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Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.

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8:30 AM Tuesday, August 23, 2005: Slow and summerish. Good time to be at the beach. Only this week and next before Labor Day.

A Blackberry is a prestigious, fiddly, expensive gadget: Michael and I finally got my Blackberry working last night. I can see its immense usefulness (especially for people who are on the go more than I am ). I like its integration with my Outlook calendar, phone book and email. I like its ability to surf the Internet and receive email anywhere and everywhere. The cost is not cheap -- $45 a month for unlimited data and $60 a month for voice phone calls. With that monthly Verizon plan, the phone cost "only" $199.

My logic is simple. If I finally got a Blackberry, everyone else won't be far behind. Maybe it's time to look at Research in Motion (RIMM)? And the answer, sadly, is probably no. First, the P/E on RIMM is a whopping 50, probably more than enough to recognize RIMM's strong earnings growth. Second, the charts .... oh, the charts. ... I've long wanted to show everyone how difficult reading charts is. Here's the perfect example.

My first chart is RIMM charted every 60 minutes. Looks great. Going through the roof and all that.

My second chart is charted daily. It paints a different story.

This paints a very different picture. This is RIMM charted weekly.

My mother died of colon cancer. Today's Wall Street Journal caught my eye:

A Low-Tech Way to Find Colon Cancer: Home Screening Tests Get More Reliable.

A simple home-screening test for colon cancer, long derided as ineffective, is making a comeback.

A slew of new fecal occult blood tests, or FOBTs, have hit the market in recent months, incorporating improved technology that does a far better job of finding cancer and potentially cancerous polyps than the older version of the test. An editorial in the influential medical journal Gastroenterology this month calls for increased use of the new FOBTs, which, like the older version, test stool samples for blood or its components, an early sign of colon cancer.

Convincing consumers to use the tests may be tough, however. Recent publicity encouraging people to seek colon-cancer screening, particularly colonoscopy, has left many patients with the wrong impression that other tests aren't useful, doctors say. In addition, there's the "ick factor" of fecal tests, which typically require patients to smear stool on a card that is then sent to a lab.

But there is growing evidence that the $20 to $40 tests can be a powerful tool in battling colon cancer, which kills 58,000 Americans a year, making it the second-biggest cancer killer after lung cancer. Colon cancer often doesn't produce symptoms until it is well advanced. Screening tests can find it sooner and improve your chances of survival.

The most-talked-about method is colonoscopy, which gained widespread attention when NBC newswoman Katie Couric began promoting colonoscopy screening after her husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer. But colonoscopy, which uses a scope to view the colon while the patient is sedated, is expensive. And the procedure requires bowel-cleansing medications that force patients to spend a day close to a toilet.

The bigger issue is that there simply aren't enough doctors to perform colonoscopies on everybody 50 and older, as is typically recommended. The Baylor College of Medicine system in Houston said it would take 30 years to perform screening colonoscopies on all of its eligible patients, according to a 2001 letter to the New England Journal of Medicine from a Baylor physician.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which sets screening guidelines, recommends colonoscopy and FOBT, as well as two other options: X-ray with a barium enema and sigmoidoscopy, which scopes a small portion of the colon. The task force doesn't endorse any one test as better than the others.

"Everywhere you go, people are afraid to have anything but colonoscopy," says James Allison, the University of California-San Francisco professor who wrote the Gastroenterology editorial and is also a consultant for fecal-test maker Enterix. "These other tests are also good for screening with colon cancer -- they shouldn't be dismissed."

Just last week, Beckman Coulter of Fullerton, Calif., which makes the most widely used FOBT, launched the Hemoccult ICT, which uses the improved technology. FOBTs are the simplest and least-invasive test. But many patients and even doctors don't use the tests correctly, performing an FOBT just once or infrequently.

Fecal tests should be used annually. That's because polyps and cancer may bleed only intermittently, so any one stool sample may not contain blood. Studies show frequency of use can make a dramatic difference. More than a decade ago, a major U.S. study showed that among patients who used FOBTs annually, the risk of dying from colon cancer dropped by 33%. Two separate European studies showed that patients who used the tests every other year had just a 15% lower risk of dying.
[Cancer Screening]

But in January, the Annals of Internal Medicine reported that both patients and doctors are widely misusing FOBTs. In the study, nearly one-third of doctors gave a repeat FOBT when the test was positive -- but screening guidelines say a positive test should always result in a colonoscopy.

Another problem: nearly one-third of doctors studied used in-office FOBTs, in which doctors remove stool from the rectum for testing. Such testing of a single stool sample is virtually useless. Home testing typically involves collecting two samples from each of three consecutive bowel movements. One recent study showed that the office version detects just 5% of cancers, compared with 24% for the home test kit.

A new version of home testing, called fecal immunochemical tests, or FIT, does an even better job of finding cancer. This month the journal Gastroenterology reported that a Japanese study of FIT found 65% of cancers and 20% of large polyps. Old-style FOBTs find 13% to 39% of cancers. The detection rate would go far higher if the FIT test is performed consistently over several years.

Last year, Medicare increased its reimbursement rates for the new tests. Still, many doctors haven't focused on recommending them. And patients are often put off by fecal testing. One newer FIT test -- Insure from Enterix, of Edison, N.J. -- uses a paint brush that is swept over the stool in the toilet, but others still require a sample of stool.

"It is a little gross, but grow up, it could save your life," says gastroenterologist Mark Pochapin, director of the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health in Manhattan.

And many patients aren't undergoing any screening at all. A study this month in the journal Cancer, found that over a five-year period, almost half of nearly 22,000 primary-care patients didn't receive any of the screening options, says study author Jennifer Elston Lafata, research scientist at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

The newer "virtual" colonoscopy is gaining in popularity, but it isn't yet recommended by the Preventive Services Task Force.

Indiana University professor Thomas Imperiale, who has also conducted studies for test makers, says one problem is that doctors don't take the time to discuss all the options with patients. "The best test is the one the patient will do," he says.

How to travel with your laptop: From my friend, Ron Acher. His recommendation works. I checked it:

Harry, You do not need to change your SMTP email address every time you logon to a different network -- wired or wireless, Starbucks or home. You simply have to tell your e-mail client (e.g. Outlook) to check the little box under Outgoing Mail marked "My server requires authentication," and bingo, you can send mail via your own server from any Internet connection.

Makes sense to me (?). From Sunday's New York Times:

GAZA, Aug. 20 - Aides to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, invited reporters on Friday to record him at prayer. The imam outside his office in Gaza City celebrated Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and envisioned universities, schools, parks and mosques being built on settlement land.

At the same time, a few miles away in the Jabaliya refugee camp, hundreds of men and boys, unable to crowd into the Caliph Mosque, sat on nearby sidewalks and in alleyways. In a humid stench of sewage and fried fish, with expressions alert and thoughtful, they listened as their imam called the Israeli withdrawal an "achievement of resistance," celebrated prominent "martyrs of Hamas" and declared, "Allah knows that when we offer up our children, it is much better than choosing the road of humiliation and negotiation."Allah knows that when we offer up our children, it is much better than choosing the road of humiliation and negotiation.

We can't afford our gasoline. The prices have become obscene: For a cute short movie on gas, click here.

What God could do for you, if only she had the money and you had the looks. I believe this photo has not been photoshopped. It's too good.

Three religious truths:
1. Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
2. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian faith.
3. Baptists do not recognize each other in the liquor store.

Recent column highlights:
+ Manhattan Pharmaceuticals: Click here.
+ NovaDel Biosciences appeals. Click here.
+ Hana Biosciences appeals. Click here.
+ All turned on by biotech. Click here.
+ Steve Jobs Commencement Address. The text is available: Click here. The full audio is available. Click here.
+ The March of the Penguins, an exquisite movie. Click here.
+ When to sell your stocks. Click here.

Harry Newton

This column is about my personal search for the perfect investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor. I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas, concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address is . You can't click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects me from software scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no role in choosing the Google ads. Thus I cannot endorse any, though some look mighty interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. That money will help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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