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  • 16-Oct-10 Second Hand Smoke [SHS] and Lung Cancer
    (in TWTW Oct 16, 2010)

    S. Fred Singer, Chairman and President , Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

    Second Hand Smoke [SHS] and Lung Cancer

    Oct 16, 2010

    In 1993, the EPA published a report claiming that SHS [sometimes known as Environmental Tobacco Smoke - ETS] causes 3000 deaths from lung cancer every year.

    Anyone doubting this result has been subject to attack and depicted as a toady of the tobacco lobby. The attacks have been led by a smear blog called 'DesmogBlog,' financed by a shady Canadian PR firm of James Hoggan, and have been taken up with great enthusiasm by a self-styled 'science historian,' Professor Naomi Oreskes.

    The ultimate purpose of these attacks, at least in my case, has been to discredit my work and publications on global warming. I'm a nonsmoker, find SHS to be an irritant and unpleasant, and have certainly never been paid by Phillip Morris and the tobacco lobby, and have never joined any of their front organizations, like TASSC [The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition].

    So what is the truth about SHS and lung cancer? I'm neither an oncologist nor a chemical toxicologist, but I do know some statistics, which allows me to examine the EPA study without bias [I personally belief that SHS cannot be healthy].

    I can demonstrate that the EPA fudged their analysis to reach a predetermined conclusion - using a thoroughly dishonest procedure. They made three major errors: 1) They ignored publication bias, that is, studies that do not produce significant results are seldom published, 2) They shifted the confidence intervals, 3) They drew unjustified conclusions from a risk ratio that was barely greater than 1.0. My opinions are independently confirmed by the Congressional Research Service [CRS-95-1115], and by a lengthy judicial analysis by Judge William Osteen [all available on the Internet].

    1) Since none of the epidemiological studies provided a clear answer, EPA carried out a 'meta-analysis'. Unfortunately, this approach ignores 'publication bias', i.e., the tendency for investigators not to publish their studies if they do not give a positive result.

    2) The EPA in order to calculate a risk ratio, moved the confidence intervals from 95% to 90% -- and said so openly.

    3) Even so, their risk ratio was just a little above 1.0 - whereas epidemiologists ignore any result unless the RR exceeds 2.0.

    To sum up, while we cannot give specific answers for lung cancer cases or other medical issues connected SHS, we can state with some assurance that the EPA analysis is worthless.

    View The Week That Was in which this editorial appeared.

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