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A Philanthropist Against Cancer

What an inspiration 90-year-old Armand Hammer is, especially to those in the third trimester of life. One of Dr. Hammer's lifetime goals has been to help find a cure for cancer, and he has put his money where his heart is.

Several years ago, this generous philanthropist/oil executive/art collector announced a $1 million reward to the scientist or scientists who found a cure for cancer.

We wish Dr. Hammer would award the $1 million to Dr. Lawrence Einhorn and his colleague Dr. John Donahue, who developed a remarkable cure for testicular cancer. Testicular cancer had been one of the most virulent of cancers and was once the leading cause of cancer death in young males between the ages of 29 and 35. Today, even testicular cancers that have spread up into the lungs can be cured. A breakthrough such as this one must surely give hope to all cancer researchers that other such spectacular cures are possible.

We spoke with Dr. Hammer and President Reagan's colon surgeon, Dr. Steven Rosenberg, at the Great Hall of the National Library of Congress in the Thomas Jefferson Building. The event was a glittering reception in honor of Dr. Hammer's donation of his personal papers to the library. In this splendid setting Dr. Rosenberg told me about his admiration for Dr. Einhorn of Indiana University and his spectacular testicular cancer cure. He told me that Dr. Einhorn is now attacking lung cancer research. When I got back to Indiana, I called Dr. Einhorn, hoping to learn more about a lung cancer breakthrough. But Dr. Einhorn told me the outcome of his research is not yet known, and that any announcement is at least a year away. When I told him of Dr. Armand Hammer's optimism, Dr. Einhorn assured me that winning the war against cancer, he believes, will be a series of small successful battles-bit-by-bit improvements in the treatments we have available.

We hope Dr. Hammer will see fit to bestow that $1 million on the conquerers of testicular cancer as a way of encouraging other breakthroughs on less common cancers until we discover the magic bullet that will slay the giants: lung, colon, prostate, and breast cancer.

Cancer: Push Prevention

We compliment Dr. Hammer on his compassion and generosity toward finding a cure. However, to prevent cancer deaths we'd like to see an equal portion of his wealth and genius dedicated to cancer prevention. We need people like Armand Hammer behind the effort to get all women over 50 mammogramed and all men over age 50 tested for prostate cancer, and all people over age 40 routinely tested for colon cancer.

If we could restructure our efforts to prevent cancer deaths, we would save hundreds of thousands of lives. This would make an even bigger impact during the years of Armand Hammer's benevolence.

Imagine preventing all the predicted lung-cancer deaths of the future by immediately curing smokers of their nicotine addiction. Of course, we can't yet cure lung cancer, but we do know how to cure people of their smoking habits. A man with Dr. Hammer's keen mind could surely devise ways to implement and harness what is already known while we are waiting for the unknown cure to be discovered.

In 1962, cancer was the recorded cause of death for 278,562 Americans. In 1982, just 20 years later, 433,795 persons died of cancer-a 56 percent increase.

A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine included this paragraph by researchers from Harvard University and the University of Iowa:

We assessed the overall progress against

cancer during the years 1950 to 1982. In the

United States, these years were associated

with increases in the number of deaths from

cancer.... In our view ... we are losing

the war against cancer, notwithstanding

progress against several uncommon forms of

disease, improvements in palliation [treatment

of symptoms) and extension of the productive

years of life [of the persons with


The article concluded:

"A shift in research emphasis, from research

on treatment to research on prevention,

seems necessary if substantial progress

against cancer is to be forthcoming."

In short, we should spend more of our funding on preventing deaths with a sure thing (prevention that we know works) while continuing to search for the elusive cures.

Gluten Reaction Dear Dr. SerVaas:

I have read with interest, in the January/February issue of The Saturday Evening Post, the letter of Jacqueline Tygart regarding her allergy to wheat products. A hospital dietician gave me a booklet entitled Gluten Sensitivity. It is published by the Department of Consumer Affairs, Wegman's Food & Pharmacy, P.O. Box 844, Rochester, NY 14692.

This booklet tells what gluten sensitivity is, has some diagrams, a list of foods that can be safely eaten, some recipes for cakes, cookies, bread, and muffins, and a list of publications on the subject.

I sincerely hope that this information can reach her and help her to solve her problem.

Sister Mary Maurice Welch, G. N. S. H.

Yardley, Pennsylvania

Scratching for an Answer Dear Dr. SerVaas: I've enjoyed SEP for several years and always turn first to "Medical Mailbox." As yet, I have not seen my particular problem addressed. It's my fingernails! For about three years they have been peeling about halfway down the nail, leaving a paper-thin layer which snags on everything, especially hosiery, and tears down into the quick. I keep clear nail polish on for a small protection and wear rubber gloves for dish washing. I've been the protein-gel-capsule route-no help. I'm getting desperate-doctors just shrug it off as a minor thing, but it's really a major annoyance. I'm in my 60s, if age makes a difference, but have had nail problems for years.

Blessings on you for your service to your readers.

Mrs. William VanderWal

Dowling Park, Florida

I would suggest that you have a complete physical examination and perhaps ask for a referral to a dermatologist or a specialist in hand diseases. If this doesn't shed light on your problem, find a manicurist who has been practicing for a long time. Ask her if she has seen nails like yours and if she has any ideas. I am reminded of a letter from a reader many years ago. She wrote:

After I had a hysterectomy, my, manicurist told me that in three months I would have trouble with my nais because they would begin to peel and chip. I couldn't believe she could predict this accurately, so I went home and wrote it on my calendar. In three months, sure enough, my nails began to peel and chip. She believes it is due to the anesthetic. She has observed that major surgery requiring general anesthetic always results in poor nail condition about three months later. Why is there this delayed reaction? She also says that she can almost tell where arthritis will develop before it happens because of the hardening of the nan on the finger that will become affected."

Nail Clubbing Dear Dr. SerVaas: My widowed sister's new boyfriend has wide fingertips, and his fingernails are humped up, large, and rounded. He smokes a lot, and his big ball-shaped fingernails look so peculiar. He said they grew this way during the last year. What could cause this?

Martha Johnson

Chicago, Illinois What you describe sounds as though it might be what is called "clubbing. " It is common in acute or chronic pulmonary diseases, such as bronchiectasis, lung abscess, emphysema, or bronchogenic carcinoma. It is also sometimes found in congenital heart disease, chronic liver disease, chronic diarrhea, and ulcerative colitis. It is believed to be caused by disturbances in tissue oxygenation.

Clubbing is sometimes confused with "parrot beaking." (See the illustrations to tell them apart.) Anyone with true clubbing should have a medical work-up to discover a possible underlying disease.

On Spiking the Stew Dear Dr. SerVass:

I am writing to ask you this scientific question because I believe you to be a Christian doctor.

When food is cooked in the oven (prepared with wine or sherry or any alcoholic beverage), does the alcohol content cook out (evaporate) and leave the food free of any alcohol?

I would like to use some of the frozen dinners, but most of them show Burgundy or sherry or something similar among the ingredients.

I suppose I made a vow to God not to use alcohol, and this has put a question in my mind. I realize I am straining at a gnat (as I do put vanilla extract in my cakes!), but I would like to know the answer to my question about the alcoholic content leaving the cooked food.

I know I cannot be righteous enough on my own to get to Heaven, but a vow is a vow.

Kathleen M. Taylor

Leesville, Louisiana

You're right. Cooking wine is only for flavoring in the food. After cooking with it there's no alcohol left.

Good News for Blood Recipients

We have written a number of times that blood banks do not have a test for non-A, non-B hepatitis. Now, however, such a test has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for preliminary clinical trials. (Non-A, non-B hepatitis causes chronic liver damage in some recipients of blood transfusions, IV drug users, and a high percentage of hemophiliacs-almost an of whom become infected with the virus through transfusions of blood-clotting factors made from contaminated human plasma.

The disease, similar to hepatitis B infections, can result in chronic severe liver damage and may be fatal. Because the prevalence varies a great deal around the world, an awareness of the danger of non-A, non-B hepatitis should cause those expecting surgery to insist on intraoperative autologous transfusions (IAT). IAT is a method of recycling the patient's own blood during surgery. Instead of being discarded, blood lost on the operating table is processed through an automated machine, washed, filtered, and then returned to the patient within three to five minutes.

Japanese researchers at Okayama University Medical School have isolated and sequenced the virus for non-A, non-B hepatitis. This virus has also been isolated and cloned at King's College Hospital in London. This is good news, of course, for those who will be needing blood transfusions in the future. Unfortunately, although the test has been approved for clinical trials, it will take longer for the FDA to approve the test for routine screening at blood banks, and subsequently for the blood banks to initiate the screening.

Desperate for a Diet Dear Dr. SerVaas:

Maybe you could help us. We are desperate for an everyday food list with breakdown of glucose, fructose, and dextrose. My granddaughter, 2 V2 years old, was diagnosed with "inherited glucose intolerance." She can't have fructose, glucose, or lactose. The doctors that diagnosed her gave her a very limited list of foods. The diabetes foundation diet is not complete enough for her.

This condition is very rare. Only 30 cases have been diagnosed in North America, so information is limited. It affects the liver because she is missing an enzyme in her system.

Mary Mahony

Astoria, New York

Perhaps your granddaughter could tolerate foods with lactose in them if she took the missing enzyme, lactase, in tablet form. Lactase is also available in Lactaid drops to be mixed into milk. You can also buy milk with the lactase added. Ask her doctor about it.

We're sending you a list of foods to be avoided by persons who cannot tolerate fructose or lactose. I would suggest that you consult with your granddaughter's doctor about using Lactaid in baking and in any foods your granddaughter eats containing dairy products. Many foods can be tolerated with this aid that replaces this missing enzyme.
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Title Annotation:Dr. Armand Hammer's search for a cancer cure
Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Apr 1, 1989
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