News from EOM

How Corporate Influence Continues to Undermine the Public’s Health

Colin L. Soskolne and Xaver Baur
EUR. J. ONCOL.; Vol. 23, 2018
Objectivity requires the minimization and control of potential biases in the design and interpretation of scientific studies conducted to investigate linkages between exposures and outcomes. Unless the objectivity of science can be assured, the ability of science to advance knowledge in the pursuit of truth will be undermined. While several types of bias are typically controlled at the design stage of a scientific study, the role of influence from any of a number of sources, and with different motivations and intent, is only more recently being recognized for its role in derailing science. This negative influence not only affects the course of science in advancing knowledge, but also in delaying the ability of science to inform policy to prevent ill-effects and achieve justice for potential harms arising from delays caused through the casting of doubt about evidence. The greatest bias of this type comes from those with a vested interest in the outcome, most typically financially driven. To exemplify the problem in occupational and environmental health, we organized a scientific session at the Ramazzini Days in November 2018 entitled “Corporate Influence Threatens the Public Health”; the abstracts of the papers presented in this session appear on pages 121 of this issue.

Creation of a “world‑wide ecological problem" and the role of PCB Reassuring customers and government alike though questionable decision-making process

Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner point in their article (reference below): “Industrially produced chemicals have become an essential ingredient in virtually all of our lives. Our kitchens are filled with detergents; household sprays are made from a variety of solvents; our walls and floors are made of ‘vinyl’; our foods are packaged in wrappings made of clear plastics; our vegetables are grown with synthetic fertilizers and covered with pesticides; our computers, desks, and mechanical devices are filled with synthetic materials. It is not surprising that chemicals are in our bodies as well, where literally hundreds of chemicals have been identified”……” Scientists barely understand what long-term dangers these substances may present to human health and the environment. Some of these chemicals are especially worrisome“…….”Of special concern are a variety of chlorinated hydrocarbons, including DDT and other pesticides that were once spread freely………... Despite being banned decades ago, they have accumulated in the bones, brains, and fatty tissue of virtually all of us. Their close chemical carcinogenic cousins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), were found in innumerable household and consumer products—like carbonless copy paper, adhesives, paints, and electrical equipment—from the 1950s through the 1970s.”
The authors describe in their article the PCB story.
Monsanto, PCBs, and the creation of a "world-wide ecological problem" by Markowitz GRosner D in J Public Health Pol (2018) 39:463–540;

Authors reviewed de-classified Monsanto documents and concluded that manipulative activities such as ghost-writing of research articles occurred

Analyzing, 141 recently de-classified documents, made public during the course of pending toxic tort litigation, In Re Roundup Products Liability Litigation, McHenry has revealed “Monsanto-sponsored ghostwriting of articles published in toxicology journals and the lay media, interference in the peer review process, behind-the-scenes influence on retraction and the creation of a so-called academic website as a front for the defense of Monsanto products”.

The Monsanto Papers: Poisoning the scientific well.

by LB McHenry in Int J Risk Saf Med. 2018;29(3-4):193-205.

Many individuals have been exposed to known lung carcinogens in their work, but, current enrolment criteria recommended by professional organizations in the USA and elsewhere rarely include occupational risk.

Welch LS, et al. Occup Environ Med 2019;76:137–142. doi:10.1136/oemed-2018-105431

“Lung cancer is a leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Five-year survival is 19% for all lung cancers and 55% for localised tumours; average 5-year survival for advanced cases with metastases is only 4.5%. The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists 13 agents with high likelihood of causing lung cancer: ionising radiation, asbestos, silica, nickel, cadmium, chromium, beryllium, arsenic, diesel exhaust, soot, bis(chloro-methyl) ether, coal tar pitch and sulfur mustard. Studies also suggest that there is a more than additive interaction between asbestos and cigarette smoking; it is not yet established if this interaction exists for other lung carcinogens as well”

 Using criteria that include occupational risk Welsh and her colleagues have detected a baseline rate of lung cancer equivalent to that found in the US National Lung Screening Trial, although less than half the cohort met smoking criteria used in that trial.

Early detection of lung cancer in a population at high risk due to occupation and smoking

by Laura S Welch, John M Dement, Kim Cranford, Janet Shorter, Patricia S Quinn, David K Madtes, Knut Ringen.