Wednesday, August 4, 2010
To the American Cancer Society: Tell Americans (And the Wall Street Journal) the Truth
Wall Street Journal numbers guy Carl Bialik wrote an article in April about the how the health risks from smokeless tobacco use were distorted and overblown by officials from the American Cancer Society (read it here). Specifically, Bialik pointed out that claims of a “50” fold elevated risk for mouth cancer for smokeless users have no scientific credibility.
The American Cancer Society could not defend continued use of the “50” number, so it immediately put out the white flag of surrender. Bialik wrote that “Dr. Thomas Glynn, director of cancer science and trends for the American Cancer Society, said this week that his organization will no longer use the statistic citing a 50-fold increase in risk.”
It turns out that Glynn was not telling Bialik the truth. The Cancer Society has released its annual booklet, “Cancer Facts and Figures 2010.” (available here) On page 43 under “Smokeless Tobacco Products” is the following text: “The risk of cancer of the cheek and gums is increased up to 50-fold among long-term snuff users.”
As I detailed in an earlier blog post (here), this number is a complete fabrication. Carl Phillips provided other insights about how this number is totally bogus (here).
The American Cancer Society is not telling the truth about the health risks of smokeless tobacco. This is bad enough, but it is disgraceful that the practice persists even after Cancer Society assertions to the contrary.