Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mahjong can cause epileptic fits, according to report

Photo: Lam10D

A new medical report from Hong Kong suggests playing mahjong (and in some cases even just watching) can trigger epileptic fits amongst some players, under certain conditions.

Whilst the report by Queen Mary Hospital doesn't give a definitive set of conditions, it seems to link seizures with prolonged or especially intense games of mahjong and draws attention to the rapid movement of tiles on the table and the high level of concentration needed during a game.

"Mahjong is cognitively demanding, drawing on memory, fast calculations, concentration, reasoning and sequencing.

The distinctive design of mahjong tiles, and the sound of the tiles crashing onto the table, may contribute to the syndrome.

The propensity of Chinese people to play mahjong also deserves further study, the doctors say."

Mahjong is often recommended as a pastime for elderly people as it helps to keep the mind active as well as providing social benefits, so the idea that it may be detrimental to health is a cause for concern.

As with other activities that are reported in the press to be good for you one day and bad for you the next, it seems the sensible option is "do it in moderation".

BBC News report.

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