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Internet rumor links anti-perspirant use to breast cancer in women


Some old tales and legends seem to have a life of their own.

New rumors -- particularly warnings about health issues that appear credible -- seem to circulate through e-mail lists with impunity.

The latest one to make the e-mail rounds is about an alleged link between anti-perspirants and breast cancer.

The story goes that anti-perspirant stop the body from purging toxins by preventing the skin from sweating or perspiring.

The toxins don't leave the body, and are ultimately deposited in the lymph nodes, the story says. And this high concentration of toxins leads to cell mutations and cancer.

That's how the story goes in the e-mail my wife received.

But according to the Urban Legends Page (http://www.urbanlegends.com/) and The American Cancer Society, (http://www2.cancer.org/zine/), the claimed link between anti-perspirants and cancer is false.

The American Cancer Society's "News Today" online magazine carried a story dated May 21, 1999, that details the misinformation contained in the claim.

As with any factual-sounding claim, truth is mixed with falsehood, making for a very, very convincing argument.

But as the ACS points out, anti-perspirant has not been linked by any medical research or data to the development in breast cancer in women.

Breast cancer is a very serious topic. It's the second most common type of cancer among women, and it's also the second most common cause of cancer death among women.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 175,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will occur this year in the U.S.

Yearly mammograms, beginning at age 40, are the best weapon for fighting breast cancer. Mammograms offer an opportunity for early detection and treatment should the disease strike.

If you receive warnings similar to this via e-mail, take the time and do the research or ask your doctor to determine if the claim is valid.

E-MAIL BILL. Congress sent the Y2K legal reform bill to President Clinton in historic, lightning-quick time last week.

The bill was sent to the President Clinton to sign via e-mail, a first for any piece of legislation.

A traditional paper copy was delivered afterward.

The bill limits damages for Y2K-related lawsuits. It passed the House July 1.

FREE NET ACCESS. Web search engine/portal site AltaVista is retooling its image once again, and this time it will include the ability to offer free Internet access.

Following the lead of Yahoo!, Excite, and other portals who are offering their own branded type of Internet access, AltaVista will go one better. Rather than sell Internet access, it'll be free.

AltaVista's free access will be similar to NetZero's free Internet access.

A small window with advertising will be displayed on the computer desktop as long as the user is connected to the service. The Internet service is actually paid by the revenues from selling the ads in the desktop window.

AltaVista, a longtime hotspot for Web surfers, was recently ranked 10th for Internet traffic.

For more information, visit AltaVista and check out their new features at www.altavista.com.

CHIPS AHOY! The geek in me found it amazing -- National Semiconductor Corp. unveiled a new computer chip that rolls most of the functions of a PC into one single IC chip.

The Geode SC1400 will perform the operations of six different computer chips, according to NSC officials.

The new chip is being aimed at the next generation of Internet-capable appliances -- hand-held e-mail/Web terminals, set-top boxes and portable, wireless devices resembling Dick Tracy's 2-way wrist TV.

The chip offers a processing speed of 266 MHz, and can handle surfing the Web as well as handle digital sound and video.

The new chips will be included in new devices that'll hit the markets within the next nine months or so.

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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