17th World Conference on Lung Cancer

Posted 23rd December 2016 by Dave Cross
The 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer recently concluded in Vienna, Austria. The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) is made up from more than 5,000 lung cancer specialists in over 100 countries, dedicated to the study of lung cancer. This ought to be a welcoming forum to the notion of harm reduction, given the gravitas of the subject the clinicians were debating – unfortunately vaping got another kicking.

Doctor Charlotta Pisinger, at Glostrup University Hospital in Copenhagen, gave a presentation to the assembled cancer experts on the subject of electronic cigarettes. The crux of her speech was that conflicts of interest and bias is preventing researchers from speaking about potential harms from vaping in their studies.

She posited that the findings from a study she carried out casts a shadow over the Public Health England (PHE) and Royal College of Physicians (RCP) reports, and that there are a number of lung problems linked to vaping (but she can’t prove it).

“If we expect health damage, the lung is the primary target organ, and we will expect an increased risk. We don't know which diseases we can expect,” Pisinger said, “but I guess that asthma, COPD, obviously, and even lung cancer cannot definitely be ruled out.”

She continued: “You heard probably that e-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional cigarettes, and you will of course ask: 'Well, my patient is a reluctant smoker, he is unwilling or unable to quit. Isn't it better for him to switch to e-cigarettes?”

The issue she didn’t deal with is that her study was carried out in 2014, was only a review of the existing literature (that was limited back then) and that both the PHE and RCP reports referenced her work before reaching their conclusions. Plus, even though they factored her study into their deliberations of the scale of harm reduction offered by vaping, she still questions their validity.

Freemax

Indications as to why she is so opposed to vaping as a harm reduction tool become apparent when she went on to add: “In recent years, the tobacco industry has increased exposure in the sector and that aggressive marketing strategies have resulted in an explosion in sales of a product that remains largely unregulated.”

Pisinger has embraced the ranks of those that are ideologically opposed to anything that reminds them of the tobacco industry or smoking. She points a finger at academics and slurs their work as being biased, despite them contributing peer-reviewed studies to reputable journals and being open about sources of funding.

She does this while ignoring her bias, having recently completed an update to her 2014 work at the behest of the World Health Organisation – a body who have amply demonstrated to vapers that public health and harm reduction is the last thing they are interested in.

From 115 studies she focuses on 16 that were funded by Big Tobacco. From 115 studies she focuses on one that discovered exceptionally high levels of diacetyl. And, to support her allegations that vaping causes severe lung problems, she relies on just one (abysmal) study from China where teenagers diagnosed themselves.

“There is an increasing body of evidence indicating harm,” she shamefully concluded. An audience made up from an organisation of 5,000 leading cancer specialists deserved better.

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