Cholesterol ‘fuels’ breast cancer – By James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News

Doctor inspecting x-rays

It raises the prospect that taking cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins could prevent cancer.

The work, published in the journal Science, helps explain why obesity is a major risk factor for the disease.

However, cancer charities cautioned that it was too soon to advise women to take statins.

Obesity has been linked with many cancers including those of the breast, bowel and womb.

“Start Quote

The results from this early study are promising”

Dr Hannah BridgesBreakthrough Breast Cancer

The fat in overweight people can pump out hormones, such as oestrogen, which drive the growth of cancers.

A team at Duke University Medical Centre, in the US, showed that cholesterol was having a similar effect.

Cholesterol is broken down by the body into 27HC, which can mimic oestrogen and produce the same effect as the hormone in some tissues.

Experiments on mice showed that a high fat diet increased levels of 27HC in the blood and led to tumours that were 30% larger than in mice on a normal diet.

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There’s Nothing Postracial About Richie Incognito or Craig Cobb – Patricia J. Williams November 26, 2013

No matter how you parse it, Incognito is a bully and Cobb is a white supremacist.

Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin

Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito (68) and tackle Jonathan Martin (71) look over plays during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, August 24, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

They’re curiously phrased, those expressions of sympathy by Miami Dolphins players who have lined up to defend left guard Richie Incognito’s violent behavior toward his teammate, offensive lineman Jonathan Martin. Incognito achieved particular notoriety recently for directing a hefty wet stream of racialized epithets at Martin. (“Hey, wassup, you half-[n-word] piece of [expletive]…[I’m going to] slap your real mother across the face…. I’ll kill you!”) This bullying was so relentless that Martin decided to resign from the NFL.

Despite Incognito’s extensive history of brutality (he was elected “dirtiest player” in the league), a significant number of black and white teammates have rallied around him as an “honorary” black man, incapable of racism. Incognito, it has been proffered, had merely “messed” with Martin as one would a “little brother.” Martin, by contrast, the genteel, sweater-vested Stanford classics major, has been depicted as “not really black” because he’s somehow too “soft” to stand up to a bit of friendly hazing. Most intriguing, he’s been painted as a reverse racist for even complaining.

There are those who swear that all this has nothing to do with race. Says a sports-obsessed friend: “It’s a club. Like the Thin Blue Line. Omertà…. The difference is, [Incognito] used the n-word. The others are coming to his rescue because they know that that’s the only thing that distinguishes his bad behavior from theirs.” Yet whatever the dynamic, the main actors have deployed the signifying power of the language of race. They have done so, moreover, in a way that would seem to scramble the borders of identity—white is black, black is white, we are all n-words now, kumbaya! Some have found in this a weirdly soothing promise of a “postracial” society. But I worry that what is actually happening is a not so subtle reinforcement of racism’s slippery power to reinscribe social hierarchy, even while denying its very existence.

Racism is malleable; it is always changing its clothing. If we do not speak of it in exactly the same way we did thirty or forty years ago, it helps to remind ourselves that it has always been a mash-up of multiple forms of intolerance—i.e., racism, class bias, insider-outsider. The precise proportions may shift over time, but the alignments of Incognito’s pseudo-blackness with threatening behavior and Martin’s pseudo-whiteness with being threatened is a persistently re-emerging metric.

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Condoms Aren’t Sexy. This Is How Porn Stars Would Fix Them. – By Aurora Snow November 30th 20135:45 AM

Condoms help prevent STDs and pregnancy, but they sure are a buzzkill for the adult industry. Stars weigh in on what would make the perfect prophylactic.


Face it, condoms aren’t sexy. Yes, they are mostly reliable and protect us against STDs and pregnancy, but nothing can compete with the thrill of skin on skin contact. So many couples get caught up in the heat of the moment, the moment when kisses turn to caresses and the clothes land in a heap on the floor. Uncontrollable attraction takes over as our pleasure centers catch fire, the world falls away and our concerns for safety cease to exist. One thing matters: sexual gratification. Having to pause and fuss around with an annoying wrapper and then figure out how to put it on correctly in a dimly lit room can ruin the moment. That’s when the condom FAILS.

Condoms have been a buzzkill for the industry, too. Since Los Angeles County passed Measure B, which mandates condom use in all porn films made locally, there’s been an estimated 95 percent drop in permits to film. While the measure does seem extreme, we can’t forget that the industry was rattled when a few performers tested positive for HIV this year.

Meanwhile, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded grants to their “create a new condom” contest winners in an effort to create a new generation condom, one that will appeal to even the most finicky of condom users.

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HEALTH Prescribing Pot for Pet Pain – Miranda Green By Miranda Green November 30th 20135:45 AM

Photo by Gary Morrison/Getty

As acceptance of medical marijuana grows, pet owners increasingly are using the drug to ease the suffering of their furry friends.

Nikita was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she was in pain. She wouldn’t eat, barely moved and constantly whimpered. Removing the tumors from her body didn’t do much, nor did the medicine prescriptions she was given—but what did help was marijuana.

“I’d exhausted every available pharmaceutical pain option, even steroids. At that point, it was a quality of life issue, and I felt like I’d try anything to ease her suffering,” her doctor, Douglas Kramer, told a prominent medical journal. After consuming small amounts of marijuana, Nikita’s appetite returned and she began greeting Kramer at the door again. Kramer says the weed gave Nikita six extra weeks of life.

Now, doctors prescribing marijuana to patients battling cancer is nothing new. But there’s a wrinkle in this case. Nikita is a Siberian husky. Dr. Kramer is a veterinarian. And the medical journal in which he describes the case is the Journal of American Veterinary Medicine Association.

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The Vaccination Effect: 100 Million Cases of Contagious Disease Prevented – By STEVE LOHR

Vaccination programs for children have prevented more than 100 million cases of serious contagious disease in the United States since 1924, according to a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The research, led by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh’s graduate school of public health, analyzed public health reports going back to the 19th century. The reports covered 56 diseases, but the article in the journal focused on seven: polio, measles, rubella, mumps, hepatitis A, diphtheria and pertussis, or whooping cough.

(It won’t hurt a bit.) Researchers went back over health reports and measured the drop in disease after a vaccine was introduced.
Brian Snyder/Reuters(It won’t hurt a bit.) Researchers went back over health reports and measured the drop in disease after a vaccine was introduced.

Researchers analyzed disease reports before and after the times when vaccines became commercially available. Put simply, the estimates for prevented cases came from the falloff in disease reports after vaccines were licensed and widely available. The researchers projected the number of cases that would have occurred had the pre-vaccination patterns continued as the nation’s population increased.

The journal article is one example of the kind of analysis that can be done when enormous data sets are built and mined. The project, which started in 2009, required assembling 88 million reports of individual cases of disease, much of it from the weekly morbidity reports in the library of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Then the reports had to be converted to digital formats.

Most of the data entry — 200 million keystrokes — was done by Digital Divide Data, a social enterprise that provides jobs and technology training to young people in Cambodia, Laos and Kenya.

Still, data entry was just a start. The information was put into spreadsheets for making tables, but was later sorted and standardized so it could be searched, manipulated and queried on the project’s website.

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The ‘Tennessee Crackers’ Would Have Never Happened – By Michael Tomasky November 30th 20135:45 AM

Photo by Charles Dharapak/AP

Michael Tomasky

No one would have dreamed of giving an NFL team a name insulting to white people, Catholics, or Jews. So why is ‘Redskins’ okay? One reason: Native Americans’ lack of political power.

WARNING: This column contains racially and ethnically offensive words and phrases. A lot of them. That’s the point, as you’ll see. I don’t go around using these words and phrases in real life and don’t think you should, either.

The other night I was settling in to watch a bit of the Washington football club versus the San Francisco 49ers. A thought occurred to me that I tweeted: If the Niners had been named in the same spirit in which the Redskins were named, they might be the San Francisco _____s.

In came the replies, some very witty ones. But while witty, they were also mostly pretty offensive. Fags, or some variant thereof, came up a lot. And this in turn got me thinking: What if every NFL team had been named in the spirit in which the Redskins were named? They were named, if you don’t know, by George Preston Marshall, the full-throttle racist who owned the team from the 1930s through the 1960s. He changed the name from Braves to Redskins because Braves wasn’t racist enough, and he moved the team from Boston to Washington because Boston wasn’t racist enough. He wanted to be the football lord of Dixie.

Doubt me? When he proposed to his wife, he hired some black singers to croon “Carry Me Back to Ol’ Virginny” while two black maids dressed in Gone With the Wind get-ups served them juleps in order to set the “proper” mood. And when he died in 1969—well after legal segregation had died—he instructed that the foundation to which he left much of his estate not direct a dollar toward “any purpose which supports or employs the principle of racial integration in any form.”

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Keeping poor soldiers out of poverty – November 29, 2013

Warriors Warehouse is the only civilian nonprofit of its kind in the U.S. that operates on an army post

A U.S. Army private’s starting salary is $18,000. So it’s not surprising some soldiers returning from war need some help to stay out of poverty. Ranya Kelly founded the Warriors Warehouse in 1991. Her volunteers are Vietnam vets who know what it’s like to come home with a broken spirit. Jim Hooley reports from Colorado Springs.

Black Friday protests, fights but also record sales for Walmart by Massoud Hayoun November 29, 2013 2:51PM ET

Workers’-rights groups staged actions across the US, but that didn’t deter bargain huntersalt

A Walmart employee rings up purchases in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles on Black Friday, Nov. 29, 2013.

Walmart reported “record-breaking” Black Friday sales, despite protests against the retail giant’s labor practices, reports of violence among frenzied shoppers and predictions that pre-Thanksgiving discounts would dampen consumer enthusiasm for the traditional shopping day.

Kory Lundberg, a spokesman for the chain, told Al Jazeera that in a span of four hours Thursday evening, Walmart stores across the nation processed 10 million register transactions. On Thanksgiving, received 400 million page views, and on Friday, by noon, customers had purchased 2.8 million towels, 2 million televisions and 1.4 computer tablets.

“We had record-breaking Black Friday results in our stores,” Lundberg said.

He added that Walmart did not anticipate that protests — which have been ongoing and were expected to reach a peak on Black Friday — would affect sales as the day progressed. But workers’-rights group the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart), a subsidiary of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, said that hundreds of rallies had taken place, calling on the retailer to pay their employees better.

A number of Walmart staffers took part in the protests. Meggan McKinley, a 21-year-old salesperson, was among 13 arrested for standing in a four-lane highway in Balch Springs, Texas, in a bid to stop customers from getting to the store.

Prior to the Black Friday protest, Walmart had filed for a restraining order against OUR Walmart in Texas. Similar orders were filed in California, Arkansas, Maryland and Florida.

Two of those arrested at Balch Springs were Walmart employees, and about 30 people participated in the demonstration.

“We are not slaves. We are people just as well,” McKinley told Al Jazeera. “At the end of the day, we want the things that the people who run Walmart have … We shouldn’t have to pick and choose what bills we are going to pay.”

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