New England Journal of Medicine touts President s Cancer Panel report to push anti-chemical agenda

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Last May, a body calling itself the President’s Cancer Panel issued a report blaming environmental chemicals for causing cancer in America and calling for stricter regulation of chemicals to protect Americans from these supposed dangers. Despite widespread scorn among experts — including the American Cancer Society — the 2010 President’s Cancer Panel report was used as a platform for a New England Journal of Medicine perspective piece. The journal and the author decided to promote the Panel’s findings in order to “combat” the supposedly growing threat of “toxic” chemicals in the environment.

In his NEJM article lauding the report, Harvard School of Public Health’s David C. Christiani, M.D., M.P.H. calls for tighter regulations and increased safety testing of trace levels of consumer product chemicals. Cristiani seems particularly obsessed with possible risks presented by the chemical bisphenol A, comparing the impact of environmental exposures to it to those associated with tobacco use, “dietary factors” and viral infections.

ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan points out that Dr. Christiani exaggerates the laurels of the President’s Cancer Panel by describing it as “an advisory committee comprising physicians and scientists” when, in fact, the committee has just two members — one surgeon and one scientist appointed during the Bush administration.

ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross reminds us that even the harshest critics of the two substances most criticized by the Panel report — BPA and atrazine — have never accused these chemicals of causing cancer in any human — not even in rats. “Unfortunately, most people will see the name ‘President’s Cancer Panel’ in NEJM and think, ‘Wow, those chemicals must be harmful!’ without bothering to read the report,” laments Dr. Ross. “The President’s Cancer Panel was a horrendous piece of political agenda masquerading as a scientific report. It seems that now the formerly respected NEJM has climbed on the toxic-terror bandwagon.”