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Archive for September 26, 2013
Flip Clock – Weather Alarm Clock and Nightstand for iPhone (4 stars with 254 Ratings)
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 small shallots, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups dry white wine
5 pounds mussels, scrubbed, debearded
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill plus more for serving
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley plus more for serving
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened not browned, about 5 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, 3-4 minutes. Add mussels, cover, and cook, shaking pot occasionally, until shells open (discard any that do not open), 10–12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mussels to shallow bowls.
Add butter to cooking liquid and stir until melted. Add 2 Tbsp. dill and 2 Tbsp. parsley; season with salt and pepper. Ladle cooking liquid over mussels and top with more herbs.
via Moules – Bon Appétit.
Nearly 50,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year
A breast cancer test that could spare thousands of women the ordeal of chemotherapy has been approved for use in the NHS in England and Wales.
The test works out the odds of a some tumours spreading round the body and can be used to decide whether the gruelling course of drugs is necessary.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence approved the test, saying it was a significant step forward for patients.
Cancer charities welcomed the decision.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, affecting 48,000 women each year. About 9,700 would be suitable for the test.
Chemotherapy can be used after surgery to reduce the chance of breast cancer spreading or coming back.
However, the drugs kill both cancerous and healthy tissue, which can lead to side-effects including fatigue, feeling sick, hair loss, change in appetite and hot flushes.
We know that chemotherapy can have side effects such as sickness and hair loss and many patients find it to be extremely gruelling; so a test which enables patients to avoid it will be welcomed by many.”
Sally GreenbrookBreakthrough Breast Cancer
The Oncotype DX test, which looks at characteristics of the cancerous cells to see how likely they are to spread, should help doctors decide more accurately which patients will need chemotherapy.
Prof Carole Longson, from NICE, said testing some patients would be cost effective.
She said: “Breast cancer patients face significant emotional and psychological strain when considering chemotherapy.
“A test that can help to predict better the risk of the breast cancer spreading, and therefore the potential likely benefit of additional chemotherapy, represents a significant step forward for patients.
The test will not be used on all women with breast cancer. Those considered at intermediate risk – and with oestrogen receptor positive (ER+), lymph node negative (LN-) and human epidermal growth factor receptor two negative (HER2-) subtypes of early breast cancer – will be tested to see if chemotherapy is necessary.
Sally Greenbrook, a senior policy officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “This is a good decision from NICE.
“We know that chemotherapy can have side-effects such as sickness and hair loss and many patients find it to be extremely gruelling, so a test which enables patients to avoid it will be welcomed by many.
“It’s important to remember that Oncotype DX is only suitable for certain types of breast cancer, so some patients will still need chemotherapy.
“It’s also important to make sure that this test is made available to doctors and that systems are in place to ensure that patients are able to benefit from it.”
Thousands of people with mental health problems “die needlessly” in England each year due to a failure to take the problem seriously, a charity says.
Rethink Mental Illness said smoking, drinking and obesity were leading to 33,000 avoidable deaths each year.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists said it was “one of the biggest health scandals of our time”.
Ministers said they expected mental health to be treated with as much importance as physical health.
One in six people in the UK are considered mentally ill, ranging from those with depression, which is relatively common, to those with rarer disorders such as schizophrenia.
In England, more than 100,000 deaths each year are officially classed as “avoidable”, often due to lifestyle decisions such as a bad diet.
Failure to address this issue amounts to a form of lethal discrimination which is costing lives”
Prof Sue Bailey
Royal College of Psychiatrists
This includes thousands of deaths from lung cancer that could have been prevented if people did not smoke. Heart problems due to a lack of exercise, a diet packed with fatty food and smoking are also a major contributor to the figures. Suicide is not counted in the statistics.
Rethink said people with mental illnesses represented a large proportion of the avoidable deaths figures, but the issue was being ignored.
It said patients were less likely to be given support to help them stop smoking, despite 40% of cigarettes being smoked by people with mental illness.
It also said some anti-psychotic medication led to patients putting on a stone in weight, but this was often not monitored.
Victoria Bleazard, associate director of campaigns at Rethink, criticised Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for “barely touching on mental health” when announcing plans to deal with avoidable deaths earlier this year.
She said there were “systemic problems in the NHS” including doctors focusing on a patient’s mental health problems, such as bipolar disorder, and not dealing with physical health problems and an attitude that “smoking is the last treat they’ve got” so should not be tackled.
In the report’s foreword, Prof Sue Bailey, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, described the figures as “chilling”.
She said: “The fact that people with serious mental illness [such as schizophrenia] die an average of 20 years earlier than the rest of the population is one of the biggest health scandals of our time, but it is being ignored.
“If this statistic applied to any other group of people, such as residents of a particular town, there would be public outcry. This simply isn’t happening for people with mental illness.
“Failure to address this issue amounts to a form of lethal discrimination which is costing lives.”
We have made it clear that we expect the NHS to reduce the number of premature deaths in people with mental health problems. ”
Care and Support Minister
Paul Jenkins, the chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “If Jeremy Hunt is serious about wanting to reduce the number of people dying needlessly every year, he can’t afford to ignore people with mental illness.
“We know this group is at a much higher risk of early death. We also know that there are simple solutions like targeted support to give up smoking and regular physical health checks, which could save thousands of lives.”
Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said: “This government has made improving the overall health of people with mental health problems a bigger priority than ever before, and we’re determined that mental health is treated with as much importance as physical health in the NHS.
“We have made it clear that we expect the NHS to reduce the number of premature deaths in people with mental health problems.
“Later this year, we will also be publishing a five-year action plan on how to reduce avoidable deaths, including for people with mental health problems.”
People prescribed anti-depressants should be aware they could be at increased risk of type 2 diabetes, say UK researchers.
The University of Southampton team looked at available medical studies and found evidence the two were linked.
But there was no proof that one necessarily caused the other.
It may be that people taking anti-depressants put on weight which, in turn, increases their diabetes risk, the team told Diabetes Care journal.
Or the drugs themselves may interfere with blood sugar control.
These findings fall short of being strong evidence that taking anti-depressants directly increases risk of type 2 diabetes”
Dr Matthew Hobbs of Diabetes UK
Their analysis of 22 studies involving thousands of patients on anti-depressants could not single out any class of drug or type of person as high risk.
Prof Richard Holt and colleagues say more research is needed to investigate what factors lie behind the findings.
And they say doctors should keep a closer check for early warning signs of diabetes in patients who have been prescribed these drugs.
With 46 million anti-depressant prescriptions a year in the UK, this potential increased risk is worrying, they say.
Prof Holt said: “Some of this may be coincidence but there’s a signal that people who are being treated with anti-depressants then have an increased risk of going on to develop diabetes.
“We need to think about screening and look at means to reduce that risk.”
Diabetes is easy to diagnose with a blood test, and Prof Holt says this ought to be part of a doctor’s consultation.
“Diabetes is potentially preventable by changing your diet and being more physically active.
“Physical activity is also good for your mental health so there’s a double reason to be thinking about lifestyle changes.”
Around three million people in the UK are thought to have diabetes, with most cases being type 2.
Dr Matthew Hobbs of Diabetes UK, said: “These findings fall short of being strong evidence that taking anti-depressants directly increases risk of type 2 diabetes. In this review, even the studies that did suggest a link showed only a small effect and just because two things tend to occur together, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one is causing the other.
“But what is clear is that some anti-depressants lead to weight gain and that putting on weight increases risk of type 2 diabetes. Anyone who is currently taking, or considering taking, anti-depressants and is concerned about this should discuss their concerns with their GP.”
The number of two-year-olds who have received the MMR vaccination in England is at its highest level since the jab was introduced more than 20 years ago.
But at 92.2%, coverage is still lower than the 95% target set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The MMR jab protects against measles, mumps and rubella.
The WHO says 95% is the level that offers “herd immunity” – where the whole population is protected because diseases are prevented from spreading.
The data for 2012-13, issued by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), showed coverage in nine out of 10 areas in England was above 90%.
It was highest in the north-west at 94.9%, but lowest in London at 87.1%.
Routine vaccination ‘vital’
The MMR jab was introduced to the UK in the late 1980s.
But a decade later vaccination rates plummeted after now discredited claims of a link between the MMR jab and autism.
The HSCIC report also looked at other childhood vaccinations. It found rates for most vaccinations were increasing.
Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said: “Routine vaccination in childhood is vital in protecting children from a range of infectious diseases, many of which have now been consigned to history.
“The findings from HSCIC’s report are a good indication that parents and children are increasingly able to access primary care to receive these vaccinations and to protect their health for the years to come.
“This is a good reminder to parents to ensure their child’s vaccinations are up-to-date, and, if not, to contact their GP.”