Epidemiologists with secret ties to industry - Industry 'paid top cancer expert'

The paper by Hardell, Richter et al makes headlines:

Industry 'paid top cancer expert'

The scientist who first linked smoking to lung cancer was paid by a biotech firm while investigating cancer risks in the industry, it has emerged. The Guardian newspaper reported that Professor Sir Richard Doll held a consultancy post with US firm Monsanto for more than 20 years. During that time he investigated the potential cancer causing properties of Agent Orange, made by the company. But a former colleague said he gave the money he was paid to charity.

Professor Sir Richard Peto, a fellow expert in cancer, said: "Everybody working in this area knew that Richard worked for industry and consulted for industry, and would do court cases.

"It does not in any sense suggest that his work was biased. He was incredibly careful to avoid bias."

The Guardian reported that Sir Richard, who died in 2005 aged 92, received a US$1,500-a-day consultancy fee from Monsanto, then a chemicals company, in the mid-1980s.

During that period, Sir Richard wrote to an Australian commission on the results of his investigation into whether the chemical Agent Orange, famous for its use by the US during the Vietnam War, caused cancer.

He argued in his letter that there was no evidence that Agent Orange caused cancer.

Should come clean

Professor Lennart Hardell, of the Oncology Department at University Hospital Orebro, Sweden, has also studied the potential hazards posed by Agent Orange.

He was one of the scientists whose work was dismissed by Sir Richard.

He told the BBC Sir Richard's work was tainted.

He said: "It's quite OK to have contacts with industry, but you should be fair and say 'well, I'm writing this letter as a consultant for Monsanto."

"But he does it as president, Green College, UK - a prestige position; also the Imperial Research Cancer Organisation in the UK.

"And that makes a different position of the paper because you are an official university-employed person giving this position."

Further documents obtained by The Guardian allegedly show that Sir Richard was also paid a £15,000 fee by the Chemical Manufacturers Association, and chemicals companies Dow Chemicals and ICI for a review of vinyl chloride, used in plastics, which largely cleared the chemical of any link with cancers apart from liver cancer.

According to the newspaper, this is a view with which the World Health Organisation disagrees.

Doll's views on the chemical were used by the manufacturers' trade association to defend it for more than a decade, The Guardian said.

Sir Richard was the first to publish a peer-reviewed study, in 1951, to demonstrate smoking was a major cause of lung cancer. http://www.health-post.com/industry-paid-top-cancer-expert.html

Informant: Iris Atzmon.

----- Original Message -----
From: Mona Nilsson
Sent: Tuesday, December 05, 2006 5:27 PM
Subject: Fw: Epidemiologists with secret ties to industry

----- Original Message -----
From: Per Dalen
Sent: Tuesday, December 05, 2006 4:11 PM
Subject: Epidemiologists with secret ties to industry

The December 2 issue of the British Medical Journal carries a news article entitled "Professor Doll failed to declare interests when working on vinyl chloride". The first 150 words of the text are freely available at http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/short/333/7579/1142-c?etoc .

This news item is based on an article in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine."

The abstract:

Background Recently it was reported that a Swedish professor in environmental health has for decades worked as a consultant for Philip Morris without reporting his employment to his academic employer or declaring conflicts of interest in his research. The potential for distorting the epidemiological assessments of hazard and risk through paid consultants, pretending to be independent, is not exclusive to the tobacco industry.

Methods Documentation is drawn from peer reviewed publications, websites, documents from the Environmental Protection Agency, University reports, Wellcome Library Special Collections and the Washington Post.

Results Some consulting firms employ university researchers for industry work thereby disguising industry links in the income of large departments. If the industry affiliation is concealed by the scientist, biases from conflicting interests in risk assessments cannot be evaluated and dealt with properly. Furthermore, there is reason to suspect that editors and journal staff may suppress publication of scientific results that are adverse to industry owing to internal conflict of interest between editorial integrity and business needs.

Conclusions Examples of these problems from Sweden, UK, and USA are presented. The shortfalls cited in this article illustrate the need for improved transparency, regulations that will help curb abuses as well as instruments for control and enforcement against abuses.

The Swedish professor mentioned in the abstract is Ragnar Rylander, whose case has been quite thoroughly investigated in Sweden and Geneva and is widely publicized on the Web in the main European languages. The universities of Gothenburg and Geneva have been somewhat defensive during this process. As we know, cases of unethical behaviour in academia would often go unnoticed if it were not for the efforts of investigative journalists.

The next example in this article is professor Hans-Olov Adami, Swedish cancer epidemiologist who was recently given a top job at Harvard (). Chemical carcinogenesis is a perpetual problem, and it has often been taken for granted that epidemiologists have a key to its solution. The title of a 1995 article by science journalist Gary Taubes is "Epidemiology Faces Its Limits" (). This text is a neat summary of the situation in which the specialty had landed more than a decade ago. Looking for causal explanations by numerical methods has its limitations. However, epidemiologists are still much in demand when help is needed to stave off threats of government regulation.

Sir Richard Doll passed away in July, 2005. Obituarists remembered him as an impeccable and indeed exemplary scientist who saved millions of lives. Martin Walker has already aptly described this hagiographic tradition in his 2005 article, "Sir Richard Doll: Death, dioxin and PVC". Sir Richard's involvement in the so-called Spanish cooking oil scandal was touched upon briefly by Martin Walker in the article just mentioned, to which I might add the following links: http://shorl.com/famystimynipra .


Renowned Cancer Scientist Was Paid by Chemical Firm for 20 Years


Danish review

Please see enclosed full review on the Danish study from Dr George, he is willing to speak to any journalist about this.

[ The Latest Reassurance Ruse about Cell Phone and Cancer
http://omega.twoday.net/stories/3042382/ ]

Also read the commentary from Powerwatch UK. The German Doctors have also written a report, we are waiting for a full translation.

Also read about Sir Richard Doll in the Guardian who also sold out to Industry, sadly.

Epidemiologists with secret ties to industry - Industry 'paid top cancer expert'

Thank God we have some decent scientists and people left in the world who are willing to speak out against corruption.

Remember to buy the Sunday Express on Sunday and the Times on Monday.


We have now put up a initial commentary:

Alasdair & Graham Philips

Best wishes

Eileen O’Connor

EM Radiation Research Trust


Study finds no cancer risk from cellphones


Renowned Cancer Scientist Was Paid by Chemical Firm for 20 Years

A world-famous British scientist failed to disclose that he held a paid consultancy with a chemical company for more than 20 years while investigating cancer risks in the industry.



Global Corruption Barometer 2006




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