CHANCE News 1.12
              (11 Dec to 19 Dec 1992)

Prepared by Laurie Snell

Please send suggestions for  articles or format to 

Happy chance holidays! 



>>>>>==========>> We thank Joan Garfield for the next three articles. Female executives still behind in pay. USA TODAY, Dec 17, 1992, money, p 2b Julie Lawlor A report on Working Woman magazine's 14 annual salary survey, out this week. The survey showed that the average wage gap between male and female workers grew last year. Women earned 70 cents for every dollar earned by men, down from 72 cents in 1990. The report looks at particular job categories and differences in salaries since 1983. <<<========<<

>>>>>==========>> Refusing to swallow diet myths; a mild-mannered Harvard research is causing a stir by debunking common beliefs about nutrition. LA Times Dec 15, 1992, A, page 1. An account of the work of Harvard professor Walter Willett on nutritional epidemiology author of a classic book with this title. Since 1980 Willett and his colleagues have examined the eating patterns of 300,000 people -- participants in the Nurse's Health Study. His studies rely on questionnaires, samples of blood, drinking water and even toenails. The toenails are used, for example, to determine if certain minerals are risk factors for breast cancer. The article highlights nutritional myths debunked by his work. <<<========<<

>>>>>==========>> U' will participate in 5-year study of heart disease; research to focus on women and hormone therapy. Minneapolis Star Tribune, Dec 16 1992, News, p 8b Gordon Slovut Announcement of a double blind clinical trial to see if hormonal therapy can stop or reverse heart disease in women who have gone through menopause. 2,500 women will be recruited for the experiment. Previous studies that showed that estrogen may reduce the risk of heart attack by about 50 percent for women who have gone through menopause. These studies were not randomized studies and may suffer from the comparison group being more health conscious etc. There has been some opposition to the use of estrogen based on the evidence that it increases the risk of cancer. It is commented that that this study may be too small to determine this risk but another study which began in 1989 may eventually resolve this question. <<<========<<

>>>>>==========>> Vaccinated monkeys found to resist aids. LA Times, Dec. 18, 1992, A p 1 Sheryl Stolberg Harvard researchers injected four rhesus monkeys with a weakened form of the SIV virus (AIDS virus for monkeys). Two years after the four monkeys were inoculated they were injected with SIV. At the same time four control monkeys were also given doses of infectious SIV. Within 36 weeks. all four control monkeys were either dead or sick. The vaccinated monkeys remained healthy. Scientists have been reluctant to use this classical approach of live virus and have worked instead on genetic engineering techniques to create vaccines based on proteins in the virus. Everyone says that there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the use of this method on humans. Desrosiers who carried out the experiment comments that the challenge is to create a vaccine strong enough to be effective and weak enough to be safe. <<<========<<

>>>>>==========>> New data revive the debate over mammography before 50 . The New York Times, Dec. 16, 1992 Gina Kolata This article surveys the current confusion about the value of mammograms caused by results of recent studies people. It is suggested that doctors do not want to believe studies studies that go against their cherished beliefs. Lots of good quotes from experts about where we are and how often advice is given out based on little or no experimental evidence. <<<========<<

>>>>>==========>> DNA tests in doubt as court cases collapse. The Independent, Dec 12, 1992 Adam Sage and Steve Connor A Judge Rawley was given two conflicting sets of "expert" witnesses relating to the use of DNA as evidence in a case of armed robbery. As a result he ruled the DNA evidence inadmissible, forcing the Crown Prosecution Service to drop all charges. "His decision follows a similar ruling by the Old Bailey judge in a rape case last month and will prompt prosecution barristers to question whether they can present such evidence in future trials." <<<========<<

>>>>>==========>> Scientists split on gene 'fingerprints'. The Daily Telegraph Dec 12, 1992, p 3 Christine McGourty Now the British scientist want a review of DNA fingerprinting in the courts. Interesting quotes from Alec Jeffreys the originator of the idea such as "It's a judge's prerogative to say the Earth is flat, or whatever he likes." <<<========<<

>>>>>==========>> Editorial Notebook. The New York Times Dec 13, 1992, sec 4, p 16 Michael M. Weinstein Comments on the work of Jack Wennberg of Dartmouth Medical School to help patients make informed medical decisions through the use of videotapes that attempt in a balanced way to give the plusses and minuses of various alternative treatments tailored to the individual patient. The first video was on prostrate surgery. His techniques have been used most successfully at H.M.O.'s. "Dr. Wennberg estimates that if the entire U.S health care system needed as few urologists per patient as Kaiser-Denver now needs, the nation could stop training new urologists for 18 years". Wennberg talked in our Chance class to my surprise the students were fascinated by the video and a two hour discussion of peeing. <<<========<<

>>>>>==========>> Film Clips; How to explain environmental "Gentleman". LA Times Dec 13, 1992, Calendar, p 25 The movie "The Distinguished Gentleman (which got lousy reviews everywhere) contains a scene based upon the Brodeur articles in the New Yorker warning of increasing evidence that exposure to the magnetic fields given off by power lines, often found near schools, may lead to cancer. (See last weeks Chance News) <<<========<<

>>>>>==========>> Beating the market Yes, it can be done. The Economist 5 Dec 1992 The efficient-market theory was started by Maurice Kendall in 1953 is more or less says that the stock market behaves like random walk. This theory has been popularized by Burton Malkiel in his book "A Random Walk Down Wall Street. This article discusses recent challenges to this theory. <<<========<<

>>>>>==========>> Marilyn vos Savant column. Parade Magazine Dec 13, 1992 Robert H. Batts asks Marilyn's advice about a dressed up version of the classic box paradox of Bertrand: A cabinet has three drawers. The first drawer has two gold balls, the second two silver balls, and the third one of each. A drawer is picked at random and a ball drawn. Given that a gold ball is drawn what is the probability that the drawer with two gold balls was chosen? This paradox does not seem to have different interpretations and Marilyn gives a straightforward answer. I am continually trying to find a reference to the origin of this paradox. If anyone has one I would appreciate hearing about it. <<<========<<

>>>>>==========>> Polarized Debate: EMFs and Cancer. Science 11 Dec. 1992 A somewhat more technical discussion of the controversy over the possible that fields associated with power lines cause leukemia. Some of the difficulties of giving accurate assessments in government reports is discussed. <<<========<<

>>>>>==========>> Pediatric AIDS Vaccine Trials Set. Science 4 Dec. 1992 A discussion of the decision to carry out clinical trial for AIDS vaccine to see if a vaccine given to pregnant women who are HIV positive can prevent AIDS in the child. The article discusses the concerns about such a decision such as lack of informed consent on the part of the child, concern about liability etc. An important reason for the study is that the onset of AIDS occurs much sooner in children making it possible to get results in a much shorter time period. <<<========<<

>>>>>==========>> NIH Panel OK's Vaccine Test - in a New Form. Science 4 Dec. 1992 There was a lot of flack over the fact that Congress added $20 million to the Defense Department appropriations to carry out a test of a AIDS vaccine from MicroGeneSys Inc after lobbying by the company. The NIH is now trying to calm the waters by recommending that several vaccines at the same time be carried out using the $20 million and this article discusses some of the politics involved in this final solution. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CHANCE News 1.12 (11 Dec to 19 Dec 1992) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please send suggestions to: jlsnell@dartmouth.edu >>>==========>>|<<==========<<<