Dispatch: 9/11 Distorted, Breast Surgery Sought, Herbicide Vilified

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Jeff in the Daily Caller

ACSH’s Jeff Stier wrote an article for the Daily Caller warning about the upcoming trial in which exaggerated health claims may extract money from funds set aside for those claiming to be suffering from conditions related to the World Trade Center wreckage: “These sorts of cases, whether heard in court or by the administrators of a federal fund, should be judged by science, not some misplaced sense of good will towards 9/11 heroes. But the latter is exactly what is happening...As a result, we are about to see a huge and corrupt transfer of funds from sympathetic American taxpayers to activists, unions, lawyers, and perhaps even outright fraudsters.”

Extreme and Unnecessary Caution

Tara Parker-Pope reports in her New York Times blog, Well: “For decades, advocates have fought to protect women from disfiguring breast cancer surgery, arguing that it was just as effective to remove only the cancerous tissue rather than the whole breast. But today, a growing number of women with breast cancer are pushing surgeons in a startling new direction. Not only do they want the cancerous breast removed, but they also want the healthy breast cut off.”

“This is not the appropriate way to approach this,” says ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross. “The risk of breast cancer in the second breast after the first breast or tumor is removed is only increased by less than 1%, so having the second breast removed based on the fear of cancer in the first is irrational. Of course, this pertains to women in general, and does not apply to women with a genetic proclivity to breast cancer, those with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Women who are interested in more science-based lowering of future risk of breast cancer would do well to discuss chemoprevention using tamoxifen or raloxifene with their doctors.”

Zero Tolerance of Non-Problems

Sixteen cities have sued Syngenta, the manufacturer of the herbicide atrazine, in order to pay for water filtration after the chemical was found in water supplies at concentrations higher than the federal limit.

“Atrazine is one of the most common and effective weed killers around and is used a lot in corn-growing areas especially, so it’s no surprise that some of it gets into the water,” says Dr. Ross. “The allowable limits of atrazine apply to yearly average concentrations and not occasional spikes like these activists groups have found, and no studies have ever shown any adverse health effects on humans as a result of exposure to atrazine. There is an ongoing lawsuit that started in 2004 that attempts to establish a zero-tolerance standard for any contaminant in the water, but of course that is ridiculous because the mere presence of trace levels of chemicals in the water does not mean there’s a health hazard.”

Curtis Porter is a research intern at the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH.org).