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Which way is upstream?

"Insulin inaction may hurt even nondiabetics" (SN: 9/30/00, p. 213) says elevated concentrations of glucose in the blood is "a problem that occurs downstream" of impaired response to insulin. Yet artery blockage is defined as a failure of cells to react to insulin. So, would not the problem be upstream of the impairment?

Marry Morel Prescott, Ariz.

Downstream of the impairment, here, means after--in the biochemical flow--effects first play out. In other words, it's too late to eliminate the problem with good glucose control because the insulin resistance and its complications predated poor glucose control.

--J. Raloff

Hooked on a feeling

The heading "Brains generate a body of feeling" (SN: 9/30/00, p. 216) should have been "The body generates a feeling of the brain." The whole idea of Antonio R. Damasio's theory is that bodily reactions precede brain awareness or a person's awareness of a specific emotion.

William Fudge Dania, Fla.

Damasio's theory is that the brain interprets bodily reactions linked to emotions and that this occurs largely outside of awareness. I tried to get this across in the heading.

--B. Bower

Cabbage path

Medicine needs a new paradigm. The findings described in "Fighting cancer from the cabbage patch" (SN: 9/23/00, p. 198) suggest something better than potentially important agents and a new class of drugs to reduce cancer risk, as observed by Barnett Zumoff.

If you want to reduce your cancer risk, simply do what the Polish women mentioned in the story do: Eat more cabbage, sauerkraut, and brussels sprouts. We don't need expensive drug trials to start saving lives.

Max Dalrymple Tucumcari, N.M

Gone but not forgotten

I read and reread "The making of a grand canyon" (SN: 9/30/00, p. 218), hoping to find an explanation of where all those sediments have gone. From appearances, they surely all haven't been deposited in the Gulf of California. Where else? Does anyone have any satisfying theories?

Allen Glenn Abilene, Texas

Sediments from the erosion of the Grand Canyon have ended up in several places, says Pamela Irvine, a geologist with the California Department of Conservation's Division of Mines and Geology in Los Angeles. Besides making up the river delta, such sediments line the valley of the lower Colorado River and also lie several thousand feet thick in California's Imperial Valley. Moreover, Richard Young points out that a significant fraction of the rocks in the Grand Canyon are made up of limestone and other carbonate sediments that would simply have dissolved into the river and been carried to the ocean without leaving a trace.

--S. Perkins
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Publication:Science News
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Nov 25, 2000
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