Formaldehyde Fraud

The vapers got their undies in a bunch because the health fascists pulled the same kind of scam on them that they pull against smokers all the time. They overheated an e-cig, and then pretended that vapers were being subjected to 5 to 15 times higher levels of formaldehyde as regular smokers get. “But detractors — and there are a number — are calling the study ‘irresponsible’ because the conditions under which these researchers analyzed e-cigarette aerosol in no way resemble the way the so-called ‘vapers’ actually use e-cigarettes… ‘What this study demonstrates is that if you overheat a vaping system, it will produce high levels of formaldehyde,’ Dr Siegel explains. ‘But extrapolating from this study to a lifetime of vaping is meaningless.'” (Cancer Risk Greater From e-Cigs Than Regular Cigarettes? By Pam Harrison. Medscape Jan. 15, 2013.)

But there’s a bigger fraud involved, namely the claim that formaldehyde is a human carcinogen in the first place. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) blame formaldehyde for nasopharyngeal carcinoma. But all NPCs, of every histology, contain clonal episomal Epstein-Barr virus genomes, express specific EBV genes and are a clonal expansion of EBV-infected cells. In 1997, the IARC declared that EBV is a human carcinogen, and that it causes nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

But that IARC claim about formaldehyde included only a single study which considered the role of Epstein-Barr virus! And that study didn’t even have measurements of actual exposure to formaldehyde, just a guess by an industrial hygienist based on job titles. It did, however, have measurements of various anti-EBV antibodies known to be associated with NPC – and it found a whopping 170-fold increased risk from EBV, compared with a puny adjusted RR of 1.6 (95% CI = 0.91-2.9), for formaldehyde, which is non-significant. They claimed that “The association between formaldehyde and NPC was stronger in analyses restricted to EBV seropositive individuals (RR = 2.7; 95% CI = 1.2-5.9). However, no dose response was observed with increasing duration or cumulative use.” But with the huge RR of 170 for EBV, plus lack of measurement of actual actual exposure to formaldehyde, the supposed risk was probably merely a product of confounding.

(Occupational exposure to wood, formaldehyde, and solvents and risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma. A Hildesheim et al. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prevent 2001 Nov;10(11):1145-1153.)

And this is completely typical of the blatantly sloppy, unscientific evaluations that are carried out in the names of both industrial hygiene and supposed smoking-related disease, which we are supposed to regard with unquestioning awe and respect when their declarations are invoked.

It was likewise with the NTP declaration that formaldehyde is a human carcinogen. Not one of the “experts” who unanimously rubberstamped the NTP evaluation had any background in the role of any infection in cancer. The work of those who did was ignored. (And, the NTP has never acknowledged EBV to be a human carcinogen, although the IARC did so way back in 1997.) Their SOLE reference on EBV is a study which claimed to find a risk among current smokers of more than 60 pack-years. But its only EBV-related parameter was “diagnosis of infectious mononucleosis,” which is well-known to be associated with EBV infection later in life (whereas EBV infection early in life is characteristic of areas where NPC is endemic). They blew off the importance of EBV in this fashion: “A link between nasopharyngeal carcinoma and infection with the EBV is well documented. However, infection with EBV is a worldwide phenomenon; serological evidence points to its almost ubiquitous presence. Thus, even though the EBV infection appears to be a necessary factor in the development of many nasopharyngeal carcinomas, it is also clear that additional cofactors are required before a malignancy is expressed.” But they didn’t demonstrate that formaldehyde or anything else is one of them, because the first thing they’d have to do is show their results aren’t simply due to different rates of EBV infection between cases and controls.

1 thought on “Formaldehyde Fraud

  1. Pingback: The 2015 Gallup Poll | The REAL Smokers' Rights Blog

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