Thursday, 29 May 2014

Sweden , USA and nuclear fallout

As it recently came to light that the global fall in lung cancer rates seem to occur in pretty much every country around 1990 and even in countries that continue with very high smoking rates, like Russia for example, I thought I would revisit the start of the global lung cancer epidemic.

The cigarette hypothesis, as a cause of the global epidemic , goes that because cigarettes are believed to cause ~90% of lung cancers then it must follow that the massive rise in lung cancer after the second world war must have been caused by the massive rise in cigarette use 20 years before before the war. But I think that just because people classified as smokers are at higher risk of lung cancer than people classified as never-smokers it does not follow that cigarettes drive lung cancer rates, as is suggested by the chart on the left.

I have created charts, see below, similar to the one above for Sweden as well as the US because I just happen to know that the rise in cigarette use in Sweden took place a good 25 - 30 years after the US.  If the 20 year time lag between cigarette use and lung cancer is true then it should happen in Sweden 20 years later too. Except that it does nothing of the sort. Sweden gets it's lung cancer epidemic just after 1945  just as in the US.

Clearly both lung cancer epidemics start just after 1945 but on the second chart Sweden's cigarette 'epidemic' starts at the same time as it's lung cancer epidemic. Where as the US cigarette 'epidemic' starts decades before it's lung cancer epidemic?!?
It is possible that cigarettes could cause lung cancer in the year of purchase as in Sweden and it is possible that cigarettes could cause lung cancer decades later as in the US but what is improbable is that both are true.

View full screen

In my mind the fallout hypothesis holds a better explanation because it starts in 1945 (trinity tests) and ends around 1985 (see left) and would be a greater risk for people who smoke cigarettes. Because if say a single exposure to a rainout between 1945 and 1985 for a non-smoker carries an unbelievably small individual risk of lung cancer then those people sucking through rain splattered paper tubes will have a higher risk. But over time, billions  of people exposed en masse to rainouts over decades could cause millions of  lung cancers and the risk would be higher where it rains more, such as is seen in US counties.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Tobacco control will make you fat before they kill you

An interesting but not unsurprising chart. Pretty much every smoker in the world knows that if you quit smoking you start to get chubby and generally non-smokers tend to be a lot more chubby compared to smokers. And that's not forgetting that smokers have marginally lower blood pressure than our non-smoking friends and becoming a quitter increases your risk of high blood pressure independent of weight gain, see below.

Given that we are told that tobacco kills 6 million people world wide and that obesity and high blood pressure kills 6 million people world wide (source VGIF) . It would seem that the merchants of death in the tobacco control industry are giving the merchants of death in the tobacco industry a run for their money.

The difference being that the merchants of death in the tobacco control industry want to make you fat and ugly before they kill you and you don't get to spend a life time enjoying smoking.

It will be interesting to see if e-cig users have increased risk of weight gain and high blood pressure, time will tell. In the mean time  I am sticking to lovely cigarettes.

Source BMJ (Published 28 June 2011)

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Lung cancer and rain - is there a link?

I recently discovered that a down loadable weather map for the US exists and that it could be obtained as a shape file  . This is handy because a shape file of weather patterns is just the ticket if you just happen to want to compare precipitation data with X over time and space .

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Russians cure their lung cancer epidemic by smoking cigarettes

I remember reading somewhere once that Russia had seen a massive fall in lung cancer despite continuing with very high smoker prevalence. The point being that the tobacco control industry insists that lung cancer rates have fallen , in countries such as the US, due to the the fall in smoker prevalence but in Russia there was no tobacco control industry to speak of , they carried on smoking and their lung cancer rate went down anyway.

But the article I read did not actually show any data to back up this claim so I have had a look and sure enough it's all completely true.


Clearly, Russians are champion smokers 60.7 % of men and 21.7 % of women

I simply don't understand how anyone can look at these data and come to the conclusion that smoking prevalence drives lung cancer. Any objective analysis would conclude that what drives lung cancer in Russia probably drives lung cancer in the US too and it is not smoking rates . The theory that smoking is the main cause of lung cancer can not explain these data.

However, if we look at global lung cancer rates in the context of nuclear fallout then we find the two highly correlated. The theory that atomic weapons testing would cause lung cancer deaths as proposed by people such as John Gofman is not new but we now have decades of data to test the theory and the theory is holding up very well. And crucially nuclear fallout can explain why there was a 30 fold increase in lung cancer among people who have never smoked cigarettes  .

More on this from Frank Davis

Sunday, 19 August 2012

My chart vs CRUK chart

Source CRUK
The continuing rise of lung cancer in women reflects the high number of female smokers several decades ago when attitudes were different. Tobacco advertising hasn’t appeared on UK television since 1965, but that didn’t stop the marketing of cigarettes.- Jean King, director of tobacco control. (Cancer Research UK)

I have long been interested in this chart produced by Cancer Research UK for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I wonder why they do not show the rate of lung cancer before 1975 because the UK like many other countries have kept data from much further back in time. Mexico for example has collected data since the 1950s just like Scotland has. Sweden has excellent records going back even further. CRUK decided to use incidence data rather than mortality data and it maybe that incidence data only goes back to 1975 but I am sure that CRUK could have chosen to use mortality data if they had wanted to.

Secondly, It would seem to the casual observer that the decline in the rate of lung cancer for males could very well be caused by the decline in smoking prevelance. And that the rate for lung cancer could be at around the 100+ mark from 1948 through to 1975 for males. But as this is not shown it would be just guessing. However, the only thing that may seem to conflict with this theory is why there is no similar decline in lung cancer for females after 1975 when both sexes were either not taking up smoking or becoming quitters. I have heard it asked in the media on a number of occasions to "cancer experts" by people asking the very reasonable question "why is lung cancer still rising for women"? Every time the response goes like this "There has been a greater fall in the number of men smoking compared to women and this is why there is a rise for women" or along those lines. This is risible nonsense. The two are not connected. The reward for women not smoking is more lung cancer, therefore the theory that smoking protects women from lung cancer holds more water than the theory that smoking causes lung cancer in women. I would say the correct response to the question of why lung cancer is on the rise for women is "We don't know why lung cancer is still rising for women". There is nothing wrong in my book with saying "We don't know". So why so called "cancer experts" insist on trying to pin this rise in lung cancer for women on smoking is beyond me. What ever way you look at it, it is clear that women have been giving up smoking since 1975 just like men, the reward for men is less lung cancer but the reward for women is more lung cancer.

Thirdly, the smoking prevelance is data wieghted after 1998, again this is not CRUKs fault, if the data has been wieghted than they must be shown wieghted but it does mean two different types of measurements have been used on the same trend line.

I have long wanted to produce my own chart showing similar data to illustrate the point that the theory that smoking prevelence drives lung cancer becomes more confused when you look further back in time. My first idea was to produce a chart the same in all respects but with using mortality data going back to 1950. But I decided instead to use smoking prevelance for middle aged people aged 35 - 59 and lung cancer data for a thin slice of population ages 60 - 64 (the five years after the upper limit for smoking prevelance data). The trends are broadly speaking about the same as for a chart showing all ages.

Here it is.

Cancer stats source
The continuing rise of lung cancer in women reflects the high number of female smokers several decades ago when attitudes were different. Tobacco advertising hasn’t appeared on UK television since 1965, but that didn’t stop the marketing of cigarettes.- Jean King, director of tobacco control. (Cancer Research UK)
I simply don't understand how one can look at these trends and come to the conclusion that cigarette use drives lung cancer. How can a fall in smoking prevelance (males) up to 1975 cause a rise in lung cancer? At this time why were women not getting so much lung cancer and why did they get more of it later , why not earlier like the men? If it is true that smoking causes 95% of lung cancer then I would expect smoking prevelance and lung cancer rates to be highly correleated and to me they seem only weakly correlated. One correlation bieng that as there was a rise of lung cancer amd people gave up smoking or did not take it up in the first place. Had there not been a massive rise in lung cancer maybe more people would still be smoking.

As far as I can see cigarette consumption does not drive lung cancer rates in the UK. This does not mean that smokers are not more likely to get lung cancer it just means something else drives lung cancer rates.

Friday, 30 March 2012

What ever happened to the cigarette caused lung cancer epidemic in Mexico?

All numbers for the year 2000


It is astonishing to think that even if the entire population of Scotland gave up smoking tomorrow the chances are that their lung cancer death count would still be about the same as Mexico.
That the number of deaths of lung cancer for Mexican men aged 70-74 is only hundreds more than in Scotland is also astonishing. One might think that Mexicans have some genetic advantage but clearly this did not help the Spanish.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Peak oil phosphate lung cancer


The known chemical carcinogens in cigarette smoke can not explain ~96% of lung cancer in smokers.

"However, for conventional cigarettes (i.e., R, Lt, and ULt cigarettes), as they are smoked by populations such as the United States and Canada, the lung carcinogen results obtained here indicate that, currently, it is only possible to account for ≤4% of the observed per pack-year risk for lung cancer." 2007

"the majority of the PO-210 in tobacco plants likely comes from high-phosphate fertilizers applied to the tobacco crop. ... PO-210 has been estimated to be responsible for 1% of all US lung cancers."2008

So that only leaves 95% of lung cancer caused by smoking cigarettes unexplained by smoking cigarettes.