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Science Deadline: More cancer evidence after unethical study

Press Release – Science Media Centre

Cancer after unethical study A new study has uncovered more women who went on to develop cancer after being unknowingly part of the ‘Unfortunate Experiment’ at National Women’s Hospital.Science Deadline: More evidence for cancer after unethical study
Cancer after unethical study
A new study has uncovered more women who went on to develop cancer after being unknowingly part of the ‘Unfortunate Experiment’ at National Women’s Hospital.

Dr Herbert Green’s clinical study at Auckland’s National Women’s Hospital from the 1960s to 80s has since been dubbed the Unfortunate Experiment. Women with cervical pre-cancer underwent numerous procedures to observe the condition rather than receive the treatment that was routine at the time.

A new study led by University of Otago researchers, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, found that of the 82 women in the study diagnosed with microinvasive cervical cancer, 15 developed a more advanced cancer and eight died from the disease.

Previous studies have looked at women included in the unethical clinical study who had cervical pre-cancer, but this is the first study looking at microinvasive cancers among the women.
Lead author Emeritus Professor Charlotte Paul said it was not widely known that Dr Green’s trial also included women with microinvasive cervical cancer. “We have reported these findings in order to document and acknowledge the harm suffered by these women and to complete the picture of the effects of Dr Green’s study.”
Professor Ron Jones, who wrote Doctors in Denial about his experience as part of the group that blew the whistle on Dr Green’s study, told Newstalk ZB “we felt we had a responsibility or a duty to report the outcome so the world knows because there are still some people who are in denial”.
“We’re still waiting for the University of Auckland to give an apology, who was the employer of the doctors who were involved in the experiment. We wanted the truth to prevail and I think that’s happened with the series of papers that we’ve written on these unfortunate women.”

“We know people will be keen to see him return to public life, however, like a true superstar, any future plans will be on his terms.

“Once we know how he’s doing and how he feels about having humans back in his life we’ll reassess the situation.”

Kākāpō Recovery Team operations manager Deidre Vercoe on
the return of ‘spokesbird’ Sirocco after two years off the grid.

Falcon lifts off, delivers car
SpaceX successfully launched its heavy rocket this week, and pulled off a stunt of putting a car into space.

Falcon Heavy launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, making it the most powerful rocket in the world. With the ability to haul near 64 tonnes, the rocket is being touted as carving out space for launching heavier satellites into orbit than other rockets.

As if the launch itself wasn’t impressive enough, two of the three boosters successfully returned to the launch pad, which means they will be able to be reused. The third crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

University of Auckland’s head of physics Professor Richard Easther told One News the launch would open the possibility to slash the cost of future launches, with the boosters’ returning to Earth and being reused.

“It’s going to make it much more common, it’s going to move it from something that can only be done once in a while to something that can potentially become routine.”

“If you want to put people into space you’ve got to put a lot of stuff around them to keep them safe, so you need to be able to launch really heavy payloads and this is a step in that direction.”

SpaceX founder Elon Musk also launched his own Tesla Roadster into space aboard Falcon Heavy, along with a mannequin named “Starman”. However, the final engine burn of the rocket’s second stage was stronger than expected, sending the Tesla into an orbit that extends out to the asteroid belt, rather than the Mars’ orbit initially intended.

SpaceX intends to launch astronauts on its Falcon 9 and Dragon rocket and spacecraft by the end of 2018.

Policy news & developments

HIV drug funded: PHARMAC will widen the funding for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis to include people at high risk of HIV infection.
Volcanoes compete on Twitter
Which supervolcano would win in a mud-slinging contest, Taupō or Yellowstone?

Since February 1, Twitter has been home to the Volcano Cup – pitting volcanoes from ten countries up against each other for a popular vote.

US-based Kiwi volcanologist Dr Janine Krippner started the competition after the eruption of Agung in Bali, which she saidhighlighted the “dire need for volcano-based outreach…for people to understand volcanoes, hazards and how to stay safe”.

“Millions live around potentially active volcanoes and many more travel to them,” she said. “We need to arm people with good knowledge about hazards and where to get good information.”

GeoNet volcanologist Brad Scott said the New Zealand team was backing Volcano Cup as a way to get scientists, teachers and students talking about volcanoes.

The New Zealand round pitted the Taupō caldera, Ruapehu, Tongariro and the Auckland Volcanic Field against each other: Taupō took out the top spot with 38 per cent of the votes.

Find more information on the Volcano Cup here, or follow on Twitter #VolcanoCup.

This week on the NZ Conversation.

What employers need to do to protect workers from cyberbullying
Natalia D’Souza, Massey University

Virtual reality chatroom app could boost VR industry
David Evans Bailey, AUT

See more NZ-authored Conversation articles.

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