The Alliance For A Clean Environment
ACE Response to Dailey/Gerlach Cancer Study
ACE is responding to the announcement by Representative Dailey and Senator Gerlach, of a $290,000 regional epidemiological study (which will include areas in Montgomery, Chester and Berks Co.’s) to “put the question to rest” said Gerlach, of Montgomery County’s increased cancer rates.
ACE has researched the facts about Montgomery County’s increased cancer rates and other health problems, through official federal and state data health banks. This data was collected and compiled by national statisticians who found alarming rates of many types of cancers rising among all ages, races and genders of the people in Montgomery County.
In addition, official statistics from the Centers of Disease Control Web site, show that childhood cancer deaths in Montgomery county rose 71.2% from the 1980’s through the 1990’s. Montgomery County also continues to lead in higher rates of childhood cancer compared to Berks (which decreased by 30.6%) and Chester (which decreased by 29%) in the same time period and among the same age groups.
If we already know through official data, that Montgomery County cancer rates have increased in alarming numbers, then why is another study necessary and why are we not using the money for a proactive program that will actually help people?
Are the people of Pottstown once again being set up for an “inconclusive by design study”?
Let’s look at the facts, as Representative Dailey has suggested.
1,500 people, (which is the target interview population for this study) does not represent even 1% of the population of these counties.
How can any cancer conclusions be made from such a small population?
Dr. Baum, from the University of Pittsburgh, who will be in charge of this study, was quoted in a letter to Dr. Cuthbert on September 12, 2001 stating:
“Our study (Three Mile Island) was silent on the issue of cancer rates.”
“Our sample (population) was too small and not sufficiently representative to allow us to draw conclusions about cancer in the aftermath of TMI.”
“Despite anecdotal evidence from some of our participants suggesting that there were elevated rates of cancers, we did not make any claims or conclusions about TMI cancer rates.”
Why then will Dr. Baum once again be able to spend taxpayer money to have an inconclusive study? Aren’t 1,500 people too small a sample to draw any conclusions, just as in TMI?
The PA Cancer Registry will reveal the numbers of newly diagnosed and reported cancers in Montgomery, Chester, and Berks Counties, to count increases or decreases in cancer rates. Representative Dailey’s own words say that the registry is limited in qualified information. Dailey said in the Mercury on June 23, 2002:
“The cancer registry information only goes so far, and it links the cancer to the patient at the time of diagnosis without any genetic information or family history or whether or not a person is a three pack a day smoker.”
“That information is necessary for a qualified epidemiological study.”
Dailey suggests that if you have cancer and are reported to the registry, but not interviewed, then the registry information cannot be qualified for the epi study.
So is Representative Dailey saying if any cancer patients who are not interviewed during this study, that their statistical information is not to be included in the study?
What about people who have died from cancer, and children?
Is Dailey saying only 1,500 new cases of cancer will be found in the registry from the last count?
Representative Dailey in the June 23rd article inferred that the only qualifications for a good epi study is interviewing people about “genetics, family history and smoking.”
• According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine from a project called The Cancer Project, researchers studied 44,788 pairs of twins and concluded that inherited genetic factors make a minimal contribution to cancer risks. In most cases environmental factors have the greatest effect on cancer risk. Environmental factors are more important than the gene factors.
• Hard science keeps rolling in; air pollution kills and cripples. Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon published in Science magazine that “more people die from polluted air than from traffic accidents.”
• “There are more than a thousand studies from 20 countries all showing that you can predict a certain death rate based on the amount of pollution” according to Devra Lee Davis.
• The World Health Organization study estimated that air pollution would cause about 8 million deaths worldwide by 2020.
• In addition, according to the American Cancer Society and Harvard Medical School, when smoking and other life-style risk factors are factored out, direct causes of many deaths in major cities are due to air pollution. Montgomery County is in the top 10% for the most cancer causing and unhealthy air in the nation.
So where are Dailey and Gerlach looking at the environmental links in their cancer study? Or aren’t they considering those risks?
If our researchers and representatives were truly concerned about finding the truth and wanted to look at a purer population, why aren’t Dailey and Gerlach looking at childhood cancer rates? Children do not smoke, drink or have other confounding problems that could eliminate them from a study. We also have irrefutable evidence that childhood cancer death rates in Montgomery County have risen by 71% from the 1980’s to the 1990’s.
Why are Dailey and Gerlach looking at Berks and Chester Counties in this study? Sufficient data already exists showing those counties’ cancer rates are considerably lower than those in Montgomery County.
One of the tricks for “inconclusive studies” is to average out numbers which will water down statistics or to combine numbers which also waters down statistics.
Why are they not looking at Montgomery County’s official statistical data from both the federal and state registries—since this study is mostly about Montgomery County’s cancer rate concerns?
After having reviewed Dr. Baum’s professional resume, ACE is questioning Dr. Baum’s qualifications to do this study. Both Dr. Baum’s B.S. and Ph.D. degrees are in Psychology. He does NOT have a degree in epidemiology. He is NOT an oncologist, a cancer specialist, or even a medical doctor. Further examination of his resume shows the majority of his studies only look at stress and disease, with little other causational factors included, such as toxins.
What makes him qualified to head up this study?
And, will he take advantage of this cancer study by doing studies on stress in this tri-county population?
This seems to be what happened at TMI.
Representative Dailey says:
“…this one [study] will be headed by Andrew Baum, Ph. D. Baum has conducted several large scale studies which examine cancer related to environmental hazards including the study following the effects of the nuclear accident at TMI.”
Dr. Baum’s resume shows that the only studies he has performed at TMI dealt with stress factors at man–made disaster sites such as TMI. He was NOT the lead investigator for the cancer study of TMI, and in fact, says he did not make any conclusions about cancer rates in his studies. He used the information gathered to do stress studies of TMI. His resume lists no studies “examining cancer related to environmental hazards."
What makes Baum qualified for anything except a stress study, and do the taxpayers of PA want to pay for a $290,000 survey on stress?
Ace has repeatedly asked for the protocol of this study for two years, and ACE is still waiting. The June 23rd article in the Mercury said that “ Baum could not be reached for comment on his plans for this study and a public hearing.”
In addition the article reads that “ The period it took to get the study off the ground involved regular discussions between Dailey and Dr. Baum in order to outline the shape of the study.”
It appears that a nurse and a psychologist have designed a major epidemiology cancer study, to be used on this community.
Why is the study being undertaken before there is any input from the public?
The June 23rd article said “The [Montgomery] County report [health cancer investigation] concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the idea that there is more cancer in the Pottstown area than elsewhere. In fact, the report did say, “ Rates of three types of cancers were found to be significantly higher for the analysis area. These three are lung cancers, cervical cancers and leukemia.”
Epidemiology has been proven to be the wrong tool to use in toxic-damaged communities.
Its science is based on computer modeling, cost benefit fraud, and increased standards or allowable risks for disease. Epidemiology averages out numbers, routinely banishes evidence, has selective results, and is biased by who designs and performs the studies. In addition, communities are not exposed to one agent in a single exposure but are exposed to thousands of chemicals over a long period of time. Symptomology can vary as widely as the individuals exposed. The proximity to the sources of pollution, type of pollution and body dose, conversion chemicals inside and outside the body all make a difference in how a person will get a disease.
For this reason, ACE repeatedly asked Gerlach and Dailey to do a comprehensive health symptom survey if they insisted on spending taxpayer dollars for studying people instead of helping them. Gerlach and Dailey’s study will only look at cancer.How can Gerlach and Dailey look only at cancer and claim to understand health risks? It is well documented that every day we breathe the top 10% of the most unhealthy air in the nation. These hazardous air emissions are documented to cause all kinds of serious health problems.
While cancer is not the only and, some say, the major disease from environmental exposures, some cancers can take up to 20 years or more to develop in some people. In the meantime, there are immune, reproductive, and neurological problems that are being scientifically proven to be caused by environmental factors.
The best way to produce an inconclusive study is to only study cancer and to use epidemiology as the tool.
• Since 1998, Senator Gerlach and Representative Dailey have refused to acknowledge or accept the undeniable evidence of elevated cancers, leukemia and other health problems in this community.
• Studies and data from the Montgomery County Health Department, Pennsylvania Cancer Registry and the Centers For Disease Control were provided to Gerlach and Dailey in numerous meetings and considerable correspondence.
• Additional evidence of environmental exposures and related illnesses in comparison communities around the nation was also provided to them along with studies from prominent scientific and medical institutions.
• Now Gerlach and Dailey are hiring a psychologist to look at 1,500 people in the tri-county area, using data from the state cancer registry they themselves say is not accurate, to determine the extent of cancer problems in Montgomery County.
During the two years of the Dailey/Gerlach cancer study, not one resident will improve their quality of life or receive any direct medical help. Polluters will continue to do business as usual, and get additional pollution permits as the toxic exposure risks of residents increase in this area.
The most revealing information in the June 23 Mercury article is that neither Gerlach nor Dailey could say definitely what should be done if the study says there is a problem. By their own admissions, their first study may require a second study. It is likely that it could be four years until the public has any hope of receiving any help from Gerlach and Dailey. In that time countless numbers of residents can be expected to suffer a wide variety of illnesses as a result of environmental exposures. Their cancer study is another form of inaction that benefits corporate polluters. This cancer study is another statement of Gerlach and Dailey’s lack of concern for our community.
P.O. Box 3063
Stowe, PA 19464
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