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   Saturday Aug. 24, 2002, Philippines
    
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MEDICAL FILES
The case of the deadly
santol seeds, a rejoinder

Posted: 9:52 PM (Manila Time) | Aug. 23, 2002
By Rafael R. Castillo, MD
Inquirer News Service

More frequent in older people

Complications, including death, due to swallowed santol seeds are more frequent in the older age group. The age of patients in the OMMC report ranged from 45 to 65 years.

"This is most likely due to the higher incidence of abnormalities in the intestines in the older age group compared to the younger population," explains Dr. Joson.

Although the complications are not as common in the young as in the middle or older age group, the outpatient department of the OMMC warns both the young and the old.

"As we know, habits are hard to break when they're deeply instilled in the individual at a young age; one grows old with the habit," says Dr. Joson.

According to Dr. Joson, the debilitation and deaths associated with swallowing santol seeds have reached such a magnitude to consider it a public health problem.

The OMMC surgical department cautions that this problem carries a risk of premature death, even in an otherwise healthy individual.

"Our department feels that death from swallowing santol seeds is unnecessary and can easily be prevented by simply not doing it. Unfortunately, our countrymen simply would not heed the repeated advisories we have made in the past," laments Dr. Joson.

The doctor added that their recent case was not an isolated one. Similar santol seed accidents have been reported in various hospitals. Most of these cases are not being reported, hence the low awareness about the hazards of swallowing santol seeds.

Last year, during the santol season, OMMC and the Philippine General Hospital had several cases.

"Short of a registry, we feel that death from swallowing santol seeds is reaching or has reached a public health magnitude such that a health advisory is necessary," says Dr. Joson.

He adds that the OMMC surgery department is starting a registry on swallowed santol seeds requiring surgery on the abdomen. Reports on cases may be included in the registry through e-mail: rjoson2001@yahoo.com.

Dr. Joson adds the following advice: "If santol seeds are accidentally swallowed, watch out for abdominal pain. If abdominal pain occurs, consult an abdominal surgeon (general surgeon) right away. He will give the necessary advice on what to do next."



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Unecessary and premature death  
More frequent in older people  

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