[Date Prev][Date Next]
[cdn-nucl-l] Asbury Park Press article: "Scientific evidence doesn't support'Tooth Fairy Project' claims"
Title: Asbury Park Press article: "Scientific evidence doesn't support 'Tooth Fairy Project' claims"
Letty Lutzker, M.D., is the Chief of Nuclear Medicine at St. Barnabas Medical Center, Livingston.
Regards, Jim Muckerheide
Scientific evidence doesn't support "Tooth Fairy Project" claimsPosted by the Asbury Park Press on 07/10/07
BY DR. LETTY GOODMAN LUTZKER
Joseph Mangano has brought his Radiation and Public Health Project, the so-called "Tooth Fairy Project," back to New Jersey for another run. ("Tooth testers say grants add bite to nuke debate," June 13.) He is supported by anti-nuclear ideologues ready to join the "nuclear power equals cancer" show, regardless of the preponderance of scientific results to the contrary.
Science, unlike religion, is based not on faith, but on dispassionate observations of nature and tested conclusions drawn from them. The anti-nuclear adherents require that we ignore vast amounts of tested and re-tested scientific studies on the health effects of radiation and nuclear power and accept their claims on faith.
The fundamental claim is that the radioactive isotope strontium-90 from nuclear power plants can be found in children's baby teeth. This as evidence that increased children's cancers are caused by the plants has been debunked on several levels:
First, the strontium-90 coming from nuclear plants, directly measured as required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is minuscule compared to that left in the environment from the decades of nuclear weapons tests.
Second, the only reports of strontium-90 from nuclear plants being found in people are from the same anti-nuclear activists, while health departments and other independent researchers do not find these results.
Thirdly, strontium, as a calcium analogue, can enter the human body only as a foodstuff, mainly milk from cows fed grass on which strontium fallout has occurred. How much of the nation's milk supply comes from dairy farms situated around nuclear plants, selling their wares only to the population also living around those plants? The most important question is whether deleterious effects from nuclear power plants can be detected in the communities near those plants. Other than the claims of the Radiation and Public Health Project group and their predecessors, the answer has been no.
These claims have been alive for 30 years. During that time, none has been confirmed by state or federal institutes and regulators. On the contrary, they have been soundly refuted by studies or by their medical illogic by the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the NRC, the American Cancer Society and state health departments in Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania and here in New Jersey.
One landmark study by the National Cancer Institute examined the records of 90,000 deaths both near and distant from nuclear plants and found no relationship between the presence and operation of the nuclear plants.
So how does the Radiation and Public Health Project do it? How can it argue that its research shows real links between health problems and nuclear power? The answer may exist in how the statistics are arranged and what information is selectively used and what is discarded.
Statistics can be used to mislead, and that is why all epidemiological studies are rigorously reviewed with regard to their statistics. That may explain why the Radiation and Public Health Project's work has yet to be published in any reputable, peer-reviewed, epidemiological journal.
The public health community's opinion can be illustrated by the comments of Dr. Joshua Lipsman, the health commissioner for Westchester County, N.Y., where the Indian Point nuclear plant is located. Lipsman said, "What they do is what's popularly referred to as "junk science.' "
Cancer, especially cancer in children, is a terrible disease that we all fear and wish to avoid. This makes some people particularly vulnerable to those who would like to prey upon that fear in order to villainize a technology or industry. Sadly, such a campaign of vilification does not bring us closer to curing the disease or finding preventatives and is dangerously counterproductive. It diverts resources and attention from addressing real and basic public health problems. Since it is only in an affluent highly technologically developed society that scientific breakthroughs can be developed, by advocating the elimination of an important source of the electricity on which our economy runs, these tactics, if successful, would delay the development of cancer cures.
Impoverishing ourselves by eliminating a demonstrably safe and clean energy source because of false allegations would be a tragic mistake. It is time we stopped coming to the "tooth fairy" medicine show.
Dr. Letty Goodman Lutzker is chief of nuclear medicine at St. Barnabas Medical Center, Livingston.