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Archive for May, 2012

Malaysia’s KPJ aims for two hospital acquisitions in 2012

May 29 (Reuters) – KPJ Healthcare Bhd , Malaysia’s largest private hospitals provider, plans to seal at least two acquisitions of hospitals by end of this year as it expands its regional reach, its managing director said on Tuesday.

Siti Sa’Diah Sheikh Bakir told Reuters that one of the acquisitions was likely to be in Malaysia with the other in another Southeast Asian country.

The company has about 400 million ringgit ($127 million) in short-term financing to fund the purchases, she added, without disclosing the value of its potential acquisition targets.

“There are a lot of offers on the plate and we have to choose the best,” she said.

KPJ’s expansion comes as Southeast Asia’s growing populations and increasing affluence are fuelling demand for healthcare services.

Citing Myanmar as an example, Siti said residents from the second-largest country in Southeast Asia held strong purchasing power and had been attaining private healthcare services in Thailand and Malaysia.

KPJ owns 20 private hospitals in Malaysia and two in Indonesia. The company has said it plans to invest more than 1 billion ringgit to set up new hospitals in Malaysia, increasing its network to 30 hospitals over the next five years.

KPJ shares have surged some 24 percent year to date, outperforming the Malaysia’s benchmark stock index’s 1.58 percent rise.

Analysts have said the scarcity of healthcare stocks in the region has helped fuel KPJ’s share price.

KPJ’s expansion also comes as Malaysia’s state investor Khazanah Nasional Bhd plans a $1.5-$2 billion dual listing of its healthcare arm IHH Healthcare Bhd on the Malaysian and Singaporean bourses by the end of July.

“It (the listing) could stir up further interest and the valuations of healthcare operator stocks would be primed for a lift,” Maybank Kim Eng said in a research note. (Reporting By Yantoultra Ngui; editing by Stuart Grudgings)

Reuters

James Beard’s Strawberry Shortcakes

Today: The perfect strawberry shortcake for Memorial Day (and all berry season long) — thanks to an odd secret ingredient.

strawberry shortcake

Sweet, ripe summer strawberries deserve lots of whipped cream and the perfect shortcake. And the secret to the perfect shortcake? It’s sitting in your fridge right now, and it’s going to surprise you.

strawberries

The late cookbook author James Beard — you know, the father of American cooking — learned this trick for a tender, airy cake from his mother: Egg yolks.

Not so strange, right? But here’s the kicker: they’re from hard-boiled eggs.

sifting dry ingredients

butter and flour  pastry dough

It might sound like one of the last things you want stirred in with your dry ingredients, but crumbly cooked yolk adds just enough richness without weighing down or gumming up the dough.

This also means it’s more forgiving. You needn’t be on edge, worrying you’ll overwork the pastry. No tough cakes here: you’ve got insurance. And it looks like this:

egg yolks  eggs mimosa

James Beard is no longer around for us to quiz about this method, but it’s become a popular technique among other cooks who love their shortcakes, so we can ask them.

In The Pie and Pastry Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum relies on hard-cooked yolk for her biscuit dough. In an email, Beranbaum explained, “It adds a beautiful golden color and velvety tender texture.” And, she adds, “unlike raw egg yolk, it does not get absorbed into the flour” — a plus for keeping it light.

shortcake dough  patting out biscuit dough

Because the fluffy yolk floats freely in the dough, food scientist Harold McGee wagers, “I imagine that it would give you a shorter, crumblier texture than you’d get by spreading the yolk proteins and fats evenly through the dough.” And it does indeed — the crumb is fine and delicate.

shortcakes

Knowing how old recipes work, it’s likely that the technique was around before even Beard’s mother’s time. But the Beards’ version is a very good one, and has since been handed down from chef to chef.

Pastry chef Claudia Fleming swears by it — she picked up the trick from the first chef she ever worked for, but Fleming says “She wasn’t much for sharing info, so I don’t know where she learned it from.” Russ Parsons — L.A. Times Food Editor and shortcake buff — is a fan too.

strawberries

In recent years, it’s even popped up in the pastry curriculum at the French Culinary Institute — an impressive pedigree for what was once just a clever home cook’s trick.

In other words, yes, there’s one extra step: you have to boil a few eggs. But it’s worth it. Plus you get a healthy pre-shortcake snack out of it. (What else are you going to do with those leftover cooked egg whites? Make a tiny egg salad? No, just eat them.)

whipped cream

For some reason, in his twenty-plus cookbooks, James Beard never published his mother’s shortcake recipe himself. Lucky for us, he saw fit to share it with his friend Larry Forgione one night as the two were relaxing and talking food at Beard’s townhouse.

Forgione put the recipe on the menu at his iconic New York restaurant An American Place, brought it back every strawberry season, and later published it in his cookbook of the same name.

As Forgione tells it, Beard believed “there can be no dessert better, only fancier.” Taste his version, yolks secretly threaded through, and you’re likely to feel the same.

shortcakes

James Beard’s Strawberry Shortcakes


Serves 6

For the shortcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
2 hard-boiled egg yolks, pushed through a small mesh sieve

3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the strawberry filling:
3 pints fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved or quartered, depending on size
2 tablespoons sugar

For the whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar

food52

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Cherry Tomatoes and Couscous

Slowly roast a trimmed, center-cut piece of salmon over a bed of herbs to infuse the flesh with fresh flavor; then bring it to the table in the pan so guests can help themselves. This dish is also good at room temperature or served cold at your next picnic.

 

Ingredients

Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt

Salmon

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 bunch dill fronds
  • 1/2 bunch thyme sprigs
  • 1 3-pound piece center-cut skin-on salmon fillet, preferably wild king, pin bones removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 ounces small cherry tomatoes on the vine (optional)

Tomatoes and Couscous

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons za’atar (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Ingredient Info

    Za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend that includes sumac, herbs, and sesame seeds, is available at specialty foods stores, Middle Eastern markets, and igourmet.com.

Preparation

Yogurt Sauce

  • Mix first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined. Season with salt. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Salmon

  • Preheat oven to 325°. Pour 4 Tbsp. oil in a roasting pan just large enough to fit the salmon. Make a bed of herbs in bottom of pan; top with salmon, skin side down. Drizzle salmon with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil and season with salt. Top with tomatoes, if using. Bake until salmon is just cooked through in the center (a small knife will slide easily through flesh), 25–30 minutes.

Tomatoes and Couscous

  • Toss tomatoes with 3 Tbsp. oil, parsley, and za’atar, if using, in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.
  • Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add couscous and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain couscous; transfer to a large bowl. Stir in butter and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil. Season to taste with salt. Gently fold tomatoes into couscous
  • Use a large spoon or fork to serve salmon, leaving skin in pan. Serve with yogurt sauce and couscous.

Read More Bonappetit

Nasa team find ‘new way’ to spot osteoporosis

Osteoporosis
For many people, breaking a bone is their first clue that they have the condition

Nasa scientists believe they have found a way to spot osteoporosis bone loss at the earliest disease stages.

Currently, the condition can go undetected for years and may only be diagnosed with scans after weakening of the bones has led to a fracture.

The new test – designed partly with astronauts in mind as they too can suffer bone loss due to the microgravity of space – looks for traces of bone calcium in the urine.

The work is published in PNAS journal.

The technique developed by scientists at Arizona State University working with the US space agency analyses calcium isotopes – different atoms of the element calcium, derived from bone and each with their own specific number of neutrons.

This could therefore have a future role in the clinical evaluation of patients”

Dr Nicola Peel National Osteoporosis Society

The balance or abundance of these different isotopes changes when bone is destroyed and formed and can therefore indicate early changes in bone density.

To put it to the test, the researchers studied a dozen healthy volunteers whom they confined to bed rest for 30 days. Prolonged bed rest triggers bone loss.

The technique was able to detect bone loss after as little as one week of bed rest – long before changes in bone density would be detectable on conventional medical scans such as dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA).

And, unlike other biochemical tests for bone loss that look for blood markers of increased bone turnover, it can give a direct measure of net bone loss.
Astronaut in space
Weightlessness triggers bone loss
Lead researcher Prof Ariel Anbar said: “The next step is to see if it works as expected in patients with bone-altering diseases. That would open the door to clinical applications.”

As well as being useful for diagnosing osteoporosis it could help with monitoring other diseases that affect the bones, including cancer.

Nasa nutritionist Scott Smith said: “Nasa conducted these studies because astronauts in microgravity experience skeletal unloading and suffer bone loss. It’s one of the major problems in human spaceflight, and we need to find better ways to monitor and counteract it.”

Dr Nicola Peel of the National Osteoporosis Society in the UK said: “It is always exciting to see new techniques being developed with the potential to increase our understanding of the evolution and mechanism of bone disease.

“This approach of using calcium isotopes is very interesting and appears to have potential to detect very early changes of bone loss.

“This could therefore have a future role in the clinical evaluation of patients.”

BBC

Aspirin ‘may prevent skin cancer’

Aspirin
The jury is still out on whether aspirin is effective at preventing cancers

An aspirin a day may protect against skin cancer, some experts believe.

People who take aspirin tablets or similar painkillers on a regular basis cut their risk of developing skin cancer – including the most deadly type – malignant melanoma – by about 15%, research suggests.

The work in the journal Cancer involved nearly 200,000 people in Denmark.

But experts say using sunscreen and avoiding too much sun are still the best ways to prevent skin cancer.

Anti-cancer pill?

In the study, approximately 18,000 of the 200,000 participants had been diagnosed with of one of three types of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or the rarer but more dangerous malignant melanoma.

There is mounting evidence that aspirin does reduce the risk of some cancers, but it’s too soon to say if this includes skin cancer”

Hazel Nunn Head of health information at Cancer Research UK

The researchers looked at the medical records of the individuals to calculate how many had been prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen over an eight-year period.

Many were taking them for heart conditions or arthritis.

Those who were more frequently prescribed NSAIDs were less likely to have skin cancer.

The higher the dose and the longer a person had been on the medication, the greater the protective effect.

Individuals with more than two prescriptions for NSAIDs had a 15% decreased risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma and a 13% lower risk of malignant melanoma.

NSAIDs did not appear to lower the overall risk of basal cell carcinoma – the most common and least aggressive type of skin cancer. But they did cut the risk of basal cell carcinomas developing on certain parts of the body other than the head and neck.

Aspirin

  • Also known as acetylsalicylic acid
  • Used for many years as a painkiller
  • Has an anti-inflammatory action
  • Low-dose (75mg) is already recommended for people with known cardiovascular disease to prevent stroke and heart attack
  • Benefits for healthy people are still unclear
  • Can cause fatal internal bleeding, although this is relatively rare

Limitations

The researchers from the University Hospital in Denmark say more research is needed to confirm and further explain their findings.

Studies in animals suggest NSAIDs may block the growth of early pre-cancerous skin lesions, but it is not yet clear if this is also the case in humans.

Scientists already suspect that these drugs may protect against many other cancers, including bowel cancer.

The researchers point out that although they found a link with prescriptions they were not able to monitor precisely how much of the drug a person actually took. Also, people can buy drugs like aspirin from a pharmacy without a prescription.

And they did not look at sun exposure – the root cause of skin cancer.

Experts say even if NSAIDs do offer some protection against skin cancer, people still need to be sensible in the sun.

Hazel Nunn of Cancer Research UK said: “By far and away the best way to reduce the risk of skin cancer is to enjoy the sun safely, and take care to avoid sunburn.

“Sunburn’s a clear sign that your skin’s been damaged, and this damage can build up over time and lead to skin cancer in the future. When the sun’s strong, use a combination of shade, clothes and at least SPF 15 sunscreen to protect your skin.

“There is mounting evidence that aspirin does reduce the risk of some cancers, but it’s too soon to say if this includes skin cancer. Aspirin can have serious side effects – so it’s important to talk to a doctor about the risks and benefits if you’re thinking of taking it regularly.”

BBC

Repeat abortions are increasing

More women are having multiple abortions, according to statistics for England and Wales.

In 2011, 68,105 women having an abortion had already had at least one termination – up from 64,303 in 2010.

The figures include 82 under-16s having their second abortion and two having their third.

The overall number of abortions increased marginally by 0.2% to 189,931.

The annual statistics show 34% of women having an abortion last year had had one before. It continues an increasing trend of 31% in 2001, 32% in 2005 and 34% in 2010.

Post-abortion contraception

Seventy-six women had had at least seven previous abortions.

Tracey McNeill, from the family planning organisation, Marie Stopes International, said: “We, of course, recognise that many women have multiple unwanted or unplanned pregnancies for reasons beyond their control, and it goes without saying that we believe women should have the same access to non-judgemental high quality care whether it is their first abortion or their third.

“We believe we need to radically change the way we provide post-abortion contraception to women, if we’re going to reduce the number of abortions by any great number.

“We’re currently conducting a much-needed piece of new research which will look at how we can reduce the number of women we see more than once for an abortion, by working closely with them to understand exactly why it is that we’re seeing them two or more times for this procedure.”

Michaela Aston, from the anti-abortion charity, Life, said: “We should be shocked and concerned by these latest statistics, especially given the apparent decline in overall conception rates in 2011, which means that the proportion of all pregnancies that end in abortion has risen considerably.

“This is despite contraception being more widely available than ever before.

“As a society, we are failing to cultivate respectful attitudes to life, and failing to promote positive and responsible attitudes to motherhood, family life and sexual relationships.

“It is particularly disturbing that repeat abortions rose again, with 36% of women seeking abortion having had at least one previous abortion. This is a clear indication that the original intent and spirit of the Abortion Act is being widely flouted and ignored.”

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service said the figures were lower than for Sweden or the US.

Its chief executive Ann Furedi said: “Abortion is a fact of life, because contraception fails and sometimes we fail to use it properly.

“There is no ‘right’ number of abortions, above and beyond ensuring that every woman who needs to end an unwanted pregnancy can do so, and that obstacles are not put in the way of her accessing supportive services as quickly as possible.”

BBC

Serratia marcescens outbreak at Royal Victoria Hospital cardiac unit

Serratia marcescens bacteria
Serratia bacteria tend to spread in hospital patients’ respiratory and urinary tracts

The Royal Victoria Hospital’s cardiac unit is to be deep cleaned following an outbreak of a bacterial infection.

Additional infection control measures were introduced after Serratia marcescens was discovered in the unit, which remains open for admissions.

A number of operations have been rescheduled to facilitate the deep clean, Belfast Health Trust said.

The trust said there had been a “slight increase of an unusual bug”, and it had been identified at an early stage.

It said it had “instigated additional infection prevention audits, independent hand hygiene audits, extra cleaning of medical equipment, and environmental screening to help locate the source of the outbreak”.

Up to seven patients have tested positive for the bug.

Serratia marcescens is an organism that occurs naturally in the gut.

To have it on or in the body (colonisation) is not uncommon or harmful in healthy people.

However, in cases where people are vulnerable to infection, the organism can cause serious infection.

BBC

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