Category Archives: Medicine & Health 疗池

The New Food Map For Digestive Disorders

by Dr. Mecherl Lim 

MD (MA) Naturopath (ND), Holistic Kinesiology

There’s a new acronym in the dieting world: FODMAP. It’s  an acronym that makes life easier for anyone discussing this particular diet, because the words represented by the acronym are so difficult to remember, let alone pronounce.  FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols.


One of the reasons this new diet is getting so much attention is that it seems to help those who experience the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Millions of people suffer from digestive disorders, and up to 20 per cent suffers at some time with IBS


While the word “bowel” is built into the name, IBS involves pain and discomfort anywhere in the abdomen, and includes such varied symptoms as diarrhoea, constipation, painful wind, belching, flatulence and bloating. If left untreated, over time it can lead to dehydration, nutrient deficiencies, social discomfort and could contribute to some forms of cancer.


Experts believe that IBS is the result of dysfunction in the muscles or nerves controlling the  organs of the gastrointestinal tract, which is  a lot more complex than it might first appear. A system of nerves runs the length of the digestive tract starting at the oesophagus and ending at the anus.  In fact, the number of nerves in the gastrointestinal  tract is exceeded only by the number  present in the spinal cord and brain!


While some experts ponder the source of the dysfunction, others are focusing on the role of diet in producing the symptoms associated with IBS. Poor digestion, malabsorption of dietary sugars (lactose from dairy and fructose from fruits) and food chemicals have often been considered triggers for IBS symptoms. 

Similarly, while dietary fat helps food and wind to move slowly through the stomach and small intestine of healthy individuals, it seems to really slow down food and wind transit in those with IBS. New research also suggests non coeliac gluten intolerance may play a role in those who suffer with irritable bowels.

One of the major complaints associated with IBS involves wind production. For example, IBS sufferers report more  wind, as well as wind that takes longer to dissipate from the small intestine that those without IBS.

As a result of the wind build up, bloating causes an increased abdominal size throughout the day, leading to discomfort and possible embarrasment- not to mention a wardrobe full of unattractive clothing with elasticized waistbands! 

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Frozen Shoulder

by Dr. Tan Boon Cheong

MBBS (MU),. MS Ortho (MU)

The shoulder is a region that commonly gives rise to pain and immobility. A common shoulder problem in orthopaedic practice is frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis. Frozen here does not mean cold temperature but it carries the meaning of the inability to move the shoulder joint in almost all directions as the disease progresses. Frozen shoulder is debilitating and will affect the daily activities of the patient. Frozen shoulder tends to heal over time, but full recovery may take up to three years.  

It generally affects people between the age of 40 to 60 and more in females. The causes of frozen shoulder are not fully understood but there are a few factors which may present higher risks.  Prolonged immobilisation after shoulder injury or surgery is one of them. Thus, early mobilisation is important. Diabetic patients (10% to 20%) are more prone to the ailment.  They tend to have greater degree of stiffness and longer duration of the problem. Other medical conditions such as heart disease, thyroidal imbalance or Parkinson’s are linked to this malady as well. 

The main symptoms are pain and stiffness. The pain is usually dull or achy in nature, typically in the outer part of the shoulder. Some patients may feel this pain at the upper arm. It gets worse at night, making sleep difficult. Symptoms of frozen shoulder can be categorised in three phases namely freezing, frozen and the thawing phase. Basically, the pain intensity slowly builds up to a stiffness that will lead to a debilitating phase before a slow recovery over time.  

Diagnosis of frozen shoulder is based on clinical history and physical examination. Some imaging may be ordered to rule out other diagnosis if the history and examination are inconclusive.  

Treatment of frozen shoulder is usually conservative with medication and physiotherapy. Shoulder joint injection with corticosteroid and joint distension with the injection of sterile water may sometimes be applied to reduce the symptoms. Shoulder joint manipulation under general anaesthesia can help in loosening the joint but is rarely needed or practiced. Surgery for frozen shoulder is seldom necessary. 

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Advancing world-leading pancreatic cancer research

by Dr. Belinda Lee

Honorary, Medical Biology (W.E.H.I.)

Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in Australia and predicted to become the second leading cause of cancer deaths globally by 2030. Dr Belinda Lee, from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, is an oncologist and researcher working to combat this alarming trend in pancreatic cancer. 

In 2016, Dr Lee established PURPLE, a first-of-its-kind pancreatic cancer translational database to help improve pancreatic cancer detection methods and develop more effective therapies for the aggressive disease. 

“Our aim is to increase data sharing and collaboration across cancer centres and research laboratories so that we can translate research from the laboratory into the clinic,” Dr Lee said.

The PURPLE registry currently supports crucial studies such as the DYNAMIC-Pancreas clinical trial. The DYNAMIC-Pancreas trial is investigating how cutting-edge blood biomarker technology that detects tiny amounts of residual circulating tumour DNA from a simple blood test can be used to determine whether a patient requires chemotherapy treatment after early stage pancreatic cancer surgery. The study is funded by a generous donation from The Marcus Foundation and sponsored by the Australian GI Trials Group (AGITG) and is recruiting at 20 cancer centres across Australia.

The PURPLE platform is also supporting a pancreatic cancer organoid program that aims to predict and identify the best personalised treatment combinations to improve outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients. The program is a collaborative effort between the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, University of Melbourne, and 11 Victorian cancer centres. New therapeutic drugs developed at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute will be tested through high-throughput drug screen to identify which drugs are most effective in the fight against pancreatic cancer. 

“By coordinating and linking translational research projects through the PURPLE initiative, we hope to gain crucial information for improving pancreatic cancer therapies and for combating factors that cause resistance to treatment,” Dr Lee said. 

website information on DYNAMIC-Pancreas clinical trial