Friday, April 08, 2011

Nuclear radiologist sides with Caldicott against Monbiot

Dr Peter Karamoskos, "a nuclear radiologist and a public representative on the radiation health committee of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency", sides with Helen Caldicott against recent pro-nuclear-convert George Monbiot:
George Monbiot should read properly the BEIR VII report that Helen Caldicott gave him - all 423 pages.
It's no wonder Karamoskos is a Caldicott acolyte since his anti-nuclear argumentation is similarly iffy:
In 2006, the US National Academy of Sciences released its Biological Effects of Ionising Radiation (VII) report, which focused on the health effects of radiation doses at below 100 millisieverts. This was a consensus review that assessed the world's scientific literature on the subject at that time. It concluded: "... there is a linear dose-response relationship between exposure to ionising radiation and the development of solid cancers in humans. It is unlikely that there is a threshold below which cancers are not induced."

The most comprehensive study of nuclear workers by the IARC, involving 600,000 workers exposed to an average cumulative dose of 19mSv, showed a cancer risk consistent with that of the A-bomb survivors.
What then is the unstated cancer risk, consistent for both A-bomb survivors and nuclear workers?
The researchers say, that from their evidence, 1 to 2% of deaths from cancer among workers in this study may be attributable to radiation.
But there's more from Karamoskos:
April 26 marks the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. The pro-nuclearists have gone into full-spin-ahead mode, misrepresenting the latest UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation) report on Chernobyl.

Two days ago on this page, George Monbiot (''How the anti-nuclear lobby misled us all with dodgy claims''), citing the report, wrongly plays down he death toll. He correctly states that the report found 6848 cases of thyroid cancer in children, although he fails to acknowledge it was due to the effects of radioactive iodine in the nuclear fallout. The number of cases will continue to increase, according to the US National Cancer Institute, for a further 10 to 20 years.

Thyroid cancer is easy to detect because it is normally a rare cancer. Most other cancers caused by radiation are not that easy to detect above the high background natural rates of cancer. It is the proverbial needle in a haystack scenario - but in this case the needles (radiation-induced cancer) look the same as the hay (other cancers). What the report therefore said was that statistical limitations and large uncertainties precluded being able to single out any radiation-induced cancers. It did not say there have been no cancers, as Monbiot and others claim, or that none will develop, only that it is not possible at this stage to detect them.

IARC states that ''by 2065, predictions based on these models indicate that about 16,000 cases of thyroid cancer and 25,000 cases of other cancers may be expected due to radiation from the accident and that about 16,000 deaths from these cancers may occur''.
Karamoskos apparently reads none too well, missing this from Monbiot:
In the rest of the population there have been 6848 cases of thyroid cancer among young children - arising ''almost entirely'' from the Soviet Union's failure to prevent people from drinking contaminated milk.
Karamoskos also omits this from Elisabeth Cardis, MD, head of the IARC Radiation Group, in relation to the 2065 prediction:
While these figures reflect human suffering and death, they nevertheless represent only a very small fraction of the total number of cancers seen since the accident and expected in the future in Europe. Indeed, our analysis of the trends in cancer incidence and mortality does not demonstrate any increase that can be attributed to the Chernobyl accident. The exception is thyroid cancer, which 10 years ago, increased in the contaminated areas near the site of the accident.
Peter Boyle, PhD, Director of the IARC summarises:
The study provides the best estimate to date of the effect of the Chernobyl accident on cancer in Europe.

To put it in perspective, he said, tobacco smoking will cause several thousand times more cancers in the same population.
It's a great big Caldicott style FAIL for Dr Peter Karamoskos.

Update Alcohol is more of a worry than is radiation:
Drinking more than a pint of beer a day can substantially increase the risk of some cancers, research suggests.

The Europe-wide study of 363,988 people reported in the British Medical Journal found one in 10 of all cancers in men and one in 33 in women were caused by past or current alcohol intake.

More than 18% of alcohol-related cancers in men and about 4% in women were linked to excessive drinking.
Then again, drinking is more fun than is being irradiated.


Anonymous Winston Smith said...

Drinking more than a Pint of beer a day substantially increases the risk of some cancers?
What a risk-taker you are Winston. An adrenaline junkie on speed...

12:53 PM  

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