Progress in our fight against cancer came with animal research
This month has seen dramatic turns in the field of health care. It started with a news story about a pair of drugs that may have the potential to cure cancer ("Human trials planned for 2 drugs that eradicate cancer in lab mice," May 2).
Then came the numerous experts warning that, based on historical precedents, those new cancer drugs, endostatin and angiostatin, may come up short in clinical trials. The reason: the fact that a scientist can cure cancer in mice does not mean the same treatment will work in humans.
I think such statements oversimplify the case.
Animal research helps us learn more about ourselves. For example, the polio vaccine was developed through work done with primates. Likewise, animals also played pivotal roles in the development of insulin, transplant surgeries and antibiotics.
Previous research with animals in the field of oncology yielded chemtherapy and other treatments for cancer. As a result, patients are now living longer than ever before. Today, the five-year survival rate for children with acute lymphocytic leukemia is 80 percent, prostate cancer is 87 percent and breast cancer patients have a whopping 97 percent chance of survival.
In the end, it seems that we can learn a thing or two from our friends in the animal kingdom.
Susan E. Paris
The writer is president of the Americans for Medical Progress Educational Foundation.
Horses on dangerous track competing in racing game
It's hardly surprising that Halory Hunter, a Preakness favorite, broke his leg during a recent workout and had to be pulled from Saturday's race ("Preakness heartbreak," May 13). Few fans of horse racing realize what a perilous path equine athletes are on.
Some 390 horses were nominated for this year's Triple Crown, but many horses fell by the wayside after being injured on the track.
Just bad luck? Hardly. One racing columnist said today's racehorse is "a genetic mistake. It runs too fast, its frame is too large and its legs are far too small."
Many horses are raced before their bones and knees have fully matured. And trainers turn horses into junkies by pumping them full of drugs like Lasix and Bute, which allow injured animals to continue racing. Compound injuries and chronic lameness are common.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) urges readers to think about the horses during the last leg of the Triple Crown and to refree from cheering on this dying "sport."
The writer is a staff member of PETA.
Sparks Elementary needs time to handle more growth
I am writing to thank The Sun for covering the plans for redrawing the boundaries for Sparks Elementary School ("Parents aim to 'blitz' redistrict plan," May 10). But I think the article may confuse rather than clarify.
We at Sparks have no issues with the county's plans to redistrict. Dr. Milbourne and Pamela Carter presented one plan at the first community meeting and were very open to community input about how the lines should be drawn. They were very sensitive to Fifth District Elementary's opposition to the plan.
Redistricting should not happen until September of 1999. Currently, we are squeezed into Cockeysville Middle School and will remain there until our new building is ready sometime in the next school year. Cockeysville has been our ark to take us through this difficult time and we thank the school for it.
But while the new school will have room for about 200 more students, there is no additional space in Cockeysville Middle School to house the redistricted students now. If we have to accommodate them at the beginning of the next school year, extra classrooms would have to be created in the school's open space. This would create noisy and distracting environments that would be unacceptable for teaching. Plus, there would be concerns about staffing, bathrooms and physical education facilities that are not addressed in the plan.
We welcome the new children into Sparks with open arms, but only when we are ready for them. We believe that it would be an educational disaster to carry out the plan this year.
Laura M. Wilke
Roth IRA savings accounts will spur more savings
Article didn't state clearly IRA investments are taxed
Regarding the Opinion Commentary article ("Roth IRA: another federal program for the rich elite, May 4), a Roth Individual Retirement Account allows people to invest up to $2,000 of salaried income each year. The $2,000 investment is not tax deductible.
This is comparable to investing a portion of each paycheck in a savings account that pays tax-free interest. Five years and $10,000 total investment later, the $10,000 that already has been taxed can be taken out of a Roth IRA tax-free to make that down-payment on a first home. The accumulated investment income is left for tax-free withdrawal later.
The "young and affluent" will be better able to invest in Roth IRAs than the "paycheck-to-paycheck crowd."
There are three meaningful public policy objectives of the Roth IRA: A more productive retirement savings vehicle, an offset to the high 12.4 percent levied against earnings to contribute to the Social Security Trust Fund and new money into the savings pool.
Encouraging emigration is part of the answer to sprawl
Neal R. Peirce touts the usual tired, unpopular remedies for farmland preservation in "A way to halt sprawl, conserve farmland" (May 11). He discusses revitalizing cities and building multiple-family housing, transit-and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and narrow streets.
All are neat fixes people don't want.
There is, however, an effective way to halt sprawl -- reduce the human population. We must immediately end all immigration, encourage emigration and halt all government-based incentives for having children, especially tax deductions and welfare payments.
We must reward both men and women for undergoing voluntary free sterilization and encourage people to die in a timely, natural manner by refusing public funding of organ transplants and other extraordinary life-extending procedures.
The equation for the future is win-lose. If we continue to encourage growth in the human population, we doom all other species (and probably our own) to threatened status. By simply tailoring public policy to sensible negative-growth action, we not only preserve farmland; we assure future generations of all species a resonable chance of survival.
Kirk S. Nevin
Palestinian story showed other side in Middle East
The article "For Palestinians, a catastrophe" (May 10), by Ann Lolordo, gives hope. We have here a hint of what happened to the other side and some indication of why things are as they are in the Middle East.
Until the American public gets the full picture and acts on it, we will never have a level playing field there.
Congratulations, Sun, for being bright enough to cast more light on the problem.
Netanyahu needs land deal to secure peace in Israel
As an active member of the Jewish community of Baltimore, I am supportive of President Clinton's mediating role in the Israel-Arab impasse. I have not considered it undue pressure, nor do I think Israel's security will be impaired. In fact, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu needs to comply with the U.S. position to withdraw from 13 percent of the disputed land in return for a peaceful settlement. The alternative to this can only lead to an unending period of violence.
IRS tactics to collect bring back audit memory
Reading the stories about the Internal Revenue Service brought back a memory of 60 years ago.
My late husband and I ran a small business, on the first floor of our home. He was the outside salesman, catering to the large needle trade in Baltimore. I was the detail person and ran the office.
I couldn't have done anything wrong, wouldn't have known how, being so young and law-abiding.
When we were notified to be checked I was petrified. I spent day after day with two men who found everything OK.
I shall never forget . . .
Pub Date: 5/18/98