This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
This is a paragraph from Sorry, wrong number!:
It is a sad fact that people in the extremes of distress look round for causes and are somehow comforted by finding one. This is understandable. What is offensive is that there are others who exploit this for their own ends. The one in ten thousand who get lung cancer without cigarette smoking find it hard to accept that they have just drawn the short straw in life, so they leap on the bandwagon of the anti-smoking lobby and blame passive smoking. The tragic figure of Roy Castle is a case in point. Lung cancer is largely a disease of smokers, but about five percent of cases represent the natural background. The randomness of disease seems to be harder to accept in our Godless age. Families with children who are leukaemia victims look round for a cause, such as power lines and nuclear power plants. Somehow, finding a scapegoat makes it easier to accept.
10 year fight? I though lung cancer worked its evil way fast, like a few months. Can lung tumours be metastasic from a long term site elsewhere? Maybe early detection and surgery can give good results. Who knows? I certainly don't.
Sorry John, should have said welcome back first. Glad you're scribbling again.
Firstly: may I second GeoS's welcome back!
I was familiar with your quoted paragraph. This is one of the few matters on which I find it hard to agree with you.
What is perhaps not generally realised is the sheer concentration of smoke experienced by (in particular jazz) musicians. Many musicians of my acquaintance were heavy smokers (the quip was: no need to light up - just breathe more heavily!) but even from them adverse comments on smoke levels were not unusual. Even in the depths of winter (and well before global warming ;-) the incredible stink from clothes and instruments often made it necessary to drive home with the car windows open and (always) to leave clothes and equipment outside or in the garage.
Passive smoking studies I have seen - with their admittedly inconclusive results - relate mainly to domestic or "normal" work environments, where the "culprit" smokes e.g. 9 to 15 cigarettes a day. This bears no relation to a jazz club, with a couple of hundred people smoking several cigarettes an hour each, usually in a relatively small and badly- or even unventilated room.
Another factor to consider is that singers and (very) active performers like Roy inevitably breathe in much more than e.g. bass players like I was.
Clearly a controlled trial would be very difficult (include me out!) but as "active" smoking is an accepted cause of cancer, how can some correlation with degree of passive exposure be ruled out?
There was a bit in the Telegraph the other day (sorry, haven't got the URL) reporting on a Nature article on the identification of a quad of genes (largely) responsible for metastasis of breats cancer to the lungs. Apparently the lungs are a very common site for secondaries from breast cancer.
As to proper tests, I keep seeing obituaries (I'm still not in, Whew!) of jazz greats who have expired in their 80s and 90s. Granted, those who croaked earlier may not be accounted great due to lack of time but if jazz clubs have always been smoke-filled it would seem possible to recruit a cohort of professional jazz musicians and analyse for cause and age of death. ANyone got the figures?