Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chemicals and Cancer

Everything we are told should bear some resemblance to what we see going on in reality!

By Rich Kozlovich

Recently the Environmental Protection Agency accepted public comments regarding Ohio’s request for an emergency Section 18 exemption for propoxur in order to help bring this plague of bed bugs under control. A letter was sent to EPA from one of the anti-pesticide groups insisting that EPA refuse this request claiming, among other things, that propoxur causes cancer; in spite of the fact that the MSDS sheet clearly states that propoxur is not carcinogenic.

In an article I saved some time back a writer outlined the three pillars of science.

• The first is fallibility. The fact that you can be wrong, and if so proven by experimental input, any hypothesis can be—indeed, must be—corrected. .

• The second pillar of science is that by its very nature, science is impersonal. There is no ‘us’, there is no ‘them’. There is only the quest.

• The third pillar of science is peer group assessment. This allows for validation of your thesis by fellow scientists and is usually done in confidence.

We shall avail ourselves of these pillars to come to an understanding of the subject of chemicals and cancer. I will state this from the onset. Pesticides do not cause cancer, and that includes DDT. Science is firmly based on these three pillars; these claims about chemicals and cancer are superstition; which is based on mysticism. Let's listen to real scientists and those who have followed this issue for years.

Angela Logomasini, director of risk and environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, states that “In recent decades, many have claimed that cancer is rising because of increased use of human made chemicals. But if chemicals were a source of health problems, one might expect that as chemical use increased around the world, there would be a measurable adverse effect on life expectancy, cancer rates, or other illnesses. Yet in developed nations, where chemical use has greatly increased, people are living longer, healthier lives.”

In another article entitled “The True Causes of Cancer” Logomasini observes that, “Environmental activists have long claimed that man-made chemicals are causing rampant cancer rates that could be addressed only by government regulation. Accordingly, lawmakers have passed laws directing government agencies to study environmental causes of cancer, estimate the number of lives allegedly lost, and devise regulations to reduce death rates. However, lawmakers should be aware of some key problems with how this system has worked in practice. First, the claim that chemical pollution is a major cancer cause is wrong. Second, agencies have relied on faulty scientific methods that grossly overestimate potential cancer deaths from chemicals and potential lives saved by regulation. As a result, regulatory policy tends to divert billions of dollars from other life-saving uses or from other efforts to improve quality of life to pay for unproductive regulations.”

An article which appeared in the New York Post by Jeff Stier of the American Council on Science and Health entitled, “A Cancer Non-Epidemic” states; “We have an epidemic of disbelief about cancer in this country -- but it's the opposite of what you probably expect. Cancer death rates have been falling for years, and now are falling even faster. Yet it's still stories about allegedly ignored cancer threats that grab our attention. If death rates were rising, the situation would (rightly) be front-page news. But the new report by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Cancer Society notes that the rate of decline in U.S. cancer deaths has doubled. And that story got buried (A18 in The New York Times, nowhere in the Wall Street Journal). Most people will have forgotten the good news by the next time an activist group talks up "the cancer epidemic."

In 2006 this was published on the National Cancer Institute, U.S. National Institutes of Health web site. “Annual Report to the Nation Finds Cancer Death Rates Continue to Drop; Lower Cancer Rates Observed in U.S. Latino Populations -A new report from the nation's leading cancer organizations finds that Americans' risk of dying from cancer continues to drop, maintaining a trend that began in the early 1990s. However, the rate of new cancers remains stable. The "Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2003, Featuring Cancer among U.S. Hispanic/Latino Populations" is published in the October 15, 2006, issue of Cancer*. The report includes comprehensive data on trends over the past several decades for all major cancers. It shows that the long-term decline in overall cancer death rates continued through 2003 for all races and both sexes combined. The declines were greater among men (1.6 percent per year from 1993 through 2003) than women (0.8 percent per year from 1992 through 2003).”

Bjorn Lomborg in his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, notes that if you were to compare the cancer rates and demographics from the turn of the last century to the turn of this century you would see two startling statistics. In the early 1900's few people smoked and few people lived to be over sixty five, which is why sixty five was chosen as the retirement age for Social Security purposes.

When the Chesterfield Girl died of lung cancer in 1992, Pulitzer Prize winning nationally syndicated columnist George Will wrote an article about it.

He recited an account where “at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis in 1919, a doctor summoned some medical students to an autopsy, saying the patient’s disease was so rare that most of the students would never see it again. It was lung cancer.”

Cancer is mostly an affliction of smokers and the aged. Yet we see the cancer rates dropping and we have a lot of smokers and a lot of over sixty five people. It those two demographics were taken out of the modern equation the drop in cancer rates would even more impressive.

“Dr. Bruce Ames is the recipient of the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation Prize and of the Tyler Prize for environmental achievement. He has served on the National Cancer Institute board of directors, and he's a member of the National Academy of Sciences” found through his research that naturally occurring chemicals, when fed in extremely high doses to test animals, were as likely to test carcinogenic as synthetic chemicals produced by chemical companies.

“At one time, he was the darling of the environmental movement. But now, the members of that movement have turned on him with a vengeance, accusing him of aiding and abetting "Corporate America," although he accepts no money other than his university salary”. Unfortunately his conclusion “was a very politically incorrect conclusion.” Ames said that, “The environmentalist activists, ‘have a religion’ that says that corporations are behind an exploding epidemic of cancer.”

This idea that “a rodent is a little man” became a valuable weapon for environmental activists and in 1958 the Delaney Clause required the Food and Drug Administration to ban any substance that cause cancer in animals….even when fed doses that could never be reached in a person’s lifetime of massive everyday use. In short, Delaney outlined the idea that if a substance causes cancer at any level, it causes cancer at every level. This is not science. Until then it was clearly understood that the dose makes the poison. At some point the molecular load of any substance becomes too small to impact cells. This “any dose is deadly” mentality lingers in spite of the fact that toxicologists disagree.

In 2005 the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) petitioned the EPA to “eliminate "junk science" from the process by which it determines whether a substance is likely to cause cancer in humans.”

“The petition, filed on behalf of ACSH by the Washington Legal Foundation (WLF), a public interest law firm, argues that current EPA guidelines violate the Information Quality Act (IQA) -- the law that requires the federal government to ensure the "equality, objectivity, utility, and integrity" of information it dispenses to the public.”

“Specifically, EPA routinely declares chemicals "carcinogens" -- implying a likelihood of a health threat to humans -- based solely on the creation of tumors in lab rodents by the administration of super high doses irrelevant to ordinary human exposure levels. Furthermore, effects in a single species may not be applicable to another species (rat tests do not even reliably predict effects in mice, which are closely related to rats, let alone effects in humans), though similar effects in multiple species might be an indicator of a genuine problem.”

Bruce Ames notes that “there are major problems with this procedure.

• One, animals aren't necessarily the best stand-ins for humans. In fact, 30% of the time, a chemical that causes cancer in mice won't do so in rats and vice versa, even though these species are much closer to each other than they are to humans.

• For another, the dose given the animals is on average almost 400,000 times the dose that the Environmental Protection Agency tries to protect humans against.”

The ACSH went on to “request that EPA eliminate statements that indicate that a substance may properly be labeled a "likely" human carcinogen based solely or primarily on the results of animal studies. Such statements are scientifically unsound, argues the petition, which notes that the great majority of toxicologists share that assessment.”

EPA continually dodged this by extending their deadline for responding. Finally five months later they claimed that their “Risk Assessment Guidelines are not statements of scientific fact -- and thus not covered by the IQA -- but merely statements of EPA policy.” My question was then and still is; if EPA policy isn’t based on science, then what is it based on?

I think Dr. Elizabeth Whelan answers this best. “This is a free country, and we all have the right to be guided by superstitions, no matter how nonsensical; for example, my mother still forbids me to open an umbrella in her apartment. But we should no longer tolerate the mindless regulatory ritual of banning useful, safe chemicals "at the drop of a rat."

1. Leaders & Success: Bruce Ames, by Michael Fumento
2. Cancer Trends , and, The True Causes of Cancer, by Angela Logomasini
3. A Cancer Non-Epidemic, and, We Should Expect More from the EPA, by Jeff Stier, Esq.
4. Annual Report to the Nation Finds Cancer Death Rates Continue to Drop; Lower Cancer Rates Observed in U.S. Latino Populations - National Cancer Institute, U.S. National Institutes of Health.
5. The Skeptical Environmentalist, by Bjorn Lomborg

This originally appeared in the May Issue of the Ohio Pest Management's quarterly newsletter, The Standard. RK


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