Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sacramento Bee Errs Twice with Fake News on E-Cigarettes

The Sacramento Bee on January 21 published a column written by a hearing aids company executive.  Titled “E-cigarettes may also cause hearing loss” (here), the piece asserted that “damage to inner ear of teen [sic] is an overlooked potential health risk to vaping” and that “nicotine – regardless of whether it is inhaled in smoke or in vapor – presents a significant risk to hearing.”

These claims are fallacious.  On January 27, the newspaper published my correction online:

“There is virtually no scientific evidence to support Dave Fabry's claim.  I conducted a search of Medline, which contains journal citations and abstracts for biomedical literature from around the world for the period 1946-2016.  Nicotine is identified as a topic in 22,218 medical publications, and hearing loss is identified in 11,984 articles.  There are only two articles matching both terms: a 1956 article on vitamin therapy of chronic deafness published in Italian, and a 1964 article entitled "Are You Smoking More But Hearing Less?"  It is almost impossible for Dave Fabry's claim to be valid if these two articles are the only relevant scientific publications in the world's biomedical literature for the past 70 years.”

Days later, the Bee deleted the correction but left other comments.  Reader Jim McDonald observed:

“Why did you delete Dr. Rodu's comments? He did a search for studies on this topic, going back to 1946 and found nothing to support Mr. Fabry's claim. Dr. Rodu is a professor at the School of Medicine at the University of Louisville. That seems relevant.

“You also deleted mine from earlier today. I was not disrespectful.

“If you print opinions and offer a place for comment, you should expect opposing points of view.”

Nicotine has nothing to do with hearing loss, but smoking might worsen age-related impairment (here, here and here) via damage to small blood vessels in the ear.

Kudos to Mr. McDonald and another reader who brought the deletion to my attention.  The newspaper erred in publishing fake news, then compounded its mistake by suppressing truthful corrective responses.


Unknown said...

I left a comment in the Sac Bee article quoting your deleted online correction.
I am hoping this is acceptable.
If not let me know and I will delete the comment.
Thanks again for all you do to bring the truth about THR to the masses.
I have learned a lot from your work and I know that a very large amount of other ex smokers feel the same way.

Brad Rodu said...

Mr. Blackwell,

Thank you very much for your comment, and especially for your kind words about my work.

Brad Rodu

Cat said...

What's that? Nicotine causes hearing loss? Can you speak up? I'm not sure that's what I heard. Hold on let me spit out my tobacco so I can hear better....

Seriously though, if any teens are losing their hearing, earbuds and digital music are probably a bigger cause (if the teens with hearing loss use headphones or earbuds a lot, or are in loud environments.)