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Scientists question mammogram value



Published: Fri, January 25, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Scientists questionmammogram value

WASHINGTON -- It's advice that's almost become gospel: Getting a mammogram could save your life.

Now some scientists are challenging whether that's true -- and the controversy is serious enough that even the National Cancer Institute is reviewing its guidelines.

For now, the advice hasn't changed: Women should begin getting mammograms in their 40s, stressed Dr. Peter Greenwald, the NCI's cancer prevention chief.

That advice is based on studies done in the 1970s and '80s that concluded mammograms can cut deaths from breast cancer by 30 percent.

But now two Danish scientists have reanalyzed those studies and concluded they had so many flaws in the way they were conducted that it's impossible to say whether mammograms really reduce deaths.

Those analyses are causing a scientific uproar, and many specialists do not accept them.

Still, the controversy is about to get more of a consumer airing. This week, advisers to the National Cancer Institute took up the issue, and agreed with the Danes. This group, called the PDQ editorial board, is responsible for updating scientific information on the government's main cancer Internet site, and may add to the site by spring the warning that mammography's lifesaving promise is in doubt.

Scam targetsblack taxpayers

WASHINGTON -- A growing number of black taxpayers are being misled by scams falsely claiming they can get tax credits or refunds as reparations for slavery.

The Internal Revenue Service received about 80,000 tax returns last year claiming $2.7 billion in reparations refunds, up from 13,000 the year before. The majority of claims come from taxpayers in the South, but they have occurred in all parts of the country -- including some involving Native Americans.

Typical scams use terms such as "black investment taxes," "reparations for African-Americans" or a "black inheritance tax refund."

Promoters charge an upfront fee, sometimes a percentage of the promised refund, and provide a fake tax form for claims that frequently seek between $40,000 and $80,000 from the government.

These con artists often warn clients not to contact the IRS because the government doesn't want the general public to know.

Slavery crackdownutilizes new visa

WASHINGTON -- Attorney General John Ashcroft says federal prosecutors are launching a new crackdown on slavery in the United States, offering special immigrant visas to men, women and children smuggled across the borders to work in sweatshops, farms or brothels.

Ashcroft said Thursday that 45,000 to 50,000 illegal immigrants in the United States were brought here for prostitution or servitude.

He said victims will be offered a new "T-visa," giving those brought here for slavery temporary residence in the United States for three years in return for their help in prosecuting the pimps, "snakeheads" (human smugglers) and others trafficking in human beings.

Under new regulations that Ashcroft issued Thursday, those with T-visas would be entitled to government protection during the investigation and would become eligible to apply for permanent resident visas after the three-year T-visa expires.

Doug Malloy, deputy U.S. attorney in Fort Myers, Fla., said the new T-visas will give assurances to victims in the United States illegally that they can tell their cases to police and prosecutors without fear of being deported.

Can alcohol useward off Alzheimer's?

LONDON -- A new study indicates that daily moderate consumption of alcohol, which has already been shown to help prevent heart disease and strokes, may also ward off Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.

The study, published this week in The Lancet medical journal, also found that it doesn't seem to matter what people drink -- the effect is the same.

Experts say moderation -- between one and three drinks a day -- is the key.

India tests missile

NEW DELHI, India -- India successfully tested a new version of its nuclear-capable, intermediate-range Agni missile -- the most powerful weapon in its missile arsenal -- from an island off the eastern coast today, officials said.

The test came amid simmering tensions between India and Pakistan, as soldiers, ballistic missiles, fighter jets and tanks face each other across the border in the nuclear rivals' biggest military standoff in decades.

The government said the test was routine, however, and did not carry any political meaning.

Combined dispatches




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