The mammogram debate renewed (5×8 – 4/3/12)

Treating breast cancer. Or not. Also: Scrambling the young brain, GI Bill blues in Mankato, the dawn of the flying car, and a visit from Beasley.


The mammogram debate should be picking up again thanks to a study out of Norway. In 2009, a recommendation that younger women not be regularly screened for breast cancer turned the status quo upside down. Now, a study in Norway estimates that between 15 and 25 percent of breast cancers found by mammograms wouldn’t have caused any problems during a woman’s lifetime, but these tumors were being treated anyway, CBS reports.

The researchers took advantage of the staggered decade-long introduction of a screening program in Norway, starting in 1996. That allowed them to compare the number of breast cancers in counties where screening was offered with those in areas that didn’t yet have the program. Their analysis also included a decade before mammograms were offered.

They estimated that for every 2,500 women offered screening, one death from breast cancer will be prevented but six to 10 women will be overdiagnosed and treated.

Study leader Dr. Mette Kalager and other experts said women need to be better informed about the possibility that mammograms can pick up cancers that will never be life-threatening when they consider getting screened. The dilemma is that doctors don’t have a good way of telling which won’t be dangerous.

“Once you’ve decided to undergo mammography screening, you also have to deal with the consequences that you might be overdiagnosed,” said Kalager, a breast surgeon at Norway’s Telemark Hospital and a visiting scientist at Harvard School of Public Health. “By then, I think, it’s too late. You have to get treated.”

All of which brings up a question: Is it worth having six people over diagnosed and over treated to save one life?


With what we’re learning about concussions and football, is it time to take a look at the pee wee game?

PBS last evening revealed the results of a study on 7 and 8-year olds in Virginia. It found the kids are taking some hard hits, the effects of which may be cumulative. And, the study found, the worst hits take place in practice.

Watch Young Football Players Take Big-League Hits to Head on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.


It was one sad story after another in Mankato yesterday when Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans told their tales of transitioning from the military to student life. The Mankato Free Press reports that one veteran told Rep. Tim Walz he was close to living in his car because the VA still hasn’t given him money for his education, even though it was supposed to be issued in December. A 10-year veteran said Minnesota State University is holding up a degree because he needs to take required classes. “They also wanted me to take a phy-ed course,” the vet said. “I did phy-ed for 10 years.”

Another student got F’s because he couldn’t attend class. He couldn’t attend class because he’d been sent off to a war. State law prohibits failing grades for deployed soldiers.


It flies! Terrafugia Inc. said yesterday that its flying car has completed its first flight. It hopes to begin selling the thing within the next year.


feature_beasley_amplatz_120402_292.jpgPut me down in the Michael Beasley fan column, please. Thank you.

WNBA stars spend the “off season” making the real money by playing overseas. Seimone Augustus of the Lynx, for example, plays in Russia for Spartak Vidnoje. She and two other Americans on the team don’t see their families much and don’t speak Russian. But they earn four times what they earn in the WNBA.

The BBC profiles the team and players today. Its owner, Shabtai von Kalmanovich, was jailed in Israel once as a spy for the KGB. Two years ago he was gunned down, his black Mercedes riddled with bullets in what police called a contract killing.

Bonus I: One word. Just one word: Eels.

Bonus II: At the GOP national convention, you won’t be able to bring a squirt gun to the “protest zone.” But real guns are OK.

Bonus III: Some officials are worried people will stop playing the lottery unless there’s a big jackpot.


Personal information from the 1940 census was made available to the public Monday morning. The information was expected to be a windfall for people researching their family histories, but heavy demand slowed online access. Today’s Question: What part of your family’s history would you most like to learn about?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The power of the bully pulpit. How effective is presidential rhetoric? How much power does the president have to persuade?

Second hour: The health effects of noise. We all know that unwanted noise can annoy us, but recent studies have found that noise can lead to a host of health problems such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease – it can even change the way we speak. In children, disruptive noise can lead to affect long-term memory and cause learning disruptions. As our world gets louder, we examine what we can do to stay healthy.

Third hour: Women and STEM. A recent study shows that girls do better than boys in STEM classes in school, however, the number of women pursuing science and math degrees and/or careers is still low. What can be done to turn the tide and what programs are already out there encouraging and mentoring women into STEM careers?

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Author David Treuer speaks at the Hennepin County Library.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Buyers and sellers, and the balance of power in retail.

Second hour: Traditional media, social media and Trayvon Martin.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – University of Minnesota officials have begun looking into the prospect that changing the academic calendar could significantly improve the U’s financial picture. MPR’s Alex Friedrich will have the story.

For almost half a century, Head Start programs have helped kids in poverty with varying levels of success. Now the Obama administration wants faltering programs to shape up or lose their federal funding. NPR reports on Head Start programs competing to survive.