Daily Archives: September 5, 2008

2 Million Cancer Cases Tied to Tobacco Use

Live Science | Sep 4, 2008

By Robert Preidt

(HealthDay News) — Lung and bronchial cancers accounted for almost half of the approximately 2.4 million tobacco-related cancers diagnosed in the United States between 1999 and 2004, says a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Thursday.

The study, which marks the first time the CDC has reported on all tobacco-related cancers for more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, was based on an analysis of data from the CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and Results Program.

Among the key findings (with cancer rates per 100,000 presented in parentheses):

• The incidence of tobacco-related cancers was highest among blacks and non-Hispanics, and among men. This reflects patterns of tobacco use.

• Lung, laryngeal, and cervical cancer rates were highest in the South, which has the highest rate of smoking in the United States. Kentucky had the highest lung cancer rates for men and women (133.2 and 75.5, respectively), the third highest rate of laryngeal cancers among men (9.7), and the highest rate of laryngeal cancer among women (2.6). The state had the highest rate of current smoking (28.6).

• Smoking rates were lowest in the West — Utah (10.4), California (18.5), and Montana (18.5) — and cancer rates were lowest in the West for all cancers, with the exception of stomach cancer.

• In 2004, the South had the highest rate of lung and bronchial cancer (97.9), while the West had the lowest rates (66.0). Among women, rates of lung and bronchial cancer were similar in the South, Midwest, and Northeast (55.3 to 56.4) and were lowest in the West (48.1).

• The high rates of lung and layrngeal cancers in the South were consistent with smoking patterns and reflect the strong link between these cancers and tobacco use.

• Other cancers associated with tobacco use — pancreas, urinary bladder, esophagus, kidney, stomach, cervix, and acute myelogenous leukemia — accounted for more than one million cancer cases diagnosed between 1999 and 2004.

“The data in this report provides additional, strong evidence of the serious harm related to tobacco,” lead author Sherri Stewart, of the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, said in an agency news release.

“We’ve long known tobacco was associated with lung and laryngeal cancer, but this study gives us even greater clarity. The rates for these two cancers were highest in areas with the highest prevalence of tobacco use,” she said.

Dr. Matthew McKenna, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said in the news release, “Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States and the most prominent cause of cancer.

“The tobacco-use epidemic causes a third of the cancers in America. If proven strategies were fully implemented to decrease tobacco use, much of the suffering and death that cancer inflicts on families and communities could be prevented,” he said.

Tobacco use is a major cause for all the cancers included in the report, but not all cases of cancer studied could be linked directly to tobacco use, the researchers noted. Some of these types of cancer have a number of risk factors — such as genetics or infections — that can cause disease independently, as well as in tandem with tobacco use, the researchers said.

Police arrest 400 RNC protesters in Pre-emptive strike

Pre-emptive strike, then more arrests

Boston Globe | Sep 5, 2008

By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff

ST. PAUL — Percussion grenades, tear gas, and nearly 400 arrests marked the final anti-war march Thursday during the Republican National Convention, the Associated Press reports this morning.

More than 800 arrests were reported during a week of sometimes peaceful, sometimes violent dissent, the AP says.

Thursday night, mounted police blocked a bridge as hundreds of anti-war protesters tried to march from the state Capitol to the Xcel Energy Center where John McCain accepted the GOP nomination for president.

After about an hourlong standoff, the protestors retreated to find another way to the convention site. But police also had blocked major roads to the Xcel Center.

Earlier, without any physical provocation, dozens of police officers on bicycles, on horseback, and in riot gear descended on several hundred people holding a peaceful anti-war rally on the steps of the State Capitol and arrested two men sitting unaware on the grass listening to a rock band.

The incident, witnessed by a Globe reporter, sparked a tense standoff between law enforcement and some of the demonstrators, with police brandishing pepper spray bottles at a crowd shouting “police state” before the situation calmed down.

Officers on the scene declined to say why the individuals were being arrested, but one officer who declined to give his name said he believed law enforcement officials had probable cause to believe the individuals were planning criminal acts.

The move appeared to be an effort to pre-empt more clashes tonight during McCain’s acceptance speech.

Several columns of police continued to surround the Capitol grounds in a clear show of force as organizers continued their program, criticizing the Republican Party for the war in Iraq and its support of corporations. More law enforcement personnel were seen descending on the area.

Among the crowd were a number of participants who said they had been arrested on Monday when nearly 300 protesters were jailed after a largely peaceful march to the convention site. Small groups of protesters smashed windows, slashed tires, blocked traffic, and harassed convention delegates.

But today’s rally, organized by a group called the Anti-War Committee and advertised as “No Peace for the War Makers,” acquired a permit to rally on the Capitol grounds and was operating peacefully.

As of Thursday, 16 people had been charged with felonies this week. Eight of them were arrested on charges of conspiracy to riot after preconvention raids. Police disclosed this week that they had infiltrated some of the collection of groups protesting here this week and allege some members talked about kidnapping delegates.

The remaining eight charged with felonies faced offenses including damaging property, obstructing the legal process, and felony riot from their actions during the street protests on Monday, according to Jack Rhodes, a spokesman for the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office.

At today’s rally, several of those who said they had spent the last few days in jail complained about false charges and being denied phone calls within 24 hours, and asserted that some of their comrades were being held unlawfully until the end of the convention.

Earlier today, in an interview with WCCO-AM of Minneapolis, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty blamed the violence this week on a small group of “anarchists, nihilists, and goofballs who want to break stuff and hurt people.”

“They need to be dealt with,” Pawlenty said , according to the Associated Press.. “When you want to break stuff and hurt people, you can’t do that.”

Activist claims unmarked police vans abducted protesters

Raw Story | Sep 5, 2008

By David Edwards and Muriel Kane

A half-dozen representatives of the so-called Republican National Convention Welcoming Committee met with the media in a St. Paul, MN press conference on Thursday to condemn the widescale police raids and arrests that have targeted protesters in that city this week.

The strongest accusations were made by RNC Welcoming Committee co-founder William Gillis, who has been among those planning the protests for the last two years.

“Police kicked down doors with guns drawn on families with their children at dinnertime,” Gillis charged. “Reporters and the media at large have been repeatedly targeted for repression. Activists have been abducted off the street in unmarked vans and political prisoners held without access to medical attention.”

The allegation about police use of unmarked vans was apparently first made on August 31 by RAW STORY contributor Lindsay Beyerstein, who was reporting on the convention for FireDogLake. She wrote that “ColdSnap is reporting 9 arrests downtown near the Excel center” and then added in an update, “One of the 9 protesters arrested was a nun, seen being loaded into an unmarked blue van. The 9 were apparently trying to climb a fence near a church.” All nine were released later that day.

Other representatives of the protesters used the press conference to affirm that they were not terrorists. Betsy Raash-Gilman, a twenty-year veteran (doc) of non-violent activism, stated, “There are no terrorists up here. There are no terrorists in the Ramsey County jail. There are terrorists in the Xcel Center. There are terrorists in the White House.”

House prices falling at fastest rate since Great Depression

Telegraph | Sep 5, 2008

By Harry Wallop and Edmund Conway

House prices are falling at the fastest rate since the Great Depression new figures show, with the number of home owners in negative equity trebling in the last month alone.

Figures released by Halifax, the country’s largest mortgage lender, showed that the average house price has slumped in value by 12.7 per cent since August last year – leaving the average price at just £174,178.

This represents a fall of more than £25,000 over the last year and is the fastest rate of decline since Halifax started collecting its monthly data in 1983.

However, leading City economists said that the housing market has never witnessed an annual fall of more than 10 per cent except for in 1931 – a year when Britain was hit by the aftermath of the Wall Street crash and sterling collapsed.

David Owen, chief European economist at investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort, said: “It is a major collapse. The last correction in house prices was around 20 per cent from peak to trough.

“What we are seeing in terms of declines at the moment – those sorts of falls are absolutely unprecedented, certainly in living memory, and you would have to go back to the 1930s to find anything similar.

“There is still not an awful lot of evidence of mass distress selling. If unemployment starts to rise and distress selling happens this will become very nasty indeed.”

With the fall taking average prices back to the level they were in March 2006, thousands of home owners now own a property worth less than when they bought it.

According to the credit rating agency Standards & Poor’s, the number of people in negative equity has now climbed to over 200,000 – a near trebling of the 70,000 it estimated at the end of July.

Negative equity is when a home owner ends up owning more on their mortgage than their house is worth, a situation that can cause serious problems – and ultimately repossession – if someone can no longer pay their mortgage or if they are forced to move home.

While the number of people currently in negative equity is well below the level hit in the early 1990s, when two million fell into that predicament, the speed of the deterioration has shocked many experts.

Standards & Poor’s predicts that this number is likely to rise towards 1.7 million, or even above, if house prices continue falling at their current rate.

Michael Saunders, chief UK economist, at the world’s largest bank Citigroup, pointed out that this year’s house price crash has happened far quicker and hit people more severely than the declines seen during the early 1990s.

“In the early 1990s, the peak-trough decline in house prices was 13.1 per cent, and this occurred over 74 months, from May 1989 to July 1995.

“Now, house prices are down 12.7 per cent already, in just 12 months.

“The message of economic weakness is clear.”

The rate of declines is causing turmoil for people trying to sell their house, according to leading estate agents, with buyers nervous about committing to buying a property that could be worth much less in a few months’ time.

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent, and spokesperson for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said: “People will carry on pulling out of deals until they are confident that we have hit the bottom.

“There’s just such a lack of confidence out there.”

Gazundering, where a buyer drops the price at the last moment, has made an unwelcome return to the property market.

Equally, some sellers are being shocked to discover that mortgage company valuers are valuing their properties at less than the price a buyer has agreed.

Jonathan Cornell, at mortgage brokers Hamptons, said: “Because there are so few property transactions happening at the moment, it’s getting very hard for valuers to put a value on any property.

“If the most recent house sold in a certain street was four months ago, well that was another world back then.”

The Bank of England failed to give any relief for homeowners by keeping rates on hold at 5 per cent, despite some leading economists calling for a cut in order to stimulate the deteriorating economy.

The housing market data from the Halifax helped push the FTSE 100 index of leading shares sharply lower, with the index closing 2.5 per cent lower, down 137.6 to 5,362.1.

Rice to Welcome Qaddafi to War on Terror as Ties Grow

“My fear is this is a huge victory for Qaddafi, and he will interpret it as a green light to continue stifling dissent,” Abrahams said of Rice’s visit.

Bloomberg | Sep 4, 2008

By Viola Gienger

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to travel to North Africa tomorrow to welcome an unlikely ally to the U.S. fight against terrorism: Libya’s Colonel Muammar Qaddafi.

For most of Qaddafi’s 39 years in power, the U.S. listed Libya as a state sponsor of terrorism, including the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and banned American companies from doing business there.

Now the country is sharing intelligence with the U.S. about the North African activities of al-Qaeda, the Islamic militants behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. And U.S. energy, telecommunications and construction companies are vying for billions of dollars in contracts tied to expanded oil production in Libya, which has 3.4 percent of the world’s proven reserves.

Qaddafi’s help on intelligence matters has been “exemplary,” said Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, whose negotiations with Libya paved the way for Rice’s visit. “One of the benefits of working with Libya in this area over the last several years is that we’ve been able to expand this kind of cooperation,” he added in an interview.

Rice arrived in Portugal today, her first stop on the planned five-country tour that also includes Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.

Portugal Stop

It’s her second trip to Portugal after a visit last year to attend a meeting of the Quartet of nations backing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Portugal last year held the rotating presidency of the European Union, a position now occupied by France.

She’s due to meet in Lisbon with Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates and Foreign Minister Luis Amado before flying on tomorrow to Tripoli.

Rice’s Libya visit caps a seven-year thaw and marks a turnabout for Qaddafi, who squeezed American business and military operations out after his 1969 coup. The State Department touts the rapprochement as an example of what Iran and North Korea might enjoy should they follow suit.

Rice, 53, wasn’t born the last time a U.S. secretary of state — John Foster Dulles — went to Libya, in 1953. Qaddafi, 66, cited warmer relations with the U.S. on Sept. 1, during the holiday celebrating the anniversary of his coup.

“We were not seeking necessarily a friendship,” Qaddafi said, according to the state-run news service JANA. “What’s important is to establish relations devoid of aggression, the terror, wars, explosions and raids.”

Oil Reserves

Libya’s control over the largest oil reserves in Africa, and its location on the Mediterranean coast, just east of the Maghreb region of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, grants it strategic importance to the U.S. and Europe. Libya also shares a border with volatile Sudan and Chad.

The U.S. is negotiating a military cooperation accord with Libya and says the country is helping stem the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq.

Al-Qaeda consolidated Islamist fighters in Algeria and Libya in the past two years under the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb group, or AQIM. In November, al-Qaeda deputy chief Ayman al-Zawahiri urged his fighters to topple Qaddafi, excoriating his decisions to renounce terrorism and shun nuclear and chemical weapons.

Libya took a seat on the United Nations Security Council this year and has backed the U.S. drive to penalize Iran for enriching uranium. Iran says it is trying to produce nuclear power; the U.S. and other countries say it’s more likely developing a nuclear weapon.

Improving Relations

Libya has “been working fairly diligently” on improving relations, said Stan Marcuss, a partner in Washington for the international trade group at the law firm Bryan Cave LLP. “They are seen in much of that part of the world as doing the bidding of the United States.”

Marcuss, who has advised companies on dealing with Libya, added that the Libyans may want to buy aircraft and related equipment to help patrol their borders.

As U.S. officials court Qaddafi, they’ve said little about the regime’s suppression of its own people beyond annual government reports citing its “authoritarian” rule and “poor” record on human rights.

Libya holds political prisoners, torture is widespread and the government allows almost no free press or assembly, said Fred Abrahams, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch in New York.

Qaddafi Victory

“My fear is this is a huge victory for Qaddafi, and he will interpret it as a green light to continue stifling dissent,” Abrahams said of Rice’s visit.

Qaddafi once harbored high aspirations as a leader of the Arab world, said David Mack, a diplomatic interpreter for the U.S. ambassador in Libya when he first met the colonel after the coup.

“He thought that Libya was going to be the center for Arab unity, and that he was going to be a very prominent world leader,” said Mack, later a deputy assistant secretary of state.

Instead, Qaddafi became an international pariah. The U.S. designated Libya as a sponsor of terrorism in 1979, saying it supported international terrorist groups and subverted moderate Arab and African governments.

Tensions with the U.S. came to a head with the 1986 bombing of a nightclub in Berlin frequented by U.S. soldiers, two of whom died in the attack. The U.S. blamed Libya and retaliated with an air assault on Tripoli. Two years later came the Pan Am bombing, which killed 270 people.

Bombing Compensation

After long denying involvement, Libya took responsibility in 2003 for the actions of an agent in the bombing and offered $2.7 billion in compensation.

U.S. and Libyan officials sealed Qaddafi’s comeback last month with an agreement for Libya’s government to finish paying legal claims by families in Libyan-linked attacks. The accord also was aimed at ending lawsuits that threatened Libyan assets.

Rice is going to Tripoli even though Libya hasn’t yet paid into a planned $800 million settlement fund.

Better relations promise to speed growth in trade, said David Goldwyn, executive director of the U.S.-Libya Business Association in Washington.

In the energy industry, U.S. companies may help Libya extract more oil from existing wells, the same specialty that proved profitable in Russia in the past 10 years, Goldwyn said.

“To me, it’s been very unnatural for us not to have developed a full diplomatic relationship,” said Mack, now chairman of the U.S.-Libya business group. “It only gives us additional tools for pursuing our interests.”


Libya Shedding Pariah Tag, But Rights Abuses Continue

Libya Takes UN Security Council Helm

Obama: Nuclear Iran ‘unacceptable’

“By the way, I would reach out to the first George Bush. You know, one of the things that I think George H.W. Bush doesn’t get enough credit for was his foreign policy team and the way that he helped negotiate the end of the Cold War and prosecuted the Gulf War. That cost us 20 billion dollars. That’s all it cost. It was extremely successful. I think there were a lot of very wise people. So I want a bipartisan team that can help to provide me good advice and counsel when I’m president of the United States.”

– Barack Obama on Larry King Live, Mar 20, 2008

‘Iran a major threat; I would never hesitate to use our military force in order to protect homeland, US interests, Democratic presidential candidate tells FOX’s ‘The O’Reilly Factor’

Ynet Israel News | Sep 4, 2008

By Yitzhak Benhorin

WASHINGTON – Iran is a “major threat” and it would be “unacceptable” for the rogue nation to develop a nuclear weapon, Barack Obama said Thursday.
During his first-ever interview on FOX News’ “The O’Reilly Factor”, the Democratic presidential candidate said, “It is unacceptable for Iran to possess a nuclear weapon; it would be a game changer.”

Obama said he would not take military action off the table in dealing with Iran, but added that diplomacy and sanctions cannot be overlooked.

“It’s sufficient to say I would not take military action off the table and that I will never hesitate to use our military force in order to protect the homeland and the United States’ interests,” he said.

Obama accused the Bush Administration of bringing radical Islamic groups together, and said Iran “fueled a whole host of terrorist organizations, but we have to have the ability to distinguish between groups. … They may not all be part and parcel of the same ideology.”

Obama also told FOX News he “absolutely” believes the US is fighting a war on terror against “Al Qaeda, the Taliban, a whole host of networks that are bent on attacking America, who have a distorted ideology, who have perverted the faith of Islam.”

‘Five years of mismanagement’

He repeated his campaign’s foreign policy position that Afghanistan must become the “central front” in the war on terror.

During the interview Obama, who was against the US troop surge in Iraq, admitted that it has “succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated” but refused to retract his initial opposition to the surge. “I’ve already said it’s succeeded beyond our wildest dreams,” he said.

However, Obama added that the US has not had enough “political reconciliation” and Iraqis still have not taken responsibility for their country.

“We have gone through five years of mismanagement of this war that I thought was disastrous, and the president wanted to double down and continue an open-ended policy (that did not put pressure on the Iraqi government),” he said.

Obama said he would not take military action off the table in dealing with Iran, but diplomacy and sanctions can’t be overlooked.

According to a new CBS News poll conducted this week, the presidential race between Obama and John McCain is now even at 42 percent. Twelve percent are undecided according to the poll, and one percent said they wouldn’t vote.

This is in contrast to a poll conducted last weekend, where the Obama-Biden ticket led McCain-Palin by eight points, 48 percent to 40 percent.

Global cooling? An inconvenient truth

Stock and Land | Sep 2, 2008

The sudden change of focus from global warming to global cooling by leading environment group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) demonstrates the lack of substance to the argument that manmade carbon emissions are responsible for global warming, according to Senator Boswell.

The prominent NP senator for Qld says, “The WWF now claims that recent freezing temperatures in Sydney are proof of the urgent need to cut carbon pollution.

“Does that mean that global warming causes global cooling?

“Does that mean that we should be increasing emissions in order to cool the earth or increasing them to warm it back up?”

“I though we were concerned with the perils of global warming – that we had to act immediately to stop temperatures and water levels rising and inflicting untold disasters.

“Now the WWF wants us to believe that manmade carbon emissions are responsible for colder temperatures.”

Senator Boswell says that the Rudd government’s carbon pollution reduction scheme is built on the assumption of man-made global warming.

“Which is it – are temperatures going up or down?” he asks.

“Cooling temperatures are what I would call a very inconvenient truth for the green movement.

“This is a twisting charade and no mistake.”

Senator Boswell says it is imperative that scientists get it right because so many of Australia’s competitive industries are being asked to take on higher costs under the government’s carbon reduction scheme.

“If the Rudd government’s Emission Trading Scheme is not drastically altered, then it is Australia who will end up pleading with the East Timorese to take us as guest workers – and not the other way round,” he says.

Iraq troop surge “succeeded beyond our wildest dreams” says Obama

FOXNews.com | Sep 4, 2008

The troop surge in Iraq has been more successful than anyone could have imagined, Barack Obama conceded Thursday in his first-ever interview on FOX News’ “The O’Reilly Factor.”

As recently as July, the Democratic presidential candidate declined to rate the surge a success, but said it had helped reduce violence in the country. On Thursday, Obama acknowledged the 2007 increase in U.S. troops has benefited the Iraqi people.

“I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated,” Obama said while refusing to retract his initial opposition to the surge. “I’ve already said it’s succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.”


Thinktank: US foreign policy to remain the same regardless of who is president

However, he added, the country has not had enough “political reconciliation” and Iraqis still have not taken responsibility for their country.

“We have gone through five years of mismanagement of this war that I thought was disastrous, and the president wanted to double down and continue an open-ended policy (that did not put pressure on the Iraqi government),” he said.

Speaking on other national security matters, Obama said he would not take military action off the table in dealing with Iran, but diplomacy and sanctions can’t be overlooked.

The Islamic republic is a “major threat” and it would be “unacceptable” for the rogue nation to develop a nuclear weapon, he said.

“It is unacceptable for Iran to possess a nuclear weapon, it would be a game changer,” Obama said. “It’s sufficient to say I would not take military action off the table and that I will never hesitate to use our military force in order to protect the homeland and the United States’ interests.”

But Obama warned against the current U.S. administration lumping radical Islamic groups together.

“They have fueled a whole host of terrorist organizations,” Obama said of Iran, but “we have to have the ability to distinguish between groups. … They may not all be part and parcel of the same ideology.”

Obama sat down with O’Reilly in York, Pa., after holding a discussion on the economy with voters nearby. The Illinois senator has been campaigning in battleground states since accepting the Democratic presidential nomination last Thursday at his party’s convention in Denver.

John McCain was formally chosen as the Republican presidential nominee Wednesday in St. Paul.

Obama also told FOX News Thursday he “absolutely” believes the United States is fighting a War on Terror, with the enemy being, “Al Qaeda, the Taliban, a whole host of networks that are bent on attacking America, who have a distorted ideology, who have perverted the faith of Islam.”

He repeated his campaign’s foreign policy position that Afghanistan must become the “central front” in the War on Terror.

Obama was first asked to come on “The O’Reilly Factor” in early 2007.

Patients told to keep on taking cholesterol drug despite cancer link


Merck suppressed drug test results

Patients advised to keep taking Inegy cholesterol therapy despite cancer link study

Times Online | Sep 3, 2008

Patients have been advised to carry on taking an anti-cholesterol treatment despite research that suggested it may be linked to higher cancer rates.

Inegy, a therapy that combines simvastatin with another drug called ezetimibe, was linked to slightly raised levels of a variety of cancers in an international study whose results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Scientists reported that of the 1,873 patients involved in the study, 93 developed cancers including skin and prostate tumours, compared to 65 who took a placebo.

The Oslo-based researchers admitted however that the result was small and could have occurred by chance.

The Simvistatin and Ezetimibe in Aortic Stenosis (SEAS) study also cast doubt on Inegy’s effectiveness in reducing the rate of progression of aortic disease in patients with a partially blocked heart valve, a condition that has no other proven treatment except surgery.

Two larger scale studies of the combination therapy, which will involve nearly 30,000 patients and are still ongoing, have not confirmed the cancer link, according to analysis at Oxford University. During these studies, 313 patients taking the drugs have so far developed cancer compared to 326 taking a placebo.

Tens of thousands of patients have taken Inegy in Britain, where around 300,000 prescriptions for the combination therapy have been issued over the last two years.

Dr Mike Knapton, the director of prevention and cure at the British Heart Foundation, said that patients should not make any sudden changes to their drug regime.

“If you have been prescribed ezetimibe you should continue to take it,” said Dr Knapton.

“If you have concerns about side-effects of this or other medication, you should talk to your doctor to weigh up the risks and benefits.”

Dr Knapton added that it was important to find out more information about the long term effects of Inegy, a relatively new treatment, before jumping to conclusions.

“At the moment it’s not clear if there is a risk. It would be a disaster if, on one hand, a drug which benefits patients gets shelved,” he said.

“On the other hand, we don’t want to give large numbers of patients a drug which has got an increased risk of cancer associated with it.

“The data from the big trials are encouraging but the evidence is not yet conclusive, because many of the patients studied have been followed up for a relatively short period of time so far.

“Because one study did show a cancer risk, it is crucial that others continue and are monitored closely to definitively confirm or refute any link.

“People should be reassured that drug regulators will act quickly if robust evidence of risk to patient health appears.”

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), the NHS drug watchdog, approved the wider use of Ezetimibe in November for the treatment of high levels of cholesterol in the blood.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration has launched an investigation into the drug.

Australian ex-priest faces 90 sex assault charges

Activists protesting sexual abuse in the Catholic church, seen here in mid July, demonstrate outside St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. A former Catholic priest has been charged with 60 fresh offences relating to sex assaults on boys while working at a prestigious boarding school in the 1970s and 80s.  (AFP/File/William West)

AFP | Sep 3, 2008

SYDNEY (AFP) – A former Catholic priest has been charged with 60 fresh offences relating to sex assaults on boys while he was working at a prestigious boarding school in the 1970s and 80s, reports said Wednesday.

Police would not confirm the identity of the man, saying only that they had arrested a 65-year-old on Tuesday in southwestern Sydney and that he has since been released on bail.

“He was taken to Hurstville police station where he was charged with 60 matters relating to historic sexual assault,” a New South Wales police spokeswoman told AFP.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said the suspect was a former Catholic priest who taught at St Stanislaus’ College in Bathurst, west of Sydney, in the 1970s and 80s.

The college made headlines last month after former students came forward alleging they were molested during late-night prayer sessions.

The former priest has already appeared in Bathurst Local Court in August on 33 other charges relating to sexual assault and gross acts of indecency on juveniles aged between 10 and 18.

Reports said his court appearance prompted eight more alleged victims to make further allegations against the former cleric.

The man’s lawyer, Greg Walsh, said his client had emphatically denied the allegations and he was concerned that the latest complaints had emerged only “as a result of gross contamination” in the media.

“The real concern here is whether someone such as my client can obtain a fair trial in these circumstances,” he told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.

Police have said that no current teachers at St Stanislaus’ are under suspicion but have refused to reveal whether other former staff were involved in the alleged abuse.

College principal John Edwards has said that police had previously served him with a search warrant which listed the names of three former staff members.

In July, Pope Benedict XVI publicly expressed his “shame” over the “evils” of clerical child abuse during a visit to Australia, saying he was “deeply sorry” for the abuse of children by predatory priests.