Secondhand smoke: study unable to find lung cancer link

by Walter Olson on December 12, 2013

Considering that whole edifices of regulation are built on the premise of the lethal nature of “passive” smoking, you’d think the press might pay at least passing attention to reports like this one: a big study of more than 76,000 women found no link between lung cancer and secondhand smoke, which tends to confirm earlier studies also consistent with zero or undetectable association. [Journal of the National Cancer Institute; Christopher Snowdon] More: Jacob Sullum (“Now they tell us.”)

{ 7 comments }

1 Jim Collins 12.12.13 at 10:15 am

There is no proof that first hand smoke causes cancer either. The only thing that is proven is that there is a higher rate of certain cancers among smokers than there is among non-smokers.

2 Walter Olson 12.12.13 at 10:26 am

Sorry, Jim, but there is proof that first hand smoke causes cancer that should long since have convinced anyone not intent on being contrary. It is overwhelmingly confirmed by epidemiological studies, including the very study being reported on here; no other plausible explanations have been offered for these strong and highly statistically significant correlations; and plausible biological mechanisms have been demonstrated. One might as well claim there is no proof of causal relation between having a knife sticking out of you and blood loss.

3 DEM 12.12.13 at 10:49 am

There never has been any real evidence that second hand smoke causes cancer. The EPA invented that notion out of thin air, and its initial second hand smoke regulations were initially overturned by a federal district court. But the supposed cancer link suits the left’s social disapproval of smoking, so to hell with the science, they say. It’s a good thing they’d never misrepresent scientific evidence in any other endeavor, amirite?

4 MattS 12.12.13 at 11:15 am

Walter,

If you are losing blood and you have a knife sticking out of you, a doctor can definitively determine the cause of your blood loss.

No doctor can determine the cause of any individual cancerous tumor. When they can definitively say that this specific individual tumor was caused by smoking, then you will be able to say smoking causes cancer.

I’m not saying there is no link between smoking and cancer, but the strength of that link is drastically overstated by the media and anti-smoking activists.

5 Audrey Silk 12.13.13 at 2:46 am

Mr. Olson, thank you for doing your part to help push this into the mainstream. I recently wrote Gallup (official snail mail) about their yearly survey that includes the question, “Do you believe secondhand smoke is harmful?” I asked how they expected to get a real pulse and claim it has value (influential for laws) when the only information the public receives on the subject is “secondhand smoke kills.” It makes the entire survey on the matter worthless. I never received a response.

6 Hogbody Spradlin 12.13.13 at 7:38 pm

Second hand smoke has been a bogey man for about 30 years. I doubt a study with 76 million peoole would make a dent in the canard.

7 Ron Miller 12.17.13 at 11:22 am

“I’m not saying there is no link between smoking and cancer, but the strength of that link is drastically overstated by the media and anti-smoking activists.”

– No one who is an epidemiologist

Comments on this entry are closed.