Are You Severely Compromising your Long-term Health by Living in Taiwan?


#1

I’ve just been reading through the threads about the air pollution on the island and the current water pollution situation in Kaohsiung. That, combined with going back to old threads about plasticizer in the drinks and all sorts of illegal food contaminants etc etc has made me more certain in my assertion that Taiwan is not a viable option for me for long term residence.

You can be as healthy as you can try to be in areas that are partially under your personal control here (by eating only organic food, or growing it yourself if you have the means, and by exercising regularly and avoiding smoking and alcohol etc etc), but there are things here that we as individuals have absolutely no control over, which have the potential to cause serious long-term damage to our health. Breathing in this foul air for years and years must surely raise your risk for lung/throat cancer in exponential terms, and exposure to all sorts of pollutants and harmful and poisonous chemicals in the water supply (even if you only shower in the tap water and use bottled water for everything else, those chemicals are still absorbed by your skin). The fact that regulatory bodies about such things are so slack and generally don’t enforce anything as long as red envelopes are slipped to them means that we have no idea what kind of chemicals and poisons and carcinogens are entering our bodies here just from the water, never mind the food and drinks…

Don’t get me wrong - I generally think that many things about Taiwan are absolutely wonderful, but the pollution aspect (even though it may well be slowly improving) is something that is becoming increasingly hard to overlook and something which is making me worry a lot in terms of my future health.

What do you guys think? Is living in Taiwan for a long period of time going to set you up for losing odds in the lottery of developing all sorts of awful medical ailments when you get older, despite all attempts on your part to stay healthy?


#2

You could look at cancer rates per thousand versus other places. And same for other major diseases, etc.

Some other places may be a lot more tranquil and that may be good for the heart.

Taiwan city living is fairly fast paced and stressful.

The constant earthquakes are the worst part of it for myself personally. The rest I can stand, pretty much.


#3

The correct answer is yes…but living on the east coast is much better for long-term health as far as air and water quality is concerned


#4

Why the Hell does anyone want to live longer in such a shitty World?. I have decided to live my Life to the Full and enjoy it. Otherwise I would simply worry myself to an earlier death. Now, I will die a bit sooner,whilst having enjoyed all the “bad” things :discodance: I could always spend hours keeping fit,stop smoking,stop all drinking,stop enjoying dangerous sports,wear a dustmask everywhere I go…etc etc, but I have chosen my path of enlightenment :whistle:


#5

I would agree with that in terms of high risk behavior (dangerous sports, riding a scooter in Taiwan). But slowly succumbing to the ill effects of pollution over time is a crappy way to go. We’ll see how much fun you have dying from cancer over a period of years. Before that maybe you’ll experience pollution benefits like asthma, allergies, circulation problems (erectile dysfunction?), lack of energy, whatever else. The only thing worse would be Alzheimer’s I suppose. What you’re talking about is quality of life vs quantity of life, something which pollution adversely affects both


#6

I would agree with that in terms of high risk behavior (dangerous sports, riding a scooter in Taiwan). But slowly succumbing to the ill effects of pollution over time is a crappy way to go. We’ll see how much fun you have dying from cancer over a period of years. Before that maybe you’ll experience pollution benefits like asthma, allergies, circulation problems (erectile dysfunction?), lack of energy, whatever else. The only thing worse would be Alzheimer’s I suppose. What you’re talking about is quality of life vs quantity of life, something which pollution adversely affects both[/quote]

Interesting points you make.
My Mother has Alzheimers and I realize that without some Brain functions and Memory,we are just a shell.
I have already got Emphysema,so a little good air for me won’t help.
Cancer is a lottery,if you buy more tickets you have more chance ,I agree.
Pollution,like driving through red lights,can be reduced in Taiwan,only when the ordinary Man in the street starts giving a F*** . IMO
You are right risk vs. benefit.


#7

Is it better to live well in a place with pollution, or live like a pauper in a pristine environment? I think, even given the ill effects of pollution, you’ll overall live better and longer if you live a life of your choosing.


#8

If living in Taiwan per se is so damaging to your health, why do Taiwanese people live fairly long lives? Or do you think the government is cooking those books, too?
See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_co … expectancy
It’s not like most people do lots of exercise, avoid excessive oil and salt and live stress-free lives, is it?


#9

Looking at death rates doesn’t tell you much (as also with traffic accidents, incidentally). It just means medical science is keeping people alive longer. Slightly better are QALYs - quality adjusted life years, but this measurement is normally only used for people receiving medical intervention, not the population at large. A lot of people spend their last years with horrible diseases which are ‘managed’ until they finally pop their clogs. There are also the myriad non-fatal illnesses (as shiadoa mentioned) that people just learn to accept. This situation is hardly unique to Taiwan: the US, for example, is also heavily polluted and a similar situation occurs. It’s inconceivable that the massive amount of crap spewed into the soil and the earth has no effect on our health.


#10

Pollution definitely has its effects no matter where in the world it is.

Taiwan was the only very polluted place I have ever lived in, and my body felt it for sure. It took a number of months after leaving to feel back to ‘normal’ for both my husband and me. My breathing got better, aches and pains I had developed in Taiwan disappeared, my husband’s throat problems disappeared. The problem with Taiwan is that the heavy pollution permeates everything. It’s in the air, food, water, everything.

I think, though, that the pain I started getting in my neck and back was probably due to the stress of living in Taiwan. I felt like an old lady every morning when I got out of bed despite regular exercise and living a healthy lifestyle, and I was in my late-20’s and early-30’s while there; now I’m in my late 30’s and feel about 15 years younger than I did then. My husband also had problems sleeping which stopped once he left the country. Lots of foreigners had sleeping problems there from what I remember. Stress, external factors like pollution affecting one’s health, etc. all add up to an extremely unhealthy situation.


#11

I get the impression that one of the biggest killers in Taiwan, beside the hepatitis virus and stomach and colon and oral and ovarian cancer , is high blood pressure and liver problems due to overwork and bad lifestyle. So pollution definitely must have an effect but it’s not a priority compared to these lifestyle and work related chronic diseases. High blood pressure is really common among middle aged and older men.


#12

Yeah, most of my health problems corrected themselves within weeks of leaving Taiwan.

Someone mentioned ovarian cancer. I knew three young women die of this and cervical cancer while I was there. Cervical screening wasn’t available as part of NHI: I had it done privately (meaning I paid for the doctor: a gas bottle delivery guy came in to be paid by the nurse while I was having it done). Taiwan needs to make cervical screening a priority because it’s such an easily treatable disease when caught early enough.


#13

Well what can I do? I can’t just leave Taiwan unless I can come up with like 500,000 euros to immigrate to some other country via investment schemes… yea this little island is polluted and crap but not a lot can be done about it unless Taiwan goes back to the stone age.

Leaving isn’t always an option. It may be easy to travel to another country for short term visits but immigration is hard, and getting harder as countries grow more xenophobic over various bad things happening everywhere. It may be surprising to know that it is actually harder to enter (let alone immigrate) a less developed country than a more developed country, except maybe Thailand.

Not to mention I have to live like a pauper in even cheaper cities in Germany, and it’s not like that country is free of pollution or stress either!


#14

[quote=“Ermintrude”]Yeah, most of my health problems corrected themselves within weeks of leaving Taiwan.

Someone mentioned ovarian cancer. I knew three young women die of this and cervical cancer while I was there. Cervical screening wasn’t available as part of NHI: I had it done privately (meaning I paid for the doctor: a gas bottle delivery guy came in to be paid by the nurse while I was having it done). Taiwan needs to make cervical screening a priority because it’s such an easily treatable disease when caught early enough.[/quote]
Doesn’t Taiwan make the HPV vaccination available? Most cervical cancer seems to be caused by the HPV strains that can now be stopped cold by it.

Marry a foreigner? In all seriousness, either as a solution to both parties’ immigration woes (she wants to work in Taiwan, you want out), or find someone nice.

[quote=“StevenCrook”]If living in Taiwan per se is so damaging to your health, why do Taiwanese people live fairly long lives? Or do you think the government is cooking those books, too?
See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_co … expectancy
It’s not like most people do lots of exercise, avoid excessive oil and salt and live stress-free lives, is it?[/quote]
Well, at least in Japan, it turned out that a lot of the “really, really old people, gosh aren’t Japanese so healthy and long-lived!” old people turned out to be dead a long time ago, but were never reported. There was a bit of a scandal about this, oh, five years ago?


#15

[quote=“IdeaRat”][quote=“Ermintrude”]Yeah, most of my health problems corrected themselves within weeks of leaving Taiwan.

Someone mentioned ovarian cancer. I knew three young women die of this and cervical cancer while I was there. Cervical screening wasn’t available as part of NHI: I had it done privately (meaning I paid for the doctor: a gas bottle delivery guy came in to be paid by the nurse while I was having it done). Taiwan needs to make cervical screening a priority because it’s such an easily treatable disease when caught early enough.[/quote]
Doesn’t Taiwan make the HPV vaccination available? Most cervical cancer seems to be caused by the HPV strains that can now be stopped cold by it.

[/quote]

Yeah, great for the younger generation, as long as it’s free and there’s no stigma attached to having it. For any woman for whom the horse might have already bolted, as it were, pap smears are the way to go. Young women tend to think it won’t happen to them (true, the risk is lower than for older women), along with the fact that it costs about 2000NT$ and is about as much fun as it sounds, gentlemen, then it often doesn’t happen.

You should all encourage you wives and partners to go and get checked.


#16

I didn’t realize the Texas Morality Police had made it to Taiwan! :bow:


#17

very high rates of liver caner in taiwan are a consequence of very high rats of Hepatitis C infection, not stress per se.


#18

I’ve been reading all the same threads and, honestly, I have never felt more worried or less healthy. The funny thing is, before I read the air pollution thread, I was actually feeling really good about life here and my health. I’ve been eating well, sleeping well, have a good job, a great family, and overall a pleasant and comfortable life. Then I read about air pollution, water pollution, and pesticides and suddenly I feel awful. It’s not that I didn’t know that these things existed - I’ve been growing my own vegetables for a while and eating organic as often as possible, trying to exercise/stretch more, etc - but it feels like all of this hit me at once. It’s very confusing and extremely frustrating. There are so many conflicting opinions, wide-ranging advice, and doomsday predictions.

Is leaving really the solution? Is there some completely better place out there? (This isn’t an idle question).
I can’t see moving back to the US because it seems like anything better about life there is more than offset by something much worse than life here. But is there somewhere else?

Can we ever be completely safe? Completely sure that there isn’t something in our food/water/air?
Or is it, as it seems sometimes, that everything and everyone is trying to kill us?


#19

My purpose in publicizing the issues around air pollution was not to make people overly worried but to build awareness that air pollution is a ubiquitous pollution issue that needs more of your attention and the local administration is busy ignoring the issue for their own reasons.

There are things you can do to live a healthier life in Taiwan, even air pollution exposure can be reduced by living away from highways or in higher elevations or regions such as the North east and East.

For me it’s more a case of frustration and borderline anger that not enough is being done to reduce air pollution more rapidly. Their current programs are haphazard and they are still prioritizing polluting industry and GDP growth over environmental concerns.


#20

And I really do thank you for that. It’s definitely something that needs more attention than it is getting. It’s great to see Taiwanese civil society expanding and dealing with important issues like nuclear energy, media corruption, and land misappropriation, but clearly there are many issues that still need addressing.
I guess as a naturally worry-wart, reading about it has a enervating effect. I’ll try to do more - writing the mayor perhaps? I read about how the last mayor of Tokyo really reduced the air pollution in that city.

I think this is key. By doing what we can in our own lives - exercise, diet, rest, reflection - we can do what we can to counteract some of these effects.