Wednesday, August 3, 2011

CDC Propaganda Gets Wide Visibility; National Library of Medicine Assists

The CDC’s dangerously misleading position on smokeless tobacco has been given fresh exposure, thanks to a widely syndicated July 28 news brief from the writers at Health Day (here). Among a broad range of media and web sites republishing the hit piece was the federal government’s National Library of Medicine (here) -- an agency that purports to provide “trusted health information” that is “authoritative,” “reliable” and “up-to-date.” Their seeming endorsement of this anti-tobacco propaganda belies their credibility.

Following is the Health Day screed, interspersed with my factual statements in bold.

Health Tip: Smokeless Tobacco Isn't a Safe Alternative

CDC: It can cause cancer, oral health issues and nicotine addiction

(HealthDay News) -- Some people may think smokeless tobacco is a safer alternative to cigarettes, but experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want to nip that idea in the bud.

The CDC acknowledges that it wants to get rid of a concept that is scientifically proven and has the potential to save millions of lives.

The CDC mentions these health issues that can stem from smokeless tobacco use:
Cancer, notably oral cancer.

The oral cancer risk from modern smokeless products is not “notable” at all. It’s insignificant, as documented previously in this blog (here).

Tooth decay, gum disease, receding gums and other oral health problems.

There is “virtually no scientific evidence that smokeless tobacco was an independent risk factor for any dental problem.” It is beyond comprehension that the CDC continues to spew misinformation about dental problems that don’t exist. See my blog entry (here).

If you're pregnant, increased risk of complications, including preeclampsia, low birth weight and premature birth.

This is the only sentence in the release that comes close to being accurate. As I documented previously (here and here), smokeless tobacco use may present risks to the developing baby. All forms of nicotine should be avoided during pregnancy, but the highest risks for a developing baby are associated with maternal smoking.

Fertility problems in men, including abnormal sperm and lower sperm count.

This appears to be another stretch of CDC officials’ imagination. A search of the medical literature reveals two studies relating to smokeless tobacco use and infertility. One, published in 1987 (here), concluded that “tobacco use by chewing or smoking is not associated with impaired semen quality in males selected from an idiopathically hypofertile population.” A second study (here) found some problems among smokeless users in India, data related to a form of tobacco that is neither relevant nor applicable to use of modern Swedish or American smokeless products.

Addiction to nicotine and increased likelihood of becoming a cigarette smoker.

Smokeless tobacco is addictive, and an excellent substitute for cigarettes, but the allegation that smokeless use is a gateway to smoking is a complete fabrication, as I discussed previously (here).

By providing such gross distortions of the truth to smokers and the media, the CDC and NLM undermine their institutional credibility. The public expects these agencies to offer accurate information about infectious diseases, injuries, vaccination, health statistics and more. CDC Director Thomas Frieden ought to be outraged over the distortions and fabrications being promulgated by his personnel.

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