Progress in our fight against cancer came with animal...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 18, 1998

Progress in our fight against cancer came with animal research

This month has seen dramatic turns in the field of health care. It started with a news story about a pair of drugs that may have the potential to cure cancer ("Human trials planned for 2 drugs that eradicate cancer in lab mice," May 2).

Then came the numerous experts warning that, based on historical precedents, those new cancer drugs, endostatin and angiostatin, may come up short in clinical trials. The reason: the fact that a scientist can cure cancer in mice does not mean the same treatment will work in humans.

I think such statements oversimplify the case.

Animal research helps us learn more about ourselves. For example, the polio vaccine was developed through work done with primates. Likewise, animals also played pivotal roles in the development of insulin, transplant surgeries and antibiotics.

Previous research with animals in the field of oncology yielded chemtherapy and other treatments for cancer. As a result, patients are now living longer than ever before. Today, the five-year survival rate for children with acute lymphocytic leukemia is 80 percent, prostate cancer is 87 percent and breast cancer patients have a whopping 97 percent chance of survival.

In the end, it seems that we can learn a thing or two from our friends in the animal kingdom.

Susan E. Paris

Alexandria, Va.

The writer is president of the Americans for Medical Progress Educational Foundation.

Horses on dangerous track competing in racing game

It's hardly surprising that Halory Hunter, a Preakness favorite, broke his leg during a recent workout and had to be pulled from Saturday's race ("Preakness heartbreak," May 13). Few fans of horse racing realize what a perilous path equine athletes are on.

Some 390 horses were nominated for this year's Triple Crown, but many horses fell by the wayside after being injured on the track.

Just bad luck? Hardly. One racing columnist said today's racehorse is "a genetic mistake. It runs too fast, its frame is too large and its legs are far too small."

Many horses are raced before their bones and knees have fully matured. And trainers turn horses into junkies by pumping them full of drugs like Lasix and Bute, which allow injured animals to continue racing. Compound injuries and chronic lameness are common.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) urges readers to think about the horses during the last leg of the Triple Crown and to refree from cheering on this dying "sport."

Paula Moore

Norfolk

The writer is a staff member of PETA.

Sparks Elementary needs time to handle more growth

I am writing to thank The Sun for covering the plans for redrawing the boundaries for Sparks Elementary School ("Parents aim to 'blitz' redistrict plan," May 10). But I think the article may confuse rather than clarify.

We at Sparks have no issues with the county's plans to redistrict. Dr. Milbourne and Pamela Carter presented one plan at the first community meeting and were very open to community input about how the lines should be drawn. They were very sensitive to Fifth District Elementary's opposition to the plan.

Redistricting should not happen until September of 1999. Currently, we are squeezed into Cockeysville Middle School and will remain there until our new building is ready sometime in the next school year. Cockeysville has been our ark to take us through this difficult time and we thank the school for it.

But while the new school will have room for about 200 more students, there is no additional space in Cockeysville Middle School to house the redistricted students now. If we have to accommodate them at the beginning of the next school year, extra classrooms would have to be created in the school's open space. This would create noisy and distracting environments that would be unacceptable for teaching. Plus, there would be concerns about staffing, bathrooms and physical education facilities that are not addressed in the plan.

We welcome the new children into Sparks with open arms, but only when we are ready for them. We believe that it would be an educational disaster to carry out the plan this year.

Laura M. Wilke

Monkton

Roth IRA savings accounts will spur more savings

Article didn't state clearly IRA investments are taxed

Regarding the Opinion Commentary article ("Roth IRA: another federal program for the rich elite, May 4), a Roth Individual Retirement Account allows people to invest up to $2,000 of salaried income each year. The $2,000 investment is not tax deductible.

This is comparable to investing a portion of each paycheck in a savings account that pays tax-free interest. Five years and $10,000 total investment later, the $10,000 that already has been taxed can be taken out of a Roth IRA tax-free to make that down-payment on a first home. The accumulated investment income is left for tax-free withdrawal later.

The "young and affluent" will be better able to invest in Roth IRAs than the "paycheck-to-paycheck crowd."

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