New Sweet of FamilyMart in Japan

Black Tea Chiffon Sandwich

A fluffy chiffon cake made with aromatic Earl Gray tea from Sri Lanka, a rich and fluffy whipped cream blended with Hokkaido-produced cream, and custard cream with caramel sauce.

The price is 230 yen (plus tax).

Lemon Meringue Pie

Ingredients

3 sheets of phyllo dough, plus more in case of tearing
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
5 large egg whites
1 (12-ounce) jar lemon curd
Raspberries, for garnish

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut 2 sheets of parchment paper to fit a large baking sheet. Place 1 sheet of the parchment on a work surface. Top with a sheet of phyllo and brush with the melted butter. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the granulated sugar over the phyllo. Repeat with 2 more sheets of phyllo so that you have a stack of 3 sugared sheets.
  3. Using a ruler, trim the phyllo to a 12-by-16-inch rectangle, then cut it into twelve 4-inch squares.
  4. Slide the parchment onto a baking sheet and top with the second sheet of parchment paper. Bake for 18 minutes, until the phyllo squares are golden and crisp. Let cool completely.
  5. Preheat the broiler. Put the brown sugar in a food processor; pulse to break up any lumps.
  6. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
  7. Beat in the brown sugar at high speed, a few tablespoons at a time, until the whites are glossy, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag with a plain tip.
  8. Spoon a dollop of lemon curd onto each phyllo square. Pipe a layer of meringue over the lemon curd (alternatively, you can spoon the meringue over the lemon curd).
  9. Broil 6 inches from the heat for 1 minute, or until lightly toasted. Set 6 phyllo squares on plates and top them with the remaining 6 squares. Garnish with raspberries and serve right away.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Chef Gale Gand

A Good Vitamin D Status Can Protect Against Cancer

A good vitamin D status is beneficial both in cancer prevention and in the prognosis of several cancers, according to a new research review. The anti-cancer effects of vitamin D are especially pronounced in the prevention and treatment of colon cancer and blood cancers. In addition, high vitamin D responsiveness can be linked to a smaller cancer risk. Vitamin D responsiveness varies between individuals, affecting their need for vitamin D supplementation.

The review article, published in Seminars in Cancer Biology and written by Professor Carsten Carlberg from the University of Eastern Finland and Professor Alberto Muñoz from the Autonomous University of Madrid, provides an update on the molecular basis of vitamin D signaling and its role in cancer prevention and therapy.

Vitamin D is commonly known for its crucial role in bone health, but the authors point out it also regulates the immune system, and its anti-cancer effects are mediated mainly by immune cells, such as monocytes and T cells. Vitamin D exerts its effects via the vitamin D receptor (VDR), which is a transcription factor involved in the expression and epigenetic regulation of numerous genes.

According to the review, studies focusing on the effect of vitamin D on different types of cancers provide the strongest evidence of its benefits in colorectal cancer and in blood cancers, such as leukemias and lymphomas. Vitamin D is important both for the differentiation of blood cells during hematopoiesis as well as adult stem cells in rapidly regenerating tissues, such as colon or skin. A too low vitamin D status leads to a suboptimal function of the VDR and in an increased risk that these cells are not fully differentiating and start to turn into uncontrolled growing cancer cells.

Even in other types of cancer, such as breast and prostate cancer, a low vitamin D status, measured as the level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the blood, has been associated with a higher cancer incidence and a poorer prognosis. However, vitamin D supplementation has not been consistently shown to reduce cancer mortality in randomized controlled trials. According to the authors of the review, the impact of vitamin D could be shown more clearly if the participants were stratified according to their individual vitamin D responsiveness and the health outcomes analyzed in relation to changes in individual vitamin D status.

Professor Carlberg’s research group has earlier shown that individuals differ in their molecular response or sensitivity to vitamin D supplementation. For example, 25% of the Finnish population seem to be low responders, needing a higher dose of vitamin D supplementation to reach the full clinical benefit. In terms of cancer risk, being a high responder can be expected to have a protective effect.

According to the review, a good vitamin D status is beneficial in general cancer prevention. There is less evidence of its usefulness in the treatment of cancer.

Source: University of Eastern Finland

Negative Thinking Linked to Dementia in Later Life

Sandee LaMotte wrote . . . . . . . . .

Are you a pessimist by nature, a “glass half empty” sort of person? That’s not good for your brain.

A new study found that repetitive negative thinking in later life was linked to cognitive decline and greater deposits of two harmful proteins responsible for Alzheimer’s disease.

“We propose that repetitive negative thinking may be a new risk factor for dementia,” said lead author Dr. Natalie Marchant, a psychologist and senior research fellow in the department of mental health at University College London, in a statement.

Negative thinking behaviors such as rumination about the past and worry about the future were measured in over 350 people over the age of 55 over a two-year period. About a third of the participants also underwent a PET (positron emission tomography) brain scan to measure deposits of tau and beta amyloid, two proteins which cause Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia.

The scans showed that people who spent more time thinking negatively had more tau and beta amyloid buildup, worse memory and greater cognitive decline over a four-year period compared to people who were not pessimists.

The study also tested for levels of anxiety and depression and found greater cognitive decline in depressed and anxious people, which echos prior research.

But deposits of tau and amyloid did not increase in the already depressed and anxious people, leading researchers to suspect repeated negative thinking may be the main reason why depression and anxiety contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Taken alongside other studies, which link depression and anxiety with dementia risk, we expect that chronic negative thinking patterns over a long period of time could increase the risk of dementia,” Marchant said.

“This is the first study showing a biological relationship between repetitive negative thinking and Alzheimer’s pathology, and gives physicians a more precise way to assess risk and offer more personally-tailored interventions,” said neurologist Dr. Richard Isaacson, founder of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at NYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical Center, who was not involved in the study.

“Many people at risk are unaware about the specific negative impact of worry and rumination directly on the brain,” said Isaacson, who is also a trustee of the McKnight Brain Research Foundation, which funds research to better understand and alleviate age-related cognitive decline.

“This study is important and will change the way I care for my patients at risk.”

More study needed

It is “important to point out that this isn’t saying a short-term period of negative thinking will cause Alzheimer’s disease,” said Fiona Carragher, who is chief policy and research officer at the Alzheimer’s Society in London. “We need further investigation to understand this better.”

“Most of the people in the study were already identified as being at higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease, so we would need to see if these results are echoed within the general population,” she said, “and if repeated negative thinking increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease itself.”

The researchers suggest that mental training practices such as meditation might help promoting positive thinking while reducing negative thoughts, and they plan future studies to test their hypothesis.

“Our thoughts can have a biological impact on our physical health, which might be positive or negative, said coauthor Dr. Gael Chételat of Inserm/ Université de Caen-Normandie.

“Looking after your mental health is important, and it should be a major public health priority, as it’s not only important for people’s health and well-being in the short term, but it could also impact your eventual risk of dementia,” Chételat said.

Looking on the bright side

Previous research supports their hypothesis. People who look at life from a positive perspective have a much better shot at avoiding death from any type of cardiovascular risk than pessimistic people, according to a 2019 study. In fact, the more positive the person, the greater the protection from heart attacks, stroke and any cause of death.

It’s not just your heart that’s protected by a positive outlook. Prior research has found a direct link between optimism and other positive health attributes, such as healthier diet and exercise behaviors, a stronger immune system and better lung function, among others.

That’s probably because optimists tend to have better health habits, said cardiologist Dr. Alan Rozanski, a professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who studies optimism’s health impacts. They’re more likely to exercise, have better diets and are less likely to smoke.

“Optimists also tend to have better coping skills and are better problem-solvers,” Rozanski told CNN in a prior interview. “They are better at what we call proactive coping, or anticipating problems and then proactively taking steps to fix them.”

Train to be an optimist

You can tell where you stand on the glass half-full or empty concept by answering a series of statements called the “life orientation test.”

The test includes statements such as, “I’m a believer in the idea that ‘every cloud has a silver lining,'” and, “If something can go wrong for me, it will.” You rate the statements on a scale from highly agree to highly disagree, and the results can be added up to determine your level of optimism or pessimism.

Prior research has shown it’s possible to “train the brain” to be more optimistic, sort of like training a muscle. Using direct measures of brain function and structure, one study found it only took 30 minutes a day of meditation practice over the course of two weeks to produce a measurable change in the brain.

One of the most effective ways to increase optimism, according to a meta-analysis of existing studies, is called the “Best Possible Self” method, where you imagine or journal about yourself in a future in which you have achieved all your life goals and all of your problems have been resolved.

Another technique is to practice gratefulness. Just taking a few minutes each day to write down what makes you thankful can improve your outlook on life. And while you’re at it, list the positive experiences you had that day, which can also raise your optimism.

“And then finally, we know that cognitive behavioral therapies are very effective treatments for depression; pessimism is on the road toward depression,” Rozanski said.

“You can apply the same principles as we do for depression, such as reframing. You teach there is an alternative way to think or reframe negative thoughts, and you can make great progress with a pessimist that way.”

Source: CNN

‘Lab-on-a-Chip’ Blood Test Could Spot Breast Cancer Early

A cutting-edge “lab-on-a-chip” has shown promise in detecting early breast cancers and tumors that have developed in other parts of the body.

Roughly the size of a glass microscope slide, the EV-CLUE uses nanotechnology to pump a tiny amount of blood into eight miniscule channels equipped to detect different markers of cancer, explained co-researcher Liang Xu, a professor of molecular bioscience at the University of Kansas.

How tiny? The EV-CLUE requires about 2 microliters of blood to run a scan, Xu said. A typical droplet of blood contains 50 microliters.

Xu and his colleagues tested their lab-on-a-chip by equipping one of its channels to look for MMP14, an enzyme released by tumors that has been linked to cancer progression. The enzyme attacks healthy cells in ways that seem to promote the spread of cancer.

In early tests focused on MMP14, the device detected early-stage or metastatic breast cancer with 97% accuracy in a first group of 30 people and 93% in a second group of 70 people.

“This highly sensitive technology can catch early signs of cancer metastases. The early detection for cancer metastases is key to reduce the death rate of women with breast cancer,” Xu said.

The chances of long-term survival are high for women whose breast cancer is caught early, the researchers noted. The five-year survival rate of women with localized breast cancer is 99%, but only 86% for those whose cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and 27% if tumors have appeared in far-flung parts of the body.

The problem is that once a breast cancer has migrated outside its original location, cancerous cells can hide undetected elsewhere in the body, Xu said. This technology could root out those hidden tumors.

This new technology is one of many efforts to develop a “liquid biopsy” that would use blood tests to find cancer, said Dr. Bill Cance, chief medical and scientific officer with the American Cancer Society.

Tumors shed many different types of chemicals and matter into the bloodstream, and these telltale signs could help detect cancer that’s not yet advanced.

“This is proof of principle that it has potential,” Cance said of the EV-CLUE’s first results. “But like other new technology, it’s going to need a lot of patients to validate it.”

Such a liquid biopsy could one day supplant mammograms as the initial screening tool for breast cancer, if it is proven through rigorous testing to be accurate, Cance said.

“They need to be as close to 100% accurate as you can get,” Cance said. “That said, if a patient could get a blood test that could detect whether you have a cancer and at what stage, that would be such a useful screening tool.”

Armed with such a blood test, doctors might then use mammograms only after cancer has been detected, to confirm the test’s results and find the location of the tumor, Cance said.

The EV-CLUE chips are created using a 3-D printer, in a process that could be distributed widely and affordably, Xu said. He added that using the chips would be “much cheaper than a mammogram.”

The chips would not be limited to breast cancer detection, either. Researchers have just started an early trial to see if the EV-CLUE can detect lung cancer as well, Xu said.

“This is not limited to breast cancer,” Xu said. “MMP14 exists in many, many other types of cancer.”

The early results of the EV-CLUE were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Source: HealthDay


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