Hoda Kotb Admits To Keeping In Touch With Disgraced Today Host Matt Lauer: ‘This Is One Of Those Complex Situations’

Hard times.

As you know, Hoda Kotb replaced Matt Lauer as co-anchor of the Today show alongside Savannah Guthrie earlier this year after the longtime journalist was exposed as a serial sexual harasser.

In The Hollywood Reporter‘s article for the 35 Most Powerful People in New York Media 2018 issue, the 53-year-old admitted that she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place because of her friendship with Lauer.

Related: Ryan Seacrest Accuser Thinks Megyn Kelly Canceled Interview To Protect Company!

She said she still communicates with the 60-year-old, who is said to be focusing on his family following the allegations:

“Yeah, we keep in touch with him. I mean look, this is one of those complex situations. I’ve known him since I started working at NBC [in 1998]. When I was sick with breast cancer, he was the first to call. He helps and helped in ways that … you know, he was incredible in that way.”

Lauer even sent Kotb a congratulatory text when she took his job.

But although they have fond memories together, Hoda is not discounting the stories of the women who accused the NBC anchor of wrongdoing:

“There is that Matt and then there’s the Matt that the accusers speak of. And those accusers’ voices matter and that story matters and it’s … (to Savannah Guthrie) It’s still tough, right?”

Savannah replied:

“Yes.”

A tough situation, sure!

[Image via Instagram.]

Read more: http://perezhilton.com/2018-04-13-hoda-kotb-matt-lauer-communication

Does talcum powder cause cancer? A legal and scientific battle rages

(CNN)Visitors who walk into Deborah Giannecchini’s ranch house in Modesto, California, will notice a well-tended garden, four small dogs who greet every visitor with enthusiasm and a sign that hangs prominently displayed in her living room that reads “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.”

She got it when she was 62 years old, after she married her husband, Leland, but it could also represent her current mission: to help other women avoid the pain she’s experienced and allow them to have their own happy endings.
Giannecchini is living with what is considered terminal ovarian cancer. “That’s what they say. I’m trying to prove that it’s not,” she said. “I don’t wish this on anyone else. And if I can save one person, then I’ve done my job.”
    She and thousands of others claim that they got their ovarian cancer after using a common toiletry as a part of their daily feminine hygiene routine. They used talc-based powder, commonly referred to as talcum powder or baby powder,though some baby powder products are cornstarch-based.Cornstarch products are not believed to cause any health problems.
    Some 4,800 women and their families have now sued pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, which has sold the talc-based product Johnson’s Baby Powder for more than 100 years. Many women like Giannecchini who have sought help from the courts have said they want Johnson & Johnson to, at the very least, put a warning label on the powder.
    A handful of talcum powder companies have done just that. For example, Assured’s Shower & Bath Absorbent Body Powder says that it is “intended for external use only” and adds, “Frequent application of talcum powder in the female genital area may increase the risk of ovarian cancer.”
    Johnson & Johnson argues that sucha label would be confusing, because although the company regularly expresses sympathy for these women, it vehemently denies that its powder has anything to do with their ovarian cancer. A handful of scientists have backed the companyup in court. Andother scientists back the women’s claims.
    The topic is agrowing debate in the scientific community. Some studies have found that women face an increased risk of ovarian cancer with use of talc in the genital area, but others do not. Most suggest that more research is needed.
    At the intersection of this debate are lawyers who are putting this science under the microscope in courtrooms across the country. They’ve shown juries selective internal company memos that they say suggest Johnson & Johnson has been aware of this potential problem for decades and done nothing.
    Johnson & Johnson’s lead counsel on two of the cases argues that the lawsuits are all about the money, rather than being all about the science. “My take on the talc ovarian cancer litigation is that it really is skillful and well-funded plaintiffs lawyers who are exaggerating science and taking it out of context to scare people and to frighten the public with the goal of lining their own pockets,” Bart Williams said. “I think they are wrong scientifically. I think they are wrong legally, and I think the evidence shows that the science doesn’t support using talc and ovarian cancer.”
    Johnson & Johnson is not the only talc product manufacturer being sued over ovarian cancer claims, although most includethe company because itsproducts have dominated the market the longest.Some lawsuits mention talc makers including Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which now owns the Shower to Shower brand (owned by Johnson & Johnsonuntil 2012).
    Valeant would not grant an interview, but it sent a statement. “The safety of our products and the customers who use them are our company’s highest priority. Shower to Shower is a safe and effective product, and the scientific and medical consensus is that these products do not cause ovarian cancer,” said the statement from Lainie Keller, vice president of corporate communications for Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. “It’s important to note that the lawsuits nearly all allege use of Shower to Shower prior to 2012 when our company acquired the product. Given our limited role and the strong legal, factual and scientific defenses, we do not believe claims will be established successfully against our company.”
    Other lawsuits mention Gold Bond’s talcum powder, manufactured by Chattem Inc., a Sanofi company, which did not respond to requests for comment.
    Some lawsuits include Imerys Talc America, which mines the talcin some of the powders. “We remain confident in the consensus of government agencies and professional scientific organizations that have reviewed the safety of talc, that talc is safe,” Gwen Myers, a spokeswoman for Imerys Talc America, said in a statement. “Imerys Talc America sympathizes with women suffering from ovarian cancer and hopes that the scientific community’s efforts will be directed toward finding the true causes of this terrible disease.”
    One related batch of lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson argues that its Baby Powder is contaminated with asbestos and that asbestos is causing women to develop the cancer mesothelioma. The two minerals are often mined near each other, although since the 1970s, talc used in all consumer products has been required to be asbestos-free. Johnson and Johnson says their talc does not contain asbestos. A jury ruled in Johnson & Johnson’s favor in one of those asbestos lawsuits in California in November.
    The lawyers who argue that talc itself is the problem have experienced rapid success in convincing juries in South Dakota, Missouri and California that there is a cancer connection, winning hundreds of millions for their clients. In October, judges reversed two of those verdicts.
    In one case against Johnson & Johnson involving Jacqueline Fox, who died four months after a jury awarded her $72 million, a Missouri appellate court judge ruled that the Alabama woman did not use the product in Missouri and that therefore, the case should not have been heard there. The court reversed the jury verdict due to jurisdictional issues.In the other, a California case involving Johnson & Johnson and Eva Echeverria, who also died after her favorable jury verdict,the judge reversed the jury decision, saying that there was “insufficiency of the evidence as to the causation as to both defendants.”
    Each of the fivecases that has won a favorable verdict for the plaintiff is in various stages of appeal or soon will be. Johnson & Johnson won one of the talc cases in March, when a Missouri jury found that its baby powder did not cause a Tennessee woman’s ovarian cancer. Though legal teams are investigating thousands of other potential cases, what is less clear is where the science will lead and what the future will be for an iconic product that’s on bathroom shelves around the world.

    A cosmetic love

    Giannecchini has had a lifelong relationship with talcum powder. Long after she went to court to sueJohnson & Johnson and its talc supplier Imerys Talc America in 2016, she said, she found a few small bottles in an old suitcase she hadn’t used for a while.
    She’d been using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder nearly every day since high school. Sometimes, she’d alsouse the Shower to Shower product, which Johnson & Johnson used to own. She liked the powders because “both felt nice,” she said. “It was smooth and made your skin smell nice and fresh. It was just part of what I did every day.”
    Her friends used it, and she knew the company’s advertising jingle by heart. “A sprinkle a day keeps the odor away,” she shyly sang ditty when she took the stand in 2016. “Have you had your sprinkletoday?”
    Health-conscious and a self-described label-reader, Giannecchini never saw anything on the powder bottle to give her pause. “If you’ve seen the ads, you know it is supposed to be a pure and innocent and harmless product that we use on babies,” she said. Like millions of others, she sprinkled away.

    Talcum powder: A short history

    Talc makes a great powder because it is among the softest minerals,reduces frictionand has a great ability to absorb oils, moisture and odor. It’s mainly mined in China, India, Brazil, Mexico and the United States, according to the US Geological Survey.Most talc isn’t actually used for cosmetics; it’s found more often in household products: the ceramics in your bathroom fixtures, the roof over your head, the paint on your wall. It’s in plastic, paper and even in the gum you chew.
    Johnson & Johnson started selling talc in 1894 after customers complained that the company’s original medicated bandages irritated their skin. To soothe it, the company’s scientific director mailed them Italian talc. It worked so well, customers also used it on their babies’ diaper rash and wrote Johnson & Johnson about it. Taking the cue, Johnson’s Toilet and Baby Powderwas born.
    Johnson & Johnson has grown into a giant $338.6 billion company offering hundreds of consumer products, medical devices and medicine, but its Baby Powder may have shaped its image the most, branding experts said, even though it doesn’t rank highest in the company’s sales.
    “Because of it, Johnson & Johnson enjoys a strong brand image as being a company that cares,” said Aimee Drolet Rossi, the UCLA Anderson School of Management marketing chairwoman. “In fact, a lot of consumers don’t understand that Johnson & Johnson is a company that makes more than Baby Powder.”
    Sales of talc-based products like general-purpose talc, baby talcum powder, perfumed talc and “liquid talcs” — perfumed liquids that can be sprayed over the body to leave a powdery feel — brought Johnson & Johnson nearly $325.2 million in 2016 alone, according to market research firm Euromonitor.
    Adults also use the powder as a dry shampoo, a foot powder and a general after-shower ritual. “I used it everywhere, like a lot of my friends did, from head to toe,” Giannecchini said.
    Some women like Giannecchini also used it for feminine hygiene. Women who sued the company have testified that they’d sprinkle it in their underwear, on their thighs to prevent chafing, on sanitary napkins and on tampons. It’s use in this area that’s concerned some scientists.

    ‘My family saved my life’

    Giannecchini didn’t know that there was some scientific concern about her favorite powder. In fact, she used it even after her ovarian cancer diagnosis, adiagnosis that came as a big surprise.
    She had gone to the ER after her family pressured her because she wascoughing constantly.
    “I didn’t come home right away from the emergency room like I thought I would,” Giannecchini said. Instead of bronchitis, like she suspected, doctors found the cancer, and it was so advanced, they had to remove her spleen and part of her stomach. The cancer spread toher colon, bowel and bladder, too. The treatment was grueling, the prognosis not good.
    Ovarian cancer, though comparatively rare, is one of the mostlethal. Withno general screening, it’s often caught late, like it was in her case.
    “It was not pleasant,” Giannecchini said. “But my family likely saved my life.”
    Giannecchini’s daughter Casey got her mom to quit her Baby Powder habit only after seeing a lawyer’s ad on TV. They’re frequently seen on late-night TV, saying things like “If you or a loved one have developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder: call.”
    Casey gave her mother the number, and Giannecchini sent in her information. She ended up speaking with Ted Meadows at the Beasley Allen law firm in Montgomery, Alabama. Meadows would soon lead her on a legal journey halfway across the country.

    The talc team

    At the time Giannecchini called, Meadows had been working with another attorney, R. Allen Smith, on a blitz of dozensof talc cases.
    Smith and Meadows are a classic odd couple. Meadows is quiet, serious, a runner; when not consumed with work for his large firm, he roots for his alma mater, football powerhouse University of Alabama. Smith is easy to smile and quick with a story, and he looks as if he could have played for his alma mater, the Alabama rivalUniversity of Mississippi. Ole Miss memorabilia covers the walls of Smith’s small solo practitioner office in suburban Jackson, Mississippi. Where the two are in sync is on these talc cases.
    Smith learned about how women use talc in their genital area, meaning in underwear and sanitary products, whilesitting at his parents’ dinner table. His father, a retired plastic surgeon, asked whether he’d ever heard about any connection between talc and cancer. When he got home that night, Smith started googling.
    “I couldn’t believe what I saw,” he said after looking at the scientific studies and the scientific debate that followed. “And I wondered, ‘Am I the only lawyer to see this?’ “

    The scientific debate

    Smith learned that concerns about a link between talc and ovarian cancer started surfacing around 1971, when a small group of scientists wrote about finding talc particles deeply embedded in ovarian and cervical tumor tissue. The study concluded that it is “impossible to incriminate talc as a primary cause of carcinomatous changes,” based solely on what was described in the study; however, “the possibility that talc may be related to other predisposing factors should not be disregarded.” The authors hoped more people would research the issue.
    Dr. Daniel Cramer at Harvard took up the challenge in a study published in 1982. He compared records from more than 400 women and found that women who had ovarian cancer were more likely to have used talc in their genital areas.
    Cramer conductedsubsequent studies and became the first American scientist to raise alarm bells about using talc in the genital area, but his work was not alone. The conceptcomes up more than 100 times in PubMed, a search engine for medical studies, since 1971, and the results are mixed. Some study reviews show a moderate risk. A few show that it “does not appear to influence cancer risk.“Most are population-based studies and cannot prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship.
    In general, cancer causes are tricky to prove, since it takes time for cancer to develop and it can be influenced by a wide variety of factors.
    “When it comes to talc and cancer, the message is not straightforward. It’s not necessarily black and white, and it’s a bit more complicated to explain to the layperson,” said Dr. Paolo Boffetta. The professor of medicine, hematology and medical oncology at Mt. Sinai was in the room in 2006 when the International Agency for Research in Cancer, which falls under the World Health Organization, decided to classify the use of talc in the genital area as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
    Based on his own research, Boffetta found, “there seems to be a small increase or risk for women who are heavy users of genital talc,” he said. “However, we don’t necessarily know what causes it.”
    Boffetta, who also thinks more research is necessary, believes that talc use in the genital area, while not a strong cancer risk factor like smoking, “may be a real factor in some cases.”
    However, some studies have found no connection at all. A 2014 study of more than 61,000 postmenopausal women in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study suggested that talc use in the genital area “does not appear to influence ovarian cancer risk.” A study in 2016 found that douching rather than talc was associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer after looking at more than 50,000 women enrolled in the Sister Study, a national research study for risk factors for breast cancer.
    The research that fits into the modest association category includes a 2016 study focused on talc use in the genital area in black women. Researchers looked at nearly 600 cases of ovarian cancer and found a “modestly stronger association” with people who used talc. That risk increased more in those who used it below the belt. Author Dr. Joellen Schildkraut, an epidemiologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, also believes that more research is needed.
    There are some theories that talc may cause an inflammation that can become cancer, but that idea is still being tested. “I don’t think we have definitive evidence that this causes ovarian cancer, but I do think we have a hypothesis that there is a connection. Looking at my data, it should give people pause for concern,” Schildkraut said. “It is not a necessary item to use, so why take a chance with it?”
    The most recent studies seem to suggest a small connection. A January meta-analysis, or review of 24 case-control and three cohort studies, found “a consistent association” between talc use and ovarian cancer. “Some variation in the magnitude of the effect was found when considering study design and ovarian cancer subtype,” the study said.A July meta-analysisof27 studies found a “weak but statistically significant association between genital use of talc and ovarian cancer, which appears to be limited to serious carcinoma with suggestion of dose-response.”
    An August review and meta-analysis in Epidemiology found that “in general, there is a consistent association” between talc use and ovarian cancer.
    Dr. Graham Colditz, who has been used as an expert for the plaintiffs in some of the lawsuits, thinks there is a connection.
    “The evidence has really accumulated over decades and multiple studies,” said Colditz, the Niess-Gain Professor of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and deputy directorof prevention and control at the Siteman Cancer Center. He believes the testing methods have improved since the 2014 study found no connection and scientists have gotten a better handle on understanding the duration and frequency of use of the product and how a lifetime burden of exposure may create an association.
    “That evidence has really come together and built over nearly 30 years now,” Colditz said. “This kind of science takes time.”
    US and international government agencies and medical associations that track what causes cancer seem to fall in the need-more-research camp. According to Johnson & Johnson’s website, it sells its talc products around the world, but there are some restrictions on the way talc can be used in cosmetics and baby products in the European Union and in Canada.
    The US National Toxicology Program, part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, keeps a congressionally mandated list of “agents, substances, mixtures, and exposure circumstances that are known or reasonably anticipated to cause cancer in humans.” Talc is not among the 248 listed; however, in 2010, when it was up for consideration to be included in the list, the agency explained that has not fully reviewed talc as a possible carcinogen.
    “The NTP deferred consideration of listing talc (asbestiform and non-asbestiform talc) in the 10th RoC because its 2000 review of talc found that there has been considerable confusion over the mineral nature and consequences of exposure to talc, both containing asbestiform fibers and not containing asbestiform fibers. It has become evident that the literature on both forms of talc, with a few exceptions, provides an inadequate characterization of the actual materials under study to enable one to reach definitive conclusions concerning the specific substances responsible for the range of adverse health outcomes reported.”
    The National Cancer Institute website points to the 2014 study that doesn’t find a link and suggests that “the weight of evidence does not support an association between talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer,” although it also includes talc in a list of factors for which “it is not clear whether the following affect the risk of ovarian, fallopian tube and primary peritoneal cancer.”
    The American Cancer Society also says talc’s relation to cancer “is less clear” and “findings have been mixed.” It adds that “although there is some suggestion of a possible increase in ovarian cancerrisk,” its bottom-line advice is, “Until more information is available, people concerned about using talcum powder may want to avoid or limit their use of consumer products that contain it.”

    Laying out the case

    Smith spent about five more years immersed in talc research. He joined ovarian cancer associations. He’d visit experts on free nights and weekends. He read ovarian cancer blogs.
    Late one night, reading a blog, Smith saw a question from Deane Berg of South Dakota, who shared that she was a longtime talc user who had ovarian cancer. She’d read some of the talc cancer studies and wondered whether anyone knew anything about it. “So, I immediately (replied to her) and said ‘I’ve been investigating this,’ ” Smith said.
    Smith asked whether he could help, and Berg sent her medical records. Smith also got tissue samples of her ovarian cancer tumors and sent those along with the records to some of the experts he had met.
    One of those experts was Cramer, who had done the 1982 study. Cramer later testified that he found no family history or genetic predisposition to ovarian cancer in Berg’s records. Smith also sent the tissue sample to Harvard pathologist Dr. John Godleski, who found talc in Berg’sovarian cancer tissue, Smith said.
    “I asked them, could they come to court and state scientifically to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that talc was a contributing factor to Mrs. Berg’s ovarian cancer,” Smith said,”and they said ‘absolutely, yes.’ ”
    Johnson & Johnson tried to get Godleski excluded as an expert in court, but the court determined that he was qualified, “and the opinion is relevant and stems from reliable methodologies.” Johnson & Johnson went on to challenge his findings in court.

    The cases begin

    Smith decided, even as a solo practitioner, he could take on the pharmaceutical giant. He personally sifted through hundreds of thousands of records from Johnson & Johnson. “I printed out all the documents on my computer, had them stacked all around this office, filing every space. And every day for 10 months, for 10 hours a day, I looked through the documents one by one,” Smith said. “I could not believe what I would discover.”
    Godleski’s report on Berg’s cancer, which was read at trial, said that “based on the findings in this case, it can be stated to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the talc found in this case is evidence for a causal link between the presence of talc and the development of the patient’s ovarian cancer.”
    Smith won the first talc powder case in the country in 2013. The jury found that Johnson & Johnson was negligent, but it didn’t award Berg any damages. “So, it was kind of a bittersweet result,” Smith said. “But from there, I knew this was a much larger issue.”
    When news of the trial spread, Smith’s eventual law partner on the case, Meadows, wrote a short article for his firm’s newsletter about Smith’s win. Legal experts say it’s incredibly difficult to prove exposure to a particular product may be linked to cancer. A win in South Dakota, even without damages, meant Smith might be on to something. Meadows thought after his article came out that he’d hear from women who might be interested in bringing their own cases.
    Instead, Smith called.

    A legal whirlwind

    Other women with ovarian cancer had contacted Smith. More potential cases meant more work than Smith could handle. He and Meadows decided to work together and started flushing out what became a winning strategy, at least with juries.
    In 18 months, half a dozen juries had ruled in their clients’favor, awarding tens orhundreds of millionsto five ofthe six plaintiffs in individual cases. One of those women was Giannecchini. She flew to St. Louis in 2016 and listened to every word of her trial.
    “I learned a lot from them, although it was strange to hear about your life this way,” she said. “I’m kind of a private person, so sharing every little bit of your life wasn’t easy for me, but I just felt like it was something that I had to do.”
    In court, a black cardigan wrapped around her shoulders, Giannecchini talked about how the grueling cancer treatment had left her with little energy, but she was determined to live. An attorney from her team showed a series of pictures Giannecchini would take with her grandchildren every Easter. They paused to look at one where she is surrounded by five grandkids, all dressed in robin’s egg blue. In the picture, Giannecchini wears a lavender headscarf, covering what she called her “old bald head” from chemo. “I decided to just embrace that and say ‘this is what cancer does,’ ” Giannecchini said.
    In Giannecchini’s case, and in the others, legal teams have to show general causation and specific causation. That means people with medical expertise or scientists who have peer-reviewed research on the topic have to explain how using talc in the genital area is connected to cancer and that it caused the harm in these particular cases. The strategy varies from case to case, but Giannecchini’s legal team has also regularly argued that Johnson & Johnson knew about these health concerns and ignored them. Johnson & Johnson’s legal teamhas presented experts showingthere is no link between its products and cancer.

    Johnson & Johnson’s defense

    Dr. Patricia Judson-Lancaster, an obstetrician-gynecologist now based in Utah, has testified on behalf of Johnson & Johnson. In Giannecchini’s case, she said that “talc has no relevance to ovarian cancer.”
    “Cancer is caused by genetic mutations,” she told the jury. “We don’t know what causes those gene mutations in ovarian cancer, but we specifically know from studies that talc does not cause mutations in genes,” she said, reiterating, “talc does not cause gene mutations.
    “Talc is not the cause,” she emphasized. “I almost wish it was the cause; it would be such the simple thing to do.”
    Joshua Muscat, a professor of public health sciences in the college of medicine at Penn State who also has testified for Johnson & Johnson as an expert, agreesthatthere is no link. He authored a review article looking at past studies about talc use in thegenital area.
    “We conclude that the weak statistical associations observed in a number of epidemiological studies do not support a causal association,” he said. Unlike most other scientists, he said he doesn’t think more research on the topic is necessary. He thinks the issue is settled.
    Williams, one of the lawyers for Johnson & Johnson, said that “hard science” studies in animals and human cells, compared with epidemiological studies that show a possible association, do not show that talc causes cancer, and that’s the key.
    “The most compelling argument, I think, is trying to get juries to focus on the notion that correlations or association is not the same as causation,” Williams said. “So an example we use is bald men and hats. Just because bald men wear hats more often than men who have a full head of hair doesn’t mean that wearing the hats makes their hair fall out. There is an association, a correlation, but there isn’t a cause there. Wearing a hat has nothing to do with male pattern baldness, scientists will tell you.”

    An end and a beginning

    The jury in Giannecchini’s case decided that there was an association between talc and cancer. In October 2016, it awarded her $70 million. The decision is on appeal.
    Hers came asone ofa string ofseparatejury verdicts against Johnson & Johnson. In February 2016, a jury awarded Jacqueline Fox $72 million. In May 2016, a jury awarded Gloria Ristesund $55 million. A year later, in May, a jury awarded Louis Slemp $110 million. And in August, Eva Echeverria got an award of $417 million. Johnson & Johnson won one case in March of last year, and in June, there was a mistrial. In total, juries have handed out $724.5 million in separate decisions. But that is not the end of the story.
    Judges have not completely agreed with these jury decisions, and two have been reversed. The Fox case was reversed on jurisdictional issues: The plaintiff lived in Alabama, and Johnson & Johnson is based in New Jersey. The case was heard in St. Louis, which a judge determined wasn’t allowed based on an unrelated court ruling in June.
    The other, the Echeverria case, was thrown out based on science. The judge cited”insufficiency of the evidence as to the causation as to both defendants,” Johnson & Johnson and its consumer products subsidiary.
    She also ruled that there was error in law occurring at trial and misconduct of the jury, which led to excessive damages.
    “That ruling may have taken the wind out of the sails of these cases, but it shouldn’t be a permanent setback,” said Jean Eggen, the distinguished professor emerita of law at Widener University Law School in Delaware. “These are early days still.”
    Litigation like this, unlike criminal law, “can take forever,” and “cancer is always very complicated to prove.” With tobacco and asbestos, it took decades before the science showed, and the courts believed that there may be a connection,” Eggen explained. “It does make you wonder what the next part of the story will be.”
    As far as Johnson & Johnson is concerned, it has said it will continue to fight these cases.

    See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

    Smith and Meadows — and dozens of other attorneys involved in these cases — are determined to get their day in court. “What the future holds for this litigation, I don’t know,” Smith said. “I hope and pray at a minimum Johnson & Johnson will at least put a warning label on their product.”
    Williams, one of the Johnson & Johnson lawyers, thinks that putting a label on the product would be “irresponsible.”
    “I think having a cancer warning on a product that hasn’t been shown to cause cancer, it just isn’t the right thing to do,” he said. “If 40 years of animal studies and human cell studies have failed to show some causal connection in using talc anywhere on your body and ovarian cancer, and given that, putting a cancer warning on the product wouldn’t be proper.”
    Giannecchini, who watches for news of the other trials and waits for a final ruling in her own case, continues her own personal battle with cancer. Her doctors monitor her condition closely.
    “I’m fighting it,” Giannecchini said. She hopes to continue to be around to tell her story. “So far, so good. Here I am.”

    Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/11/health/talc-ovarian-cancer-cases/index.html

    A Neuroscientist Lost Her Mind From Cancer. Shes Not Alone.

    Barbara Lipska was already a two-time cancer survivor when her hand disappeared in front of her face in 2015.

    The neuroscientist and director of the Human Brain Collection Core at the National Institute of Mental Health specializes in studying schizophrenia. When she moved her right hand and it disappeared, she immediately predicted her eventual diagnosis.

    I thought right away: brain tumor, she told The Daily Beast. But I quickly expelled it. I didnt have time for brain tumors.

    Lipska, whose book The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery was published on April 3, had already faced her own mental health challenges in the wake of battling breast cancer in 2009, then melanoma in 2011. She sought psychotherapy at the recommendation of her daughter.

    Shes not alone in needing help as a cancer patient. According to the American Cancer Society, feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common in people with cancer, and up to one in 4 people with cancer have clinical depression.

    I didnt have time for brain tumors.
    Barbara Lipska, neuroscientist and author

    The mental health issues Lipska started experiencing in 2015 were extreme. There was the vision issue, her disappearing hand, and the suddenly unrecognizable faces of colleagues. There was also her memoryforgetting where she lived while out on a run and an impaired awareness of having to urinate, leading her to pee her pants. And there was also her changing personality, breakdowns and overall failure to see that she was experiencing these things. Lipska, whose entire career revolved around these kinds of behaviors caused by mental health disorders, suddenly started experiencing them herself.

    Lipskas brain tumors were metastases, secondary malignant growths in the brain that were a result of her melanoma. Her largest tumor was the size of an almond. According to the American Brain Tumor Association, melanoma is a common cancer to metastasize to the brain, along with lung, breast, and colon.

    One of Lipskas doctors, Ayal Aizer, M.D., a radiation oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, told The Daily Beast that there are a number of elements to consider when patients are diagnosed with metastases, namely the location of their tumors, which eventually defines how they manifest. Lipskas tumors inhabited her brains frontal cortex, which, she writes in her book, determines who humans are.

    Even if theyre small, theres a psychological aspect of having cancer in the brain which is very difficult to digest and ultimately cope with, and in addition to that, some patients who have brain metastases actually have symptoms that can impair what we value most in life like vision, coordination or speech or walking and the ability to think clearly and digest information, he said.

    It really can significantly impact the life.

    Aizer said that a patients mental healthcare is dictated by what they want or express in their unique needs. Sometimes, patients like to stick to strictly medical facts when dealing with oncologists; other times, they want to have an all-hands-on-deck approach, with psychologists, psychiatrists, even family therapists. The goal is to help patients process their mental and neurological issues, digest it, cope with it.

    Sometimes we can bring in speech and language and occupational therapists, and I think just having the opportunity to sit with a mental health professional in the office for an hour where were not talking about chemo or immunotherapy or radiation or surgery and its talking about what life is like, what challenges theyre facing and having someone to sort of listen, serve as a sounding board and come up with strategies to cope is really valuable, Aizer said.

    Lipska underwent many different treatments for the metastases, like immunotherapy, radiation, steroids and targeted therapy. And slowly, her clarity came back bit by bit, but she was entirely unaware of how shed behaved, so much so that her family had to fill her in on her behaviors.

    Today, Lipska is now in remission. Its been 16 months after the initial findings of her tumors, but shes aware there could be more cancer cells still in her body. Theres also the chance shell develop necrosis, an effect of radiation that destroys healthy brain tissue.

    But mostly, Lipska is positive, thankful. Shes happy to have her memory and brain back and to have learned so much from her experience that she can use toward her own work.

    Though shes regained her neurological function, she largely associates what she went through with what mentally ill people go through every day.

    In the course of losing and regaining my sanity, Ive come to identify with other people who have known mental illnesses firsthand, Lipska said in her book, explaining that the symptoms she exhibited fall in line with diagnoses for dementia, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Despite conducting research on mental illness for over thirty years, I believe it is my own suffering that truly taught me how the brain worksand how profoundly frightening it is when our minds fail.

    Lipska said her compassion for those with mental illness is one of the many things this experience left her with.

    The brain is an incredibly complex mechanism and we have no idea what happens in people with mental illness, so theres more empathy, it gives rise to more tolerance and more passion toward research in this field and more passion to find a cure, which I spend my life working on.

    Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/a-neuroscientist-lost-her-mind-from-cancer-shes-not-alone

    Trump judicial nominee Wendy Vitter won’t say if segregated schools are bad.

    Asked whether she agreed with the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, federal judicial nominee Wendy Vitter hesitated.

    During her confirmation hearing on Wednesday, April 11, Vitter, a nominee for a post in the Eastern District of Louisiana, was asked by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) whether or not she agreed with the landmark civil rights case that effectively ended legal segregation in schools.

    “I don’t mean to be coy, but I think I get into a difficult area when I start commenting on Supreme Court decisions — which are correctly decided and which I may disagree with,” Vitter responded. “Again, my personal, political, or religious views I would set aside.”

    Pressed on the matter, Vitter refused to clarify whether or not she believed this was a decision the court got right or whether she agreed with it, but she did say she’d uphold precedents set by higher courts if confirmed. The answer quickly drew the shock and ire of the Leadership Conference, a civil rights organization founded in 1950.

    Vitter’s history as an anti-abortion activist played a role in her hearing as well, when she was asked about Roe v. Wade.

    At an anti-abortion rally in 2013, Vitter reportedly said, “Planned Parenthood says they promote women’s health. It is the saddest of ironies that they kill over 150,000 females a year. The first step in promoting women’s health is to let them live.”

    When asked by Blumenthal whether or not she still believes her past statement, Vitter refused to answer, simply saying that she is “pro-life” but would set aside personal and religious views if confirmed. At another point, Vitter was asked about past efforts to get brochures into doctors offices that falsely claimed abortions cause breast cancer and made a dubious connection between women taking birth control and being murdered.

    Vitter and family attend her husband David’s swearing in ceremony to the U.S. Senate. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

    Vitter is just one of many controversial Trump judicial nominees who would receive a lifetime appointment if confirmed.

    Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/trump-judicial-nominee-wendy-vitter-won-t-say-if-segregated-schools-are-bad

    Late prostate cancer diagnosis ‘worries’

    Image copyright Science Photo Library

    Four in 10 prostate cancer cases in the UK are diagnosed late, a study suggests.

    The report by charity Orchid found a “worrying trend” of late diagnosis with 37% of prostate cancer cases diagnosed at stages three and four.

    The report found one in four cases of prostate cancer was diagnosed in A&E.

    In February figures showed the number of men dying from prostate cancer had overtaken female deaths from breast cancer for the first time in the UK.

    With an aging population, the charity has called for urgent action to prevent a “ticking time bomb in terms of prostate cancer provision”.

    Orchid chief executive Rebecca Porta said: “With prostate cancer due to be the most prevalent cancer in the UK within the next 12 years, we are facing a potential crisis in terms of diagnostics, treatment and patient care. Urgent action needs to be taken now.”

    The report canvassed the opinion of the UK’s leading prostate cancer experts and looked at previously published data to get a picture of the prostate cancer care across the UK.

    The data came from organisations such as NHS England, charities and the National Prostate Cancer Audit.

    The report says that 42% of prostate cancer patients saw their GP with symptoms twice or more before they were referred, with 6% seen five or more times prior to referral.

    Greater awareness

    Prof Frank Chinegwundoh, a urological surgeon at Bart’s Health NHS Trust said: “25% of prostate cancer cases in the UK are diagnosed at an advanced stage.

    “This compares to just 8% in the US where there is greater public awareness of prostate cancer and greater screening,” he added.

    He said while there was controversy over the effectiveness of the standard PSA test used to detect the cancer, “it is still vital that patients are diagnosed early to assess if they need treatment or not as advanced prostate cancer is incurable”.

    The report also said there needed to be renewed efforts to develop better testing methods.

    Prostate cancer symptoms

    • prostate cancer is diagnosed by using the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, biopsies and physical examinations
    • there can be few symptoms of prostate cancer in the early stages, and because of its location most symptoms are linked to urination
    • needing to urinate more often, especially at night
    • needing to run to the toilet
    • difficulty in starting to urinate
    • weak urine flow or taking a long time while urinating
    • feeling your bladder has not emptied fully
    • men with prostate cancer can also live for decades without symptoms or needing treatment because the disease often progresses very slowly

    The PSA test is available free to any man aged 50 or over who requests it, but the report said this can “create inequity” with tests being taken up by “more highly educated men in more affluent areas”.

    Prof Anne Mackie, director of programmes for the UK National Screening Committee, said the test was not offered universally because it was not very good at predicting which men have cancer.

    “It will miss some cancers and often those cancers that are picked up when using the PSA test are not harmful,” she explained.

    “Treatment for prostate cancer can cause nasty side effects so we need to be sure we are treating the right men and the right cancers.

    “There is a lot of research into screening and treatment for prostate cancer and the committee, along with NICE and the NHS, is keeping a close eye on the evidence as it develops,” she added.

    Related Topics

    Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43669439

    Butterfly And Mantis Shrimp Eyes Inspire Cameras That Can Identify Cancer And Navigate Oceans

    The eye is such a useful feature that it has evolved many times, often with differing structures and capacities. Now, a team of scientists has modeled cameras on two animal eyes very different from our own and each other. They found one can help surgeons remove cancers, while the other can help explain underwater migratory behavior.

    For cancer surgeons, one of the greatest challenges is to not leave any cancerous cells behind when removing tumors. To do that, it is essential to be able to distinguish diseased cells from the healthy ones. Chemicals that preferentially bind to tumors and fluoresce in the near infrared can help with the process, but since this is outside the range of human vision we need machines to collect the light and convert it to something surgeons can see. These are expensive and so large they can’t even fit into most operating theaters. They also only work well under low light, hindering surgeons’ capacity to see the healthy cells they don’t want to cut.

    Dr Viktor Gruev of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign turned to nature and realized the morpho butterfly found the solution millions of years ago. The butterfly can see in the near-infrared, but also at visible wavelengths, using nanoscale structures that substitute for the color detecting cones in our own retinas.

    In Optica, Gruev describes the creation of a camera using similar nanostructures, which detects the infrared fluorescence and feeds a signal to surgical goggles at a frequency human eyes can see. “The surgeon puts on the goggles that have integrated our bio-inspired camera technology, and it will protect their eyes and at the same time project the fluorescent information whenever they want it,” Gruev said in a statement.

    Besides eliminating the size and light limitations of current instruments, Gruev estimates that, once mass produced, the camera and goggles will be available for $200, compared to $20,000 for existing options.

    Prototypes have been used successfully for surgery on mice, and to remove breast cancer in humans without taking extra tissue. Gruev also demonstrated his invention’s versatility by making a dye used to identify lymph nodes for biopsies to glow in the same infrared frequencies. The technique not only enabled the surgeons to find the lymph nodes more quickly but in two patients, it located nodes the surgeons would otherwise have missed.

    Remarkable as the butterfly’s eye is, the mantis shrimp is the optical champion, with some species having 16 types of photoreceptors (compared to our three), and being able to differentiate all six types of polarized light. Gruev decided this too is worth replicating and produced Mantis Cam.

    In Science Advances, Gruev reveals this turned out to have unexpected application as an underwater GPS. “We collected underwater polarization data from all over the world in our work with marine biologists and noticed that the polarization patterns of the water were constantly changing,” Gruev said in a statement

    The changes turned out to reflect the Sun’s position in the sky at the location, which Gruev realized could be combined with the time and date, to work out the location at which images were taken. The precision of these estimates, within 61 kilometers (38 miles) is no match for satellite-based GPS, but it works at depths where satellite transmissions may not reach.

    “We could use our underwater GPS method to help locate missing aircraft, or even create a detailed map of the seafloor,” said the Queensland Brain Institute’s Dr Samuel Powell, who was first author on the paper. “Robots swarms equipped with our sensors could provide a low-cost means of underwater remote sensing – it would certainly be more cost-effective than current methods.”

    The work could also help explain how marine migratory species find their way across oceans where there are no landmarks or identifiable scents. It is already known honeybees use polarized light for navigation, and some birds probably use it to calibrate their magnetic sensors. The authors also think the light filtering to depths is being affected by pollution, and this may affect these migrations, possibly providing one explanation for whale strandings. By being able to see what the animals see, Mantis Cam could help biologists anticipate when problems will arise as a result.

    A camera based on the eye of the mantis shrimp can identify location underwater from the polarization of light. Kaitlin Southworth and Victor Gruev.

    Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/butterfly-and-mantis-shrimp-eyes-inspire-cameras-that-can-identify-cancer-and-navigate-oceans-/

    Fan favorite Phil Mickelson still pushing for grand slam glory

    (CNN)They call him “Phil the Thrill.” Firstly, it’s a neat rhyme, but mostly because it encapsulates golf’s evergreen entertainer.

    The Mickelson thumbs up is a trademark, as is the bashful grin, the looping swing and the black-clad gait of a gunslinger.
    Being left handed has always marked him out (particularly as he’s right-handed in everything else), but Mickelson’s all-or-nothing approach and wizardry around the greens would have marked him out anyway.
      There’s only one “Lefty.”
      When he’s in the right mood, a Mickelson news conference is a feast, crackling and popping with insight and witticisms.
      At Augusta last year he was asked to complete this sentence: “Being Masters champion is better than…”
      “Well, being a Masters champion is better than not being a Masters champion,” he flashed back with that wide grin before elaborating.
      “He’s got box office, always has,” says CNN Living Golf’s presenter Shane O’Donoghue.

      ‘Phenomenal’

      Mickelson, who modeled his swing on his left-handed airline pilot dad’s, made a splash in the 1991 Walker Cup, the amateur team competition, at Portmarnock in Ireland.
      The fresh-faced California kid dazzled a new audience with his magical — and often high risk — short game.
      The Mickelson flop shot — precariously lofting the ball nearly vertically into the air to land softly over a nearby obstacle — very quickly became a thing of legend.
      “He set down a marker for what he would do in this pro career,” added O’Donoghue.
      “He’s a gambler by nature, he takes calculated risks but he has enormous belief in his talent and his ability with the wedge is phenomenal.”

        ‘Human foil’

        That talent and enduring love for golf has kept Mickelson at the top of the game for three decades.
        At 47, he should be in the twilight of his career, but Mickelson scored his 43rd PGA Tour win this season and appears every bit as fired up and capable of adding to his five major titles and first since 2013.
        In another time, Mickelson might have been The Man.
        But five years into his pro career an unprecedented phenomenon hit golf by the name of Tiger Woods.
          Woods’ domination slashed opportunities for the chasing pack and introduced a new dynamic of power and fitness into the game.
          Mickelson, never an advocate of the gym bunny craze, remained the human foil to the machine-like Woods.
          The pair weren’t close and the relationship appeared to reach a nadir in an ill-fated and ill-judged partnership at the 2004 Ryder Cup.
          But Mickelson has always credited Woods with making pro golf the lucrative entity it is, and they’ve grown closer in recent years through Woods’ Ryder Cup vice-captaincy roles and shared life struggles.
          Despite Woods’ shadow, Mickelson has won — and blown — a decent share of tournaments and sits ninth on the list of all-time PGA Tour winners. Despite lengthy spells ranked second in the world, he’s never quite got to world No.1.
          In the early days he was a long-time holder of that double-edged moniker “best player never to have won a major.”
          He dazzled and dueled, and wracked up tournament victories, but he just couldn’t turn that talent into major triumph.
            And then, after three straight thirds at Augusta, he caught fire on the back-nine on the final day in 2004 and birdied the last to beat Ernie Els by one. His first major title in his 12th full season on tour.
            Mickelson’s famous leap, which has become a logo on his golf gear, is regularly brought up reporters looking for sport.
            “I can assure you I was not at the apex,” he always laughs obligingly.

            Masters magic

            Mickelson picked up a US PGA in 2005 and added another green jacket the following year. Four years later he made it three. His 2010 win was pure Phil the Thrill.
            Leading by one as the shadows lengthened on an electric final afternoon, Mickelson drove into the trees to the right of the par-five 13th. His ball nestled in pine straw, the green apparently blocked by the trunks of two towering Georgia pines. The safe option was to play back out onto the fairway.
            Mickelson doesn’t do safe.
            “I’m going for it,” he told his caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay to end one of the pair’s by-then legendary on-course discussions. The white-suited bagman, a fixture since 1993 and one of his best friends, wasn’t sure.
            But Mickelson had seen a gap, and threaded a six-iron through the eye of a needle, across the stream that guards the green and to within four feet of the hole.
            “The gap wasn’t huge, but it was big enough, you know, for a ball to fit through,” he teased reporters later.
            He missed the eagle putt, but a birdie four gave him a two-shot lead and he pulled away to beat England’s Lee Westwood by three. He hugged wife Amy for what seemed like an eternity behind the green. Everyone knew why.
            His third Masters title — tying him for third on the all-time list behind only Arnold Palmer (4), Woods (4) and Jack Nicklaus (6) — crowned an emotional year after both Amy and his mother Mary had battled breast cancer.
            “In the last year we’ve been through a lot and it’s been tough, and to be on the other end and feel this kind of jubilation is incredible,” he said.

            Cusp of a grand slam

            Cementing his status as a grounded family man, Mickelson was pictured the next morning at the drive-thru counter of a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop in Augusta. Two of his three children were in the car and Mickelson was wearing his Masters green coat. “It was a little chilly, I threw on a jacket,” he said later, insisting he’d promised the kids doughnuts before they left town.
            But Mickelson’s testing times weren’t over. That summer he was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, which renders joints swollen and painful.
            Various drugs, exercise and a healthy sugar-free diet helped Mickelson keep the disease at bay.
            Three years later at Muirfield, Mickelson clinched the British Open, long thought to be the one major beyond him because its traditional seaside-style links golf didn’t suit his game.
            But winning the Claret Jug gave him his fifth major title and propelled him to the cusp of a career grand slam of all four majors.

            US Open ‘heartbreak’

            Only the US Open still eludes him and it’s become his nemesis after a record six runner-up spots. Every year the pressure increases as he strives to join the exalted company of Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Nicklaus and Woods as the only players to have completed the set of majors in the Masters era.
            Perhaps his most agonizing of those misses was when he blew a one-shot lead with a double-bogey on the 72nd hole of the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot.
            “I just can’t believe that I did that,” he said afterward. “I am such an idiot.”

            Another was at Shinnecock Hills in 2004, venue for this year’s US Open. The most recent was at Merion in 2013.
            “If I never get the Open,” he said after losing by one to Justin Rose, “…then every time I think of the [US] Open, I just think of heartbreak.”
            In 2017, despite the pull of the grand slam, he missed the event to attend his daughter’s high school graduation.
            Outside of his wins, Mickelson has had 18 top threes in majors — Nicklaus, winner of the most majors with 18, was also second a record 19 times.
            But despite the lengthy post-round autograph sessions, the fan interaction, the tales of lavish tips, the informative and entertaining interviews, the taking young players under his wing, and the unfailing sponsor obligations, any conversation about Mickelson always dredges up another of his nicknames: “Phil the Phony.”
            There is — or at least there was in the early days — a school of thought that Mickelson’s mojo is a fraud, that behind the scenes he is less magnanimous than his public persona.
            Even this season, Mickelson’s critics laid into him for asking Englishman Tyrrell Hatton how to pronounce his first name as they prepared to play together in Mexico. Disrespectful, cried some. Nonsense, it was Phil being a stand-up guy and trying to get it right, say others.

            ‘Bad rap’

            O’Donoghue is a “huge fan” and recounts a tale where Mickelson, with whom he had developed a fledgling acquaintance over his son and the American’s shared birthday, called him “Seamus” during a TV interview. The next time they met, two years later, the first thing Mickelson did was apologize.
            “He looks at me and says, ‘Shane, I am so embarrassed about calling you Seamus,'” said O’Donoghue.
            He added: “He’s the consummate pro and he’s an amazing ambassador for the game and the best PGA Tour player of the modern era in terms of what he gives back. He delivers on so many different levels.
            “He gets a bad rap from some of the players and some of the media, that he’s not that sincere, that it’s a bit of an act. I’ve yet to see that side of him. My dealings with him have always been 100% professional and I’ve always been very impressed by him.”

              Jordan Spieth tees it up with Lorena Ochoa

            Critics also point to his well reported fondness for high-stakes gambling and the legendary trash-talking Tuesday money games with a close coterie of colleagues.
            Then there are the links to the fraud case of Las Vegas gambler William “Billy” Walters (Mickelson himself didn’t face any charges), in which he was forced to pay back $1 million linked to insider trading, following the repayment of a $2 million gambling debt to Walters in 2012.
            One of Mickelson’s most controversial moments came in the Team USA news conference after losing the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, Scotland. Asked what didn’t work compared to the winning side in 2008, Mickelson threw captain Tom Watson, sitting a few seats to his left, under the bus.
            “I think he got caught out a bit by being too blunt and oversharing a little bit,” said O’Donoghue.
            “But these guys are gladiators — they all want to win and they all have their own opinions.”
            Mickelson, it seems, will continue to divide opinion, at least off the course.
            On it, he is in line for a 12th straight Ryder Cup appearance this year. A first victory on European soil remains one of his remaining “big goals.” He’ll have to do it for the first time without Bones on the bag after the pair’s amicable split in June 2017.
            Mickelson wanted to freshen things up and has turned to his brother Tim, a former golf coach at Arizona State and ex-agent to rising Spanish star Jon Rahm.
            Still pressing, still hungry, still trying to get better.
            Masters, majors, grand slams, Ryder Cups — the thrill is very much still with Phil.

            Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/30/golf/phil-mickelson-profile-golf-spt/index.html

            Two Towns In The US Have Unusually High Rates Of A Rare Type Of Eye Cancer, But No One Is Sure Why

            Researchers are at a loss to explain why two towns in the US are experiencing unusually high levels of a rare type of cancer called ocular melanoma (OM).

            Just five in 1 million people are diagnosed with this type of eye cancer every year. But for some reason, women in Huntersville, North Carolina and Auburn, Alabama are experiencing an abnormally high number of cases.

            In Huntersville, a town of just 55,000, 18 people have been diagnosed with OM since 2000. In Auburn, a town of 63,000, 33 people who lived or worked in the town between 1980 and the early 1990s have been diagnosed, according to Heathline.

            “When you’re talking about more common cancers like breast cancer or lung cancer, they’re certainly more common, but when you’re talking about a rare cancer, it certainly raises a red flag,” Dr Marlana Orloff from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia told the website.

            OM is a type of eye cancer that develops in cells of the eye that produce pigment. It’s more common in women than men, with symptoms including flashes of light in your vision, a bulging eye, and pain around the eye area.

            It can be detected by having an eye examination or an ultrasound scan of your eye, although the exact causes of this rare cancer are unknown. It can be treated by inserting tiny radioactive plates into the eye to kill the cancerous cells, among other treatments. In extreme cases, the eye will need to be removed.

            According to an article in the Charlotte Observer last year, environmental exposures and genetic traits have been put forward as possible explanations for the cases. A rise in awareness of the condition has allowed more cases to be diagnosed.

            WLTZ said that Alabama has the highest rates of OM in the US. Researchers are looking into the possibility that there may be a genetic cause of the disease, which would help explain why these two locations have such high rates.

            In Huntersville, $100,000 has been allocated to researchers to look into possible causes of OM. That same amount of funding was denied to a state senator in Alabama, but thanks to a Facebook group set up earlier this year, more people are becoming aware of the condition.

            For now, it’s somewhat of a mystery. If you think you may have some of the symptoms of ocular melanoma, make sure you speak to your doctor.

            Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/two-towns-in-the-us-have-unusually-high-rates-of-a-rare-type-of-eye-cancer-but-no-one-is-sure-why/

            I Felt as Though Someone Had Punched Me Square in the Gut: Cancer Survivors Sue Hospital Over Lost Eggs and Embryos

            In one of her earliest memories, Rachel Mehl is running around at her brothers Boy Scout camp.

            She was around 5, and another boy, a toddler, fell and scraped his knee. She rushed to his side to comfort him, and both of their mothers remarked on what a good mom she was going to be one day. I beamed with pride, Mehl said. Throughout her life, she said, shes been unwavering in her desire to have children.

            Thats why, when Mehl was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 38, she made the chance to hold off receiving treatment until she could harvest and freeze her eggs. Chemotherapy, she was told, would likely destroy her fertility.

            Mehl, who lives in Pittsburgh, harvested 19 eggs and stored them at an Ohio fertility clinic run by University Hospitals. But in early March, she got a letter from the hospital informing her that freezer storing her eggs had malfunctioned and that they were likely no longer viable. I felt as though someone had punched me square in the gut, she said during a press conference on Monday.

            Mehl is one of three Pittsburgh women, all breast cancer survivors, filing lawsuits against a Ohio fertility clinic after the freezer malfunction led to the loss of their frozen eggs, they announced in a press conference Monday. Theyre represented by noted womens rights attorney Gloria Allred, along with local attorneys from the area. The three women and are suing for negligence and breach of contract, among other charges. Mehl and Deers suits have already been filed and Yerkeys will be filed later this week.

            Because of the carelessness of the University Hospital, I have now lost all hope of every having biological children.
            Rachel Mehl

            Sarah Deer, 30, had 29 eggs stored at the clinic, and Danelle Yerkey, 37, had 24 eggs stored. Both also delayed treatment to go through the egg extraction process before chemotherapy and radiation damaged their fertility. I felt like we had secured our future, Deer said during the press conference. I am a woman wounded. Robbed by cancer of my health and my body, and robbed by University Hospitals of my future.

            In total, more than 4,000 eggs and embryos from around 950 patents were damaged by the storage tank malfunction over the weekend of March 3. We are heartbroken to tell you that its unlikely any are viable, the hospital said in a letter to patients.

            Mehl says she wasnt initially angry with the University Hospital health system over the loss, she said: Things happen that we cant predict or plan for. But after learning more about the circumstances surrounding the malfunction, her feelings changed, she said.

            For a few weeks before the incident, the clinic was aware that the storage tank holding the eggs and embryos was broken, and was beginning the process to remove and transfer its contents. The automatic refilling feature on the tank, which kept levels of liquid nitrogen steady, wasnt working properly, and hospital staff was topping it off by hand, they said in the letter. The tank comes equipped with an automatic alarm designed to alert an employee if the temperature in the tank rises, but the alarm had been turned off, and no one was notified that the unit was heating up.

            You better believe that now Im angry, Mehl said. Because of the carelessness of the University Hospital, I have now lost all hope of every having biological children.

            Allred said at the press conference that these women are among the most vulnerable victims she has ever met.

            Its bad enough when women are treated with callous disregard in any area of life, she said during the press conference. But especially in this area, which is so intimate and personal … we have more questions than we have answers, but they deserve the answers and so much more.

            I am a woman wounded. Robbed by cancer of my health and my body, and robbed by University Hospitals of my future.
            Sarah Deer

            Allred also called for legislation around fertility clinics, which are largely unregulated, to maintain high standards and put safeguards in place to prevent problems like this in the future. Regulation is not a dirty word, she said. Regulation, depending on what kind of regulation, can ensure safety for consumers so there will be fewer victims.

            In a similar incident, which coincidentally took place over the same weekend, a malfunction at a San Francisco clinic lead to damage to the eggs and embryos of around 400 patients. That incident has led to a class action lawsuit.

            A number of other lawsuits have already been filed against the University Hospital system, including two proposed class-action lawsuits, filed at the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in Cleveland soon after the malfunction was announced. One is in the name of a Pennsylvania couple, and one is by Amber and Elliot Ash, who had two embryos in the affected storage tank.

            Elliot froze his sperm over a decade ago, before receiving chemotherapy, according to The New York Times. The couple has one son, conceived through in vitro fertilization, and told the Times that they stored the additional embryos with plans to eventually have a second child.

            Its up to the courts to determine if the suits will proceed individually, said Stuart Scott, an attorney with Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP, the local firm working on the case, or if they will all be consolidated under one class action suit.

            But the voices of the individual women filing suit Monday matter, Allred says. They also want to become fighters for change, so that no other women will have to suffer the catastrophic loss they have had to endure.

            Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/i-felt-as-though-someone-had-punched-me-square-in-the-gut-cancer-survivors-sue-hospital-over-lost-eggs-and-embryos

            Anna Campbells father: I dont think I had any right to stop her fighting in Syria

            Dirk Campbell was shocked when his 26-year-old daughter said she was going to join Kurdish forces in Syria. Following her death in action, he talks about her journey from idealist to freedom fighter

            When Anna Campbell told her father of herplan to join Kurdish forces fighting Isis, hemade a joke that he will forever regret. It was May last year, and the 26-year-old had travelled from her home in Bristol to his, in Lewes, East Sussex, to break the news.

            By then, I knew enough to know that it would imperil her life, says Dirk Campbell, 67, but all I could think of to say was: Well, Anna, its been nice knowing you. I think I was trying to be funny, but she just looked miffed. I think she wanted me to engage with it and either go, Oh, how wonderful, or to try to argue her out of it. But I sort of just accepted it. Tenmonths later, she is dead.

            Anna Campbell died on 15 March when her position was struck by a Turkish missile as she and five other female soldiers helped to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Afrin in northern Syria. She was one of eight British nationals killed fighting alongside the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG) since the first foreign volunteers arrived in the autumn of 2014.

            People have called Anna a hero and a martyr, her sister Sara says. But whats really difficult for the public to fathom is that she was also this big walking bundle of love: idealist, activist, dedicated bookworm, lover of insects, storyteller, creator of everlasting childhoods

            Dirk
            Dirk Campbell: I was really proud of her. She was a 26-year-old woman. I had to trust her. Photograph: Teri Pengilley for the Guardian

            Yet it was as a soldier that Anna died, a beaten-up AK-47 in her hand and a pair of old trainers on her feet. Having smuggled herself into Syria, after being recruited by Kurdish activists online, she had signed up with the Kurdish Womens Protection Units (YPJ) all-female affiliates of the YPG, a guerrilla group in which officers are elected by their troops.

            She gave her life defending Kurdish-held territory from a Turkish invasion. Some might call it someone elses war. To Anna, her family says, it was personal.

            It was almost as if she was searching for the perfect way of expressing all the values she held closest humanitarian, ecological, feminist and equal political representation, says Dirk. Those were the issues she came to dedicate her life to, and she came to the conclusion that Rojava was where she had to go.

            This Kurdish stronghold in northern Syria is in the throes of revolution. Inspired by the ideology of Abdullah calan, the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey, and triggered by 2011s Arab spring, people have organised themselves into grassroots assemblies and co-operatives, declaring their autonomy from the state and their wish for real democracy. Anti-capitalist, Marxist and feminist ideas are flourishing, including a system of co-presidentship whereby a man and a woman share power at every level.

            We were shocked when she told us she was going there, says Dirk, a silver-haired man with a warm smile. But we werent surprised.

            Anna was 11 when Dirk realised there was something different about her. It seems a small thing, but Iremember when she was at school she protected a bumblebee from being tormented by other kids, he says. She did it with such strength of will that they ridiculed her. But she didnt care. She was absolutely single-minded when it came to whatshe believed in.

            We are sitting in the living room ofDirks flat, where three of Annas five sisters and her brother have gathered to support their dad. Sophia, at 28 the eldest sister, brings tea. A gallery of obscure musical instruments hang along the wall, all of which Dirk, a folk musician and composer who was a member of the seminal prog band Egg, can play. Books on ecology, veganism, philosophy and politics some Kurdish line the bookshelf.

            The Campbell household was one where politics was always discussed. Her mother Adrienne and I were once arrested for staging a sit-in in Boots after they moved the HQ to a Swiss tax haven, Dirk chuckles.

            Most of her early interest in activism came from Adrienne, he says. I remember in 2011, they went to a demonstration at the Houses of Parliament to commemorate the first Suffragette protest. They stormed the Houses of Parliament in Edwardian clothes.

            But really, friends say, it was when Anna went to university in Sheffield to study English and French that those seeds of political activism began to sprout. The coalition had just started and the government began introducing cuts and increasing fees, recalls one friend, who prefers not to be named. It was a big thing and there were student occupations all over the country.

            She was soon reading less of her beloved English classics in favour of books about anarchism, feminism and ecology. She became vegan and dropped out of university after her first year because, as Dirk puts it, she was much more interested in doing what she was passionate about.

            Anna
            Anna with her mother Adrienne, who died from cancer in 2012. Photograph: Family handout

            That same year, 2012, Adrienne died of breast cancer four years after being diagnosed. Anna, then 21, threw herself deeper into the life she had chosen. She had started training as a plumber, but was increasingly drawn to anti-fascist, animal and human rights protests across Europe. She became an anarchist, too, and had the letters ACAB (standing for the punk-era slogan All coppers are bastards) tattooed on her ribcage. She was one of the first people to go into the Jungle in Calais to protect refugees from the gendarmes, says Dirk. She wrote letters to prisoners. She gave blood, was a hunt saboteur, protested the Dale Farm eviction and would always rope me into playing the Highland bagpipes at prison demos.

            In 2015, she was beaten unconscious at an anti-fascist march. She told me a woman had been dragged into the crowd by some fascists and no one was helping her, recalls sister Rose, 24. So Anna covered her face so they wouldnt know she was female and ran in head first after this woman. The fascists beat her to the ground with sticks until a policeman dragged her off.

            By the summer of 2017, her attentions had turned towards the Middle East, where the war in Syria was entering a bloody new phase. The YPG/J, backed by US airstrikes, had all but flushed Isis from large swaths of Syrias north. But, with the jihadi group now on the run, Turkey saw an opportunity to finally cleanse its borderlands of the Kurdish forces and their revolution. Ankara has long-argued that the YPG/J is linked to its own insurgent group, the Kurdistan Workers party (PKK). The US and EU, however, do not consider the YPG terrorists, and have supported them since 2014.

            With the Kurds fight for existence now on two fronts, Annas mind was made up. She didnt tell her friends of her plans, just her family. She made them promise not to tell a soul. Of course, I was seriously worried, says Dirk. Then, the day that she flew out, the Turks bombed a YPJ position and killed 12 women. Ipanicked.

            Over the months, Anna stayed inregular touch, sending texts, WhatsApp voice messages and the odd call when she could. The thing is, whenever Anna called, she gave us a false sense of security, says Dirk. Every time she would say: Hiya, everythings fine. Im just growing vegetables, sitting at a lookout post. Im not in any fighting. Its all a bit boring, really. We thought she wasnt actually in any danger, and that she was coming back in a few months.

            What he didnt know was that she had, in fact, been deployed to Dier ez-Zor, the stage for Isiss bitter last stand. I think if I had known that she was facing lethal fire I would not have been able to sleep, says Dirk. I would have tried to get there, to be with her. After all, whos going to fire on an unarmed white-haired old man?

            Then, on 20 January, Turkish-backed rebels attacked the Kurdish city of Afrin. It was like nothing Id ever seen, another British YPJ fighter, who asked to be known only by her nom de guerre, Ruken Renas, told me from her frontline position last week. The bombing was really heavy, especially just before the city fell. They hit the hospital; people were fleeing. It was chaos. Hundreds died.

            Anna
            Anna (on right) with a fellow YPJ fighter in northern Syria. Photograph: YPJ/PA

            Nevertheless, Anna was determined to help defend the revolution she had joined. She dyed her blond hair black, and begged her commanders to let her go to Afrin. Finally, they gave in. Two weeks later, she was killed.

            When Dirk thinks about the afternoon when Anna told him she was going to war, emotions conflict. I should have taken her far more seriously, he says. I should have got on the internet and looked up everything that was going on. I just didnt know enough about it. All I knew was that it was a war zone. Perhaps I could have stopped her.

            He pauses for a moment. But, at the same time, I was really proud of her. I dont think I had any right to stop her. She was a 26-year-old woman. I had to trust her.

            Of course, there is still the issue ofAnnas body. The Campbells want it back, but with Afrin now under Turkish control, they arent sure where to begin. Theyre not going to be putting bodies in a morgue waiting for someone to identify them, says Dirk. Theyve probably collected them all up, dumped them in a truck and buried them in a mass grave, which means that if shes going to be repatriated, itll depend on DNA evidence. That will take a very long time. There will be a lot of bodies to examine.

            In the meantime, he will commemorate his daughter by continuing her fight. I would be betraying Annas memory if I didnt do everything in my power to bring the Kurds plight to the attention of the world. Something must be done. And it needs to be done now, before anyone elses children are killed.

            Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/01/anna-campbell-father-no-right-to-stop-her-fighting-syria-kurds