When it comes to health, our ancestry and ethnicity play a huge part. Family history, who we are, where we come from, and how we live to offer essential clues to the health risks we might be prone to.
According to experts, here are 5 health risks Singaporeans should keep a watch out for.
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Children in spectacles is a common sight for us in Singapore. Nearsightedness or Myopia is a common vision condition in which you can see objects near to you clearly, but objects further appear blurry.
Nearsightedness may develop gradually or rapidly, often worsening during childhood and adolescence. It tends to run in families.
A basic eye exam can confirm nearsightedness. This problem can easily be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. But one might suffer from reduced quality of life, eye strain and other eye problems such as glaucoma and cataracts.
Lifestyle Changes :
It is possible to slow down and prevent the progression of myopia:
- Make sure to always read in ample light and avoid reading while lying down
- Hold the work as far as away as possible. Do remember to look into the distance frequently to relax your eyes
- Ensure children have adequate time outdoors and limit the screen time to a minimum
#2 Colorectal cancer
Colon cancer is the cancer of the large intestine, the lower part of our digestive system. Rectal cancer is the cancer of the last several inches of the colon. Together, they are often referred to as colorectal cancer.
Singapore has one of the highest incidences of colorectal cancer in Asia. It is also the most common cancer in Singapore.
Every year, 1,500 Singaporeans are diagnosed with this form of cancer which affects men and women alike. Those who are over 45 and have a family history of colorectal cancer are at a higher risk. However, less than 10% of colorectal cancer cases are due to inherited gene defects.
- People with a history of colon cancer should get screened regularly after the age of 45
- Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and include whole grains in your diet
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all
- Stop smoking
- Exercise most days of the week and maintain a healthy weight
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Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is vital to your body because it is an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It is also your brain’s main source of fuel.
In Singapore, 9% of the adult population has diabetes. Studies on diabetes among the Chinese, Malays and Indians have shown that the latter two races have a higher incidence of the condition.
If you have diabetes, no matter what type, it means you have too much glucose in your blood, which can lead to serious health problems.
- Choose to eat healthy foods which are lower in fats and calories and higher in fibre
- Make exercise a daily habit, even if that means just a 30-minute brisk walk
- Lose excess kilos and keep your weight in a healthy range
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control
#4 Nose cancer (Nasopharynx or Nasopharyngeal cancer)
In its early stages, nasopharyngeal cancer may not reveal any symptoms. Possible noticeable symptoms include (but are not limited to), a lump in your neck, blood in your saliva, nasal congestion and frequent ear infections.
In Singapore, nose cancer is the 6th most common cancer in males. The cancer is actually known to occur more frequently in Asia and North Africa than in the rest of the world.
It affects men more than women and typically occurs between the ages of 35 and 55. Having a family member with nose cancer can mean that you are genetically predisposed to it.
There is no sure way to prevent nose cancer. If you’re concerned about its risks, you may choose to cut back on the amount of salt-cured foods you eat or avoid these foods altogether.
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Thalassaemia is an inherited blood disorder characterised by less haemoglobin and fewer red blood cells in your body than normal which often results in anaemia. Several types of thalassaemia exist, including alpha-thalassaemia, beta-thalassaemia intermedia and haemoglobin H.
About 5% of our local population, or 1 in 20 persons, is a carrier for thalassaemia.
As this is an inherited condition, it can’t be prevented with lifestyle or diet changes. If you have thalassaemia, or if you carry a thalassaemia gene, consider genetic screening that is available for couples planning a baby.
Your choices and lifestyle play a big role in your journey to good health. If you’re part of a group with a genetic risk, you can often reduce that risk by making better lifestyle choices.
Do you know how else you can prevent such health problems? Do share with us in the comment box below!