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Archive for July 16, 2012

Recipe for tomato tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin, the traditional French apple tart that is cooked upside down, is also popular — and beautiful — prepared with anything savory, like aromatic summer tomatoes. Start by caramelizing large cherry or plum tomatoes in butter and sugar. Add a touch of balsamic vinegar and cook the tomatoes until they release their juices. Then arrange them in the pan, without the juices, and season with oregano. Top with pastry and bake until it turns golden brown. The magic happens when you turn the tart upside down to discover what’s underneath: a stunning topping of red rounds, intensely sweet and delicious, sitting on flaky pastry.

2tablespoons butter 1tablespoon brown sugar 2¾pounds 2-inch tomatoes (or Roma tomatoes), halved and seeded 1tablespoon balsamic
vinegar 1tablespoon chopped
fresh oregano Salt and pepper, to taste Pie pastry for a 12-inch tart Extra sprigs fresh oregano (for garnish)

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand a 12-inch French tart pan with removable base and a rimmed baking sheet.

2. In a skillet large enough to hold the tomatoes, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and cook to dissolve it. When it starts to caramelize, add the tomatoes, cut sides up. Lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes release their juices.

3. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook 2 minutes more. Leaving the juices in the pan, arrange the tomatoes in the tart pan, cut sides up. Sprinkle with oregano, salt, and pepper.

4. Roll the pastry and with scissors, cut it into a 12-inch round. Place it on top of the tomatoes, tucking it in at the edges. With a fork, make small holes in the pastry.

5. Set the tart on the baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Bake the tart for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.

6. Let the tart sit for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the pastry to loosen it from the pan. Set a large plate upside down on the tart and using pot holders, turn the plate right side up so the tart comes out. Cut into wedges and garnish with oregano.

Boston

Breast cancer surgery women ‘risk more operations’

Scarring from breast cancer surgery

Surgery to conserve the breast can cause scarring

One in five women with breast cancer who has part of the breast removed, rather than the whole breast, ends up having another operation, a BMJ study suggests.

The reoperation rate increases to one in three for women whose early-stage cancer is difficult to detect.

In England, 58% of women with breast cancer have breast-conserving surgery.

Women should be told of the risk of further operations when choosing surgery, researchers say.

The study, led by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and published in the British Medical Journal, looked at data collected on 55,297 women with breast cancer in England.

They all underwent breast-conserving surgery, rather than a mastectomy, on the NHS between 2005 and 2008. All the women were aged 16 or over.

They then looked at procedures carried out in the three months following the first breast operation.

The researchers took tumour type, age, socio-economic deprivation and other health problems into account.

We all have a different attitude to risk but this is empowering patients to make the right decision for themselves”

Professor Jerome PereiraJames Paget University Hospitals

When combined with radiotherapy, the study says that breast-conserving surgery is as effective as mastectomy, particularly for patients with an obvious, invasive tumour.

‘Emotional distress’

However, because some pre-invasive cancers called ‘carcinoma in situ’ are difficult to detect, because they don’t form a lump, breast conserving-surgery may not remove the cancer completely.

This could result in another operation.

The study says that additional operations put women’s lives on hold while they wait for more surgery. It can delay their return to work, cause emotional distress and result in the need for reconstructive surgery to the breast.

Out of the 55,297 women who underwent breast-conserving surgery, 45,793 (82%) were suffering from isolated invasive cancer, 6,622 (12%) had isolated carcinoma in situ (pre-cancerous disease), and 2,882 (6%) had both types of cancer.

Another operation was more likely among women with pre-cancerous disease (29.5%) compared with those with isolated invasive disease (18%).

Around 40% of women who had a reoperation underwent a mastectomy.

Further results suggest that a repeat operation is less likely in older women and women from more deprived areas.

‘Empowering patients’

Prof Jerome Pereira, study author and consultant breast surgeon at James Paget University Hospitals in Great Yarmouth, said the findings would help women to make decisions about their treatment.

“Patients should feel reassured that clinicians can now advise them more clearly.

“We all have a different attitude to risk but this is empowering patients to make the right decision for themselves.”

Prof Pereira said the study results would help surgeons too.

“This research focuses surgeons and challenges us to try and reduce reoperation rates.

“We need to refine imaging techniques to make this happen – and this opens up more areas for more research.”

‘Increase survival’

Ramsey Cutress, Cancer Research UK breast cancer surgeon at the University of Southampton, said it was standard practice to discuss the possibility of further surgery with patients.

“It’s important for patients to fully understand the pros and cons of surgery. The ultimate aim of these repeat operations after breast-conserving surgery is to reduce the chance that breast cancer will return in the breast, and increase survival from the disease.

“Rates of breast cancer recurrence are also reduced by other treatments such as radiotherapy, hormone therapy and chemotherapy where appropriate.

“There’s an ongoing need to better identify those at high risk of breast cancer recurrence, and to carefully select those who would benefit the most from further surgery.”

BBC

Obesity surgery ‘seeing 1,000 patients in 18 months’

 The case of Georgia Davis from Aberdare was an extreme example of obesity
A leading surgeon operating on obese patients says he has seen young people so overweight during his career that they have not left home in eight years.

Jonathan Barry’s team at Morriston Hospital in Swansea has had 1,000 referrals in 18 months.

Dealing with obesity is costing the NHS in Wales an estimated £73m a year.

Plaid Cymru AM Lindsay Whittle claimed some parents were “killing their own children with kindness” by not tackling their intake of food.

Up to 90 morbidly obese patients a year undergo operations at the Welsh Institute of Metabolic and Obesity Surgery at Morriston to limit the capacity of their stomachs, or receive other treatment to reduce the number of calories they absorb.

‘Cost benefit’

We know that this is an expensive disease that isn’t going away”

Jonathan BarryWelsh Institute of Metabolic and Obesity Surgery

Consultant bariatric surgeon Jonathan Barry told BBC Wales’ Sunday Politics programme: “A lot of them are cured of their diabetes and obviously there’s a cost benefit to that and after two-and-a-half years there’s a significant saving.

“We know that this is an expensive disease that isn’t going away.”

He added: “These people do have to be brave just to go outside the front door. I think a lot of my patients will tell me they feel quite embarrassed going anywhere and this just reinforces the problem.

“We have seen patients over the years, young people, who haven’t left home for eight or nine years.”

A study for the Welsh government last year estimated obesity was costing the NHS in Wales £73m pounds a year, but the Swansea University research warned the true costs could be higher.

A World Health Organisation survey put Wales fourth out of 39 nations for overweight or obese 15 year olds – behind only the United States, Greece and Canada.

In his annual report, Wales’ chief medical officer Dr Tony Jewell said the growth in overweight and obesity has slowed but there is still much to do.

He questioned the sponsorship of big sports events, such as the Olympics, by fast food brands.

Warning parents

Earlier this month in the Welsh assembly, Plaid Cymru AM Lindsay Whittle suggested drastic action might be needed.

“I don’t wish to take children into care but what’s happening is that some parents are killing their own children with kindness and, I’m sure they don’t mean to but that is actually what’s happening,” he said.

Obese child
Obesity costs NHS Wales an estimated £73m a year

“We have to send a warning to these parents that these children, in fact, will die even, perhaps, during the parents’ lifetime and that’s not a pleasant situation for any parent to be in, and die through sheer obesity. We really need to send this warning.”

The Welsh government said the children should be with their families where possible and that a range of services was available to help them.

“While the safety of children and young people is paramount, only where a child is at risk is there a role for state intervention,” a spokeswoman said.

“The Welsh government is committed to reducing obesity in Wales by encouraging and supporting individuals to make healthier lifestyle choices, including having a healthier diet and being more physically active.”

BBC

Weibo: How China’s version of Twitter changed five lives

By Duncan HewittShanghai

The Weibo homepage displayed on a tablet PC

Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, is one of the world’s most popular social networking sites. And some of the stories it has generated give an interesting glimpse into life in modern China.

The impact of the internet on society in China is arguably greater than in any other country on earth.

Not only does it give people channels to express themselves – something which for political reasons has previously been almost impossible – but the increase of microblogging has amplified the internet’s impact still further.

China’s most popular microblogging service Sina Weibo – run by the country’s largest internet portal, Sina.com, now boasts at least 300 million registered users, making it a serious challenger to Twitter.

Here we look at some examples of people who have used Weibo to change the way of life in China and build a new civil society.

The dog rescuer

Zhang Xiaoqiu still remembers the date – 15 April 2011. It was when Weibo changed his life, and saved those of several hundred dogs. The Beijing-based businessman, originally from southern China, had always been an animal lover, but the news he heard via Weibo that day led him to take action.

Zhang XoaoqiuZhang Xiaoqiu helped rescue 300 dogs which were destined for dining tables in Chinese restaurants

Fellow internet users had spotted a truck on the motorway heading out of Beijing, loaded with dogs in tiny cages. This could only mean one thing – they were destined for restaurants in China’s north-east, where dog eating remains more common than in many other parts of the country.

Pictures of the caged animals, posted on Weibo, soon attracted the attention of hundreds of thousands of people across China, and at least 100 animal lovers quickly answered an appeal to jump in their cars and block the truck’s path on the road.

Each time someone will send out a message on Weibo, and volunteers from all over the country will find out about it”

Zhang XiaoqiuAnimal rights activist

Zhang was one of them. He and his wife arrived to find police and local government officials at the scene, and animal lovers attempting to persuade the truck driver to sell them the dogs.

Finally, after Xiaoqiu and other campaigners raised about £1,000, the driver agreed to drive the animals to the compound of the China Small Animals Protection Association (CSAPA) – the country’s only officially recognised animal rights NGO.

Today, Zhang is a volunteer organiser for the CSAPA. He says there has been a dozen more dog rescues over the past year or so, all organised online via Weibo.

“Each time someone will send out a message on Weibo and volunteers from all over the country will find out about it.

“They start to phone the company transporting the dogs, phone the police, phone the animal protection society and the government. It puts enormous public pressure on these people, so they really have no choice but to take action.”

Healing scars

In a cosmetic surgery hospital in Beijing, 17-year-old Zhou Yan lies motionless on her hospital bed, clearly still in pain from the scars and skin grafts on her face, arms and legs.

Zhou Yan lies in a hospital bed
Zhou Yan received free treatment after pictures of her burn injuries were posted on Weibo

It is hard to imagine her life could be any worse – but without Weibo, it might have been. One evening last September, the lively, intelligent teenager from the city of Hefei was attacked by a former classmate whose romantic advances she had rejected.

He threw lighter fuel over her and set her on fire, causing horrific burns.

At first her family kept quiet about what had happened, on condition that the attackers’ parents paid the enormous cost of her treatment.

But when his parents stopped paying, and having received only limited help from the local government, the family decided to seek help online.

The pictures of Zhou Yan’s injuries, which they posted on a popular web forum, went viral on Weibo. By the next day Yan’s family had been overwhelmed with messages of sympathy and offers of legal and financial support.

Perhaps most significantly, the head of the Evercare cosmetic surgery hospital in Beijing contacted the family and offered Zhou Yan unlimited free treatment.

“I feel that the biggest help we’ve received is to know there’s such a big spiritual support,” says her mother Li Cong.

“If going online hadn’t worked out, I was planning to take my daughter to Tiananmen Square in Beijing to beg for justice!”

And Zhou Yan says the online support changed her life.

“At first I felt that if I looked like this I was finished,” she says, “but now there are so many people helping me… I’m quite confident about the future.”

Although the family are still not satisfied with the 12-year sentence handed down to her attacker, they believe that without their online appeal he might have been released without charge – and they were at least able to make contact with the lawyers who are now helping them to bring a civil suit.

Cleaner air

Concern about China’s environmental problems has been growing rapidly over the past decade, and Weibo has played a significant part in amplifying the voices of ordinary people on this issue.

Environmental campaigner Feng Yongfeng and his son
Environmental campaigner Feng Yongfeng has used social media to campaign for clean air in Beijing

In October 2011, when Beijing’s air quality became even worse than usual, it sparked a massive public debate on Weibo – particularly after celebrities, including real estate tycoon Pan Shiyi, began reposting air monitoring data published by the US embassy in Beijing. This was information which the Chinese authorities had previously tried to block from reaching the public.

Eventually the Chinese government agreed, for the first time, to start publishing data from its monitoring of PM 2.5 – fine particles which are considered to be among the most hazardous pollutants.

“The public previously lacked a good channel to express their views,” says Feng Yongfeng, an environmental activist and journalist who played a part in the campaign.

“But the internet and Weibo have brought a great change in how people can express their opinions – and the more people discussed this issue, the more powerful they became.”

Yongfeng then launched an appeal on Weibo for donations to buy machines which would allow NGOs to monitor the air quality and check the government’s figures – and several have already been purchased.

Recently he helped launch another online campaign to outlaw the use of shark fins in traditional Chinese soup.

“Weibo will bring society changes which cannot be stopped,” he says. “It’s not just a tool for passing on news, it’s also a means of taking action.

“The technology creates a direct and equal link from person to person [and] this spirit really fits with the idea of civil society – you can spark lots of campaigns via Weibo, and inspire lots of people to get involved.”

China’s counter-culture

In an old factory in Chengdu, 21-year-old Gas is hard at work. But with his baggy jeans, baseball jacket and bohemian beard he hardly looks like the traditional Chinese worker.

Chinese graffiti artist Gas
Authorities regularly wipe the work of Chinese graffiti artist Gas but it lives on via his online gallery

Gas is, in his own words, a “graffiti writer”, an artist who spray-paints his tag, based on the Chinese character qi – meaning “air” or “the energy in the body” – on walls around Chengdu and his nearby home town.

Being a graffiti artist can be a lonely business in China. Until the past few years, graffiti was almost never seen here, and even now Gas estimates there may only be a few thousand serious aficionados in the country.

The police and local authorities regularly scrub away his artwork soon after the pieces are finished, but now he uses Weibo to post the images he paints direct to over 1,000 followers in China and Hong Kong – and it has also helped him become friends with other graffiti artists around the country.

“It’s like another kind of travelling,” he says. “I don’t have to travel myself, but my works can travel via the internet.”

It is an example of how the internet, and Weibo, have contributed to the rapid growth in alternative culture – from hip-hop to vegetarianism – among a young generation eager to express themselves in this fast-changing nation.

Mumsnet, China style

The formation of online mothers’ groups has been a particular feature of the internet in China over the past decade, as women who were previously isolated have taken to the web to share information about pregnancy and parenting.

A young mother in Chengdu
Parenting groups have sprung up all over China thanks to social media activism

Weibo has helped bring these groups closer together – in real life as well as in the virtual universe of the internet. In an airy play centre in a modern office building in the western city of Chengdu, mothers-to-be meet regularly at weekends to discuss the benefits of breastfeeding.

There is a lot of pressure in China, including from doctors, for women to feed their babies formula rather than breast-milk.

Organiser Yushi got involved in the group when it was just a forum with a handful of members on an older social networking platform – now it has more than 5,000 followers, and more than 200 women have attended its meetings.

Yushi has now launched a social enterprise to promote breastfeeding in hospitals in Chengdu, and is also starting a campaign to reduce the dependence on Caesarean sections for childbirth in China.

“Without the internet I don’t know if I would be able to do this work,” she says. “If there is no internet I might have been forced by the doctors to have a C-section and I might use formula too, because I see all the benefits in the ads on TV.”

Now she hopes their campaign will spread:

“I think if you change the mother then society will change, that’s why we are doing this. We use the internet to let more mothers know what’s good and let them decide by themselves.”

BBC

TV habits ‘can predict kids’ waist size and fitness’

Children watching television

Experts say children should not watch more than two hours of TV a day

Children who increase the number of hours of weekly television they watch between the ages of two and four years old risk larger waistlines by age 10.

A Canadian study found that every extra weekly hour watched could add half a millimetre to their waist circumference and reduce muscle fitness.

The study, in a BioMed Central journal, tracked the TV habits of 1,314 children.

Experts say children should not watch more than two hours of TV a day.

Researchers found that the average amount of television watched by the children at the start of the study was 8.8 hours a week.

This increased on average by six hours over the next two years to reach 14.8 hours a week by the age of four-and-a-half.

Watching more television displaces other forms of educational and active leisurely pursuits”

Dr Linda PaganiUniversity of Montreal

Fifteen per cent of the children in the study were watching more than 18 hours per week by that age, according to their parents.

The study said the effect of 18 hours of television at 4.5 years of age would by the age of 10 result in an extra 7.6mm of waist because of the child’s TV habit.

‘Bottom line’

As well as measuring waist circumference, the researchers also carried out a standing long jump test to measure each child’s muscular fitness and athletic ability.

An extra weekly hour of TV can decrease the distance a child is able to jump from standing by 0.36cm, the study said.

The researchers said that further research was needed to work out whether television watching is directly responsible for the health issues they observed.

Dr Linda Pagani, study co-author from the University of Montreal, said it was a warning about the factors which could lead to childhood obesity.

“The bottom line is that watching too much television – beyond the recommended amounts – is not good,” Dr Pagani said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children aged over two should not watch more than two hours of television per day.

Dr Pagani added: “Across the occidental world, there have been dramatic increases in unhealthy weight for both children and adults in recent decades.

“Our standard of living has also changed in favour of more easily prepared, calorie-dense foods and sedentary practices.

“Watching more television not only displaces other forms of educational and active leisurely pursuits but also places them at risk of learning inaccurate information about proper eating.”

The study said that habits and behaviours became entrenched during childhood and these habits might affect attitudes to sporting activities in adulthood.

BBC

两种疫苗产生新毒株 殃及数万家禽

7月12日科学家们报告,用于预防鸡群呼吸系统疾病的三种疫苗发生了基因重组,从而产生了两种致命的新菌株,已经使澳大利亚两个州数以万计的家禽死亡。

研究论文发表在《科学》杂志上,论文的作者、墨尔本大学兽医学院讲师乔安妮·德夫林说,即使疫苗很脆弱,但因为含有活病毒,因此生成新的致命变种是可能的。

德夫林和她的研究小组分析了新毒株的基因后,发现它们与疫苗的病毒关系非常紧密。她说:“我们发现这些病毒,实际来自不同疫苗病毒基因组的混合体,它们相互结合并混在了一起。”

这些病毒在2008年出现过。2007年,澳大利亚开始使用一种欧洲疫苗以及两种类似的澳大利亚疫苗,来共同对付家禽染上的急性呼吸道传染病。禽类动物感染呼吸道疾病后,表现为咳嗽,打喷嚏,呼吸困难,通常导致其中5%死亡。

然而,这两种新毒株危害更大。自从它们产生以来,已经导致澳大利亚两个主要饲养州,维多利亚州和新南威尔士州17%的鸡死亡。

德夫林表示:“可能发生的情况是,一只鸡接种了疫苗后,又被注射了另一种疫苗,从而导致新毒株的产生。”

目前,澳大利亚的农业部门已经获悉了研究结果,他们正在考虑如何防止类似的流行疾病再次发生。

德夫林说,在禽类动物中只有使用一种疫苗,可防止不同病毒的结合。农业部门正在检查疫苗的标签,以改变疫苗使用的方法,防止相同的禽类使用不同的疫苗。

医药日报所有

新突破:罕见的基因突变可防治阿尔茨海默氏症

科学家们发现了一种罕见的遗传突变,能够让人们远离阿尔茨海默氏症(AD)和老年认知能力下降,同时也可能为治疗这类大脑功能丧失的其他疾病铺平道路。

发表在科学杂志《自然》上的最新研究结果发现,β-淀粉样前体蛋白(APP)的基因可能对老年痴呆症患者的大脑中淀粉样蛋白斑块的形成起着至关重要的作用。冰岛科学家说,研究结果表明,这个基因的突变可能有助于防止AD和年老的时候心智能力下降的症状。

这些淀粉样蛋白斑块在退行性疾病患者的大脑中不断积累凝结,使神经元之间不能沟通,最终导致严重的记忆丧失和言语问题。

研究人员在研究中写道,“我们发现,在APP基因中有一个编码突变能够防止老人患上AD以及认知能力下降。”神经学家说,有一种药物可以模仿这种罕见的变种进而防止这种抢夺大脑思想的疾病。

研究首席作者卡里·斯蒂芬森,是冰岛基因解码公司(DeCODE Genetics)的行政长官,他和他的团队发现,这个基因突变减少了40%的有害斑块。此外,研究人员发现,在80岁到100岁老人当中,没有患AD和携带这种突变基因的人比那些没有携带突变基因的人明显具有更好的心智功能。

研究人员表示,虽然早就发现APP基因突变与家族遗传的早发性老年痴呆症有关,但一直没有和更普遍的晚年患上神经退行性疾病产生关联。

斯特凡松说,最新的成果得到以往的研究支持,表明操纵基因可以和目前正在临床试验中测试的一些现有药物一同实现。尽管有将近四十年的AD研究,科学家们在有效抑制蛋白质之间相互作用的药物研发上收效甚微,部分原因是药物分子比蛋白质是小得多,即使药物分子可以附着到更大的蛋白质分子上,由于其过于微小,不能防止其他蛋白质在不同的大脑区域连接在一起。

研究中写道:“在西方世界,60岁以上的老年痴呆症患病率估计已超过百分之五,其中大约三分之二是AD。特定年龄的AD患病率在65岁以后每长5岁增加一倍,导致90岁以上的人患病率高达25%。”

该公司的新闻发布会上,斯特凡松说:“这些数据的含义是,一般性认知能力下降和迟发性AD具有相同的生物学途径,同时表明,治疗AD的方法可能对没有携带这种突变基因,但也未患AD的老人有益处。”

医药日报所有

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