Systematic Bias Discovered in Atomic Bomb Survivor Cancer Comparisons
A friend sent me a link to an important paper titled EVIDENCE SUPPORTING RADIATION HORMESIS IN ATOMIC BOMB SURVIVOR CANCER MORTALITY DATA. Here is a quote from the paper abstract:
Calculations show that a correction for such a bias can lower the ERRs in the atomic bomb survivor data to negative values for intermediate doses. This is consistent with the phenomenon of radiation hormesis, providing a rational explanation for the decreased risk of cancer observed at intermediate doses for which there is no explanation based on the LNT model. The recent atomic bomb survivor data provides additional evidence for radiation hormesis in humans.
Now I will stand by to see what Bob Applebaum has to say after he has read the paper. It is probably too much to expect that he would grudgingly acknowledge that a systematic statistical analysis error has cost human society tens of billions of dollars worth of lost opportunities. This is one more bit of evidence supporting an effort to reduce fear caused by over-estmated carcinogenic effects from low dose radiation.
The link goes to a journal but ends with page-not-found.
Geoff – Thank you for the feedback. I have repaired the link. It should work now. I attempted to link directly to the PDF of the full paper instead of the abstract, but the journal site is not designed to allow that to happen. The full article is available at the abstract page, unlike what happens at most academic journals where you get charged somewhere between $10 and $50 per paper.
I think there is a risk in trying to make these kinds of conclusions at the low doses. Dose estimates for survivors were revised using MCNP calculations of gamma and neutron leakage spectra for the two weapons. These calculations carry with them the uncertainty in weapon yield and locations of survivors at the time of the blast. I’m not sure I trust the conclusions any more than someone telling me that the dose response per unit dose is greater at low doses.
Bob is already on the record claiming that the journal in which the article is to be published is not a real journal, so I doubt that he’ll even bother to read the paper.
This paper illustrates the difficulties in dealing with a quantity that is a ratio of two values with uncertainties. Uncertainties in the denominator can wreak havoc with the uncertainty of the ratio, and as the paper demonstrates, any bias can have a substantial effect on the results. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to know the real bias in the baseline cancer mortality rate, so the results are primarily speculation.
Recently an article has been published about the effect of ct scan on cancer risk in young patients, which shows the increase risk , how can it be explained by radiation hormesis?
I think that it is pretty well accepted that children are more sensitive to radiation exposure because rapidly dividing cells are more sensitive, That’s why occupational exposure is not allowed until the age of 18.
It is based on LNT model, and most of the population in japan after bomb were young who are still alive,.
“most of the population in japan” didn’t recieve very high exposures.
what about the recent article in lancet by pearce et al., That shows the relation between Ct scan nad cancer risk.
The results by Pearce et al. are quite unusual, because the excessive risk that they report (ERR/Gy) is about five to ten times (depending on the type of tumor) larger than the results reported in a study of brain tumor development published in 2005 by Sadetzki et al. Even the confidence intervals don’t overlap.
Sadetzki et al. were studying children who were treated with radiation to fight a fungal scalp infection. This procedure involved high doses of radiation, with a mean estimated dose to the brain of 1.5 Gy. (These treatments were performed in the 1950’s.) Now, I would expect an observable increase in solid tumors at these doses; however, Pearce et al. are presenting results for cumulative doses of only about 50 mGy.
So am I really supposed to believe that reducing the dose by a factor of 30 increases the risk (per unit dose) by a factor of five or more?!
Perhaps there is a better explanation for the results. One curious difference between the two studies is that, unlike Sadetzki et al., the Pearce et al. did not compare their cohort to a population with no exposure. Everyone considered in the study had experienced a CT scan, and comparisons were made within the group to between those who had more scans to those who had less scans. So an obvious question is why were these kids having CT scans?
Clearly, at least a few of these kids had some serious health issues, the details of which we don’t know. The researchers tried to screen out kids that were being scanned because of a cancer diagnosis, but are we sure that they managed to pull this off?
In other words, all that the researchers have shown is that there is a correlation between the amount of CT scans the patient received and the likelihood of contracting leukemia or brain tumors. Now could it be that the patients who received more CT scans had more serious health problems and were more likely to develop these cancers for reasons that have nothing to do with the radiation received in the scans?
Given the small number of cases that these results depend on — less than 0.08% of the population studied were diagnosed with brain tumors, the number diagnosed with leukemia was even smaller — it would take only a small component of patients with serious health problems and a predisposition for cancer to bias the study and produce these results.
Therefore, consider me rather skeptical of these results, and extremely skeptical of the conclusions being drawn from them.
Thank you, and I think the high risk patients such as trisomy, ataxia telangectasia and others has not been excluded.
Are you joking?
Bob, for those of us members of the public who can’t read your mind, and don’t have your background, could you please elaborate on what you find to be a ‘joke’?
I mean that in all seriousness – without further explanation, I have no idea what you are thinking.
Bob Applebaum says: Are you joking?
Intellectual bankruptcy at its finest.
Jeff S. – I know, I was joking myself with that comment.
Rod – your commenting software has gone downhill.
I have no problem addressing the paper, but I want to get you out of the nuclear world (where you may have deeply held biases) and stay out of super-technical stuff, and get into the world of cults. I want to get you to do a Gestalt mental switch (like when you can see that the girl in this link is spinning in both directions! Are you able to see both?
I’ll return to the paper later (note I’m really busy doing other things today & tomorrow). Unless you’re religious (which provides its own deeply held bias) you can usually discern that biology is science and Intelligent Design (ID) looks like science, sounds like science, has folks with high level degrees promoting it, but it isn’t science. ID is very convincing…it has to be or it wouldn’t sustain itself. But if you don’t have a religious bias, you’re less likely to be fooled.
The Discovery Institute is largely behind the propaganda, you should go to their website and see how biology is about to implode with the mounting evidence against it! HA!. But it is very difficult to convince someone they’re wrong if they already “know” biology is a lie…a great cabal organized by scientific organizations, etc.! HA!
Anti-science propaganda comes from other funded sources. The George C. Marshall Institute is one example (you can search their site). They produced propaganda to fool people about the dangers of tobacco decades ago, and now they are doing the same with global warming. There’s no way to estimate how many people died needlessly from smoking because of the doubt the propaganda caused. Global warming is not being addressed in a timely manner for the same reason. This will have real consequences to real people. Note that the tactics employed by the DI and the GCMI are very similar. And guess what? The tactics employed by the hormesis-cult (they don’t use “hormesis” much just like the Intelligent Design people don’t use “creationist” much, they’ve evolved!).
So, imagine my lack of surprise to find that the ANS President is tied to them and was involved in organizing propaganda against health physics. Though not as serious as these other issues, how many minds were poisoned by the propaganda? People spent time and money to attend.
Anyway, I am not commenting on this blog because of nuclear power. This is an attack-on- science issue for me, and its implications. You don’t see all the posting I do in the other areas.
I tried to make more non-technical cult comparisons here: ribjoint.blogspot.com/p/comparing-creationist-hormesis-cults.html. Take the time to watch the videos, and compare the 3 cults.
If you can make the Gestalt switch, you will move from confusion, to clarity, and if like me, to anger.
Let’s play the mental switch game with you. Imagine (for the purpose of this exercise) that homesis is true and LNT is not. Now, how much less important does the radiation protection profession become? Would there be anything beyond the slimmest amount of RP folks needed?
I appreciate your participation in this mental exercise.
Let’s assume for a moment that all prayer worked. Would there be anything beyond the slimmest amount of RP folks needed?
Stick to facts, not the fallacy of argument from consequences.
Typo…not “RP”, “doctors”.
So, not willing to play the same game you asked others to play?
How much do you know about the mechanisms cells use to repair DNA, Bob? Is every aspect of those mechanisms fully understood and well-established at this point?
Wow! The nonsense from Bob just gets dumber and dumber!
So Eric Lowen — who is no longer the ANS President, by the way — is part of the “propaganda to fool people” about global warming, eh? Then perhaps you will finally be surprised to learn that when he was the ANS Seaborg Congressional Fellow working in Senator Hagel’s office, Dr. Loewen coordinated the effort to get the US’s first legislation addressing global climate change policy into the Energy Act of 2005.
I guess Bob will be comparing people to Nazis next, because I know how small minds like Bob’s work.
Considering how stupid you make yourself look with the non-technical stuff, I think that it would be better if you continue to stay away from the technical stuff. 😉
Red herring…I didn’t say Loewen was against climate change. I said the Institute is. He is associated with the Institute.
Of course it is a red herring. It’s a classic red herring!
If you want to continue to claim that it is not, then please explain how his association with the GCM Institute is relevant in any way to the topic being discussed here.
What’s worse is that, since you’ve admitted that you have nothing specific against Dr. Lowen, you’ve moved to relying on the logical fallacy of “guilt by association” to shore up your end of the debate.
“Intellectual bankruptcy” is a perfect description of your so-called “arguments” here, and we’re calling you on it. It’s no wonder you’re angry.
By the way, you can start getting “super-technical” any time now, Mr. Applebaum. I could use a good laugh. So far, I could use what you have written here to fertilize my garden.
This is a very simple question. It has few if any philosophical implications. If a person get’s the answer wrong – at very low levels of radiation the harm is very small. So, Why anger?
The simple question is – as radiation levels decrease is there a decreasing likelihood – (straight line) of risk, or is there a threshold where the risk decreases more rapidly, or finally, is there a threshold where the risk turns to benefit.
This is a very simple question. Should be fairly easy to determine after 100 years of study for radiation exposure. Oh, that’s right, the reason it is hard to determine is that the effect is so small.
While the structure of an experiment to determine which of the above is true might be challenging, nothing in this question or approach is “Anti-science.” I understand that to research the LNT question and truly answer it would require a sample group of tens of thousands and a control group of tens of thousands. The numbers needed to tease out the difference are so large the experiment is cost prohibitive especially since the cost benefit for the experiment is so low.
On the other hand, I have seen you specifically reject examining the results of exposures for shipyard workers and exposures for Apartment dwellers in Taiwan which were both low level exposures that should help to determine this question. While you strongly embraced following closely exposures from the Atomic bombs dropped on Japan. These one time exposures are not similar to any exposures by people working with Nuclear power or like Fukushima. So, I have never understood this choice.
I am convinced that radiation is simply not that dangerous. That is the main scientific point I have taken away from the whole discussion. The point that really makes a difference. It would be nice if it was actually helpful at low levels but that point is hardly needed when you have to count up to millions of people to show that low level radiation “causes harm.” So for me LNT or Hormises – just about the same. Practically no effect at radiation levels everyone outside the core of a reactor will experience.
Thanks Bob, for helping make that clear. Please apply the same risk cost benefit to the rest of the hazards in your life that you do to radiation and I will agree that you are not a hypocrite.
@David – Bob knows from direct personal experience that the cost benefit of promoting LNT can be impressively large. I often wonder why a rich guy like him takes the time to engage in internet conversations.
He was one of the founders of a company called RACE that was sold to Studsvik in 2006 for about $35 million dollars. RACE’s business was handling low level waste products, mostly from hospitals, a business serving a market that might not have existed without the LNT assumption.
Bob likes to attack admirable and accomplished people like Ted Rockwell and Eric Loewen for tenuous associations with certain groups that may have done some questionable things, but he does not like talking much about the wealth that he accumulated.
The “science” that he claims is settled regarding the health effects of low level radiation was the direct source of that wealth. The only settled science here is political; the people who have established the LNT in regulation have political pull and have been able to stack the deck in the data analysis for the Life Span Study (LSS) of atomic bomb survivors.
A friend of mine used to work in the EPA office that funds that program. He told me about the career bureaucrats in charge of managing and distributing the funds and their open attitude about ensuring that the LNT is defended in order to protect “their program” so that it keeps getting appropriations every year. It is simple for them to steer funds in the direction of supportive researchers and to make sure that BEIR committees reject anyone who would challenge the status quo.
Those career bureaucrats and their ability to selectively choose LNT supporters are the reason that Bob and his BEIR VII buddies repeatedly claim that the LSS is the “gold standard” study of radiation health effects. They gloss over the fact that the LSS is looking at a unique population that was exposed to a burst of radiation. Atomic bomb survivor doses are entirely different from the chronic doses that would be accumulated by people who were allowed to return live out their lives in the forcibly evacuated areas that surround Chernobyl, Fukushima or any other future nuclear plant accidents.
(Note: I spent about half a dozen years as a bureaucrat from Washington with a “checkbook”; I know how the position can be abused. I saw it happening. I was what the navy called a “requirements officer”. My job was to do financial analysis of various programs to help determine their annual budget request levels. It is not hard to lie with numbers if that is your desire.)
Someone’s wealth, like their credentials is a distraction from the facts.
The fact is that Loewen and Rockwell co-chaired a presentation on low level effects of radiation that are not consistent with facts. They violated ANS’s code of ethics.
I tried to give reasons why they may have done so (their associations). But the facts are still the facts…avoid them some more.
I believe your posts frequently are not consistent with the facts as measured by hundreds of studies of large populations of human beings who have been exposed to chronic doses of radiation that are higher than average background with no ill effects.
The fact is that you continuously dispute that fact and hang your professional hat on the results of a single study of a large population that received its doses in milliseconds, not over time.
I merely offered a possible reason why you are so stubbornly adamant about your belief in the Linear No Threshold dose. I might be wrong about my analysis, but surely your involvement in a company that made its money by handling low level radioactive waste under our current regulatory structure is a little more than mere “association.” The fact that you sold that company for $35 million dollars also provides a slightly higher level of personal motivation than the “association” of a retired professional like Ted Rockwell or a currently employed professional like Eric Loewen, neither of whom have much to gain from working to organize an ANS information session to report on scientific study results.
The LSS population was not exposed only to that burst of radiation, there was also the effect of the so-called “black rain”, the fission products fallout.
I don’t know how well the LSS study incorporates that part of the exposition.
Anger at the intentional misrepresentation of science. You can convince yourself of anything…that doesn’t make it true.
Why is Rockwell a retired professional and I’m not? Does it matter how much money Rockwell has? I could care less.
Fact 1: The session did not represent the consensus science
Fact 2: It was co-chaired by those guys
Fact 3: I am submitting this violates ANS ethics. That’s an opinion, I may be wrong. But offering distractions like money, gov’t conspiracies, etc. doesn’t change those facts.
If a doctor shoots someone, it doesn’t matter that he saved a lot of lives in the past, he should suffer the consequences for shooting someone.
I do not hang my hat on one study, there are lots, that one is simply the best.
You have no understanding of hormesis or hormesis-lite, because they doesn’t exist. There is nothing physical to support the notion, it’s made-up by connecting dots that are illogically connected.
@Bob – the “consensus science” regarding radiation health effects is nowhere near as certain as you portray. There is a good reason why professional societies like the ANS host semi annual meetings to share the results of recent work. The session included a number of studies that passed peer review muster regarding their validity and methods of research. There is absolutely nothing in the ANS code of ethics that prevents such sessions from being organized.
I have no idea whether you are retired or not. The amount of your money is not the issue I am introducing into the discussion; it is the SOURCE of that money and its tight relationship to the topic we are discussing that I care about.
I apply the same standards to Amory Lovins, Arnie Gundersen, Kevin Kamps, and Peter Bradford. I do not care if they are rich or just getting by; they are making a career out of their opposition to nuclear energy. You made a career choice to take advantage of a regulatory assumption to build a very profitable business. Some people applaud wealth as an evidence of success no matter what the source. I have a different standard; it is possible to become wealthy dealing drugs, running Ponzi schemes, owning property where there just happen to be roads constructed, or operating private run prisons full of people whose only “crime” was possession of a trivial quantity of a natural plant whose effects are similar to alcohol. Money, therefore, is not even a good measure of effectiveness in my opinion.
I would rather be dirt poor & proud of what I have done and who I have helped than rich from what I consider to be an immoral source of wealth.
And yet the topic of the session is entirely consistent with ANS’s published position statement on the “health effects of low-level radiation.”
Good luck with that submission, Mr. Applebaum.
The only one here with questionable ethics and questionable arguments is you.
At the end of the day, let us not forget that LNT was a fraud. It has been discovered as such recently and those who have scientific rigor should just move on.
Key findings were omitted and this is a shame to have won a Nobel prize on such premise. Can a Nobel prize be revoked ? I sure hope that it will be done.
What Universe do you live in and how’s the food?
Suppression of evidence occurred. Nobel Prize winner Hermann Muller, knowingly lied when he claimed in 1946 that there is no safe level of radiation exposure.
Here is the article:
” The Discovery Institute is largely behind the propaganda, you should go to their website and see how biology is about to implode with the mounting evidence against it! HA!. But it is very difficult to convince someone they’re wrong if they already “know” biology is a lie…a great cabal organized by scientific organizations, etc.! HA! ”
Is this about ID, which I don’t understand what it’s doing here, or about the article in the Dose-Response journal that is the subject of this post?
Or could I phrase it thus: ” But it is very difficult to convince someone they’re wrong if they already “know” ‘anything but LNT’ is a lie… ”
I haven’t made up my mind about LNT or hormesis by a long shot, but till now I’ve seen nothing that convinces me that one of the two is completely right and the other completely wrong. I’ll probably stay in two minds about it for some time.
The point about ID was an analogy to illustrate the parallels between two anti-science cults without getting into technical details. Some readers get lost in the technical details, which is why I did it, and some get lost in analogies.
I’ve read some articles about ID and creationism, and other pseudo-scientific subjects. I do see a very big difference in the way those topics are treated and how hormesis or Linear With Treshold hypotheses are treated. I don’t think the last ones fall under the same header of pseudo-science. They’re (IMO) interesting alternatives whose merits are being researched. If LNT turns out to fit the facts best, it won’t suffer from a little research in another direction, it will gain strength from it, like any other theory. If it turns out that one of the other ideas fits the facts better, well, maybe then it’s time to switch paradigms. That’s how it goes in science, and that’s just what is missing in pseudo-science.
Of course it’s not about ID. Bob’s comment is what’s called a red herring. See, Bob doesn’t have any real arguments to support his side, so relies on distracting his readers by trying to paint anyone who disagrees with him as a “cultist,” a tobacco lobbyist, a climate change “denier,” etc., etc., ad nauseam. His strategy is to use an argumentum ad hominem (specifically the rhetorical device of “poisoning the well”) to discredit those who disagree with him so that he doesn’t need to deal with their technical arguments, published peer-reviewed papers, or special panel sessions.
Why get bogged down in the details of scientific research, when you can simply accuse your opponent of being a member of a “cult”? See how easy and intellectually lazy it becomes?
As I have mentioned in the comments here, I expect him to up the stakes and start comparing people to Nazis soon. That would be entirely in line with his type of personality.
Godwin’s law kicking in again.
Well, you don’t have to include Nazis to be guilty of drawing silly, irrelevant analogies designed to skirt key issues and score debating points by pathetic appeals to emotion.
Bob’s a good example of that. Although I wouldn’t put it past him to go Godwin on us.
RP Industry Myth:
One nuclear company (Exelon) has a current market capitalization (one metric of financial strength, pick another if you want) of $33,000,000,000.
Please tell me how the RP industry compares.
Hmm … sounds to me like the RP folks have a good source of capital and income to feed on.
Is anyone surprised to learn that a lamprey is smaller than a shark?
Why does the nuke industry hire the RP industry? If it wants to hire them, that’s their choice. If they want to outspend them on politics, the nuke industry has much more capital then the RP industry. If the nuke industry wants to fund a study showing LNT is false, it has the capital.
Your thinking is out of touch with reality.
@Bob – there is no “nuke industry” to speak of. Essentially all of the companies involved in nuclear energy have just as much motive to add cost and difficulty to nuclear energy production as to reduce it because they also make money from fossil fuel sales or from higher priced energy.
The people who are pointing out the fallacies in logic associated with the Linear No Threshold dose response ASSUMPTION are generally people who are motivated to put nuclear energy regulation on a reasonably equal footing with the regulations associated with fossil fuels so that nuclear fission can capture more market share.
Believe it or not, some of the people who want that to happen have no financial motive at all. (I am an exception to that statement.) They simply believe, because they have run the numbers, that fission is better than combustion.
Er .. could it be because of things like BEIR VII and dozens and dozens of regulations that result from this type of thinking?
What you describe as “choice,” others (especially lawyers) would describe as being in violation of the law. Sure, I guess if “it” doesn’t want to hire “them” then they can go to jail, or at the very least have a several-billion dollar asset shutdown permanently by the government.
You do realize that we’re talking about federal regulation here, not some arbitrary “choice,” don’t you?
Jeez, Bob, your arguments get weaker and weaker each time you comment.
Surely you know that businesses do not typically spend “capital” on politics or funding studies. They spend income. The nuclear plant operators who run merchant plants are not exactly rolling in income these days since they are selling their electricity in markets where the marginal price is determined by the fuel prices paid by the last in supplier needed to meet market demand. The average wholesale price of electricity in competitive markets is less than half of what it was in 2008.
Electric companies in rate regulated markets that operate nuclear plants do not like to spend much on politics that is not directly related to their rate cases. Those expenses are not allowed by public utility commissions as part of the cost of doing business, so they have to paid out of the allowed profit margin. Since the other choice with profits is to provide better returns to investors, companies normally choose to maximize returns instead of spending that money on politics.
@Rod 7/15, 12:46
The source of my money was offering nuclear power plants an option. They could dispose of their waste in a radioactive landfill, or I could process it and save them money. My work allowed commercial nuclear power plants to increase their profitability. Without the business, fewer people would have been exposed to low radiation. So I caused a net increase in personnel exposures while saving the plants money. Without the regulations I would have made more money!
Let’s ignore all that, money, conspiracies, retired or employed, how dedicated your friend is compared with someone you don’t know (the epidemiologists, microbiologists, etc.), etc..
Let’s stick to physical phenomenon.
With one exception…I have a question. Here’s a 1997 video of Myron Pollycove. In first 6 minutes he says LNT is dead. youtube.com/watch?v=pTQrRakmKjE
It’s 2012, if LNT was dead in 1997, and it isn’t. Was Pollycove lying then or is he lying now?
The ANS meeting did not offer any new insights into health physics (and its underlying epidemiology, genetics, etc.) It was a cherry-picked group who reiterated the same babble they have been for decades. All of their arguments have been addressed decades ago. They can’t accept their faults. Meanwhile, we’re moving ahead with better biodosimetry, better epidemiology, etc.
Note, in those first 6 minutes Pollycove mentions the Cohen study. He uses it to foster his point. I criticized that study extensively long ago and didn’t convince you.
Maybe the NAS read my post: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=13388&page=146
Suppose we run a tube down a child’s throat and pump in 2000 vitamin pills. If the sheer mass does not kill them, the chemical imbalance will. If that is all we knew about vitamin pill safety we might apply LNT risk theory, claiming it is the conservative, safest thing to do, and ban the use of vitamin pills.
Hiroshima, Nagasaki and MRI data are not applicable to the question of risk from chronic low dose rate radiation. Even nuclear plant workers get most of their dose in relatively short periods at high dose rate, so studies of these people are not applicable.
People take vitamin supplements because they think it will provide a health benefit at low dose rates. Fission has the potential to provide unlimited clean safe dispatchable energy at low cost. That is an enormous benefit that can reduce pain and suffering and dramatically improve quality of life, hormesis is not necessary. Fear of radiation is one of the barriers to obtaining that benefit.
It is up to the supporters of LNT to provide proof that it is valid at low level. Several months ago I asked Bob A for a list of high quality studies that confirmed the existence of LNT predicted risk from continuous low dose rate radiation exposure; still waiting.
It is reasonable to ask, “What is the risk of building nuclear power plants?” But to make a wise choice about nuclear power one must also ask, “What is the risk of NOT building nuclear power plants?”
To Brian Mays: I read your comment about cat scan in children the think that I can not understand is how they caculated this risk for one scan!! two excess cancer per one scan in 10000. if the incidence of brain tumor is 0.3 in 10000 one scan can increase the risk 4. fold!!
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