Saturday, 29 December 2012

Nicotine, the zombie antidote, by Dr Gabriela Segura

An informed view of nicotine consumption and smoking from a professional, this piece compares smoking as a health hazard with other environmental pollutants, including those found in foods. Dr Segura refers to this video, which plots over 2,000 nuclear tests that have taken place worldwide since 1945.

This, of course, is only the tip of the iceberg as far as environmental pollution is concerned, as it does not record heavy industry emissions or any other kind of pollution, but only the nuclear tests. The point being made is that the emissions from tobacco smoke, and even the risks of primary smoking, are really without significance in the face of all the other environmental hazards that people face daily.

In 2000, George Monbiot addressed pollution and its link with cancer in his book Captive State. He describes how the research agenda has been led away from investigating links between corporate industry, pollution and morbidity:
As big business infiltrates the research agenda, ever wider zones of public enquiry are placed off limits. In 1999, the government published a White Paper on public health called Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation. The only atmospheric pollution named in the report is radon. It also happens to be one of the only pollutants in Britain which does not result from the activities of large corporations: it is naturally occurring. The report warns us about the dangers of cancer resulting from 'exposure to radon gas in certain homes or excessive sunlight', but nuclear power stations are not mentioned, and nor are any other chemicals, even though the paper concedes that 'Pollutants in the atmosphere may cause cancer if inhaled or swallowed'. The language in which this warning is given is interesting: it creates the impression that breathing or ingesting pollution is something we can avoid. The paper informs us that the government hosted 'the largest ever Ministerial conference on environment and health in 1999. It fails to tell us that the links between cancer and industrial pollution were dropped from the agenda soon after the meeting began. [link added] 
Except in the case of tobacco, universities are usually happy to accept corporate funding for research purposes. In the case of tobacco, but in no other case, universities are expected to refuse it on the grounds that it is 'not disinterested', but how can corporate funding ever be disinterested?

Dr Segura's piece also claims:
Outdoor air contains some of the nastiest cocktails of pollutants. Most people tend to think of air pollution as having effects on the lungs, but exposure to road traffic and air pollution may also trigger heart attacks6. But people are right: air pollution does cause lung cancer. A much-anticipated government study of more than 12,000 miners has found that exposure to diesel engine exhaust significantly increases the risk of lung cancer. For NON-smokers, the risk was seven times higher. The authors of the study say "we also observed an interaction between smoking and 15-year lagged cumulative REC [marker for estimation of diesel exhaust exposure] such that the effect of each of these exposures was attenuated in the presence of high levels of the other.7" What does that mean? It means that research suggests that people who smoke are less vulnerable to the toxic effects of inhalation of diesel fumes than people who don't smoke. [Emphasis in original] 
Says Dr Segura: 'You have no idea how many times we have found again and again the protective properties of tobacco smoking.' She gives more examples.

You can enjoy this article for yourself. It sets out the view that smoking should not be used as a scapegoat for modern health problems: not only does it have benefits, but the hazardous ingredients in mass-market tobacco are found in consumer items everywhere.
Yes, tobacco has its pollutants, but they are found in the water we drink, the air we breathe, in baby food, you name it, in even higher concentrations. A conservative estimate is that over 80,000 new chemicals have been introduced into society since the 1800s, only a few hundred of which have been tested for safety; this doesn't even take into consideration nanotechnology and GMOs, which are already pervasive in the food chain. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, about 2.5 billion pounds of toxic chemicals are released annually by large industrial facilities. And the authorities are worried about a plant that produces the learning and memory-enhancing, natural chemical nicotine? It really is laughable. You see what mainstream education indoctrination does to your brain? You breathe thousands of chemicals every time you inhale air, whether you like it or not, and whether or not you are sitting next to a smoker.
As a lay person it always astonishes me that studies are done to determine that tobacco makes people ill, without taking any trouble to exclude other forms of pollution beyond the crudest use of non-smokers as a comparison. Surely any honest attempt to discover why people get sick should take all factors into consideration without prejudice, rather than by accepting funding that is dedicated to show that tobacco is responsible for most modern ailments.


Bill Gibson said...

Excellent post ....

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.