Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Researchers Skew Data?

TT Note: Some researchers have long been known to use selection bias so their studies will show the results they want. Not all researchers do this. It would be nice if we didn't use our bias history as we make deductions now. Hey, didn't I just do that?

I thought this article was interesting. Perhaps the possibility of an increased breast cancer risk will make some women think twice or three times.....

Study: Turkish Women with Abortions Have Statistically Significant 66% Increase in Breast Cancer Risk / Researchers Likely Underestimated the Risk, Reports Scientist

/Standard Newswire/ -- I guess they didn't get the 'memo' from the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI), which declared back in 2003 that the non-existence of the ABC (abortion-breast cancer) link had been 'established'"! - Professor Joel Brind, Breast Cancer Prevention Institute

A retrospective study conducted by Dr. Vahit Ozmen and his colleagues at the Istanbul Medical Faculty and Magee-Women's hospital reported a statistically significant 66% increase in breast cancer risk among women who'd had any abortions.

According to Joel Brind, professor of endocrinology at Baruch College, City University of New York and a director at the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, Ozmen's team most likely underestimated the breast cancer risk associated with abortion because of a flaw known as "selection bias."

Selection bias would also explain their team's unusual findings - significantly decreased risks for
women who use oral contraceptives (OCs) and hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The World
Health Organization and the NCI acknowledge that use of combined (estrogen + progestin) OCs and combined HRT increase risk.

Selection bias is a flaw in the study because only hospital or clinic patients were selected as study
subjects, and they were therefore not representative of the general population. According to Brind's hypothesis, a disproportionate number of "modern" women were likely represented among the controls, a group more likely to use HRT and OCs, have abortions and visit the hospital often for minor complaints. By contrast, a disproportionate number of "traditional" women were represented among the patients; women less likely to use HRT and OCs, have abortions and visit the hospital (except in cases of serious illness, like breast cancer).

To their credit, Dr. Ozmen et al. did acknowledge the likelihood of selection bias in their study, although they were not specific in attributing any effects on their results to it.

Brind's analysis of Ozmen's research can be read
here:
www.abortionbreastcancer.com/download/
BrindTurkishStudy.pdf (http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102652862893&s=13633&e=001xxmgfXy49dLCmcC1PHAHANLDqnoIurCPs85rTzPiEBdoGHzu_EyXBIgnNH6qacd9SJ5QxORxBoh97fV4PkI-sbJB_X2k8X7e1s_XwZjyXK4aFgn8S6TxYCLwmx_bhI2ytTImi5kWc-Lp_jZ-Y0-h-PM2aTTHWIqx-W-PgaUWj_Q=)

"Although the NCI, the nation's largest funder of cancer-research, and others have worked feverishly to suppress the ABC link by publishing fraudulent research and even leaning on scientists whose studies have shown risk increases among women who have abortions, honest research occasionally escapes the NCI's purview," declared Karen Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer.

The Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer is an international women's organization founded to protect the health and save the lives of women by educating and providing information on abortion as a risk factor for breast cancer.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Class Action Filed Against Extended Car Warranty Schemers

TT Note: Gee, you think someone can now go after all the phone calls coming from some un-named credit card company offering to lower my rates? You know the calls. A computer tells you if you act now, they can help. Sorry. I'll try to get to it right after I win the lottery.

/PRNewswire/ -- Please hold for an important notice about your automobile warranty: You are at risk of getting scammed.

That's the message in a class action complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by Jonathan J. Sahim, individually and on behalf of other customers nationwide who have purchased so-called "extended warranty" vehicle service contracts from Dealers Warranty LLC (also known as mogi and Federal Auto Protection) and Warranty Finance LLC.

Mr. Sahim is represented in the matter by Steven L. Wittels of Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP in New York, along with the Law Offices of Mark S. Baumkel & Associates in Bingham Farms, Michigan, and Michael F. Ram of Ram & Olson, LLP in San Francisco.

The complaint details Warranty's ongoing, wrongful scheme to extract hidden interest charges and penalties from consumers who cancel their service contracts before the term of coverage expires. The complaint charges that the defendants make a practice of heavily penalizing car owners with large interest charges and marketing fees that are not spelled out in their contracts, in violation of the Federal Truth in Lending Act and the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act.

"These Warranty rip-off artists bombard millions of households with calls designed to sell them virtually useless warranty contracts," said lead counsel Steven L. Wittels. "Then, when customers try to cancel their contracts, Warranty pounces on them with exorbitant hidden interest charges, marketing fees, and cancellation penalties. The defendants have defrauded thousands of consumers across the country with these charges, and this case aims to put a stop to their unethical practices."

This is not the first time that these warranty companies have run afoul of the law. According to the complaint, the defendants recently entered a consent decree to stop violating the national "no-call" law after being sued by national phone companies for engaging in mass automated telephone blitzes. Congress also held hearings to investigate these companies' unscrupulous marketing practices.

Mr. Sahim purchased an extended warranty from Dealers Warranty in 2007, agreeing to pay a flat, monthly fee for 60 months of coverage. When he tried to cancel his policy, the companies charged Mr. Sahim hundreds of dollars in hidden fees, totaling 25% of the total value of his warranty policy.

"These charges came out of nowhere," Mr. Sahim said. "My contract said nothing about 'interest' or 'marketing fees,' so I was completely shocked when the company charged me $175 for 'interest' and a $142 'marketing fee." Mr. Sahim added that the company would not provide him with a written explanation for how they had calculated his refund. He found out about these hidden costs only after calling up the company to demand an explanation.

The case seeks class action certification and at least $50 million in relief for all the consumers nationwide who were charged these illegal fees, as well as punitive damages. "The only way consumers can ever hope to recover these deceptive fees is if this case proceeds as a class action," explained Mr. Wittels.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Long-Term Care: The Next Big Women's Issue?

/PRNewswire/ -- Long-term care is getting a lot of exposure in the current health-reform discussions, but we ain't seen nothin' yet, according to Denise Gott, Chairman of the Board of LTC Financial Partners LLC (LTCFP) -- http://www.ltcfp.com/ -- one of the nation's largest and most experienced long-term care insurance agencies. "Wait until the most-affected individuals get wind of what's in store for them; all hell could break loose," she says.

And who are those individuals? The millions who succumb to longer-lasting illnesses and injuries, requiring help with eating, toileting, dressing or moving around?

"No," says Gott. "It's the women who end up caring for them. They're the ones suddenly forced to provide 24/7 assistance to their husband, parent or other loved one who can't function on their own anymore." A majority of women will eventually need long-term care themselves, "but they tend to live longer than men, and social norms still consign females to the care giving role. So they're the ones who have to sacrifice their futures when they're still relatively young and fit, with years of productive, enjoyable life still to live."

Long-term care insurance would free women from this forced care giving, since it provides funds for professional nursing home or in-home care, "but the vast majority of women have no long-term care buffer. No policy for their husband or mother or father, let alone for themselves." Ordinary health insurance doesn't cover long-term care, nor does Medicare. Medicaid does, but only for the less affluent who lack assets.

The media's recent attention to long-term care centers around the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act of 2009, which would create a public insurance program for adults who become functionally disabled. "But the benefits would be less than half of those provided by a typical private policy, and they wouldn't kick in for five years," Gott says. "This could be better than nothing for lower-income people, but inadequate, in my opinion, for the middle class. Women would still be saddled with significant care giving chores."

A better solution would be "significant new tax incentives to help people buy private LTC insurance on their own, tailored to their needs," Gott attests. "Women should be screaming about this to their representatives in Congress. Their futures depend on it."

Also, the talk shows should be talking it up, Gott says. "I'm surprised Oprah, The View, and 60 Minutes aren't all over this."

Forced care giving has an economic as well as lifestyle downside. "Household income dwindles whenever a woman has to give up her job for unpaid care duties," says Gott. "Multiply that by the millions of women affected, and think of the drain on the economy. It extends into the billions." Tax breaks for long-term care insurance, "would be a great federal investment, helping us pay for other aspects of health reform."

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Survey Highlights Emotional, Financial Toll Multi-Generational Tobacco Use Takes on Parents Sandwiched In Between

/PRNewswire/ -- Amanda Crawford was just fifteen when she smoked her first cigarette. Now that she is 45, she still smokes despite having tried to quit multiple times. Children are fifty percent more likely to start smoking if they have a parent who smokes - and in Crawford's case, it was her father who smoked. Born and raised in Virginia, she met and married her husband - also a smoker - in Roanoke. The Crawfords now have three sons - 28, 14 and 11. "Our 28-year-old started smoking when he turned 18 and our 14-year-old is already sneaking cigarettes. My father quit smoking later in his life, but I'm concerned about how smoking will affect the health of our entire family," she said.

She is not alone. As caregivers across the country mobilize for Sandwich Generation Month in July, the American Legacy Foundation(R) today released the results of a recent survey analyzing the unique concerns associated with tobacco use and prevention for Americans raising their own kids while simultaneously caring for their aging parents - millions of whom have been life-long smokers and are now struggling with the resulting health effects. Lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, can all afflict aging smokers and can be emotionally and financially debilitating for families forced to cope with them.

The survey, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, found that 75 percent of respondents with a parent who is a current or former smoker are concerned about their aging parent's current or past smoking or their diagnosis of having a tobacco-related disease. Thirty-four percent of respondents with teenage or adult children indicated that they were concerned about their child's current or potential smoking. About 5% of respondents were "sandwiched" in between: struggling with issues related to both their parents and children smoking. Nationwide, this small percentage translates to more than 10 million Americans in this situation.

The survey highlights the unique position of this group of Americans and their concerns about the impact of the nation's number-one preventable cause of death on their emotional and financial well-being. Treating tobacco-related disease is enormously expensive for families and for the healthcare system. A 2007 American Legacy Foundation report found that America's Medicaid system could spend nearly $10 billion less within five years if all Medicaid beneficiaries who smoke, quit. Effective smoking prevention and cessation programs could cut Medicaid costs by 5.6 percent.

Results from this survey also found that while just over a third of respondents are concerned about their own kids smoking, 56 percent of all respondents feel that a national youth smoking prevention campaign will keep kids from lighting up. Almost half (49 percent) think that a national quit smoking campaign will help reduce healthcare costs across the country.

"As healthcare reform and the economy dominate our headlines, we simply cannot ignore the burden of smoking on the health of America's families," said Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH. "This snapshot into the lives and concerns of this segment of our population reinforces the urgency with which more resources are needed to return money and lives as dividends," she said. This is especially important given one in five of those concerned about their parents say the healthcare costs associated with smoking are impacting their family's financial situation more than ever.

Late last year, the foundation commissioned an online survey by Harris Interactive analyzing the impact of the economic crisis on smokers. In that survey, 77 percent of smokers report increased stress levels due to the current state of the economy and two-thirds of those smokers say this stress has had an effect on their smoking.

The single best way for smokers to improve their health is to quit. Forty-six million Americans have stopped smoking but currently 43 million still do. On average, it takes 8-11 attempts before a smoker quits for good so adopting a personalized, comprehensive quit plan is critical to increasing the odds for success. The free, state-of-the-art EX(R) campaign is helping smokers quit by arming them with the best information available to re-learn their lives without cigarettes. Visit www.BecomeAnEX.org for more information.

The current survey was conducted on behalf of the American Legacy Foundation by Opinion Research Corporation's CARAVAN(R) Telephone Survey among a national probability sample of 1,002 adults 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States, during the period June 19-22, 2009. A full methodology is available.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Majority of Federal Workforce Concerned About Meeting Public's Expectations for Economic Stimulus Program

TT Note: Oh, that wonderful stimulus package that we had to have right now or the sky would fall. Well, let's see. Unemployment is higher than what the administration said it would be with the passage of the wonderful stimulus package. Now, even government employees are "concerned" and "overwhelmed" that it just may not be what Chicken Little proclaimed.

/PRNewswire/ -- According to a new study by Government Business Council (GBC), the research division of Government Executive Media Group, most federal executives are not optimistic that their agencies will be able to achieve all that the American Recovery and Reconstruction Act (ARRA) has promised to taxpayers.

Federal managers report that they are focusing their agency's efforts to contribute to the ARRA objectives of saving and creating jobs and jumpstarting the economy, but that they are doing so with uncertainty. Specifically, the majority of federal managers -- 54% -- report that they are "overwhelmed" or "anxious" about the ARRA requirements and the management of ARRA so far.

The survey, conducted in May 2009, captures the views of 333 randomly selected federal managers on the implementation of ARRA. According to the study, most federal managers expect their agencies to have success in disbursing stimulus funding but believe that the tracking and reporting of those funds, to meet accountability and transparency standards, will be more difficult.

Despite being uncertain, managers do seem hopeful about ARRA, however, as 40% feel that the program could serve as a catalyst to further changes in how government works, possibly resulting in improving the public's view of government.

"Our research indicates that federal managers are committed to the goals of ARRA but are concerned that they may not have the resources to be fully successful," stated Bryan Klopack, Director, Government Business Council.

GBC will present a free webinar on the study on July 16, 2009 at 2 p.m. More information on the study and webinar can be found at www.govexec.com/gbc/.

"Government Business Council leads the way in tapping into the minds of federal managers to understand their most pressing concerns," commented Matt Dunie, General Manager, President, Government Executive Media Group. "By focusing on understanding the challenges facing today's federal leaders, GBC is able to identify where opportunities may exist for the private sector to provide mission-critical expertise and assistance."

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Nine Companies Penalized for Selling Children's Products that Violated the Federal Lead Paint Ban

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that nine children's product manufacturers, importers and sellers have agreed to pay more than $500,000 in civil penalties for violating the federal lead paint ban.

The penalties settle allegations that the firms knowingly manufactured, imported, or sold toys and other children's articles with paint or other surface coatings that contained lead levels in violation of federal law. The settlements have been provisionally accepted by the Commission.

These products were recalled in 2007 and 2008, and include items such as toys, children's metal jewelry, children's pens, metal water bottles, pencil pouches, sunglasses and children's Halloween pails and baskets. Tests showed that paint or surface coatings on these children's products contained lead in excess of 600 ppm, or 0.06 percent, by weight. One firm's testing revealed that its products contained surface coatings with nearly 60 percent lead. In 1978, a federal ban was put in place which prohibited toys and other children's articles from having more than 0.06 percent lead (by weight) in paints or surface coatings. Lead can be toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health consequences.

CPSC has ordered the following firms to pay civil penalties to the federal government:


Cardinal Distributing Co. Inc., of Baltimore, Md., $100,000
Recall: #07-157

Dollar General Corp., of Goodlettsville, Tenn., $100,000
Recalls: 08-007, #08-068, #08-080

Family Dollar Stores Inc., of Matthews, N.C., $75,000
Recall: #08-051

Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., of Oklahoma City, Okla., $50,000
Recalls: #08-084, #08-229

First Learning Company Ltd., of Hong Kong, $50,000
Recalls: #08-141, #08-174

Michaels Stores Inc., of Irving, Texas, $45,000
Recall: #08-248

A&A Global Industries Inc., of Cockeysville, Md., $40,000
Recall: #07-144

Raymond Geddes & Co, of Baltimore, Md., $40,000
Recall: #08-096

Downeast Concepts Inc., of Yarmouth, Maine, $30,000
Recall: #08-231

In agreeing to settle the matters, the firms deny CPSC's allegations that they knowingly violated the law.

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

American Society of Anesthesiologists Releases Following Statement Related to Media Inquires Regarding Michael Jackson's Death

TT Note: While the official cause of the death of Michael Jackson is still being determined in the laboratory setting, it would appear that the entertainer most likely had a long history of drug addiction. His death is so very sad on many levels. He was a brilliant entertainer, a man of vast talent, but a very lost soul. Perhaps his death will serve as a wake up call to some other people who suffer from his type of alleged drug problems.

/PRNewswire/ -- In response to breaking news of drugs reportedly found at the scene of Michael Jackson's death, the American Society of Anesthesiologists releases the following statement:

"The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), which is made up of physicians providing professional anesthesia care, does not know the specific circumstances surrounding Michael Jackson's death. However, the ASA unequivocally maintains that Diprivan, or its generic name Propofol, is a drug meant only for use in a medical setting by professionals trained in the provision of general anesthesia. Though the drug is often used for procedures requiring sedation, patients can have extremely variable responses to the drug and some patients can become completely nesthetized, including losing the ability to breath. Diprivan should never be used outside of a controlled and monitored medical setting. Use of the drug should be directly supervised by a physician trained in anesthesia and qualified to provide physiologic rescue should too much drug be given."

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Congress' ACES Bill Will Trump Housing Affordability

/PRNewswire/ -- Housing affordability is a key reason why eight of every 10 jobs created in the U.S. last year were in Texas.

"Given this statistic, it's shocking that Congress' American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) very well threatens to undermine this advantage for a housing sector that constitutes more than 12 percent of the state's economy," says Phil Crone, director of government affairs and green building programs for the Home Builders Association of Greater Dallas (HBA).

"Narrowly passed by the House last week, ACES is intended to place most of the American economy on a carbon-cap-and-trade system," says Crone. "The legislation also enables the U.S. to sign a follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Treaty when the United Nations Climate Change Conference meets in December in Copenhagen, Denmark."

Buried within the 1200-plus pages of ACES are provisions imposing federal mandates requiring each state to make its energy code for new buildings 30 percent more efficient than current levels, perhaps as soon as next year. By 2014, each new building must be 50 percent more efficient than current code.

"On its face these requirements probably sound good to many people, but some prospective is needed," says Crone. "While buildings often are estimated to account for as much as 40 percent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions, new homes built in the last 10 years only account for 2.5 percent. Half of that electricity is lost in the grid and never makes it to the home."

He adds, "Clearly, our older inefficient housing stock is where wise environmental policy should focus. The only way to encourage upgrades on these homes is through market incentives such as tax credits."

Crone says Congress appears to favor a policy adding thousands of dollars to the cost of a new home with projected decades needed to offset the utility savings. "Even a modest estimate of a $4,000 cost increase would make a new home unobtainable for more than 100,000 Texas households, according to the Texas A&M Real Estate Center," he says.

Most builders believe ACES trumps years of environmental progression in the home building industry, Crone says. "The most recent EPA numbers show that Texas builders produce more Energy Star-certified homes than the next six leading states combined. In 2007 alone, these homes saved Texans more than $18 million on utility bills with emissions savings equal to taking 20,000 vehicles off the road."

"Certainly, green has been popular with consumers for several years, but when the rubber meets the road in the policy arena, we must be sensible, especially in a very weak economy," said HBA President and local home builder Tim Jackson. "Federal mandates crippling a vital part of the Texas economy with environmental gains measured in fractions of a percent are not the answer."

If ACES becomes law, HBA officials estimate a family of four will see a $24,000 increase in their direct energy costs between the years 2012 and 2035. "For someone my age, that number represents two years of college tuition I hoped I would have been able to save for my children," said Crone.

"As Congress deals out ACES, more than 500,000 Texans employed in the housing industry will brace themselves for the regulatory hand that will potentially push them into an uncertain abyss and trump any hopes for Texas's continued prosperity."

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