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    A study by psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley, calls into question recent condemnation by some researchers of all forms of physical punishment of children. The study, led by Diana Baumrind of the Institute of Human Development, indicates occasional moderate spanking does not damage a child's social or emotional development. The survey of more than 100 families distinguishes between frequent, severe spanking -- which is harmful -- and occasional strikes on the buttocks, hands or legs with an open hand -- which is not. "We found no evidence for unique detrimental effects of normative physical punishment," said Baumrind, who presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco. "I am not an advocate of spanking, but a blanket injunction against its use is not warranted by the evidence. It is reliance on physical punishment, not whether or not it is used at all, that is associated with ha! rm to the child."
    The use of inexpensive, efficient stoves and cleaner fuels could significantly reduce the number of respiratory infections caused by smoke from indoor cooking fires common in the Third World, researchers report. The team from the University of California, Berkeley, and Princeton University monitored illness and pollution levels for three years in a village in Kenya. The survey of 500 people in 80 households showed the ill health effects resulting from the use of traditional open fires. The investigators found the particulate matter pollution levels inside the homes was 10 times greater than those in industrialized countries. "One-third of the world's population -- almost 2 billion people -- use wood, charcoal, dung or crop residue as cooking fuel, which is an important cause of respiratory illness, one of the most common diseases worldwide,' said co-author Daniel Kammen, professor of energy and resources and director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energ! y Laboratory.
    The discovery of a unique gene modification in adult human cancer cells could provide important clues about the cause of some types of lymphoma, researchers report. The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, points to the potential for new treatments that would specifically target some forms of lymphoma and perhaps other cancers, said lead author Dr. Mike Teitell of the University of California, Los Angeles, Jonsson Cancer Center. The scientists studied how AIDS patients develop certain types of lymphoma. The aim was to pinpoint potential causes of the disease. In primary effusion lymphoma, many of the cells' normal genes were silenced or turned off, the investigators found,. Silenced genes may be the cause of some cancers, Teitell said. The team went on to investigate why the genes were silenced in these cases. In so doing, they found a new kind of gene modification, a type of DNA methylation. "One implication of! this finding is that cancers that revert to earlier stages of development may be using this new type of DNA modification to accomplish this reversion," Teitell said. "The cancer cells stop utilizing the genes for differentiation that normal cells utilize and instead use genes that cause the cells to keep dividing unchecked. If we could understand how and why this type of DNA methylaton is occurring and what enzymes are involved, we might understand more fully how this lymphoma originates."
    Texas researchers have found a protein that plays a key role in regulating a cell's cycle and in preventing it from replicating erratically, thereby increasing its chances of becoming malignant. The protein is called Fbw7. It controls cyclin E, another protein involved in the regulation of cell proliferation. "High levels of cyclin E in breast tumors are indicators of poor prognosis," said Dr. Stephen Elledge, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry and Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "Cells that make too much cyclin E are constantly proliferating and are genetically unstable," Elledge said. The newly found protein regulates the levels of cyclin E, the researchers found. The team also found the cell cultures of breast cancer cells that made the most cyclin E made no Fbw7 at all. "This gene that is the code for production of Fbw7 is very probably a tumor suppressor gene," Elledge said.
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