Dispatch: The NCI Puts its Head in the Sand

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Upon discovering that the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the foremost expert organization on the causes of cancer, posted the recently released “President’s Cancer Panel” report on their website, ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan expressed her discontent in a letter:

The report clearly leads us to believe that we are surrounded by ‘toxins’ and ‘carcinogens’ that increase our risk of cancer. But, as you well know, the major controllable causes of cancer have nothing to do with ‘environmental chemicals’ and everything to do with lifestyle factors — including cigarette smoking, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, overexposure to sunlight and other factors.

It was indeed troubling to see the National Cancer Institute...in any way associated with such a biased, agenda-driven, unscientific evaluation of the causes of human cancer.

NCI published the report with no accompanying critique or professional review of the content, thus leading any reasonable person to infer that they support the President’s Cancer Panel’s findings. “The fact that the NCI did not provide any commentary means it’s out there and though inaccurate, it will be accepted as legitimate,” states Dr. Whelan. “We at ACSH are very disappointed that NCI refused to answer the questions posed in my letter. Instead of assisting Americans in sorting out fact from hype about the known causes of human cancer, NCI appears to have made the decision to ignore the misinformation in the Panel's report.”

In “response” to Dr. Whelan’s question of whether or not the NCI either endorses or approves of the report’s recommendations, the NCI skillfully skirted the issue and provided no direct answer.

“We wonder if any other scientist devoted to evidence-based cancer causation questioned the NCI on this subject, and if not, why not?” asked ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross.