W32/Blaster Recovery/dna and muta/carcinogenesis

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Sat Aug 16 09:06:28 MDT 2003

1) The MS website doesn't list windows 98 as being affected by the worm,
nor do they provide an update for win98 to deal with it. does that mean
that win98 is not affected?

2) Just a point of info: Ditto what dms said re: carcinogenesis. DNA damage
-- mutagenesis -- occurs when uv or any ionizing radiation or any of
various chemical compounds chemically alter or crosslink nucleotides. These
are then misread during subsequent rounds of replication. Yes, there are
OCCASIONAL spontaneous misreads. Your cells have enzymes that repair
damaged DNA, although the greater the number and scope of mutations, the
less effective they are.  We use a compound  called ethidium bromide in the
lab to label DNA sequences for visualization during electrophoresis. This
stuff works by irreversibly linking to the strand of DNA. If it links to
DNA in living cells, the strands won't separate during replication, making
this the most powerful known mutagen/carcinogen (more so than the dioxins).
We also use powerful UV radiation to crosslink any DNA "contaminants" in
our reaction mixtures so they won't replicate during a polymerase chain
reaction (amplification). The very effectiveness of these techniques for
research is due to their deadly mutagenic capabilities in living cells.

  it's important to look not only at cancer rates in general, but specific
types of cancer, as well. In passing, there will never be a "magic bullet"
cure for cancer, because "cancer" describes various conditions with
multiple causality.  As for the reality of a cancer epidemic, I don't have
time for a detailed explanation, but overall, cancer rates in the U.S., in
absolute terms, and as subsets of overall mortality, have sharply increased
over the past five decades. Many environmental health specialists and
activists have pointed to the close correlation in timing between the
increase in cancer rates and the increased use of petrochemicals in our
society. The correlation is even closer for certain types of cancers.

And the correlation is even closer in certain areas -- ie, areas where
working and oppressed peoples live and work. Rampant and unrestricted
environmental contamination in the form of toxic waste dumps, incinerators,
etc., in these areas coincides with elevated cancer rates and incidences of
other illnesses, giving rise to the descriptor environmental racism, and
causing the development of an environmental justice movement. There are
well-known cases of cancer clusters in these areas, local epidemics of
cancer, such as those documented in industrial areas in Mass. (Fitchburg, I
think, if memory serves), in Love Canal, and among farm-workers and their
families in California, among others. In these cases, it was even possible
to establish causality in a legal sense, something that it is quite hard to
do. In the case of the Mass. cluster I referred to, a community movement
documented cases and provided a classic case of participatory research and
action. The farmworkers and community residents did the same for the other
clusters. Nicholas Freudenberg's book "Not in Our Backyards!: Community
Action for Health and the Environment" is a good source of info on these
and other cases of community organizing in response to environmental health
issues. "Living Downstream" is an account of the cancer epidemic, written
by epidemiologist/ecologist /feminist/cancer victim Sandra Steingraber.

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