McKee Defenders Caught Offside

Posted 16th October 2015 by Dave Cross
Martin McKee, every vaper’s bestie, attacked scientists involved in one study following the release of the Public Health England (PHE) “95%” report. He was defended by Portland University’s Peyton and Pankow (they of a flawed formaldehyde study), as the bulk of right-thinking scientists and academics rounded on him. Now Peyton and Pankow come in for renewed criticism.

To continue with an inane Eamonn Holmes-esque football analogy: Peyton and Pankow’s centre back pairing for Team McKee demonstrated a poor level of communication, a lack of commitment to play fair and resulted in many own goals.

Karl Krupp, a researcher based in Miami, also joined in the fray by questioning Doctor Farsalinos’ position that opponents to vaping were “being alarmist”. He writes: “Farsalinos does not mention that there are human in vivo and in vitro studies showing an association between nicotine and cancer.”

Understandably, Farsalinos took issue with this: “It is concerning that scientists completely ignore human epidemiological evidence but continue to support laboratory evidence. However, even laboratory studies have never shown than nicotine is equally or more harmful than smoking. Public health, as any other scientific field, should be based on unbiased presentation of evidence.”

The theme of public health “experts” distorting the evidence (or ignoring it completely) is the pursuance of a personal agenda isn’t a new accusation. We previously reported how Professor West’s retort to McKee’s article was: “The PHE report was produced in an attempt to pull together the available evidence and clarify some misunderstandings that had been created by widespread dissemination of incorrect reading of the available data. Unfortunately the BMJ analysis piece, by public health figures who had been involved in the original misunderstandings, will probably confuse the public and policy makers and further undermine the credibility of public health science. This topic requires careful, reflective analysis and research, not propaganda.”

Clive Bates has joined in to rebuke McKee’s defensive backline. Writing to the British Medical Journal (BMJ) he says: “PHE is obliged to challenge false risk perceptions created by poor science and sensationalist communication.”

David Peyton has apologised for the storm he created when he released a study looking at formaldehyde production but appears to have learnt nothing from the process. Bates continues: “this [in their supporting statement] claim of elevated cancer-risk created a world-wide media storm and will have implanted the idea that e-cigarette use can have serious cancer risks - possibly more so than smoking.”

Bates’ exasperation with their failure of logic is almost palpable: “The only trouble is that the measurements were made in completely unrealistic conditions that no human subject would experience for more than an unpleasant instant, let alone the whole lifetime on which these cancer risk calculations were based.”

The on going spat between commentators in the BMJ simply highlights that a massive divide still exists between those advocating harm reduction through ecigs and those who would see it eradicated for ungrounded ideological reasons.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker