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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Environmentally induced cancers: Really an epidemic? Really?

The (U.S.) "President's Cancer Panel" has released its 2008-2009 annual report, which includes a cover letter that says "the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated."
 
Not really. The formidable stat-buster Andrew Gelman skewers this on his blog. http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~cook/movabletype/archives/2010/05/environmentally.html#comments 
Andrew has a nice, straightforward graphical exposition which I will admire but not repeat here.
 
But isn't this a presidential panel? Aren't these distinguished scientists? Sure, but this doesn't mean they don't  have axes to grind.
 
Distorted facts are the mothers milk of fund raising.
 
Who is this 3 member "Presidents Cancer Panel"? A heavily edited version of their bios on http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/advisory/pcp/biographies.htm shows that they have substantial interest in high levels of cancer funding.
 
Dr. LaSalle Leffall ... is past Chair of the Board, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (now Susan G. Komen for the Cure)
 
Margaret L. Kripke ...serves as a member of the External Advisory Board for the Southwest Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio, the Advisory Committee of the Livestrong Survivorship Centers of Excellence, and Boards of Directors for 3 non-profit organizations in Houston.
 
Abby B. Sandler, Ph.D., Chief, Institute Review Office (IRO), National Cancer Institute (NCI)...  Before that, Dr. Sandler was a scientist for Pro-Virus, Inc. (now called Wellstat Biologics)
 
 
"The American Cancer Society took issue with the report, describing it as provocative while perhaps overstating some risks at the expense of known causes of cancer, like tobacco, obesity, alcohol and sunlight."
 
All 3 seem to be George W. Bush appointees, but that's beside the point here.