Good News From The Medical Sector

Bloomberg News is reporting today that a blood test that may be able to detect breast cancer up to five years before symptoms develop could be available by 2025 if development is fully funded, U.K. researchers said. This is wonderful news. Breast cancer can be cured if it is detected early.

The emedicinehealth website includes the following chart:

The article at Bloomberg News reports:

“A blood test for early breast cancer detection would be cost effective, which would be of particular value in low and middle income countries,” Daniyah Alfattani, a PhD student at the University of Nottingham said in a statement. “It would also be an easier screening method to implement compared to current methods, such as mammography.”

About 2.1 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually, according to the World Health Organization. It killed an estimated 627,000 women last year, accounting for 15% of all cancer deaths among women.

…“We need to develop and further validate this test,” Alfattani said. “However, these results are encouraging and indicate that it’s possible to detect a signal for early breast cancer. Once we have improved the accuracy of the test, then it opens the possibility of using a simple blood test to improve early detection of the disease.”

The research was presented at the U.K. National Cancer Research Institute cancer conference in Glasgow.

Wow. Wonderful news.

The Sad Story Behind Electric Cars

As the production of electric cars increases, the demand for cobalt for those cars increases. On Monday, Bloomberg News posted an article on some of the mines that supply that cobalt.

The article reports:

The appetite for electric cars is driving a boom in small-scale cobalt production in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where some mines have been found to be dangerous and employ child labor.

 Production from so-called artisanal mines probably rose by at least half last year, according to the estimates of officials at three of the biggest international suppliers of the metal, who asked not to be named because they’re not authorized to speak on the matter. State-owned miner Gecamines estimates artisanal output accounted for as much as a quarter of the country’s total production in 2017.

That’s a concern for carmakers from Volkswagen AG to Tesla Inc., who are seeking to secure long-term supplies of the battery ingredient but don’t want to be enmeshed in a scandal about unethical mining practices. Tech giants including Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. endured bad publicity after a 2016 Amnesty International report said children were being sent down some Congolese mines to dig for cobalt destined for their gadgets. Pit and tunnel collapses killed dozens of workers in 2015, the advocacy group said.

The article also notes that as much as $2.5 billion of cobalt a year is being smuggled across the border into Zambia.

I am sure there are safer ways to mine cobalt. The fact that children are being used in these mines in this dangerous work is horrendous. I realize that the culture of the countries involved may allow for children to do this work, but this is one situation where the United Nations might be useful. There are organizations within the United Nations that are supposed to protect children–they need to at least make a statement on the use of children to mine cobalt.

The idea of electric cars is intriguing; however, we need to look at the cost of creating this technology.