How Long?

I wasn’t going to post anything tonight, but a commenter alerted me to the time-scales involved in carcinogenesis. He said: “Reading these words, the old (’70s) refrain “Cigarettes, ice cream, Cadillacs, blue jeans…” immediately sprung to mind… (BTW, which of these four items is likely to be the most carcinogenic?)

The point is not so much which are carcinogenic, but what is the time-scale for the carcinogens to actually affect the bodies of individual human beings. Hill and Doll, via the ‘Doctors Study’, showed that some thirty years must elapse between the onset of smoking and the deleterious effects thereof.

Where are the studies describing the time-scales of SHS exposure?

There are none because such studies would almost certainly reveal that any harm would only reveal itself after a person has been alive for some 300 years or longer. The mathematics of the Hill and Doll ”Doctors Study” cannot be interpreted in any other way.

In other words, we are reversing the results of the ‘Doctors Study’. That study showed a long-term effect from smoking on a scale. The heavier the smoking, the greater the effect and the sooner the effect. All the calculations were thus assumed to be within a normal person’s life-time. Did anyone calculate the effects in an abnormal life-time, such as 200 years? The importance is that SHS would not affect the general public unless they lived for 200 years.

But one could go further. One could ask what the time-scale for harm from e-cigs is. Would it be longer than 200 years? Might it be that a person would have to live for 300 years before harm would become apparent?

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There are obvious conclusions. For example, Glantz’s ‘studies’ do not matter at all because they ignore the time-scales. That is, even if his studies revealed the possibility of harm, it would take hundreds of years for a person to suffer such harm from e-cigs.

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6 Responses to “How Long?”

  1. Some French bloke Says:

    Another parameter that should be worked into the equation is that cancer rates rise more steeply between 55 and 64 year-olds than they do between 45 and 54 year-olds, and even more steeply between 65 and 74 year-olds than for those belonging to the younger cohort… OTOH, rates for nonagenarians or centenarians don’t go through the roof either, IOW the ‘predisposition’ effect (the endogenous aspect of the problem) does seem to reach a plateau and then level off or even recede.

    Singling out ultra-low doses of suspected, or even confirmed, carcinogens (exogenous aspect), as causes of cancer is also quite absurd considering that, in the real world, it would not be possible to rule out (or control for) all exposures to other carcinogens at more significant dosages.
    Proving that someone having reached the 250 mark cancer-free in spite of all those hazards would finally be ‘done in’ by some wisps of smoke, or the ‘ghost’ of past wisps of smoke, would be quite a stretch!

    But of course, ‘absurd’ is good enough for the kind of research standards the likes of Glantz have settled for.

  2. Some French bloke Says:

    “Hill and Doll, via the ‘Doctors Study’, showed that some thirty years must elapse between the onset of smoking and the deleterious effects thereof.”

    A few additional ways to make the ‘incubation theory’ bite the dust:

    A much shorter, 20-year time lag has also been widely circulated and still is:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lung_cancer#mediaviewer/File:Cancer_smoking_lung_cancer_correlation_from_NIH.svg

    The same NIH graph can still be found on corresponding wikipedia pages in Italian, Turkish, Hebrew, Portuguese, French, etc.

    Increasing the purported length of the lag can only make sense in view of the fact that modal ages for a host of diseases or conditions have been increasing for much of the 20th century and have been shown (based notably on comparisons at the international level) to be independent from the levels of incidence (strikingly, it also applies to the few diseases/conditions, like stomach cancer, where decreases occurred.) However, nobody but junk scientists would readily jump from that to the idea of an increasingly longer ‘incubation’ time: what would be the way to ascertain the exact biological differences between the cells of a so-called ‘precancerous’ person – given that such a classification can only be made retrospectively (after diagnosis) – and those of someone destined to end his days at a ripe old age and cancer-free?

    A 50-year time-lag would also have to be conjured up to account for the constant rises in female LC rates, in spite of a concurrent, and no-less constant, decline in smoking rates for women in most developed countries.
    And what makes even less sense as regards those extensible time-lags is that the age of beginning smoking has not been going up accordingly: haven’t those TC zealots been screeching like banshees about that for decades, lest we forget!
    The more one thinks about it, the more the ‘incubation theory’ appears as little more than a desperate trick designed only to salvage an insane hypothesis.

  3. junican Says:

    You know a damn sight more about this than I do, SFb. The best that I can do is say what a graph in Doll’s ‘Doctors Study’ purports to show. Remember that the study began with a fixed cohort of doctors who responded to the invitation to take part. The ages of the participants covered the full spectrum of age groups.
    The graph showed that no one got lung cancer before around 45 years old and the incidence was tiny around that age. As the group of doctors got older, so did the incidence of LC begin to climb, but it climbed more rapidly the more a person smoked and the longer the period of smoking.
    There are a couple of things that I am unsure about in the simple statement above, but accept it for now.
    The main point is that, on average, if a person started smoking at age 20, then nothing would happen until the age of 50. Thus, thirty years is the ‘incubation period’. But that statement does not follow from the evidence. It is merely a rationalisation – “propter hoc ergo hoc”. Even if smoking did cause LC, and if there was, on average, a 30 year delay, there is no reason that the LC should not have been caused by, say, the most recent 5 years of smoking, or the latest 1 year of smoking, or …… whatever.
    The graph which you linked to is much the same. Because some 20 years elapsed between the growth of smoking and the growth of the incidence of LC does not mean that the disease has somehow started at the start of smoking and gradually got worse and worse. Again, a rationalisation.
    It is all junk science.

  4. garyk30 Says:

    The 20 year time lag chart is a prime example of ‘junkscience’ and false representation of numbers.

    1. The supposed similar graph slopes are not the same.
    a. consumption increase from 800 to 4200 is a 1 to 5 ratio/slope.
    b. the lung cancer death(lcd) increase is from 10 to 175, a ratio/slope of 1 to 17.

    2. The lcd rate is per 100,000, yet the graph is scaled only to about 250 on the right.
    On a 5 inch high graph(20,000/inch), the lcd line would go from baseline to about 1/100th of an inch above the baseline. That would be not visible to the average eye.

    3. Cig consumption per capita tells nothing about the smoking rate per 100,000. Smoking rate per 100,000 increasing is the only data that could be really tied to an increase in lcd/100,000.

    4. The LCD rate is completely false. US Govt data shows the rate for 1950 to be 21.6/100,000 for men and the 1980 rate to be 71.9/100,000.

    5. Doll’s Doc Study showed that current smokers had 99.8% of a never-smokers chance of not dying from lung cancer in any given year.

  5. Some French bloke Says:

    “The supposed similar graph slopes are not the same.”

    And all in spite of their adjusting *also* the scale representing cigarette consumption: the 1,000 mark has been placed where a 500 mark should be…

    A good question is put below the graph on the .svg page: “there is no reason given as to why the graph specifies “(men)”, and why women are not included.”
    Could it be due to the fact that, from the 1920s onwards, LC rates shot up also for women, obviously belonging to the older generations, just as female smoking prevalence was becoming significant for the first time in history? And, to boot, those taking up the habit then were mostly younger women, whereas many men of the previous generation were already smokers, and only switching to ready-made cigs.

    There is a general paucity of graphs showing declines in smoking prevalence as ‘related’ to decreasing LC rates. Could it be that they feel uneasy with the health ‘results’ of the large decline in smoking for the past half-century, especially in the case of women?
    This shows only too well that those goons always have to cling desperately to one single ‘concomitant variation’, knowing too well that any other, pertinent one, would completely upset their apple-cart, and that no amount of ‘adjustment’ could fix their predicament.

    The remaining question is: how do we go about taking down this kind of spurious graph (along with all the associated fallacious statements) from wikipedia and transfer it to where it really belongs, viz. tylervigen.com, amidst other hilarious correlations along the lines of “Per capita consumption of cheese (US) correlates with number of people who died by becoming tangled in their bedsheets”?

  6. junican Says:

    Indeed! (To both Garyk and SFb)
    The detailed false correlations, bending and twisting, and cherry-picking must come to light some day. But the reason that these charlatans get away with it is POLITICAL. The heat needed to melt the Iron Triangle must come from politicians. Junk and Corrupt Science are of only marginal importance. I have no doubt that the ‘scientists’ of yesterday, who blamed ‘bad air from swamps’ for malaria were not tried and sentenced to death for their failures.

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