Cancer, Chemicals and History

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Xtremehkr, Jan 27, 2005.

  1. Xtremehkr macrumors 68000

    Xtremehkr

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    #1
    The Nation

    It's a long article continued at the site, but well worth reading.
     
  2. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #2
    One Word: F************K!

    That is one hell of a story! :eek: :eek: :eek:
     
  3. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    Without arguing the merits of either the two authors or the chemical people:

    Is there any hard data as to the incidence of cancers vs. the use of vinyl chlorides?

    I don't know how one would go about calculating the increased use of vinyl chorides over time, other than some broad "tons per year" sort of number. We should have data as to cancers per 100,000, year by year or decade by decade.

    'Rat
     
  4. Xtremehkr thread starter macrumors 68000

    Xtremehkr

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    What impression did you get from the article?
     
  5. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Xtremehkr, if you're asking me, well, I think there could be a helluva problem. It's also possible that the degree of the problem is overstated; I just have no way of knowing.

    Remember, the people who allegedly did these lab tests which led to discovery, and the people who reportedly hid the results of the tests had to have known that they were just as vulnerable as you or I. It's free and easy to speak of corporate greed and all that, but corporate people aren't suicidal.

    All I'm looking for is some more information so I can make up my own mind. It's simple, really: Remember the artificial sweetener scare of some 20 or 30 years ago? The stuff caused cancer in lab rats. Then it came out that the amount of sweetener needed would have required something like eighty (80) Coca Colas per day to get an equivalent dose.

    Then, more recently, we had the brouhaha over Alar. Same sort of deal.

    'Rat
     
  6. Xtremehkr thread starter macrumors 68000

    Xtremehkr

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    I was just asking your opinion based on the information presented. To me it seems that there is a lot more that is going to come out in the near future.

    Now based on the information presented, there is (to me) the possibility that a lot of damaging information is going to come out. What reinforces this point? The actions that the industry has undertaken.

    They have for one hired a historian to present both a contrary opinion AND a legal excuse nearly identical to the one used by the Tobacco industry who if the allegations turn out to be true were guilt of the same thing, just involving a different product.

    If there was nothing to worry about, would the industry do anything at all? Especially in the manner that they have? Seems unlikely.

    You asked for hard evidence, the story did not cover the hard evidence that I am assuming the book will. But, the industry has taken measures against the release of the book already, which suggests that there is something to worry about.

    Based on all of this, you tell me what conclusions you are drawing from the information provided. You asked after all. Where is the hard evidence? in the book I would assume, based on the articles researched, reinforced by industry actions concerning the pending release of the book. It's all a littly cyclical at this point, but that will change when the information is released to the public perhaps.

    My question generated from your skepticism concerns why on earth you would take the side of an industry that sells carcinogens to the public. Yes, I am assuming that you are defending their actions, that won't be absolutely proven until all of the information comes out and you make your statement concerning where you stand on all of this.

    But for now, doesn't this concern you in the least bit? Maybe you were lucky enough not to have an incident of cancer related to this product occur in the people you know, but aren't you even a little bit concerned about the fact that it could have had a serious (and preventable) effect on those you know?

    Just considering the information provided and the supression measures undertaken by the industry, what is your conslusion? Don't forget to consider that this information has been vetted by two corporations, Universities, scientists, historians, and the industry apparently.

    One of the aims of this story was to inform people that there are actions being undertaken to prevent the hard evidence from being presented, does this not worry you? How is it in your interest to ignore the possibility that a company was selling you carcinogens. What do you get out of that?
     
  7. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #7
    Corporate people may not be suicidal, but they do respect only one thing: the bottom line. As a much better philosopher than myself once observed, it's wrong to expect corporations to do the "right thing" on their own recognizance. They have to be watched, very carefully, because while they might not be suicidal, they may very well be homicidal in all but intent. Corporations are utterly amoral creatures. They stalk just one prey, relentlessly. We do well to keep that in mind when evaluating their actions, and their immense potential to do harm to us in the process.
     
  8. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    No argument, IJ.

    The difference between this deal and the tobacco thing is that everybody knew the tobacco companies were "blowing smoke". The issue was of liability, not harm. The harm was known since I was a kid. Here, there is as yet a question of actual harm.

    Like I originally said in my first post, it COULD be a helluva problem.

    I have no interest in defending anybody. I have reasons for a certain amount of scepticism, as I mentioned before. I see no reason for a kneejerk acceptance of allegations, even if they come to be proven true.

    For one thing, given the amount of money and effort expended in cancer research, I'm surprised that somebody, long ago, hasn't investigated various vinyl compounds as to hazard. Testing of many, many chemical compounds is an everyday affair. I don't claim such a lack of knowledge is definitive; it's merely another datum.

    There are many independent labs which can test these claims about vinyls. In a year or two we can have answers which prove or disprove the allegations. Political energy should be spent on seeing that this is done.

    'Rat
     
  9. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    Conclusive proofs will take far longer than a year or two. Medical testing is like that -- you don't get cancer from something a week or even a year after exposure. It might take 30 years before the effects are known and the connections established. Sure, the health risks associated with tobacco were known 40 years ago, but the lawsuits really turned on what the tobacco companies knew about those risks (and the addictive qualities of nicotine), but hid from the public and adamantly denied. They lied about the safety of their products, and that tends to look really bad in court.

    A lot of the short-term scares you mention are the result of preliminary studies that got over-simplified when they were reported in the media. The conclusions of the scientists are usually qualified if not ambiguous, but that doesn't make a good story.

    Just look at all the hoo-ha over statin drugs. A study comes out, and suddenly doctors are prescribing them for virtually all of their adult patients. A year or two goes by, we catch our breath, and now we're not so sure these drugs are so necessary for people who aren't otherwise at risk for heart disease. And so it goes.
     
  10. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

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    #10
    It would cease to be a knee-jerk acceptance when the allegations come to be proven true.
     
  11. Xtremehkr thread starter macrumors 68000

    Xtremehkr

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    What more would it take for these allegations to be taken seriously?
     
  12. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #12
    Seems to me that wanting definitive proof is taking it seriously. If I didn't take it seriously, I'd just have ignored the whole deal...

    Problem: If people don't smoke, or quit smoking, there's no further new effect insofar as acquiring cancer. Vinyls are pervasive throughout society as was noted. So, aside from the issue of any monetary redress, how do we rid our entire country of vinyls? Or the whole world, I guess?

    Consider the tens of thousands of houses with PVC pipes, as one for-instance of pervasiveness. The corporate money just does not exist to retrofit with some other material. And, over 200 million cars in the U.S., plus the rest of the world...

    'Rat
     
  13. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    The lawsuit in question stems from a factory worker's occupational exposure to vinyl chlorides, so this particular case seems on its face much more similar to the asbestos claims than the tobacco industry suits. Obviously the implications could be much greater if these chemicals were used in consumer products with the manufacturer's knowledge that they might might be harmful.
     
  14. Xtremehkr thread starter macrumors 68000

    Xtremehkr

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    The article is five pages long. But, I guess we will see where it goes. There was quite a lot of information about what the have, and then there is the indutry reaction to the book. Internal memos from the company outlining that they realized what they were doing amounted to a coverup of known dangers. The book has been vetted by PBS and HBO.

    Asking for "definitive" evidence at this point is silly. The point is that the industry is try to block the release of any information at all. There's obviously more to this that will come out eventually.
     
  15. Xtremehkr thread starter macrumors 68000

    Xtremehkr

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    From the Link in the article.

    Read the rest of the link and tell me how definitive the information needs to be, before concluding that something is wrong here. But you could have read that and the rest of it yourself.
     
  16. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    Yeah, I could have, just as you could have posted that part of the link...

    Okay: Workers and beauticians; who else besides "women who use hairspray"?

    This last group, at risk from the early (I guess) 1950s until 1974, interests me because that's when I was dating and socializing. It seemed like half the women I knew, if you touched their hair, it was like wire from all the hairspray. Roughly, that age group would be what, say around 18 at the start of use? Late 60s in age, now, on down to age 48-ish.

    Hasta manaña,

    'Rat
     
  17. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

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    Were they exposed to the fumes from the hairspray in high concentration for 8 hours a day, five days a week?
     
  18. Xtremehkr thread starter macrumors 68000

    Xtremehkr

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    I wouldn't like to have a carcinogen sitting on my scalp all day long, if it deteroriates the bones in factory workers hands, it can't be good for your head.
     
  19. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #19
    I was on a federal jury in 1980 on an asbestosis case. We awarded the guy $400K. He'd worked with steam pipes for around thirty years, installing/maintaining asbestos insulation. Johns/Mansville was the defendant.

    'Rat
     
  20. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

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    The propellant, PVM, is the toxin, not the goop itself.
     
  21. Xtremehkr thread starter macrumors 68000

    Xtremehkr

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    But you spray it onto your head?, inhaling some and getting it on your skin.

    It still deteriorated bones inside of people hands before creating cancer in the liver.
     
  22. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

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    #22
    a couple of points.
    there is undisputed hard evidence about severe carcinogenic effects of vinyl chloride monomer and vinyl is a well known and characterized occupational hazard. Indeed, it is one of the classic examples reported in any decent pathology or toxicology textbook.

    I am not aware of equally strong evidence for hazards from polymerized PVC. There are a lot of other reagents in plastics that are much worse health hazards when they leach out. I wouldn't rush and substitute back my house's PVC pipes with lead ones yet.

    In other words, the problem was/is manufacturing, not the finished product(s), with the exception of application of hairspray, but here again, the issues where with people breathing it all day, not the single user.

    I would draw a parallel with the old textile industry and usage of dyes, one of the all-time most hazardous jobs in human history. Still is, especially in third world countries.
    It doesn't mean that your cool new slacks will get you sick, just that someone might have compromized their health so you can wear them...

    That said, the article deals with the industry allegedly knowing about this stuff before it became widely known, and now trying to suppress publication of the story with bogus reasons.
    If they indeed knew early, and the evidence points in that direction, they should be hit hard from their employees and governement.
     

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