Daily Archives: May 21, 2012

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A simple, cheaper exam of just the lower part of the bowel can cut the risk of developing colon cancer or dying of the disease, a large federal study finds.

Many doctors recommend a more complete test — colonoscopy — but many people refuse that costly, unpleasant exam. The new study shows that the simpler test, flexible sigmoidoscopy, can be a good option. Although it may seem similar to having a mammogram on just one breast, experts say that even a partial bowel exam is better than none.

As one put it, “the best test is the one that gets done.”

The study was published online Monday by the New England Journal of Medicine and was to be presented at a digestive diseases conference in San Diego.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States and the fourth worldwide. More than 143,000 new cases and 52,000 deaths from the disease are expected this year in the U.S. alone.

People ages 50 to 75 who are at average risk of colon cancer are urged to get screened, but only about 60 percent do. Government advisers recommend one of three methods: annual stool blood tests, a sigmoidoscopy (SIG-moy-DAH-skuh-pee) every five years plus stool tests every three years, or a colonoscopy once a decade.

In a colonoscopy, a thin tube with a tiny camera is guided through the large intestine. Growths can be removed and checked for cancer. Patients are sedated, but it requires drinking strong solutions the day before to clean out the bowel.

Sigmoidoscopy is not a popular choice in the United States but it’s the one used most often in England. It also uses a thin scope and tiny camera, can be done in an ordinary doctor’s office, requires much less bowel preparation and costs just $150 to $300 versus $1,000 to $2,000 for a colonoscopy.

One drawback: It’s done without anesthesia. The test usually isn’t painful, but patients feel cramping and some discomfort, said Dr. Durado Brooks, the American Cancer Society’s colon cancer expert. It also sees only the lower one-third of the colon, “but that is an area where probably half of polyps and cancers develop,” Brooks said.

The new study, led by Dr. Robert Schoen of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, tested how well it works.

From 1993 to 2001, about 155,000 people ages 55 to 75 were assigned to get the simple scope exam at the start of the study and three to five years later, or usual care — screening by any means only if they or their doctors wanted it done. Any patients with suspicious findings were sent for a colonoscopy.

After about 12 years of follow-up, there were 21 percent fewer cases of colon cancer and 26 percent fewer deaths from the disease in the group assigned to get sigmoidoscopy.

Of the cancers in that group, 243 were considered to have been caught by sigmoidoscopy (many others were found because of symptoms or other tests). Researchers estimate that 97 more would have been detected if colonoscopy had been the main screening method instead of the simpler scope exam, said study co-leader Dr. Christine Berg, chief of early detection research at the National Cancer Institute, which sponsored the research.

“My opinion is that there’s no doubt that colonoscopy would be better in detecting more total cancers,” she said. “A sigmoidoscopy could be used in situations where people are afraid of having the bowel prep,” or when anesthesia is a risk, she said.

In the study, about half of the group assigned to usual care wound up getting some type of scope exam anyway. That was far more than study leaders expected, and it could have diminished the true benefit sigmoidoscopy gave to the screening group, Dr. John Inadomi of the University of Washington in Seattle wrote in an editorial in the medical journal.

A patient’s choice of tests must be respected, he added. “In this case, the best test is the one that gets done.”

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Online:

New England Journal: http://www.nejm.org

Screening guidelines: http://bit.ly/f2eT5q

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Follow Marilynn Marchione’s coverage on Twitter http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP

Associated Press


CANNES, France |
Mon May 21, 2012 5:46am EDT

CANNES, France (Reuters) – The Cannes film festival is a world way from the tough streets of east London where British rapper Ben Drew grew up, but the 28-year-old has come to the glamorous Riviera resort to promote his debut movie “Ill Manors”.

The hard-hitting drama follows six interweaving lives — junkie, drug dealer, ex-con, gangster, prostitute and central character Aaron, a kind of moral compass amid the violence, fear and abuse around him.

The action is set on the streets where Drew, best known by his stage name Plan B, was raised, and his motivation for putting a successful music career on hold to direct sprang as much from social engagement as from a desire to be a star.

“I think a kid can watch this film and go ‘think about it’,” he told Reuters in an interview in Cannes, where he is talking to potential foreign distributors for the picture. It hits British theatres on June 6.

“Next time he’s in the gang environment and is being asked to do something, just think, maybe you are being manipulated here,” he added in a swanky marquee lounge on the Cannes beachfront.

Drew could be talking about his character Jake, played by untrained actor Ryan De La Cruz who was 13 at the time the film was made. Jake craves acceptance, but his desire to please the criminals who adopt him leads to tragedy.

The movie has been described by MTV and others as a “hip-hop musical” — Drew decided to tell each main character’s back story through a rap track matching the images on screen.

He underlines the link between abuse and neglect of children and addiction and crime as an adult — what he calls the “domino” effect.

The musician believes disadvantaged young people are rarely motivated to shake off apathy and look for opportunities. He hopes his film, music and a new charity will help change that.

“I want to put the time — not just money, but the time into helping those kids fulfill their potential, and for the first time have somebody in their lives say ‘actually, you’re good at something’,” he said.

FILM AND ALBUM

To accompany the movie, Drew is releasing a soundtrack album, and the title single from it “Ill Manors” has already come out to critical acclaim.

In it Drew addresses the 2011 riots across Britain, and, while he says he does not condone them, he wants to show that society bears some responsibility for alienating what he calls the “underclass”.

The Guardian newspaper called it “the greatest British protest song in years”, underlining Drew’s growing reputation as a socially engaged artist who also enjoys mainstream success.

Drew’s 2006 debut album “Who Needs Actions When You Got Words” was well received, while the follow-up concept album “The Defamation of Strickland Banks”, which saw a switch from hip-hop to soul, reached number one in Britain.

He said he was in a unique position to tackle issues that rarely troubled the world of mainstream music.

“The only people who can help kids in this environment is people who have lived their life,” Drew said. “Yes I do know what it’s like, this is where I come from, and I went to prison, and I was addicted to drugs, but I turned my life around.”

He believes he can help others do the same, albeit on a modest scale.

“Do I think that my film will change the world the way I want it to? No, but … even if it’s in a small way, I want to change that world, that environment.

“I’m never going to eradicate the big issues that are there, but I want to make it better and I know some of the solutions, especially when it comes to the young kids.”

Drew said his interest in cinema was partly inspired by watching “La Haine”, a 1995 black-and-white French film with similar themes to those of Ill Manors.

“I was so ignorant about international films, I would not watch black and white … subtitles no way, and I saw La Haine and it completely opened up my mind, changed the way I looked at European cinema.”

With music, acting, directing and now charity to keep him busy, Drew admits he will have to “juggle them better” to succeed.

“It’s definitely all of them. There will be more albums, more movies, more expression. There could be a book next, who knows?”

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)


MADRID |
Mon May 21, 2012 4:49pm EDT

MADRID (Reuters) – Astonished by squalid conditions he saw when he first travelled to Saharawi refugee camps in southwestern Algeria four years ago, Spanish actor Javier Bardem has told the story of the former Spanish colony in Northern Africa in a new documentary.

“Sons of the Clouds”, which screened at the Berlin film festival in January and premiered this weekend in Spain, was produced by and stars Bardem, who won an Oscar for his role as a stoic hitman in the Coen Brothers’ “No Country for Old Men.”

“(The documentary) was born out of necessity to help these people,” Bardem, 43, said last week on Spanish radio.

The plight of the Saharawi, former residents of Western Sahara who now live in refugee camps in neighboring Algeria, is one of the world’s forgotten conflicts.

But it is a cause close to the hearts of many Spaniards, who take hundreds of Saharawi children into their homes every year over the summer holidays and organize a yearly film festival in the refugee camps.

“Sons of the Clouds” features more than 70 interviews with experts, politicians and analysts who try to explain the situation in Western Sahara which, as a Spanish province in the 1960s, guaranteed Spanish nationality to its inhabitants.

“We want people to draw their own conclusions”, Bardem said.

Western Sahara, bordered by Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Atlantic Ocean, was a Spanish colony until November 1975 before Morocco annexed it and sent more than 300,000 civilian settlers into the territory.

Around 150,000 Saharawis fled the region and have lived in exile deep in Algeria’s Hamada, or desert within the desert, for 37 years. They want to return to their homeland and inhabit their own, free country.

An independence movement, Polisario Front, waged a low-level war against Morocco until the United Nations brokered a cease-fire in 1991 on the promise of a referendum to decide the fate of the territory, which is about the size of Britain and boasts phosphates, fisheries and, potentially, oil and gas.

Differences between the two sides over who would be eligible to vote undermined the referendum and today, Moroccan capital Rabat offers only limited autonomy to what it considers its southern provinces.

“Enough is enough, no more delays, the time has come for a just solution. The people of Western Sahara must be allowed to speak,” Bardem said last October in a plea before U.N. General Assembly’s decolonization committee.

Spanish activists and politicians have been blocked from entering the territory on fact-finding missions.

Rabat has criticized the U.N. envoy to the contested territory, Christopher Ross, and a U.N. report, published last month, which suggested Morocco may have been spying on the world body’s monitoring force.

Morocco and Algeria-backed Polisario have held several rounds of talks mediated by the U.N. over the past five years, but none have made any progress.

Bardem’s film will be shown in the European Parliament on May 29.

(Editing by Paul Day, Fiona Ortiz and Bob Tourtellotte)


CANNES, France |
Mon May 21, 2012 4:42pm EDT

CANNES, France (Reuters) – Syringes of infected blood, festering sores and sterile white labs are the images of “Antiviral”, as young film maker Brandon Cronenberg borrows themes of disease and bodily transformation that have made his father David king of the body horror genre.

“Pass the sick bag, there’s another Cronenberg on the block” read the headline of the Hollywood Reporter’s review after the film debuted at the Cannes film festival, part of the “Un Certain Regard” competition for emerging directors.

Antiviral follows clinic worker Syd March, played by Caleb Landry Jones who with his pale skin and lanky frame has the look of a young undertaker.

Syd’s job is to sell obsessed fans their favorite celebrity’s infections. The world Cronenberg paints is bleak and cynical, and he is unsparing with his closeups of needles entering veins.

Grey-hued steaks made from celebrity cells, skin grafts from celebrities’ skin and copious amounts of vomited blood all have a place in the thriller, which despite the nausea-inducing horror, moves at the speed of a clinic waiting room.

Cronenberg, 32, told Reuters his debut feature was “one manifestation of a broader human impulse, to deify people, to create gods and then tear them apart.

“I find it fairly fascinating,” he said of celebrity culture. “People are so incredibly fanatical, that never ceases to amaze me how crazy people are. I think it can be incredibly grotesque at times.”

As for his famous father, Cronenberg said he had never pushed him into film: “When I decided it was something I wanted to do, he was completely supportive.

“I have a great relationship with my dad so being able to share this together is really cute and emotional,” he said of being in Cannes together. “He’s very cute.”

“SCI-FI VAMPIRE THRILLER”

David Cronenberg – who attended Antiviral’s press screening along with Tim Roth, president of the Un Certain Regard competition’s jury – is one of Canada’s best-known directors for his dark films like “The Fly” and “Crash”.

Dubbed the “Baron of Blood,” the elder Cronenberg favors themes that deal with psychological and physical deterioration and disease.

He is in the running for the Palme d’Or this year with “Cosmopolis”, which stars “Twilight” star Robert Pattinson as a privileged New Yorker whose ride across town in a white limousine sets off “the most decisive 24 hours of his life.”

Film reviews following Antiviral’s premiere pointed to a confused plot and mannered style that prevented the film from delivering the satirical wallop its subject merits.

“Brandon Cronenberg’s feature debut is a cybermedical sci-fi vampire thriller that battles constantly, and with only limited success, against its ludicrous script,” wrote Screen magazine.

But celebrity obsession is a worthy target and the young director is sometimes spot on, as when one of the clinic’s employees notes that there is a growing market for the ringworm virus from an A-list celebrity’s dog.

“Celebrities are not people. They’re group hallucinations,” says the owner of the clinic, indirectly pointing the finger at society at large for its destructive fixations.

Malcolm McDowell makes an appearance late in the film as a doctor who tries to rid Syd of disease and his performance helps ground the film.

His casting inevitably reminds the viewer of the classic “Clockwork Orange,” with its own unforgettable look at medical experimentation.

(Additional Reporting By Cindy Martin, editing by Paul Casciato)


LOS ANGELES |
Mon May 21, 2012 2:01pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Michael Jackson’s “Bad” returns this September with new music and never-before-seen concert video in the first re-release of a full album from the King of Pop’s catalog since he died in 2009, Jackson’s record company and estate said on Monday.

The “Bad 25″ deluxe package, released on September 18, commemorates the 25th anniversary of the original, Grammy-winning album with hits like “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and it will include demos and songs that didn’t make the final cut of the original version.

The new songs were recorded in Jackson’s studio while he was making the album, and the package also offers a DVD of Jackson’s performance for Britain’s Prince Charles, Lady Diana and 72,000 fans at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1988.

The video was discovered in the singer’s personal collection, and thought to be the only copy of the performance, taped for Jackson’s own use, the estate said.

Jackson, a member of the Jackson Five family of singers and one of the best-selling pop stars of all time, died in 2009 of an overdose of the anesthetic propofol and sedatives. His doctor at the time, Conrad Murray, is currently in jail after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the singer’s death.

Craig Marks, editor of Popdust.com and co-author of “I Want My MTV,” said the “Bad 25″ anniversary package should highlight Jackson’s legendary talents as a live performer and, perhaps, lure new fans.

“It continues to focus fans’ attention on his music … hopefully it brings to the fore what an incredible live performer he was and his songbook, given that ‘Bad’ was at the time considered to be very successful but was in the shadows of ‘Thriller,’” Marks told Reuters.

“Bad” won two Grammy awards and sold more than 45 million copies around the world, fueled by the popularity of singles such as “Dirty Diana,” “Smooth Criminal” and the album title track, “Bad.”

It was the singer’s last collaboration with legendary Motown producer Quincy Jones, who helmed the production on Jackson’s solo album “Off The Wall” and the hit follow-up “Thriller,” one of the best-selling albums in history.

Marks believes “Bad” marked the end of an era for Jackson and Jones, and that Jackson used the record to explore deeper struggles following the phenomenal success of “Thriller.”

“The paranoid romantic hell he’s in, his mini snapshots of how he felt being in the public eye so nakedly, and in some ways so alone, he wasn’t able to trust many people and he felt very isolated. You can hear that in the record,” said Marks.

To gear up Jackson fans ahead of September, the late singer’s record company will re-release the first single from the album, “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” on June 5th in the U.S.

(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)


PARIS |
Mon May 21, 2012 12:54pm EDT

PARIS (Reuters) – Take 15 well-known French theatre and film actors, add a classic Greek legend and voila, you have the makings of the latest Cannes offering from French director Alain Resnais.

“Vous N’Avez Encore Rien Vu” (You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet) is an art-house film within a film that relies heavily on its ensemble cast, whose members include Sabine Azema, Pierre Arditi, Anne Consigny and Lambert Wilson.

It is one of a handful of French-language movies in competition for the film festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, to be awarded on Sunday.

You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet is based on Jean Anouilh’s play Eurydice, which in turn is based on the classic Greek legend of Orpheus, in which the young musician unsuccessfully tries to save his lover Eurydice from the underworld.

The 89-year-old Resnais is a lion of French cinema with six decades of film making under his belt whom Cannes honored with a lifetime achievement award in 2009.

The themes of memory and time, and plots that rely on interwoven narratives crop up again and again in his works, whose best known include his first feature, “Hiroshima Mon Amour” (Hiroshima My Love), and the concentration camp documentary “Nuit et Brouillard” (Night and Fog).

In You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet, Resnais has his cast play themselves as they reunite at the home of a deceased director (Denis Podalydes) with whom they had worked in the past on “Eurydice.” His final wish is for them to view a film of a young troupe performing the play.

As the actors watch, snippets of dialogue they once had memorized comes back to them, and they gradually inhabit the roles themselves.

“The actors are portraying themselves in the film, they reminisce and remember their past,” Resnais told a news conference, speaking in French. “Suddenly, while they’re playing their parts, they’re caught up in the ghosts, the phantoms of their memories.”

Early reaction to the film was tepid, with several critics and bloggers citing the director’s formal style which held any emotional connection with the characters at bay.

The Guardian called it an “indulgent, self-conscious film about acting, memory and the persistence of the past.”

“Like a lot of Resnais’s recent work it mounts an interesting challenge to the realist consensus of cinema, to the convention that we must pretend that what is being played out on screen is actually happening,” read the review.

“But despite its moments of charm and caprice, the film is prolix, inert, indulgent and often just plain dull.”

Resnais said he has been interested for years in the relationship between theatre and film, a connection that plays out in the movie as sets resemble stages, and vice versa.

“We see where the differences are but it seems to me that there is something great that can bring theatre and cinema closer together and that’s the need for actors,” Resnais told the press.

Actress Sabine Azema, Resnais’ wife who plays one of three Eurydices in the film, said the strong cast her husband gathered together was one of the film’s strengths.

“They know that they’re free to invent, and that’s why Resnais chose them, that’s what he’s waiting for them to do. I wonder whether it’s his talent for organizing the group that I admire most in him,” Azema told French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur.

(Reporting By Alexandria Sage)


CANNES, France |
Mon May 21, 2012 12:56pm EDT

CANNES, France (Reuters) – The Cannes film festival is buzzing this year with a string of hit movies in the official lineup, a procession of stars on the red carpet and plenty of eagerly awaited titles still to come.

The unseasonably cold, wet weather has done little to dampen spirits among the famously picky critics and journalists on the French Riviera to interview, photograph and film everyone from A-list celebrities to obscure auteur directors.

While the distractions for the 4,000-strong media presence seem endless amid stunts, parties and big movie deals, the backbone of the festival remains the main competition, this year comprising 22 movies with a strong U.S. presence.

But it is two European film makers, both previous winners of the coveted Palme d’Or for best picture, who have set the pace as Cannes hit its halfway point on Monday.

Austrian Michael Haneke, who won in 2009 with “The White Ribbon” and wowed audiences four years earlier with “Hidden”, has done it again this year with “Love” (“Amour”), a somber, French-language drama about an elderly couple facing death.

While Cannes thrives on Hollywood hype and celebrity, it also has a reputation for showcasing serious, hard-hitting dramas made by respected directors for little money.

Once they wiped away the tears, critics gave Love a five-star reception for its unflinching portrayal of a woman’s illness and death, and how she and her devoted husband cope with the final weeks.

“MASTERPIECE”

Jonathan Romney of Screen International called it a “masterpiece” and many Cannes veterans have made it the movie to beat at this year’s festival.

“Amour is surely now early favorite for the Palme d’Or,” wrote Donald Clarke of the Irish Times. “If we were previously in any doubt, Haneke is confirmed as the premiere European director of his generation.”

Its two stars, both in their 80s, have also basked in glory for moving portrayals of old age, the ravages of illness and facing one’s mortality.

Romanian director Cristian Mungiu’s “Beyond the Hills”, another popular entry this year, is a disturbing tale based on a true story of a young woman staying at a remote monastery whose violent fits are interpreted as signs of the devil.

An exorcism is performed, but the well-meaning priest is in danger of doing more harm than good in Mungiu’s examination of the clash between the religious and secular and between earthly and spiritual love.

His “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” scooped the Palme d’Or in 2007, and an informal poll of critics published at the festival puts him neck-and-neck with Haneke at the head of the field.

French director Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone”, starring Marion Cotillard as a Marineland worker who loses her legs in an accident, packed an emotional punch that resonated with many, though not all, viewers.

Danish child abuse drama “The Hunt”, from Thomas Vinterberg and starring the impressive Mads Mikkelsen as a man wrongly accused and ostracized, is also seen as a contender.

Wes Anderson’s opening comedy “Moonrise Kingdom” starring Bruce Willis, Bill Murray and two young stars, was an upbeat start to this year’s festival, although it may be too light-hearted to win over the Cannes jury.

The violent prohibition-era movie “Lawless”, featuring Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain, fell slightly flat in the eyes of many critics.

Willis, Murray, Hardy, Chastain and Sean Penn have all walked the red carpet so far, and still expected in Cannes are Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Kanye West.

(Editing by Mike Collett-White)


LOS ANGELES |
Mon May 21, 2012 4:53pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Whitney Houston’s last recording – a new duet with “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks – was released on Monday ahead of the singer’s upcoming film, “Sparkle.”

“Celebrate,” produced by R. Kelly for “Sparkle” which will hit movie theaters on August 17, was recorded by Houston shortly before her sudden death aged 48 in February.

The uptempo track features disco beats and a positive message, as Sparks and Houston sing lyrics such as “I’m going to celebrate, celebrate you.” Sparks throws in “We love you Whitney” at the end of the song.

Sparks on Sunday delivered a heart-felt tribute to Houston at the Billboard Music Awards. She sang a rousing rendition of “I Will Always Love You,” before presenting a posthumous award to Houston’s teenage daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown.

“Sparkle,” a remake of the 1976 film of the same name, tells the story of three sisters who become Motown stars who have to deal with the pressures of fame. Houston plays Sparks’ mother.

The role was Houston’s comeback to the big screen after a 15-year hiatus from acting in movies like “The Bodyguard” and “The Preacher’s Wife”. It will be Sparks’ first leading movie role.

Houston was found dead in a Beverly Hills hotel bathtub on February 11 from what authorities said was accidental drowning brought on by cocaine use and heart disease.

(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy, editing by Jill Serjeant)

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      The Associated Press
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      The Associated Press
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      The Associated Press
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      The Associated Press
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      The Associated Press