[ RadSafe ] Reply to comments of Carol Marcus and Mohan Doss

Peter Crane kinderhook46 at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 12 15:03:00 CDT 2015


In recent days, both Carol Marcus and Mohan Doss have responded to earlier comments of mine on the hormesis petitions now before the NRC. I had pointed out that Carol, ten years ago, had asserted that children were three times as radiosensitive as adults, whereas her petition specifically asked that all differences in radiation protection based on age or pregnancy status should be abolished, and I asked what had changed in these ten years. I also noted that Carol's argument was that the post-Chernobyl cancers could not have been caused by radiation, and were therefore irrelevant to the hormesis debate, whereas Mohan's argument was that the radiation doses from Chernobyl were so high that they were irrelevant to the question of the effects of low-dose radiation. Given that Mohan's petition claimed to support Carol's, I hoped that he would address this inconsistency. Their responses, to which I will reply further down, are as follows:

What happened in the last ten years, Peter, is that I read more and more of the scientific literature.  A good scientist changes his/her mind based upon reputable data.  Therefore, over my scientific life I have changed my mind about numerous ideas.

Carol S. Marcus, Ph.D., M.D.

Dear Peter,
    It is interesting that you did not respond to the considerable amount of new evidence since 2005 for radiation hormesis (that I referred to). However, you picked the least important among the cancers (~0.3% of all cancer deaths in USA) - thyroid cancer  - whose incidence is highly prone to overdiagnosis and overtreatment - and pointed out some apparent discrepancies between my statements and Carol Marcus's statements. Chernobyl situation is somewhat complex, and I will respond to this issue after studying it further. Your objections to the petitions have no merit based on the vast evidence for radiation hormesis which you did not refute. 
   With best regards,

To Carol, I would say that it is admirable that she continues to read in her field, and that she is willing to change her mind in the directions that the data takes her. (If she has read my comments on her petition, she will even find herself praised in at least three places, though implicitly criticized in others.) I would note that much of her reading must have been compressed into the last three years, for it was as recently as 2012 that she co-authored SNMMI guidelines that included this statement: “A causative role for 131I in carcinogenesis, other than for thyroid cancer in children at Chernobyl, is difficult to establish." Like Bill Lipton, I would be fascinated to know precisely what piece or pieces of evidence produced the epiphany that Chernobyl really didn't cause any cancers after all. 

The same guidelines said, citing BEIR VII, “No threshold for radiation-induced carcinogenesis has been firmly established.” Again, I would love to know what made you decide, in the intervening three years, that BEIR VII was part of a 69-year conspiracy to bamboozle the world about radiation, rather than an authoritative source in the field. 

In response to Mohan, I should acknowledge that I am not a scientist or a physician. In my comments to the NRC, I incorporated by reference the comments of Dr. Ian Fairlie, which may be found at the Regulations.gov website. As far as whether my thinking the views of BEIR VII, Dr. Fairlie, Dr. Jan Beyea, the National Academies of Science, etc. etc. more credible than yours is "without merit," just because I am not a scientist, I would cite the maxim of the great Samuel Johnson, that "a man may declare an egg bad although he cannot lay eggs himself." I find what BEIR VII said about the Feinendegen and Pollycove position persuasive, and I cannot imagine that the NAS would come to any different conclusion now, notwithstanding that the supporters of hormesis now include not only Lyndon LaRouche, who has touted it for 30 years, but also Ann Coulter. 

I am fascinated, Mohan, by your statement that I "picked the least important of the cancers." I realize that this is a comparative statement, but it seems to imply that thyroid cancer in UNimportant. Was that your intent? If so, and you think that all there is to estimating the importance of a disease is the fatality rate, no doubt you would rate river blindness as utterly insignificant.

May I respectfully ask what if anything you know about thyroid cancer, apart from the fatality rate? Are you aware that it is a lifelong condition, because of the need to remain on medication, and that many patients have difficulty arriving at a dose that comes close to restoring their pre-illness quality of life? You might want to check the current issue of "Thyroid," published by the American Thyroid Association, for an article on the impacts of thyroid cancer on the quality of life. In addition, the people who die of the disease are in general just as dead as those who succumb to statistically more lethal diseases. There were about 1600 of them in the U.S. last year.

Mohan, you attribute the views of the mainstream radiation establishment to the corrupting effect of money. If we go down that path, why should we not be even more inclined to link advocacy of hormesis to the corporations that have contributed to the hormesis movement over time, such as R. J. Reynolds, Philip Morris, Lorillard, British American Tobacco, ExxonMobil, Rohm & Haas, and NiPERA, an arm of the Nickel Institute? To be quite clear, I'm not suggesting that you or Carol or anyone else is a paid lackey of these companies, I'm just making the point that the argument about money can cut in more than one direction.

Finally, I do look forward to hearing your thoughts, whenever you are ready to share them with RADSAFE, on the contradiction between your and Carol's view of the post-Chernobyl thyroid cancers.

Best regards,

Peter Crane, NRC Counsel for Special Projects (retired) 

"Some cats got it and some cats ain't." -- from "Speedo's Back in Town," by the Coasters

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