Stick to the Real Stories

Related articles

Last week, New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof attended a "fascinating symposium" with notorious alarmist Dr. Philip Landrigan at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Dr. Landrigan's transparent anti-chemical agenda left the impressionable Kristof with many questions. He wrote in Saturday's issue, "What if breast cancer in the United States has less to do with insurance or mammograms and more to do with contaminants in our water or air or in certain plastic containers in our kitchens? What if the surge in asthma and childhood leukemia reflect, in part, the poisons we impose upon ourselves?"
"Mr. Kristof usually writes about poverty-stricken and oppressed minorities in Asia and Africa and the way we can help them, but he occasionally opines about chemicals in the environment, and when he does he is always wrong," says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. "Here he is parroting the claims of Dr. Landrigan, Mt. Sinai's chairmen of the department of preventive medicine, who is in league with folks who think that very low doses of exposure to substances that are not toxic at high doses might be damaging. Obviously, this makes no sense.
"Mr. Kristof offers some misleading factoids and some simple statements of what he calls truth, and which are actually not true, such as the notion that there has been a surge in the incidence of breast cancer. He blames this on environmental chemicals, though he does qualify that by saying some of the trend is 'probably due to improvements in detection.' Actually, rates of breast cancer have stayed pretty steady since the actual 'surge' of the late 1970s-early 1980s, when screening mammography first became widespread. And while there was a significant increase of asthma worldwide during in the period between 1970 and 1997, it has remained steady since then. It's true that childhood leukemia has also been slowly rising, but the numbers are pretty much parallel to the rising pediatric population. Even though childhood leukemia is tragic and we should strive to reduce it, there is no evidence whatsoever linking it to environmental chemicals. And thanks to pharmaceutical research, this previously lethal disease now sees about 90 percent of its victims survive to live long and productive lives.
"This is clearly alarmist. The fact that there is no surge in these things does not seem to impede him from promoting this anti-chemical agenda in his column. I wish that Mr. Kristof would stick to his good work advocating for the oppressed and disadvantaged women and children around the world and leave the toxicology, epidemiology, and carcinogenesis to the experts."