How Breast Implants Affect Women

Breast Cancer is one of the more iconic diseases in the last decade and there is an increasing amount of information about it, with a lot of foundations now established to fund more research. And latest research has shown that a disease that may surge because of breast cancer is anaplastic large-cell lymphoma.

Anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (we’ll just call it lymphoma for now) is a type of cancer that women can develop through breast implants. Women get these implants either as a result of breast removal due to breast cancer or for cosmetic reasons.

The disease can affect anyone who’s had implants for two to up to twenty-eight years and the only way to treat it is by removing the implant and any scar tissue that’s around it. It’s not an everyday occurrence, but more and more cases are appearing.

This rare form of cancer has affected over 10 million women worldwide in the last few years, with some areas of the world seeing a bigger sum than others.

Doctors first discovered the link between cancer and implants in 2011, when they realised that patients who developed lymphoma were usually the ones with the rougher and more textured implants, as opposed to smoother implants which are frequently used.

Even though they’re not quite sure on why the difference in texture would affect the development of lymphoma, doctors theorise that it could be bacteria that are attached to the textured implant; if this is the case, then the bacteria would be able to form a type of coating called a biofilm and attack the immune system. The effects of this biofilm could vary from causing severe inflammation to even developing cancers such as lymphoma.

Researchers argue that it might not be the only cause; more investigations have gone into testing whether or not women’s genetic makeup has some molecule that could reject the implants and in turn generate lymphoma.

Thankfully, the symptoms for lymphoma are easy enough to spot. Like Breast Cancer, symptoms involve swelling and a buildup of fluid. Small bumps will also appear around the breast or on the armpits.

bariatric surgery

Thankfully, this type of lymphoma can be solved quickly. To test for it, doctors simply have to drain some fluid from the breast and test it for a substance called CD30 which is what causes lymphoma. Not just that, but if spotted early, it is easily treatable, and the patient won’t run any risk of the disease resurging at any point during their life.

Unfortunately, things aren’t quite that simple. The link between implants and lymphoma was only made a few years ago, before that, doctors either had no idea of what was happening or didn’t have any concrete evidence. Because of this, a lot of women were put back into chemotherapy treatment which didn’t help their condition at all.

Even after it became a known, many doctors still weren’t aware of the disease or what to do to prevent it; this led women to look for help from each other through social media groups where they could relay their accounts to one another and learn more about their situation.

With time, lymphoma through implants has become better known, but a lot of damage has already been done. Breast implants, regardless of the cause for them, have become one of the more common plastic surgery procedures in the world, so the possibility for people that could develop this type of lymphoma is certainly high.

Not just that, but as of 2015, only 30% of plastic surgeons frequently talked to their patients about cancer, according to Dr Mark W. Clemens II, a plastic surgeon and an expert on the disease at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

With all that said, doctors are still working hard to spread the knowledge about lymphoma, and these women are also doing everything they can to help each other out. It’s just a matter of time before more people learn more about it and help future cases be more prepared. In the meanwhile, we highly recommend women to do regular checks on their breasts and see a doctor once they notice anything unusual.

Photo Credits: Daily Mail, Stefano Marianelli, ShutterStock

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Iron Supplements: Do You Need Them?


A poll result published on 26 Nov 2015 indicates that nearly 50% of females in Singapore may not be aware that they have iron deficiency. Doctors said that symptoms such as physical and mental fatigue, hair loss, brittle nails, may point to iron deficiency – but most people may put them down to stress and/or lack of sleep.

Iron deficiency is more often found in women who have heavy menstruations or are pregnant. While iron supplements may be readily available, doctors recommend a balanced diet as the best way to maintain healthy iron levels.

iron supplements

How about the reverse – iron overload?

In the article published by PhysiciansCommittee, iron is called a double-edged sword.

The body requires iron for healthy blood cells but beyond a certain level, iron becomes a dangerous substance as it acts as a catalyst for the formation of free radicals. Once the excess iron is absorbed by the digestive tract, the body stores it. Because of this, research studies have shown that higher amounts of iron in the blood mean higher risk of cancer.

In spite of advertising from health supplement manufacturers, iron overload exists and the tendency is higher for men and for women after menopause.


Major contributors to iron excess are taking vitamin and mineral supplements that contain iron. Some people may be taking certain multi-vitamins without knowing that there is iron in it. Other factors include eating excessive red meat and to some extent, processed foods that have iron added.

It was mentioned earlier that women with heavy menstruations may have iron deficiency. The reverse may be true for women after menopause or women who don’t menstruate regularly. Which explains why men have a higher tendency of iron overload – because they don’t menstruate!

Hence, it is prudent to have your doctor check your iron level before taking any supplements containing iron.

What are the symptoms of iron overload?

  • stomach pain
  • heart palpitations or chest pains
  • unexplained weakness
  • joint pain
  • unexplained fatigue

joint pain

The test used to check one’s iron level is known as ferritin. Ferritin is a protein that stores iron, releasing it when the body needs it. Ferritin is stored in the body’s cells until it’s time to make more red blood cells. Thus, if a person has an iron overload, it may take months before the normal level can be reached.

It’s an inexpensive test, likely costing less than a bottle of iron supplements, and it can help ensure that you do not over or under-consume iron.

For more information on integrated health management, visit www.vitalay.earth

Contributed by LayYong, Wellness Entrepreneur.


The Straits Times “Women not aware of iron deficiency”, Nov 26 2015

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Iron: The Double Edged Sword, www.pcrm.org

Photo credits: Pixabay and JustSaying.Asia

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Baby Teeth – A Dentist’s Advice

As a dentist, I’ve seen many children with dental decay, pain and swellings in the mouth. Having worked in hospitals, I have seen numerous little ones have general anaesthetic to have their teeth taken out. These are emotional and costly measures for a disease that is completely preventable.

As a parent there is so much going on. Taking care of your baby, your family and yourself. When it comes to a healthy smile, there are a few things to look out for:

1. Baby teeth

baby teeth

The baby teeth (primary/deciducous teeth) start to come through (erupt) at around 6 months. The lower two front teeth are the first ones you may see in the mouth. You may notice a ‘teething’ phase which is perfectly normal.

2. Teething

It is completely normal for teeth to start growing between 3 and 12 months old. Drooling, irritability and not wanting to feed are all part of the process. It can be painful and uncomfortable and babies often need patience, love and affection.

3. Adult Teeth

Between 6-7 years of age the adult (secondary) teeth will begin to erupt starting with the first molar. This will be an ongoing process from age 6 to 14 years (exclusive of wisdom teeth). Don’t be surprised if the teeth are not all in line initially. Often, they straighten out as the jaw grows. If this is not the case, you may wish to see a dentist about braces.

4. Bleeding gums means gum disease

Dental plaque is made up of sugar and bacteria. When it sits around the gums and is not removed, the gums start to bleed. If this continues, the gums will begin to drop back over time. What do you do? Ensure the teeth are brushed twice daily and limit sugary foods.

5. Dental decay needs attention

Dental decay is also known as dental cavities or dental caries. You may notice this as brown or black areas on the teeth. They may give no symptoms but can cause sensitivity and pain. If there is no pain, it does not mean the cavity does not need treating. A dental cavity can get bigger and reach the nerve in the tooth. This results in severe pain, swelling and the tooth needing extra attention or taking out. A large infection can lead to damage to the adult teeth.

Your child’s teeth are important. While they may get a second set, if the first set are not cared for, they may result in infections, pain and even being taken out. This can hinder the growth and development of the adult teeth with regard to shape, colour and position in the mouth.

Current best practice suggests brushing twice a day for two minutes on every surface of each tooth. Children who can not tie their own shoe laces tend not to have the manual dexterity to brush there own teeth. It’s advisable that an adult helps them. We always recommend limiting refined sugars and not eating after the bed time brush.

Top Tips for a happy healthy smile:

  1. Cut the sugary drinks
  2. Avoid processed food
  3. Brush twice a day
  4. Inspect the teeth for decay and gum disease
  5. See a Dentist every 6 months

Until next time, keep smiling!


Contributed by Dr Surinder Arora, Integrative Dentist and Health Coach.

Photo credits: Pixabay

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Why Do I Get The Cold Often Even When I Get Enough Exercise?

The common cold is the most frequently occurring disease in the world, and is a leading cause of doctor visits and missed days from work, school and yes, from your fitness classes.

There is a hidden fact about why people are often infected with the common cold.

Some of the ways to ward off communicable diseases like the cold, is to exercise, eating healthy and washing your hands as often as possible to minimise the chances of getting sick. Yet, some of you who exercise, eat healthy are often affected by the common cold.

Why?  The simple fact is you could be deficient in Vitamin D.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is an extremely important vitamin that has powerful effects on several systems throughout the body. For example, muscles need it to move.

Unlike most vitamins, vitamin D is a hormone (the medical community continued to use the term vitamin, even after it has been found to be a hormone – habits are difficult to change!) and every cell in your body has a receptor for it. Your body makes it from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to sunlight.

Vitamin D deficiency is very common. According to a 2011 study, 41.6% of adults in US are deficient.

What about Singapore or people living in the tropics? One would think low Vitamin D is not an issue given that there is sunshine all year round. The surprising thing is that a large majority of people does not have sufficient Vitamin D, one key reason being, most people live in modern cities and spend most of their time indoors.

Do you have any of these symptoms?

  1. Getting sick and infected often, especially with colds or the flu.
  2. Fatigue and tiredness.
  3. Bone and back pain.
  4. Hair loss.
  5. Muscle pain

Some people might attribute any of these symptoms to aging and live with it but you don’t have to.

It takes a simple test to find out if you are deficient in Vitamin D. If yes, you can correct it.

But read on. There is more to Vitamin D than we know. Research has shown Vitamin D is important in preventing other illnesses like diabetes, cancer and heart diseases.

prostate cancer

Vitamin D and Bones

Studies have shown that elderly individuals with low vitamin D are more likely to develop fractures and higher doses of vitamin D intake can reduce the likelihood of fractures

Vitamin D and the Heart

Studies have shown that low vitamin D levels are seen in people with heart failure, high blood pressure and stroke. There is some evidence that vitamin D may have a role in regulating blood pressure and preventing artery damage.

Vitamin D and Diabetes risk

Vitamin D levels also have an association with the increased incidence or likelihood of developing diabetes, a major risk factor for heart disease.

Vitamin D and the Immune System

It has been established by research that vitamin D is crucial to activate the body’s immune defences and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin – the killer cells of the immune system will not be able to react and fight off infections in the body.

Next time, ask your doctor to include the Vitamin D test to determine that you’re neither having too little nor too much of it.

For more about integrating health and fitness and be proactive in building optimum health, visit www.vitalay.earth.


Contributed by Lay Yong, Wellness Entrepreneur.


Vitamin D crucial to activating immune defences – www.sciencedaily.com, March 8 2010, University of Copenhagen

Vitamin D keeps the doctor away, Heart Stroke & Cancer Centre www.shscentre.com; Dr Michael Lim

Photo credit: Pixabay and GIPHY

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The Shocking Truth About Salt

Salt, or sodium chloride, is one of the most common ingredients of any food and it has become common knowledge that too much of it is not a good thing – especially if you have high blood pressure. It does seem to make sense because the theory is that if one consumes a lot of salt, you’ll start drinking a lot of water in order to compensate for the increase of salt in the bloodstream as your body requires a certain balance within (homeostasis), otherwise your organs will not function properly. As such, the increase amount of water would mean an increase in urine production in order to remove the access salt. However, a new discovery may prove this theory all wrong, and it might even cause us to switch the way we think about how our body deals with high intake of salt.

Dr Jens Titze, a kidney specialist at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research in Erlangen, Germany, discovered that not only does a higher intake of salt makes patients less thirsty, it’ll also make them hungrier.

In his two latest research papers, Titze explains how he came to this discovery. It all started with a class on human physiology back in 1991, where the professor talked about an experiment that the European Space Programme did to see how subjects made to live in a small capsule over a 28-day period would get along in insolation.

While the experiment was done to find out more about human physiology in insolation, Titze noticed something interesting. It seemed like the patients’ amount of urine weren’t correlating to their increased sodium intake. You would think that subjects with a high sodium diet would consume more water and therefore produce more urine but this was not the case.

He noticed something similar in another isolation experiment held in 1994 by the Russian Space Programme. Once again, Titze studied the urine levels of the subjects living on a high sodium diet and once again, he found that an increased level of sodium did not cause an increase in urine volume from the subjects.

Titze’s discovery culminated with a series of experiments held in 2006 – one lasting 105 days and the other 520 days. Cosmonauts that formed part of the research were given diets with varying levels of sodium that changed with each day; this gave Titze a chance to finally figure out what really goes on in the body when high amounts of salt is consumed.

He realised that although the subjects were drinking more water when consuming high sodium diets, the volume of urine was the same as compared to those on a low sodium diet. Naturally, there was a higher amount of sodium found in the urine but what was more significant was the increased amount of urea excreted by those on a high salt diet.

That wasn’t the only thing the scientists observed. They also realised that subjects seemed to get hungrier when the sodium intake was higher, this seems to point to higher levels of glucocorticoid hormones released which increased the subjects’ metabolism rate.

Titze and his team decided to hold further research by doing similar tests with mice, where the test group were fed more salt and given less water to see if the effects correlated with what he had seen during the isolation experiment.

He realised that even though the animals weren’t receiving water, the levels of glucocorticoid hormones in their system caused their body to release water from the fat and muscle in their bodies.

It was an effect akin to what happens when you’re low on nutrients, and your body starts using its stored resources. This was also the reason why the mice and the cosmonauts on high sodium diets ate 25% more food: their bodies were telling them to eat more in order to gain more nutrients.

Dr Mark Zeidel, a nephrologist at Harvard Medical School, compared this process to what camels do when they’re in the desert and low on water –  their body metabolises the fats in their hump. Zeidel also commented that this discovery on salt and metabolism could prove salt’s involvement in weight loss.

However, Titze does not recommend trying to lose weight by eating a lot of salt, because besides burning fats for energy, high salt intake actually makes one want to eat more. To add to that, the higher levels of glucocorticoid hormones within the body can lead to the development of Type 2 Diabetes.

It seems like there’s still a lot more we can learn when it comes to the effect that sodium has on our bodies and health, but in the meanwhile, just eat the amount of salt that your doctor recommends!

Photo Credits: The Alternative Daily, The Inquisitive Eater, Reader’s Digest

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The Shocking Truth of How Foetal Cells Affect Mothers

As we celebrate Mothers’ Day today, we’d like to take this chance to truly show how truly wonderful motherhood is. It is often said that mothers have a certain “maternal instinct” and how magical the bond is that mother and child(ren) share. While we all agree that this mother-child born happens naturally, there is an actual scientific explanation for why maternal instincts exists and it boils down to cells.

Of course, it’s not quite as simple and what happens is that during pregnancy, some of the foetus’ cells cross over from the placenta into the mother’s body. This process is called microchimerism and normally, the foetus’ cells which crosses over are  ‘cleaned’ up by the mother’s body once the baby is born but they often remain in the mother’s body, eventually becoming part of the mother’s body.

This phenomenon isn’t so weird among mammals; in fact, it’s been around since the first placental mammals roamed the earth. It was first discovered in humans several decades ago when a DNA report showed male cells inside of a woman’s bloodstream. The discovery caused an uproar, but they were unable to make further research due to a lack of technology at the time.

All of that has changed now. Thanks to deep-sequencing, researchers can go through a person’s DNA by exploring their genomes individually, allowing them to take a closer look at each gene that makes them.

Genes associated with immunity stand out in particular as they are unique to every person, thus making it easier to figure out who they belongs to.

However, this hasn’t stopped scientists’, such as Dr Amy Boddy and her team, curiosity in wanting to know why microchrimerism happens and how it can affect women who give birth.

Boddy explains that the reason for microchimerism comes when foetal cells from the baby can cross the placenta and enter the mother’s bloodstream. These foetal cells act like stem cells and are thus able to take on shelter among other tissues and can even take up that fabric’s form with the help of chemical cues. However, it’s still hard to tell why these processes happen in the first place.

There have been many effects listed when it comes to microchimerism. For example, a study on mice showed how foetal cells lodged in mammary glands can help improve the flow and quality of breast milk or how they can assist the mother’s healing mechanism.

There are still many aspects of it that biologists want to investigate, however, chief among them how a mother who has undergone multiple pregnancies can be affected and how it affects the babies as well.

David Haig, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University talks of the possibility that foetal cells from past pregnancies could influence the rate in which a mother can get pregnant again, they could even hinder other babies’ growth or delay their birth.

That’s not all, while some good things come out of microchimerism, scientists have also noted the adverse effects that can come from it. Chief among them is the fact that foetal cells can act in a similar way to cancer cells, meaning that they can increase the likelihood of developing some form of cancer.

Scientists are also trying to figure out exactly where foetal cells allocate once they enter the body. Scientists believe that aside from the breasts, these foetal cells can also enter the thyroid, which will then affect metabolism and thus, transfer more heat to the baby and the brain, which could potentially influence the attachment that a mother has to her children.

That is probably why a lot of mothers say that they often feel like their children are still part of them even after having given birth!

While all this is still in the midst of medical research, what does not change is how amazing pregnancy and motherhood are. We are grateful and thankful to all mothers and would once more like to wish them a Happy Mothers’ Day!

Photo Credits: Babble, Safety Kart, Forbes

Reference: Smithsonian

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Workout Mistakes That Prevent You From Seeing Results

When we work out, we often want to see the results as quick as possible; sometimes we’re so focused on these goals (whether it be to lose weight or to gain more muscle definition) that we neglect certain fundamentals and this may either prevent one from seeing results or even worse, hurting oneself.

Personal Trainer, Joel Quek, shares with us the common mistakes he sees his clients make and things we can all take note of when starting an exercise regime to keep fit and healthy in order to see results.

Unrealistic Expectations

When people are just starting out, they can sometimes become too fixated on seeing results as fast as possible and as a result, they push themselves too hard – thinking that they’ll be able to lose a lot of weight in a month. However, this leads to failure and exhaustion when they are unable to achieve their goals so quickly, which can in turn affect their motivation.

To overcome this issue, people should understand where they are standing on the fitness scale and where they want to be. It can vary from person to person, but if you’re able to analyse what you want to achieve and what it takes to get there, then you’ll find it a lot easier. If you’re not a fitness expert, it always helps to seek a professional’s opinion who will be able to come up with a bespoke exercise and diet plan together with realistic goals for you.

Not Doing a Proper Warm Up

Warm ups are an important part of every workout routine; they help us prepare our body for the exercise that is to come and can even function as light exercises themselves. However, many people decide to either not warm up properly or skip them all together to rush into the workout. This approach is dangerous as it could lead to injuries or cramps which will, in turn, jeopardise a person’s chances to lose weight or improve as their body has to recover. Imagine that your muscles are like dried spaghetti. If you bend it immediately, it will snap but if you put it into hot water, it’ll become soft and flexible.

The best way to solve this is through more dynamic warm-ups. These are exercises that can elevate a person’s heart rate and also stretch or prepare their body. Dynamic warm-ups can also be used to help specific parts of the body prepare to perform at the best of their abilities. For example, brisk walking or light jogging before going onto your 5km run is considered a good warm up.


Focusing Too Much on Cardio

Cardio workouts have gained popularity thanks to the fact that they help the most when it comes to weight loss and is easy – especially running when all you need to do is throw on your running shoes and hit the pavement. However, this has caused people to treat them as the be-all and end-all exercises for weight loss, causing them to ignore strengthening exercises due to fear of them making them look bulkier (bodybuilders are probably rolling their eyes now).

This assumption is wrong. While it is true that strength exercise work best to help tone muscles, they also help with weight loss as muscles help to increase a person’s basal metabolic rate (when one is at rest). All of this adds up well if they mix their strengthening exercises with cardio exercises, allowing them to lose weight easier and also to tone their body without having to overdo it.

Little/No Focus on Mobility Training

Mobility exercises are those that help with improving the way our bodies move; you can see this in both warm ups on or specific exercises that require us to stretch our muscles. People tend to skip on these exercises because their purpose isn’t as evident as that of cardio exercises and strength exercises. However, mobility exercises help to increase one’s flexibility, range of movements and also prevents injuries while doing the cardio and strength training.

More Repetitions =/= More Muscles = More Mistakes

You’d normally hear that if you want to become stronger or lose more weight, then you have to keep increasing the number of repetitions of a particular exercise. This approach isn’t completely wrong in that you should try to push yourself a little harder than your perceived limit (this is where a personal trainer is helpful in evaluating your fitness levels), but just forcing yourself to do more and more isn’t only counter-productive, it might not yield results.

The reason for this has to do with your body type and the way in which it allows you to burn fat and build muscle. There are three known body types: Endomorph, Mesomorph and Ectomorph.

Endomorphs are people characterised as being able to gain weight and muscle quickly – they have bigger bones and thus, they might find it easy to see results from strength exercises rather than cardio or aerobic exercises.

Mesomorphs are in the middle, with wider shoulders and smaller hips and need to have a more balanced routine to see results.

Ectomorphs, on the other hand, have a skinnier frame and tend to have faster metabolisms. People of the Ectomorph body types are perfect for running thanks to the fact that they can go at faster speeds. However, these people might also have trouble being able to build muscle.

Knowing your body type is a huge part of learning what you should base your exercise routine around and also what it will require of you to achieve your desired goal.

Don’t feel bad if you’ve committed any of the mistakes listed here; we’re only human after all. Now you know what you should do to improve your workouts and see more result. We’d like to give our thanks to Joel for helping us with this article, and if you’re interested, you can join his fitness bootcamp and kickstart your fitness journey on a proper note!

Photo Credits: Food, Healthline, Daily Burn, Affinity Magazine


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Suffering From Poor Memory? Scientists May Have The Solution

Do you suffer from bad memory and are increasingly frustrated with this? Memories are part of how we understand and navigate the world, which is why when we start losing our memory, it becomes frustrating – whether it be ourselves or for our family and friends. The onset of ageing also brings about other diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s which affect memory too.

Your brain doesn’t just lose memory through diseases though, head injuries such as concussions (depending on how drastic they are) can also lead to memory loss or make it easier for the person suffering from such injuries to develop one of the mental problems mentioned above. This has been the case for veteran soldiers who have fought in wars as well as athletes (specifically American Football athletes) who have sustained a lot of head injuries for one reason or another.

Scientists are starting to make progress in discovering ways to win against dementia and head-trauma based diseases. All it takes is an electro-shock.



In a recent study carried out by the University of Pennsylvania and funded by the US Department of Defense, scientists gathered patients who had acute epilepsy and monitored their brain waves and cognition abilities; this was done to see the level of damage their memory had taken.

Once recorded, patients had an array of electrodes installed through their skull. The electrodes were set up to send out electric pulses to the brain to (hopefully) kickstart their cognitive ability and allow their memory to improve.

The basis for how this works is rooted in the fact that our brains utilise electrons in other to connect the dots that make up our memories, and diseases such as Alzheimer’s or head injuries directly affect them, making it harder for them to send out their pulses.

Previous studies used this approach previously, specifically one in 2014 which was also funded by the Department of Defense. However, the results of that study were muddled, some patients seemed to have good results from the pulses while others got worse.


According to Michael Kahana, one of the leading researchers of the study, the reason for these failed attempts might’ve been due to the timing in which the electron pulses released. Just like how we can have days where we don’t feel like ourselves; people who suffer from memory loss also have moments where their cognitive abilities are better or worse.

Kahana and Youssef Ezzyat (the other leading researcher) believe that the timing of the pulses influence whether or not our memories can recover. They, in turn, made quite an exciting discovery. It seems like our cognitive abilities improve when the electrodes send out pulses as our memories are on the lower side than when they are better.

Using this hypothesis, they discovered that patients who had the stimulus at the time when their memory was at its lowest had a twelve to thirteen percent increase, whereas subjects who received the pulses when they could remember things easier had a fifteen to twenty percent decrease.

Of course, the results aren’t perfect; they can vary from person to person and sometimes they might not even work. There’s more research going into it though, and the team behind the project as well as the Department of Defense seem hopeful in what they’ve discovered so far. With any luck, they’ll be able to make more progress and open a path to new discoveries that can help revolutionise the way we look at our memory.

Photo Credits: Eczema Outreach Scotland, Eat Right Ontario, QuickBase

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