In common with Frank Davis and some others, I have come to have grave doubts about the findings of studies like Doll’s Hospital Study and his Doctors Study. [There are links to Frank Davis’s blog and the studies in the sidebar] Not being ‘au fait’ with epidemiology, I was feeling my way in the dark. I knew that Hypocrites originated the terms ‘endemic’ and ‘epidemic’. Very roughly, a health condition which affects only a small group of people within a population is ‘endemic’ to that group, whereas a condition which affects all the people in that population is ‘epidemic’ to that population. We hear a lot about epidemics these days but rarely hear about endemics. Why is there not a ‘science’ of ‘endemiology’ alongside ‘epidemiology’? According to my spell checker, there is no such word as ‘endemiology’. Why is that?
Let me say that I have no argument, generally speaking, with the statistics generated by those studies. Despite Doll’s connections with the Rockefeller Foundation (he was a Rockefeller supported student) and his connections with anti-tobacco doctors in Nazi Germany pre-war, I don’t think that he was especially dishonest, though he might have had biases. What I firmly believe is that the idea that smoking causes lung cancer was already firmly entrenched within certain academic and medical circles and that the studies were always intended to find proof of that concept. I also believe that Doll’s studies and similar studies in the USA were planned and coordinated. I have no doubt that the Hospital Study was a ‘proof of concept’, relatively cheap study intended to justify the following Doctors Study, which would be far, far more expensive. Doll himself said that the Doctors Study was intended to be a twenty year study and not a fifty year study. Since the Doctors Study started in 1951, it is clear that the plans intended the study to be completed by 1971. I suspect strongly that the failure of Prohibition figured strongly in the thinking and planning of these proto-Zealots. I think that they knew all along that a frontal assault on Big Tobacco would fail, and that Big Tobacco had to be undermined a bit at a time.
It is only when you look at the statistics provided by the Doctors Study carefully that you realise that something is wrong. It may be true that heavy smokers died from LC more often and sooner than moderate smokers, and that the same applied to moderate smokers when compared with light smokers, and that non-smokers died the least from LC. Does that prove that smoking actually causes LC? Not in the slightest. It merely suggests that smoking is a factor in the development of LC. You do not need to have doubts about the statistics.
In the McTear Case [see sidebar], Doll and other witnesses were unable to satisfy the Judge that smoking was the cause of McTear’s LC, even merely on the balance of probabilities. That was in 2005. There has been no subsequent court case which has been brought in order to ‘prove’ that smoking caused the LC of any person. Why not? Because no one really knows why one smoker gets LC at the age of 50 while the vast majority of other smokers, who smoke to the same extent, do not. In fact, if you read the reports from the Doctors study, and the Judge’s Opinion from the McTear Case, it is perfectly clear that there are other factors also at work. Perhaps the most important one is genetic, but there are all sorts of other factors, such as the damage which might have been done to one’s lungs if one lived in a smoky, industrial area as a child, or serving as a doctor in the trenches of WW1, or being infected by some virus which damaged one’s lungs before the virus was eliminated. No one knows.
If that is true, then every individual is subject to the unpredictability of FATE. I do not use that word in a semi-religious, demonic way. I mean the simple fact that tens, hundreds or even thousands of factors decide our FATE. FATE being when we die and why we die. What is certain is that we will all die. That is our FATE.
Something that I read today said that around 18% of LCs occur in non-smokers. It suggested that these cancers were caused by eating white bread and other similar things. I suppose that ‘researchers’ must have extracted statistics which show some correlation. The research was published and so it must be true. That is equivalent to “The newspaper said so and it must therefore be true”.
Another result of the Doctors Study was that by far and away, persons who died as a result of COPD were smokers. Right – except that the number of people who died for that reason was TINY in terms of the number of doctors involved.
By far the biggest cause of death was heart failure. Why should anyone be surprised by that? When your heart stops beating, whatever the reason, you become dead. But the statistical strength of the effect of smoking and non-smoking, as regards heart problems, was much less in the Doctors Study than was the LC occurrence. Smoking might have been part of a person’s decision to die.
Decision to die?
Old people become weary eventually. An acquaintance of mine, someone whom I have known for a couple of decades, recently died. During the last several years, he had degenerated to the extent that he hobbled to the pub with a walking stick. Lately, he did not show up. And then he died. His funeral was today. I did not know, but my daughter did, and she went to the funeral. He was a curious character – abrasive but amusing. He was out and out anti-smoking, but he was ‘up front’ about it. He never pretended that it was about health. It was just his dislike of tobacco smoke. I liked him because he could also see the comical side of things.
Human bodies deteriorate. Repair mechanisms deteriorate. That is FATE.
I would rather smoke, drink and enjoy, and accept FATE than try to avoid FATE.
Our Government does not seem to understand the notion of FATE. Cameron does not understand it. Everything that he says about Brexit suggests that the EU is IN CONTROL of events. It is not and cannot be because it has no power. It is an empire without teeth or purpose. It is nothing more than a ideology.
I am 76. I might die soon. I do not know. I feel OK. FATE will decide when my heart stops beating. That is all. ASH ET AL will not decide.