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Naked Scientist Quackery

For the most part the guys and gals at the Naked Scientist seem to do a **** good job, but they continue to be credulous of Epidemiology.

They reported today on the Meta Study of Vitamin Regimens. (Sandy at junkfoodscience also did a piece on this). They accurately reported that the benefits of vitamin regimens was non-existent in terms of the study, but went on to say that the study showed the regimens to be unhealthy also. They quoted relative risks of 1.16 (16% increase in mortality) and 1.07 (7% increase in mortality). Chris the commentator went on to say the Fruits and Veggies are the way to go. This to me sounds like SIF spin. I have nothing against Fruits and vegetables. I have a banana and an apple sitting on my desk at this moment waiting for ingestion. What Chris (and the rest of the whole foods brigade) need to remember is that Supplementation was shown to be effective for one group of people. People who don't have adequate nutrition. AKA People who are starving. The body will accept supplemental vitamins. It is just not necessary if you have readily available and varied calories.

He started the segment by saying that a Meta-study was a way to combine studies and make the results "Better". In this case it showed that nothing was going on, which is the case for all such studies.

Why is it that Epidemiologists manage to continue employment? I imagine it is hard to say to oneself after spending 8 years getting your pHD in the subject to say "What I do is worthless!"

(Using epidemiology to track down sources of outbreaks is perfectly reasonable, but then we are talking about "epidemics" then aren't we!)

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

I imagine there must be some “good” epidemiologists. Unfortunately imagine is the operative word. Apart from one or two notable cases (taking the handle off a water pump for example), I know of no accrued benefit whatsoever to mankind from epidemiologists.

For heavens sake, eating one sausage a day causes cancer! What planet are they on?

Stop wasting valuable research resources on them now I say!

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

I have to confess a higher degree in epidemiology, albeit genetic epidemiology where you can do proper experiments, recruiting people with predefined diseases and looking at predefined genes. And not publishing RRs of less than 2.

The main problem with "survey" epidemiology is that it lacks experimental rigour and the mathematical tools used on the data generated were not designed for it. To cut a very long story short they were designed to test hypotheses (yea verily epidemiological hypotheses) for which an experiment was specifically designed, and to give you the wrong answer 1 time in 20. The wrong answer 1 time in 20 is rather a lot of wrong answers when your ask 1000 questions of your database rather than 3 questions with a plausible mechanism behind them. But it's worse than that. Multiple hypothesis testing demands correction for multiple testing to counter this effect, but it is never done. If it was, you could even get away with using statistical techniques on "survey"-style data, but then you would see nothing but the very strongest associations, and still, 1 in 20 of them would be spurious, and that doesn't make for more research grants.

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

One of the bigger problems is not simply the mathematics but the fact that epidemiology deals with risk and probability rather than certainty. On sausages and cancer, one study showing a 10% increase in RR for sausage eaters versus non sausage-eaters is unimpressive. 10 studies all showing an increase in RR clustered around 10% (neglecting publication bias of course) tells us something might, possibly, be going on. If you did a prospective study in which subjects were randomized to a sausage or non-sausage diet for 20 years and saw a 10% difference in RR for a predefined malignancy that would be almost unassailable proof of an effect.

The question then becomes "is a 10% change in RR worth going without sausages for"? That's something only the individual can answer, until of course some government comes along and bans passive sausage cooking. It's even plausible - not that you could measure it reliably (I'm being serious here) that 1 person a decade really does die as a direct result of exposure to someone else's fry-up fumes (perhaps cumulated with various other exposures and sheer bad luck). As with passive everything else, society is very wont to listen to politicians harp on about benefit of ceasing the activity which creates this trivial (and possibly entirely hypothetical) risk, but no-one cares that there is any benefit to allowing the activity to continue.

Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

I once cooked a passel of peppers. I almost died. The fumes emitting from peppers almost overwhelmed me. It was similar to an asthma attack in that I couldn't quite breathe without actually being an asthma attack.

I haven't attempted to cook that quantity of peppers (they were some type of spicy pepper) since.

I suspect the culprit was vaporized Capsaicin, but I am not sure. I did inhale a big plume of stuff after dumping it into the hot pan.

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

On my way home from work I was just blasted with diesel fumes from a bus, at a bus stop I am no longer allowed to smoke at. By blindly following our political “masters” who rule us using such epidemiological “margins” we are more likely to encounter anomalies like this every day. Enough! I am going back to using my 4x4.

Sausages for tea - and a willing risk it was!

Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

I am not a scientist; but, as a reader of studies, I find them very mis-leading.
For example,studies showing 'smoking bans' will make hospitality workers safer.

Arsenicosis: chronic arsenic poisoning,
effects include changes in skin color, formation of hard patches on the skin, skin cancer, lung cancer, cancer of the kidney and bladder, and can lead to gangrene. More recent findings show that consumption of water with levels as low as 0.00017mg/L (0.17ppb) over long periods of time can lead to arsenicosis.

LUNG CANCER RISKS INDEPENDENT OF CIGARETTE
SMOKING

These factors carry the appropriate technical designation of confounders, and it is an illegal technical and professional procedure to draw conclusions from a study without a meticulous accounting of such confounders.

FACTOR/ REFERENCE/ REPORTED RELATIVE RISK AT HIGHEST EXPOSURE / 95% CONFIDENCE INTERVAL

Milk intake.. Mettlin (1989)..RR 2.1.(1.4-3.2)
Asbestos exposure... Oksa (1997)....RR 10.0.... (6.9-14.0)
Arsenic ingestion.. Tsuda (1995). RR 15.69.. (7.38-31.02)

According to the U.S. Center For Disease Control:
"You normally take in small amounts of arsenic in the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the food you eat. Of these, food is usually the largest source of arsenic.The total amount of arsenic you take in from these sources is generally about 50 micrograms (1 microgram equals one-millionth of a gram) each day."
http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/phs2.html

1 microgram is equal to 1,000 nanograms(ng/1 billionth of a gram). 50 micrograms is 50,000 nanograms.

The total amount of all the arsenic in the mainstream and side-stream smoke emitted by the average cigarette is 32 nanograms.

You would have to inhale ALL of the smoke from 1,562 cigarettes to equal the amount of arsenic you normally take in every day.

A typical smoker will inhale only about 8ng per cigarette and would have to smoke 6,248 cigarettes per day to equal the amount of arsenic they normally take in every day.

That is smoke 4 and 1/3 cigarettes every minute of every hour all day long!!!

A non-smoker sitting 3 feet from a smoker breaths only 1/2 of 1% of the emitted smoke.

That non-smoker would have to be exposed to the smoke from 1,562 x 100 x 2 = 312,400 cigarettes to equal the amount of arsenic they normally take in every day.

That is be exposed to the SHS of 217 cigarettes per minute of every hour all day long!!!

Yup,cigarette smoke contains chemicals, just a **** sight less than your NORMAL exposure!!!

Lawmakers want to protect the hospitality workers from all of that dangerous SHS exposure.
Here is a comparative look at to how much of one of the chemicals in cigarette smoke smokers and non-smokers are exposed.
ARSENIC EXPOSURE: EGGS VS CIGARETTE SMOKE

A smoker would have to smoke 7,100 cigarettes to be exposed to the 'FDA SAFE' level of Arsenic in the two eggs they might have had for breakfast.(1)(2)

That is about 5 cigarettes per minute, every minute, for 24 hours.

A non-smoker would have to be exposed to the SHS from 177,500 cigarettes to be exposed to the 'FDA SAFE' level of Arsenic in the two eggs they might have had for breakfast.(1)(2)

That is about 123 cigarettes per minute, every minute, for 24 hours.


1. FDA safe level of Arsenic in an egg is 500ng(parts per billion per gram)or 28,400ng per two ounce egg.
The smoke from the average cigarette(mainstream and side-stream total) contains 32ng. of arsenic.(The 1999 Mass. Benchmark Study. Final Report 07/24/00)

2. A smoker inhales about 1/4th(8ng) of the smoke from a cigarette.
A non-smoker sitting 3 feet from a smoker is exposed to about 1/2 of 1/100th of the SHS from a cigarette.

After all, the Sur.Gen. stated that there is 'no safe level of exposure' to SHS.

None the less; imagine a non-smoking bartender having two eggs for breakfast on Monday and then working an 6 day, 8 hours per shift, week.

That bartender would have to be exposed to the SHS from about 60 cigarettes being smoked per minute,each and every minute, of that entire 48 hour work week to equal the 'FDA SAFE LEVEL' of Arsenic in his two Monday morning eggs!!!

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

Here you have to suffer the epidemiological margin if you drive a diesel as well - or even if not. My home city, like many others, is about to introduce an "Umweltzone". What this means is that no vehicle which does not demonstrate by means of a sticker in the windscreen that it belongs to one of certain emissions classes for "PM10" emissions, is not allowed to drive in the city. So I and everyone else with a petrol car trooped off to the local licensing office where they checked the vehicle's paperwork, relieved me of €10, and issued a green sticker with a 4 and my numberplate on it (yep, you have to go through the whole palaver again if you change your numberplate or sell your car). Almost everyone with a diesel did the same thing and got a yellow sticker with a 3 on it.

Now, let's ignore the facts that (1) this regulation extends to foreign-registered vehicles which may not have the relevant "code" in the registration document to allow the issue of a sticker (in Frankfurt whose sole reason for existence is the facilitation of international trade this is really shooting oneself in the foot) (2) the regulation extends to older cars which never had their PM10 emissions measured at birth and thus don't have the relevant "code" (in my case this has forced me to cancel plans to buy a classic sports car which would have been driven for all of ~3,000 km a year - 95% of it outside Frankfurt) (3) almost no environmental PM10 in urban areas comes from private motor vehicles, including diesels, most of it is from industry, (4) the selection of one individual vehicle pollutant sets a precedent for any town or borough which wants to set maximum emission levels for any one, or several, of the thousands of things that come out of your exhaust pipe in miniscule quantities, and demand you put an official sticker (available on presentation of the vehicle with relevant documentation at the relevant government office which is, of course, within the banned zone at a time and cost of their choosing) in the windscreen demonstrating your compliance on pain of points on your license, (5) classification is dependent on what the vehicle's emissions were at birth, not what they are now, and this likewise means that compliant vehicles without the right number in the registration document can't be taken to an MOT place for measurement and get the sticker that way - even petrol cars which are known to produce practically no PM10 emissions.

No, lets ignore all those obvious reasons not to do something like this and ask the simple question - who has an exemption from the regulation? You guessed it - any vehicle operated by the government or one of their favoured contractors, including the bus that I got stuck behind (on my bike) this morning, which then pulled off belching a huge cloud of blue, metallic-tasting smoke in my face.

So, emissions regulations which, as applied to manufacturers, have greatly cleaned up car exhausts in the space of just 20 years, and which otherwise serve a protectionist agenda (banning European cars from the American market and vice versa), are now being used to control the individual. And of course, the state gets to stick two fingers up to everyone.

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

James V, you say:
"almost no environmental PM10 in urban areas comes from private motor vehicles, including diesels, most of it is from industry"
I'd be pleased to know your source for this.
The DEFRA website ARIC suggests:
"3. Particulate matter is emitted from a wide range of sources, the most significant primary sources being road transport (20%), homes (20%), construction, mining and quarrying (13%), industrial combustion plants and processes (10%) and public power generation (10%). Natural sources are less important; these include volcanoes and dust storms. Particulate matter can also be formed by the transformation of gaseous emissions such as oxides of sulphur and nitrogen and VOCs."
It also says:
Air pollution in cities dramatically reduced in the following ways.
domestic emissions reduced because of smoke control areas;
electric and gas usage increased and the use of solid fuels decreased;
cleaner coals were burnt which had a lower sulphur content;
use of tall chimney stacks on power stations;
relocation of power stations to more rural areas;
continued decline in heavy industry.
Indeed, the link between industrial pollution with mortality has also become much reduced for the same reason of relocation.
But, as usual, if one wants a particular set of data it is absent from the site where you'd expect to find it and consulting equivalent sites (EPA) you find that the data there contradicts the data elsewehere.

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

My statement that "most of it is from industry" was wrong.

If 20% of PM10s overall are from road transport, bear in mind that the vast majority of that will be from diesel engines (i.e. mostly larger, bigger-engined vehicles) - petrol engined cars with catalytic converters (which have been obligatory for years) that produce almost zero PM10 emissions account for the majority of private motor vehicles. Banning the handful of old smelly diesels still in private ownership from selected areas of the country is pointless. By all means fail these vehicles at their next MOT inspection and get them out of circulation everywhere, but letting every town and borough set its own disparate standards on every triviaity which is beyond your control is ridiculous. So Frankfurt bans certain diesels. What next? Fords excluded from Kronberg because they're ugly cars for poor people? Ferraris excluded from Schwalbach because there's lots of socialists there?

This regulation is a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It's a bureaucratic waste of effort for everyone, there are better ways of doing it if it needs doing at all, and the outcome will not be a measurable reduction in atmospheric PM10s. Everything you come to expect from a coalition of big-government socialists. Don't anyone dare tell me national governments have been emasculated by the EU - I can guarantee you the European Commission would hate this project (sure, they might love to eventually implement it Europe-wide but the idea of it being imposed at a regional level and supported by national legislation will be anathema to them), but are seemingly powerless to stop it.

Why can't we keep things simple? Either a car is legal to drive on the road - every road - everywhere in the EU, or it isn't.

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

Gary,

Tobacco smoke contains toxins and carcinogens of far greater importance than arsenic.

Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

Sir,
With all due respect, might you please say which ones and how much of them?

Might you also show the established toxicity levels for those chemicals and toxins as compared to the amounts that exist in cigarette smoke?

Might you please show the consumption/exposure level for a non-smoker?
For instance:
Have you ever wondered just how much SHS nonsmokers are exposed to?

Let's put a smoker and a nonsmoker at a bar about 1 meter(3feet) apart.

Let's put the smoker, a cigarette, and an ashtray in a airtight cube 2 meters(6 feet) on a side.

The nonsmoker will have his nose sticking through the side of this cube so that he only can breathe air from the cube.

We will say that the smoker will take precisely 5 minutes to smoke the cigarette.

The Calif-EPA says that a sitting person breathes about 7.5 liters of air per minute.
(California Environmental Protection Agency)
http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/resnotes/notes/94-11.htm

Thus, the nonsmoker will breathe 37.5 liters of air from the cube while the cigarette is burning.

Our cube holds 8,000 liters of air.

The nonsmoker breathes 37.5 liters or .005% or 1/2 of 1% of the air and no more than 1/2 of 1% of the SHS in the air.

The smoker,breathing both mainstream and side stream smoke, will breathe about 27% of the total smoke from the cigarette.

At three feet the non smoker is exposed to 1/54th the amount of smoke as a smoker.
At six feet the non smoker will be exposed to 1/432nd the amount of smoke as a smoker.

Re: Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

Sir,
The example above was for a sealed cube,this is not the case in the real world.

Perhaps this will help with your exposure computations.

For instance let's assume a pub 50' x 40' x 10' ceiling; with an occupancy rating of 80 people.

Building codes where I live would require 2400 cfm fresh air for the example above. (80 people x 30 cfm / occupant).
And 50 x 40 x 10 = 20,000 cubic feet of air. Now to determine what 1 air change is for that 20,000 cubic feet is, divide by 60 (minutes per hour, since fans are rated cfm). So 20,000 / 60 = 333 cfm.

Now 2400 cfm / 333 = 7.2 air changes per hour.

60 (minutes per hour) / 7.2 = 8.3 minutes. Meaning that 2400 cfm in the 50 x 40 x 10 building will exchange the air in the pub with fresh outside air every 8.3 minutes.

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

I'm not interested in exposure to volumes of second-hand smoke because I don't dispute the position that the evidence for SHS causing lung cancer is somewhere on the scale of conviction between "somewhat unconvincing" and "totally unconvincing" - I hold that position!

I do, however, dispute your assertion that first-hand cigarette smoke exposure does not increase risk of lung cancer, because that is a laughable position to hold.

You stated "LUNG CANCER RISKS INDEPENDENT OF CIGARETTE SMOKING" and attempted to support this assertion by calculating exposure to one toxin, arsenic, which is present in cigarette smoke, stating "You would have to inhale ALL of the smoke from 1,562 cigarettes to equal the amount of arsenic you normally take in every day."

This might well be true (let's accept it for argument's sake), let's also accept for argument's sake that there is more arsenic in two eggs than in all the cigarettes you could smoke in a month.

So what? Arsenic ain't the only poison out there. Tobacco smoke also contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and nitrosamines, which are potent carcinogens, and things you don't find in appreciable concentrations in everyday foodstuffs. Furthermore the evidence for an increased relative risk of lung cancer in smokers compared to nonsmokers is overwhelming, rather unlike the case for lung cancer in persons exposed to second-hand smoke.

Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

"Arsenic ain't the only poison out there. Tobacco smoke also contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and nitrosamines, which are potent carcinogens, and things you don't find in appreciable concentrations in everyday foodstuffs."

...............................

Sir,
With all due respect, might you please say which ones and how much of them?

Might you also show the established toxicity levels for those chemicals and toxins as compared to the amounts that exist in cigarette smoke?

Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

My silly two cents. The RR of 22 associating Smoking with Lung Cancer results in a alarming percentage of smokers NOT getting lung cancer.

Of course if they don't get Lung Cancer they might get Emphysema (that I apparently spelled that correctly on the first go is remarkable). If they don't get emphysema they will likely have rather obnoxious coughs. Smoking is just a bad idea, but ignoring how many people survive cigarettes is appalling.

Trying to regulate anything where most people survive gets a little silly. SHS smoke in this case.

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

Gary, sorry, but I'm not going to get into a debate about the relative concentrations of various toxins in tobacco smoke. I'm sure you could find a long list of toxins that are present at lower concentrations in tobacco than in, say, eggs, but the details of what poisonous things are there in higher or lower concentrations, and exactly how poisonous they are at what dose level is about as relevant to a discussion about the risks of voluntary or involuntary exposure to tobacco or eggs as the fact that there are diseases that are less common in tobacco consumers (or egg consumers) than non consumers. You have to accept the whole package when you buy 20 B&H or six free-range rather than pick on one thing that you think proves your point. Smoking is a bad idea overall (and I have a pipe in my mouth as I type this).

Brad, I'm happy with a 22-fold increase in risk of death from X caused by exposure to Y if risk of death from Y without exposure to X is 1 in a million and I get lots of kicks from Y. It is, however, a relative risk which is unacceptable to impose on someone without their consent. However, even the most conservative estimates of risk from passive smoking stretch the limits of scientific acceptability to breaking point, and possibly beyond, and thus not something which can justify restricting the free choices of adults of sound mind. I do not want to see a society in which trivial or possibly non-existent risks posed to me by others result in restrictions being placed on the freedoms of others. Our society has far bigger frogs to boil but the politicians find it easier to boil a small and unpopular frog bit by bit than take a vote-losing but necessary measure.

Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

"Gary, sorry, but I'm not going to get into a debate about the relative concentrations of various toxins in tobacco smoke."
...............................
Sir,
If you do not know,just say so.
.......................................
"You have to accept the whole package when you buy 20 B&H or six free-range rather than pick on one thing that you think proves your point. Smoking is a bad idea overall (and I have a pipe in my mouth as I type this)."
"I do not want to see a society in which trivial or possibly non-existent risks posed to me by others result in restrictions being placed on the freedoms of others."
..........................................
Sir,
The topic is "Quackery" and if the science used for SHS is "Quackery"; then, that very same science when used for mainstream smoking is still "Quackery"!!

As far as 'buying the whole package' in spite of portions of the package having been proven rotten;that is not very scientific.

A Mr.Einstein once said "A thousand experiments can not prove me right and it only takes one experiment to prove me wrong."

Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

Which is exactly what I was getting at. People continue to survive the 22 RR without problem.

A friend is writing a paper in support of calling smoking "Child Abuse". I didn't rip into her too hard, but I did tell her I thought it was a bad idea. Not only doesn't the data support it, but it leads to idiotic draconian measures that do nothing.

Re: Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

They **** you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were ****ed up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

Philip Larkin.

So there are thousands of things we could describe as child abuse. For example, I'm with Dawkins in contending that passing on religious beliefs is a form of child abuse, but unless we are to put all parents in prison for doing something that ****ed up their kids, we have to tolerate a certain level of ******* up.

Unless the underlying risk of death from X is >1/44 then at least half of people with treatment Y will die of something else even if treatment Y confers an RR of 22 for death from X.

I truly believe it's the individual's choice to make, whether they take treatment Y and accept the combination of risks and benefits conferred by treatment Y. It's quite true, if you smoke, you will probably die of something other than something caused by exposure to smoke, but if you don't smoke you will definitely die of something other than something cauesd by exposure to smoke. Pick your poison, but don't kid yourself it isn't poison.

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

The topic is "Quackery" and if the science used for SHS is "Quackery"; then, that very same science when used for mainstream smoking is still "Quackery"!!
----------

I disagree. All methods have their strengths and weaknesses. Epidemiology is the only tool available because it is unethical and, in most places illegal, to perform randomised, controlled, and blinded experiments on humans with substances which have been established beyond reasonable doubt to confer more risk than benefit. Epidemiology's weaknesses are well known to most of the contributors to this board. Those weaknesses are a good reason to remain skeptical about claims made on the basis of low relative risks but are not in and of themselves a reason to reject claims based on relative risks in double digits. It is not the science of epidemiology, practised correctly (in demonstrating the harmful effects of cigarette smoking), that is at fault. What is at fault is the incorrect practise of epidemiology (in claiming to demonstrate that being in a room with dilute cigarette smoke conveys a measurable risk) by people who believe the only caveat worth attaching to a retrospective as opposed to prospective approach to science translates into "moreresearchneededsogivvusmoregrants".

Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

"It is not the science of epidemiology, practised correctly (in demonstrating the harmful effects of cigarette smoking), that is at fault."
--------------------------------------------
......QUACKERY......

The science of epidemiology, practised correctly, does not match the real world!!!

You say that smoking is the leading cause of preventable cancer deaths.

Of the 50 states plus Washington,D.C., D.C. and Minnesota have the same smoking rate.

The 'Cancer Death Rate' ranking for Washington, D.C. is 1st, the highest.

The 'Cancer Death Rate' ranking for Minnesota is 39th or among the lowest.

Now; if smoking is the leading cause of preventable cancer deaths,how can there be such a completely different 'Cancer Death Rate' ranking for two areas with the same percentage of smokers and SHS exposure??

Another question:
You say that smoking is the leading cause of preventable Heart Disease deaths.

Of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C., D.C. and Minnesota have the same smoking rate.

The 'Heart Disease Death Rate' ranking for Wash DC is 3rd,about the highest.

The 'Heart Disease Death Rate' ranking for Minnesota is 51st,the lowest.

Now; if smoking is the leading cause of preventable Heart Disease deaths,how can there be such a completely different 'Heart Disaease Death Rate' ranking for two areas with the same percentage of smokers and SHS exposure??
.................................................
"Epidemiology is the only tool available because it is unethical and, in most places illegal, to perform randomised, controlled, and blinded experiments on humans with substances which have been established beyond reasonable doubt to confer more risk than benefit."
---------------------------

With all these studies being done, couldn't someone do an 'intervention trial', comparing two groups of smoking and non-smoking people. The answer is that this has indeed been done. There have been a number of studies that have done something like that. But you've never heard of them? When you hear about the results obtained you will see why.

There has been only one that has solely dealt with smoking. This was the first 'Whitehall' study, starting in 1968, which recruited 1,445 British civil servants.

Half were encouraged to give up smoking, the others were left alone. After a year smoking in the intervention group (the nagged) was down by 75%.

After ten years, 17.2% of this group was dead, as against 17.5% of the control group. This difference of percentage is not statistically significant.

There was no difference in deaths from lung cancer or heart disease, and the only other unexpected result was that the intervention group had 28 deaths from cancer other than lung cancer, compared with the control in which the number of deaths from such cancers was 12. This is statistically significant.

After 20 years the results were the same.

Another study, with a wider range, was the 'Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial' (MRFIT) in the US.

In this there were 12,866 subjects. They were all shown to be at risk of heart disease because of their lifestyle and general health. (With 300 risk factors that's not surprising.) One group was given drugs for high blood pressure, encouraged to eat more healthily, and to stop smoking. The other was left alone, as in the Whitehall study.

These were not self-selected studies, and seem to have been conducted competently. At the end of the MRFIT study, 41.2 per thousand of the 'healthy' group were dead, as against the 40.4 per thousand of the other.

Scientists investigating the study didn't like the results, and went over them again. They found that the drugs to reduce high blood pressure had in fact increased the death rate among the men given them, and were forced to conclude that the risk factors had nothing to do with the actual risks.

Professor Burch, in a letter to the British Medical Journal (March 1985) pointed out that in these two studies:

In the low smoking intervention groups 56 cases of lung cancer were recorded in a total starting population of 7,142 men (0.78%); the corresponding number for the more heavily smoking normal care groups being 53 in 7,169 (0.74%).

Findings for cancer other than those of the lung were even more surprising.


Some 88 cases (1.23%) were recorded in the low smoking intervention groups, but only 60 cases (0.84%) in the normal care groups. Thus in the category 'all cancers' there were 144 cases (2.02%) in the intervention groups but 113 cases (1.58%) in the more heavily smoking normal care groups. Reduced levels of smoking were associated with increases in cancer incidence.

It is fair to ask experts to explain why these remarkable findings from methodologically reputable trials conflict so drastically with their Epidemiological claims.

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

If you desperately want a few examples of carcinogens present in toxicologically relevant quantities in cigarette smoke (other than the two I already gave you), I'm sure I could dig out a good few literature references from my PhD. However, I'm sure that as a gentleman you will accept my good-faith assertion, backed by unanimous expert opinion in the field (cave consensus and all that) that there are such carcinogens. We are, after all, talking about chemicals that can be measured and experimented upon, not humans or climates which cannot (ethically) be experimented upon. I'm as certain that cigarette smoke contains carcinogens as I am that all life existing today has a common ancestor.

Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

"However, I'm sure that as a gentleman you will accept my good-faith assertion, backed by unanimous expert opinion in the field (cave consensus and all that) that there are such carcinogens."
------------------
Dear Sir,

Never said there were no carcinogens;the question was 'How much?'

You know; that old nonsense about 'the dose makes the poison'!!
.....................

"If you desperately want a few examples of carcinogens present in toxicologically relevant quantities in cigarette smoke (other than the two I already gave you), I'm sure I could dig out a good few literature references from my PhD."

----------------------------

You never did mention dose or toxicological levels!!!

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

You say that smoking is the leading cause of preventable cancer deaths.
----

Where did I say that???

---

You say that smoking is the leading cause of preventable Heart Disease deaths.

---

Where did I say that??? Stop putting words in my mouth, it's most rude!


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Washington DC ... Minnesota ...

---

Right. No confounders there. I mean, it's not as if you're comparing a poor, black, catholic, urban area with a wealthy, white, protestant, semi-rural area or anything.

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Half were encouraged to give up smoking, the others were left alone. After a year smoking in the intervention group (the nagged) was down by 75%.

---

Yeah, again, no confounders at all. Intervention (not entirely successful) versus none. Where's your placebo? Why wasn't the second group nagged to give up sex? That would have been a better control. And 10-year all-causes mortality simply doesn't cut it - it would be more impressive to wait until they were all dead and compare cause of death for all subjects. This is not a controlled experiment.


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MRFIT

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Nothing here surprises me. We know one thing - trying to persuade people to change their lifestyles doesn't work at the population level. Not enough individuals sit up, take notice, and do something, to make many public health "information" campaigns worth the effort. And you can't reliably measure 300 lifestyle choices let alone determine reliably the extent to which anyone has consciously changed them. Ever tried asking someone to be honest about how much they drink?

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

You never did mention dose or toxicological levels!!!

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Orders of magnitude more than in eggs.

There's clearly no point continuing this conversation - you've decided that smoking cigarettes doesn't increase your lung cancer risk and that's the end of it. Delving into the evidence for a claim involves more than latching on to a few snippets of information that support one's preconceived notions. I somehow doubt it's sheer coincidence that the proportion of smokers among subjects in lung cancer trials I've worked on is more than double the proportion of smokers in the general population, but you do.

Feel free to get the last word in and think you've prevailed as a result. I'll see you in another thread sometime.

Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

Dear Sir,
You never did mention dose or toxicological levels!

Since you disregard "the dose makes the poison" and all people that ingest too much salt die, I presume that you have totally given up on using salt in your diet?

Am so sorry about your leaving!

Re: Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

I must be a little dense.

Aren't both JamesV and GaryK basically arguing the same side of the story?

Good flame fest without a lot of flames though. A prime example of why discussing such topics in a Bar with a beer in your hand is infinitely better than doing it in a web forum.

Of course we need to find a bar where smoking is allowed so James can puff on his pipe with adequate enough ventilation that I don't get all the carcinogens in the smoke while I eat my egg sandwich with bacon on white bread with mayonnaise.

Somehow both of us will manage to leave the bar without dying.

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

Gary seems to be arguing that smoking your own cigarettes doesn't cause lung cancer, which I am not arguing. The Washington/Minnesota thing has to be a prize entry for the "how many logical fallacies can I fit into one statement" contest. I forgot to mention that comparing any 2 of 51 states gives you 1275 potential comparisons. Some of those comparisons will fit any preconceived notion you care to choose. That's why it's important to specify in advance what you are comparing, and between which areas/states/people etc. There will be at least one state with both a higher smoking rate and longer life expectancy than another, for example, and I am surprised we weren't treated to it. Finding that out post-hoc doesn't tell us anything at all.

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

Hmmm. Interesting.
More interesting would be that people today probably believe that our environment is far far worse than it used to be.
Hence all the concern about particulates etc.
Interestingly, ARIC tells us that back in the 60s winter particulates in urban areas were around 250micrograms/m3,
Today they say the levels are around 40microgams/m3. More generally the particulate levels elsewhere range to about 10micrograms/m3.
To me that is a significant reduction (I must say I miss the semll of coal smoke on a winters morning walking in the hills past the various cottages with their chimneys smoking away. Fortunately there are still a few enthusiasts running steam trains where the authentic steam and coal experience can be revisited.
Don't get me wrong, we do need sensible measures to control our pollution and yes smog was bad for you. But it wasn't exactly decimating the population.
There is much excitement about shipping pollution but according to one source shipping particulates in the highest intensity amount to 1-2micrograms/m3.
Now I can't vouch for any of these figures, but I think the overall message is clear; we are being made icnreasingly paranoid about less and less.