: Six New Trends Shaping the Global Consumer Landscape

Mintel has recently revealed six key consumer trends impacting industries and markets around the world and identified how they will play out in the years to come. In 2019 and beyond, the global consumer landscape will evolve like never before, driven by themes of privacy, individuality, wellness, convenience and connectivity:

  • Total Wellbeing: Consumers are treating their bodies like an ecosystem and seeking solutions that complement their personal health and evolving needs.
  • Challenge Accepted: A growing momentum to take on new challenges is driving consumers to reach new heights and uncover new passions.
  • Rethink Plastic: While not inherently bad, the throwaway use of plastic is driving consumers to review their own behaviours to prevent plastic pollution.
  • On Display: Consumers and brands are becoming more aware that they have a digital persona to nurture and grow, creating tension as everyone fights for attention and nobody is safe from scrutiny.
  • Social Isolation: Constant digital connectivity, where physical interactions are replaced with digital updates, can increase feelings of loneliness, social isolation and depression, creating a demand for products and services that help consumers learn to disconnect.
  • Redefining Adulthood: The concept of what it means to be an adult has changed beyond recognition and consumers are adapting to lives that don’t fit the mold.

Here, the global Mintel Trends analyst team explores how these trends are set to shake up markets around the world, including implications for both consumers and brands.


“In 2019 and beyond, growing consumer curiosity with the microbiome shows no signs of abating. From gut-friendly fermented foods to probiotic skincare, consumers will demand products that balance and boost the natural bacteria found in and on the body.”

“Consumers are looking externally to their surroundings and internally towards their physical and mental wellbeing, expecting holistic approaches to wellness. Across the globe consumers are increasingly seeking personalisation and in the UK, as many as 42% of British consumers are interested in a personalised diet based on their genes/DNA. Developments in health monitoring, such as skin sensors or ingestible capsules, will satisfy consumers’ demand for this personalised approach, while also building on scientific research in these emerging fields.”


“As appetites for adventure grow, consumers are becoming more willing than ever to expand their comfort zones, push themselves to the limit with new experiences and use social media to compete with and offer inspiration to their peers.”

“Social media inspiration is blurring the line between reality and #lifegoals, opening consumers up to a whole new world. In fact, a third (32%) of Canadian consumers who have attended a live event say they learn about live events from social media. It may be fuelling a love of adventure, but social media is not without its pitfalls and in the years to come, companies and brands should proceed with caution.”


“When it comes to recycling, well-meaning consumers are desperate to do the right thing but often simply don’t know how or where to start. As consumers continue to challenge brands over the perils of plastic waste, the development of recyclable products and packaging that are convenient for consumers to separate will be critical. But equally as important will be creating incentives and initiatives; in China, 58% of Mintropolitans* are willing to pay more for ethical brands.”

“In 2019 and beyond, expect to see more sponsored ‘reverse’ vending machines and bring-your-own-mug schemes. But it takes more than any one individual or brand to save the world; the future will be about working together. Companies and organizations should look to partner in order to create or crowdsource ideas that will make innovative and disruptive changes, such as the development of biodegradable materials, the search to enhance the recyclability of plastic or the cultivation of a better waste management system.”


“Consumers and brands have come to accept and nurture their digital personas, perfectly curating their online identities. But even among the most carefully crafted feeds, one misguided post can lead to intense scrutiny and public backlash. In the US, 16% of Hispanic social media users have boycotted brands based on things they learned on social media.”

“Now more than ever, it’s crucial for companies and brands to have social media strategies in place and to train employees about company morals and etiquette, so that when (not if) they are faced with a sensitive issue, they know how to handle it in a timely way. While it is important to balance the cycle of ‘negative exposure’ by sharing good, positive stories, it’s equally important to promote critical thinking and dissent. This will help brands align with consumers’ defiant side and break through their filter bubbles.”


“Technology can make the world a lonely place. Consumers increasingly live their lives through smartphone screens and, although connected electronically, they are becoming isolated from each other both physically and emotionally. It seems there are countless reasons why consumers may feel they never need to leave their homes, with 34% of Brazilian Millennials (aged 19-35) saying they prefer to contact companies/brands online rather than in-store or over the phone. And smart home technology and delivery services make it easier than ever for consumers to feel they have everything they need under their own roof.”

“Facilitating connections and creating unique spaces where communities can be built is the next stage in cultivating customer loyalty. Brands who position their physical and virtual ‘space’ as places for consumers to meet while also eating, shopping or taking part in a leisure activity will lead to a boost in not only engagement, but revenue.”


“With experiences over material things being a key priority for consumers, companies need to focus on campaigns and opportunities that focus on making life memorable. Taking a technology-first approach could be the answer, as more and more consumers are commonly relying on technology to manage their everyday ‘adult’ tasks. In fact, a third (33%) of US consumers agree they would rather interact with people online than in-person.”

“Despite more convenience and opportunity, the challenges of adulthood have not disappeared. Those looking to capitalize on this will serve as a resource for these hurdles by making responsibilities feel more manageable and even fun (sometimes). Flexibility is the name of the game. With a growing remote workforce, consumers’ daily lives are fluid and brands have to adapt to lifestyles no longer defined by 9-5 work cultures.”

*Mintropolitans are broadly defined by Mintel as those who represent a significant, sophisticated consuming group (aged 20-49) who pursue quality of life rather than just wealth, are well educated, and are the potential trendsetters.

Source: Mintel

The Rise of Nissin’s Noodles – A Humble Dish that Changed the World

Julian Ryall wrote . . . . . . . . .

When Momofuku Ando died in January 2007, The New York Times devoted a large part of its editorials page to a man who had earned “an eternal place in the pantheon of human progress”.

This was not an inventor who had helped create the bullet train, founded one of Japan’s world-beating car companies or an electronics firm that had grown to become the envy of every developed economy. Ando perfected the humble dish of instant noodles and the company that he founded, Nissin Food Products, had grown to bestride the instant food sector like a colossus.

His creation – 60 years ago this August – remains unmistakable from his native Osaka to Ontario and Cape Town to Cologne, with few products better epitomising Japan’s recovery from the ravages of the second world war.

But like most success stories, Ando’s moment of inspiration had more than a hint of good fortune about it – and that story is best told in the museum dedicated to his invention in Yokohama.

On the day of my visit, it is mayhem. At least three school parties are visiting, and the children are busy trying out the interactive exhibits and racing from one display to the next.

The noise and chaos are arguably even more intense on the third floor, where children have a choice of soups and toppings to create their very own Cup Noodle – and, apparently, 5,460 potential flavour combinations.

Next door, another group is busy kneading and spreading wheat flour that is then dried and flash-fried – Ando’s breakthrough discovery – before the children take their creations home to sample.

It is likely that Ando would have approved, as he famously got the idea for instant noodles after witnessing ordinary people in Osaka queuing up for a bowl of the steaming staple at an outdoor stand.

Born in March 1910 to a Taiwanese family, Ando was raised by his grandparents in the city of Tainan after both his parents died, and demonstrated an entrepreneurial streak from a young age. He opened a textile company in Taipei at the age of 22 and later operated a clothing company in Osaka, also enrolling in the city’s Ritsumeikan University.

In the precarious years immediately after Japan’s defeat in the war, Ando was convicted of tax evasion and served two years in prison. In his autobiography, he claims he had provided scholarships to students at a time when it was considered to be tax evasion. By 1957, he had lost his business and almost everything else except his home.

Ando always credited his breakthrough to walking past a ramshackle noodle stand. Inspired, and short of cash, he immediately built a shed in his garden equipped with a stove and a workbench – an exact replica is in the museum – and set about perfecting the recipe and his idea. Initially, it did not go well, and every attempt to create a product that could be stored for a long time, yet ready in an instant, failed.

That changed one evening as he watched his wife fry “tempura” and he realised that flash-frying the noodles would eliminate the water they contained. By simply adding boiling water, the noodles could be rehydrated and ready to eat.

On August 25, 1958, Nissin released the first packet of pre-cooked instant noodles in a garish red and yellow package, with the product name – Chikin Ramen – interestingly in both English and Japanese.

The price of this new innovation was set at 35 yen, which was daring considering that “udon” noodles would commonly cost just 6 yen. But it paid off.

“They were a huge hit straight away because they were quick and convenient, but also because the late ’50s was the time when televisions were becoming more commonplace in Japanese homes and mass-marketing was evolving, while supermarkets were also appearing,” says Kahara Suzuki, a spokeswoman for the company.

“Nissin was also one of the first companies to sponsor a television programme, so the company was proactive in getting its name out there,” she says.

That policy continues to this day, with Nissin sponsoring tennis players Kei Nishikori and Naomi Osaka, recent winner of the US Open.

Chicken Ramen (Nissin has since fixed the name) is still available in Japan and sells for about 105 yen (94 US cents)– a third of the price of the cheapest bowl of noodles in a restaurant in the country.

Refusing to rest on his laurels, Ando sought out new markets and travelled to the US in 1966 to assess the chance of success for instant noodles in the booming post-war economy.

The American businessmen he spoke to, however, were not sure that eating noodles from a bowl with chopsticks would catch on. That prompted Ando’s second brainwave – selling the dehydrated noodles in a styrofoam cup that was easy for anyone with a fork to use.

The following year, the first Cup Noodle choices appeared on supermarket shelves – and the problem went from being how to crack the US market to how to keep up with demand.

Today, 100 billion portions of instant noodles are eaten around the world every year. By 2016, Cup Noodles had sold a total of more than 40 billion packs since its launch.

Statistics from the World Instant Noodles Association show that nearly 40 billion packs of instant noodles are consumed in China and Hong Kong each year.

“Cup Noodles are far more than just a snack; they’re a meal in their own right and ideal because they are cheap to buy, they’re warm and filling on a cold day, and very quick to prepare,” says Hiroko McCormack, who is married to a Canadian and lives in Toronto – but all too often hankers after a taste of home.

“I have to get them sent to me or buy mine directly from Japan, even if that is more expensive, because the ones we can buy in Canada taste different,” she tells the Post. “Instant noodles are very popular in Canada, although we do have a lot of Korean copies, but I have to say that I prefer the original, authentic taste.”

According to Suzuki, Nissin releases an astonishing 300-plus new products a year in Japan as it tries to keep up with the changing desires – and dietary requirements – of consumers. The vast majority of those are discontinued, leaving the most popular products in place.

“Since 2000, there has been a sharp increase in the number of 24-hour convenience stores in Japan, but each of them has limited space so we need to devise ways to show a broad range of products to customers, who are increasingly fickle,” she says.

“At the same time, there is a lot of very stiff competition in this sector, so we need to be constantly innovating and evolving.”

One of the newer products on the shelves, both in Japan and internationally, is the “Nice” range of Cup Noodles, which has the same rich flavour but fewer calories than its standard counterpart. Similarly, some products are being released in smaller portions for older people who tend to eat less, while the company has found that certain ranges – such as the Thai Tomyam Kung Noodle – have found a firm following with female consumers.

“We have found that often Japanese people will go to an izakaya after work, have a few drinks and then they decide they want a big bowl of ramen,” Suzuki says. “We feel the Nice range satisfies the needs of such consumers with none of the guilt.

“Ramen really is comfort food for Japanese people and Mr Ando’s ‘magic noodles’ are just that, plus they can be a low-calorie alternative.”

Ando remained an innovator throughout his life and in 2005, at the ripe old age of 95, perfected his final contribution to the instant noodle menu, Space Ram. Designed to be eaten by astronauts – as it has been – Space Ram uses his original flash-frying method, although the noodles come as bite-sized nuggets in a plastic pouch.

“It’s funny, but a few years ago I was on a business trip in Europe and I’d been gone for several weeks when I went into a supermarket in a town in Wales to get something to eat after a meeting,” says Chris Dunn, an export trade consultant who has lived in Japan since 1990.

“Among the biscuits and other different snacks on the shelves were these immediately recognisable Cup Noodles,” he says. “All of a sudden, as I’m standing in this supermarket, I get a lump in my throat. And I want to go ‘home’. Home for me is really Canberra, but I just want to get back to Japan and – for me – there is apparently nothing more Japanese than a Cup Noodle.”

Source: SCMP