Sunday, 29 October 2017

Norwegians turn to cigarettes in despair at unexplained lung cancer epidemic

If you take a look at the Wikipedia entry for lung cancer it has a helpful chart that plots US male lung cancer rates to cigarette consumption over a period of about 100 years. The correlation is very strong and convincing (see right). However, the USA is just one of many countries that has lung cancer and cigarette consumption data. Take France or Russia for example. But for a long time I have been wanting to look at Norway because like the United States of America they get lung cancer too but have a radically differing cigarette consumption history.

The problem here is that while the male lung cancer epidemic in Norway has broadly the same signature as the USA (rises to ~1990 and then falls) and indeed the same signature as pretty much every other country in the world, it's cigarette consumption is poles apart from the US. It is so far apart that manufactured cigarettes in Norway never really became that popular and they reached peak consumption after the lung cancer epidemic starts. Cigarette consumption peaks in Norway in 2004 at 3 per person, some 78 years after the USA last had that level in 1926.

So unless you believe that cigarettes can cause a lung cancer epidemic before they are physically smoked then the only conclusion you draw from this is that these lung cancer epidemics were not caused by cigarette consumption and that the data for the USA is, clearly, pure coincidence.

In 1956 the UK Medical Research Council submitted a document to the UK government in which it stated the following:-

"In theory, however, the inhalation of radioactive material in particulate form, either as a result of fall-out from nuclear weapon explosions ... could lead to the accumulation of a high radiation dose within the lungs. Such particles would not be uniformly distributed within the lungs but would tend to aggregate on discrete small areas of the bronchi, which would thus be subjected to a high radiation dose, with the result that in the long run lung cancers might be produced in some people" 

Note that the report failed to estimate how many people "some people" is.

Here is a chart showing the lung cancer deaths of "some people" in Norway.

And here is a chart showing the deaths of  "some people" in the USA .

Last but not least, here is a chart showing the deaths of "some people" in the World.

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