FROM Sharon Begley
Biosecurity Breaches at the CDC Federal health officials have disclosed breaches of safety at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s own laboratories. The latest safety breach involves avian flu which could be even more serious than the anthrax shipped from one lab to another, or the vials of smallpox found in an unused storage room. Even Director Dr. Thomas Frieden says it may be time to reduce the number of labs working with some of the planet’s most dangerous microbes. Sharon Begley is reporting the story for the Reuters News Service.
Making (Designer?) Babies with Three Parents Medical advisers to the US Food & Drug Administration held hearings this week on whether to approve a controversial procedure called "three-parent in vitro fertilization.” The procedure is meant to help women with a genetic defect to have healthy babies. But it has also raised objections from people who see this as a slippery slope to “designer babies.”
Would Less Testing Make for Better Medical Care? When it comes to cancer, the watchword has long been "early detection," routine testing for common forms of the disease. But the United States Preventative Services Task Force says testing for common cancers may do more harm than good , to men as well as to women. First it was mammograms for breast cancer ; now it's the PSA test for cancer of the prostate gland . In both cases, there's been a powerful blacklash. We focus on the prostate findings, which some specialists say they plan to ignore. Are they afraid of lawsuits? Will patients demand early detection? Will insurance companies deny reimbursement? Will the findings cut the cost of health care by establishing a form of rationing?
Breast Cancer Study Raises More Questions on Mammograms Last year an influential federal task force said routine annual mammograms were not necessary for women in their 40's. That led to concerns about insurance companies rationing medical services. Now a new study of 40,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer in Norway between 1986 and 2005 says treatment has advanced so much that mammograms may, indeed, not be so important. Sharon Begley is science editor of Newsweek magazine.
Cancer and the Business of Medicine The annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology brings together the latest on cancer research and treatment. Patients and their families pray for news of a breakthrough. Businesses look for investments; entrepreneurs look for opportunities. Last week in Chicago, some 4000 studies were presented to 30,000 top experts — but one warned there's "a growing sense that our optimism needs to be tempered a bit." We hear from him and others about how financial conflicts, personal habits and occupational hazards impact inroads against the disease.
Cancer: Big Business and the Painstaking Search for a Cure Five years ago, cancer researchers were predicting "miracle treatments" — even vaccines -- based on the billions being spent on genetics. But the more they know, the more complicated cancer becomes, and even the American Cancer Society has tempered its optimism. Cancer victims, and members of Congress, are increasingly impatient with the slow pace of improvement. Are financial conflicts part of the problem? Given what’s known about personal habits like smoking, about occupational hazards and the environment, should more be spent on prevention?
Green Products as Modern Indulgences "On the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, Let's…Go shopping!" reads a headline from Newsweek magazine which argues that "buying green and changing personal behavior won't save the planet." The Gallup Poll has found that 76% of Americans have bought products specifically because they thought they were better for the environment. Sharon Begley, science editor for Newsweek , calls that evidence that "green activism has gone seriously off course."
Why Don't Facts Matter? "Fake News" may have a long history, but social media and 21st Century politics have brought it front and center. One reason for its appeal and its power is the tendency of so many people to cling to their beliefs — even when confronted with contradictory evidence. Today, another look at the Emotional States of America.
Is Venezuela becoming a dictatorship? Venezuela may have the world's largest oil reserves, but it's a nation in trouble… economically and politically. Is a populist promise to rescue democracy turning out to be a prelude to dictatorship?