Saturday, May 08, 2010

President's Cancer Panel channels Rachel Carson

In Silent Spring marine biologist Rachel Carson grossly overstates the cancer risk posed by man-made chemicals by, for example, claiming that DDT can induce human cancers within mere months of incidental exposure. In fact, DDT, one of the most closely scrutinised of synthetic chemicals, is not proven to cause human cancers.

Now the President's Cancer Panel, echoing Carson, announces that "that the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated" and suggests that the food supply is unsafe:

Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers and washing conventionally grown produce to remove residues.

A review of the report, commissioned by the American Cancer Society, is less than favourable:

Unfortunately, the perspective of the report is unbalanced by its implication that pollution is the major cause of cancer, and by its dismissal of cancer prevention efforts aimed at the major known causes of cancer (tobacco, obesity, alcohol, infections, hormones, sunlight) as “focussed narrowly.”

The report is most provocative when it restates hypotheses as if they were established facts.  For example, its conclusion that “the true burden of environmentally (i.e. pollution) induced cancer has been grossly underestimated” does not represent scientific consensus.

Just as with the climate change doom-mongers the objective here is convincing the public of dangers by scaring the crap out of them through exaggeration.

Update: Looking for reliable information on chemicals and cancer? Go here.


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