New bits: Common weedkiller causes extra sex organs in frogs

unknown rst@ai.mit.edu
Wed, 17 Apr 2002 12:09:22 -0400 (EDT)


Gregory Alan Bolcer writes:
 > Scientists at Dow found that the chemical makeup of
 > weed killers is very similar to the chemical makeup of
 > a whole family of anti-cancer drugs.

Which anti-cancer drugs?  Much (if not most) chemotherapy still
amounts to dispensing poisons which, the doctors hope, will kill the
cancer before they finally kill the patient --- hence the horrendous
side effects.  Not exactly the sort of thing you want to be dishing
out to healthy people in their food as a prophylactic.

(Pharmaceutical attacks on pathogens most often work by trying to gum
up some chemical pathway that the pathogen has and the patient doesn't
--- a classic instance being penicillin, which attacks the structure
of bacterial cell walls, with no great effects on living creatures
other than bacteria.  But the pathogen in cancer is a part of the
patient's own body run amok, and it is very difficult to find a
chemical which mucks with the cancer, and doesn't also muck with, at
the very least, the body system that gave rise to it).

rst