Monthly Archives: February 2012

February 28, 2012

Gary McKinnon with his mother, Janis Sharp. What role does his Asperger's syndrome play

A lot of the articles on autism is pretty much on the disadvantages and problems faced by those who are diagnosed with it. But there is some good news for those who have mild autism, especially individuals with skills that fall into the IT industry. New research suggests that the traits of autism can be found more frequently in people involved with computers.  So I am left comtemplating whether or not I possess the traits of autism myself?

That’s my comment…pass it on,

Dr Anthony


Powered by article titled “Autism: how computers can help” was written by Giulia Rhodes, for The Guardian on Sunday 26th February 2012 20.00 UTC

In 2001, the technology magazine Wired coined the phrase “geek syndrome” to describe the threefold increase in autism diagnoses in California’s Silicon Valley over the space of a decade.

The rumour that Bill Gates himself, founder of Microsoft and figurehead of the world IT industry, displays the traits of Asperger’s syndrome, the high-functioning form of autism, spread like wildfire, across – appropriately – the internet.

More than a decade later Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre is now running a study investigating the previously established link between parents working in hi-tech, scientific and mathematical industries and an increased incidence of children on the autism spectrum. The National Autistic Society reports in its latest member’s magazine that the number of software packages and apps designed specifically for people with autism is rocketing. IT companies in the UK and beyond are actively recruiting an autistic workforce for its highly technical and concentration skills.

The relationship between computers and autism is undisputed – and double-edged. Many autism experts agree with Temple Grandin, an author and professor at Colorado State University, herself autistic, who believes that without “the gifts of autism” there would probably be no Nasa or IT industry. Yet the high-profile cases of Gary McKinnon and Ryan Cleary, both of whom have Asperger’s syndrome, are just two examples of how that relationship can go wrong.

Last November a conference organised by Research Autism considered this apparent contradiction, asking are computers a blessing or a curse for people with autism? Richard Mills, director of research at the charity and chair of the conference, believes the answer is complicated: “The computer age totally changes the world of autism. Things are instant, and they are unregulated. We see tremendous advantages to this if it is properly managed – and huge pitfalls if it isn’t.”

The risks are not just for the small proportion who hit the headlines though. “We have so many parents concerned about their children’s computer use, and about the explosion of packages designed to help people with autism to communicate, which have not been properly evaluated. We must proceed with rather more caution and try to think through problems before they actually happen.”

The potential of computers to help a group that struggles to communicate and form relationships in real life is obvious. Professor Simon Baron Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre believes they outweigh the possible risks: “We can use computers to teach emotion recognition and to simplify communication by stripping out facial and vocal emotional expressions and slowing it down using email instead of face-to-face real-time modes.”

Research at Nottingham University and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh has found that people with autism value the increased control over their interactions that is afforded by the filter of a computer screen. They can observe interactions, choose when to be sociable and make contact with other people who have autism.

Presenting information visually in the precise and predictable computer format suits the autistic mind, says Baron Cohen, and can provide “a tool or platform for developing further skills”.

He also identifies the role of computers in making geeks fashionable: “The new technology is chic, so people who are talented at using technology acquire a certain kudos, thereby further reducing any stigma that is often associated with disability.”

One risk though is that the computer can itself become an obsession which, in extreme cases, leads the user into serious problems. The reports of Essex teenager Ryan Cleary, charged with a cyber-attack on the Serious Organised Crime Agency, leaving his computer only to use the bathroom, may be extreme but they are far from unique, says Mills: “We do need to think about the tendency in autism to become fixated on narrow activities. They may have the skills to use computers but not to know when to stop.”

In March it will be 10 years since Gary McKinnon’s arrest for allegedly hacking into a number of US military computers. High court judges last month set a July deadline for the home secretary to decide whether McKinnon will be extradited to face trial and a possible 60-year sentence. His mother, Janis Sharpe, is well aware of the dichotomy of computer use and autism. “When Gary was nine, we bought a primitive Atari,” she says. “He would beg me not to send him out to play so he could use it. We wanted him to mix more but we didn’t want to deny him the information, pleasure and security computers gave him. They were an outlet for him to be himself, and that boosted his self-esteem.”

She recalls accompanying her by-then-adult son to a Christmas party at the family home of a girlfriend. “Gary got his computer out. I told him he couldn’t use it at a party but he couldn’t understand.”

The relationship foundered, and McKinnon retreated further into his virtual world. “People with autism need space, and computers can offer that,” says Sharpe. “But we have to make sure they don’t take over and make other relationships, already difficult for people with autism, even harder.”

She advises parents to keep computers in communal spaces, limit their use and to help children learn to question what they read, guidelines which Mills supports. “This virtual world has to help people access the real world, not isolate them further. They must control it, not be controlled by it,” he says. “We have to reinforce the positives.”

For further information see and © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

February 25, 2012

Diet tube

There are many individuals who have tried all sorts of quick weight loss programs with poor results. In the end…many have turned to plastic surgery to attain the body they have always hoped for. Perhaps we are too impatient to shed the weight over the next 12 months…remember it has taken years to gain the weight…so it can take some time to take it off. Good old fashion calorie control and exercise is the best way to go. Tried not to succumb to the temptation of diet pills,quick weight loss fads,and plastic surgery. Slow and steady…you can reach your desire weight…

That’s my comment..pass it on

Dr Anthony    

Powered by article titled “How the world fell in love with quick-fix weight loss” was written by Amanda Mitchison, for The Guardian on Friday 24th February 2012 23.00 UTC

Ginevra Tamberi, a 21-year-old film studies student from Rome, has very tall, very skinny parents. Her brother can eat 4,000 calories a day and remains one of nature’s giraffes. But Ginevra is not so lucky. She eats one slice of bread and it goes down her throat and directly on to her bum.

Ginevra tried everything: the Aktins diet, the Dukan diet, the Scarsdale diet, the Zone diet, the cabbage diet, the onion diet. She saw a private nutritionist and a personal trainer. All to no avail.

In desperation she visited the plastic surgeon Marco Gasparotti. Ginevra says, “Everybody in Rome knows Gasparotti.” And everybody does, too: you cannot throw a brick in Italy and not hit Dr Gasparotti demonstrating his innovative techniques on some TV chat show. For Gasparotti is no slouch; he has a liposuction cannula to his name and has patented an elastocompressive cellulite-busting girdle called the Lipo Contour Elite Capri. He has also garnered countless international awards, and is at the very forefront of innovative ways of redraping skin and sucking out and resculpting fat that cannot be described to readers looking at this magazine over breakfast.

Ginevra went to Gasparotti for liposuction. She wanted, as it were, to be vacuumed down a couple of dresses sizes. But Gasparotti was not encouraging – liposuction, he said, was for improving shape and contour, not for comprehensive fat removal. Instead, Gasparotti had another, better trick up his sleeve: his new Diet Tube. A week later, after some medical tests, Ginevra returned to Gasparotti’s clinic and she came out with a piece of plastic tubing sticking out of her nose. One end of the tube went down into her stomach, the other was attached to a small electric pump.

For 10 days Ginevra wore the nasogastric tube. She ate nothing and the pump, working day and night, sent tiny amounts of a protein-filled liquid into her stomach to stave off hunger. The tube, she says, didn’t restrict her lifestyle. When she went out, she just popped the pump into her Prada bag and nobody in the street seemed to notice she had a tube up her nose. I find this surprising. Normally you notice when people have tubes up their noses, just as you also notice when they are wearing gas masks. But Rome is Rome.

On Diet Tube Ginevra experienced occasional moments of lassitude, but mostly she felt great. She says, “It was purifying everything. My skin was, like, unbelievable. It was so clean, so pure, like a baby’s. Amazing!” Ginevra grew used to the faint buzzing of the pump, and didn’t feel nauseous or hungry. But she did miss chewing. “So I was just having tea – green tea – all the time.”

Didn’t she get sick of the tea?

“If I see green tea now, I am going to die.”

And what did her friends think?

“They’re used to my strange stuff, my weird things.” And anything was better than the onion diet.

By the end of the 10 days, Ginevra had lost 7kg. She gave Diet Tube a break. Six months later, she had another go and lost a further 5kg. She is now a size 14, not a size 16–18. Her friends and family have also tried it. Ginevra’s aunt, another of the family’s non-giraffes, has lost 30kg. “My aunt is so happy, she could live on Diet Tube. I saw her with it and she was feeling so powerful. She was really putting herself into her cooking, making lasagne and parmigiana and polpettone and Mont Blanc.”

Last year, 1,500 patients underwent Diet Tube. Numbers are escalating – there are now eight Diet Tube clinics in Italy, centres in Barcelona, Athens and Madrid, and franchise negotiations underway for a dozen other countries, including the UK. The fact that such an outlandish procedure can flourish is hardly surprising. As a nation we are getting fatter and fatter. We are also watching too many makeover TV programmes and becoming increasingly susceptible to the idea of the quick fix. Ten Years Younger, and Extreme Makeover have a lot to answer for. Invasive beauty procedures have been normalised and there are so very many to chose from : face-lifts, eye tucks, tooth whitening, Botox, liposuction, laser, chemical peels, silicone injections, collagen red light therapy… By the time you are 50, you no longer have the face you deserve, but the face you can pay for.

The same holds true for waistlines. If, for whatever reason, you are not up to dieting or spending time in the gym, there are other short cuts. You can experiment with hypnotherapy or with algae or with Peter Foster’s spooky remedies. Or you can resort to non foods: egg white omelette, zero calorie jelly, oat bran, the abominable Dukan pancake. Or, you can take a very big breath, brace yourself and go for weight loss (or “bariatric”) surgery.

Here are the main options: gastric band, gastric balloon, gastric bypass and the relatively new gastric sleeve. I looked up my local weight-loss surgeons, the eminently respectable Bariatric Group. Their website goes into painful detail. The least invasive procedure is the gastric balloon, which fills up the patient’s stomach and gives them a feeling of fullness. The procedure is done under sedation: a silicone balloon is inserted endoscopically into the stomach and then filled up with blue saline solution. Why blue saline? Just in case the balloon bursts and starts to travel down and block up the intestines. The video voiceover says, “So if you do have a puncture and you start peeing green, then you know there’s a problem.” You bet.

The balloon is only temporary – it has to come out after six months. All the other options are permanent (though the band is reversible) and require a general anaesthetic. They all involve reducing the capacity of the stomach to a lesser or greater extent. The most extreme option is the gastric bypass, in which a section of the top of the stomach is stapled off to create a little pouch that is then attached directly to the intestine. The diagrams show just how radical this surgery is: all that the patient can use is a tiny pocket of stomach, and the now redundant, bypassed stomach and a tail of intestine are left lying there in the abdominal cavity like a dead puppy.

A gastric bypass is a major, make or break operation. Most patients are hugely fat and unfit, and 0.2% of them will die during or as a result of the operation. But the most common bariatric procedure in the UK is the gastric band, which involves an inflatable silicone ring being placed around the top of the stomach, thus reducing how much the patient can eat. The ring is connected to a filling port by a thin tube, so the band can be tightened or loosened by adding or reducing the fluid in the port.

A number of celebrities have had gastric bands: Fern Britton, Anne Diamond, Vanessa Feltz, Sharon Osbourne. But many normal mortals have also had the operation. Hollie Rogers, 23, had a gastric band fitted privately by the Bariatric Group when she was 19 and weighed 17 and a half stone (111kg). Her mum paid – nobody else knew how miserable being fat was making her.

The surgery, according to Hollie, was not a big deal. She had a pre-op diet, then one night in hospital for the operation itself and then a series of follow-up appointments at which they gradually filled up the port and tightened the band. Three years on, she has a one inch scar that “has pretty much faded.” What’s more, she is rather pleasingly bionic – with a slightly knobbly bit “underneath my boobs and above the middle of my belly button” where the port lies.

Thanks to the band, she has lost six and a half stone (41kg). The band, she says, “forces you to change your eating habits. It forces you to eat less.” In the old days, she’d have had her dinner and a couple of hours later would settle down to a takeaway or a bag of chips. Not now. “I eat the same amount as anyone who is eating healthily. And I can eat most things, except steak and bread. I mean, I can have one slice of bread, but not eight rounds of toast, which is what I did when I was overweight.”

She has never regretted the operation. She says, “I’m so glad I didn’t wait. In your 20s you want to go out and have fun. Before, I always felt I’d stand out for the wrong reason.” Hollie has released her first album. Recently, she went on a snowboarding holiday. She is having fun.

Thinnies can never know the misery and frustration suffered by the very overweight. It is a hellish cycle to be stuck in: the more you eat, the larger and hungrier you get. The larger you get, the harder it is to move and the more humiliating it is to put on a swimming costume. So you settle back and eat more. Eventually you reach the catastrophic tipping point: you are too large to exercise or even get up and down the stairs easily, and the biochemical regulatory systems in your body (the naturally released enzymes that suppress appetite) stop working properly. Now you are never sated. All you want to do is eat, eat, eat.

At this juncture, losing even as much as a stone (6.3kg) won’t do much. To make any appreciable difference to your health outcome – to reverse your type 2 diabetes, and get you off your blood pressure tablets and give your knees a rest and lower your cholesterol, you have to lose seven or nine or even 15 stone. For that, you will need to spend a very long time on a very low-calorie diet, and have the willpower of a Latin American despot.

Technically there is no reason why someone who is very heavy – 20 or 22 stone, say – should not be able to lose weight. But the surgeons think otherwise. Richard Welbourn, the clinical director of the Bariatric Group, calculates the answer thus: “If you have a Body Mass Index (a measurement based on an individual’s height and weight. A healthy BMI is anywhere between 18.5 and 24.9.) of 40 and you are seven stone overweight, it would be like walking across the Atlantic and running five marathons. That is the straight calorie equation. And running marathons makes you hungry.”

Meanwhile, Alberic Fiennes, president of the British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society, says, “If you have a BMI of 40-something, and you’ve been that way for several years, it is overwhelmingly likely to be irreversible – whatever the thin people think.”

Eating, Fiennes says, is in part an involuntary process: “It’d be like asking someone to hold their breath for 15 minutes. Most people can do it for one minute, or two minutes, or maybe four minutes if they’ve been doing diving practice. But 15 minutes? You can’t. You have to breathe. And when you breathe, you gasp.”

“There is a moral stigma to obesity,” continues Fiennes. “These people are seen as weak, and stupid and greedy. But obesity is a disease.”

Fiennes believes it is outrageous that we aren’t carrying out more bariatric surgery. There is, it seems, a postcode lottery with many primary care trusts and commissioning groups refusing or hugely restricting access. Last year, around 4,000 bariatric operations were carried out on the NHS. Yet, according to the guidelines set out by Nice (The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence), adults with a BMI of 40 or over (or a BMI of 35 with co-morbidities) should be considered for surgery. That means – shut your eyes for a minute before reading this frightening figure – 1.2 million people in the UK are eligible. We really are becoming a nation of whales.

There is no doubt that bariatric surgery, when carried out with the right medical and psychological pre- and post-operative care, can be hugely beneficial. It prevents premature death, vastly improves quality of life and is very cost-effective for the NHS (a recent study showed that 85% of severely obese patients with diabetes no longer suffered from the disease two years on from surgery). Dr David Haslam, a GP and the chair of the National Obesity Forum, says “I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of people’s lives transformed by bariatric surgery. It is positively life-saving.”

Nevertheless, bariatric surgery should be treated with extreme caution – as should any operation that entails removing or drastically curtailing a vital organ of the body. And while surgery opens some doors, it also sometimes seems to close others. A very low calorie diet maintained over months or even years is going to be a painful and uphill road, impossible to keep to without enormous amounts of moral support. But why would anyone – patient or health carer – persevere on such a programme when a permanent surgical remedy is available?

Take the case of Justine, a 49-year-old journalist who weighs over 20 stone (127kg). She has had weight problems since the age of four, when her teenage mother first put her on a diet. Two years ago she went to her local GP surgery to join up with Counterweight, an NHS-funded diet programme that provides one-to-one support to people wanting to lose weight.

This is Justine’s story: “The nurse said, ‘I can’t see you – you are too heavy for Counterweight.’ She told me that if you are over a certain weight or BMI, they send you to hospital. So, I went to my local hospital – it was a very strange meeting. I went along to see the doctor for what I thought was a meeting about Counterweight. He said, ‘What we find is that people of your age and weight find it impossible to keep the weight off. The only answer is surgery.’

I said, ‘That seems a bit radical. Do you have any other solutions?’

He said, ‘Well, not really, but would you like to see the dietician?’

“About seven and a half months later, I finally get the meeting with the dietician and I get on the scales and she was talking about surgery. And I said, ‘Is there no other option?’

She was very surprised. She said everybody wanted it – they were biting her hand off to get surgery. And I was apparently a good contender. Surgery: that was all they were interested in.”

So she went along to have her hand held, and all they wanted to do was cut her open?

“Yeah,” she says bleakly. “Something like that.”

There is a madness in our mindset about food. How can we have got so fat? How can we have failed so dismally to get so many people to eat properly? A lot of work on healthy eating is already done in schools and in GP surgeries, but the message isn’t getting home. How can it when food that is bad for you is so much cheaper, crunchier and more convenient?

Hopefully one day, when we have banned crisps and all orange breadcrumbed food, we will look back on today as the Dark Age Of Obesity. Maybe by then we will also have finally developed a safe appetite-suppressant drug and bariatric surgery will all but disappear. There is a precedent for this – when the drug cimetidine became available in the late 1970s, patients stopped being routinely given gastrectomies for gastric ulcers.

In the meantime, desperate patients can always travel to Rome for their nasogastric tube. Over a crackly telephone line I ask Dr Gasparotti about the Diet Tube diet. “It’s not a diet,” he says quickly. “It’s wrong to call it a diet. It is a nutritional protocol. A very strong motivational therapy.”

What’s so wrong with diets?

“Diets take too long. You say to these people, ‘It is very important, so keep to this diet and come back and see me in three or four months.’ They can’t do it. They go out to supper with a friend. They eat. But I say to them, ‘Give me 10 days of your life, OK? In 10 days you will have lost between 8% and 10% of your body weight. Don’t worry. You will get thinner. It is mathematical! It’s biochemical, OK?'”


“So it’s a fast – but with proteins. And as there are proteins, you don’t lose any muscle. You will eat nothing because you won’t be hungry. You won’t have any inconvenience. You can carry on working. You can have a shower, you can go swimming. We don’t recommend going to the gym for the first week, but these people don’t go to the gym anyway. And…” He pauses before the punchline: “You slim while you sleep!”

Gasparotti explains that Diet Tube was originally devised for the very overweight – for “enormous obese people who couldn’t even move”. He says, “We don’t just give it to anyone. You have to be over 18 and in good health. If I began to give it to girls who just wanted to lose two or three kilos, they’d shoot me!”

But a minute later he adds, “Understand. It is obvious. I have to say that in rare cases…” – at this point I can almost hear him rolling his eyes – “unmotivated people who aren’t able to move around much and are very lazy and want to lose eight or nine kilos. Well, of course one can do it for them, too.”

So if I get on a bus in Rome, will I see people with tubes in their noses? “It’s become a pretty common thing now. You see lots of lawyers and businessmen going about the city with their tubes and their briefcases.”

Isn’t that a bit extreme?

“Look,” he says darkly, “our life today is very neurotic, very fast. Nobody looks after themselves.”

Has he tried Diet Tube himself?

“Yes! Stavo benissimo. I felt happier. It was euphoric making.”

Like a medieval saint on a fast?

“Well, yes! Once, there was a week of fasting at Lent. And you only ate fish on Fridays. That’s all gone now.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

February 21, 2012

Women ninjas in Karaj, northwest of Tehran

Oh no Iran is building a force of trained ninjas… assassins …should I be afraid? I don’t think they will make any impact for any war campaign…it’s nice to see the ladies getting out for a bit of fresh air…coming to a community near you!

That’s my comment…pass it on..

Dr Anthony

Powered by article titled “Iran’s female ninjas: fighting for sexual equality” was written by Lucy Mangan, for The Guardian on Sunday 19th February 2012 20.00 UTC

For those times when Betty Friedan just isn’t enough … ninjutsu is here to help. Photographer Caren Firouz has been taking pictures of some of Iran’s estimated 3,500 female ninja-warriors-in-training. It turns out that when you’re denied basic human rights, restricted in your ability to dress how you want and mix with the people you choose, and when your legal testimony is officially recognised as being worth exactly half that of a man’s, you develop – if these images are anything to go by – a lot of rage.

For Iranian women, martial arts are an increasingly popular way of channelling it and ninjutsu one of the most popular choices within that. Purists argue that modern ninjutsu (which came to prominence in the 1970s) is not a martial art at all but a meaningless mishmash of moves and practices that have no connection with the covert arts of war practised by the true ninjas of ancient Japan. Of course, it’s a miracle that any of said purists made it through the Teenage Mutant You-Know-What years, so they should probably be left to mutter to themselves in peace.

For those of us less concerned with Japanese feudal history than with systematic depredations against the rights of women, the pictures seem to offer a more uplifting view of the situation in various parts of the Middle East than is offered in the traditional media narrative. Let’s hope they represent only the tip of an iceberg of resistance and refusal to be cowed by a regime that surely seeks to render women so subservient that even the possibility of hurling a throwing star at someone’s jugular ought to be unthinkable. More power to your shuriken-chucking elbows, ladies. More power to them. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

February 20, 2012

Marathon runners with motion blur

As we begin to say good-bye to the winter and hello to spring, many of us will be dusting off our running shoes to once more travel the wilderness back-roads. Our excitement sometimes cause over-sight in taking time to stretch and do the basic warm-up exercises to avoid running injuries. If you want to continue enjoying your sport, take the proper 15-20 minutes of warm-up exercises prior to any strenuous activity. See you at the finish line.

That’s my comment …pass it on..

Dr Anthony   

Powered by article titled “How to avoid running injuries” was written by Sarah Phillips, for The Guardian on Sunday 19th February 2012 21.30 UTC

If, like me, you are training for your first marathon, or are one of the many people who have recently taken up running, you will be obsessing about injuries – or rather, how to avoid them. Faced with various aches and pains and with no idea how to address them, I asked a range of experts for their advice.

The physio

Paul Hobrough is a chartered physiotherapist and runs Physio&Therapy.

“My ethos has always been prehab rather than rehab. Coming in at an early stage is far better than when you are actually injured, but it’s not as good as seeing a physio straight away when you decide to run a marathon.

“Mainly what we see are chronic injuries that build up slowly over time. The most common are knee-related: runner’s knee, patellofemoral pain syndrome, and iliotibial band friction syndrome. They are usually down to the fact that people have an ankle instability, or they are not controlling the legs well with their hip muscles.

The second most common is shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome. Then achilles tendinopathies and plantar fasciitis, on the under side of the foot.”You would struggle to get most people who didn’t want to run a marathon to balance for 20 seconds on one leg. They will almost certainly have an instability somewhere. If you get them to do something functionally close to running, such as a single leg squat, you will notice their knees deviating and hips swinging out laterally. These tests show me that this person isn’t running 26.2 miles without having a lower leg injury.My biggest bugbear is when people say they aren’t sure that they are going to take up running and use an old pair of running shoes they’ve had for years. And they get injured and wonder why. It’s so important to get that fitting done correctly. There is too much information out at the moment about barefoot running as opposed to supportive shoes. Fundamentally you need to get a good fitting somewhere that is well respected. If you want to take up barefoot running you should ideally have no history of injury, good mechanics and not be an overpronater.

“The minute that you feel a slight niggle, speak to somebody. Because if you’re thinking in eight weeks time I would like to enjoy running a marathon, being physically prepared and able to walk the week afterwards, then what are you waiting for? It makes no sense trying to run it off. There is no heroism involved.”

The elite runner

Liz Yelling is an Olympic marathon runner and Commonwealth Games medallist.

“I make sure that injury prevention is as much a part of my plan as the hard training. This includes a small amount of time spent stretching after each run, plus core stability and conditioning work, focusing on my personal weaknesses. I also have regular massage and physio checks to work on any tight areas that could cause a problem. This is supported by good nutrition and hydration, which help the body to recover faster.

“The biggest mistake people make is not listening to their body when they can feel an injury coming on. Pushing on regardless ends up with lost time and enforced rest when immediate action could have got runners back on track quicker. If I get an injury I rest immediately and seek my physio’s advice about the best action to take. This ensures that I am doing the right thing from day one and that I don’t waste time treating it incorrectly. It is only when I know what is wrong through accurate diagnosis that I can make a call on how long I will need to rest. If this is for a week or more I can then select the appropriate cross training to help sustain fitness while allowing the injury to recover.”

The coach

Phoebe Thomas coaches with Nick Anderson as Running With Us, official training partners of the Brighton Marathon.

“If there was just one muscle group I would encourage you to target, it is your glutes. This large set of muscles plays a huge role in stabilising each stride you take. They reduce rotation in the pelvic and hip area and assist in lower limb stability. The one-leg squat is an ideal exercise to strengthen the glutes: any overpronation will be reduced and you are less likely to suffer from the common running injuries that occur due to other muscles working in the wrong way.”

The podiatrist

Wayne Edwards, musculoskeletal podiatrist and director of operations of HFS Clinics.

“The vast majority of running injuries are due to poor foot function and poor muscle balance. When choosing a pair of running shoes ensure that they fit properly and feel comfortable. It is a myth that you need to go up a shoe size to ensure this comfort; half a size is adequate.People have a wide variety of foot shapes. Low-arched mobile feet need more support from the shoe – those available for this are often grouped as stability or motion control shoes. Average-arched feet can be accommodated in most neutral shoe designs. High-arched feet benefit from cushioning. We recommend that people go to a specialist running shop and have video gait analysis to work out the right shoe for them.”

The nutritionist

Mhairi Keil is a performance nutritionist for the English Institute of Sport

“Paying attention to the nutrients you are consuming is key for minimising injury. Correct nutrition will enhance muscular performance, optimise recovery, and support the immune system, helping to prevent illnesses and infections. Muscle damage caused during training will impact on subsequent sessions and failure to repair the tissue can accumulate, resulting in a greater muscle injury. Risk of injury is increased when muscles are fatigued, so pay attention to fuelling-up strategies and energy provision during long or intense runs.

“Nutrition can also play an essential role in the recovery of tissues should an injury occur. It is important to understand what the type of injury is, eg bone, muscular, tendon, as certain nutrients play a greater function depending on the tissue damaged. For example, nutrients essential for bone repair include calcium, vitamin D, protein, magnesium and copper. Muscle injuries would focus more on high quality proteins and antioxidants, along with vitamin C and zinc for cell replication. Tendon damage can be more difficult to support from a nutritional perspective, however factors that can help to control or reduce excessive inflammation such as the antioxidants found in green tea, omega 3s, polyphenols found in red kidney beans and berries, and resveratrol found in red grapes can play a role.”

The ultramarathon runner

Dean Karnazes is author of Run! 26.2 Stories of Blisters & Bliss.

“Work on building strength in the muscles of your legs by doing squats, lunges and using the cross-trainer in the gym. Having strong leg muscles will support your joints and tendons, which take a pounding when training for a marathon. Being in good overall shape helps to support your stride and posture as the miles add up. Train hard one day then do a lighter training session the next to allow your body recovery.

“Don’t run in shoes that are overbuilt or have extensive motion control gimmicks built into them. An increasing volume of literature is pointing toward the benefits of ‘minimalist’ footwear.

“If there is time to work on your style, avoid landing on your heel and rolling to your toe. Shorten your stride and land midfoot with quicker foot turnover. Studies show that heel-to-toe rolling leads to overuse injuries.”

The doctor

Dr Rod Jaques is director of medical services at the English Institute of Sport and has attended four Olympics with the British team.

“I would advise a novice marathon runner to buy a good quality pair of running shoes, worth £60+. You should change these for every 300-400 miles of training.There is no golden recipe: it is very idiosyncratic and depends on your own training base. When you get up to a reasonable level of fitness you should periodise your training so that you have hard weeks followed by easy weeks. This provides an opportunity for your bone and soft tissues to recover.

“You have to do at least three runs in excess of 15 miles in the lead up to the marathon. This is to prepare yourself psychologically and physically that you can go over 15 miles. On the day you will do 26.2, but there is evidence that if you train between two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half hours, you’re going to be able to make four or four and a half hours. The crowd effect is very important and that helps to carry you through the last six miles of the race, which will be equivalent to the first 20 miles of the race, in terms of effort. People often describe it as being two races: one to 20 miles and from 20 to 26 miles.

“If you have a cold, feel fatigued or have an injury, have an easy day training or you don’t train at all. It’s not imperative to train every single day. What is important is to balance your training with your recovery. Taper training prior to the race then do not run for seven days beforehand to allow your glycogen stores to build up to maximum levels. Psychologically you are itching to get going but physically your fuel stores really do have to be absolutely topped up and you can’t drain them. There is no point entering the race with slight aches. You really need to be absolutely fresh because it’s going to be a very hard day.”

The Kenyan way

Adharanand Finn spent a year in Kenya training with elite runners. His book, Running with the Kenyans, is published by Faber & Faber on 5 April.

“The best thing that we can learn from Kenyans about preventing injuries is not to be afraid to skip a training session if you’re tired. Their mantra is ‘listen to your body’. Pushing things when you are over-tired is a common reason for injuries. One of the top coaches in Kenya told me that because it can be hard to get decent treatment for injuries they are more careful not to overdo things. ‘We ride close to the edge here,’ he says, ‘but, when we get too close, we have to pull back.’ It helps that Kenyans don’t count up their weekly mileage, which means they’re less inclined to feel bad about missing a session. Of course all of this could be easily misinterpreted by those inclined to feel lazy before a run. The reason Kenyans can take such a relaxed approached and still be successful (I’m generalising here, but it is widely true) is because they are so highly motivated to succeed that they wouldn’t skip a session unless they felt it was really necessary.”

The biomechanics expert

Dr Joanna Scurr is head of the biomechanics research group in the department of sport & exercise science at the University of Portsmouth

“We have been investigating appropriate breast support for sport, particularly running, for the past seven years. Our research has shown that sports bras can improve sporting performance, reduce breast pain and reduce the risk of breast sag. However, there is no such thing as the ultimate sports bra. Appropriate breast support is very individual and therefore we recommend that women try on the sports bra before purchasing; jump up and down in the changing room to determine how much support you think the bra will provide, move your arms and upper body around to determine whether the bra will stay in place.”

The gait specialist

Boris Bozhinov is a gait analysis specialist for Nike.

“Pretty much everyone who is training seriously overpronates. So you need support or cushioning to take the force when your feet hit the ground. I recommend training with several different shoes that provide a mixture of support, so you can improve your muscles. It won’t happen straight away but will build up in time and lessen your chance of getting injured.”

Share your own tips and experiences of running injuries below © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

February 18, 2012

Young woman with pomegranate

Some foods are not too pretty to look at but eating them provide nutrition we need so much. Many exotic fruits are usually overlooked, because the general public has not been exposed to them. So the next time you are in the vegetable and fruit section, look for something that looks foreign and experiment a little by taking it into your next meal. 

That’s my comment… pass it on,

Dr Anthony

Powered by article titled “How to eat yourself happy” was written by Robin McKie, for The Observer on Saturday 17th September 2011 23.03 UTC

“Foods to be avoided: beefe, venison, hare, heavy wines, cabbage, fresh-water fish.” With these words the 17th-century Oxford don Robert Burton outlined – in The Anatomy of Melancholy – his recipe for avoiding depression and achieving mental wellbeing. What you ate determined your happiness and soundness.

Hare was to be shunned with particular vigour, he argued. It is “hard of digestion, breedes incubus… and causeth feerful Dreames. So doth all Venison”. By contrast, lean meats are best, as are “all manner of brothes, pottage, with borage, lettuce and such wholsome herbs are excellent good”. For good measure, “egges are justified, butter and oyle may passe, while… sugar and hony are approved”. Similarly, “the thinnest, whitest, smallest wine is best, not thicke, not strong”.

Burton’s book is a comprehensive analysis of the state of knowledge in the 17th century of the condition we now call depression and it assumes that diet is crucial to mental health. “Burton took it for granted, as did the rest of Britain, that a healthy body and a healthy mind went together,” says Erin Sullivan, an expert on Burton, at the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon. “The right meat and drink were therefore seen as being crucial to mental wellbeing.”

Medicine has since made remarkable progress in revealing the origins of illness – with the possible exception of understanding how food might influence mood. Great claims are made for dietary supplements as depression treatments but they are controversial. As Paul Fletcher, a professor of health neurosciences at Cambridge University says: “Most claims made on behalf of isolated supplements and dietary components are unsubstantiated.” The jury is out, in other words.

Nevertheless, many scientists remain convinced of a link. Dr Sadaf Farooqi, of the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, believes research supports the idea that food can influence our moods and emotions. “Consider the naturally occurring enzyme monoamine oxidase which our bodies use to break down amino acids in our food,” she says. Some individuals suffer from an inherited lack of that enzyme and so cannot properly metabolise products like cheese and red wine and have extreme reactions to themt. They have headaches and act aggressively.

“Now that is an extreme reaction, I admit,” Farooqi adds. “However, levels of monoamine oxidase differ widely among people. These subtle variations could therefore contribute to predispositions to all sorts of behavioural and mood problems. So yes, food does affect mood and in different ways. It is just very difficult to pinpoint the mechanisms involved.”

These points are backed by Professor Andy Smith, of Cardiff University. “Men and women certainly act as if they expect food to affect their behaviour – by consuming products that have virtually no nutritional value, such as alcohol or caffeine, because they know these are going to affect their moods.”

Smith also believes foods affect mood though he is equally sure these effects are delicate and tricky to isolate. Certainly the field of nutrition and emotion is bedevilled with methodological problems. “Often, when we appear to have isolated a food that seems to trigger a change in mood, we find what is really going on is the reverse. Mood is affecting choice of food.”

Smith looked at studies which suggested that individuals who sat down for carefully cooked breakfasts tended to have more positive outlooks on the day ahead compared with those who did not have breakfasts. From this, it was argued that a good meal sets you up for the day. The idea does not survive detailed scrutiny, however.

“We examined those people who had positive outlooks and found they had them whether or not they had breakfast. They were just that kind of person. They had a big breakfast because they were feeling good and were ready to get on with the day. Other people don’t feel like that when they get up and there is no good trying to persuade them to sit down and have a leisurely meal.”

Similarly, research on chocolate has shown that this also has an over-rated impact on the psyche. “There is some slight evidence that chocolate triggers the release of opiate-like chemicals in the brain but really its relationship with our emotions operates in the reverse direction,” says Smith. “We seek out a chocolate snack when we feel upset or are emotional because, in the past, we have had pleasant associations with it. That is why it is a comfort food.”

Professor David Benton at Swansea University split subjects into two sections and played “jolly” music (from Delibes’s ballet Coppélia) to one while the other was subjected to Prokofiev’s despair-inducing Russia under the Mongolian Yoke. “It was a toss-up between Prokofiev and Leonard Cohen,” Benton admits. “Prokofiev only won narrowly.”

Then the two groups were shown how to obtain chocolate drops by pressing a keyboard button on a computer linked to a dispenser. Those that just endured the Prokofiev clicked their computers almost three times more often than those that had listened to Coppélia, so desperate were the former to cheer themselves up. Mood clearly has a strong role in food choice.

To further complicate the picture, our beliefs about food can lead us to exaggerate any real nutritional impact they might have on our emotional state, adds Smith. “In one experiment, subjects were given a choice of cereal or a muffin to eat. Those taking the former believed they selected the healthier choice and their moods tended to be better afterwards. In fact, the researchers had picked muffins and cereals that were of almost identical nutritional value. The elevated moods of those who ate cereals were merely the result of their beliefs – or delusions, if you prefer – about what they had eaten.”

US researchers who fed pieces of carrot to children found that the subjects rated those presented in McDonald’s fries wrappers as being tastier than bits of carrot that were plainly wrapped. In reality, there was no difference.

Given these problems, establishing any kind of causative link between food and mood might appear near impossible. Nevertheless researchers have unearthed connections. Doris Stangl, at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, does research on the adult hippocampaus, one of the few areas of the brain where new neurones continue to form throughout life, a process known as neurogenesis. The level of neurogenesis is closely linked to cognition and emotional states: essentially if new neurones are encouraged to grow, memory will improve while the likelihood of depression decreases. Crucially, Stangl’s research has found that diet can affect the growth of neurones in the hippocampus.

“We found that intermittent fasting – eating fully one day and taking no food the next day – had a substantial impact on the growth of new neurones,” she says. “In addition, reducing calorie intake by around 30% also boosted neural growth. In other words, meal frequency and calorie intact can affect neural growth. Now we are investigating meal content to see if that has an impact.”

Stangl also points to studies that suggest that omega-3 fatty acids, found in high levels in fish, can alleviate depression. “I am convinced that the food we eat has an impact on our emotions,” she adds. “I am not saying specific foods are going to be cures for depression but equally I do think that diet can have an impact on our moods.”

Other research focusing on the neurotransmitter serotonin suggests this confidence is not misplaced. Low levels of serotonin in the brain are associated with depression. Indeed, most antidepressants act by raising serotonin levels. And this is where foods could play a role in mood regulation, some scientists argue.

They say that diets rich in carbohydrates will raise blood glucose levels and trigger a cascade of chemical changes that will increase levels of the amino acid tryptophan, a key component of serotonin, which would then raise amounts of the neurotransmitter, boosting mood.

“It’s a convincing argument – though my studies suggest the amounts of carbohydrate needed to trigger a noticeable change in mood would be unrealistically high,” added Benton.

“On the other hand, our studies do back the idea that carbohydrates improve mood. We asked 650 people what they had eaten that morning and found there was a distinct correlation between those who said they were happier and those who had eaten pasta or other carbohydrate-rich foods. I think there is a link though the mechanism involved is not yet clear.”

It is not just what you eat that is important, says Ursula Werneke, a Swedish psychiatrist, it is the manner in which you consume it. “Meals give you a chance to stop and take a break from the stress of the day,” she says. “More and more people eat at their desks and that is not healthy. You should take half an hour out of your schedule and relax. Grabbing a bite out of a paper bag is not going to do your mental health much good.”

And similarly, when you get home, you should cut out the grazing, adds Werneke. “Have proper meals, relax and improve your general well-being – that is what food can do for your mental health.”
Robin McKie is introducing A Feast to Cure Melancholy at Wellcome Collection, London NW1 on November 11 and 12 © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

February 18, 2012

Cigarettes on display at an English tobacconists.

Kids want to cool and smoking allows them to go against society rules…I like to call be the James Dean Syndrome . When there’s an opportunity to break the rules and get away with it…this is a source of excitement for youths. So the consequences of their actions does not come into play at the moment, unless they are caught and may aware of their lack of judgement. So as parents we must keep an ever-lasting watch on them.

That’s my comment…pass it on,

Dr Anthony

Powered by article titled “Why plain packaging will not stop youths smoking” was written by Richard White, for The Guardian on Tuesday 20th September 2011 15.00 UTC

Australia’s health minister Nicola Roxon is aiming for the country to be the first to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes. In what she calls a “courageous” move against the tobacco industry, legislation is expected to come into force on 1 July 2012 that will make all packets a uniform olive green with the name of the brand in small type. The World Medical Association has called on other governments to follow Australia’s example.

Here in the UK, health secretary Andrew Lansley says he wants to look at the idea of introducing plain packaging so that brightly-coloured cigarette packets do not lure youths into smoking. The coalition government will launch an official consultation by the end of the year to discuss introducing plain packaging in England as part of its tobacco control plan. It is unlikely to happen soon, however, as ministers and the Department of Health have stated that they want to judge the effectiveness of the measure in Australia before making a firm decision.

The immediate rhetoric in favour of plain packaging is the protection of children: that by having dull, plain packages, minors, and indeed non-smokers, will not be tempted to buy a packet on impulse, having been enticed by the shiny packet. The measure is an extension of the ban on tobacco companies advertising their products.

No evidence exists, however, to suggest that anyone “impulsively” buys cigarettes, nor is there evidence that the policy would make any difference to smoking rates as no country has yet implemented it. Just as a teetotaller would not be persuaded to take up drinking just because WKD is colourful, there is nothing to suggest that non-smokers start smoking because the packet has fancy emblems. In fact, with large text warnings on the front and graphic pictures on the back taking up a large portion of the packaging, there is little left of the manufacturers’ own designs.

A display ban in England has already been agreed on, which will come into effect from next year for large stores and 2015 for smaller shops such as newsagents, and if tobacco is being hidden then no one, child or adult, will be able to see the packets whether they are plain or decorated with flashing lights.

Behind the counter

We already have measures to stop children smoking. Cigarettes are always, without exception, kept behind the counter so neither child nor adult has any access to buying tobacco without the cashier physically handing it to them. Even if we accept the rationale that people impulsively want to smoke because the packet lures them in like fish to a worm on a hook, minors are still faced with the problem of needing to be in possession of identification proving they are over 18. Unlike alcohol, cigarettes cannot be pinched off the shelf and placed into a minor’s pocket as they hurry out the door and around the back to spark up.

Indeed, if anything, alcohol is a far bigger concern because children can simply pick up a bottle of spirits, place it in their rucksack and walk out. Within minutes, they could suffer alcohol poisoning which could lead to death. There are other dangerous things in a shop that minors can impulsively take, such as paracetamol, but tobacco is not one of them.

As for existing smokers, people still buy alcohol with plain labels so it is unlikely smokers will be deterred by plain packaging. Rather, we may just see an increase in cigarette cases, which would allow minors to be as creative as possible, thus potentially encouraging them to take up the habit.

The NHS Information Centre report, Statistics on Smoking: England, 2011 noted that last year over a quarter of children aged 11–15 had tried smoking while 5% confessed to being regular smokers.

Undoubtedly, plain packaging will fail in reducing youth smoking rates because counterfeit cigarettes are far cheaper and the criminals selling them will not require identification proving the buyer to be over 18 – rates might even increase.

The real danger lies in the smuggling trade. With cigarettes now the most widely smuggled legal product and about 85% of cheap cigarettes sold on London streets being counterfeit, introducing a policy that would only make it easier for criminal outfits to mimic a packet should be cause for grave concern.

• Richard White is the author of Smoke Screens: The Truth About Tobacco and writes about the latest policies on tobacco control. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

February 15, 2012

Depressed man with his head on his arms

The hippocampus is the part of the brain involved in memory and organization.  The hippocampus is shaped like a horse-shoe structure, with one half located in the left brain and the other half in the right hemisphere. The hippocampus is associated with emotional response. Coupled with memory and emotional response, we can see where an abusive childhood memories are stored and eventually acted on later in life. Future studies could unravel more effective means of treatment directed into the hippocampus and thus erasing memories of abuse. 

That’s my comment…pass it on

Dr Anthony

Powered by article titled “Childhood abuse may stunt growth of part of brain involved in emotions” was written by Alok Jha, science correspondent, for The Guardian on Monday 13th February 2012 20.00 UTC

Being sexually or emotionally abused as a child can affect the development of a part of the brain that controls memory and the regulation of emotions, a study suggests.

The results add to the growing body of evidence that childhood maltreatment or abuse raises the risk of mental illnesses such as depression, personality disorders and anxiety well into adulthood.

Martin Teicher of the department of psychiatry at Harvard University scanned the brains of almost 200 people who had been questioned about any instances of abuse or stress during childhood. He found that the volumes of three important areas of the hippocampus were reduced by up to 6.5% in people exposed to several instances of maltreatment – such as physical or verbal abuse from parents – in their early years.

“The exquisite vulnerability of the hippocampus to the ravages of stress is one of the key translational neuroscience discoveries of the 20th century,” wrote Teicher on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Early clues of the relationship came when scientists found that raising stress hormones for extended periods in rats reduced the number of neurons in the hippocampal areas, a result that has since been replicated in many non-human primates.

Other work has shown that people with a history of abuse or maltreatment during childhood are twice as likely to have recurrent episodes of depression in adulthood. These individuals are also less likely to respond well to psychological or drug-based treatments.

In the new study, Teicher’s team scanned the brains of 73 men and 120 women aged between 18 and 25. The volunteers filled in a standard questionnaire used by psychiatrists to assess the number of “adverse childhood experiences”.

Overall, 46% of the group reported no exposure to childhood adversity and 16% reported three or more forms of maltreatment, the most common being physical and verbal abuse from parents. Other factors included corporal punishment, sexual abuse and witnessing domestic violence.

The sample did not include people on psychiatric medication or anyone who had been exposed to other stressful events such as near-drownings or car accidents.

Andrea Danese, a clinical lecturer in child and adolescent psychiatry at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, who was not involved in the study, said Teicher’s results took scientists a step closer to understanding the complex relationship between childhood maltreatment and brain development. “The large sample size allows for reliable detection of even comparatively small effects of maltreatment on the brain, whereas the recruitment from the general population allows for a less biased interpretation of the study, which builds on previous research often carried out in psychiatric patients.”

The high-resolution brain imaging analysis allowed Teicher to home in on minute areas of the hippocampus and explore the association between maltreatment and this brain region in finer detail than ever before. “This is important because not all areas in the hippocampus are equally sensitive to the effect of stress mediators, such as cortisol and inflammatory biomarkers,” said Danese. “Thus, the authors took advantage of this gradient to indirectly test the mechanisms through which childhood maltreatment could affect the brain.”

One limitation of the study might be that it required the volunteers to recall their childhood experiences, added Danese. “The findings are based on the perceptions and memories that participants have of their childhood rather than on objective events. This may be problematic because some groups of individuals could be more or less prone than others to report experiences of maltreatment. This ‘recall’ bias has been described in individuals with a history of depression, who may be more likely to report abuse.”

However, Teicher’s team was able to test whether a history of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder might explain his observed effects of childhood maltreatment on the hippocampus, and showed that the results were independent of these factors.

Danese said future studies would need to clarify further the direction of the effect. “Although the authors report that childhood maltreatment is associated with smaller hippocampus regions, it is possible that these abnormalities pre-dated and possibly facilitated maltreatment exposure. Longitudinal and twin studies will help to clarify this issue.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

February 14, 2012

Conceptual computer artwork depicting nanotechnology

Just like in the pages of a science fiction story….nanotechnology can possibly give us the option of living longer…who wouldn’t want to stick around a little longer?…If I had the choice…I would extend life and start another journey…But if we all started living longer…what would be the impact on the earth’s natural resources, more people means more water is needed, more humans …more pollution…more strain on our health-care system…initially more people may seem like an ok idea but society would need to make adjustments in every area to sustain life. Who would have the final say on who gets to live longer? Still that technology is a long way from becoming a reality…or perhaps it’s already here!

That’s my comment…pass it on,

Dr Anthony

Powered by article titled “A closer look at extending life” was written by David Adam, for on Tuesday 14th February 2012 00.01 UTC

On the panel

Alok Jha, (Chair), Science correspondent, The Guardian

Prof Shervanthi Homer-Vanniasinkam, consultant vascular surgeon, Leeds General Infirmary

Prof Kostas Kostarelos, chair of nanomedicine, University of London

David Willetts, minister for universities and science

Prof Mark Miodownik, materials scientist and engineer, University College London

Dr Leonard Fass, visiting professor Imperial College; director academic relations, GE Healthcare

Prof Peter Dobson, director, Oxford Begbroke; chief strategic adviser to Research Councils UK for nanotechnology

There comes a point with all new technologies, however exciting and cutting-edge they are thought to be, that the big question gets asked by members of the public: “So, just what can it do for me?” And so it is with nanotechnology – the science of the very, very small.

The promise is certainly there, and so are some early applications: glass that “cleans” itself, for instance, and tiny additives that improve the performance of everything from car bumpers to suntan lotion. But what about the really big issues of the day? Can nanotechnology help with human health? As a progressively ageing population places an increasing and heavy strain on health services (the number of Europeans aged over 65 is predicted to rise by nearly 40% by 2030), can nanotechnologies contribute to living a longer and more productive life? This was the central question a panel of experts and invited audience members were asked last month at a special seminar convened by the Guardian and sponsored by Nanochannels, an EU-funded project, which is running a wider nanotechnology-awareness education project. Or as a 14-year-old school pupil from the audience put it more directly to the panel: “How much longer will I live because of nanotechnology?”

Dealing with that conundrum were a number of nanotechnology experts: Dr Leonard Fass, director of academic relations, GE Healthcare; Prof Shervanthi Homer-Vanniasinkam, consultant vascular surgeon, Leeds General Infirmary; Prof Kostas Kostarelos, chair of nanomedicine, University of London; Prof Peter Dobson, chief strategic adviser to Research Councils UK for nanotechnology; and Prof Mark Miodownik, materials scientist and engineer, University College London. Also participating, and there to offer the official line from the UK government, was David Willetts, universities and science minister. As well as answering questions from the audience the panel also responded to enquiries raised on Twitter, which were posted by people who were following the discussion on a live webcast .

The overwhelming mood from the panel, as you would expect from those involved in the field so directly, was one of optimism about the contribution nanotechnology could make. Nano-tools would “completely change our perception of medicine”, said Dobson, while Fass predicted that “our bathrooms will become our analytical laboratories”. Homer-Vanniasinkam said that nanotechnology had ushered in a long-promised age of advances in medicine. “I truly believe we are in a golden era. And we have a responsibility to take that into clinical practice.”

Notes of caution

There were notes of caution. Miodownik pointed out that nanotechnology was a technology that was revolutionary, but also daunting. In principle, he said, it could allow scientists and medics to manipulate molecules and so change the way cells behave – for good and bad. “If we change cells then we can change hair, skin and the brain. We can change a person and they may get better, or they may get worse.”

Kostarelos looked to ancient Rome to make a modern point. Like Janus, the Roman god with two faces who looked simultaneously forwards and backwards, scientists working on nanotechnology, and society more broadly, need to consider the “dichotomy” of the technology, he said. Nanotechnology could be seen as a scientific marvel or a health hazard, he said, it could offer the dream of tiny “machines” to fix individual cells, or the nightmare of asbestos-like particles stuck in the lungs. “We need to understand there are these dichotomies,” he said. “And we must avoid hype, both positive and negative hype.”

The same can be said of most technologies, of course, which can be viewed as beneficial or dangerous, depending on how they are used. And many on the panel were keen to stress that nanotechnology was, in a way, nothing new. The ancient Scots scraped blue nanoparticles on to their faces to scare invaders, Fass said, while small molecules such as liposomes and colloids – now classed by many as part of the nanotechnology toolbox – are common and in widespread use, for instance, in pharmaceuticals. “Nanotechnology is not new. It’s just the name that has changed, so there is more interest.” And the term “nanotechnology” is broad and encompasses many different techniques and ambitions, which, some on the panel argued, make generalisation, for good or bad, unhelpful. “All the advice I get,” Willets said, “is that behind the word ‘nanotechnology’ there is a range of nanotechnologies, with different risks and in different sectors, which do not require an equal level of regulation.”

Still, there is something undeniably different about new nanotechnologies being developed for medicine: the tiny scale they are being designed to operate on. Miodownik compared the functioning of a cell to a large city to make the point. If a cell were the size of a city such as London, then a nanometer, the scale on which nanotechnologies operate, would be about the size of a car. Nanotechnology could be used to manipulate these cars he said, or make totally new types of car, with new functions. “Imagine a city where nobody collects the rubbish, well we could invent a rubbish truck. It is that complex.”

It may sound like science fiction, but new nanoparticles – Miodownik’s “cars” – are already being used in medicine today. Homer-Vanniasinkam explained how she was using them to find potentially dangerous areas of arteries in patients with heart disease – responsible for a third of deaths in Europe. Clinical trials of the particles that can identify build ups of fibrin plaques, and then show up on scans of the patient, are diagnosing the condition earlier, she said. “That technology is now with us,” she said.

But how do we know it is safe? Several people in the audience raised the concern that it was premature to start using nanotechnology in medicine before all the risks were known. Similar worries emerged on the Twitter feed. Sunscreens that use nanoparticles have been banned in Australian schools, for example, because of health fears. “They have been banned for no good reason,” Dobson complained.

“We cannot be absolutely sure about the risks,” Homer-Vanniasinkam conceded. “But we can get as much safety built in as possible, and that means getting clinicians involved.” She added: “To deny the use of technology because we’re afraid of it would be to miss an opportunity.”

Unlike many consumer products, medical uses of new technology, including nanotechnology, undergo years of clinical trials to establish that they work and are safe, Kostarelos said. On regulation, Willetts said that suitable frameworks for applications in medicine and food already existed. “We need to check the regulatory framework we have already got properly includes nanotechnology. If they have to be updated, fine.”

Willetts said that nanotechnology had now moved past the early research stage and was moving into the area of applications. The government was looking to help companies bridge the so-called “valley of death” in the development road, which stops many promising technologies from progressing to commercial use. There is some way to go with healthcare technologies, he admitted, particularly in getting them into use in the NHS, which is too often a late-adopter of technology.

One problem with nanotechnology development, Kostarelos suggested, is the high cost of the infrastructure and equipment needed to work and innovate with nanomaterials, such as microscopes and clean rooms. That compares unfavourably, he said, with fields of technology such as the development of mobile phone apps and the emerging scientific sub-field of synthetic biology, which are much easier, and so cheaper, for people to explore. But then, many on the panel agreed, the potential benefits make the challenge one worth taking up. Technology working on the smallest scale, Miodownik said, could have the most powerful impact.

“We have got to be patient and we have got to be optimistic,” Homer-Vanniasinkam, said. “But we will get there.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

February 13, 2012

Brown Sugar Cubes

We all love it…sugar…with it we can make all sorts of delicious treats…cookies,cakes,frostings,pudding,candy,syrup for our pancakes,ice cream,and many other dishes and recipes right out of the pages of betty crocker…but after years of  spooning  sugar down our gullets, our bodies begin rejecting the very thing that has given us so much pleasure. Our inner metabolism begin experiencing adverse reactions from our sugar coated life styles. New cases of diabetes and diabetic related diseases are on the rise in every country.  Take charge of your health today and start cutting back on sugar and calories…live longer..stick to a plan…make the commitment..

That’s my comment…pass it on,

Dr Anthony

Powered by article titled “Sugar: it’s time to get real and regulate” was written by Jacqueline Windh, for on Monday 13th February 2012 16.30 UTC

Last week, a trio of American scientists led by Robert Lustig, professor of clinical paediatrics at the University of California, published an article in the journal Nature, outlining the toxic effects that sugar has on humans and arguing for governmental controls on its sale and distribution. While the authors come short of labelling sugar a “poison” outright, in a 2007 interview with ABC Radio about excess sugar consumption, Lustig said: “We’re being poisoned to death. That’s a very strong statement, but I think we can back it up with very clear scientific evidence.”

That evidence has been growing – particularly in the western world, where consumption of sugar is increasing rapidly. Globally, sugar consumption has tripled in the past 50 years. But, it turns out, the greatest threat to human health is one type of sugar in particular: fructose.

In the US, per-capita consumption of fructose, a common food additive there – mainly in the form of high-fructose corn syrup – has increased more than 100-fold since 1970. Although fructose is not a common added sweetener in the UK and other countries, sucrose is; sucrose contains 50% fructose. Lustig and his co-authors note that last year, the United Nations announced that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) had, for the first time, overtaken infectious diseases in terms of the global health burden. Non-communicable diseases now account for 63% of all deaths, and that total is expected to increase by a further 17% over the next decade.

The scientists cite growing evidence that our increasing consumption of sugar is partly responsible for the growth of NCDs: diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and the suite of symptoms known as metabolic syndrome. And they argue that, as for substances known to cause NCDs such as tobacco and alcohol, sales and distribution of sugar should be controlled, and products with added sugar should be taxed.

I used to be a sugar addict. And yes, for those who haven’t found out first-hand, sugar is addictive; perhaps not to the same degree as alcohol and tobacco, but a recent study has shown that sugary foods, or even just the expectation of eating sweets, can trick the brain into wanting more. When I decided to cut my sugar consumption 12 or so years ago, I had no idea of the serious health concerns that excess sugar consumption brings. I only wanted to avoid the so-called “empty calories” that sugar provides. I had noticed that eating cookies and desserts was making me feel lethargic.

Sugar, and in particular fructose, affects metabolism. Unlike glucose, fructose can only be metabolised in the liver. Some of its effects on the human body include increasing levels of uric acid, which raise blood pressure; increased fat deposition in the liver; and interference with the insulin receptor in the liver. This inhibits ability of the brain to detect the hormone leptin, which regulates appetite. So beyond the empty calories that fructose provides, eating it makes you want to eat more.

When I started reducing my sugar intake, I had no intention of cutting it out completely. Reducing my consumption was a gradual process, over many years. Sugar had been used as a reward when I was a child, and sweets were still a comfort food for me. But I found that the less of it I ate, the less I craved it. Today, I barely eat sweetened foods at all. If I were to eat what to most North Americans or Europeans is an “average” dessert serving, I would feel sick. Avoiding sugar is no longer an exercise in willpower; I have developed a revulsion for it. I feel that I have brought my body back to its original state. Sugar, in anything other than small quantities, feels like a poison to me.

Illnesses related to dietary choices do not affect only the individuals who become sick; they affect us all, as a society. The US alone spends $150bn on healthcare resources for illness related to metabolic syndrome. Of course, I would like to think that governmental regulation of a food-item such as sugar is not necessary. I do place value on an individual’s right to choose, and on personal responsibility. But in the case of sugar, it’s time to get real. The incidence of preventable diseases such as Type 2 diabetes is increasing and many health authorities have expressed concern that our current youth may be the first generation that does not live as long as their parents.

Most of us have known for some time that excess sugar is not good for us, but education and knowledge are clearly not enough. Regulation is required. This is no longer an issue of personal responsibility, but one of public expenditure and public health.

• Follow Comment is free on Twitter @commentisfree © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

February 13, 2012

Cream pot

Why not? I think using a moisturiser is a good idea for both men and women. You face gets hit daily by the sun,wind,pollution….just about everything imaginable comes into contact with your face…even your boss tries to get in some face time…yeah talk to the hand buddy…so you need to give your face a little love and tenderness…a good washing and a moisturiser done nightly before bed-time will do…

That’s my comment …pass it on…

Dr Anthony    

Powered by article titled “Dr Dillner’s health dilemmas: should I use moisturiser?” was written by Luisa Dillner, for The Guardian on Sunday 12th February 2012 20.59 UTC

There’s so much hype around moisturisers that you have to wonder how good they really are. How can a potion revive skin that has been battered by cold winds and dried up from the central heating? As we get older our skin becomes more dry and wrinkly. So can a moisturiser rid your skin of the fine lines of ageing and plump it up to its teenage glory days? And does an expensive jar of exclusive cream do anything more than a cheap pot from the supermarket?

The solution

Moisturisers contain humectants (eg glycerine) that attract water and keep it in the skin. They also contain emollients and are usually blended with oils then emulsified into a cream, which acts as a barrier against external irritants.

Between the cells in the outer layer of skin are sebum and lipids that give the skin its fresh, plump look. As we get older we lose these and our skin looks dull and dry. Moisturisers, by rehydrating the skin, refill the cell space.

“By attracting water back into the epidermis your skin transmits light differently,” says Dr Jane McGregor, a consultant dermatologist at Barts and the London NHS Trust. “It will feel better, the texture of your skin will be improved and it will not be so dry or itchy. But you don’t need to buy expensive creams, a simple aqueous cream will do.” Soap, says McGregor, dries skin out, which is why most dermatologists don’t use it. Even water can cause chapping.

Simple moisturisers stay in the epidermis; they don’t regenerate cells or get rid of fine lines. But some more expensive products claim to do both. Retinoids were originally used to treat acne but have now been incorporated into cosmetic creams. “The exact way in which retinoids work is not fully understood,” says Dr Bav Shergill, spokesman for the British Association of Dermatologists. “There is some evidence to support their role in stimulating the production of collagen in the dermis, which may plump out fine lines. They also seem to increase the cell turnover in your skin, which smoothes the appearance of skin by exfoliation and improving skin tone. Retinoids are essentially a vitamin A derivative and in terms of concentration a dermatologist would prescribe something that was 0.025% concentrate.” This is considerably higher, says Shergill than the amount in cosmetic creams. “Retinoids do have their downsides – they can make skin red, sore, flaky and irritated.” They can also make your skin more sensitive to UV light and effects vary between people.

There are so many skin creams that make extravagant claims but few research papers to support them. As your skin continues to flake in this cold snap all you need is a cheap tub of moisturiser to make it glow again. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

February 13, 2012

Lance Armstrong

Behavior not becoming of a professional athlete? Hey Mr. Lance Armstrong what’s the problem? I thought you were the gentleman of sports? You should have shook the winner’s hand immediately after crossing the finish line…hey buddy …you still represent us Americans even if you are retired!  

That’s my comment…pass it on..

Dr Anthony

Powered by article titled “Lance Armstrong refuses handshake after finishing second in triathlon” was written by James Callow, for on Monday 13th February 2012 12.18 UTC

Lance Armstrong made a belligerent return to competitive sport on Sunday, recording a world-class time in finishing second in the Panama 70.3 half ironman, and then initially snubbing the winner, Bevan Docherty.

Docherty, who won silver at the 2004 Olympics, beat Armstrong by 31 seconds after overtaking the American on the running leg of event, which was raced in searing heat in Panama City. Docherty told New Zealand media that Armstrong brushed passed him at the finish line without offering congratulations, but later briefly shook his hand and acknowledged his victory.

Docherty said “I’m not sure what it was all about, I can only assume he was just disappointed to get beaten.”

“I did shake his hand a little bit later. He’s on a completely different level and planet to us guys [triathletes],” Docherty said. “It’s great to have him in the sport, he certainly adds something. It’s an eye opener to see how he gets mobbed and the chaos around him.”

The 40-year-old American retired from professional cycling last year following a career in which he overcame testicular, brain and lung cancer to win the Tour de France seven times in succession. Armstrong competed in amateur and professional triathlons as a teenager, before focusing solely on cycling.

Earlier this month US federal prosecutors closed an investigation into allegations of drug use levelled at Armstrong by former team-mate Floyd Landis, with no charges laid.

In last year’s World Championship, held over the same distance but on a different course, Craig Alexander won gold with a time four minutes slower than Armstrong recorded.

“I need a challenge in my life,” he said. “I need some stuff to do. I like to train. I like to suffer a bit and today was little over the top, but it’s great to be back.”

Docherty said he was surprised Armstrong didn’t dominate the race’s 90m [55 mile] cycle leg.

“I thought Lance would absolutely cream us on the bike, but he was probably in a similar position to me where he wasn’t too sure how to pace himself,” he said. “He certainly looked like he was holding back and that was probably why he ran so well off the bike.”

Armstrong led Docherty after the cycling leg, but the New Zealander made up ground on the 21km [16.5 mile] running leg and passed Armstrong 2.5km from the finish.

“It’s great that I could hold one up for the other triathletes and show that it’s certainly not a sport that you can just walk into and dominate straight away,” Docherty told the New Zealand Herald.

“It’s quite an honour to see a seven-time Tour de France winner and someone you admire standing in second place below you on the podium. It’s a highlight of my career.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

Victor Lau’s Kapo Clothing T-Shirt Designs

February 12, 2012

Royalvalet – La ruta from Royalvalet on Vimeo.


P+S: Tell me a little bit about yourself and Kapo Clothing.
VL: My name is Victor Lau, originally from Peru, but a proud New Yorker for the last 18 years. I’m a director/motion graphics freelance designer here in New York. I direct music videos, commercials, and on-air design for different TV networks freelancing under my production company called Kapo Entertainment.
Kapo Clothing, the sister company of Kapo Entertainment, was launched in the summer of 2011. It’s a small t-shirt line that I started as another outlet for creativity. As a freelance designer who gets paid to create COMMERCIAL work for other companies there was just a need to produce something more personal and meaningful for the world. The word Kapo, is a hispanic/latino slang, which means master of your craft. It’s a word that it’s in the collective consciousness of latinos. For example, one might say that Michael Jordan is the KAPO of basketball etc.


P+S: When did your interest for design and t-shirts start?
VL: I believe that I was born with the itch. Growing up I was always involved with art in some way or another. In school and at home I was always drawing and painting. I can recall when I was about 6-7 years old I grabbed a rock from the street and carved number 1’s on the hood, the roof, and the doors of my dad’s silver Toyota. I guess I wanted to transform his car into a racing car. Fair to say my father was not pleased but in retrospect I feel like it was probably my very first canvas. Then in High School, I designed my graduating class of 99’ senior t-shirt that should have been a sign of what was to come. But it wasn’t until I got to the School at the School of Visual Arts that I took some silkscreen classes that really made it possible for me to materialize some of my ideas. Maybe that is where my interest for t-shirts started.


P+S: What motivated you to merge your love for the two to launch this line?
VL: When I started buying and collecting t-shirts it’s when I started to pay more attention to the details of the t-shirts that I definitely loved and the details that I would definitely improve on if I had my own line. I guess you could say that my t-shirt collection was my field research into the different brands, cuts, and designs out there. After I had collected enough t-shirts from independent companies and big brands I had a good idea of what the market had to offer me. Then, I decided that I needed to make my own since there were a couple of ideas I had not seen yet and a lot of the t-shirts I had purchased were lacking a real sense of quality when it came to materials used, bothersome tags, or real rough silkscreen prints. I took all of these details into account when making the Kapo t-shirts and as a result our t-shirts are made with fitted fine Peruvian cotton 40/1, have silkscreened tags, go through a dye emulsification print process, and are prewashed for no shrinking.
P+S: How did it all start and how has it developed since the launch?
VL: I had been talking about having my own t-shirt line for years but the reason why it took me so long to get it started was that I had trouble finding the right manufacturer. I didn’t want to use American apparel like many other independent companies did. I wanted an original cut and wanted the control of using our very own materials. Luckily, in 2010 I found a great company that I work with from Peru. The quality of the t-shirts are amazing, the t-shirts feel good on you, and that really sets the brand apart from the majority of the t-shirt lines out there. I’ve had to learn a whole lot very quickly and roll with the reality of what sells and where it sells. In a way I have been living the “how to make it in America” scenarios in order to get the brand out there. Kapo has only had 1 run of 6 t-shirt designs so far but since our launch I believe that we have honed in our key demographic and who our key customers really are. 


P+S: How would you describe the style of the Kapo Clothing t-shirts? Who is your target market?
VL: I would say Kapo has a unique hand drawn/renegade style that addresses unique subject matter that is both relevant and historic. The concepts of the first 6 designs that we launched this summer have a more ethnic feel. That’s partly because I was born in Peru but grew up in New York and I wanted that duality to reflect on the concepts and artwork of the line. Kapo tackles certain racial issues with wit (sudaka t-shirt), pays tribute to certain war heroes (bolognesi, tupac), and brings a little quirky humor to people live’s (pisco, llama love, this is love).
I would say people ages 25-34 are our main buyers and followed closely by people ages 18-24. I believe that our buyers are independent thinkers that are a little bit tired of the big brands, overpriced clothes, and are looking for designs that are original and well made.
Get yourself an original Victor Lau’s Llama T-Shirt ….
That’s my comment…pass it on..
Dr Anthony

February 11, 2012

What is the point in staying with a job that makes you unhappy and doesn’t challenge you to improve. A dead-end job is exactly that… a dead end. Given the economic times we face today, those with a job count themselves as lucky. Eventually the job market will wake up from it’s deep sleep and will be hungry for growth once again. When that occurs..don’t simply take the first job that comes around…ask yourself …will this job keep me happy and on a path of professional improvement? A simple yes or no will do….

That’s my comment…pass it on,

Dr Anthony 

Powered by article titled “Emotional intelligence: thinking and feeling on the job” was written by Jill Insley, for The Guardian on Friday 10th February 2012 22.59 UTC

How have you been using your emotional intelligence at work? Chances are you’ve called on it less than you might like, according to new research which shows that the art of identifying, understanding and managing your emotions – and those of others – to improve your performance has, apparently, declined since the start of the financial crisis.

A study of 12,400 workers, mainly from the UK managerial population from 2001 to 2010, found it increased steadily during the economically strong years of 2001 to 2007, dropped sharply in 2008 during the worst of the banking crisis and when the recession started, rose slightly in 2009 and fell again in 2010.

The report speculates that because economic uncertainty affects people’s security, they may feel threatened and switch into “survival mode” to try to protect what they have. John Cooper, chief executive of occupational psychologists JCA, which conducted the research, says: “Unfortunately this can make things worse as workers become less adaptive and responsive to change, and may miss business or personal opportunities.”

The term “emotional intelligence” was first used in the world of psychology in 1966, and although several different interpretations have developed since then it is still a relatively new field. JCA, whose clients include FTSE 100 companies and government agencies, describes it as an “innate human attribute” which, if understood and used well, can help us manage our thinking and feeling to improve our behaviour and relationships.

“If we liken the mind to a high-performance engine, then emotional intelligence would be the oil that enables us to maintain and manage ourselves to perform to our full potential,” JCA says in its report, A Decade of Emotional Intelligence.

It is divided into two main areas – personal intelligence and interpersonal intelligence. These, in turn, can be split into 16 scales, measured by JCA through its Emotional Intelligence Profile (EIP) questionnaire.

These include self-regard and regard for others; self-awareness and awareness of others; emotional resilience; personal power (the degree to which you believe that you are in charge of, and take responsibility for, your outcomes in life, rather than seeing yourself as the victim of circumstances or of other people); flexibility; authenticity; trust; balanced outlook; connecting with others ; emotional expression; conflict handling and interdependence.

The report’s findings seem to confirm some commonly held presumptions. While there is no significant difference between men and women in overall scores, men have a more critical mindset with higher self-regard and lower regard for others.

In contrast, women tend to have a more submissive mindset with lower self-regard and with higher regard for others. Emotional intelligence improves with age, as we develop a more balanced outlook and become less dependent on, but more trusting of, others.

But measuring emotional intelligence can also be used to identify areas of development for employees in specific positions. An awareness of where you sit on each scale can help determine whether you need extra training to progress, or will excel in a particular industry or sector.

Self-employed people score higher than any other occupational group, possibly because there is a greater need to be emotionally intelligent if you are dependent, mostly, upon yourself for your business success, says Cooper.

People working in the health sector scored significantly lower in self- regard, which Cooper says may result in them putting the needs of others first. Those working in human resources scored higher in “mistrusting”, reflecting the nature of some aspects of their work, including redundancies, tribunals and underperformance.

Those in the sales sector scored strongly on self-assuredness, not being easily put off and being able to connect with people without being overly caring. Employees in the technology and financial sectors – professions that are traditionally less people-oriented – scored lower than all other job groups on interpersonal aspects of emotional intelligence.

JCA says senior managers and directors tend to score highly in all aspects, but especially in self-belief, emotional resilience, personal power, positive outlook, going after goals, conflict handling and independence. But low scores on some of these scales can have a negative impact on others, especially if the person with the low score holds a senior position.

Graham Coxell, chief executive of stockbrokers Rowan Dartington, witnessed a main board director exhibiting a lack of emotional intelligence while working at a FTSE 100 company. There was a problem in a particular part of the company, and the director had asked six senior managers to present their views on why the situation had occurred. “The first person outlined what he thought the problem was, and the director shouted, ‘So you’ve been lying to me for a year.’ Who around that table would now say what they thought the problem was?”

In contrast, a different board director at the same company showed very good emotional intelligence when he approached Coxell about the performance of a colleague: “He said, ‘I think I’ve put ABC into the wrong position because he is very good, but he’s not thriving. What’s your opinion?’ That showed humility and openness.”

He was sufficiently impressed by the impact the different approaches had on himself and his colleagues that, on buying the stockbroking firm in March 2011, he decided to incorporate emotional intelligence into the management methods used in the firm, especially by himself. This includes ensuring that employees feel liked, competent and significant.

“I will always strive to understand, rather than find fault. Why did someone make a mistake, what can you learn from that and how do you go forwards from that?” he says.

Coxell believes encouraging a greater understanding of emotional intelligence among his staff has benefited the firm. “It’s a very happy place to work now, and it’s turned the business from one which lost money to one which makes a profit,” he says.

Those who feel their effectiveness generally – but especially at work – isn’t up to scratch, need not despair. Unlike personality traits and IQ – relatively fixed from birth – emotional intelligence can be changed and developed.

But first you need to know how you score. Below is a link to the EIP test, giving you an insight into your own personal and interpersonal intelligence.

Personal intelligence includes aspects such as knowing what you want, motivating yourself to achieve goals, dealing with challenges and setbacks, maintaining physical and emotional well-being, improving your work-life balance, feeling confident in your decisions and actions, having clarity of thinking and adapting to new situations.

You have to understand and be in control of these aspects before you can develop your interpersonal intelligence. This includes knowing what others want, leading and managing others, helping motivate others, building trusting relationships, team working, coaching people and managing confrontation constructively.

Visit JCA’s website to take the free Emotional Intelligence Profile questionnaire and to receive a profile outlining key strengths and development areas. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

February 11, 2012

A man walks past a branch of savings bank Caja Castilla La Mancha (CCM) in central Madrid

Are you angry with your bank? Then switch to one that will treat you better…there are plenty out there who want your business…those big banks are dinosaurs…they have seen their time and are ready for extinction…go with a smaller bank…one that believes that customer service is still king…

That’s my comment…pass it on,

Dr Anthony 

Powered by article titled “Why switching banks is easy” was written by Miles Brignall, for The Guardian on Friday 10th February 2012 23.00 UTC

Tell people you’re thinking of changing banks, and at least a one will suck their teeth and say you’re asking for trouble.

For years the banks have let this myth persist, knowing that people are more likely to switch partner than bank. A challenge to the status quo is long overdue.

I have switched bank account twice without a problem, and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again if I became disillusioned with my provider.

Despite what you may have heard, the truth is the majority of switches go without a hitch, and if it doesn’t there is usually some redress.

Having grown disillusioned with my treatment (and the overdraft charges) of the traditional big-five bank I’d joined as a 16-year-old, at 25 I switched to the then up and coming First Direct, which was pioneering telephoning banking and put its customer’s needs at the heart of the operation. Ten years later, having got married, and with all the financial paraphernalia of a mortgage etc, we moved our joint account to the Nationwide.

It wasn’t because I was unhappy with First Direct, but because we were moving to France. At the time Nationwide offered fee-free cash withdrawals abroad – making it the only bank to choose if you lived overseas. Nationwide has since taken away this benefit.

Both switches happened without a hitch. The banks do all the work and our mortgage payments and other direct debits were passed on from First Direct to Nationwide.

I’m always surprised that so few Britons are prepared to switch – even after terrible service. Guardian Money gets very few complaints from readers on this subject. I remember only two in the last few years. Compared with the energy or broadband companies, complaints about bank switching are rare.

You do need to keep an the eye on the process, checking key payments such as your mortgage.

If you want to switch account but have been put off, I’d say do it. Until more bank customers vote with their feet, the banks will continue to get away with poor service and low interest rates.

In Spain it is not uncommon for customers to switch bank six times. If the Spanish can build a competitive switching market, why can’t we? © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

February 8, 2012

Roy Bauermeister

Temptations are everywhere you look…but you can learn to refrain from them…aren’t you tired of being beaten by your own weaknesses?  Commit yourself to accomplishing your goals…let the year of 2012… be the year of the new you…you have the willpower to overcome all obstacles…whether it is to get that promotion,lose ten pounds, be nicer to people,learn the piano,get more education…you have the willpower within you…for so man y years you have gone without…now it’s time to change your destiny…make a plan,find the willpower, and find success…And when you do succeed I will be the first to congratulate you…welcome to the top of your dreams.. 

That’s my comment..pass it on,

Dr Anthony

Powered by article titled “Why willpower matters – and how to get it” was written by Jon Henley, for The Guardian on Tuesday 7th February 2012 20.30 UTC

In the smart restaurant of a very smart hotel in the West End of London, Roy F Baumeister, eminent American social psychology professor, orders a lunch of fish and chips, and then decides not to eat the chips. “I won’t eat something that’s not good for me unless it’s absolutely perfect, and it’s going to give me real pleasure,” he says. “I’m afraid … Well, it just didn’t look like these were going to do either.”

What willpower, you might say. You’d be right; the chips looked pretty good. But Baumeister is also, coincidentally, a leading authority on that very subject, and has just published a smash-hit book on it with New York Times science writer John Tierney.

Willpower: Rediscovering Our Greatest Strength distills three decades of academic research (Baumeister’s contribution) into self-control and willpower, which the Florida State University social psychologist bluntly identifies as “the key to success and a happy life”.

The result is also (Tierney’s contribution) readable, accessible and practical. It’s an unusual self-help book, in fact, in that it offers not just advice, tips and insights to help develop, conserve and boost willpower, but grounds them in some science.

Willpower is, Baumeister argues over lunch, “what separates us from the animals. It’s the capacity to restrain our impulses, resist temptation – do what’s right and good for us in the long run, not what we want to do right now. It’s central, in fact, to civilisation.”

The disciplined and dutiful Victorians, all stiff upper lip and lashings of moral fibre, had willpower in spades; as, sadly, did the Nazis, who referred to their evil adventure as the “triumph of will”. In the 60s we thought otherwise: let it all hang out; if it feels good, do it; I’m OK, you’re OK.

But without willpower, it seems, we’re actually rarely OK. In the 60s a sociologist called Walter Mischel was interested in how young children resist instant gratification; he offered them the choice of a marshmallow now, or two if they could wait 15 minutes. Years later, he tracked some of the kids down, and made a startling discovery.

Mischel’s findings have recently been confirmed by a remarkable long-term study in New Zealand, concluded in 2010. For 32 years, starting at birth, a team of international researchers tracked 1,000 people, rating their observed and reported self-control and willpower in a different ways.

What they found was that, even taking into account differences of intelligence, race and social class, those with high self-control – those who, in Mischel’s experiment, held out for two marshmallows later – grew into healthier, happier and wealthier adults.

Those with low willpower, the study discovered, fared less well academically. They were more likely to be in low-paying jobs with few savings, to be overweight, to have drug or alcohol problems, and to have difficulty maintaining stable relationships (many were single parents). They were also nearly four times more likely to have a criminal conviction. “Willpower,” concludes Baumeister, “is one of the most important predictors of success in life.”

So how can we improve ours? Baumeister’s big idea, now borne out by hundreds of ingenious experiments in his and other social psychologists’ labs, is that willpower – the force by which we control and manage our thoughts, impulses and emotions and which helps us persevere with difficult tasks – is actually rather like a kind of moral muscle.

Like a muscle, it can get tired if you overuse it. Exercising willpower, but also making decisions and choices and taking initiatives, all seem to draw on the same well of energy, Baumeister has established. In experiments, he found that straight after accomplishing a task that required them to restrain their impulses (saying no to chocolate biscuits, suppressing their emotions while watching a three-tissue weepy), students were far more likely to underperform at other willpower-related jobs such as squeezing a handgrip or solving a difficult puzzle.

“The immune system also dips into the same pot, which is big, but finite,” says Baumeister, “and, we are pretty sure, so does women’s premenstrual syndrome. Having a cold tends to reduce your self-control, and PMS does the same. We get cranky and irritable, but it’s not that we have nastier impulses – it’s that our usual restraints have become weakened.”

So best avoid trying to do too many things involving mental effort at the same time, or if you’re ill. As with a muscle, though, you can train your willpower. Even small, day-to-day acts of willpower such as maintaining good posture, speaking in complete sentences or using a computer mouse with the other hand, can pay off by reinforcing longer-term self-control in completely unrelated activities, Baumeister has found. People previously told to sit or stand up straight whenever they remembered later performed much better in lab willpower tests.

The final way in which willpower resembles a mental “muscle” is that when its strength is depleted, it can be revived with glucose. Getting a decent night’s sleep and eating well – good, slow-burning fuel – is important in the exercise of willpower, but in times of dire need a quick shot of sugar can, according to Baumeister’s lab tests, make all the difference.

(This is, of course, something of a problem for crash dieters, who basically need to eat in order to summon up the willpower not to eat. Indeed some very strong impulses, such as the behaviour often exhibited by males in possession of an erect penis, can sometimes prove completely resistant to willpower, even after the ingestion of a can of Coca-Cola.)

Baumeister cites a “very impressive demonstration” of the glucose argument: in a study published last year, researchers found that Israeli judges making the difficult and sensitive decision of whether or not to grant parole opted to do so in roughly 65% of cases after lunch, and hardly ever just before.

Baumeister’s top willpower tips: Build up your self-control by exercising it regularly in small ways. Learn to recognise signs that your willpower may be waning. Don’t crash diet. Don’t try to do too much at once. Establish good habits and routines that will take the strain off your willpower. Learn how to draw up an effective to-do list.

Don’t put yourself in temptation’s way, or if you can’t avoid it, make it harder for yourself to succumb. Use your willpower actively: plan, commit, and do so (like members of religious communities) publicly. “People with low willpower,” Baumeister says, “use it to get themselves out of crises. People with high willpower use it not to get themselves into crises.”

Much of this, of course, is in the book. You may even learn how to say no to chips. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

February 7, 2012


There’s has always been discussion on the pros and cons of vitamin supplementation in our diets. I see no harm in taking vitamin D and other supplements as long one stays within the normal dosage recommedated by physicians and FDA guidelines. Usually common sense dictates following the instructions listed on the bottle or physician’s orders. Never decide to begin ingesting supplements until your have discussed doing so with your family doctor first.  Vitamin D is an important vitamin from strong bones,growth, and for many chemical reactions that occur within our bodies. Moderation is the key to absorbing sufficient Vitamin D. As for sunshine….be careful not be burn ..wear sunscreen protection…

That’s my comment…pass it on…

Dr Anthony

Powered by article titled “Why I’m off for some vitamin D – until the sun comes out” was written by Ann Robinson, for on Thursday 26th January 2012 18.14 UTC

Vitamin D is in the news again, and while the experts squabble over it, I’m off to buy myself some supplements. The chief medical officer for England has told GPs like me to advise those at risk to take supplements. And since half the adult population of the UK is lacking vitamin D in the winter months and deficiency is being linked to a growing list of health problems, I can’t see a good reason not to take a small multivitamin a day – at least until the sun comes out. I’ll stick to the recommended daily amount as you can have too much of a good thing, even vitamins.

Vitamin D is essential for bone growth and health, and deficiency can cause rickets in the young and a condition called chondromalacia in adults. You wouldn’t think rickets still existed in the UK but it probably never went away and is increasingly recognised as a cause of fractures in susceptible children.

Recently two parents, Rohan Wray and Chana al-Alas, were accused of murdering their four-month-old baby who died two years ago from sudden infant death syndrome (Sids, also known as cot death). The baby, Jayden, was found to have multiple injuries and the parents were accused of shaking the baby to death. But pathologist Dr Irene Scheimberg, based at Royal London Hospital, found evidence of rickets in Jayden at postmortem and the judge directed the jury to acquit.

Since that tragic case, Scheimberg says she has discovered vitamin D deficiency in eight further cases of Sids and in 30 cases of children who have died of various causes and had postmortems. A colleague of hers, Dr Marta Cohen, working in Yorkshire has also found vitamin D deficiency in 18 out of 24 cases of Sids and in 45 babies under the age of one, who died of other causes. Both doctors are calling for further investigation into the implications of vitamin D deficiency and highlighting the need to be aware of rickets in cases of Sids, which can be mistaken for non-accidental injury.

This adds weight to those calling for widespread vitamin D supplementation in the UK. Advice from the chief medical officer for England, Sally Davies, was for at-risk groups – which includes pregnant and breastfeeding women, children aged six months to five years old, people aged 65 or over, people who are not exposed to much sun (the housebound, those who cover up their skin for cultural reasons and people who have darker skin, whose bodies are unable to produce vitamin D as easily) – to take vitamin D. But there have been calls to introduce supplements for all the population in Scotland, because of high levels of multiple sclerosis which may be linked to vitamin D deficiency. Ryan McLaughlin, 13, launched a campaign, Shine on Scotland, in response to his mother’s diagnosis of MS, while Professor George Ebers of the Nuffield department of clinical neurosciences at Oxford University believes the evidence is now good enough to justify dosing the entire population with vitamin D. Professor George Ebers of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences at Oxford University is quoted, saying that he believes the evidence is now good enough to justify dosing the entire population with vitamin D. Last month, his team published evidence of a link between MS and an inherited tendency that leads to vitamin D deficiency.

Scotland’s chief medical officer, however, Sir Harry Burns, says in the same article he thinks there needs to be “broader scientific consensus” before change is considered. He warns that dietary supplements can cause harm and that we need to wait for good randomised studies in large populations. He wants to wait for the conclusions of a review of the evidence by the UK government’s scientific advisory committee on nutrition in 2014.

But Ebers says that is too long. He reflects that there was evidence to support recommending folic acid supplementation for all pregnant women to prevent problems like spina bifida, many years before the public health authorities backed it.

Bruce Hollis, professor of paediatrics and biochemistry at the Medical University of South Carolina, agrees, insisting there’s no point waiting for a large randomised trial because it’s unlikely to ever happen. He says it would be hard to attract funding for an expensive, large scale trial as drug companies would be unlikely to make a profit on cheap vitamin supplements.

The best source of vitamin D is sunlight on the skin. Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods (oily fish, eggs, cheese and meat) but it is difficult to get enough vitamin D from diet alone. In the UK, all margarines and infant formula milks are already fortified with vitamin D and it is also added, in small amounts, to other foods such as breakfast cereals, soya and some dairy products,. Breastfeeding mothers need adequate vitamin D levels of their own to ensure their babies get enough.

You can buy single vitamin D supplements at most pharmacies and supermarkets. Pregnant women who take vitamin D as part of a multivitamin should avoid supplements containing vitamin A (retinol), which can be harmful in pregnancy.

While the experts continue to debate, we may all be well advised to take a daily vitamin D supplement and expose our skin to whatever weak winter sunshine we can. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

February 6, 2012

Eli Manning, New York Giants

An exciting game…but it was the New York Giants who come out on top to win the Super Bowl…disrupting the New England Patriots matter what team you were cheering for…one thing is clear…both teams delivered an exciting and entertaining exhibition of professional football…as it should always be…

That’s my comment…pass it on,

Dr Anthony 

Powered by article titled “New York Giants overcome New England Patriots to win Super Bowl” was written by Paolo Bandini in Indianapolis, for on Monday 6th February 2012 03.38 UTC

Now we can talk about legacies. All week Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin have refused to play along with journalists’ what-ifs and hypothetical scenarios. Would a second Super Bowl triumph in five years be enough to secure both the Giants quarterback and head coach’s future spots in the NFL’s Hall of Fame? We’re not worried about all that. Let’s just play the game.

Well, they did play. For the third time in five years – and the second at a Super Bowl – the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots courtesy of a fourth-quarter comeback, Ahmad Bradshaw giving them the lead with 56 seconds to go on a touchdown he didn’t even mean to score.

With his team trailing by two points and the Giants facing second and goal from the six, Bradshaw knew it might be more dangerous to score and give New England the ball back than to stop short and take time off the clock before allowing his team to kick the field goal that would have still given them a one-point lead. The Patriots’ defence seemed to have had the same thought – parting to allow the back through, and as Bradshaw tried to go down at the one-yard line, his momentum carried him over the line.

No matter. With just one time out left, the Patriots were unable to engineer a response, the game ending on a desperate heave from Tom Brady into the endzone that would fall incomplete. Five years after seeing their perfect season ended by the Giants at Super Bowl XLII in Arizona, the Patriots once again found themselves walking down the tunnel as the confetti fell at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Just as in 2008, the signature moment arrived in the form of a remarkable catch on the final drive. For David Tyree you can substitute Mario Manningham, who showed startling body control as he dived to pull in a 38-yard pass down the left sideline while being hit by the New England safety Patrick Chung. It is a catch that will be replayed and replayed – perhaps only to be rivalled only by the also stunning drop by New England’s Wes Welker on the previous drive.

Then again, the start to this game was not without its surprises. Bookies had variously rated the possibility of the first score of the game being a safety at anywhere upwards of 50-1, but the odds on one arriving in this manner would have been many times higher still.

On the Patriots’ first offensive play of the game, Tom Brady dropped back to pass but quickly found himself under pressure from the Giants’ Justin Tuck. Although he launched the ball downfield before the defensive end could reach him, there were no receivers in the vicinity of the pass. The flag came down immediately for intentional grounding. With Brady standing in the endzone at the point of release, that meant a safety had to be awarded.

If it seemed unthinkable that a quarterback as experienced as Brady would make such an avoidable and costly mistake, then New York’s next score came on the back of an even more costly Patriots penalty. The Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes looked to have achieved a critical turnover when he recovered a fumble by the Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz at New England’s seven-yard line, only for his team to be penalised for having 12 men on the field. Instead of losing possession, New York got a first and goal at the six.

Two plays later Manning connected with the same receiver for a two-yard score. The Patriots fans at Lucas Oil Stadium had roared their approval as the Giants’ first drive came to an end with two sacks of Manning in three plays, but anyone who paid attention to the Giants’ NFC Championship game win over the San Francisco 49ers – in which Manning was sacked six times and hit 18 – would have known that he can take such punishment better than most. By this point he was nine of nine for 77 yards and the score.

The Patriots could manage only a field goal on their next drive, and the Giants looked primed to extend their advantage as they drove back into New England territory. Although the drive stalled at the Patriots’ 41, New York were able to force a quick three and out before setting off on another solid drive.

This time, though, it was their turn to be undone by a penalty – a holding call against the guard Kevin Boothe on third and one costing them a first down at the New England 36. Mario Manningham failed to reel in a long bomb from Manning on the next play, though the Giants might still have assumed theirs was not such a bad position to be in when Steve Weatherford’s subsequent punt was downed at the New England four-yard line.

By that point there were just four minutes left in the half, and Tom Brady had completed just five of eight passes for 49 yards. The Pats’ offence seemed to be suffering the ineffectiveness of their record-breaking tight end Rob Gronkowski, moving without his usual conviction following the high ankle sprain suffered against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game.

And yet suddenly they exploded to life, Brady completing his next 10 passes – including a 20-yard strike to Gronkowski – as the Patriots marched up the field for the touchdown that would give them a 10-9 lead at half-time, keeping their opponents off balance by staying in a no-huddle offence for much of the drive.

On third and three from the four, Brady received excellent protection as he waited patiently for Danny Woodhead to find space between two defenders before delivering the ball to him for the score. The drive had officially been 96 yards, but factoring in two further penalties against New England, they had actually gone 108.

The Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had imposed 30-minute breaks in the middle of practice sessions this week in order to simulate the extended half-time break during a Super Bowl – more than twice as long as it would be in a regular season game. The ruse seemed to work as his team raced straight down the field for another score.

Brady had begun this game seeking to equal Joe Montana by winning a fourth Super Bowl, but he surpassed another record set by his childhood idol when he connected with Wes Welker for a five-yard completion to the Giants’ 28 – his 14th consecutive completion. That figure was up to 16 when he delivered a 12-yard strike to Aaron Hernandez in the endzone. Even Chad Ochocinco had got in on the act with a 21-yard reception at the start of the drive.

The Giants responded with a field goal, though even that felt like a victory for New England. A promising drive had died out after the wide receiver Hakeem Nicks took a brutal hit from Patrick Chung – dropping a pass that would have given his team a fresh set of downs near the 10-yard line. Momentum began to turn back, however, as the Patriots went three and out, with Brady leaving the field looking dazed after a sack by Justin Tuck.

New York raced down to the Patriots’ 11-yard line, but after Ahmad Bradshaw twice failed to take advantage of some good blocking, Manning was sacked by Rob Ninkovich and Mark Anderson on third down. Once again the Giants had to settle for three.

Just as a poor decision from Brady cost New England at the start of the game, however, another would do so again here. There were shades of Manning’s miraculous escape and completion to David Tyree, as Brady slipped away from the Giants pass rush 10 yards near the New England 40-yard line and launched the ball downfield in the direction of Gronkowski.

If the match-up looked favourable – the tight end single covered by Chase Blackburn – the pass immediately looked ill-advised: underthrown to a player who had looked below his battling best all game. Blackburn stepped in front to intercept at the Giants’ eight-yard line.

The teams exchanged possessions, a New York drive stalling after they crossed halfway, before the Pats did the same. For New England, though, the missed opportunity was greater. A blown coverage had left Wes Welker wide open as he streaked upfield on second and 11 from the 44, yet when Brady delivered the ball to him, the wide receiver – usually one of the most reliable pair of hands in the entire league – let it slip through his fingers.

With that, the stage was set for the Giants and for Manningham, whose catch arrived on the first play of a drive that began at the New York 12 with three minutes and 46 seconds left to play. And which ended with a quarterback and a head coach one step closer to that Hall of Fame. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

February 4, 2012

Ben Gazzara in 2011

We will miss Ben Gazzara….a great actor…thank you for the memories..

Pass it on,

Dr Anthony 

Powered by article titled “Ben Gazzara obituary” was written by Brian Baxter, for on Saturday 4th February 2012 03.42 UTC

Few screen debuts have equalled the searing malevolence of Ben Gazzara’s Iago-inspired Jocko de Paris in The Strange One (1957). The role, which he had created on stage, became forever associated with this intense graduate of New York’s method school of acting.

Gazzara, who has died aged 81, continued his stage career in modern classics including Epitaph for George Dillon and as the humiliated and vengeful George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? He also achieved popular acclaim through television series – notably Run for Your Life – and in movies for his friend John Cassavetes and other directors including Otto Preminger, Peter Bogdanovich, David Mamet, Todd Solandz and the Coen brothers.

Gazzara was born to Sicilian immigrants and grew up on Manhattan’s lower east side. He began acting at the Madison Square Boy’s Club and made a teenage debut in a TV dramatisation of a short play by Tennessee Williams. After gaining a scholarship to Erwin Piscator’s drama workshop, he eventually moved to the equally legendary Actor’s Studio headed by Lee Strasberg.

His stage debut was in Pennsylvania, then on tour, in Jezebel’s Husband but his career took off when – aged 23 – he created Jocko in Calder Willingham’s adaptation of his own novel End as a Man. When a revised version of the play transferred to the Vanderbilt Theatre, Gazzara received the New York critics’ award as “most promising young actor”.

Its director, Jack Garfein, an assistant to Elia Kazan, took four years to get the movie version financed and in the interim Gazzara gained experience as the original Brick in Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and as the drug-addicted Johnny in A Hatful of Rain, where his darkly handsome features and forceful acting were distinct assets.

Although The Strange One looked overly theatrical, Gazzara’s pared-down performance survived the lumpen direction, revealing a natural screen presence. The sombre work about a duplicitous cadet leader, who manipulates an army camp in the deep south, was not a popular success and Gazzara returned to the stage until cast as the equally venal, though more enigmatic, soldier Lieutenant Manion in Preminger’s courtroom masterpiece Anatomy of a Murder (1959).

These movies were hard acts to follow and Gazzara, who spoke Italian before he learned English, returned to his roots to star opposite Anna Magnani in The Passionate Thief (1960). It was the start of a lifetime affair with Italy, where he was to work and live for many months each year and where he eventually bought a villa in Umbria.

The following year Gazzara married Janice Rule (having divorced his first wife in 1957) and took the role of the idealistic pathologist in The Young Doctors. He then co-starred opposite David Niven in The Captive City, a lacklustre war movie set in Athens. A challenging role as the convicted murderer turned painter John Resko better reflected Gazzara’s ambitions, but Convicts Four was not a hit and he moved into television, first as the detective in Arrest and Trial and then as the dying Paul Bryan in Run For Your Life (1965-68).

Gazzara was one of several stars coaxed into a cameo role in If It’s Tuesday, This Must be Belgium (1969). Fortuitously, another was Cassavetes and, after working on the liberal documentary King: A Filmed Record … Montgomery to Memphis, Gazzara joined Peter Falk and Cassavetes as the eponymous Husbands in the latter’s improvised study of marital discord.

Gazzara took a decidedly less comedic role as the murderous stripclub owner Cosmo Vitelli in Cassavetes’s edgy thriller The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) and a year later played Manny Victor in the director’s masterpiece Opening Night. After the director’s untimely death, Gazzara appeared in several documentaries about his friend, notably Anything for John (1995), which reflected the admiration felt by his peers for that maverick filmmaker.

Gazzara had established a willingness to work outside the commercial mainstream, specialising in anti-social characters including a plumply brutish Al Capone, but his career wavered between quality and dross, film and television and work in the US, Italy and a few other countries, notching up over 80 movies in the years following his initial collaboration with Cassavetes.

These included the free-spirited Saint Jack (1979) in Peter Bogdanovich’s elegant rendition of Paul Theroux’s novel and – two years later, also for Bogdanovich – a co-starring role opposite Audrey Hepburn in They All Laughed, an underrated but commercially disastrous variation on love’s roundabout.

Following a second divorce Gazzara worked for a decade in Italy, returning to the US only for lucrative TV movies, including A Question of Honour (1982), A Letter to Three Wives and the Aids drama An Early Frost (both 1985), Road House (1989) and Blindsided (1993).

In Europe he portrayed the disillusioned beat poet Charles Bukowski in Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981), was a professor in Il Camorrista (1985) and a less amiable Don in Don Bosco (1988). Although he had directed episodes of Columbo for his friend Peter Falk, he only graduated to the big screen in 1990 with the little-seen Beyond the Ocean, shot in Bali.

Soon after that Italian-financed movie he again concentrated on work in America, averaging five films or TV movies each year, while dividing his time between homes in Umbria, New York City, and Sag Harbor, New York state.

Highlights of this busy period included Mamet’s The Spanish Prisoner (1997), where he played the mysterious Mr Klein; cult success Buffalo ’66; the black comedy The Big Lebowski; and the controversial Happiness (all 1988). He was well cast as a gang leader in Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam and moved to the other side of the fence as a smooth lawyer in the glossy The Thomas Crown Affair (1999).

Dozens of other films were routine and he freely admitted that “these days I turn nothing down in order to maintain a comfortable and happy life with my third and last wife”.

Despite debilitating treatment for throat cancer, in 1999 he published an autobiography and worked steadily for the next decade, notching up over 30 credits, from television series to leading roles in features, many made in Europe, often in his beloved Italy. There he worked in TV, was on location in Calabria for Secret Heart (2003), in Umbria for a brilliant cameo in Christophe Roth and moved to Spain for Schubert, to Belgium for Chez Nico and for the title role in Godbye Michel. In 2008 he took the name role in Looking for Palladin, about a former Hollywood star who hides from fame in Guatemala.

He enjoyed his role as the Vatican’s banker in Holy Money, but most rewarding of the many films were a short, Eve, cleverly directed by Natalie Portman, with Lauren Bacall, and the two films with Gena Rowlands, echoing their John Cassavetes days. He took a supporting cameo to her lead in the superior television movie Hysterical Blindness (2002), and four years later they played a two-hander as part of the portmanteau film Paris, Je t’aime, in a bittersweet episode where, as in later works, a recent stroke affected his speech, though never his courage or professionalism.

Ben Gazzara: born Biagio Anthony Gazzara, 28 August 1930, New York City; died Friday 3 February 2012, New York City.

Married Louise Erickson (1951-1957); Janice Rule (1961-1979); Elke Krivat (1982) © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

February 3, 2012

Mosquitos on a net

It’s more often than not that mortality figures are under-estimated or lower than reported…are you really surprise? Malaria is a serious disease…  No matter how strong you may think you are…your immunity to malaria may not be enough to succumb to the disease. How long will the insecticides to effective in keeping the populations of mosquitoes at bay?….well until they develop a resistance to the chemicals we are using…..there’s got to be a more natural approach in curbing the over-population of these blood sucking critters..! Any ideas out there…share it with us…

Pass it on,

Dr Anthony  

Powered by article titled “Fighting malaria with one hand tied back” was written by Sarah Boseley, health editor, for The Guardian on Friday 3rd February 2012 06.29 UTC

Decades of assumptions about the lethality of malaria have been overturned by the publication of a paper in the Lancet from an academic institute in Seattle which says the disease kills twice as many as everybody thought. Even more extraordinary – it would seem that conventional wisdom about the disease has been wrong all this time.

It does not just kill babies and children under five — it kills adults too, in nearly as large proportions.

The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation has astounded the global health community by claiming it has been fighting malaria apparently with one hand behind its back. The death toll has come down since 2004, thanks to huge efforts to get insecticide-impregnated bednets to households and treat those who are sick with better drugs, but all the while an older age group has been neglected.

“These are certainly results which surprised us when we first did the analysis,” said Steve Lim, one of the authors of the Lancet paper. “It is new to what is taught in public health and medical school, which is that when kids are exposed to malaria at a very young age, it conveys immunity.”

Only last year the World Malaria Report gave mortality figures which are half those the institute has found – 655,000 deaths compared to 1.2 million. It is an extraordinary gulf and there will be lots of debate about the statistical methods used by the Seattle team.

But the institute has form. This is part of a five-year project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to obtain the best possible data for the toll of death and disease from vario

February 3, 2012

The restored Grow Heathrow glasshouse

If  you are looking for a nice hobby…why not try gardening…it’s fun to start out with a window box garden of herbs …great to have fresh herbs on hand for cooking…perhaps you think your thumb is not green enough, like anything…through practice and help from others…you can achieve good results…nurseries like Roots and Shoots operated and owned by Janet Baiardi in the state of Maine, are always available for consultation.

Pass it on,

Dr Anthony

Powered by article titled “Diary of a window box garden: The urban grower as activist” was written by Helen Babbs, for on Thursday 2nd February 2012 11.18 UTC

All is still quiet in the world of the window boxes and, in a 90cm x 12cm place where nothing much happens, it’s tempting to start thinking big. Peering at my plants through the bathroom window, I’ve started wondering what it’s all about. Is a decision to grow things on the ledge of a building I will never call my own, in the chaos that is Holloway, about more than decoration? Is urban growing a kind of activism?

Let’s focus on food. An edible window box isn’t going to change the world but it could be part of a wider movement that just might. The minute you start growing your own, no matter how small the scale, you become aware of others who are doing the same. Some urban growers are protesting with their produce – a positive kind of protest that explores alternative ways of living and working.

Grow Heathrow has returned a derelict market garden back to its former productive glory, while challenging stereotypes about squatting and highlighting environmental issues. I ask William Ronan from the project if he sees urban growing as activism. “The way in which we meet our basic need to feed ourselves is deeply political, and political movements have a rich history in making food a focus of their organising.”

“Instead of lobbying power-holders through methods like petitions, marching and media stunts, urban food growing puts political power in the hands of the community. We remove our reliance on food systems that destroy eco-systems, manipulate workers and enrich the bank balances of corporation shareholders. We don’t have to eat vegetables tainted with chemicals, air miles and poverty wages.”

In Hackney, Growing Communities actively challenges agribusiness and supermarket dominance by growing tonnes of inner city salad and promoting community led trade. Kerry Rankine from the social enterprise says urban growing “concentrates people’s minds on how much effort goes into producing the food we all take for granted. For many, it’s a way to start thinking about alternatives”.

While Kerry thinks small-scale growing can be a form of activism, she believes as a means of creating change it’s not a great lever by itself. Urban growing is part of wider changes that need to be made, including supporting small farmers around cities and mentoring new growers.

So what would an activist’s window box look like, if William and Kerry were pushed to indulge me? It would be sown with rare varieties not sold by mainstream companies, and with locally sourced seed. An activist grower would reject the often sterile F1 Hybrid seed that’s wiping out old varieties of veg.

Kerry and I even think about window box potatoes, specifically the rare 1918 ‘Arran Victory’. It’s an ambitious plan requiring a deep container and a very sturdy ledge, but one that emphasises that experimenting with heritage edibles is a key way to transform a passive box into an active one. Sounds like an excuse for a Seedy Sunday.

Read more of Helen Babbs’ Diary of a window box garden here. Helen is the author of the book My Garden, the City and Me: Rooftop Adventures in the Wilds of London. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

February 1, 2012

Following the Epicurious iPad cooking app

Perhaps the iPad will find it’s way into the kitchen…for those looking for an alternative to bringing a traditional cookbook to the kitchen….still it can be a little sticky touching the iPad and working with ingredients for fudge…

Pass it on,

Dr Anthony 

Powered by article titled “Is the iPad the new cookbook?” was written by Laura Barnett, for The Guardian on Wednesday 1st February 2012 20.00 UTC

My favourite cookbooks show the scars of countless mealtimes: the singed flyleaf from the time I panicked with a hot roasting tray; the dubious gravy stains; the dried fingerprints of flour from that ill-fated Victoria sponge.

So how practical is it to use recipes on cookery apps? Can a phone or iPad cope with the splatters of the kitchen? And how do you scroll to the next stage of a recipe when your hands are covered in flour or lemon juice or potato peelings?

First, I try out Epicurious, the app attached to the popular American foodie website. With more then 30,000 recipes, it’s much more comprehensive than the average book, and it’s free (though it costs £1.49 to sync the app with recipes you may have stored on the site). It’s easy to navigate: there’s an index featuring everything from “weekend brunch” to “bubbly cocktails”, and useful graded sections labelled “I can barely cook” and “I cook like a pro”. There’s also a nifty “shopping list” function: select a recipe, and the app imports the ingredients into a list, which you can then tick off as you go round a shop.

Many of the recipes sound exotically American (savoury pumpkin pie soup with cinnamon marshmallows, pepita streusel and whipped crème fraiche) or Hispanic (salmorejo; tacos al pastor). The measures, too, are all US-style – cups, 15-ounce cans – so when I do finally select a recipe (butternut squash and cannellini soup with bacon) and get cooking, I waste a good while frantically Googling the conversions.

I’ll blame this – as well as the fact that my phone keeps going to sleep, meaning I’m forever jabbing at the screen with squash-covered fingers – for the fact that I put in double the correct quantity of chicken stock, and the soup bubbles out all over the hob.

I fare better the next day with a British-designed app, Dishy (priced at £2.99). It has only 95 recipes, but you can search by course, ingredient, time or dietary requirements; there’s a shopping list tool; and the step-by-step guides are easy to follow. I make a rustic sausage casserole for dinner; not only is it delicious, but a built-in countdown timer ensures that I fry the sausages for exactly the right time. Best of all, the app somehow manages to override my phone’s sleep function, so I don’t keep having to rinse my hands to avoid slathering the screen with gunk.

Day three is the turn of Great British Chefs (also £2.49), a much-praised app featuring around 180 recipes devised by Michelin-starred chefs such as Marcus Wareing, Nuno Mendes and Tom Aikens. It looks fabulous – lots of sumptuous photography – but most of the recipes are pitched far above my basic skill level and budget (since when were cheese beignets and a burrata, pea, grapefruit, caviar and leek salad classed as “easy”?).

But Daniel Clifford’s cheese scones sound good, so I have a go; the method is easy enough, and there’s a handy voice-activation tool, so you can shout at your phone rather than cover it with sticky dough. The scones turn out almost perfect.

Last I try another British chef known for keeping things simple. Jamie Oliver has a number of apps out. I go for Jamie’s 20 Minute Meals. At £4.99, it’s pricey, but it’s well-designed and simple, and the videos are definitely pitched more at my level. The pea and prawn risotto recipe makes an easy and delicious weekday lunch (though it takes me a lot longer than 20 minutes). But there’s no voice activation, so I’m back to having to wash my hands every few minutes to scroll to the next stage. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.