Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

Birth and the 116 other things which increase cancer risk

October 29, 2015

The good old WHO.

I suppose they do do some good, but they also make some horrible blunders as with the UN introduced cholera epidemic in Haiti, or with the initial downplaying of the Ebola outbreak in some African countries, or when their panel members take money from vaccine manufacturers to recommend mass flu vaccination programs. As with all UN organisations the staff are a mixture of professionals, surrounded by bureaucrats with political agendas from their home countries, and with some members from partisan lobby groups who promote their own causes and self-interests. WHO panels which recommend certain drugs or mass vaccination programs always seem to contain members with commercial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Many in the WHO justify their alarmist tactics as a means to stimulate or trigger actions and – inevitably – many of these actions are totally unnecessary (but they are often very lucrative for some members of the WHO and their sponsors).

Now the WHO are going after processed and even red meat as causing cancer. But they have had to torture their data to calculate the risk. They forget that living is risk. Not being born, however, carries no risk of dying of anything. Therefore, the risk of cancer due to being born is far, far greater than that introduced by any other parameter or substance.  I won’t be changing my meat eating habits just yet.

Their list of 116 other things – besides birth – that increase the risk of cancer are taken from the Daily Mail.

1. Tobacco smoking

2. Sunlamps and sunbeds

3. Aluminium production

4. Arsenic in drinking water

5. Auramine production

6. Boot and shoe manufacture and repair

7. Chimney sweeping

8. Coal gasification

9. Coal tar distillation

10. Coke (fuel) production

11. Furniture and cabinet making

12. Haematite mining (underground) with exposure to radon

13. Secondhand smoke

14. Iron and steel founding

15. Isopropanol manufacture (strong-acid process)

16. Magenta dye manufacturing

17. Occupational exposure as a painter

18. Paving and roofing with coal-tar pitch

19. Rubber industry

20. Occupational exposure of strong inorganic acid mists containing sulphuric acid

21. Naturally occurring mixtures of aflatoxins (produced by funghi)

22. Alcoholic beverages

23. Areca nut – often chewed with betel leaf

24. Betel quid without tobacco

25. Betel quid with tobacco

26. Coal tar pitches

27. Coal tars

28. Indoor emissions from household combustion of coal

29. Diesel exhaust

30. Mineral oils, untreated and mildly treated

31. Phenacetin, a pain and fever reducing drug

32. Plants containing aristolochic acid (used in Chinese herbal medicine)

33. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – widely used in electrical equipment in the past, banned in many countries in the 1970s

34. Chinese-style salted fish

35. Shale oils

36. Soots

37. Smokeless tobacco products

38. Wood dust

39. Processed meat

40. Acetaldehyde

41. 4-Aminobiphenyl

42. Aristolochic acids and plants containing them

43. Asbestos

44. Arsenic and arsenic compounds

45. Azathioprine

46. Benzene

47. Benzidine

48. Benzo[a]pyrene

49. Beryllium and beryllium compounds

50. Chlornapazine (N,N-Bis(2-chloroethyl)-2-naphthylamine)

51. Bis(chloromethyl)ether

52. Chloromethyl methyl ether

53. 1,3-Butadiene

54. 1,4-Butanediol dimethanesulfonate (Busulphan, Myleran)

55. Cadmium and cadmium compounds

56. Chlorambucil

57. Methyl-CCNU (1-(2-Chloroethyl)-3-(4-methylcyclohexyl)-1-nitrosourea; Semustine)

58. Chromium(VI) compounds

 59. Ciclosporin

60. Contraceptives, hormonal, combined forms (those containing both oestrogen and a progestogen)

61. Contraceptives, oral, sequential forms of hormonal contraception (a period of oestrogen-only followed by a period of both oestrogen and a progestogen)

62. Cyclophosphamide

63. Diethylstilboestrol

64. Dyes metabolized to benzidine

65. Epstein-Barr virus

66. Oestrogens, nonsteroidal

67. Oestrogens, steroidal

68. Oestrogen therapy, postmenopausal

69. Ethanol in alcoholic beverages

70. Erionite

71. Ethylene oxide

72. Etoposide alone and in combination with cisplatin and bleomycin

73. Formaldehyde

74. Gallium arsenide

75. Helicobacter pylori (infection with)

76. Hepatitis B virus (chronic infection with)

77. Hepatitis C virus (chronic infection with)

78. Herbal remedies containing plant species of the genus Aristolochia

79. Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (infection with)

80. Human papillomavirus type 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59 and 66

81. Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type-I

82. Melphalan

83. Methoxsalen (8-Methoxypsoralen) plus ultraviolet A-radiation

84. 4,4′-methylene-bis(2-chloroaniline) (MOCA)

85. MOPP and other combined chemotherapy including alkylating agents

86. Mustard gas (sulphur mustard)

87. 2-Naphthylamine

88. Neutron radiation

89. Nickel compounds

90. 4-(N-Nitrosomethylamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK)

91. N-Nitrosonornicotine (NNN)

92. Opisthorchis viverrini (infection with)

93. Outdoor air pollution

94. Particulate matter in outdoor air pollution

95. Phosphorus-32, as phosphate

96. Plutonium-239 and its decay products (may contain plutonium-240 and other isotopes), as aerosols

97. Radioiodines, short-lived isotopes, including iodine-131, from atomic reactor accidents and nuclear weapons detonation (exposure during childhood)

98. Radionuclides, α-particle-emitting, internally deposited

99. Radionuclides, β-particle-emitting, internally deposited

100. Radium-224 and its decay products

101. Radium-226 and its decay products

102. Radium-228 and its decay products

103. Radon-222 and its decay products

104. Schistosoma haematobium (infection with)

105. Silica, crystalline (inhaled in the form of quartz or cristobalite from occupational sources)

106. Solar radiation

107. Talc containing asbestiform fibres

108. Tamoxifen

109. 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin

110. Thiotepa (1,1′,1′-phosphinothioylidynetrisaziridine)

111. Thorium-232 and its decay products, administered intravenously as a colloidal dispersion of thorium-232 dioxide

112. Treosulfan

113. Ortho-toluidine

114. Vinyl chloride

115. Ultraviolet radiation

116. X-radiation and gamma radiation

From the Daily Mail.

 

Google funded study implies that Google Trends is a valid and rigorous behavioural indicator

January 8, 2014

I find that this disclaimer at the end of this study effectively invalidates the method of the study and its results.

This project was supported by a Google.org grant from 2012, although Google.org played no role in designing or conducting this study.

The results of the study (that more people searched for health issues on Google during the recession) are trivial and – with the best will in the world – of little value except for providing a plug for Google Search and Google Trends. Of course a Google Trend means something but to imply – as this study does – that a Google Trend for selected search items  is a rigorous and valid representation of a human behavioural pattern is more than a little fanciful.

Benjamin M. Althouse et al, Population Health Concerns During the United States’ Great Recession, Am J Prev Med 2014;46(2):166–170

Press Release: 

The group examined Americans’ Google search patterns and discovered that during the recent Great Recession, people searched considerably more frequently for information about health ailments. The kinds of problems indicated by the queries weren’t life threatening, but they could keep someone in the bed a few days, like ulcers, headaches, and back pain. 

In total, the team found there were more than 200 million excess queries of this kind during the Great Recession than expected.

“While it’s impossible to uncover the motives for increased searches, they likely indicate a person being ill, and ill enough to seek out online information or remedies,” Ayers said. The same group previously published a report showing that queries for anxiety and depression also increased substantially during the Great Recession.

The authors themselves write:

google search

Without first a study on whether the usage of Google search is actually representative of any part of the population, and whether a trend in such usage permits conclusions regarding the motives for such usage, this study is little more than an advertisement for Google Search and Google Trends.

Just as with Facebook surveys and profound conclusions, I am not at all sure that this “study” can even be considered science  – let alone good science. It is published  – believe it or not – in a journal of preventive medicine,  but it has little to do with medicine and more to do with PR and  Google’s image.

Swedish Academician rebuked for talking too much

October 10, 2013

The fuss around the Nobel Prize in Physics  is taking its toll.

Svenska Dagbladet (free translation):

Anders Bárány, Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, has been reprimanded for revealing why the announcement of the Physics Prize was an hour late. But Staffan Normark, Permanent Secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Presidium, would not comment. The delay on Tuesday of the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Physics by one hour was unprecedented and quite unique. 

 Mr Anders Bárány had revealed that the delay was caused by heated discussions within the Royal Academy of Sciences (KVA) whether the nuclear research organization CERN would share the prize,His statement had an impact already on Wednesday.

“I was called up to the Academy’s Presidium and given a real scolding” said Anders Bárány.

And I blame the CERN publicity machine for their hype and their blatant lobbying and for causing the controversy in the first place. But Anders Bárány has to take his share of the blame for falling for the publicity machine. He deserved his telling off – not so much for talking to the press after the event but for his support of CERN sharing the award!

What was he thinking?

Marc Hauser publishes on “Evil”

September 27, 2013

Following in the footsteps of other fraudsters (Diedrik Stapel for one), Marc Hauser has published a new book on “Evil”. Since he left Harvard he has been involved with “brain training  (brain-washing?) of children at risk.

I suppose that a transgressor cannot be said to have no practical experience of morality though to say that he is particularly qualified to write about “Evil” is perhaps pushing it a bit. What constitutes “Evil” is of course rather subjective. Just as with Stapel there is no shortage of his advocates and apologists now rushing to praise his book. Just as with Stapel the New York Times (Nicholas Wade) appears to be providing some free promotion. Good Luck to him though I shall not be acquiring a copy.

Boston.com: 

Marc Hauser, the former Harvard University psychology professor who was found by federal officials to have fabricated and manipulated data, is publishing a book on the nature of evil, “Evilicious: Desire + Denial = Cruelty.”

The former professor, who has worked with at-risk youth on Cape Cod since leaving Harvard, announced on Twitter his book would be available October 15. On his blog, he said that the book will be available through Kindle Select, as an audio book, or as a print-on-demand book. ….

At the blog Retraction Watch, two who blurbed the book—Nicholas Wade, a New York Times science reporter and science writer Michael Shermer—said that they believe in second chances.

Science and advocacy do not mix (the “Greenpeace syndrome”?)

December 4, 2012

It is not the first time that “activists” have turned to dubious and manipulated science to further their cause. And it will not be the last. The peer-review process which is supposed to catch this kind of politically motivated pseudoscience is often not capable of doing so – and certainly not when the purported science is presented in a stage manged  PR exercise. Anything published by an advocacy group may – sometimes – contain some science but – and it should be axiomatic – no advocacy report is ever science.

In this case a “scientist” – Gilles-Eric Seralini – who is also a well-known activist campaigning against GM crops managed to get the reputed Elsevier Food and Chemical Toxicology journal to publish some highly dubious results that genetically modified corn caused tumors in rats. Seralini is also known for making up honors or paying for them to be awarded to himself! Perhaps this should be called the “Greenpeace syndrome”. Greenpeace is not averse either to making up science to further their political goals. (In fact Greenpeace just today published another apparently independent study in favour of wind power but which they had themselves commissioned!)

Reuters reports today that

(Reuters) – The publisher of a much-criticized study suggesting genetically modified corn caused tumors in rats has come under heavy pressure from scientists to retract the paper and explain why it was ever printed.

(more…)


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