"Cure just around the corner"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists from the National Scurvy Institute (NSI) recently convened a 5 day seminar to assess progress in the War on Scurvy.

The future looks bright and a cure is just around the corner announced a spokesman at the seminar. Over the past 30 years NSI, NIH (National Institute of Health) and ASS (American Scurvy Society) have spent over $30 billion on scurvy research. Pharmaceutical companies have over 80 new drugs in development to combat scurvy according to the FDA.

The 5 year survival rate after diagnosis of scurvy is over 50% up from 30% just 20 years ago although 500,000 Americans continue to die of the disease each year.

President Clinton has proposed a 10% increase in NSI's budget for fiscal year 1999. NSI kicked off its annual "Race for the Cure" campaign to raise additional funds for research last month.

Risk factors for scurvy include cigarette smoking, diets high in saturated fat and long ocean voyages. Sailors are particularly at risk for the disease. A researcher at the University of Washington has speculated that there may be a substance in sea water that triggers the disease. Of course much more research is needed.

Researchers at the University of Maryland, working on the human genome project, have identified a "Scurvy gene" From this it may be possible to develop a test to identify individuals at risk for the disease.

Scurvy doctors have long emphasized the importance of frequent screenings for scurvy in at-risk individuals. The disease can be effectively treated if detected early enough. Men and women over 40 should get regular checkups.

Conventional treatments for scurvy include frequent gum cleanings to combat the bleeding associated with the disease, surgical amputation of atrophied limbs that have been ravaged by the disease, and stimulants to combat the lassitude characteristic of the disease.

A pilot research program has been proposed to NSI that would study a possible connection between vitamin C and scurvy. A study conducted on 20,000 Americans at the University of Florida showed a substantially higher rate of scurvy in people who don't eat fruits and vegetables. Dr. Henry Jacobson, assistant director of NSI, was quick to point out that no such connection has ever been scientifically proven. Vitamin C as a treatment for scurvy remains on NSI's "unproven remedies" list. Clinical trials conducted in the 70's showed no effect of vitamin C on scurvy, added an NSI spokesman.

In related news, officials at the American Pellagra Society (APS) have designated the month of May as "Pellagra Awareness Month"...

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