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Science News LETTER for December 26, 1953

Cigarettes and Cancer

Primary argument linking cigarette smoking to cancer comes from statistics showing an increase in lung cancer at the same time cigarette consumption has increased markedly.

> BURNING BESIDE the glowing tips of some billion cigarettes today is the hotly debated question, Does cigarette smoking cause lung cancer?

Tobacco company stocks dropped sharply after the medical reports early this month charging that it does. Whether and how much cigarette sales are off will not be known exactly until after the end of the year when records for the final quarter are available.

Tobacco company experts today are said to be more annoyed than scared, and to be readying answers to the medical charges.

When the worried smoker, however, asks his doctor what about it, the chances are he will be told to cut down on his smoking if he has been smoking heavily. Some doc- tors will advise stopping altogether, others may advise moderation, as most have in the past.

In the present state of knowledge, no one can guarantee that a person who quits smoking, or who has never smoked, will not get lung cancer. It can be said, how- ever, that a person who has his chest X-rayed regularly has a good chance for early discovery of lung cancer if he develops one, and that an operation, especially in the early stages, to remove the cancer and the lung if necessary, has a good chance for success.

Primary argument linking cigarettes with lung cancer comes from statistics showing an increase in lung cancer has come during the same period that cigarette consumption has increased markedly. Backing this are statistics showing that, in cases of cancer of the lung, there is almost always a history of excessive smoking for a period of at least 20 years, and that it is rare to find lung cancer in a non-smoker.

However, a Yale professor, who is direc- tor of statistical research for the American Cancer Society, E. Cuyler Hammond, says there is still no reliable statistical evidence to prove that cigarette smoking causes can- cer. Referring to previous studies, he said that “certain investigators, including my- self, are not completely convinced as to the validity of the results, in spite of the fact that a number of independent studies con- ducted in more or less the same way led to more or less the same apparent conclu- sions.”

Right now Prof. Hammond is directing a study of the smoking habits of 204,000 men. This study for the American Cancer So- ciety is reversing the usual direction of such studies. It is designed to learn the smoking habits of men while they are alive and com- pare these with the causes of their deaths

when they die. In the past, the comparison has been of smoking habits of patients with lung cancer and those without it. This has the weakness that until a person develops lung cancer or until he dies, no one can say he is not a lung cancer patient or going to become one.

Some of the arguments linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer come from labora- tory experiments with mice. Cigarette smoke tar painted on the skin of mice over about a period of a year will produce cancer in these animals. An answer to that could be found from laboratory experiments in which other tars painted on mouse skin produced cancers.

Cigarette smoke tar is not the only pos- sible cancer-causing product of combustion to which men and women have been in- creasingly exposed in the past quarter cen- tury. Fumes and gases that pollute city air on a smoggy day can do more than smart the eyes. They can, in the opinion of more than one scientist, take a good share of the blame for the increase in lung cancer. Chemicals from these fumes, when painted on mouse skin, will also produce cancers.

More convincing, perhaps, than the skin- painting experiments are some reported about a year ago and also earlier. In the latest ones, mice were housed in a special cage with a specially designed automatic smoking machine. While the animals did not actually smoke cigarettes, they came as close to it as scientists could contrive. At least they breathed cigarette smoke from cigarettes smoked by the machine at the rate of one an hour for a 12-hour day.

Half a lifetime of this increased the chances of getting lung cancer by about one-third—that is, for mice with a heredi- tary tendency to lung cancer. Similar ex- periments run in 1943, but for a shorter time in mouse life, showed no difference in lung cancers between mice who “smoked” and those that did not. Maybe this means the smokers who quit have a better chance of escaping lung cancer than those who continue the habit.

Glandular activity that drives men and women to chain smoke may be a factor in causing lung cancer rather than the tobacco itself. This idea was advanced last year by a professor of surgery who has seen and operated on many lung cancer patients. He pointed out that there are numerous authen- ticated cases of lung cancer in persons who never used tobacco in any form.

Arsenic, sprayed on tobacco plants to de- stroy crop-eating insects, has also been blamed for the cigarette-lung cancer situa- tion. If true, the remedy would be simple.

If cigarette smoking is related to lung cancer, it will be important to know the degree of the relationship, Prof. Hammond has pointed out. To use such a finding to save lives, either people must be persuaded to give up smoking or the harmful. in- gredients must be discovered and removed from cigarettes. Unless the relationship be- tween lung cancer and smoking is large, neither is apt, in his opinion, to be accom- plished.

Science News Letter, December 26, 1953

MEDICINE Restore Brain Chemical Process in MS Patients

> A CHEMICAL that tends to restore nor- mal brain and nervous tissue chemistry in multiple sclerosis patients has been discov- ered by Drs. John E. Adams and Gilbert S. Gordan of the University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society in New York, which supported their work, calls the discovery “significant in that it may lead to the cause and possible treat- ment” of this central nervous system disease that afflicts an estimated quarter of a mil- lion persons in the United States alone.

The chemical whose effect was discovered by the California scientists is called a suc- cinate. They came to its discovery through a study of the way the brain tissue of MS patients handles another chemical, glutamic acid.

In 12 of 15 normal persons, amidation of glutamic acid was carried on by the brain tissue, they found. This, it is believed, rep- resents a mechanism for removal of am- monia within the brain cells. Removal of the ammonia is a necessary factor to avoid poisoning in the nervous tissue.

In eight out of nine MS patients, how- ever, the amidation of glutamic acid was not carried on. But injections of succinate into the veins of the patients restored the amidation pattern toward normal.

Science News Letter, December 26, 1953

DERMATOLOGY Procaine Gives Relief To “Chronic Itcher”

> THE “CHRONIC itcher” who has not been helped by other recognized forms of treatment can sometimes be relieved of his misery by doses of procaine, Dr. Samuel R. Perrin of the Western Pennsylvania Hos- pital, Pittsburgh, reported at the meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology and Syphilology in Chicago.

Procaine is known chiefly as a local anes- thetic. For relief of itching it can be taken by mouth, can be injected into veins or can be put right on the itching skin in a solu- tion called efocaine.

In some of the more acute itchy condi- tions, Dr. Perrin said, the period of dis- comfort can be hurried over by procaine.

Science News Letter, December 26, 1953

METEOROLOGY More Support Urged For Weather Service

> ADMINISTRATION REORGANIZA- TION ideas for government bureaus and departments can be cheered by at least one of them—the U. S. Weather Bureau. This appears from the report of the Department of Commerce Advisory Committee on Weather Services to Secretary of Commerce Sinclair Weeks.

A bigger budget, an aggressive research program, return of certain research, clima- tological and observing functions from the Armed Forces to the Weather Bureau, and the addition of more forecasters are among the committee’s recommendations.

Decentralization, encouragement of state and local governments to take part in some programs and encouragement of private meteorology are other recommendations.

High praise for the Bureau’s present chief, Dr. Francis W. Reichelderfer, and for the “frugality” of its operations is given.

“We know of no other governmental agency that has been so economical in the expenditure of its funds,” the committee declares.

Per capita cost of U. S. Weather Bureau services is, roughly, 18 cents, compared to 20 cents in England, 47 cents in the USSR and 50 cents in Canada.

The committee was composed of eight non-governmental meteorologists under the chairmanship of Joseph J. George of At- lanta, Ga.

The Weather Bureau needs more funds for such projects as a national radar storm detection network and electronic computers in forecasting, the committee said.

Science News Letter, December 26, 1953


Colored Flint Further Piltdown Fraud Evidence

> MORE EVIDENCE has been produced that the Piltdown Man discovery was in part a deliberate fraud foisted upon science.

Drs. K. P. Oakley and J. S. Weiner, British scientists, reported previously that the jawbone was that of a modern ape stained with chromate to make it appear ancient. Now they find that one of the so- called flint implements similarly was stained with chromate, although other flints also supposedly recovered from the earth layer just above the fossil skull were stained only with iron, as they would be by weathering.

This flint must have been “treated in that way by a forger requiring it to be of a certain color,” the scientists report in Nature (Dec. 12).

When the stain was removed by acid, this flint was indistinguishable from a me- chanically broken piece of flint such as can be found in any plowed field in the south- ern England area where Piltdown Man was unearthed in 1912.

Science News Letter, December 26, 1953

Science News Letter for December 26, 1953


TRAINING BY TV—A member of the Signal Corps mobile television section gives a brief description of an airborne loading operation being tele- vised by the unit as part of a class instruction program.


TV As Battlefield Aid

See Front Cover

> THE ARMY Signal Corps is experiment- ing with television as a weapon of warfare to save lives, time and money in future conflicts.

Battle commanders may be able to switch tactics almost instantly when the occasion demands it if they can watch on video screens the progress of their strategy at the front 10 miles away.

This would give the U.S. an advantage, especially if the enemy depends upon the usual verbal reports from the front—reports that often are conflicting and inaccurate, the Army points out.

Although television offers promise as a tactical tool, emphasis in experiments now under way at the Signal Corps’ Pictorial Center, Long Island, N. Y., is being placed upon television’s value as a training aid.

Through the video medium, the Army can instruct larger classes than it can ac- commodate in present auditoriums with good results. For instance, a one-hour lec- ture was delivered from a laboratory con- taining the radio equipment under study. It would have been difficult to squeeze all the soldiers into the small lab.

By watching a televised version of the lecture, each man was able to hear the in- structor and see the small radio dials and

knobs almost as clearly as if he were stand- ing next to the electronic gear.

Complex field problems can be explained to military students through the eyes of TV cameras. By way of a closed-circuit telecast, which could not be picked up on home receivers, a group of West Point cadets watched an amphibious assault exercise off the Sandy Hook, N. J., coast.

The TV cameras in this case were carried aloft in L-20 liaison airplanes flying 3,000 feet above the beach. The picture was broadcast to the Signal Corps mobile station at Camp Wood 10 miles away. There it was “distributed” to 10 television receivers being viewed by the visiting West Pointers.

Shown on the front cover of this week’s Science News LETTER is such experimental television camera mounted in an L-20. The camera has a special lens mount to resist high winds. Before take-off, the pilot and cameraman check the problem to be tele- vised in regard to terrain, flying hazards and safety restrictions. During the flight, an intercommunication system is used to maintain contact between the pilot and cameraman.

Army video also offers promise as a technical tool. It is able to monitor areas contaminated with radioactivity that would present a hazard to human life.

Science News Letter, December 26, 1953



Science News Letrer for December 26, 1953

Separated Siamese Twins

Doctors report successful separation of Siamese twin girls who have now passed their first birthday, marking the first known time both members survived so long after separation.

> A ONE-YEAR-OLD birthday celebrated on Dec. 14 by twin girls in Cleveland was a record-breaking event in medical history as well as in the lives of the baby girls, their parents and doctors.

For these girls were born as Siamese twins. They were separated surgically shortly after birth. And today both are alive and well, thus setting a medical rec- ord. Theirs is the first case, so far as is known, of both members of a pair of Sia- mese twins surviving this long after a sepa- ration operation.

Healthy, gaining nicely and “just fine,” in the words of one of their doctors, the babies show every sign of continuing to live. A scar extending about an inch and a half down from the level of the breast bone on each baby is all that shows they once were joined.

The story of their birth and separation is reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Dec. 12) by Drs. Hyatt Reitman, Earl E. Smith and Jac S. Geller, obstetrician, pediatrician and surgeon, of Mount Sinai Hospital, Cleveland.

These separated Siamese twins are com- pletely anonymous. Their names have not appeared in the public press and the medi- cal report does not even give their mother’s initials. She is identified only as “a 27-year- old woman” and the babies are called “twin A” and “twin B” in the journal.

Three months before the babies’ arrival, Dr. Reitman recognized that their mother was going to have twins. But it was not known that they would be Siamese twins until they were born. Dr. Smith, who examined them shortly after birth, found them completely normal except for the band of flesh connecting them and for a heart murmur in one twin. Simultaneous electro- cardiograms taken by Dr. Bernard Brofman showed normal heart rates and rhythms which were not synchronous. This was a sign that the babies had separate blood cir- culation systems.

The babies were given vitamin K to fore- stall undue bleeding, penicillin and strepto- mycin to check any infection, and taken to the operating room where Dr. Geller cut away the band of tissue connecting them.

The separated twins were put in an incu- bator and given oxygen continuously for six hours after the operation. After two weeks they were doing so well they could be taken home.

Fortunately, these babies did not have any organs or large blood vessels in common and the band connecting them was made up only of flesh and some cartilage from the breast bones.

The original Siamese twins, Eng and

Chang, were joined in much the same way as the year-old Cleveland babies. Examina- tion of their bodies after their deaths showed that the band that connected them was composed mainly of muscle, but, un- like the Cleveland twins, this band did con- tain a small band of liver tissue, showing that there was some slight sharing of inter- nal organs. Medical authorities have said, however, that it would have been possible to separate Eng and Chang surgically, even in their day over a century ago, before the development of modern aseptic surgery, antibiotics, blood transfusions and modern anesthetics.

The Mouton Siamese twins, also girls, have both survived a separation operation performed in New Orleans. This was just three months ago, however, so they cannot yet be said to have reached the one-year survival record of the Cleveland babies. The Mouton twins were joined at the base of the spine.

A history making operation in Chicago separated the Brodie twins, joined head to head, a year ago, but only one of these boys, Rodney, survived. The other twin, Roger, died a few weeks after the operation.

Successful surgical separation of Siamese twins has apparently been done only three or four times previously. One authority reports three authentic cases with survival of one twin and death of the other. Accord- ing to another authority, there have been four cases, in one of which both twins sur- vived for six months.

A famous case at the beginning of this century was that of the “Radica-Doodica” Hindu sisters who toured with Barnum and Bailey’s circus. At the age of 12, Doodica became critically sick with tuberculosis and a separation was performed to save her twin. Doodica died shortly after the opera- tion but Radica was reported restored to complete health.

Dr. Reitman, who delivered the Cleve- land babies, thinks that he and his col- leagues may hear of other, so far unre- ported, successful separation operations after other doctors have read their report.

Science News Letter, December 26, 1953

MEDICINE Medical Research Grants Follow Modern Practice

> COMMONWEALTH FUND grants for medical research are following the modern trend in medical practice and education of seeing the patient as a whole, rather than as a case of heart disease or diabetes or

kidney disease, it appears from the 1953 Annual Report.

Sickness, it is believed, can seldom be laid to a single cause. More often it results from the interaction of many aspects of a person’s environment, both external and internal. So first priority in the Common- wealth Fund’s medical research grants goes to studies primarily concerned with the interaction between the organism and its environment, such as studies of growth and personality, certain types of neuropsychiatric research, and studies of relationships be- tween social environment and chronic

disease. Science News Letter, December 26, 1953


VOL. 64 DECEMBER 26, 1953 NO. 26

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Science News LETTER for December 26, 1953


One case prior to the Indiana baby is known of a human with two heads surviving. These fused twins, born in 1937 in Russia, lived for over a year and began to “goo-goo.”

> AT LEAST one case of survival for a year of a human baby born,with two heads, like the one in Indiana, is known to med- ical science. That “rare being,” like the Indiana one, had two heads and four arms. It also had four shoulders and was fused from there down into one body.

These fused, or coalescent, twins were born in a maternity hospital in Moscow, USSR, in 1937. The two-headed baby girl was extensively studied at the All-Union Institute of Experimental Medicine there. The babies, named Ira and Galya, were one year, 22 days old when they died.

Scientists observed that at an early age they stared fixedly at each other and, evi- dently to get better acquainted, one would reach out to feel the face of the other. If the touch involved scratching with sharp finger-nails, as it sometimes did, a loud cry of pain resounded throughout the ward, first from the scratched twin, then from the scratcher. But then in a minute the wrangle ended and the sisters sucked their fingers peacefully.

After a time such conflicts became rare and the sisters seemed to have reached an understanding. Soviet scientists believed that, since the sisters shared a common chest, crying by one was most unpleasant for the other. Each girl, perhaps through a conditioned reflex as the Soviet scientists theorized, learned to restrain all movements that caused her discomfort even though it would come through her sister.

Before the end of their short lives, the babies were able to hold up their heads well and to wave their tiny hands and hold toys firmly.

Because of the small size of their legs, their doctors did not think they would ever walk, though prolonged special training for walking had been planned for them at an older age.

Shortly before they died at the age of one year, they began to utter sounds com- parable to the “goo-goo” of a six-month-old infant. This showed that their speech func- tion was very much retarded, although the development of their nervous reactions sug- gested that they would have talked if they had lived longer.

The character of their nervous activity was distinctly individualized and they had “temperament.” Ira was vociferous, ener- getic and strong, while Galya was a great deal quieter, somewhat dull and feeble. She rarely smiled and cried a good deal.

The Soviet scientists apparently had not thought of trying to separate the babies. They were given great care and were ob-

served, but not experimented on, the object being to learn as much as possible about the physiology of sleep, appetite, pain and certain diseases without risking the health or comfort of the twins.

In spite of “trials and: tribulations,” a frail constitution and many ailments, the twins gained and a few days before their death, the scientists felt every assurance that they would survive.

In the 15 years since these twins died, medicine and surgery have made great strides which may give the Indiana boy fused twins a better chance for the future.

A two-headed baby girl born in England in 1946 lived only 50 hours. In that short time, doctors found the two heads breathed independently and had different pulse rates, indicating two sets of lungs. Because the two heads fed separately, the doctors be- lieved this being had two stomachs.

Another two-headed baby, with a third arm on the midline of its body, and two hearts and two stomachs, was reported from Detroit in 1930. This baby died at birth.

Cats with two heads and seven legs, calves with two heads, calves and deer with two hind ends, a big two-headed trout,


two-headed turtles and snakes, double or triple chick embryos on one yolk and two- headed or four-legged chickens have also been reported.

All these double monsters, as well as identical twins, originate from one single egg. In most cases what happens is that the single egg forms two separate centers of organization in close proximity to each other. But when these begin to expand and differentiate, they fuse instead of con- tinuing as separately organized individuals, such as identical twins.

Fused twins may be loosely conjoined, as Siamese twins, or they may be joined in many odd ways, it appears from medi- cal reports. One of these odd fusions gave a monster four legs and four arms but a fused chest and two heads fused so that each face was made up of two halves. One half belonged to one trunk and the other half face to the other trunk.

Science News Letter, December 26, 1953

TECHNOLOGY Robot Arm Can Make Cake

> A 15-TON mechanical arm that can make cakes, tie iron bars into knots and pour glasses of water has been created to perform Herculean tasks where men could not survive.

Despite its culinary prowess, the crane- mounted O-Man, will draw upon its mighty strength in the General Electric laboratory at Schenectady, N. Y., where nuclear air- craft engines are under study for the Air

JUST A SMALL PIECE, PLEASE—This is the mighty-muscled O-Man, the newest mechanical arm designed to handle radioactive materials in areas dangerous to man. It is sensitive enough to slice this cake.


Force and Atomic Energy Commission. O-Man, the big arm’s name, is derived from “overhead manipulator.”

With its two steel fingers, the record- sized machine can pick up heavy parts, position them and fasten them into place. It can drill and tap holes, use power wrenches, hammers or riveters, and operate a sheet metal saw. Messages are dispatched to the arm through 140 wires running to a remote “brain” situated where human arms are safe from radioactive burns.

Science News Letter, December 26, 1953


Saturday, Jan. 2, 1954, 3:15-3:30 p.m. EST

“Adventures in Science” with Watson Davis, director of Science Service, over the CBS Radio Network. Check your local CBS station.

Dr. George Wald, professor of biology at Har- vard University and winner of the 1953 Lasker Award of the American Public Health Associa- tion, will discuss “How We See.”

HEMATOLOGY New Blood Factor U Widely Distributed

> DISCOVERY OF a new blood factor, called “U” because of its almost universal distribution, was announced by Dr. A. S. Wiener, Dr. L. J. Unger and E. B. Gordon of the Serological Laboratory of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York and the blood and plasma bank, Uni- versity Hospital (New York University- Bellevue Medical Center), New York, in the Journal of the American Medical Asso- ciation (Dec. 19).

The new factor was discovered after a Negro woman, taken to a hospital with a bleeding stomach ulcer, went into shock and died from reaction to blood being given her by transfusion. A previous transfusion given her had had to be stopped because of a reaction of chills and fever. Both donors, however, had belonged to the same blood group, B, as the patient.

After she died, her blood was again examined. Cross-matching tests showed that her blood contained an abnormal anti- body that strongly clumped the cells of the two donors. Subsequent tests with blood of 425 Negroes and 690 white persons showed the U factor present in all but four of the Negroes.

The U factor, the scientists report, is not related to the A-B-O, M-N, Rh-Hr or K-k systems, or to any other blood factor dis- covered to date.

Blood grouping has become a highly specialized field, the scientists point out. In their opinion, the delicate tests needed can only be performed by specially trained persons. In order to avoid fatal reactions, they advise against having blood grouping and cross-matching done by interns who usually have very little training. Instead, they think, large hospitals should set up adequate blood grouping departments and small hospitals should make use of a central blood grouping laboratory.

Science News Letter, December 26, 1953

Science News Letter for December 26, 1953


Weather Control Studied

> WHETHER CONGRESS should enact laws to control the weather, if it is eco- nomically possible at all to make rain or to disperse fog, is one of the questions an ll-man committee just appointed to study weather modification will probably decide.

Retired Navy Capt. Howard T. Orville, chairman of the President’s Committee on Weather Control and Evaluation and a consultant of the Bendix Aviation Corp., Baltimore, outlined the aims of the com- mittee in Washington.

Western ranchers and farmers are spend- ing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on efforts to make it rain. Although many of them believe this money is well spent, the U.S. Weather Bureau, backed by close to 100 years of records, often can tell them that it would have rained without the rain maker’s efforts. Capt. Orville pointed out, however, that an increase of even ten percent in rainfall in the West would “mean a great deal.” Many scientists at


present question whether cloud seeding achieves even this. The weather advisory committee, Dr. Orville said, will make a study of “all past, present and future cloud seeding experiments,” then try to decide if they have been successful. In their work, the committee will have access to