Dr. Edward Calabrese explains hormetic dose response model to Cato Institute
On March 21, 2013, Ed Calabrese, professor of toxicology at the University of Massachusetts, gave a talk to Cato Institute titled A Looming Scientific Revolution in Environmental Regulation. During the talk he provided a brief history of dose response models, the evolution of regulations based on those models and then summarized his decades worth of study aimed at producing dose response models that could be validated and reproduced.
Dr. Calabrese’s conclusion is that a biphasic curve exists for nearly all influences – chemical, biological, radiological – in which low doses will stimulate an effect ranging from about 30%-60% over the effect with no dose at all and much higher doses will inhibit that same response. Whether or not the low dose stimulation is beneficial depends on the perspective from which the effect is observed.
For example, he showed a curve for a chemotherapy drug in which low doses stimulate tumor growth and high doses inhibit that growth. From the point of view of the patient, the low dose stimulation is not a good result; from the point of view of the tumor, the stimulation is highly beneficial.
During the question and answer period, Dr. Calabrese mentioned a time in the early 2000s in which a group of about 40 scientists “if you can call them that”, organized to contradict his research results and destroy his credibility. He explained how at least one or two members of the group would show up at every talk he gave and would produce several letters to the editor for every paper he published. That effort was a result of the notoriety that he gained after publishing an article in Nature about hormesis, which ended up in “the press pack” and resulted in articles in mainstream publications like U.S. News and World Reports.
At the end of the question and answer period, the moderator, Dr. Patrick Michaels, pointed out that one of the reasons that Dr. Calabrese’s research has been so strongly resisted is that accepting the results may put a number of people out of work. I believe he is absolutely correct; not only will people lose jobs in regulatory agencies, but they will also lose capital wealth and political power as that wealth and power shifts to entrepreneurial visionaries who see the value in disruptive, highly competitive nuclear energy enterprises that have been freed from excessive regulatory burdens.
Dr. Michaels and Cato Institute have both made appearances here at Atomic Insights. I am not sure that he or the Institute that provided the venue for Dr. Calabrese’s talk will admit just how many of the people who lose wealth and power by acceptance of a better dose response model will be people that are somehow tied to the massive enterprise of supplying several billion tons of hydrocarbons/year to the world market. I predict that enterprise will slowly shrink in importance as hydrocarbons, as useful as they are, inexorably lose market share to the superior, energy dense, emission-free trio of earthly superfuels – uranium, thorium and plutonium
On that note, cue Bob Applebaum in 3 … 2 … 1 …
I’m sure this is simply too tempting for him to resist — an opportunity to call two people “deniers” in one article (assuming he even knows who Michaels is). Oh the ad-hoministic fun to be had!
This is good, but I hope it moves beyond the Cato Institute. This is a one-note think tank that believes we should have no government. They would be on the side of anything that fits their idealogy, whether it is logical or not. In this case of course, it is logical, but having their support is probably worthless in convincing anyone that is not on the same ‘team’.
Spoken like a true lib (and I don’t mean “libertarian”). You should be commended for your quick, knee-jerk reflexes. Quite impressive.
Brian, what’s your problem? The totally a-historical perspective of the CATO institute that lives in a libertarian fantasy that the US political economy was built exclusively by entrepreneurs and the yeoman farmer has not place in historical reality. Without the quite BIG gov’t from Washington through Lincoln through Eisenhower, there would be not vast infrastructure let alone nuclear energy which would not of been developed save for the funding and coordination of the Feds at *every single level*.
It’s one thing to decry, correctly, the over regulation of nuclear energy that can actually make things more dangerous. It’s altogether another thing to think that if government would only disappear then we’d have plenty of cheap nuclear energy. As Rod noted in one his blogs on France: “if France is socialist then call me a socialist”.
There was no BIG government in the US prior to the 20th century. I don’t know where you get that notion. The fact that you think people would not have built roads and infrastructure if it wasn’t for the federal government is almost laughable.
I think it is quite safe to assume that the government has done much more to hinder nuclear power than grow it at this point. I am a big fan of nuclear power, but morally, I do not think we should force people to pay for it through taxes if they are dead set against it.
The CATO institute is not an anarchist group. Do you know anything about libertarian philosophy?
Yeah, I figured there would be more than one knee-jerk reaction in the comments here. My “problem” is that I sometimes like to stir the pot.
Perhaps David is offended at being called a “liberal.” If I use my imagination, I think that I can speculate why. Given the understanding of other political views that they have demonstrated here, I certainly wouldn’t want to be included in that company. Apparently, they think that anyone who doesn’t agree with their personal pro-government philosophy is an anarchist and, furthermore, is marginalized to the point of not being able to contribute anything meaningful to the larger discussion. The narrowness of such thinking is quite remarkable.
Extremists often feel that way, and it doesn’t require much thinking to devolve to that type of attitude. Just a good dose of tribalism will do.
Feel free to call me a liberal any time you want. Please do not ever insult me by calling me a Conservative.
Rod – See, that’s what I like to hear. Be proud of who you are.
I suggest you dig out a good history book (your HS/College text may be lacking) an look into the VAST infrastructure like the Erie Cannel, the first railroads (east of the MS river). the numerous “toll” and private financed roads for autos, etc., etc. that were built without/before Big Government help. The big projects that started the nation were private.
It was grand ideas like Gov. Scranton paving anything called a road that started PA on the death spiral of road taxes. Meanwhile, every toll road I am aware of has paid back its loans/bonds, made a profit and not been a burden on the state it is in. I have never seen a pothole or accumulation of snow on the OH TP. The OH TP State Police are even paid from the tolls. Even if asleep, you can tell when your driver has taken you off of a toll road and you are now riding on an Interstate or state highway. All of this is paid for with a toll that is less than the average per mile Fed/State “Road Tax” on the gas used. So what is the Big Government doing with the “Road Tax” on gas (can I say redistributing wealth?)
Yes, Eisenhower finished the Interstates, but he started with the toll roads (PA, OH, IN) and the rest was a “Make Work” project that happened to have good benefits. [If you ignore the WV I-77 that Byrd had built from nowhere to nowhere. It was so far out in the sticks they had to build it to get the materials to build it.] Now they are a hole in the ground that we don’t even have money to pour into.
I have a reasonable understanding of US history. Are you telling me that canals and railroads were built without the imposition of eminent domain along the democratically selected routes and without gifts of land from the government? In fact, I am pretty sure that many of them would not have had any hope of viability without long term contracts to deliver mail and without protected monopoly power.
I know that All canals and RRs were not built privately, but a fairly large portion of our “infrastructure” was built at private risk. I guess they are teaching things differently now.
I probably have a bias, but it could also be insider knowledge as my father and grandfather were railroad workers from an early age until they died. I was taught that large portions of the land was unsettled (no eminent domain required), that those claiming the land felt the addition of the canal would encourage the settlers to move there and help make them make more money. The federal government had absolutely no interest in the Erie canal (two different presidents rejected the idea) and finally, after DeWitt Clinton was governor of NY (one of the investors) a deal was made where the state of NY would loan money (wink, wink) to finance the canal (which was already partially built) with all profits going toward repayment until the loan was paid off. A similar (crony) arrangement was used for the Erie railroad across NY and the Pennsylvania RR across PA. Or, instead of crony, I guess you could call these the first (state) government loans.
Later, the majority of the RR’s were built on a “Land Grant” basis, where the RR was given the title to the land from 1 to 5 miles along the tracks (no need for the term right-of-way as they owned the land) for major portions of the path, which they sold to help finance the construction and operation. The Transcontinental RR and many other shorter RRs across OH, IN, IL, IA, etc.
My father worked for one of these “land grant” railroads, and they still held title to many, valuable, acres of land across the state of Ohio. Many factories were built on land the RR sold them, and the RR made more money hauling the wares from these factories as they had no other way to move it until the trucking industry bloomed in the 50’s.
Maybe for the fuel consumption of semi-trucks, but the tolls came to more than my total fuel cost for the last 3 cars I’ve owned.
Depression era Pennsylvania gov. Gifford Pinchot was known for relieving the effects of dust and mud for farmers using secondary roads. The ‘Pinchot roads’ would have a paved lane down the middle.
I thought the north end of I77 served most of Ohio and Western PA, and the south end provides access to the Florida Atlantic coast, with the nearest Interstate a couple of hours drive to the east or west in the mountains. Somebody must be using the road; otherwise there wouldn’t have been so many vehicles in the Easter Sunday wreck. Bobbie Byrd enriched his state at our expense, but I wouldn’t count I77 in that category.
I assume there was Federal money in the US highway system that I knew and loved before the Interstates. It was kind of a pain when your highway turned into Main Street in some podunk town or, even worse, a city.
We’re not going to get anywhere by having a less than realistic assessment of the political climate. I believe that SteveK9’s assessment is very close to the reality. Many people view the Cato institute in the stated light, but Calabrese’s work has real merit. In order to gain broader acceptance, it needs to expand beyond limited venues.
No, Calabrese’s work has no real merit (unless you value a con job):
Bob, are you suggesting that we should take the word of a philosopher (https://philosophy.nd.edu/people/faculty/kristin-shrader-frechette/) over that of a toxicologist when it comes to evaluating dose response models?
Forgive me if I am a little skeptical about Ms. Shrsder-Frechette’s scientific credibility and her well documented animosity toward the beneficial use of concentrated nuclear energy.
I also have some degree of skepticism about a “peer-reviewed” journal that accepts a paper for publication where more than 50% of the references cite works by the same author as the paper itself. It says something about the quality of the research undertaken.
Rod – Yes, citing an article in a philosophy journal as some sort of criticism of a person’s scientific work is rather pathetic. No … it’s very pathetic.
I think Bob might have reached a new low. Well, we all knew that he was not technically competent to discuss the scientific aspects of this subject — which is why his main line of argument is to resort to childish name-calling, as I so cleverly predicted above. 😉 Notice how he ducks every technical question that I throw his way.
Perhaps Bob should have studied philosophy. Although, it probably doesn’t pay as well as the radiation protection racket … er … business.
Loose market share?
Look…there’s Dr. Calabrese (toxicology denier) and Dr. Michaels (climate change denier)….but, wait, what about Dr. Mastropaolo (biology denier)?
Stooges tend to come in 3’s.
Now, there’s a fine example of oneupmanship. Here, I predicted Bob would focus his name calling on only two people, and that unstoppable go-getter throws in an irrelevant third for good measure.
“Stooges” might come in threes, but when it comes to being a predictable childish fool, Bob, you stand alone. Thanks, and congratulations.
Hey Brian can you stop with the name calling and personal attacks?
They offer no information.
I read this blog and the comments in order to learn more about nuclear fission and to
hear the arguments put forward by the antis and the rebuttals of the pros.
This way I am not taken by surprise when people I am talking to about nuclear power bring up their concerns.
I have learned much by hearing the arguments and researching things said by Bob Applebaum.
I would like if this blog kept a high signal to noise ratio.
Call me silly, but I would think that someone asking for the end of “name calling and personal attacks” would not come to me, but would take up this issue with the person throwing about labels like “denier” and “stooges.”
Or have you completely given up on Bob Applebaum.
I agree that such nonsense does nothing to offer any additional information, which is why I am so critical of what Bob writes here.
Hey, I’m willing to stay as high or go as low as the level of conversation takes us, and we can all see where Bob has decided to go. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. And I know that it is a thankless job as well, thanks for reminding me.
If you don’t like it, then at least appreciate that I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt by assuming that you’re not just one of Bob’s sock puppets.
If you are willing to go as low as the level of conversation takes you then this blog will descend into irrelevance.
It is up to everyone to maintain a high standard of discourse.
Of course I can’t force you or anyone else to do this.
If this blog descends into name calling and generally irrelevant attacks then I will sadly keep trying to find my information elsewhere.
What I appreciate most is facts and information.
It is up to all posters to decide why they value this blog and how they will act.
Yet to fail to ridicule the ridiculous is a dereliction of intellectual duty.
So long as the likes of Applebaum post here, the level of discourse will inevitably have low spots.
I think I need to repeat these thoughts where they will be seen.
We need to start an effort to rename radiation as “Vitamin R.” Rod’s analogy of an aspirin is not cutting it. Comparing radiation to the typical vitamins that people need, and sometimes overdose on with no ill effects, provides an analogy that as far as the human body is concerned, high doses and even mega-doses (when these doses are measured in micro/pico grams) do not usually have serious life ending effects (unless medical intervention is prevented, ignored or denied – just as is true for mega-doses of Vitamin R).
As far as I can find out Vitamin R is only used in slang for Ritalin, not as a medical term, thus we should be able to use “R” or we could have a “Vitamin alpha, beta and gamma,” which might even be better. Radiation has been denigrated by the anti nukes since the atomic bomb and the implications of nuclear proliferation in an effort to minimize nuclear. The cure was to make Radiation BAD. Tell people “Radiation kills you.” You have provided articles detailing the originations of this tactic here several times.
Look at the MSDS (material Safety Data Sheet) for ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). It reads like, if not worse than, one for radiation. The doom and gloom and hazards warned against are the same in the MSDS for the chemical known as Vitamin E. However, who even thinks twice about taking two Vitamin C tablets (and the highest dosage tablet available at GNC) when they have a cold? When I was a kid my doctor told me to take 4 Vitamin E tablets a day. He said it would help with the Acne. Today they rube the oil right on the face! Think about that after reading the MSDS! Take some time and look at all of the needed chemicals. Arsenic is included in this list of needed minerals. A lack of arsenic, without medical intervention, will kill you. There are many other minerals needed by the body that are also common poisons. Then there is a big group that, if they read the MSDS, they would eliminate that chemical from their diet. I am sure you have heard of stories along the lines of people eliminating certain foods from their diet and the severe consequences resulting from the lack of the vitamin/mineral.
Clearly, the MDR (minimum daily requirement) of Vitamin “R” would be at those levels that at level of radiation that existed when whatever being evolved into humans. And, following normal excepted guidelines that the FDA uses establishing drug limits a maximum could be established. I would think that this maximum daily allowance would be higher than the dose received if living full time in Denver CO in an un-protected area, or in Ramsar, Iran for example as it clearly has been proven these people live a perfectly normal healthy (radiation effects wise) life.
Further, when one looks at the required levels of radiation and compares it with the overly restrictive levels based upon the LNT methodology, the limits actually cause harm. This would also allow limits that mean something and are not pulled out of a hat like the radiation limit was. It still amazes me that we have the limit that we now do. In the 60’s I was reading a Navy manual on radiation protection written in the 1940’s. In it there was a description on how the radiation level was established for the radiation exposure for those making and testing the bomb. They took the various radiation sources (alpha, beta, and gamma) and determined the level that caused reddening of the skin – like sunburn, and divided that level by ten. That was the limit in that book. However, even more amazing was that those levels were exactly ten times the level that was in the Radiation Technology manual I was studying at the Navy Nuclear Power School. It has been more than 50 years, and we are still using those same values. Draw your own conclusions.
“It has been more than 50 years, and we are still using those same values. Draw your own conclusions.”
Not true, the first limits were in 1931 to x-rays, before atomic bomb testing. And the limits have been increasingly restricted over time as our studies have improved.
BOB – I only said they have not changed for 50 years. In reading the Health Physics Society (HPS) web site.- http://hps.org/publicinformation/ate/faqs/regdoselimits.html they have the EXACT same numbers, values and limits as those in the text I used in my training in the Navy in 1963. 2013 -1963 = 50 (years) by my math. Since this same training was used for the crew of the USS Nautilus, and as I implied earlier the limits appear to be a SWAG, why are they still the same MORE than 50 years later? Or are you talking about the limits added for extremities and the eye since then? Will give you credit for that – BUT they are another SWAG as they are exactly 10 times the whole body limit (except for the eye.)
SWAG is inappropriate. The regulatory levels were based on the best science of the 1950’s and what was fortunate is that they chose a very reasonable, low number which served well until maybe the 1980’s.
By the late 1980’s it became apparent that the cancer risk associated with those levels was creeping up. In 1991, the ICRP recommended reductions. The AEC who had originally adopted early ICRP had bifurcated into the NRC and DoE. Those new agencies chose not to adopt the new recommendations.
The NRC is currently thinking about revising its regulatory limits.
“By the late 1980′s it became apparent that the cancer risk associated with those levels was creeping up.”
And the number of cancers for the Rad workers that were part of the TMI incident and recovery are how many times higher than for workers at a similar sized B&W ,or any other, Nuclear Power Plant? Where are the numbers? I know that GPUN (and the NRC) has very good records of the doses received over those time periods. None of my coworkers that were wading through contaminated water in yellow booties, spending time right up to the limit in high dose areas, and going back again as soon as they could, some even maxing out in the week at the end of one quarter and again in the first week of the next (it was at the end of a quarter you will recall,) have succumbed due to cancer, even lung cancer for those that smoked. So why do they need lowered?
You can call it anecdotal. You can call it placebo. You can call it self-delusion, or even quackery.
But I suggest you don’t call it that to these people’s faces: http://www.radonmine.com/clients.php
We ought to learn something about this subject by reading the following chapter in a new book on Therapeutic Nuclear Medicine.
Feinendegen LE, Pollycove M and Neumann RD. 2012. Hormesis by Low Dose Radiation Effects: Low-Dose Cancer Risk Modeling Must Recognize Up-Regulation of Protection. Therapeutic Nuclear Medicine. Springer. ISBN 973-3-540-36718-5. Available at: http://db.tt/UyrhlBpW
Then we could have a reasonable discussion.
Rod…I’m happy you have posted the Calabrese piece. I’ve been using him as a reference since I made my website. Now for my two cents – Hormesis with ionizing radiation is counter-intuitive. It challenges the historical no-safe-level paradigm. History demonstrates that once a paradigm is found to be incorrect, it takes decades (if not centuries – i.e. Copernicus) for it to be accepted by everyone. Paradigms held with emotional certitude are the hardest to correct in the public mind (again, Copernicus). As long as governments ruthlessly hold the LNT model for regulatory purposes and “disbelievers” continue to attack the truth with unwavering regularity, the “issue” will continue. What makes it worse is the radiation issue being one of the news media’s darlings, and they will go overboard to keep the controversy alive. IMHO, there is no issue and the controversy is groundless. The Hormesis model works, is supported by conclusive research on human populations, and the mountain of evidence to prove it grows as time passes.
Adaptive response might violate conventional assumptions, but it is far from counter intuitive for people who understand human physiology.
Pertinent to this, this popped up in my news links this morning:
Study: Nuclear Plant Shutdown Results in 4,319 Fewer Cancer Cases.
My God, it’s unbelievable that such a clear example of junk science is not only unquestioningly reported on in a newspaper article on a supposedly unbiased site (i.e., it wasn’t a raving anti nuke site), but also apparently got published in a scientific journal. Did it actually pass any kind of peer review process!!
The issues are obvious. There is a 10-30 year latentcy period for most cancers, so no increases in the decade or two after shutdown would be expected. And, of course, there is the even more obvious fact that the plant was not emitting any significant amount of radioactivity into the environment (even small amounts could be easily detected). In other words, there is simply no agent.
Jim – Worse yet they also need to consider that Rancho Seco was offline/shutdown more than it was operating. They also failed to do a Google Search wherein they would have discovered that power operation ceased in 12/26/1985, three years before their “baseline” data was established. During the years they “assumed” it was operating” they had already started taking it apart. They need to re-do their study.
This is all you need to know from that news article.
Heh … another pile of junk science published by the Mangano/Sherman team in an obscure, pay-to-publish crap journal that will literally publish anything and everything (if you are willing to pay).
Sadly, some (stupid) people will actually take this junk seriously.
Personally, I love how the “Executive Director” of a rabid anti-nuclear group, who has published several books on the “dangers” of nuclear power, is able to get away with claiming that he has “no conflict of interest with this publication.” It’s only his main source of income … sheesh! Such is the state of the academic publication world these days.
Need to know of ANY groups to correct this Yahoo “Health” feature. Nowhere on that page is there a way to comment or rebut — sure signs of a hit-and-run article designed to sow indelible and totally unchallenged FUD. I half expected this of Yahoo, as maybe Goggle as well.
Rod, I do not generally use the words liberal and conservative, but since you are proud of your liberalism I ask for your definition of the philosophy.
Liberalism, as I understand it, only “works” on a short evolutionary time scale.
In the long run, the lack of effective feedback mechanisms will lead to the collapse of civilization and the restoration of natural feedback mechanisms, starvation, disease, predation and exposure, resulting in suffering on an enormous scale.
This video just popped up on Yahoo!
I just wish Google would show a radioactive meter reading for every mile driven in the Ghost Town. This way we could compare to Denver and other cities in the world that are known to be radio active.
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