excess mortality reported in the first follow-up of World War II Pacific prisoners and Korean War prisoners continued to level off as it had in the 1965 results. Twin studies centering on schizophrenia, cancer morbidity, headache, and economic success were under way. A final report on the epidemiology of herniated lumbar disks was in preparation, following presentation of a preliminary report on this work at the annual meeting of the Society for Epidemiologic Research in May 1972. Also, the ongoing study of multiple sclerosis cases diagnosed in World War II entered a new phase as investigators made efforts to trace the course and prognosis of the disease for 30 years after its diagnosis. Three new studies were approved in late 1973, including a longitudinal study of cardiovascular disease, an examination of childhood cancer in relation to prenatal irradiation, and a series of related epidemiologic studies of various conditions for evidence of later death from cancer among World War II veterans. 150
In 1974, despite the damage done to the MFUA program by the St. Louis fire, the agency made important strides in other areas. The committee met the new executive director of the Assembly of Life Sciences, Dr. Leonard Laster, who expressed approval of the Medical Follow-up Agency's history and current procedures, and promised not to get in the agency's way. He did, however, affirm a commitment to increase committee turnover, meaning that new CEVFUS members had to learn the ropes very quickly. In later years, this problem was handled by rotating a fixed group of members.
The etiquette of statistical reporting also commanded the committee's attention in 1974. The committee heard discussions of problems with the VA's new BIRLS system. CEVFUS unofficially affirmed its support for the creation of the National Death Index being proposed by the National Center for Health Statistics, a more efficient way to determine mortality for large numbers of people than the then-current system of making inquiries of each state. The National Death Index came on-line in 1979 and eventually proved to be very helpful in the work of the Medical Follow-up Agency.151
Updating the core statistical resources of the agency remained a common theme in the mid-1970s. Jablon continued his efforts to adapt Navy records to MFUA uses, reporting to CEVFUS on his progress at their 1975 meeting. The Navy records were problematic in that no machine-readable diagnostic index to the Navy files for World War II existed, making these files extremely difficult to use. Although "F card files," containing information on admissions to Navy hospitals during World War II existed, they were filed sequentially by hospital and year of admission, and the cards were not punched. When Jablon took a sample of 1,500 cards and examined them for diagnosis, he found that the top two diagnoses were for infectious and parasitic diseases and for acute infections of the respiratory system. Hence, reliance on these records meant a shift in program emphasis to tropical diseases and other common naval ailments. After studying the matter for some time, Jablon estimated in 1976 that $100,000 would be needed for punching items and producing a magnetic tape file in diagnostic