Better ways to treat, identify breast cancer are long...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 07, 2002

Better ways to treat, identify breast cancer are long overdue

I agree with Dr. Neil B. Friedman that mammography often picks up breast cancer at an early stage and questionable research should not be the basis for screening guidelines ("Many saved lives proclaim value of mammograms," Opinion

Commentary, Feb. 22, and "Mammogram lacks better option," Feb. 28).

However, he did not mention that very little is known about the earliest stage of breast cancer (DCIS) -- and if and how it should be treated. Nor did Dr. Friedman talk about the number of patients he performs biopsies on each year because of false-positive mammograms, or the women he later told they have breast cancer after their mammogram results were normal.

Health professionals have an obligation to inform women of both the benefits and limitations of mammography.

And, as a woman who lost a breast to DCIS, I hope physicians such as Dr. Friedman speak out and demand to know why we still do not have better screening and diagnostic tests for breast cancer, or the knowledge to prevent it or better treatment options for women with the disease.

The answers to these questions are long overdue.

Ann M. Taubenheim

Columbia

Boosting the tobacco tax is no way to balance budget

In the article "Cigarette tax might close budget gap" (March 2), Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman says: "People are in favor of a tobacco tax because it's a user fee."

The Democrats pride themselves on being a party of the working people. However, our liberal Maryland government would do nothing but hurt working- and middle-class people with such a tax increase, because middle-income people are the majority of smokers in this state.

Ms. Hoffman and the rest of the Maryland legislature are proposing to increase their budget on the backs of smokers. The lawmakers should try taking lessons from the working people of this state who have to operate on a fixed budget.

This system of taxing hardworking people whenever the state wants revenue for failing programs has to end.

Herbert T. Miller IV

Havre de Grace

Maryland has reaped huge sums from tobacco companies. Now there's talk of another increase in the cigarette tax to fund pet projects. This increase would be self-defeating and make Maryland's cigarette tax almost the highest in the nation.

I smoke and I vote. But I dislike political pork barrels and I expect more resourcefulness by the state legislature.

How about a tax on politicians according to their legislative greediness?

Bill Brigerman

Baltimore

It isn't government's job to promote marriage

I believe I've seen everything now: In the Feb. 27 Sun, I read that the Bush administration wants to take $300 million from a reduced welfare budget "to be directed to experimental programs that encourage welfare recipients to get married" ("Bush proposes tightening Clinton's welfare reforms").

There is nothing more personal than a person's decision to marry, date or handle his or her relationships with the opposite sex in the way that person thinks best. If this plan is adopted, not only will we be invading the most private part of a person's life, but spending $300 million needed to keep welfare reform successful.

Isn't Mr. Bush the president who wanted to be elected so that he could get government off of the backs of the people?

John P. Kimball

Baltimore

New approaches to energy will make us more secure

This is a crucial week for America: What the Senate does with energy legislation has much to do with national security and our planet's future.

I am deeply disappointed that the House approved energy plans that do not tighten automobile emissions standards or push to conserve our energy resources.

Drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will not provide that much more oil and will cost us not only dollars but much environmental havoc.

Let's use our ingenuity and dollars for new sources of energy and innovative international responsibility. That will grant us the increased security we desire.

Mary Louise Ellenberger

Baltimore

Bartlett's sewage problem was hardly front-page news

What a non-story for the front page of a major metropolitan newspaper ("Trouble bubbles up at [Congressman Roscoe G.] Bartlett's place," March 1).

The headline should have read "Septic system fails, gets promptly repaired -- whining freeloader complains."

Scott Holley

Whiteford

Book review regurgitates discredited AIDS allegations

We want to express our disappointment in The Sun's decision to publish a book review by John Alden (" `Science Fictions': AIDS virus furor," Feb. 17). It perplexes us what constructive purpose this decision served.

More than a decade ago, the Chicago Tribune (a member of the Tribune Co., which is The Sun's parent company) published extensive articles that made the same unsubstantiated accusations.

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