|Betreff: Moss - part II|
|Von: Iris Atzmon
|Datum: Mon, 25 Dec 2006 10:20:32 +0200|
I am happy to report that I have published a new Opinion piece in the New Scientist. This is titled "Our Futile War on Cancer" (16 December 2006, issue 2582). It appears in both the print editions of the magazine and online at:
In a paper titled "Secret ties to industry and conflicting interests in cancer research," published last month in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, several examples of leading epidemiologists secretly acting as paid consultants to industry are described. Last week we discussed the case of Sir Richard Doll, the eminent British epidemiologist who, along with his US colleague and contemporary Ernst Wynder, is credited with having initially established the link between smoking and lung cancer.
The paper documents the fact that for decades Doll was secretly retained as a paid consultant by several giant international chemical companies at the same time that he was acting as an ostensibly impartial scientific expert to investigate and report on suspected links between these companies' products and the development of cancer.
To read last week's newsletter please click or go to:
The paper's leading author is Professor Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD, of the Department of Oncology, University Hospital, Örebro, Sweden. Professor Hardell has published widely on issues of carcinogenesis and occupational and environmental medicine. This year alone, he has authored or co-authored thirteen papers that have been published in prominent international medical journals.
As Hardell and colleagues point out, Doll's case was not an isolated incident. The paper documents other equally egregious examples of conflict of interest, including the case of Dr. Ragnar Rylander, a professor of environmental health at Göteborg (Gothenburg) University in Sweden, who for 30 years acted as a paid consultant to Philip Morris, the American tobacco giant.
During this time he acted in effect as a kind of double agent, secretly discussing his academic tobacco-related research with Philip Morris executives and lawyers. Despite the fact that Swedish law requires all public servants, including academic researchers, to report all such paid commissions, Rylander consistently failed to disclose his consultant status to the university and government authorities by whom he was employed. Further, when this unholy alliance finally came to light in Sweden in 2002, Rylander categorically denied the association, publicly stating "I have never been a consultant for Philip Morris," according to the Hardell article.
Further examples of conflict of interest cited by the paper include the case of Professor Hans-Olov Adami of the prestigious Karolinska Institute, who, along with Dimitrios Trichopoulos, Professor Emeritus at Harvard, attended the Dioxin 2001 conference in Korea, and there delivered a presentation that downplayed the toxicity of dioxins and described them as non-carcinogenic. But both Profs. Adami and Trichopoulos were at that time being paid by the US consultancy firm Exponent, Inc., which was actively engaged in an attempt to soften dioxin's image on behalf of industry clients that included Dow Chemical.
The growing interdependence of industry and academia inevitably carries with it an inherent risk of conflict of interest. But, as the authors of the paper point out, the secrecy surrounding paid consultancy amplifies the corrupting influence immeasurably. "Conflict of interest in itself is widespread, but its potential for generating misinformation is greatly increased when it is undeclared," the authors state.
Epidemiology holds the key to controlling the environmental triggers of cancer. The chemical and tobacco industries evidently realized this long ago, and took steps to subvert the science that had the potential to dent their profits severely, if not put them out of business entirely. Ultimately, it is the health of the public that suffers most because of the selfishness and dishonesty of a few greedy researchers and their corporate seducers.
--Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.
Doll R, Peto R. The causes of cancer: quantitative estimates of avoidable risks of cancer in the United States today. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1981; 66(6):1191-308
Doll R. Effects of exposure to vinyl chloride: an assessment of the evidence. Scand J Work Environ Health 1988; 14(2):61-78.
Hardell L, Walker MJ, Walhjalt B, et al. Secret ties to industry and conflicting interests in cancer research. Am J Ind Med. 2006 Nov 3.