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Monday, 24 June 2013

Haze, Smoke, and Lung Cancer

What is haze?

The haze reducing visibility of Butterworth (background)
from Georgetown. Taken from The Star Online,
June 25, 2013.
Haze is an atmospheric phenomenon where dust, smoke and other dry particles obscure the clarity of the sky. Haze particles may act as condensation nuclei for the subsequent formation of mist droplets; such forms of haze are known as "wet haze."
These days the condition of the haze in Malaysia is worsening, so it befits us as citizens of Malaysia to be aware of the effects of haze on our health and take action accordingly.
Haze often occurs when dust and smoke particles accumulate in relatively dry air. When weather conditions block the dispersal of smoke and other pollutants they concentrate and form a usually low-hanging shroud that impairs visibility and may become a respiratory health threat.
Since 1991, haze has been a particularly acute problem in Southeast Asia, Indonesian forest fires burnt to clear land being the reason. In response to the 1997 Southeast Asian haze, the ASEAN countries agreed on a Regional Haze Action Plan (1997). In 2002, all ASEAN countries except Indonesia signed the Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, but the pollution is still a problem today.

Does haze cause Lung Cancer?

Air pollution over Southeast Asia in October 1997.
Which is worse, smoking cigarettes or breathing in haze? Haze lingers for 24 hours a day, and you can't escape from it. However, cigarettes contain many more carcinogenic substances than haze, and the thickness of haze at an API of 100 is hardly comparable to that of fresh tobacco smoke. Medical professionals have told us that short-term haze will not cause lung cancer, although children, the elderly, and those already suffering from asthma or other lung diseases will experience discomfort from the haze.
However, regions that experience long-term air pollution have been known to display an increase in deaths caused by lung cancer. This supports the idea that long-term air pollution causes lung cancer.
Haze, on the other hand, can cause deaths due to other forms of respiratory diseases. The worst recorded haze to date occurred in 1997, where the haze lasted from July to October of that year. The monsoonal rains remedied the haze situation in November. In September of 1997, an API of 850 was recorded in Kuching. Patients were admitted into emergency rooms due to asthma, upper respiratory infection, decreased lung function and eye and skin irritation.
In 2002, Professor Narayan Sastry published his findings thus in the February issue of the journal Demography:
"A high air pollution day associated with the smoke haze increased the total all-cause mortality by roughly 20 percent. Higher mortality was apparent in two locations -Kuala Lumpur and Kuching (Sarawak) - and affected mostly the elderly. In Kuala Lumpur, non-traumatic mortality among the population aged 65-74 increased about 70 percent following a day of high levels of air pollution. This effect was persistent; it was not simply a moving forward of deaths by a couple of days (a "harvesting" effect). This finding suggests that there were real and serious health effects of the smoke haze..."
Short term haze may not cause lung cancer, but at high intensities it is still dangerous and can cause death.

What should I do about it?

N95 masks are reusable and can be
bought from most pharmacies
or supermarkets.

Surgical masks are less effective than N95 masks.
Haze is mostly made of PM2.5, that is, particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or smaller. N95 masks are 95% efficient in filtering out particles between 0.1-0.3 ┬Ám in size, and are much more efficient in filtering out larger particles. However, wearing an N95 mask makes breathing more difficult, because of the small pores that the regular air molecules have to pass through.
There are no N95 masks approved for use by children, so children should not wear N95 masks. Instead, young children should avoid spending too much time outdoors at APIs above 100, and avoid outdoor activities altogether at APIs above 200.
Because of slight breathing difficulty when wearing the mask, elderly people and people with lung or heart problems should stop using a N95 mask if they feel uncomfortable. Women in the later stages of pregnancy should also only use the mask for short periods of time.
Surgical masks are not effective in keeping out the PM2.5 found in haze. Those who have healthy bodies and respiratory systems can choose to wear surgical masks if they want to, but those who need better protection against haze, such as elderly people, people with respiratory diseases, and pregnant women, are advised to use the N95 mask - but again, they should remove the mask when they start to feel uncomfortable.

Where can I find out more about the current haze?

Newspapers or online news pages such as The Star or The Star Online provide the citizens of Malaysia with daily updates on the current haze situation in Malaysia. I suggest reading the news or watching the news on TV to keep yourself updated about the situation. Also, if the government decides to declare a holiday for all the schools in your area, the news will be the first way for you to find out, so you'll want to keep yourself updated.
Also, although it has hardly been a week since the haze started this year, there is already a Wikipedia page for the 2013 Southeast Asian Haze (click) and you kind find out anything you want about the haze from there, including the API readings in key cities of Malaysia during the past 10 days. Amazing, isn't it? Technology these days is a wonderful thing.
  • Haze, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
  • Channel NewsAsia Singapore, "Clinics & hospitals in S'pore see more patients with haze-related conditions".
  • Environ Health Perspect, 1994 November, v.102(Suppl 8), Effect of air pollution on lung cancer: a Poisson regression model based on vital statistics, by T Tango.
  • 1997 Southeast Asian Haze, by Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
  • Malaysia Kini, "Haze deaths rise as air pollution increases." Letter by Chan Chee Khoon, as of 4:31PM June 23rd, 2013.
  • Demography, Volume 39, Number 1, February 2002, "Forest Fires, Air Pollution, and Mortality in Southeast Asia" article by Narayan Sastry.
  • Singapore Ministry of Health, Frequently Asked Questions on Haze.
  • YourHealth, AsiaOne, How to choose the right mask to protect yourself from the haze.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Prevention of Lung Cancer

Here are the cold facts about lung cancer - it's hard to find early and difficult to treat. However, lung cancer is also one of the most preventable types of cancer. That is the good news! By avoiding certain risk factors for lung cancer, we can reduce our chances of developing it. Here are some steps in lung cancer prevention.

1. Quit Smoking - NOW


Smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. It is estimated that 87% of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking. As soon as you quit, your body reaps the benefits of being tobacco free. Quitting smoking is the BEST defense against lung cancer.

2. Eat fruits and veggies.


Fruits and vegetables are rich with antioxidants and flavonoids. Antioxidants and flavonoids help protect your cell's DNA and repair damaged cells.

3. Have your home tested for radon.


Radon is the result of broken down uranium. It is a radioactive gas that cannot be seen, felt, smelled or tasted. Uranium occurs naturally in the soil, and the fear is that homes are being built over natural deposits, creating high levels of indoor radon exposure, which can lead to lung cancer.

4. Know what you are being exposed to in the workplace.


If you are exposed to fumes, dust, chemicals, etc in the workplace, you have a right to know what you are being exposed to. Gasoline, diesel exhaust, arsenic, beryllium. vinyl chloride, nickel chromates, coal products, mustard gas, and chloromethyl ethers are all carcinogens and can be found in some work environments. Talk to your employer about limiting exposure.

5. Keep away from secondhand smoke.


Secondhand smoke is the smoke exhaled from a smoker or smoke from a lit cigarette, pipe, or cigar. This smoke contains over 60 known carcinogens (agents causing cancer). These carcinogens interrupt normal cell development. This interference of cell development is what starts the cancer process.

6. Be Careful And Aware At Home.


Lung cancer prevention is important at home as well. Chemicals that contribute to lung cancer are found not only at the workplace, but may be under your sink or in your garage. Carefully read labels on household products and follow the instructions for safe usage. Wood smoke from wood burning stoves and fireplaces may also increase the risk of developing lung cancer.

7. Exercise for lung cancer prevention.


Even moderate amounts of exercise can aid in lung cancer prevention. Studies suggest that even something as simple as gardening twice a week is associated with a lower risk of developing lung cancer.

8. Enjoy a Cup of Green Tea.


Green tea has been shown to prevent some of the damage to cells caused by smoking, and people who consume more green tea appear to have a lower risk of lung cancer. That said, drinking green tea isn’t a “get out of jail free” card, and quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do to lower your risk.

9. Limit Your Intake of Alcohol.


Another important step in lung cancer prevention may include limiting your intake of certain types of alcoholic beverages. For men, the heavy consumption of beer and hard liquor is associated with an elevated risk of developing lung cancer. In contrast, a moderate intake of wine in men was linked with a lower risk of developing the disease.

10. Be Wary of Supplements.


Advertisements would lead us to believe that nutritional supplements are beneficial in lung cancer prevention, while in fact, studies have actually linked the use of some supplements to a higher risk of developing lung cancer. Supplements that have raised concern include beta-carotene, retinol, lutein, and vitamin E. If you are considering taking nutritional supplements, talk with your doctor or ask her to refer you to someone knowledgeable about the risks and benefits of supplements for your specific situation.

Videos on the prevention of Lung Cancer.


  • National Cancer Institute. Lung Cancer Prevention (PDQ). Health Professional Version. Updated 07/16/10.
  • Nucleus Medical Media. Lung Cancer Prevention
  • About.com. Tips for preventing Lung Cancer

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Treatment Of Lung Cancer

Treatment of lung cancer
Treatment of lung cancer refer to the use of medical therapies, such as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and targeted therapies, in alone or combination to cure or lessen the impact of malignant neoplasms originating in lung tissue.
Stage 0: Early formation of cancer. No tumors yet.
Stage 1: Cancer cells localised to one part of the body. Small tumor.
Stage 2: Cancer cells are more developed, still in one part of the body.
Stage 3: Same as stage 2, depending on type of cancer. Late stage of cancer.
Stage 4: Cancer has metastasised and spread to other organs. Final stage.

The aim of lung cancer is to remove the entire tumour and some normal tissue at the margin. Surgery can be curative when lung cancer was caught before spread beyond the lungs. However, there are some side effect of surgery, that are infection, bleeding, and  shortness of breath, depends on the amount of tissue removed. Surgery is rarely used in stage 3b or stage 4 non-small cell lung carcinoma. The three procedure in surgery are as below,
·         Wedge resection – the tumor and some surrounding tissue is removed
·         Lobectomy – a lobe of the lung is removed
·         Pneumonectomy – an entire lung is removed

Radiation therapy use x-rays of high energy applied to kill the cancer cell. It can be combined with chemotherapy. In patients with stage one or two non-small cell lung carcinoma, radiotherapy alone results in 13–39% of patients surviving to five years. The common side effect of radiation therapy is redness and irritation of the skin. Radiation therapy used in different stage as below,
·         After surgery – To treat any cancer cells that might remain in the area after surgery.
·         Before surgery – To decrease the size of a tumor and make surgery more effective.
·         To cure cancer – With small tumors, and in patients that are unable to have surgery due to age, location of a tumor or other medical conditions, radiation therapy can sometimes offer the chance for a cure.
·         To treat lung cancer – Both locally, such as nearby lymph nodes and to other parts of the body, such as the brain.
·         To treat symptoms – When a tumor is causing symptoms such as shortness of breath and pain, sometimes radiation therapy is used to reduce tumor size to decrease symptoms.
·         For prevention – In small-cell lung cancer, radiation therapy to the brain is sometimes given to kill any cells that have spread to the brain but are not detected by scans. This is called Prophylactic Cranial Irradiation (PCI).

In patients with stage 3 lung cancer that cannot be removed, treatment with combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy improves survival significantly. Sometimes, chemotherapy is used along with surgery to to catch cancer cell that have spread microscopically. Chemotherapy also given as a palliative therapy, to improve survival time and decrease symptoms. Chemotherapy medications work by killing rapidly dividing cells.  Chemotherapy is a “systemic treatment ,” meaning that it works to kill cancer cells anywhere in the body. In some cases, chemotherapy is used before surgery to shrink a tumor and improve the chances that surgery will be effective.

Targeted therapies
Unlike traditional chemotherapy, these treatments target proteins on cancer cells or target normal cells that have been hijacked by the tumor in its attempts to grow. For that reason they tend to have fewer side effects that many of the medications used for cancer. Currently, these are used primarily for stage 3 and 4 lung cancer that has not responded to other treatments.  


- Fong Chee Cheng

Host response, signs and symptoms of lung cancer.

One of the symptoms of lung cancer are Cough Doesn’t Go Away. One of the most common signs of lung cancer is a persistent cough. It may seem obvious that this symptom should be checked out, but it is often attributed to something else. Perhaps you think it is allergies or just another winter cold, or that if you just wait another week, it will go away. Even if it seems like there is a simple reason for your chronic cough, if it is lasting, get it checked out.

One of the other symptoms is coughing up blood. There are many conditions that will cause cough blood. One of them is Lung cancer.

Shortness of breath is also one of the symptoms of the Lung Cancer. You maybe thought that you are a little older than other people or have decreased ability to climb up stairs without catching your breath. Tell it to your doctor if your have this symptom.

Other symptom is recurrent pneumonia and bronchitis. Lung cancer can cause pneumonia. It can be difficult to diagnose when the lung infections occur. Changes in X-ray caused by pneumonia can make it difficult to see the cancer cells in some cases. If you found out that you have lung infections, ask your doctor if you need to be checked out for further more details.
Pneumonia lung infection X-ray.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Lung cancer also can cause pain in your chest and back. Certainly, symptoms of pain in your chest or back are more likely to be related to a cause other than lung cancer. Most of us have had back pain after lifting someone we probably shouldn’t have. But pain that persists, especially if you can’t think of any reason for that pain, should prompt a call to your doctor. Chest pain related to lung cancer tends to be constant rather than intermittent, and may worsen with time.

Lung cancer also can cause pain in your shoulder. When lung cancer grows more nearer to the top of the lungs, they can put pressure on nerves in your armpit. This will cause the pain to go inside of the arm down to the hands.

Lung cancer also can cause weight loss without trying. Losing of weight is just a normal thing in daily life, but if your weight decreases without eating less or exercise, there must be something wrong with your body. Cancer can cause change in metabolism in your body so that weight loss occurs even you eat a proper calories of food.

But if the lung cancer has spread to other parts of the body, others symptoms may also occur. The patient will also get headache if the brain is also affected. The person will also get stroke. Difficulty in swallowing is also the symptoms of lung cancer. The voice of the person will also change (persistent hoarseness and clearing throat often). The fingernails of the patient will also experience clubbing as a result of lung cancer (fingernails become rounded).

How to tell if clubbing has occurred?
By looking for Schamroth's window.

Taken from:  http://www2.lifewithlungcancer.info/experts/About_Lung_Cancer/What_are_the_most_common_lung_cancer_symptoms/26/index.html?gclid=CLzbwe7p6bcCFSwF4god1XcAoA

-Tan Kean Boon

Friday, 14 June 2013

History, Development and Epidemiological Distribution of Lung Cancer

First of all, what is cancer? Cancer in general is a carcinogenic disease caused by uncontrolled mitosis, due to series of mutations of normal cells into cancerous cells. Certain conditions can cause a normal cell to mutate into a cancerous cell. Cancer can normally be divided into two kinds: benign and malignant. Benign cancer does not spread to the rest of the body, whereas malignant cancer splits and spreads to other parts of the body, causing more overall damage. The process of cancer spreading throughout the body is called "Metastasis".
Lung cancer is the unregulated cell growth... in lungs.
Lung cancer is what happens when cancer cells are formed in the lungs. 

History of Lung Cancer

One hundred years ago, lung cancer was a rare disease known to mankind.
However, there was a sharp rise in the number of cases following the increased development of the tobacco industry at the time.
As the prosperity and development of the world reached sky-high, so did the level of pollution caused by heavy industry. No doubt, this contributed to the appearance of even more cases.

Direct relationship between cigarette consumption
and deaths caused by lung cancer.
In 1929, a German physician Fritz Lickint recognized the link between smoking and lung cancer. This led to a fierce anti-smoking campaign.

The link between radon gas and lung cancer was first recognized by miners at Ore Mountains, Schneeberg, Saxony in Germany. These mines were rich in uranium, and contained radium and radon gas. Several miners developed lung diseases, which was recognized as lung cancer in the 1870s. Radon gas was confirmed as a cause of lung cancer in the 1960s.

Why and how is lung cancer formed?

There are several factors that cause the development of lung cancer. The primary factor is smoking, or second-hand smoke. Other factors include genetic mutation, radon gas, asbestos, and air pollution.

Smoking: The inhaling of tar and nicotine might be able to calm the nerves, but looking on the far side, it’s able to cause lung cancers. Smokers not only put themselves, but also those besides them in grieve danger. (Excess alcohol, unhealthy food diet, lac of exercises also contribute to the formation of lung cancer)

Genetic mutation: Getting to close to radiation or other factors that may cause genetic mutation is one of the many and most effective ways to develop cancer. Mutation can sometimes causes diseases more critical compared to lung cancer. That’s why lung cancer is also a kind of hereditary disease, passed down the generations.

Radon gas: Radon is a radioactive gas given out from the normal decay of the elements in rocks and soil. It is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that seeps up through the ground and diffuses into the air. Radon gas usually exists at very low levels outdoors. However, in areas without adequate ventilation, such as underground mines, radon can accumulate to levels that increase the risk of lung cancer.
Asbestos: Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in the environment, work place and even home. It is able to release microscopic fibers that if inhaled will be trapped in the lungs and causes lung cancer.
Air pollution: The inhaling of other particles other than oxygen into the lungs may be unnecessary and sometimes also a causes the lung cancer. In this modern society, heavy industry is the heart of it, producing many air-polluting particles, affecting the life of humans.
The causes of lung cancer, clockwise from top left:
Smoker, genetic mutation, radon gas, asbestos,
and air pollution.
What makes lung cancer fatal? Cancer forming in the lungs itself is already critical. But what if lung cancer itself is just the beginning? The fact is that lung cancer is usually a malignant cancer - it is able to undergo metastasis. The cancer spreads to the neighboring tissues and affects their normal functions. The infected person will usually suffer intolerable pain, unless medication is prescribed for it. If early diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer is not done, sooner or later, some other cancers will show up in different parts of the body. By that time, it will be too late for most treatments.

Epidemiological distribution of lung cancer:

More of the cases of lung cancer usually appear in developed countries, as they have more heavy industry. Countries that are currently developing, such as China and India, are
expected to have higher lung cancer rates in the next few years, as smoking increases.
Europe and North America posses the highest rates of lung cancer, in which Eastern Europe has the highest lung cancer mortality rate among men, whereas the highest lung cancer mortality rate among women is in Northern Europe and the US. Which kind of people are most likely to develop Lung Cancer? That would be those above 50 years old who have a history of smoking.

Cases of lung cancer based on gender:

Cases of lung cancer existed in more males that in females throughout the years. But owing to medicine and
self-consciousness, there has been a decrease in the number of cases since the 90s.
However, there has been a sign showing that the cases in females is gradually increasing as more become smokers.

In general, lung cancer is "breath-taking". And smoking kills! We can avoid getting lung cancer by avoiding taking up smoking, or even help the people around you to STOP smoking. Those who smoke might feel nothing big about it, but your loved ones do.

- Kang Enyi

  • Lung Cancer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia:
  • "From the National Cancer Institute" - Wikimedia Commons:
  • "Contributed by Joe Abell" - Tiffinomics, the Tiffin School Economics Society:
  • Lung Cancer Fact Sheet - American Lung Association:
  • Smoking and Cancer - Dr. George Johnson's Backgrounders:

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Self Introduction

This video was recorded using My Movie Maker by Windows Live and Hypercam 2 by Hyperionics, both of which can be downloaded for free.

Lim Hsien Wei Jonathan - Tech and Blog admin
Fong Chee Cheng - Treatment of lung cancer
Kang Enyi - Cause and development & epidemiological distribution of lung cancer
Tng Hong Tat - Prevention of lung cancer
Tan Kean Boon - Host response, signs and symptoms of lung cancer

Again, please do let us know what you think about our blog by leaving a post in the comments. Remember that the actual assignment comments are meant to go on our Facebook group page, but it would help us a lot if you give us some feedback here in our blog. Also, we would be more than willing to assist anyone who needs help getting their blog up and running. Just look for us before or after class, and we help you out with advice and all. We won't do your assignment for you though, haha. That's all for now, and have a nice day. -Lim Hsien Wei Jonathan

Music reference:
All found and recorded from Youtube.
Opening theme: Wii Sports opening theme - Nintendo
Jonathan's theme: The Legend of Zelda field theme - Nintendo
Chee Cheng's theme: Bad Meets Evil - Fast Lane
Kang's theme: Wake Me Up When September Ends - Green Day (guitar cover by Sungha Jung)
Hong Tat's theme: Hero - Enrique Iglesias (guitar cover by Sungha Jung)
Kean Boon's theme: You Don't Know You're Beautiful - One Direction (cover by The Piano Guys)
Closing theme: All of Me - John Schmidt, The Piano Guys