June 19 -25, 2019

Gulf Weekly Letters

With reference to last week’s P3 article about my meeting up by chance with a former pupil in Japan who still carried a ‘worry doll’ that I had given to all pupils just before their exams to help alleviate stress.

A few students, some from more than 10 years ago, have been in touch since reading the article saying that they still have theirs ... maybe I should do some research and see how many turn up!

Lizzie Banks, former St Chris head of psychology, now living in Singapore.


With reference to an article I read on GDNonline, your sister newspaper’s online portal, on Bahrain’s bid to ban single-use plastic to help save the environment.

I recall an article I wrote in 2008, during my time as a reporter with GulfWeekly, on former supermarket Geant withdrawing its proposal to charge 20fils for every plastic bag purchased because some customers complained.

The newspaper had such an outpouring of disappointment over the decision that we had to run a full page of letters on the subject the following week.

If only the Bahrain government had actually taken the bold step back then … we can only say, better late than never.

Anasuya, Canada.

Editor’s note: Read the original article by visiting http://www.gulfweekly.com/Articles/19776//BACKLASH


The current debate over whether women footballers should receive equal pay to their male counterparts is ludicrous, as is the same argument over professional tennis.

When women can play alongside and against men on the same pitch in the same league - and on the same court in the same tournament - then a sensible argument can be made.

The only true equal opportunities sport is horse racing. Here we have male and female animals competing on the same course, over the same distance, ridden by both male and female jockeys … all for the same prize purse.

Jimmy, Seef.


Vitamin D is very important for overall health and well-being. A major source of vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight. However, with fear of skin cancers in the last decade, people have significantly cut their sun exposure and, with the use of sun screens, have dramatically reduced the vitamin D levels leading to major health problems.

The evidence concerning skin cancer relates to excessive unprotected sun exposure and not to moderate exposure to the sun in the early morning, or late afternoon, away from midday – the peak time for harmful ultraviolet rays.

There is now substantial evidence of a high rate of vitamin D deficiency in our region, reaching more than 90 per cent of young women and to a lesser extent among males. This leads to an increased risk of bone disorders like rickets in children (bowing of the bone and disrupted bone growth leading to deformities), osteomalacia (softening of the bone) and osteoporosis in adults.

Moreover, there is evidence of increase pain suffered by osteoarthritis patients with low vitamin D status and a lesser response to rheumatoid arthritis treatment.

There is also strong evidence of an increased association with diabetes, thyroid disorders, neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis, other autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, and even certain kinds of cancers are more among those with low levels (non-skeletal effects of low vitamin D).

Cancers of the colon, prostate, breast and ovary have been linked to low levels of vitamin D.

There has also been evidence of increased heart disease in large scale studies, hypertension and stroke. Moreover, another study confirmed increased artery diseases of the extremities.

Age-related memory problems have been linked to lower vitamin D levels as well as poor mental health and symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, premenstrual syndrome and depression.

It is almost impossible to consume adequate vitamin D through diet alone; while supplements are an important alternative, most people still don’t get the recommended amount.

We must dispel the myth that women with osteoporosis living in sunnier latitudes do not have to worry about vitamin D.

Their clothing, use of sunscreen and an avoidance of sun exposure, particularly in hot climates like the Gulf region, could explain the high prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy observed in the studies.

We live in houses that have tinted-glass windows, drive from a covered garage going to another covered garage with the car windows tinted.

Most of our activities are scheduled after sunset and focus more on indoor activities due to the hot climate.

It isn’t a natural or healthy way to live.

The Gulf area has one of the highest rates of vitamin D deficiency.

A dietary supply of vitamin D can be found in fortified milk and orange juice, Swiss cheese, fortified cereals, salmon, mackerel, sardines and cod. Also multivitamins include vitamin D.  We can either ensure adequate sun exposure daily for 20 minutes or take supplements of vitamin D3.

Speak to your endocrinologist and ask about the proper loading dose if deficient and what long-term maintenance plan may be required for you and your family.

Dr Wiam Hussein, senior consultant endocrinologist, Royal Bahrain Hospital.

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