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Alasdair's EMF Musings - View Comments

[Blog Index]

COMARE 11th Report

My first blog - and a rather heavily scientific one, I'm afraid.

At last, the long-delayed COMARE Report on clustering of childhood cancers has been published (see the Powerwatch News story for weblinks). They have concluded that spatial and temporal clustering is real - that is groups of similar cancers appearing in specific geographic areas for a number of years and, often, disappearing again with time. That is real progress. They have also assembled the largest ever database of childhood cancers. That is also real progress if they let it be used by other researchers.

However, the press releases from COMARE and the HPA have both been spun along the lines of infections, or unusual reactions to common infections, are the main causal trigger for the development of childhood cancers, especially leukaemia. This is despite the fact that they admit this would not be the cause of the first (initiating) pre-leukaemic genetic lesion but may be a promotional second (or subsequent) trigger. Also, although the concept and data fit this theory, there is virtually no actual evidence to show this actually happens. At present it is just a convenient theory and has far less scientific evidence to support it that the evidence against possible environmental carcinogens.

They state that: "Molecular evidence from comparison of Guthrie blood spots (taken from babies within a few days of birth) and subsequent leukaemic cells now shows conclusively that the first hit in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) often (possibly always) occurs in utero (Wiemels et al, 1999; Greaves and Wiemels, 2003). Postnatal activity of any other causative agent such as infection will thus be in the context of an already existing preleukaemic clone."

They also state: "It is not known whether the original (in utero) genetic lesion is caused by either genetic or environmental factors or is a purely random event associated with the natural process of immune system development. The abnormal genetic markers are not normally found in the parents. This suggests that environmental or lifestyle influences are most likely causal."

They dismiss EMFs being possibly associated with childhood leukaemia only "at very high levels of exposure, above 0.4 microtesla" - Eh? How on Earth can they describe 0.4 microtesla "very high" when we are allowed to be continuously exposed to 100 microtesla? Pure spin wording, certainly not scientific.

They also incorrectly say that there have been "no positive findings" that associate electric fields with leukaemia. They even cite the UKCCS (Skinner et al, 2002) which DID show positive associations (albeit not statistically significant, mainly due to the way they were analysed). They ignore the study I was a co-author of (Coghill, Steward, Philips, 1996) which found a positive association. They ignore the Miller and Theriault papers that found positive associations between electric fields and adult leukaemia.

They then dismiss petrochemical (including traffic fumes) causes with a single paragraph: "Recent ecological studies by Knox (2005a,b, 2006) suggest that there is an increased risk among children exposed in the prenatal or early postnatal period to certain environmental pollutants. Some of the results are very striking but the complexities of the analytical methods and the lack of detailed information to support the methodology make these results uninterpretable."
Now, George Knox is UK based and available to meet with them and answer any questions that they may have had. So there is no excuse for them to dismiss his work as "uninterpretable".

They are either incompetent (which I do not believe) or there is a hidden agenda. They seem to be in favour of trying to find a vaccination that may help - the pharmaceutical industry and researchers would like that - yet another jab for all babies, despite the initiating damage already being done before the child was born. They also don't point the finger at any environmental pollution problem like EMFs and petrochemical pollution, despite the fact that there are masses of scientific papers positively associating these with the initiation and incidence of cancer. They also conclude that as they have not found clusters of child cancer around nuclear installations, that environmental levels of man-made nuclear pollution are unlikely to be a cause of child cancers.

How convenient for industry and Government. Just in time for a new round of nuclear power stations to be built.


Posted at: 21/07/2006 17:25:48 :: 0 Comments


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