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Reactions from around Asia to study linking instant noodles to health hazards

In this Aug. 19. 2014 photo, Han Seung-youn, 36, eats

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In this Aug. 19. 2014 photo, Han Seung-youn, 36, eats "ramyeon" instant noodle at a Ramyeon restaurant in Seoul, South Korea. Instant noodles are an essential, even passionate, part of life for many in South Korea and other Asian countries. Hence the emotional heartburn caused by a Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital study in the United States that found excessive consumption of instant noodles by South Koreans was associated with risks for diabetes, heart disease or stroke. The study has provoked feelings of wounded pride, mild guilt, stubborn resistance, even nationalism among South Koreans, who eat more instant noodles per capita than anyone in the world. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon )

A recent U.S. study linking instant noodle consumption by South Koreans to some risks for heart disease has prompted a passionate response throughout Asia, where the noodles are not just a cheap treat but an essential part of life. Some comments from noodle lovers across Asia:

"Eating instant noodles is like smoking cigarettes," said Han Seung-youn, a 36-year-old photographer and daily instant noodle eater in South Korea. "Everyone knows that cigarettes are bad for you, but some smokers live to be 100 while others die at 30. ... I think it's worse to have hamburgers and pizza as your daily meals like in the United States."

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Yang Lu, a college student in the northeast Chinese city of Daqing, said her residence hall bans cookware, but instant noodles only need hot water — making them a food of convenience for students.

"Our dining hall has delicious food, but whenever we are lazy, everyone in the dormitory gets the instant noodles and seeps them in hot water," Yang said. "We are too lazy to go downstairs."

Yang says she loves instant noodles but only eats them about once a week, partly because of health concerns. "They are not good for your liver," Yang said.

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"Sometimes I eat it every day. It's tasty and convenient to cook. I don't need my wife to help me make it," said Cho Hwang-ho, a 70-year-old retiree who was shopping for instant noodles with his wife in Seoul.

The health study didn't worry him. "Don't I look fit?" he asked. "Instant noodles every once in a while won't kill you."

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"The kids love it, but I have to admit that I feel guilty that I'm feeding them unhealthy stuff," Park Hyung-ki, 42, said in a park along Seoul's Han River as he wound instant noodles around his chopsticks and fed his son, who opened his mouth wide like a baby bird in a nest.

But, he added, "The price is so cheap; tonight's dinner costs less than 10,000 won ($10) for all four of us."

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