Salma Hayek: 'I am proud to be Mexican'

Salma Hayek: 'I am proud to be Mexican' — Salma Hayek says she is proud to be Mexican and that comments suggesting otherwise were "lost in translation."

The 45-year-old actress issued a statement Thursday after German Vogue magazine quoted her as saying she "hardly had any memories of what it is to be Mexican."

FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2012 file photo, actress Salma Hayek arrives for the screening of the film, "As Luck Would Have It " (La Chispa De La Vida), at the 62 edition of International Film Festival Berlinale, in Berlin. Hayek says she is proud to be Mexican and that comments suggesting otherwise were “lost in translation.” The 45-year-old actress issued a statement Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, after German Vogue magazine quoted her as saying she “hardly had any memories of what it is to be Mexican.” (AP Photo/Gero Breloer, File)

"I have never denied my background or my culture," Hayek says in the statement released by publicist Cari Ross. "I have taught my child to embrace her Mexican heritage, to love my first language, Spanish, to learn about Mexican history, music, folk art, food, and even the Mexican candy I grew up with. I have always been an active part of my community. I have tried my whole life to represent my Mexican roots with honor and pride. It saddens me when my words are lost in translation and taken out of context to hurt the people of Mexico, whom I love."

Hayek graces the cover of German Vogue and gives an interview about her role as the leader of a Mexican drug cartel in the Oliver Stone drama "Savages." Telephone calls seeking comment placed to the magazine late Thursday night went unanswered.

This is not the first time Hayek has made remarks about her Mexican background that have drawn attention. Last year, she quipped to a reporter in Spanish, "If it wasn't because of my high heels, I would still be in Coatzacoalcos with 10 children." ( Associated Press )

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Simple Steps for a Healthy Pregnancy

Simple Steps for a Healthy Pregnancy - A positive pregnancy test will change the lives of expecting parents forever, and the journey can seem overwhelming. Pregnant women can be bombarded with advice and are given endless options for resources on maternity dos and don’ts. To help us navigate the prenatal voyage, Katie talked with Alison Bernstein, editor of

The first misconception that Bernstein pointed out is the idea of “eating for two.” When women take in too many calories and gain more than the healthy 25-35 pounds, they put themselves at risk of cesarean section delivery or premature birth. Pregnant women actually only need an extra 300 calories per day, and even fewer during their first trimester. That's about the number of calories found in turkey sandwich. Instead of indulging in cravings and extra meals, expectant mothers should incorporate smart snacks like fruit with yogurt, or whole-wheat toast, to boost their caloric intake. Bernstein recommends six to seven small meals every two to three hours, which keeps blood sugar at a constant range, as the healthiest option for the woman and her baby.

It’s not all about how much you consume, but also what you consume that is important. Raw fish and alcohol are two big no no’s. Raw fish puts the body at risk of being exposed to unhealthy bacteria, and alcohol can heighten the risk of birth defects. One thing that a lot of women struggle to give up is caffeine. Women should only consume about 200 milligrams of caffeine a day, the equivalent of one 12 ounce cup of coffee. It’s important to not overlook other ways in which caffeine may sneak into your body: chocolate and tea, as well as cold and allergy medicines, often contain caffeine.

While keeping your body healthy is vital in a successful pregnancy, planning for your child’s future is just as important. According to Bernstein, the most overlooked area for expectant parents is finances. She advises that everyone make a baby budget. Make a plan for the immediate supplies like clothes, food and diapers, but also plan for the long term. Having a good health insurance and savings plan in place will help alleviate stress once that baby arrives, and will allow parents to focus on their new addition.

Despite the sea of information available to new parents, Bernstein also says to not overlook those closest to you. Reach out to other moms in your community for support, because nobody knows what you are going through like they do. But her biggest piece of advice: take a moment to enjoy your pregnancy. ( Katie's Take )

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After weight-loss surgery, new gut bacteria keep obesity away

After weight-loss surgery, new gut bacteria keep obesity away - The logic behind weight-loss surgery seems simple: rearrange the digestive tract so the stomach can hold less food and the food bypasses part of the small intestine, allowing fewer of a meal's calories to be absorbed. Bye-bye, obesity.

A study of lab mice, published on Wednesday, begs to differ. It concludes that one of the most common and effective forms of bariatric surgery, called Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, melts away pounds not - or not only - by re-routing the digestive tract, as long thought, but by changing the bacteria in the gut.

Or, in non-scientific terms, the surgery somehow replaces fattening microbes with slimming ones.

If that occurs in people, too, then the same bacteria-changing legerdemain achieved by gastric bypass might be accomplished without putting obese patients under the knife in an expensive and risky operation.

"These elegant experiments show that you can mimic the action of surgery with something less invasive," said Dr. Francesco Rubino of Catholic University in Rome and a pioneer in gastric-bypass surgery. "For instance, you might transfer bacteria or even manipulate the diet" to encourage slimming bacteria and squelch fattening kinds, said Rubino, who was not involved in the study.


For many obese patients, particularly those with type 2 diabetes, gastric bypass has succeeded where nothing else has. Severely obese patients routinely lose 65 to 75 percent of their excess weight and fat after the operation, studies show, and leave their diabetes behind.

Oddly, however, the diabetes remission often occurs before significant weight loss. That has made bypass surgeons and weight-loss experts suspect that Roux-en-Y changes not only anatomy but also metabolism or the endocrine system. In other words, the surgery does something besides re-plumb the gut.

That "something," according to previous studies, includes altering the mix of trillions of microbes in the digestive tract. Not only are the "gut microbiota" different in lean people and obese people, but the mix of microbes changes after an obese patient undergoes gastric bypass and becomes more like the microbiota in lean people.

Researchers did not know, however, whether the microbial change was the cause or the effect of post-bypass weight loss.

That is what the new study, by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University, set out to answer.

They first performed Roux-en-Y on obese mice. As expected, the animals quickly slimmed down, losing 29 percent of their weight and keeping it off, the researchers report in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

To make sure there was not something about the general experience of surgery, rather than gastric bypass specifically, that affected the animals, the scientists performed "sham" Roux-en-Y on other obese mice. In this procedure, the researchers made incisions as if they were going to do a gastric bypass, but instead connected everything up as nature had it.

The researchers then transferred gut microbiota from the Roux-en-Y mice to microbe-free obese mice. Result: the recipient mice lost weight and fat - no surgery required. Crucially, obese mice that received gut bugs from mice that had received sham Roux-en-Y, not the real thing, did not slim down.

It is the first experimental evidence that changes in the gut microbiota cause the weight loss after gastric bypass, and that the new, post-bypass mix of microbes can cause weight loss in animals that did not have surgery.

In particular, just a week after surgery the Roux-en-Y mice harbored relatively more of the same types of bacteria that become more abundant in people after gastric bypass and that lean people have naturally.

"The effects of gastric bypass are not just anatomical, as we thought," said Dr. Lee Kaplan, senior author of the study and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "They're also physiological. Now we need to learn more about how the microbiota exert their effects."

Slimming bacteria work their magic in either of two ways, studies of gut microbiota show. They seem to raise metabolism, allowing people to burn off a 630-calorie chocolate chip muffin more easily.

They also extract fewer calories from the muffin in the first place. In contrast, fattening bacteria wrest every last calorie from food.

Transferring slimming bacteria into obese people might be one way to give them the benefits of weight-loss surgery without an operation. It might also be possible to devise a menu that encourages the proliferation of slimming bacteria and reduces the population of fattening bacteria.

Another new study found that figuring out whether you have slimming microbiota or fattening ones might be as easy as breathing.

In a study published on Tuesday in the online edition of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles report that people whose breath has high concentrations of both hydrogen and methane gases are more likely to have a higher body mass index and higher percentage of body fat.

Methane is associated with bacteria called Methanobrevibacter smithii, which in overabundance may cause weight gain by extracting calories from food super-efficiently, Cedars' Ruchi Mathur, who led the study, said: "It could allow a person to harvest more calories from their food."

The breath test could provide a warning that someone is at risk of obesity because he harbors fattening microbiota.

It could also validate what many overweight people have long suspected: if their slim friends eat two slices of bacon-cheeseburger pizza the 600 calories go through them like celery, but if the overweight person indulges then every calorie seems to turn into more fat. People absorb different quantities of calories from the exact same food, thanks to their gut microbiota. ( Reuters )

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Stress in Pregnancy Boosts Stillbirth Risk

Stress in Pregnancy Boosts Stillbirth Risk - Physical and mental stress on a pregnant woman may increase the risk of stillbirth, a new study suggests.

The study involved more than 2,000 U.S. women who were surveyed 24 hours after a delivery or after a stillbirth. (About 600 women who'd experienced a stillbirth were recruited to take part in the study, along with about twice as many women who had delivered.)

In the study, women who said they had experienced five or more stressful life events in the past year, such as losing a loved one or their job, were 2.5 times more likely to have a stillbirth compared with women who experienced no stressful life events in the past year.

The finding "reinforces the need for health care providers to ask expectant mothers about what is going on in their lives, monitor stressful life events and to offer support as part of prenatal care," said study researcher Marian Willinger, of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which funded the study.

However, stressful life events were common, and most women who were stressed did not have a stillbirth.

Among women who carried their baby to delivery, 75 percent (1,015 women) experienced a stressful life event in the past year, compared to 83 percent of women who had a stillbirth (503 women), the researchers said. About one in ten women who delivered, and one in five women who had a stillbirth, experienced five or more stressful events.

A stillbirth is defined as the death of a fetus after 20 or more weeks of pregnancy. For every stillbirth in 2006, there were 167 live births, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Women were especially at high risk of stillbirth if they were in a physical fight in the past year, or if they had a partner go to jail.

"This is a first step toward cataloguing the effects of stress on the likelihood of stillbirth and, more generally, toward documenting how pregnancy influences a woman’s mental health and how pregnancy is influenced by a woman’s mental health," said study researcher Uma Reddy, also of NICHD

The study is published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Previous studies have linked stress in pregnancy to an increased risk of preterm birth, or to having a baby with a low birth weight. ( )

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Supercameras Could Capture Never-Before-Seen Detail

Supercameras Could Capture Never-Before-Seen Detail — A supercamera that can take gigapixel pictures — that's 1,000 megapixels — has now been unveiled.

Researchers say these supercameras could have military, commercial and civilian applications, and that handheld gigapixel cameras may one day be possible.

The gigapixel camera uses 98 identical microcameras in unison, each armed with its own set of optics and a 14-megapixel sensor. These microcameras, in turn, all peer through a single large spherical lens to collectively see the scene the system aims to capture. Since the optics of the microcameras are small, they are relatively easy and cheap to fabricate.

A specially designed electronic processing unit stitches together all the partial images each microcamera takes into a giant, one-gigapixel image. In comparison, film can have a resolution of about 25 to 800 megapixels, depending on the kind of film used.

"In the near-term, gigapixel cameras will be used for wide-area security, large-scale event capture — for example, sport events and concerts — and wide-area multiple-user scene surveillance — for example, wildlife refuges, natural wonders, tourist attractions," said researcher David Brady, an imaging researcher at Duke University in Durham, N.C., told InnovationNewsDaily. "As an example, a gigapixel camera mounted over the Grand Canyon or Times Square will enable arbitrarily large numbers of users to simultaneously log on and explore the scene via telepresence with much greater resolution than they could if they were physically present."

Gigapixel cameras may have scientific value. For instance, a gigapixel snapshot of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge allowed details such as the number of tundra swans on the lake or in the distant sky at that precise moment to be seen, allowing researchers to track individual birds and analyze behavior across the flock. Very wide-field surveillance of the sky is possible as well, enabling analysis of events such as meteor showers.

"I believe that the need to store, manage and mine these data streams will be the definitive application of supercomputers," Brady said.

The gigapixel device currently delivers one-gigapixel images at a speed of about three frames per minute. It actually captures images in less than a tenth of a second — it just takes 18 seconds to transfer the full image from the microcamera array to the camera's memory.

The camera also currently only takes black-and-white images, since color pictures are more difficult to analyze. "Next-generation systems will be color cameras," Brady said.

In addition, the camera is quite large, measuring 29.5 by 29.5 by 19.6 inches (75 by 75 by 50 centimeters), a size required by the space currently needed to cool its electronics and keep them from overheating. The researchers hope that as more efficient and compact electronics get developed, handheld gigapixel cameras might one day emerge, similar in size to current handheld single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras.

"Of course, it is not possible for a person to hold a camera steady enough to capture the full resolution of a gigapixel camera, so it may be desirable to mount the camera on a tripod," Brady said. "On the other hand, motion compensation strategies may overcome this challenge."

The researchers are also working on more powerful cameras. They have currently built a two-gigapixel prototype camera that possesses 226 microcameras, and are in the manufacturing phase for a 10-gigapixel system. Ten- to 100-gigapixel cameras "will remain more backpack-size rather than handheld," Brady said. (

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Talking About Depression

Talking About Depression - Learn about appropriate ways to discuss depression, including words and phrases you shouldn't use, like "snap out of it."

Communication is important in the best of times. When major depression factors into life, conversation has a vital role in the recovery process. A significant part of the journey back to health is depending on, and trusting, key people in your life. If you suspect or have been diagnosed with major depression, confide in your partner or spouse. While feelings of exhaustion and hopelessness are part of the illness, these symptoms are not an excuse to avoid sharing your circumstance. Understand, too, that even with your most trusted loved one, beginning the conversation may be difficult. To help you get started, consider these words:

Get Support
  • First, let your partner know this conversation is important to you. Choose a quiet time to talk, when you won't be interrupted. "I need to talk, and I need your full attention."
  • Be honest. It is perfectly acceptable to say: "I need your help," or "I am frightened," or "I don't know what to do."
  • If you are in a crisis, express this sense of urgency to your partner. Use the word, "Now," carefully and when it is truly necessary.
Not allowed:
  • Don't minimize your feelings. "It's not a big deal," is neither realistic nor honest. Not only are your feelings important, but also major depression should not be downplayed. Do not try to spare your partner the serious nature of this condition.
  • Apologies are not appropriate. "I'm sorry," would indicate you have a choice about your depression and research confirms this is not true.
Good Listeners, Appropriate Words

If a partner, family member, or friend comes to you and speaks of their depression, the proper response can make a world of difference in their trust. Remember, it's not your job to try and solve their problems or offer a cure. Instead, understanding and compassion are key. When you are taken into confidence, think about these words:
  • Offer support without giving advice. "I'm sorry you are going through this. What can I do to help?" "I can't really understand how you are feeling, but I am here for you, whenever you need me."
  • Be patient. Know that once treatment beings, it may be four to six weeks before any measurable improvement is evident. Let your friend or family member know you are there to encourage, offer simple diversions, and listen. "I know right now things are difficult, but this will pass, and we will get through it together."
  • Listen for signs of crisis. If you hear comments about suicide, or "wanting this all to be over," report them to your partner/friend's doctor or therapist, and clue in all caregivers.
Not allowed:
  • Do not utter the words, "Shrug it off," or "Cheer up."
  • Resist the urge to push too hard. "Stop moping around. Get over it and stop feeling sorry for yourself," is not an option for the depressed person.
In The Workplace

If you are employed, dealing with major depression and work can be a challenge. Enlist your doctor or therapist's help to determine what modifications you may need to make in schedule and workload to aid the recovery process. When you speak to your employer, be clear and concise in explaining the situation.
  • "I have a medical condition, and I am on the road back to health. I would like to discuss a few temporary changes to help me out along the way."
As an employer, if you notice an employee struggling with major depression, suggest your Employee Assistance Program if applicable. In addition, make all points clear and concise so there is no misunderstanding about expectations. An appropriate conversation might be positioned as:
  • "I understand you are struggling right now. I will do everything within my power to help you do your job. Please let me know how much information I need to assist you in this process." ( )

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Sharks? Lions? Grizzly bears? Try bats

What Is the World’s Most Dangerous Animal? - Sharks? Lions? Grizzly bears? Try bats
Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky.  —Albert Camus, The Plague
In May, 1997, a 3-year-old boy was admitted to an ICU in Hong Kong after suffering from influenza for a week. Two days later, the boy died of pneumonia. His case would have been merely a curiosity if it weren’t for 17 more patients who came down with the illness months later. In all, six people died from a strain of influenza that had never been seen in humans before, dubbed H5N1.

How afraid should you be of animal-borne disease?
Robert Neubecker.

However, H5N1 wasn’t really “new.” It had caused outbreaks in Scottish chickens in 1959 and British turkeys in 1991. It had killed geese in Guangdong, China, in 1996. But these bird outbreaks weren’t considered important by physicians or researchers on human disease—this was an avian strain of influenza, and it was thought that humans had little to be concerned about. That changed abruptly in 1997, when the human cases led to the destruction of 1.3 million chickens in Hong Kong in an effort to stop the outbreak. That strategy seemed to work in the short term, but H5N1 has since surfaced in more than two dozen countries and caused more than 600 human infections since 1997—almost half of them fatal.

While scientists were closely following the movements of H5N1, another influenza virus—H1N1—snuck up on us in 2009 and spread around the world in a matter of weeks. This was the first influenza pandemic of the 21st century, and like H5N1, it moved to humans from animals—in this case, from pigs.

When new infectious diseases are discovered, one of the first questions is “where did this come from?” More often than not, the answer is one of our animal friends—a kind of disease called a zoonosis. Studies have shown that about 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases (diseases that are newly discovered, are increasing in frequency, or have moved into a new geographic area) are of animal origin, as are 60 percent of all known pathogens. Even diseases that have spread freely in the human population, such as tuberculosis, HIV, measles, and smallpox, have their roots in infections carried by animals.

Which animals are the most likely to harbor zoonotic pathogens?


For reasons that are not currently understood, bats are able to be infected with a huge variety of viruses. They pass these viruses to other animal species via bites or guano. The classic bat-origin virus is rabies, but bats have also been implicated as possible reservoir species for the Ebola and Marburg viruses, Nipah, Hendra, and others. Even influenza has recently been found in bats. Bats also appear to be the reservoir for the SARS coronavirus, which surfaced in 2002 in Asia. SARS eventually infected more than 8,000 individuals around the world and killed almost 800 of them between November 2002 and July 2003, spreading to at least 37 countries. A new SARS-related virus has recently surfaced in Saudi Arabia, and speculation is that it’s also from bats.

Other Wild Animals

While bats appear to be responsible for a disproportionate amount of novel pathogens, every animal species carries its own unique microbiota—the collection of microbes that live on and in an animal’s body. Some of those can also spread to humans. As mentioned above, birds can spread many different types of influenza viruses. In fact, wild waterfowl serve as the ultimate reservoir for all known types of influenza viruses. Birds also can transmit a number of encephalitis viruses, such as West Nile. Because many migrate long distances, birds may be particularly efficient at introducing pathogens into new areas.

Primates also harbor a number of pathogens that have crossed over into human populations, often an easy jump since we are so closely related. HIV is the result of multiple species jumps from nonhuman primates into human populations, likely due to butchering of infected animals. Research carried out by Nathan Wolfe and others has shown that bushmeat hunters in Africa are still being infected with viruses from our primate relatives.

Rats and mice, of course, have long been associated with disease. Plague-infected fleas on rats spread Yersinia pestis, the bacterium responsible for the Black Death. We know today that other species can also transmit this pathogen—including much cuter prairie dogs in the southwestern United States. Mice have recently been implicated in an outbreak of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in Yosemite National Park that has killed three and sickened at least 10 campers. Mice carry this virus without showing symptoms and spread it to humans via urine and feces.

Livestock and Pets

The domestication of livestock and the taming of animals for pets certainly marked a turning point in human history. Having these animals on hand to provide food and milk, as well as companionship and assistance with hunting, gave humans a more ready food supply and meant less time had to be spent gathering food. However, it also put us in regular contact with germs that these animals carried. Human measles virus infections may have evolved from a similar cattle virus, rinderpest. Cattle can also be a source of tuberculosis in humans, even today. Industrial livestock production means that it’s not just a farm family that may be sickened by pathogens from a pig or cow, but potentially hundreds or thousands who consume meat or other products from those animals. Foodborne illnesses are estimated to sicken 76 million people yearly in the United States and kill approximately 5,000. Economic costs from these food-borne illnesses alone are estimated at approximately $77 billion per year

Finally, our smaller domesticated friends can expose us to their own pathogens, including the parasite Toxoplasma gondii in cats (which is particularly dangerous to pregnant women), and they can also bring along unintended visitors and their pathogens into the home in the form of fleas and ticks. Even “pocket pets” such as hamsters and guinea pigs can bring along potentially deadly viruses and infect their owners.

So, Why Aren’t We All Dead?

With so many potentially deadly organisms lurking in the animal species we share the Earth with, the question becomes not if we’ll have another novel pandemic, but when. However, these events—the new influenzas, the SARS coronaviruses, the HIV outbreaks—are actually relatively rare. “Spillover” events—an individual becoming infected with a zoonotic pathogen—are common, but typically the infected host is a dead end. He or she doesn’t spread the germ to a second person, which is a necessary factor for an epidemic (which is a localized outbreak) or a pandemic (a worldwide infection) to occur. Going back to H5N1 influenza versus H1N1, that’s why the former has caused only sporadic outbreaks and the latter has become pandemic. H1N1 is readily transmissible between people, and H5N1 (so far) is not. This is also why there was so much concern earlier this year when a genetically-modified H5N1 was created in a laboratory setting. This modified virus was able to spread readily between ferrets, a common animal model for human influenza research. The work caused worry that such a virus may escape from a lab and spread in the wild—The Stand come to life.

This controversy also highlights the difficulty in studying potential zoonotic pathogens. Many of these organisms have adapted to their hosts and do not always cause symptoms in their “natural” species. As such, it’s difficult to anticipate which microbes will 1) make the species jump successfully; 2) cause illness in the new host species (for example, in humans); and 3) transmit efficiently among members of the new host species. Prediction right now is very foggy, though we’re beginning to better understand the diversity of organisms out there, and with that, hopefully gain understanding into why some spill over and others do not.

One final note—while we often consider humans the victims of such pandemic events, that’s not always the case. Zoonoses are a two-way street, and humans can also spread our own native microbes to other species. Recent studies have shown that humans have spread antibiotic-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus to many different species, including domestic chickens, pigs, and even chimpanzees and dolphins. We, too, are a walking biohazard. ( )

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