Checking-In: Mammograms, Lost Boy of Sudan, Testosterone & the Budget

Dr. Mabior Nyuong Bior, left, is a Lost Boy of Sudan seen here with John Clayton of Samaritan's Purse in Sudan. (Submitted by Samaritan's Purse to CBC)

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A new study from Canadian researchers concludes mammogram screening has no impact on reducing deaths due to breast cancer. So how will that now affect screening, expectations and policies? Plus the story of one Lost Boy of Sudan and our listeners thoughts on stories of the week.

To help wade through your tweets, posts, and e-mails, our Friday host Rick MacInnes Rae joined Anna Maria in studio.


testosterone-thumbnail.jpgTestosterone: On Monday we heard about low testosterone, or "Low-T" as it's sometimes known. In Canada, the number of testosterone prescriptions doubled, from approximately 150,000 to more than 300,000, between 1999 and 2006. The drug promises to help bulk up muscles, increase energy, and re-invigorate sex drive. But a landmark study in the United States raises some red flags about the risks. After the story aired we heard from many of you.

David McKerrow from Ottawa wrote:

"At 66 years old, I'm in that demographic who is likely to have real Low-T problems. My doctor diagnosed this in me at least 5 years ago and offered to prescribe testosterone gel. I am physically active. Within 3 months of starting to apply the gel I could lift 15-20% more weight in the gym without additional strain and my cycling was enhanced. In 2012, my doctor noticed my PSA was increasing and recommended I stop the testosterone. I reluctantly did so and again, within 3 months, my strength in the gym was failing. As well, I became irritable, depressed and lacking energy. After discussing this with my doctor, and the impact stopping the hormone was having on my quality of life, we re-started it again. My physical condition has maintained now for almost another 2 years and my doctor continues to monitor my PSA level."

Frances Abbott of Gillies Bay, BC added this:

"About 10 years ago, my husband was Chair of a large University Department. He had actually done basic research on steroid hormones. His normal bedtime was between midnight and one in the morning, but over a year or so, he began to doze off after dinner and could no longer work or read in the evenings. He recognized this as prominent symptom of possible low T. The test showed him just above the threshold for "normal", normal not being a number, but a range. He pointed out to the doctor that there was no knowledge of whether this was really normal, because there was no information on his levels 10-20 years ago. He was treated and the problems were alleviated. He remains a healthy man in his 70's."




budget-thumbnail.jpg Federal Budget: Earlier this week we spoke with Scott Clark, former deputy finance minister from 1997 to 2000, and Conservative strategist Tim Powers, about the new federal budget.


Michelle Shaw of Calgary had this to say:

"The two gentlemen you were interviewing about the budget danced around a central point of the issue that they should have addressed head-on. Under the current government, a budget implementation bill no longer addresses just the legislation needed to implement the programs and spending laid out in the budget speech. Instead, the Harper Conservatives have chosen to use the so-called "Economic Action Plan" omnibus bills to ram through legislation unrelated to budgetary issues by burying it in enormous bills and then cutting off debate by using "time allocation."

And Richard Weatherill of Victoria, BC wrote:

"While there may be little doubt that Mr. Flaherty is determined to eliminate the deficit, what remains doubtful is whether there was a need for the deficit (and accompanying record debt) in the first place."

We also heard from you on twitter. @CactusGipsy tweeted:

"The fact that your guests seem to consistently trip & say "ominous" bills says it all."

And @PhilMoscovitch added:

"Focusing on outcome and disregarding process strikes me as fundamentally anti-democratic."




sudanese-lost-boy-thumbnail.jpgLost Boys of Sudan: Over the years we've covered the ongoing conflict in Sudan. In 1983, the Second Sudanese Civil War left more than 20 thousand boys orphaned or displaced from their families after government troops and rebel groups attacked villages in South Sudan. These legions of children wandered through the harsh African bush and became known as "The Lost Boys of Sudan".

They were then resettled and educated in countries around the world including Canada. Decades later, in 2011 South Sudan became a new country, many of the lost boys returned home to help rebuild the communities in their newly independent country.

Sudan's Lost Boys Are Drawn Into War at Home -- The New York Times

Mabior Nyong Bior was one of those Lost Boys. He trained as a doctor in Cuba and then began a medical career in Calgary. He returned to his hometown of Bor in South Sudan in 2008 to work as a GP and Gynecologist ... only to be forced to flee vicious fighting once again between government and rebel troops. Mabjor Nyong Bior joined us from a safe house in South Sudan's capital, Juba.




rehteah-thumbnail.jpgAnonymous & the Rehtaeh Parsons Case: Last April, the death of Rehtaeh Parsons captured the world's attention. The 17-year-old girl from Dartmouth was taken off life support after she tried to take her own life ... an act her parents blame on years of online bullying. Activists claiming affiliation with the online group Anonymous threatened that if the police wouldn't act in Rehtaeh's case -- they would.

This week we spoke to Emily Bazelon who has spent months getting to know the members of the particular Anonymous group who took up Rehtaeh Parson's cause.

@raeosunshinemf (Ray-oh-sunshine - mf) tweeted:

"love the anonymous story! I'm a big fan of Anonymous bringing attention to misuse of Justice. Wish there were ways to empower them."

And Jim Garwood of Winnipeg added this:

"Good of you to resurrect the Parsons story via Emily Bazelon and the New York Times. Evidence seems strong that the internet has served justice well. We know that the police in Nova Scotia failed to do its job. There is no oversight body to bring about justice when the police fail both the victim and the public. Therefore, the internet serves us all well, as one of the few means to achieve justice."




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(Reuters/Enrique Castro-Mendivil)

Mammograms: This week the British Medical Journal published a study by Canadian researchers on mammography screening. The study concluded screening has no impact on reducing deaths from breast cancer. What's more, the study found the screening can actually lead to harm.

This study is one of a long line of studies that has Canadians questioning what is the right choice when it comes to their health. But even when studies are conclusive, it doesn't mean that health policy changes.

Dr. Michael Rachlis says changing policy is like getting a tanker ship to change direction. He is a health policy analyst and an adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto and we reached Dr. Rachlis in Corpus Christi, Texas.


Add your voice to anything you hear on The Current. We always love hearing from you.

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This segment was produced by Lara O'Brien and Sujata Berry.

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