Archive for October 13th, 2008

ACORN Gets Roasted

October 13th, 2008 | No Comments | Source: CBS News, NY Times

When spectators at Republican rallies spewed venomously at the Big O last week, the news overshadowed another story of possible fraudulent behavior by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a large voter registration group that targets likely Democratic voters.

Already this year, ACORN has signed up 1.3 million new voters.  But officials in a dozen states have raised concerns regarding at least 10,000 registration forms submitted by ACORN. In one Ohio county for example, ACORN registered one person 17 times. In Las Vegas last week, police raided ACORN’s offices and hauled off computers and documents.

Pursuing the story, CBS interviewed ACORN workers. Many said ACORN pressured them to increase their registration numbers, and this encouraged fraudulent activities such as transcribing names from phone books, creating fake names, using non-existent addresses, signing up dead people and registering inmates.

“Rumors of ACORN’s voter fraud have been greatly exaggerated and to a large extent manufactured,” ACORN’s chief organizer Bertha Lewis told the New York Times.  She added that ACORN informed officials about bogus registrations collected by its workers and dismissed the people in question.

Expect the story to evolve along two fronts this week: how much fraud took place, and what do we make of the Big O’s connections to ACORN, which include his campaign’s $800,000 payment to an ACORN-affiliated consulting firm last spring.



Ovarian Cancer Screen? Not So Fast

October 13th, 2008 | No Comments | Source: Wall Street Journal

Few cases of ovarian cancer are detected at an early stage, and late-stage disease responds poorly to treatment. The situation begs for an inexpensive, noninvasive screening test.

Last February, Yale scientists published the results of a blood test for ovarian cancer. Assaying for six disease-related proteins, the test correctly identified ovarian cancer in 95% of samples and it had a low false positive rate, 0.6%.

These results encouraged many. The Yale group and others launched follow-up studies. Others raised concerns that routine use of the test would trigger a flood of expensive follow-up testing and risky surgeries including the removal of non-cancerous ovaries.

Ovarian cancer screening was, alas, still a work-in-progress.

LabCorp had another idea. It began marketing Yale’s blood test in June for $220, believing it could side-step routine FDA review on a technicality that exempts tests developed at a single laboratory.

“Not so fast,” was the FDA’s response in a recent letter to the Burlington, North Carolina firm. Yale researchers developed the test it is true, but parts for the test were manufactured elsewhere. The test will have to go through a routine approval process which might take a year or more.

So for now we’re left advising women to be aware of symptoms which might be caused by ovarian cancer: pain or swelling in the pelvic or abdominal area, changes in bowel habits, weight loss and fatigue.  Perhaps though, we have reason for hope.


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Red Wine Cuts Smoker’s Lung Ca Risk

October 13th, 2008 | No Comments | Source: MedPageToday

Moderate red wine consumption may protect against lung cancer in male smokers, according to a study published in this month’s issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.

Scientists culled 210 lung cancer cases from the California Men’s Health Study data bases to determine whether the consumption of red wine, white wine or beer was associated with a higher risk for the disease.

After controlling for several variables, the scientists found that daily consumption of one or more glasses of red wine was associated with a 60% lower risk of lung cancer in men who ever smoked. The association strengthened in the subset of men who smoked regularly.

There was no association between beer or white wine consumption and lung cancer risk.

Red wine contains high levels of resveratrol and flavonoids, antioxidants that may have protective effects against cancer. Resveratrol for example has been shown to promote cell death in lung cancer tissue specimens and to slow cancer growth in mice. White wine contains flavonoids in much lower concentrations than red wine, and does not contain resveratrol, which is found in the skin of red grapes.

Of course the best way for smokers to reduce their risk of lung cancer is to stop smoking. And remember, the above result is for moderate red wine consumption only. Heavy intake may not be protective and is associated with serious health problems.


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