The Fallout Hypothesis Revisited Again

The Fallout Hypothesis of lung cancer re-appeared in the comments yesterday, provoking an interesting discussion. The idea, in part, was that men got lung cancer more often than women because men spent more time outdoors under a rain of radioactive fallout than women.

Barry asked a good question about children:

Kids were generally much more engaged in outdoor activities than adults were – romping around and such.

I guess it depends what kind of childhood you had. I spent a lot (far too much) of my childhood sitting in classrooms being taught geography. And we really mostly only went outside when we were forced to play compulsory games like rugby or soccer or cricket – something that’s left me with a lifetime dislike of compulsory games. And also England is quite a cold country for much of the year, and it’s only really nice outside in summer. So while I can remember playing outside a lot in summer, I don’t remember playing outside very much in winter. So I imagine that kids spend more time outside in warm countries than they do in cold ones. So more children got lung cancer in the tropics?

Also back in the 1950s and 60s there were women called “housewives”. You can see one in my picture above. And housewives are a vanished species nowadays. Lots of women now have jobs no different than men. So if the fallout hypothesis has any substance, you’d expect to see female lung cancer rates rising to the same levels as male ones. And I believe they have been.

Another thing about the fallout hypothesis is that most of the atmospheric testing was done in the northern hemisphere, in Nevada in the USA, or in Russia. Even Bikini Atoll is 11º north of the equator. And I get the impression (perhaps false) that the northern hemisphere is a bit disconnected from the southern hemisphere, and so I’d expect to have seen much more lung cancer in the northern hemisphere where the tests were carried out.

That said, the French nuclear tests, many on Moruroa atoll (22º south), were in the southern hemisphere. There were 210 tests, 50 of them in the atmosphere, between about 1960 and 1996.

I think the fallout hypothesis is about the best explanation for the surge in lung cancer during the 20th century, bearing in mind that radioactive materials like radium first made their appearances circa 1900, and were initially treated as being harmless (you could buy radium soap, and my first wristwatch in the 1950s had very bright hands and numbers of a kind you never see today). There are lots of other hypotheses, of course: diesel engine exhausts, HPV.

So why are we always being told that Smoking (and only smoking) Causes Lung Cancer? Probably because if it came to be believed that it was actually radioactive fallout that caused these cancers,  the governments responsible might have been forced to pay out enormous damages to millions of people. To prevent that from happening, it became necessary circa 1950 for governments to place the blame on something else, and keep the blame there for the next 100 years or more. And the chosen scapegoat was the recently-invented and newly-popularised cigarette: smokers were killing themselves, and they were also killing everyone around them. Governments were off the hook.

One consequence of this has been the rise of lifestyle medicine as practised by Public Health. For if you’re not killing yourself by smoking, then you’re probably killing yourself by drinking, or eating meat or fat or sugar or salt, or not getting enough exercise. These days, if you get sick and die, you have only yourself to blame. And while people can be blamed for their own sickness and death, it means that nobody else will get blamed. And everyone else can carry on exactly as they like, because they’ll never get blamed for anything.

In fact, I expect to see people being blamed for getting sick with diseases like malaria, whose causes are perfectly well understood, and have nothing to do with lifestyle.  If we get malaria, we’ll be told that it’s our own fault for having visited countries in which malaria is endemic. And when we protest that we’ve never been to those countries, then we’ll be told that somebody we knew must have visited one, and it’s our fault for having disreputable friends like that.

The whole aim of Public Health is to remove blame for sickness and disease from governments, manufacturers, doctors, and other organisations, and instead load it entirely onto the ordinary people who get sick with one disease or other. And that’s why they get government and industry funding: they’re helping to protect them. And the more that government and industry are protected by Public Health, the less need they have to ensure that they do no harm, because they’ll never face the consequences in court.

About Frank Davis

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18 Responses to The Fallout Hypothesis Revisited Again

  1. slugbop007 says:

    You must have been reading my mind, Mr. Davis. Those are the exact same topics that I have thinking about all week and wanting to share with all of you. The smoking ban surely is a coverup for deliberate actions taken by governments over the decades and TC is a scam. Several other items you should bring up are leaded gas and industrial pollution. The fact that most of us have survived all that radiation fallout should be proof enough that humans, on the whole, are a robust species.

    slugbop007

  2. Well written and illustrated. I have always thought that this scenario is the most plausible for the war on cigarettes. At that time, smoking was prevelent enough everywhere. It could easily explain away, or at least blur, the inevitable problems radioactive particles in the atmosphere would cause. I think along the way, a small sector of people bent on social engineering used it as a means for controlling people and taking away liberties, and it has grown into a wholly different entity.

  3. Fredrik Eich says:

    ” To prevent that from happening, it became necessary circa 1950 for governments to place the blame on something else, and keep the blame there for the next 100 years or more. ”

    Following is a fine example of a newspaper report from 1961 reassuring readers that fallout is nothing to be concerned about and people should really be worried about a 20 fold risk for lung cancer by smoking. (We now know the risk is less than three fold for smoking)

    https://www.industrydocumentslibrary.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=rzvm0137

  4. Smoking Lamp says:

    The ‘fallout’ hypothesis is extremely plausible especially when you consider that the WHO is prohibited from looking at the issue.

    The WHO (via the IARC) now claims that diesel exhaust cause lung cancer based on emidemiological studies. They even say diesel fumes are more carcinogenic than second hand smoke (likely true since their own studies actually discounted the link between second hand smoke and disease although you would never know it since those results have been suppressed and replaced with propaganda.

    Diesel has long been suspect, going back to the alate Dr. Kitty Little who said: “Since the effect of the anti-smoking campaign has been to prevent the genuine cause from being publicly acknowledged, there is a very real sense in which we could say that the main reason for those 30,000 deaths a year from lung cancer is the anti-smoking campaign itself”.

    Her essay “Diesel smoke and lung cancer” is reprinted here: http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/diesel_lung_cancer.html#.XGxKaC2ZNEI

    Of course none of this stops the zealots in tobacco control from blaming smoking for all illness known too man and demanding increasingly draconian smoking bans. Look at the recent hospital bans being imposed at two Teesside hospitals as a case in point (there is a poll here too): “Smoking will be completely banned on two Teesside hospital sites – and in cars too” https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/smoking-completely-banned-two-teesside-15847721

  5. beobrigitte says:

    Barry asked a good question about children:

    Kids were generally much more engaged in outdoor activities than adults were – romping around and such.

    I guess it depends what kind of childhood you had. I spent a lot (far too much) of my childhood sitting in classrooms being taught geography.

    Back in my youth as an outdoor (thank god unsupervised) kid in the streets life was good since all the neighbourhood kids played together.

    I spent a lot (far too much) of my childhood sitting in classrooms being taught geography.
    *shudder* a nightmare for me!! I learned about local geography by our seasonal fruit picking tours. The fields these fruits grew on didn’t belong to any of our parents but each year we got our fruits from there. Passive learning is a beast: I soon learned which soil produced the best type of fruit and how to avoid the owner of the fields.

    At that point in time I knew nobody suffering from any type of cancer and the adults around me were smoking cigarettes/cigars/pipes. Perhaps the area I grew up in was at that point in time not really affected by nuclear fallout.
    Twenty years on this did change. People started to die of cancers.

    That said, the French nuclear tests, many on Moruroa atoll (22º south), were in the southern hemisphere. There were 210 tests, 50 of them in the atmosphere, between about 1960 and 1996.

    This could be an explanation.

    There are lots of other hypotheses, of course: diesel engine exhausts, HPV.
    HPV is most certainly real. Henrietta Lacks (not her real name) provided in the 1950s the “immortal” (strictly speaking not immortal) cancerous cell line still used in science today.

    So why are we always being told that Smoking (and only smoking) Causes Lung Cancer?

    Because it’s convenient to fragment any society and put the blame to one industry. Fear is the most powerful weapon to control whole societies. A fragmented society is easiest to control.

    The whole aim of Public Health is to remove blame for sickness and disease from governments, manufacturers, doctors, and other organisations, and instead load it entirely onto the ordinary people who get sick with one disease or other.

    Imagine all the people suffering from any type of cancer suing the various governments for nuclear tests conducted…

  6. waltc says:

    And the EPA assured us that the air at the World Trade Center was safe in the immediate wake of September 11th.

    https://www.ucsusa.org/our-work/center-science-and-democracy/promoting-scientific-integrity/ground-zero-air-pollution.html#.XGzXJNQ8KrU

  7. Mark Jarratt, Canberra, Australia says:

    Somewhat off topic, but please see my latest attempt to hold back the tide of hard coercive paternalism, and fascist controls, by those who know best how we should live.
    https://www.cla.asn.au/News/australia-are-we-a-fascist-state/
    Feel free to comment!

    • waltc says:

      I posted this on your site tho I’m not sure it “took.”

      “The pre WW1 crusades (against both drinking and smoking) in the US had more to do with a resistance to modernity (or a religious backlash against it ) than to any kind of fascist government control. Nor was the war itself ours to begin with till Wilson ginned up the need for our involvement. And while the war took the national mind off the perils of tobacco and whiskey (always a niche worry to begin with) the “progressive” worriers roared back in its wake, aiming their political weapons more at liquor (whose prohibition was launched in 1919) than at tobacco which had actually gained in popularity. Nor did the war against tobacco begin in America again (quietly at first) till the post WW2 1950s. My theories being a) that wartime is a time of high anxiety which tobacco relieves and b) it tends to concentrate the mind on actual perils. Anti-smoking is a peacetime luxury.”

  8. RdM says:

    The British conducted atomic weapons tests in Australia.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_weapons_tests_in_Australia
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_nuclear_tests_at_Maralinga

    Disruption of the local Aboriginal people, a poor clean-up job, parts still hot today?

    One test a month before the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, from memory reading
    Hundreds of tests exploding plutonium with conventional weapons, spattering it around the local landscape. But the major atomic tests circulated radioactive debris further or even world-wide.

    There’s a lot more on that.

  9. It turns out not to be radiation that causes lung cancer and it’s not even smoking.
    It’s sugar:

    “Evidence suggests that it isn’t smoking that is the primary driving force behind the worldwide lung cancer epidemic, but sugar.”

    http://coconutresearchcenter.org/hwnl_16-1.htm

    Well I’ll be…

  10. RdM says:

    Thanks for the link. Interesting, quite persuasive.

    Although I loved confectionery & soft drinks as a child, there wasn’t too much of it, and by late teens (when I’d started smoking) I was no longer interested (apart from good chocolate).

    These days, I often have a teaspoon in coffee, hardly ever in tea.
    I always read food ingredient labels;- apart from fruit I don’t think I have much.

    But I thought the later article on Alzheimer’s disease even more compelling.
    http://coconutresearchcenter.org/hwnl_16-1.html#content5-ff

    I’d read about “pulling” coconut oil through the teeth some months ago, looked at the prices of virgin coconut oil in the supermarket and put it off, but recently bought a clarified liquid small bottle on sale which I’ve used a few times so far in cooking (fish, etc.) and thought I might try it this morning.

    I might keep it up for a bit and even consider buying one of the solid tubs later.

    The butterfly effect… a few words typed in Lancashire, an action in Auckland.

  11. Quite persuasive, but still the worst kind of junk science. Convincing people to be afraid of something your body actually needs to survive

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