20-year survey links tanning booth use to skin cancer

Posted Oct. 26, 2011, at 8:38 p.m.

LOS ANGELES — The more you use a tanning bed, the higher your risk of deadly skin cancers, according to research presented at an international cancer conference this week.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard University in Boston followed 73,494 nurses who participated in a health study from 1989 to 2009, tracking their tanning-bed habits during high school and college, as well as between the ages of 25 and 35.

They also tracked overall average usage during those two periods in relation to basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma — three different skin cancers that are each named after the type of cells they affect. Of the three, melanoma is the least common but the most deadly.

For every four visits per year to a tanning booth, risk for basal and squamous cell carcinoma jumped 15 percent and risk for melanoma rose 11 percent. What’s more, the researchers found that using tanning booths in the younger age range, during high school and college, had a stronger effect on cancer risk.

The research was presented at the 10th AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research.

Fungus identified as killer of 1 million bats in North America

NEW YORK — A fungus is at fault for the deaths of 1 million North American bats, according to a study that’s the first to pinpoint the cause for a phenomenon that scientists say may spur agricultural losses of $3.7 billion a year.

The next question is how to attack it, said researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey in Madison, Wis., who identified the Geomyces destructans fungus in a report Wednesday in the journal Nature. The flying mammals eat as much as two-thirds of their own weight in bugs nightly, including mosquitoes, grasshoppers, locusts and moths that can spread disease and devastate crops.

Incomes of top earners grow far faster than everyone else’s

WASHINGTON — A new government report shows that over the past three decades the incomes of the nation’s top earners have grown far more rapidly than those of everyone else.

The nation’s economic gains have been increasingly concentrated in the households of the top 1 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office, echoing previous studies cited by Occupy Wall Street protesters.

For the 1 percent of the population with the highest incomes, average income grew 275 percent between 1979 and 2007, the report said. Middle-income Americans saw just less than a 40 percent rise during the same period, while the 20 percent of the population on the bottom saw an 18 percent increase.

All figures were reported in inflation-adjusted terms after taxes.

“The distribution of market income became more unequal almost continuously between 1979 and 2007,” according to the report from the Congressional Budget Office.

The report comes as the concerns of the Occupy Wall Street movement are increasingly entering the nation’s political debate.

NYC performance artist gives birth in art gallery

NEW YORK — A performance artist who said giving birth is the “highest form of art” has delivered a baby boy — inside a New York City art gallery

The Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn said Marni Kotak gave birth to a healthy infant, weighing 9 pounds, 2 ounces, and 21 inches long.

The 36-year-old artist had set up a home-birth center at the gallery, turning the space into a brightly decorated bedroom with ocean blue walls and photo-imprinted pillows.

The gallery said in a statement that “Baby X” was born at 10:17 a.m. Tuesday. It didn’t say how many people witnessed the birth or give any other detail.

The gallery said a video of the birth will be added to its upcoming exhibition.

Iraq war’s ‘missing’ $6.6 billion discovered in Central Bank

WASHINGTON — A new Pentagon audit resolves a lingering Iraq-war mystery, concluding that $6.6 billion of U.S.-controlled reconstruction money was transferred to the Central Bank of Iraq, not lost or stolen.

The Coalition Provisional Authority, created by the United States to run Iraq after the invasion, controlled more than $20.7 billion during its 14-month life, including $6.6 billion held when it was dissolved on June 28, 2004.

“That money is not missing,” said Inspector General Stuart Bowen in a telephone interview.

A 2010 Bowen audit couldn’t account for the money. Wednesday’s report says “sufficient evidence exists showing almost all” the $6.6 billion was transferred to the central bank.

The inability to account for the money led to suspicion in Iraq that the funds had been stolen. The Iraqi parliament’s Integrity Committee wrote the United Nations in June that “all indications are that the institutions of the United States of America committed financial corruption by stealing money.”

“That’s not true,” Bowen said. “This report answers the question about the $6.6 billion. We conclude it properly was accounted for by the Federal Reserve Board Bank of New York and Central Bank of Iraq.”

Any doubts about how the money was handled after it left U.S. control is an Iraqi — not U.S. government — question, Bowen said.

The Los Angeles Times in June fueled concern about the money when it quoted Bowen as calling the then-unaccounted-for $6.6 billion “the largest theft of funds in national history,” a phrase Bowen later said was taken out of context.

Still, the audit raised questions about the CPA’s financial management. It identified three instances when about $4.3 billion of U.S. currency was deposited in the Iraqi bank “in a manner that varied” from that interim government’s written policies and procedures.

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