For all the cats who share our homes as companion animals, there is a vast shadow world of strays — a sprawling and fast-breeding crowd.
Their lives are plagued by the threat of infectious diseases, predators and fast-moving cars. And they are major predators themselves, hunting down millions of birds and small mammals annually.
In the United States, volunteers are especially active in trapping the cats, bringing them to clinics to get surgically sterilized, and then returning them to their colonies. But controlling stray cat populations is costly and logistically cumbersome. Many communities, especially in countries outside the United States and Europe, lack the veterinary and economic resources to coordinate such efforts.
“Coming up with an alternative to surgery has been a goal for a lot of people for decades, and there just hasn’t been anything else that’s proven to be effective,” said William Swanson, director of animal research at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.
Such a method might finally be on the horizon. In a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, a single shot of a gene therapy prevented pregnancy in cats for at least two years. The study was extremely small: Six female cats that received the gene therapy shot were compared to three who did not.
By limiting the study size to just a few cats, the researchers were able to track each one extensively, analyzing 15,220 freeze-dried poop samples for estrogen and progesterone levels and examining 1,200 hours of video of mating behavior, Dr. Swanson said.
The contraceptive shot delivers a gene that enters muscle cells, enabling them to pump out a substance called anti-Müllerian hormone, or AMH, which interferes with the development of egg follicles in the ovaries.
Researchers cautioned that much more research would be needed to test the preliminary findings. And if larger studies confirm that the treatment — the first gene therapy developed specifically for animals — is safe and effective over a cat’s lifetime, controlling cat populations won’t require the surgical expertise of veterinarians, Dr. Swanson said.
David Pépin, a reproductive biologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, was originally studying AMH as a potential therapy for ovarian cancer, but decided to look at its effect on ovaries. When he injected the hormone into mice, their ovaries shrunk to newborn size, suggesting AMH might have contraceptive properties.
Dr. Pépin is investigating the potential use of AMH in people, not as a gene therapy but as a pill or injection that must be taken continuously. Most contraceptives today prevent ovulation, but AMH would act earlier, blocking follicles from maturing.
He thinks that it might be useful for women who could not take birth control pills with progesterone or estrogen for medical reasons or that it could help women undergoing cancer treatments preserve their fertility. “It’s a hormone that we didn’t get to play with before that potentially has many different applications in women’s health,” he said.
As a gene therapy that could be permanent, the use of AMH in people is unlikely. “But it’s actually the perfect tool to control cat overpopulation,” he said. Four of the cats in the study did not show behaviors indicating they were ready to mate, and two allowed male cats to mate with them, but did not ovulate.
Dr. Pépin and Dr. Swanson, an expert in feline reproduction (and a scientific advisory board member of the Michelson Found Animals Foundation, which funded the work), are planning a larger study that could support an application to the Food and Drug Administration to consider approving the therapy to be marketed for use in cats.
They are also testing the therapy in kittens, which can be treated starting at eight weeks of age, as well as in dogs, which also have enormous stray populations, particularly in other countries.
“This is really exciting, and I hope it will pan out,” said Julie Levy, a veterinarian at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville, who was not involved with the study. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could send out a technician into the field to inject cats and then let them go?”
The study is an example of the Michelson foundation’s practice of “throwing a lot of big money at the problem” to find nonsurgical contraception for stray cats and dogs, said Dr. Levy, who works with cats in outdoor colonies and shelters, both in the United States and abroad.
But she cautioned that there was still much to learn from a larger study, such as how long the shot lasts, whether it is as safe as it seems, and what proportion of cats it will actually protect from pregnancy, “because it probably won’t be 100 percent.”
Others note that it might not be quite so easy. If the shot is effective, long-lasting and cheaper than spay and neuter surgery, it could be very valuable, said Autumn Davidson, a veterinarian at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, N.Y. But to receive the injection, animals have to be captured, and queens who are adept at evading people’s traps might still make population control a struggle.
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Ask a doc: ‘What should I know before getting a breast lift?’
A growing number of women are opting to reverse gravity by getting a surgical breast-lift procedure.
The prevalence of breast lifts has risen 70% since 2000 — twice the growth of breast implant surgery, according to new statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
“A breast lift — or ‘mastopexy’ — is a procedure in which excess skin is removed to tighten the breast envelope,” said New York-based plastic surgeon and breast reconstruction specialist Dr. Constance M. Chen in comments to Fox News Digital.
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“This also repositions the breast tissue and the nipple-areolar complex higher on the chest wall.”
Why do women opt for breast lifts?
All women’s breasts change with time and gravity, Chen noted.
“As women get older, it is typical and natural for the skin to lose elasticity and for the breasts to drop,” she said.
Breastfeeding is the biggest cause of this, she said; but occasionally some women who did not breastfeed may find that their breasts droop over time.
“Menopause is also a factor, because dense, glandular breast tissue is replaced by fat — and fatty tissue is softer and less firm,” Chen said.
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”If a woman is unhappy about sagging breasts, the only way to fix it is surgery,” the doctor said. “A well-fitted bra can provide support for a better look in clothes, but exercises to firm the underlying chest muscles won’t impact the breast tissue itself.”
In most cases, a mastopexy will not change the size of the breasts, even though the result may make the breasts appear fuller and rounder, according to Chen.
“In cases where a woman wants larger or smaller breasts, additional procedures such as augmentation or reduction can be done in conjunction with a breast lift,” she said.
Dr. Brian Reagan of CosmetiCare, who practices in San Diego, California, said many patients come to his practice for lifts after they have children — usually a few months post-breastfeeding.
“The breasts will change for months after breastfeeding, so we want to wait a minimum of three months,” he told Fox News Digital.
Types of breast lifts
There are several different mastopexy procedures depending on the degree of lift needed, Chen advised.
A “crescent lift” is the least invasive procedure. In this case, a crescent of skin at the top of the nipple-areolar complex is removed to improve the position of the nipple, Chen said.
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“The crescent lift is called for when the breasts are basically perky, but the woman wants her nipple-areolar complex adjusted upward slightly,” the doctor noted.
“In cases where a woman also wants bigger breasts, the crescent lift can be performed in conjunction with breast augmentation.”
A “Benelli lift” is also used to provide a small lift for barely drooping breasts.
“Here, a doughnut-shaped incision is made around the nipple-areolar complex, and the skin is tightened,” Chen said. “While this kind of breast lift is less invasive than a full lift, it can have the side effect of flattening the breast. An implant can be used to improve the projection of the breast.”
A “lollipop lift,” or a short-scar vertical mastopexy, is used when the breast tissue itself needs to be positioned higher on the chest wall, the doctor noted.
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“The short-scar vertical mastopexy refers to the limited scars around the nipple-areolar complex and then vertically to the fold below the breast, which looks like a lollipop,” Chen said. “In this procedure, more breast skin is removed, and the underlying breast tissue is repositioned to significantly change the breast shape and lift it up.”
Finally, an “anchor lift” — or the traditional Wise-pattern mastopexy — adds a horizontal scar along the crease below the breast to the same scars of the vertical mastopexy, which allows for reshaping and repositioning of the tissue.
“This is an older procedure used by older surgeons not trained in the vertical mastopexy, who are particularly prone to using it when there is significant sagging in large breasts,” Chen noted.
The vertical and the Wise-pattern mastopexies are both full breast lifts that are equally effective in creating a perkier, more youthful result, according to Chen.
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“The vertical mastopexy is also called the ‘short-scar mastopexy’ because it eliminates the horizontal scar in the inframammary fold,” she said. “It is an improvement on the anchor lift.”
She added, “The full mastopexy is the most commonly performed breast lift, because it is usually the appropriate technique for someone who wants a noticeable change to their breast appearance.”
Risks of breast lifts
Every plastic surgery procedure comes with some degree of risk — and breast lifts are no exception.
Reagan said the main risks associated with breast lifts are a decrease in nipple sensation, potential loss of tissue (including the nipple) and poor scarring.
Due to elevated risk, there are certain groups of people who are not good candidates for the procedure, he said.
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He advises against smokers getting a breast lift, for example.
“Actively smoking can cause delayed healing and possible open wounds,” Reagan said.
He recommends kicking the habit at least six to eight weeks prior to surgery.
People who have existing medical issues, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, are also not good candidates, the doctor warned.
“The ideal candidate is someone who is healthy, has no medical issues and has deflated, droopy breasts,” he said.
For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.
Broasted Chicken: All You Need For Crispy-Outside, Juicy-Inside Fried Chicken Is *This* Genius Lid Technique
When it comes to fried chicken, we’ve heard so many different tricks and family secrets for getting the crunchiest and juiciest bites, from soaking in buttermilk to using a special blend of seasonings. And here’s another twist that recently caught our attention: “broasting.” This method uses pressure cooking and deep-frying to cook every part of the chicken evenly. The result: fried chicken that’s less greasy, yet is still moist and coated in a deliciously crispy crust. It’s the secret behind so many restaurant’s amazing fried chicken, and while traditional broasting uses a one-of-a-kind machine that simultaneously steams and fries, you don’t need an appliance to create broasted-style chicken — simply using a sturdy skillet and lid will do the trick. Here’s the scoop on broasted chicken and an easy recipe to make the next time you’re craving this comfort food classic!
What it means when chicken is “broasted”
Broasting is different from traditional, open pan-frying methods as it involves a special pressure fryer (don’t worry, though, you don’t need this as you’ll learn below). Brian Jupiter, executive chef and owner of the restaurants Frontier and Ina Mae Tavern in Chicago, notes that this machine fries the chicken in a closed environment. This creates steam and pressure that seals in the meat’s juices. It also prevents sudden drops in oil temperature that could cause the chicken to become greasy. “Broasting pressurizes the chamber of frying oil, allowing temperatures to stay consistently high for a certain amount of time,” he explains. “This creates a lighter and even crisper texture on the chicken.”
Jupiter adds that broasting was invented by engineer L.A.M Phelan in the 1950s. He designed equipment that pressure-fried chicken quickly and thoroughly, and his machine was eventually mass-produced specifically for restaurants and fast food chains, where broasting remains a staple method for frying large batches of chicken. But, you don’t need a clunky and pricey broasting machine to achieve the same golden brown and succulent results at home.
How to mimic the broasting method
A key aspect of broasting is steam, which is generated when the fryer is covered and the pressurized settings are applied. Although it’s tricky to create that same level of pressure in a normal skillet, cookbook author Pam Anderson says you can mimic the method with just a lid. The trick: “As soon as I get all my chicken pieces in the skillet, I cover the skillet for the first half of cooking time, then uncover it for the second half.”.The lid traps in moisture and heat to steam the meat while helping maintain a consistent oil temperature. Removing it halfway through lets the skin get nice and crispy.
Food writer and biochemist Shirley Corriher also swears by covering the pan during the first half of the frying process. “Covering the skillet does make a racket, though — it’s the drops of condensed moisture dropping into the oil that create all that carrying-on,” she says. This is why it’s a good idea to have an oil shield like BergKoch’s Splatter Screen (Buy from Amazon, $10.99) handy to prevent grease from splattering and making cleanup more of a hassle.
Hungry for broasted-style chicken? If so, we’ve got the perfect recipe for you!
A delicious broasted-inspired chicken recipe
Our Southern Fried Chicken recipe takes inspiration from the broasting method to create moist dark and white meat. Additionally, this recipe coats the chicken in self-rising flour instead of all-purpose for an even crunchier crust. Clearly, this recipe has all the makings for a finger-licking batch of fried chicken that your crowd will love!
Southern Fried Chicken
- 2 qts. vegetables or canola oil
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- 1 (3 to 4 lb.) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
- Active: 30 mins
- Total time: 1 hr
- Yield: 6 servings
- In large pot or deep fryer, heat oil over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking, about 350°F. Place rack over large rimmed baking sheet.
- In small bowl, combine garlic powder, salt and pepper. In shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and hot sauce. Spread flour in shallow dish or pie pan.
- Heat oven to 200°F. Sprinkle all sides of chicken pieces with garlic mixture; dip each piece into egg mixture, letting excess drip off back into bowl, then coat with flour, shaking off excess.
- Place first batch of chicken in skillet, cover and cook 8 to 10 minutes. Remove lid, flip and cook another 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown and internal temperature registers 165ºF. (Check chicken after 5 minutes; if browning too quickly, flip pieces and reduce heat to medium).
- Transfer cooked chicken to rack on baking sheet. Place baking sheet in oven to keep warm while frying remaining chicken. Serve with favorite sides and enjoy!
To whip up more hearty classics at home, check out the recipes below:
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