Study: Diabetes linked to hearing loss

Updated 04 December 2012
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Study: Diabetes linked to hearing loss

DIABETES has already been tied to an increased risk of kidney and cardiovascular troubles, nerve damage and vision loss, and now a Japanese study finds diabetics to be more than twice as likely as those without the disease to have hearing impairment.
In a review of past research on the issue, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, scientists found that younger diabetics were at even higher risk than older adults, though they could not explain why.
“Current meta-analysis suggests that the higher prevalence of hearing impairment in diabetic patients compared with nondiabetic patients was consistent regardless of age,” wrote lead researcher Chika Horikawa, at Niigata University Faculty of Medicine, and colleagues.
It’s not the first time researchers have found a link between diabetes and hearing loss. In 2008, researchers from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) saw similar patterns in a sample of more than 11,000 people, with people with diabetes twice as likely to have hearing loss as those without.
It’s thought that high blood sugar levels brought on by diabetes may lead to hearing loss by damaging blood vessels in the ears, said Horikawa.
Horikawa and colleagues collected information from 13 previous studies examining the link between diabetes and hearing loss and published between 1977 and 2011. Together, the data covered 7,377 diabetes and 12,817 people without the condition.
Overall, Horikawa’s team found that diabetics were 2.15 times as likely as people without the disease to have hearing loss. But when the results were broken down by age, people under 60 had 2.61 times the risk while people over 60 hand 1.58 times higher risk.
Some experts caution that this kind of study does not prove that diabetes is directly responsible for the greater hearing loss rates.
“It doesn’t definitively answer the question, but it continues to raise an important point that patients might ask about,” said Steven Smith, a diabetes specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
The researchers note that future studies that take more factors into account, such as age and noisy environment, are needed to clarify the link between diabetes and hearing loss.
Still, Horikawa told Reuters Health in an e-mail, people should recognize that diabetics may be at risk for hearing loss based on their results.
“Furthermore, these results propose that diabetic patients are screened for hearing impairment from (an) earlier age compared with non-diabetics,” said Horikawa, adding that hearing loss has also been linked to an increased risk of depression and dementia.


Call to ban foreign cooks in Malaysia elicits mixed reactions

Updated 25 June 2018
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Call to ban foreign cooks in Malaysia elicits mixed reactions

  • The government has rowed back from Human Resource Minister M. Kulasegaran’s call saying it was “merely a suggestion,” and it will “consult various stakeholders.”
  • Some 250,000 foreign workers are employed in service industries in Malaysia, including restaurants, hawker stalls and cafes.

KUALA LUMPUR: There are mixed reactions from restaurant and food stall owners across Malaysia to a call by Human Resource Minister M. Kulasegaran to ban foreign cooks by Jan. 1, 2019.

The government has since changed its tone, on Saturday saying the call was “merely a suggestion,” and it will “consult various stakeholders.”

Some 250,000 foreign workers are employed in service industries in Malaysia, including restaurants, hawker stalls and cafes.

Kulasegaran’s call came amid government attempts to reduce the number of foreign workers in the country.

Adrian Pereira, director of the North South Initiative, a non-profit that promotes the rights of migrant workers in Malaysia, wants the government to engage with all stakeholders to ensure rights-based approaches that are backed by market data.

“We mustn’t forget that there’s a huge informal sector that also hires migrants as cooks,” he said.

“We can’t assign nationality to the work. Once we go down this road, in future work will also discriminate against color, religion etc.”

Suhaila owns a food stall that serves local Malay dishes. She hires only Indonesian cooks, who have been working for her family’s stall for more than a decade.

“They already know how to cook the local dishes, and the food tastes good. There’s no difference,” Suhaila told Arab News, adding that she does not mind employing Malaysians as waiters, but not the cooks as they are her “main source of income.”

She disagrees with Kulasegaran’s call, saying not all local cooks can cook local dishes. She said she once hired a local cook, but the dishes were not as tasty as those made by her Indonesian cooks.

Hamid Khalid, owner of the restaurant Nasi Kandar Arraaziq, agrees with a ban, telling Arab News that he does not hire foreign cooks because customers prefer to eat food made by Malaysians.

But Khalid, whose waiters are mostly foreign, complimented foreign workers for their hard work and low labor cost.

Alex Lee owns the Smokehouse Restaurant, which serves mainly British food. He employs mostly Malaysian cooks, and one foreigner who works as a sous chef.

“From a protectionist and job-security point of view, I think it (a ban) is idiotic,” Lee told Arab News, adding that most food business owners constantly face a shortage of workers.

It is the responsibility of restaurant owners, not the government, to preserve local food’s authenticity, said Lee, cautioning the government against “short-sighted, faux-populist” policies.