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WHO: Questionable Science And Conflicts Of Interest‏

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently added Britain’s breakfast favourites such as bacon, sausages and other red meat to the list of the ‘encyclopaedia of carcinogens’. All processed red meat is to join the premier league of cancer causing agents such as smoking, asbestos, alcohol and argon gas.

However, there is evidence the WHO is not being entirely rigorous or scientific throughout a whole range of sciences.

Speculation on why eating meat can cause cancer includes the bacteria in the gut to the iron content. Also if you burn meat, the black colour contains benzo(a)pyrene a Group 1 carcinogen that causes lung cancer in smokers, to the very fact that cooking itself produces carcinogens. An experiment in France found cooking eight pieces of meat on a barbeque has the equivalent in dioxins of 220,000 smokers.The evidence on processed meat is arguably inconclusive.

The WHO claim an increase of 17 per cent in bowel cancer for red meat and 18 per cent for processed meat. In epidemiological terms these are statistically insignificant. Being less than a 100 per cent risk, the results could be coincidence or other factors unknown. Probably the best example is cervical cancer.

With smoking women, they appeared to have nearly a three times greater risk of contracting the disease, which suggests causation, but the sole cause, recently discovered is Human Papillomavirus (HPV), more generally known as genital warts, a sexually transmitted virus.

The correlation is that smokers are risk takers and more likely to have unprotected sex and at a greater frequency. It is not inhaling tobacco smoke. Scientifically, great care should be taken in trying to interpret low relative risks.

Breitbart reported 18 months ago on an Austrian study which seems counter intuitive. They concluded: “Austrian adults who consume a vegetarian diet are less healthy (in terms of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), have a lower quality of life, and also require more medical treatment.”

On alcohol the WHO may also be struggling to come up with a convincing case for alcohol as a carcinogen, especially wine drinkers. Certainly this Danish study of 25,000 people found “Light drinkers have a 10 per cent reduced risk of all-cause mortality; those who include wine have a 34 per cent reduced risk.”

The WHO has also listed smart and mobile phones as carcinogenic in May 2011. In this press release they say “..electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans Group 2B.” This Danish study found, if anything a protective effect of using a smart phone after studying 420,000 people.

Perhaps the WHO and its Director General Dr. Margaret Chan’s most difficult situation was how it conducted the science and approach to the H1N1 or swine flu “epidemic,” which began in Mexico in 2009. The British taxpayer alone spent £1.2 billion on vaccines and preparation, based on recommendations from the WHO.

Dr. Chan was not keen at the time to underestimate the possible effect by saying, “Swine flu will be biggest pandemic ever.”  However, many of the people advising the WHO and world governments were paid or expensed by pharmaceutical companies who manufacture the vaccine.

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) launched an investigation. They discovered, “… that key scientists advising the WHO on pandemic influenza had financial links to the drug companies which stood to profit from the organisation’s decisions. But, despite strict internal rules on conflicts of interest, the WHO did not declare these links.”

The WHO has also been caught apparently misleading on the harm of passive cigarette smoke and linking passive smoking to lung cancer and heart disease. Their paper from 1998 headed up by Professor Paulo Boffetta found no credible statistically significant evidence, despite spinning in the opposite direction. The only statistically significant evidence offered was that children exposed to tobacco smoke had a 22 per cent reduction in lung cancer later in life.

For those who like their bacon butties, there seems little to worry about. Other aspects of the WHO’s and Dr. Margaret Chan’s activities need vigilance. I will leave the last word to the BMJ and BIJ, who reached this disturbing summary in 2010.

But our investigation has revealed damaging issues. If these are not addressed, H1N1 may yet claim its biggest victim—the credibility of the WHO and the trust in the global public health system.”

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