[Marxism] Fukushima’s Children are Dying » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Name

DW dwaltersmia at gmail.com
Wed Jun 18 13:42:39 MDT 2014


So Louis, you missed my point on this, sort of. I think what is written in
this piece you provided is quite good and accurate as far as my own
dime-store understanding of the deterministic nature of various carcinogens
(I have the massive tome of "The Politics of Cancer" sitting on my table in
the living room as it happens. It's very daunting to even look at
it!)...yet they are, precisely carcinogens because we know they cause
cancer. How? How do we know? It's true, one can't do (nor would one want
too ethically) to conduct decades long double-blind studies trying to give
humans cancer. They do use animal studies (and why I oppose the movement to
ban animals from *this* sort of very needed research), especially for
hard-tumor R&D and can look at cells as they metastasize (which is what I
meant by the 'mechanism').

No...the real way is the use of medical statistics using increases of
particular forms of cancer associated with, at least in the beginning, with
what we now know are carcinogens. Taking large and targeted sections of the
population looking for correlations that are specific to whatever
environmental (or internally ingested) substance that might give rise to a
blip, or cancer 'cluster' in a given population. Then test again, do more
studies, meta-studies and compare papers, etc etc. At a certain point it
becomes clear that a substance causes cancer. This was done, by the way,
with  tobacco and why all doctors and oncologists understood it caused
cancer. There was no doubt when it went to trial. Proving it *legally* was
altogether more difficult (obviously) as the lawyers wanted and demanded
specific medical causality between tobacco and lung cancer. It wasn't
enough that people who smoked got cancer in double-digit numbers greater
than non-smokers, they demanded something that can't be actually seen: how
tar and other ingredients did it's dirty work *within the cell itself*.
There are theories but no understanding of the specific mechanism in this
case. Still, people died from smoking and everyone...as in
anyone...understood this to be case even if at the molecular level it was
hard to determine as distinguished from other environmental inputs.

So...they found the one homogenous grouping that could prove this in a
purely statistical way without all the other class, ethnic, environmentally
differing inputs that could throw the stats off: the same group used in the
very first study that started to reveal the suspicions that tobacco kills:
the group if British doctors who all lived in London in the 1950s.
Establishing a fairly good control group of those that did not smoke and
those that did showed the sharp differences in rates lung cancer without a
doubt to even...the legal profession.

With radiation, as I noted, it is not about radiation but over the issue of
how one determines if radiation at low levels, above various background
levels, are detrimental to any ones health at all. This is not the same as
the issue of tobacco where it was quite clear from the onset of the initial
studies and at many different health levels (not just cancer but heart
disease, pulmonary problems such as asthma and emphysema, renal failures,
etc). With tobacco, the issue was a kind of binary divide: those that
smoked; those that didn't. With radiation, it's far more fickle, especially
at the low end of the background level we're talking about with both the
Chernobyl situation, the Fukushima accident and nuclear plants generally
combined with the fact we exist, indeed evolved, "bathed in radiation".

So to compare the two as you do does a disservice to those who are trying
to parse out the import of low level radiation effects on humans (and
plants and other animals) and is hardly helpful.

The theory (and only regulatory guidelines) that purport to show or explain
that 'any amount of radiation is harmful' is based on the linear
non-threshold theory or "LNT", which is the majority position held by those
that study radiation, through few, it seems, do so with much heart in the
discussions that have been taking place for a long time. The famous gold
stand BRIER VII report on radiation, while raising some questions about LNT
being useful for determining cancer rates, still argues that it is the only
theory by which regulations could be adapted. The wiki article has some
really good coverage on the LNT and has statements on both sides of the
debate. For example, the NYAS (the group that 'published the paper about a
million people dying from Chernobyl that it later distanced itself from)
does continue to support the LNT hypothesis. Other organizations do not.

The problem is that the "Popular Science"  journalism of Harvey Wasserman
is really a very poor source for the issues of whether the prediction by
the WHO (which says few if any fatalities or contraction of cancer will
occur because of Fuku) or not as he is more prone to use as evidence...the
anti-nuke organizations he quotes from ("sky is falling, we're all gonna
die..." school of journalism). The Wasserman character is the same guy who
parroted that nonsense about the removal of the fuel rods from Fukushima
Unit No. 4 (over half way completed I think) was going to lead to the world
wide holocaust of the human species and forced Helen Caldicott, Harvey's
ideological doppelganger, to state that she had to consider "fleeing with
her family from the Northern Hemisphere". (She actually stated that!).
That's why the Wasserman essay you linked to on Counterpunch is so much
garbage.

David



More information about the Marxism mailing list