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Archive for March 8, 2013


MessageMe is a new communications tool for iOS and Android devices. The free app helps users share photos, videos, music, and anything else regardless of operating system.

A free alternative to the sometimes costly SMS messaging technology, MessageMe includes a number of unique tools that may help it stand out.

These include:

  • Unlimited chat for FREE. Uses WiFi, 3G, EDGE or LTE. No annoying ads ever!
  • No carrier or network charges. No international SMS costs. Chat for FREE all over the world!
  • Adding contacts is easy. Use Facebook or a secret PIN like BBM.
  • Group chat feature keeps all your friends in touch!
  • Share photos from Facebook, Instagram or your camera. Share your own videos as well!
  • Post music & YouTube videos directly into messages.
  • Share your location. Let friends & family know where you are!
  • Push-to-talk recording & walkie talkie feature.
  • Draw & doodle! Then add one of hundreds of stickers & emojis available to express yourself with!
  • All-in-one sharing to Facebook and Twitter

MessageMe looks promising. It is available now in the App Store.

Shrimp Fried Rice

Shrimp Fried Rice


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 12 ounces peeled deveined small shrimp, thawed if frozen
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 scallions, whites chopped, greens thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled ginger
  • 3 cups cold cooked white rice
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 1/2 cup frozen edamame, thawed
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil


  • Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season shrimp with salt and cook, turning once, until just opaque in the center, about 3 minutes; transfer to a plate.
  • Heat remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in same skillet; add scallion whites, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rice and stir to coat. Cook until rice is crisp, about 2 minutes. Push rice to one side of skillet; add eggs to other side and cook, stirring and working into rice mixture, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add edamame, peas, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and cooked shrimp. Cook, tossing constantly, until shrimp and vegetables are heated through, about 1 minute. Top with scallion greens.

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Deep brain stimulation ‘helps in severe anorexia nervosa’

Artist illustration of deep brain stimulation
Some people who had deep brain stimulation felt they had a better quality of life

cientists have raised the prospect that deep brain stimulation could help people suffering from severe anorexia nervosa.

In the small Canadian study three people were able to gain weight and had improvements in their overall mood after undergoing the procedure.

The researchers say larger trials are now needed to show whether this therapy could provide a last resort for people with difficult-to-treat anorexia.

The study is published in the Lancet.

Researchers from the Krembil Neuroscience Centre and University Health Network in Canada conducted the study primarily to find out whether this procedure is safe in people with severe cases of the eating disorder anorexia nervosa.

Anorexia nervosa has many layers and we need to address the root causes”

Dr Nir LipsmanKrembil Neuroscience Centre

Deep brain stimulation – which involves implanting electrodes into the brain – has previously been used for people with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and obsessive compulsive disorder.

‘Flipping a switch’

But this is the first time researchers have implanted the device into brains of people with such severe forms of anorexia.

They treated six women, aged between 24-57, for whom most conventional therapy had failed.

The researchers chose to implant the electrodes in an area of the brain which influences how people regulate their mood and anxiety.

They then switched on the device to deliver continuous electrical stimulation over the nine months of the study.

Lead author of the research, Dr Nir Lipsman, said this was not a study about simply flipping a switch to make people eat more.

Personal story: Kim Rollins

picture of Kin Rollins

Kim Rollins, 36, had suffered from anorexia nervosa for 20 years before she enrolled on the trial.

“At first I was sceptical – it is neurosurgery after all. But I was reassured by the physicians.

It has really turned my life around. I am now at a healthy weight. I was exercising non-stop all day with minimal food before.

Over a few months I gradually noticed I wasn’t thinking about exercise all the time. And I can enjoy meals with my family now.

But it is not a miracle. I have to put a lot of work into changing my thinking and I go to therapy and see a dietitian. But it has enabled everything to be much easier for me.”

“Anorexia nervosa has many layers and we need to address the root causes. In many people with the condition this is related to difficulties in regulating mood and anxiety.

“So we wanted to see if influencing this area of the brain could help people with the condition,” he said.

And after nine months three of the women felt their quality of life had improved and they had gained weight.

Crucially they were able to stick to this weight – something they hadn’t been able to do since developing the condition, the researchers said.

Kim Rollins, who took part in the study and has suffered from anorexia nervosa for 20 years said: “It has really turned my life around. It has lifted my mood and lowered my anxiety… and lessened the compulsion I had to almost destroy my body.

“But it is not a miracle – I have to put a lot of work into changing my thinking and I go to therapy and see a dietitian. But it has enabled everything to be much easier for me.”

Dr Lipsman said: “We think deep brain stimulation may have helped people view their illness in a different way and meant they felt more encouraged to engage in other therapy.”

‘Unwanted effects’

But the procedure was not without serious and unwanted effects.

One person involved had a seizure two weeks after the device was implanted and another suffered a panic attack during the operation to insert the device.

And for one person there were no improvements in mood, anxiety levels or weight by the end of the study.

The authors caution this procedure is not suitable for everyone.

“We worked very hard to identify a group of patients who had reached the limits of conventional treatment – for whom there is currently no effective therapy and therefore are at the greatest risk of death from the condition,” Dr Lipsman said.

Prof Janet Treasure, of the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, who was not involved in the study but wrote a linked comment, said: “What we know is that if you can get effective treatment within three years of diagnosis, the chances of short and long-term recovery are much increased, but it is more difficult as time goes on. This is what makes this study so interesting.”

She said the findings of the small study must be interpreted with caution, however.

Susan Ringwood, the chief executive of the national organisation, Beat, said: “When treatments fail to work, people with eating disorders can feel it is their fault, and that can make them very more reluctant to accept the help desperately they need.

“We are learning so much more about the brain and its role in eating disorders, and this study indicates an important new aspect that may lead to improved treatment.”


Salt linked to immune rebellion in study

Salt on bread

Salt is in many foods, such as bread.


The amount of salt in our diet could be involved in driving our own immune systems to rebel against us, leading to diseases such as multiple sclerosis, early laboratory findings suggest.

Several teams of scientists have simultaneously published data in the journal Nature suggesting a link.

Salt may activate a part of the immune system that can target the body.

Experts said the findings were very interesting and plausible, but were not a cure for people with MS.

The body’s defence against infection can go horrible awry, turning on the body and leading to autoimmune diseases including Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Genetics is thought to increase the risk of such diseases, but the world around us also has a major impact. One of the leading theories behind multiple sclerosis is a viral infection, but smoking and a lack of vitamin D may make the condition more likely.

Now researchers believe they have the first evidence that the amount of salt in our diet may also be contributing.

Gene link

Teams of researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard were investigating a part of the immune system that has been implicated in autoimmune diseases.

We were all really quite surprised to see how changes in dietary salt could have such a profound effect”

Prof David HaflerYale University

They wanted to know how T-helper 17 cells were produced.

A sophisticated analysis of the complicated chemistry needed to form a T-helper 17 cell – which involved carefully monitoring cells and reverse engineering the changes – identified a critical gene. But the gene had been seen before.

“Its day job is to increase salt uptake in the gut,” said Dr Vijay Kuchroo from Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “When we put extra salt in the culture dish it was one of those ‘Aha’ moments, the cells were becoming T-helper 17 cells.”

Mice fed a high-salt diet were more likely to develop a disease similar to MS in experiments.

Meanwhile, researchers at Yale University were also investigating saltand looking at human cells.

David Hafler, professor of immunobiology at Yale, told BBC news online: “In mouse models of MS, those fed high-salt diets had significantly worse disease.

“We were all really quite surprised to see how changes in dietary salt could have such a profound effect.”


There is caution about over-interpreting what is very early research. Studies are now taking place in people with high blood pressure, also caused by high salt intake, to see if there is a link between salt and autoimmune diseases in people.

There is no prospect of a low salt diet curing MS. If you already have the disease and go on a low salt diet the horse has already bolted”

Prof Alastair CompstonUniversity of Cambridge

Dr Aviv Regev, from the Broad Institute, said: “All we can do is bring the current state of knowledge to the public, we have absolutely no recommendations, there’s always a gap between scientific discovery and translation to the clinic.”

Prof Hafler added that a low salt-diet was, however, unlikely to cause harm.

Commenting on the findings, Prof Alastair Compston, from the University of Cambridge, told the BBC the findings were plausible, unexpected and very interesting.

“Like all good science it is introducing a brand new idea that nobody had thought of.”

He said that salt may have a similar effect to other factors such as smoking and sunlight, which alter the odds of getting the disease.

However he cautioned: “There is no prospect of a low salt diet curing MS. If you already have the disease and go on a low salt diet the horse has already bolted.”

Dr Susan Kohlhaas, head of biomedical research at the MS Society, said: “This is a really interesting study and it’s positive to see new avenues of MS research being explored in this way.

“It’s still too early, however, to draw firm conclusions on what these findings mean for people with MS, but we look forward to seeing the results of further research.

“In the meantime, we recommend that people follow government advice on maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, which includes guidelines on salt intake.”


Processed meat ‘early death’ link

Frying bacon

Sausages, ham, bacon and other processed meats appear to increase the risk of dying young, a study of half a million people across Europe suggests.

It concluded diets high in processed meats were linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer and early deaths.

The researchers, writing in the journal BMC Medicine, said salt and chemicals used to preserve the meat may damage health.

The British Heart Foundation suggested opting for leaner cuts of meat.

The study followed people from 10 European countries for nearly 13 years on average.

Lifestyle factors

It showed people who ate a lot of processed meat were also more likely to smoke, be obese and have other behaviours known to damage health.

However, the researchers said even after those risk factors were accounted for, processed meat still damaged health.

One in every 17 people followed in the study died. However, those eating more than 160g of processed meat a day – roughly two sausages and a slice of bacon – were 44% more likely to die over a typical follow-up time of 12.7 years than those eating about 20g.

In total, nearly 10,000 people died from cancer and 5,500 from heart problems.


Prof Sabine Rohrmann, from the University of Zurich, told the BBC: “High meat consumption, especially processed meat, is associated with a less healthy lifestyle.

“But after adjusting for smoking, obesity and other confounders we think there is a risk of eating processed meat.

“Stopping smoking is more important than cutting meat, but I would recommend people reduce their meat intake.”

What is red and processed meat?

  • What is red meat?

Red meat includes beef, lamb and pork including minced beef, pork chops and roast lamb. It does not include chicken or turkey meat.

  • What is processed meat?

Processed meat refers to meat that has been preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives. Examples include ham, bacon, pastrami and salami, as well as hot dogs and some sausages. Hamburgers and minced meats only count as processed meat if they have been preserved with salt or chemical additives.

  • Is meat good for you?

Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc and B vitamins. It is one of the main sources of vitamin B12, also found in milk.

Advice from the Department of Health is to consume healthier meat or meat products, such as lean cuts of meat and lean mince and cut down on processed meat.

  • Will I get enough iron?

A healthy, balanced diet containing other good sources of iron – such as lentils, beans, eggs, fish, chicken, nuts and breakfast cereals – is advised.

NHS Choices
World Cancer Research Fund
What do we mean by ‘processed meat’?

Health benefits

She said if everyone in the study consumed no more than 20g of processed meat a day then 3% of the premature deaths could have been prevented.

The UK government recommends eating no more than 70g of red or processed meat – two slices of bacon – a day.

A spokesperson said: “People who eat a lot of red and processed meat should consider cutting down.”

However a little bit of meat, even processed meat, had health benefits in the study.

Ursula Arens from the British Dietetic Association told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that putting fresh meat through a mincer did not make it processed meat.

“Something has been done to it to extend its shelf life, or to change its taste, or to make it more palatable in some way… and this could be a traditional process like curing or salting.”

She said even good quality ham or sausages were still classed as processed meat, while homemade burgers using fresh meat were not.

“For most people there’s no need to cut back on fresh, red meat. For people who have very high intake of red meat – eat lots of red meat every day – there is the recommendation that they should moderate their intake,” she added.

Ms Arens also confirmed that the study’s finding that processed meat was linked to heart disease was new.

Mr Roger Leicester, a consultant surgeon and a member of the Meat Advisory Panel, said: “I would agree people should eat small quantities of processed meat.”

However, he said there needed to be a focus on how meat was processed: “We need to know what the preservatives are, what the salt content is, what the meat content is…meat is actually an essential part of out diet.”

Growing evidence

So why don’t the Italians die young?

The Italians eat lots of Parma ham so why don’t they die young? There is mounting evidence that processed meats can damage health.

However, being fit and well is about more than just processed meat. A diet rich in fruit and vegetables, not smoking, not drinking too much and getting plenty of exercise are all good for health.

The Mediterranean diet, which is also packed with fruit, vegetables and healthy oily fish, is likely to boost lifespan for Italians – even if some elements may have a question mark next to them.

All things being equal, the evidence on the dangers of processed meat is mounting, but it is important not to lose sight of the big picture. Saying I’m giving up bacon, while smoking 40-a-day probably wont end well.

Why do the Italians live longer than us?

Dr Rachel Thompson, from the World Cancer Research Fund, said: “This research adds to the body of scientific evidence highlighting the health risks of eating processed meat.

“Our research, published in 2007 and subsequently confirmed in 2011, shows strong evidence that eating processed meat, such as bacon, ham, hot dogs, salami and some sausages, increases the risk of getting bowel cancer.”

The organisation said there would be 4,000 fewer cases of bowel cancer if people had less than 10g a day.

“This is why World Cancer Research Fund recommends people avoid processed meat,” said Dr Thompson.

Tracy Parker, a heart health dietitian with the British Heart Foundation, said the research suggested processed meat might be linked to an increased risk of early death, but those who ate more of it in the study also made “other unhealthy lifestyle choices”.

One shopper said he was not unduly concerned as he had always had processed food

“They were found to eat less fruit and vegetables and were more likely to smoke, which may have had an impact on results.

“Red meat can still be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.

“Opting for leaner cuts and using healthier cooking methods such as grilling will help to keep your heart healthy.

“If you eat lots of processed meat, try to vary your diet with other protein choices such as chicken, fish, beans or lentils.”


ONS survey: Smoking halves in 40 years

Smoking rates have dropped in the past 40 years

Smoking in Britain has more than halved and people are drinking on fewer nights of the week, according to a snapshot survey covering the past 40 years.

The General Lifestyle Survey indicates 45% of adults smoked in 1974 compared with 20% in 2011.

The proportion of men who said they drank alcohol at least five days a week fell from 22% in 2005 to 16% in 2011.

The proportion of women drinking five days a week dropped from 13% to 9% over the same period.

There have been repeated campaigns to reduce smoking, which can cause heart problems and lung cancer.

The role of smoking in society has changed significantly, with smoking bans in the work-place coming into force across the UK and bans on cigarette advertising.

Smoking now looks less of a male-dominated habit. Men are still more likely to be smokers – 21% of men now smoke compared with 19% of women. However, back in 1974 the gulf was much larger – 51% of men and 41% of women.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

Of those that do drink, the harms are increasing – and they take time to show themselves…”

Prof Alan Maryon-DavisKings College London

The statistics suggest married people are less likely to smoke than singles, and the unemployed are more likely to smoke than their neighbours in work.

Older people are more likely to have a regular drink, the data indicates. Men and women aged 45 and above are more likely to drink alcohol on five or more days each week than younger generations.

The most significant changes in the past decade were in 16-24-year-olds.

In young men, the proportion drinking more than four units on their biggest drinking session of the week fell from 46% to 32% between 2005 and 2011. There was a similar pattern in women.

However, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures do not look at the amount drinkers are consuming overall. This is thought to be 40% higher now than it was 40 years ago, despite a drop since 2004.

Raising awareness

Alan Maryon-Davis, honorary professor of public health at King’s College London, said the figures for alcohol and smoking were very encouraging, but there was still a long way to go.

“There is more work to be done educating the public about the dangers of drink. We haven’t got labelling of drinks right and there is work to be done in terms of drinks promotions and the use of social media to target young people.

“There are also issues over price and availability. We need to get rid of really cheap discounts on alcohol.”

While hospital admissions for alcohol-related diseases were still high, Prof Maryon-Davis said, there was no room for complacency.

“Of those that do drink, the harms are increasing – and they take time to show themselves.”

Commenting on the survey’s findings, Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said the significant decline in the numbers of people smoking in Britain over the last 40 years was “a testament to the effectiveness of combined legislation and awareness raising in tackling what is Britain’s leading cause of preventable illness and premature death”.

But she added: “The uptake of smoking by young people and childhood exposure to second hand smoke both, however, remain areas of concern.”

“It is encouraging to see measures such as banning smoking in cars when children are present and introduction of standardised packaging for cigarettes being seriously considered by this government.”





















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