UPI NewsTrack Health and Science News

Doctor: Panel overstated cancer risks

WASHINGTON, May 7 (UPI) — A new government report on chemicals in the environment may divert attention from larger cancer causes such as smoking, The American Cancer Society said.

The report published Thursday by the President’s Cancer Panel is “unbalanced” in its implication that pollution is a major cause of cancer, said Dr. Michael Thun, an epidemiologist with the ACS.

“If we could get rid of tobacco, we could get rid of 30 percent of cancer deaths,” Thun told The New York Times in a story published Friday.

The government’s 240-page report said the proportion of cancer cases caused by chemical exposure has been “grossly underestimated.”

While the panel said it cannot quantify the cancer risk from chemicals because most of the 80,000 chemicals in use have not been tested for safety. But the ACS says only about 6 percent of cancers comes from chemical exposure.

The panel urged President Obama to strengthen research and regulation and warned consumers to limit exposure to pesticides, industrial chemicals, medical X-rays, vehicle exhaust, plastic food containers and excessive sun. Children are at the greatest risk, it said.

Carcinogens and other toxins in food, water and air “needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives,” the panel said.

Computer pioneer Max Palevsky dead at 85

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., May 7 (UPI) — Computer pioneer Max Palevsky, a founder of Intel, died in Beverly Hills, Calif., at the age of 85, his assistant said.

Palevsky died Wednesday of heart failure at home, Angela Kaye said.

Palevsky used his fortune from computers to support Democratic presidential candidates and to amass an important collection of American Arts and Crafts furniture, which he donated to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

In 1961, Palevsky left Packard Bell to form Scientific Data Systems, a builder of small and medium-size business computers purchased in 1969 by Xerox for $1 billion. Palevsky used some of his 10 percent share of the $1 billion to start Intel, which became the world’s largest producer of computer chips.

Palevsky used his money to back Robert F. Kennedy and George McGovern for president and in 1970 rescued a foundering Rolling Stone magazine by buying a significant block of its stock, The New York Times reported Friday.

Despite his interest in computers, Palevsky did not own a computer or even a cellphone, he told the Los Angeles Times in 2008.

Palevsky said he was skeptical of “the hypnotic quality of computer games, the substitution of a Google search for genuine inquiry, (and) the instant messaging that has replaced social discourse.”

Palevsky, who was born in Chicago, earned a bachelor’s degree in math and philosophy from the University of Chicago and did graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, and UCLA.

He is survived by a sister, Helen Futterman of Los Angeles; a daughter, Madeleine Moskowitz of Los Angeles; four sons: Nicholas of Bangkok, Alexander and Jonathan, both of Los Angeles, and Matthew of Brooklyn; and four grandchildren.

Freshway lettuce recalled in 23 states

WASHINGTON, May 7 (UPI) — Freshway Foods is recalling products with romaine lettuce linked to an outbreak of 19 cases of E. coli in Michigan, Ohio and New York, authorities said.

Twelve people have been hospitalized, including three with life-threatening hemolytic uremic syndrome, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a release Thursday.

The recall affects Freshway shredded romaine lettuce with a use-by date of May 12 or earlier sold under the Freshway or Imperial Sysco brands for use at supermarket salad bars and delis. Bulk, prepackaged romaine or bagged salad mixes containing romaine purchased in supermarkets were not included in the recall.

Ohio-based Freshway agreed to voluntarily recall the lettuce from 23 states after the New York Public Health Laboratory reported finding E. coli in an unopened bag of Freshway Foods shredded romaine lettuce, the FDA said.

Freshway, in a release Thursday, advised consumers not to eat “grab and go” salads sold at in-store salad bars and delis at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets and Marsh stores. Romaine purchased from those bars and delis should be thrown away, the FDA said.

The recalled products were sold in Alabama, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Consumers with questions were urged to call Freshway Foods at 1-888-361-7106 or go to the Freshway Web site at www.freshwayfoods.com1.

Extra coating aids bacterial spores

NEW YORK, May 7 (UPI) — Bacterial spores that cause botulism, tetanus and anthrax may have an extra coating of protection that help them survive, scientists in New York said.

The new findings offer insight into why bacterial spores are the most resistant organisms, researchers at New York University said in a release Thursday.

Microbiologists studied the spores of Bacillus subtilis, a non-pathogenic bacterium that shares many of the same structural features of spore-forming pathogens, such as botulism, tetanus and anthrax.

An electron microscope confirmed B. subtilis carried an outermost layer, which the researchers named the “spore crust.”

While it has yet to be confirmed, it’s possible the spore crust is a common feature of all spore-forming bacteria, including the harmful pathogens, the microbiologists wrote in a recent issue of the journal Current Biology.

The study was conducted by researchers at New York University’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, Loyola University’s Medical Center, and Princeton University’s Department of Molecular Biology.

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