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CEBU CITY, Philippines—On Wednesday, Captain Jessup Bahinting was asked if he could lend one of his planes to the city government to pick up four vials of antidote for snake bite on Camiguin Island.
Without hesitation, Bahinting, 60, chairman and CEO of Aviatour Air, told his Nigerian pilot to fly one of the company’s Cessna planes and get the antidote. The mission eventually helped save the life of Cebu City zookeeper Ronald Aventurado, who had been bitten by a king cobra.
Three days later, Bahinting went missing, along with Interior Secretary Jessie Robredo and Nepalese flight student Kshitiz Chand, after the six-seater Piper Seneca he himself was flying crashed in the waters off Masbate.
On Sunday, Cebu City traffic chief Sylvan Jakosalem, a close friend of Bahinting’s, spoke in sadness about the tragedy.
“It makes me very sad because it’s a double whammy. We still do not know what happened to Secretary Jesse Robredo and a very good friend of mine (Bahinting),” Jakosalem said.
He described Bahinting as a good man who didn’t have second thoughts about lending his plane to save the life of someone he didn’t even know.
Bahinting even asked about Aventurado’s recovery after the zookeeper had been saved, Jakosalem said.
On Friday, he sent a text message to Bahinting that Aventurado was gaining strength and was taken off the ventilator. Bahinting, a retired pastor who served with the Grace Communion International from 1984 to 1996, replied in a text message: “Praise the Lord.”
Bahinting often used his planes on charity missions, said Margaret Rose Veniegas, who worked with Aviatour from 2006 to April this year.
She said Bahinting would approve the airlifting of people from faraway provinces to Cebu for emergencies without thinking about the cost. He would even fly people with cleft palate to Cebu for free so they could have an operation.
Born in Siquijor and raised in Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental, Bahinting was first exposed to aviation through his father, who worked at the Civil Aviation Administration (now the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines).
At 19, he became assistant to Antonio Sabijana, the pilot of former Representative Herminio Teves.
In an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer in March 2011, Bahinting said Sabijana taught him “how to fly and fix machines and engines.” Besides being a pilot, Bahinting was also a mechanic.
But it was in Davao where he formally trained as a pilot. He escorted the delivery of an aircraft repaired by Sabijana’s company.
“I got my formal training there but I already learned a lot from my previous mentor (Sabijana) who not only taught me the technical skills but also taught me the values of diligence, hard work and humility,” Bahinting said in the Inquirer interview.
He again worked as a helper to a mechanic whose boss owned the Mindanao Aeronautical Technical School.
Bahinting established Aviatour in Lapu-Lapu City in 2002, offering charter tours to Korean honeymooners. The business later developed into a full-blown aviation company that offered chartered services and aerial tours, maintenance services and aircraft sales. It opened a flight school in 2006.
Bahinting and his wife, Marge, managed the company. Their daughter Sarah handled marketing.
Aviatour also has two flight schools in Texas and California in the United States, both managed by his eldest daughter, Jemar.
Bahinting’s son, Dan, is a pilot based in the United States.
Former Aviatour employee Veniegas said Bahinting was a stickler for safety. He always saw to it that Aviatour’s aircraft regularly underwent safety inspection and were certified for air-worthiness. He also saw to it that his flight students had their licenses before he took in new ones.
Veniegas, who worked with Bahinting and Jemar in promoting the company’s aerial tour business and the flight school, said Bahinting flew for VIPs, like government officials and businessmen.
In another interview with the Inquirer in September 2010, Bahinting said flight instructors at the Aviatour school were dwindling. He lamented that few Filipinos enrolled in flight schools because they thought the tuition was expensive.
Most of the Aviatour students come from countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
“There are no available scholarships for prospective students,” Bahinting said. “For those who do not know the industry well, they think that going to a flight school is expensive. In reality, it’s almost the same (expenses) when (you send a student to) study medicine.”—With a report from Doris C. Bongcac, Inquirer Visayas
Coffee good for you, but it’s OK to hold back
CNN.com by on August 18, 2012
- Coffee may prevent type II diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, evidence shows
- It may also have anti-cancer and antidepressant effects
- Some people can’t tolerate coffee because of side effects
- Doctor: If you don’t drink coffee and want to start, ease into it
(CNN) — If you can’t get through your day without a coffee break or two, here’s good news for you: What scientists know so far suggests coffee may help you stay healthy.
As usual with medical research, the operative word is “may.”
It’s hard to know for sure whether coffee is really causing good effects — lifestyles or behaviors associated with coffee consumption may also influence health. Also, different people have different tolerances for coffee — it can have short-term side effects that make people steer clear of morning brews.
So, doctors aren’t quite convinced enough to prescribe coffee — but they probably don’t need to, because so many people indulge in it anyway.
The point is: In general, regular coffee drinkers won’t be discouraged from continuing the habit, although there are exceptions.
“For most people, for people who don’t experience the side effects, the benefits far outweigh the risks,” said Dr. Donald Hensrud of the Mayo Clinic.
Why would coffee be good?
More is known about the overall association between coffee and positive health effects than about the mechanism behind it, said Dr. Alberto Ascherio, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Antioxidants are one potential reason that good outcomes are seen from coffee. Our bodies produce oxygen radicals, which are damaging to DNA. Antioxidants prevent them from doing damage, Ascherio said.
Although antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables, research has shown that coffee is the top source of antioxidants for Americans.
Caffeine itself may also contribute to coffee’s positive effects on brain health. That may be because caffeine is an antagonist to adenosine receptors. These receptors normally slow down neural activity when the chemical adenosine binds to them, producing a sleepy feeling. But if caffeine binds to the receptors, the activity of neurons speeds up.
Coffee also appears to lower levels of insulin and estrogen, which is perhaps why a study last year found a lower risk of endometrial cancer in coffee-drinking women. Insulin also plays a role in prostate cancer, another disease coffee may help stave off.
What good it may bring
The evidence is fairly strong for coffee preventing type II diabetes and Parkinson’s, and reasonably good for antidepressant effects, too, doctors say.
Just in the last few months, several new studies have been published highlighting other possible benefits of coffee. Again, none of them prove that coffee causes any effects at all; they are just associations.
People who drink two 8-ounce cups of coffee daily appear to have an 11% lower risk of developing heart failure, compared to noncoffee drinkers. That’s according to a meta-analysis published in June in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation: Heart Failure, based on pooling the results of five studies. The researchers did not take into account the strength of coffee, what time of day it was drunk, or whether it was caffeinated — factors that could be related.
Coffee drinkers may also be protecting themselves against basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer, according to a July report in the journal Cancer Research. Other caffeinated beverages also seemed to reduce the risk of this slow-growing cancer. But scientists don’t yet know why this effect was observed.
Increased coffee consumption also is associated with longer life, according to Research in the New England Journal of Medicine. Again, no one knows what about coffee would make people live longer, but Ascherio theorizes it could be the protection against type II diabetes, Parkinson’s, depression and suicidal tendencies.
Some of the strongest evidence comes from studies on type II diabetes. According to a 2009 meta-analysis, the risk of type II diabetes goes down with each cup of coffee consumed daily. Additionally, a 2007 meta-analysis found a correlation between increased coffee consumption and lower risk of liver cancer. But it’s not enough to tell anyone who doesn’t already drink coffee to start.
There have not been any large randomized controlled trials regarding coffee’s health benefits, or even to see whether caffeinated or decaf is better for you. Without this kind of research, there will be uncertainty.
While perhaps scientifically interesting, such an investigation hasn’t happened because of the economics involved, Ascherio said. A trial could cost in the tens of millions of dollars. Pharmaceutical companies aren’t in the business of selling coffee, and coffee makers don’t need a study to market their products — people who like coffee buy it anyway.
The optimal daily dose of coffee varies widely, depending on the person. Some can’t drink it at all. Others tolerate six to eight cups a day.
As common sense might suggest, the greatest overall benefits appear to be in people who drink coffee at moderate levels: two to three cups a day. But there are exceptions: A May 2011 study found that men who drink six or more cups a day had a decreased risk of fatal prostate cancer.
The bad stuff
Coffee hasn’t always been hailed as such a great thing. It’s also not for everyone.
Doctors may never consider coffee a standard recommendation because of individuals’ varying susceptibility to side effects, said Hensrud.
Those include headaches, insomnia, heartburn and palpitations, not to mention urinary urgency. People who get fast heartbeats may need to steer clear of caffeinated coffee, too. Others don’t drink coffee because it irritates their stomachs.
Famously, coffee got a bad reputation from research in the early 1980s connecting it to pancreatic cancer. But more recent studies have not found the same link, according to the American Cancer Society.
Some studies in the past did not take into account the connection between drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes, which do contain carcinogens, Hensrud said.
Different people metabolize caffeine differently, so some people can have a cup of coffee at night and fall asleep right away, while others need to keep their distance from java for several hours before bedtime to avoid insomnia.
Coffee that’s boiled — popular in Scandinavia, for instance — will increase bad cholesterol; espresso has the same effect, Hensrud said. But filtering regular coffee reduces those cholesterol-raising substances.
Also, of course, if you don’t drink black coffee, cafes will gladly charge you for all kinds of additives to dilute the bitter flavor and strength.
Some milky, sugary coffees may contain upwards of 500 calories — particularly if they begin with the sound “frap.” So, if you think you’re doing your body a favor with these treats, health detriments of the added calories and fat may cancel out coffee’s magic.
The bottom line
While all the evidence taken together suggests benefits from coffee, the burden of proof still isn’t quite strong enough, because these are associations, not a demonstration that coffee causes anything.
“For a public health recommendation, you’ve got to be pretty darn sure,” Hensrud said.
If you don’t particularly like coffee but you’re thinking about starting to drink it, beware: A sudden change from no consumption can trigger bad consequences, just like doing a really hard workout after you’ve been a couch potato, Ascherio said. Both situations — going from nothing to a lot — can increase risk of heart attack and stroke.
So, if you do feel like trying coffee, start gradually, Ascherio said. It may be that people who experience negative side effects from coffee won’t reap the same long-term benefits from it, anyway.
“If you consume coffee, enjoy it,” Hensrud said. “But I wouldn’t necessarily recommend taking it up if you don’t like it.”
CNN’s Kat Kinsman, Caitlin Hagan and Val Willingham contributed to this report.
(CNN) — About half the men in numerous developing nations use tobacco, and women in those regions are taking up smoking at an earlier age than they used to, according to what is being called the largest-ever international study on tobacco use.
The study, which covered enough representative samples to estimate tobacco use among 3 billion people, "demonstrates an urgent need for policy change in low- and middle-income countries," said lead researcher Gary Giovino, whose report was published in the British medical journal The Lancet.
The figures bolster statements by the World Health Organization that while much of the industrialized world, including the United States, has seen a substantial reduction in smoking in recent years, the opposite trend is under way in parts of the developing world.
The WHO warns that "if current trends continue, it will cause up to one billion deaths in the 21st century."
The new study, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), focused on countries in which smoking is known to be a growing problem.
"The burden of tobacco use is moving," says Giovino, who formerly oversaw the Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"The tobacco epidemic takes different forms in different countries," he said in an interview with CNN, pointing out that chewing tobacco and other smokeless forms are part of the problem. "But manufactured cigarettes are dominating."
Giovino now runs the University at Buffalo's Department of Community Health and Health Behavior in Buffalo, New York.
The study, conducted between 2008 and 2010, found that across 14 developing nations, 49% of men and 11% of women used tobacco. Most of them smoked — 41% of men and 5% of women.
Numbers were highest in Russia, where 60% of men and 22% of women used tobacco; China, where 53% of men and 2% of women were tobacco users; Ukraine, where 50% of men and 11% of women used tobacco, and Turkey, where 48% of men and 15% of women used tobacco.
In some countries, smoking rates may now be even higher than they were in 2010, WHO officials say.
"One place where we know it's gone up, unfortunately, is Egypt — as a result of the revolution," said Edouard Tursan D'Espaignet of WHO''s tobacco control program.
The GATS study found 38% of men and less than 1% of women smoked in Egypt as of 2010.
However, government regulations limiting smoking in certain places fell apart after Hosni Mubarak's regime was ousted last year, and "the tobacco industry walked in very, very aggressively" to market its product amid the chaos, said Tursan D'Espaignet.
"We are hearing things like 'Smoking is a way to show you're free from the previous regime,'" he said.
The other nations in the new study are India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Poland, Brazil, Mexico, and Uruguay.
In general, marketing is a central reason smoking is on the rise in poorer nations, says Tursan D'Espaignet.
"In many countries, particularly eastern Europe and China, the market is probably saturated" among men, he said. "We can see the tobacco industry is targeting young people, and they're targeting women."
While previous studies done in several countries found that women who smoke generally start later than men, the GATS study found the opposite. "Alarmingly, this study shows that — in most countries we surveyed — age of smoking initiation for women might now be approaching the young ages at which men begin," the report says.
Still, the overwhelming majority of tobacco use worldwide is by men.
"Industry marketing campaigns traditionally have targeted men," says Giovino. Also, "social norms tend to make smoking socially less acceptable — and even unacceptable in many countries — among women."
But tobacco companies have succeeded in breaking those norms in some Western nations, and are trying to do so in low- and middle-income countries, he said.
Big tobacco is also extending its reach into new markets, such as Africa, Tursan D'Espaignet said.
Countries with weaker or poorer governments have a tougher time implementing the steps it takes to stop the spread of smoking.
Tobacco companies are "targeting countries that have less capacity to withstand the onslaught," said Tursan D'Espaignet.
Phillip Morris International, one of the world' s biggest tobacco companies, gave CNN a statement saying tobacco products "are generally subject to extensive regulation," including in Egypt, where its products have been sold since 1975.
The company also emphasized that it "is firmly opposed to smoking by minors."
Imperial Tobacco, another giant in the industry, said in a statement, "We seek opportunities to develop our business in existing markets worldwide where there's a legitimate demand for our products. We sell our products in accordance with local market regulations and our own international marketing standards. We employ the same responsible standards in our operations in Africa and Asia, for instance, as we do in any Western market.
"The risks associated with smoking are well known worldwide and enable people to choose whether or not to smoke."
The company added that its presence in Egypt is "negligible."
British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco, the other two of the so-called "big four," did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Neither did the Tobacco Information Service, which functions as a trade association.
The WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which opened for signature in 2003 and has been adapted by more than 170 countries, has led to "some very, very strong measures for tobacco control around the world," Tursan D'Espaignet said.
The framework calls for taxes to reduce tobacco sales, regulations limiting where smoking can take place, tough rules on labeling and packaging, and numerous other steps.
The GATS study included the latest figures from national studies done in the United States and Britain, in order to show a contrast between the industrialized world and developing nations.
In the United States, 19% of adults are smokers, a number that has been steadily decreasing, according to the CDC.
A new report published this week by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh notes that smoking has dropped from 43% of the U.S. adult population in 1964. But tobacco dependence still causes more than 440,000 deaths in the United States each year.
"Furthermore, the marked slowing of declines in adult smoking prevalence over the past decade creates a renewed sense of urgency. It is time to reaffirm the commitment to ending the tobacco epidemic," says the Sebelius-Koh report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
When it comes to youth smoking in the United States, the rate of decline has basically stopped over the last couple of years, according to a new study from the CDC.
It's a reflection of "a disturbing decline in state investments in comprehensive tobacco controlling programs," a CDC official told Time.
Still, the WHO's Tursan D'Espaignet says the United States is "taking strong measures" to cut smoking rates — despite the fact that the U.S. government has not ratified the international framework convention.
In their report, Sebelius and Koh note than in 2009, the government directed $200 million in stimulus funds to support local anti-tobacco initiatives, and in 2011 the CDC awarded more than $100 million for tobacco control and other wellness programs.
In several nations, efforts to get smokers to quit are showing a great deal of success.
One showing "enormous reductions" is Australia, says Tursan D'Espaignet.
This week, Australia's high court upheld a rule that tobacco products must be in plain packaging without logos and bear graphic health warnings.
Other success stories include New Zealand, Ireland, and Britain, said Tusan D'Espaignet. Two of the countries in the new GATS study — Turkey and Uruguay — are also showing improvement due to such measures, he said.
The study got some of its funding from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's philanthropy, as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.
Bloomberg Philanthropies says that in 2007, it supported the WHO's efforts "to package and promote six proven policies to reduce tobacco use worldwide. These strategies — including protecting people from tobacco smoke, offering help to quit, raising awareness about the dangers of tobacco through warning labels and public education campaigns, enforcing tobacco advertising bans, and raising the price of tobacco products — are proven to reduce smoking rates. "
Since that initiative began in 2007, "21 countries have passed 100% smoke-free laws, the percentage of people protected from second-hand smoke has increased 400%, and almost four billion people worldwide are now protected by at least one of the six proven tobacco control policies," the group said.