Second Opinions About Second Opinions

"Second E-pinion" [Nov. 29] was a very interesting article. I appreciated the details about what was involved and the effort needed to accomplish the diagnosis. There are a lot of frauds and charlatans on the Internet, but there are also many valuable services. This is definitely something that doctors, patients and insurance companies need to seriously consider.

Marvin Toler

Okemos, Mich.

Eighteen months ago, my 68-year-old mother, who lives in Michigan, requested an e-pinion from the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Atrial Fibrillation. The Cleveland Clinic offers a catheter-based pulmonary vein ablation procedure to treat atrial fibrillation that looked like it might help improve her deteriorating quality of life.

We opted for the Web-based second opinion service and were very happy with the process. We saved the costs and the inconvenience of travel and had access to world-class doctors and nurses. We could both easily access the second opinion online, and the staff answered all of our questions quickly and professionally.

After the Web-based second opinion, my mother scheduled the procedure at the Cleveland Clinic, and we could not be happier with the completely successful outcome.

Cheryl Findlay

Annapolis

Indigestible Digestion

Several articles about competitive eating have appeared recently in The Post ["Down the Hatch, Then What?" Nov. 29] and elsewhere. While the reporting has touched on the basically revolting nature of this activity as well as its obvious health risks (and lack of benefits), none have addressed the moral dimension of making a sport out of wasting food. I wonder how many destitute people might have been fed by all those chicken wings, hot dogs and such.

Thomas R. Temin

Rockville

Apparently the reporter swallowed the hype that hurriedly stuffing food in your mouth for money is a sport. He refers to "sport eaters" who "train" their stomachs and one who had to "eat through the pain to win the final." "Sport" is used frequently on the Web sites of both the Association of Independent Competitive Eaters and the International Federation of Competitive Eating. Overeater Sonya Thomas notes on her Web site that stuffing food this way "is the most natural sport of all. . . . And it takes the same basic qualities to excel as in other sports like baseball, football or soccer."

Uh?

I think the "sport" here is called "spin," and it's a pretty tragic way to manipulate words, with more than 60 percent of U.S. adults overweight and nearly 30 percent obese, and with eating disorders (binge eating, anorexia and bulimia) widespread among our youth.

Seems like the most responsible approach is to boycott any company that sponsors a barbaric overeating event.

Marta Vogel

North Bethesda

Putting Faith in Protection

When the Christian Brotherhood Newsletter ministry was contacted for the story "Seeking Divine Protection" [Oct. 25] we cooperated in every way possible. However, there are facts that did not make it into the story. I appreciate the opportunity to share them here.

We are not insurance, and do not want to be thought of as such. That is made clear to every person who joins our ministry. The Christian Brotherhood Newsletter is a voluntary, faith-based, New Testament charitable alternative to insurance. The story lumped us together with two other organizations. I cannot speak for them. However, a critic of ministries such as ours was quoted as saying, "Who knows how much money they're taking in or paying out?" We do, and we share that information.

We gave the newspaper financial information -- which was not in the story -- our IRS Form 990, and other data. We have a Web site link that enables anyone to look up our financial information for review.

Among these safeguards are an annual certified outside audit. We have built firewalls between employees who receive checks, write checks to pay medical bills, and who reconcile the bank statements. Audited financials and 990s are available to the public.

We worked side-by-side with the Ohio Attorney General's Office to end the abuses that took place prior to 2001.

Furthermore, as a charity, our ministry is routinely monitored, scrutinized and regulated -- just not as insurance.

We have resurrected this ministry. We are working hard to ensure that people can have confidence in what we do for them. We invite anyone who would like to do so to visit our Web site at www.christianbrotherhood.org.

Rev. Howard S. Russell

Executive Director

Christian Brotherhood Newsletter Ministry

Barberton, Ohio