Chuckles of the Day

The bishop had been ill for some time but it was only a matter of being old. He was dying, he knew and he accepted it gracefully. He reasoned that he had had a good life.

He was 96 years old, and now he looked forward to his release from earth with equanimity. So it was not a surprise to his nurse one morning when he quietly told her that God was calling and he would soon be gone.

She nodded her head knowingly and gently held his hand. Then, speaking just above a whisper as his voice began to fail, he asked her to call his lawyer and his doctor to his bedside.

When they arrived the bishop weakly motioned for them to sit on either side of the bed. He held their hands, sighed contentedly and, releasing his grip, closed his eyes in satisfaction.

The two visitors sat quietly, touched and flattered by the old bishop’s last request. But they were also puzzled and they shared their puzzlement with hand and facial expressions. Finally, the lawyer gentled touched the bishop’s hand and asked the dying man why he and the doctor were there.

The bishop smiled softly and whispered. “Jesus died between two thieves, and that’s the way I want to go.”

* * * * * * *

An artist asked the gallery owner if there had been any interest in his paintings on display at that time.

“I have good news and bad news,” the owner replied. “The good news is that a gentleman enquired about your work and wondered if it would appreciate in value after your death. When I told him it would, he bought all 15 of your paintings.”

“That’s wonderful!” the artist exclaimed. “What’s the bad news?”

“The man was your doctor.”

An IUD Could Ward Off Endometrial Cancer in Women at Risk

Cara Murez wrote . . . . . . . . .

For some patients who have early endometrial cancer or a precancerous condition, a hysterectomy may not be a good option because of serious health issues or the desire to preserve fertility.

Now, a new Australian study has found that a hormonal IUD might be an effective treatment option for these women.

About 82% of women who had a precancerous condition and used the levonorgestrel IUD — the same kind a woman might use for birth control — had a “complete pathological response” (no sign of cancer or precancer in biopsy) after six months, according to the study.

It was less effective in women with cancer — about 43% responded completely.

“While the chances of a response in endometrial cancer is a lot less, it’s still [almost] 50%,” said lead investigator Dr. Andreas Obermair, a professor at the University of Queensland Faculty of Medicine in Brisbane.

“Keep in mind these women have basically no treatment choices. They’re unsuitable for surgery,” he said. “If you would operate on them, they would either run a very high risk of dying as a consequence of this operation or very severe complications from the procedure. Many of these women choose not to have surgery. So, now they have a 50% chance of the cancer completely going away. It’s obviously not as high as we want it, but it’s 50%.”

An example of a woman who may benefit from the IUD used in the study is someone who has severe obesity and may have other serious medical issues such as heart, kidney or lung disease, Obermair said. Another candidate may be young and not want a hysterectomy because she wants to have children.

The study enrolled 165 women between December 2012 and October 2019, with 154 completing the six-month follow-up. They were an average age of 53. All participants had obesity, which is a known risk factor for endometrial cancer.

Researchers also considered the responses of 47 women who were treated with the IUD and metformin, a diabetes drug that has potential anti-cancer activity. Another 47 received the IUD and participated in a weight-loss program.

The results after six months ranged from 57% effective for the women who had the IUD and metformin treatment to 67% effective for the women who had the IUD and weight loss.

Complete pathological response at six months doesn’t mean the women are cured because the cancer can return, Obermair cautioned.

Endometrial cancer happens when malignant cells form in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus, according to the American Cancer Society. Symptoms can include vaginal bleeding and pain.

It is the most common gynecologic cancer. About 60,000 cases will be diagnosed this year in the United States, according to the cancer society.

Not all women are poor candidates for surgery. The standard care for endometrial cancer is a total hysterectomy, which includes removing the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

“I’m not suggesting that the standard treatment of endometrial cancer should shift from surgery to hormone IUD,” Obermair said. “I’m only suggesting that a subgroup of women, those may be about 10, 20% of women who are very poor surgical candidates, they should be offered an alternative.”

Dr. Konstantin Zakashansky, director of the division of minimally invasive gynecologic surgery for the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, called the response rates for precancer patients “very good and encouraging,” but expressed concern about the “much lower response rate than we were anticipating” in the group with cancer.

It will be important to identify why the treatment only worked for 43% of patients with cancer, said Zakashansky, who wasn’t involved with the study.

“What about those 60%? How are they different from those 43% who did respond? There may be some underlying molecular explanation for this and that’s where we should be looking at,” he said.

Zakashansky noted there could be other potential alternative treatment options for this condition.

“There are a lot of interesting new drugs that are coming out, new molecular targets that could potentially be explored,” he said. “I think the most important thing is to continue enrolling those patients and to encourage patients getting on clinical trials and investigating those different combinations.”

The study was presented at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology’s virtual annual meeting, held March 19-25. Findings presented at meetings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“The next step is to identify what factors predict response or non-response,” Obermair said. “So, then the next step is to intensify our research efforts to advance this whole field.”

Source: HealthDay

In Pictures: Food of Afghanistan


Kabuli Pulao

Borani Banjan

Chopan Kabob


Sheer Khurma

As Fermented Foods Rise in Popularity, Here’s What Experts Say

Michelle Hiskey wrote . . . . . . . . .

The increasingly trendy trio of kefir, kimchi and kombucha may not be familiar to you, but experts say fermented foods like these can help the home of most of your immune system – your gut.

How and why some (not all) fermented foods work is an unraveling mystery that goes back to hunter-gatherer humans. Today, nutrition scientists say to look beyond “probiotic” and “prebiotic” labels to select the right fermented foods for you.

Don’t fall for the “best superfoods” lists that rank fermented foods highly, warned the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) in January in a consensus statement published in Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology. The science is still mixed on the specific nutritional benefits, and the organization calls for more randomized controlled trials to bear out some of the promising effects researchers have seen in labs.

These tips from experts can help sort what’s hype and what’s the real thing. First, a primer.

What is a -biotic anyway?

Your gut is home to trillions of microorganisms. While an antibiotic medicine stunts or destroys microorganisms, a prebiotic is non-digestible fiber that feeds good bacteria.

Probiotics-containing fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi and kombucha contain live microorganisms known to restore balance to the digestive system. The microbes and their genetic material are known as the gut microbiome, which is a control center for the immune system. When you eat too much processed food, drink excessive alcohol and don’t exercise, the microbiome deteriorates.

Dysbiosis, a gut microbial imbalance, can have a role in cardiovascular disease and cardiometabolic disorders like Type 2 diabetes. So having a healthy gut microbiome helps the rest of you stay healthy.

“There are strains of bacteria in your gut that are good for you and others that are bad,” said Christopher Gardner, a nutrition scientist at Stanford University in California. “I can’t tell you what to eat today for the good, bad or missing bacteria that is in your body. But stay tuned, because we are starting to unlock some of the mysteries.”

Be careful in the kitchen

Cooking fermented food – think beer, pickles, sourdough – kills good bacteria. “You want to drink live microbes, not destroy them by cooking them first,” Gardner said.

Any health risks for consuming over-fermented good bacteria? Gardner said no – but it might not taste very good. Every seven to nine days for the last two years, he has created his own kombucha from a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). One batch was left alone for four weeks.

“We tasted it, and it was awful,” Gardner said. “So, I didn’t drink more than a sip.”

Researcher Gail Cresci, from Cleveland Clinic Children’s Department of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, advised closely following recipes for fermented foods. Her husband didn’t, and erupted a volcano of beer in their kitchen.

“Fermentation has been around for centuries as a way to preserve food, but you want to be careful,” she said. “If you are growing mold and the food is spoiling, you’re not doing it right.”

Real food over tablets

Supplements labeled as “prebiotic” or “probiotic” don’t deliver the same benefits as fermented foods, Cresci said.

“There are challenges to keeping microbes viable in encapsulated tablets,” she said. “It’s also very, very important to know that each strain of bacteria is not the same as the next. For example, lactobacillus has hundreds of different strains, and each one may behave differently. People like to use supplements because they like to think one size fits all, but it doesn’t.”

Her advice: “Take in prebiotics and probiotics through food sources. Yogurt with added probiotic bacterial strains is much better to consume than supplements also because as it’s been waiting for you to eat it, it’s been producing more beneficial metabolites. When you eat it, you get all that.”

And for those who have yet to hop on the fermented food wagon, just what is kefir, kimchi and kombucha? Kefir, a fermented dairy beverage, is like a drinkable yogurt. Kimchi, a staple in Korean cuisine, typically is salted and fermented vegetables, such as cabbage and radish. Kombucha is a lightly fizzy drink made with green or black tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast.

In search of the optimal strain

Nutritional labels on fermented foods are not required to name the strain of bacteria present, Cresci said. “Yogurt contains lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus, but the store brand is just going to say, ‘live active cultures.'”

Specific bacteria may become part of a personalized prescription for gut health. In 2020, the National Institutes of Health unveiled a 10-year research agenda for “precise, targeted approaches and interventions guiding us to a much clearer and precise answer to the question, ‘What should we eat?'”

For now, Cresci offered this strategy: “Eat 25 to 30 grams of mixed fiber – a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains – every day, and you’ll keep your microbiome pretty happy. Once you’ve cleaned up your diet, add a probiotic-containing food like yogurt or kefir, and just be careful of any added sugar or fat. Fermented sauerkraut and pickles can be good also but can have a lot of sodium.”

Source: American Heart Association

Dutch Beef Stew


2 1b chuck steak, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
1/2 cup corn oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 oz lard
3 large onions, peeled and sliced
1 oz flour
1 cup brown ale
1/2 cup beef stock
pinch of sugar
1 bay leaf


  1. Place the meat in a bowl and pour over the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Allow the meat to marinate in the liquid for 2 hours.
  2. Melt the lard in a heavy pan and fry the onions until lightly brown. Remove from the pan.
  3. Add the meat, drained of the marinade, and fry briskly until brown and sealed. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Gradually stir in the ale and stock and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
  5. Stir in the sugar and bay leaf, return the onions to the pan and season to taste.
  6. Cover the pan, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until the meat is tender.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Freezer Cookery

Today’s Comic