Hat tip to Rose for this:
Air pollution is being blamed for soaring numbers of non-smokers who are developing lung cancer.
Doctors at leading cancer centres in London warned that high levels of pollution are causing a spike in cases of lung cancer.
They said, if the trend continues, the number of lung cancer deaths among non-smokers will overtake those who smoke within a decade
…doctors at the Royal Brompton Hospital and Harefield NHS Trust have reported a spike in the number of operations they are performing on non-smokers.
Eric Lim, a consultant thoracic surgeon, said the number of patients treated at the centre between 2008 and 2014 remained constant at about 310 a year.
But, of those patients, the number of those who never smoked had risen from fewer than 50 to nearly 100 a year.
He said that the reasons for this change remained unclear but air pollution was a likely cause.
So some doctors are beginning to look around for other causes of lung cancer than smoking, while others are not.
Some experts have argued that the study was too small to be reliable and suggested that the reason for the increase is improvements in machines that can detect smaller tumours.
Stephen Spiro, a former head of respiratory medicine at University College Hospital said: “There is no good evidence that lung cancer is becoming commoner in never-smokers.
“Lung cancer will become more frequent in never-smokers as a proportion, as smoking cancers begin to decline.”
What’s causing lung cancers among never-smokers? They don’t know. It could be air pollution. But why not radioactive fallout from all the nuclear power stations round the world that have blown up or melted down? And why not global warming?
I don’t think these people understand cancer. I think that if they understood it they’d have produced some sort of cure or vaccine by now, in the same way they’ve done with diseases like typhoid and malaria, which they understand pretty well. And I think that if they understood it they’d have better treatments than brutal surgery and radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
They understand some things pretty well, and they don’t understand other things. Just like climate scientists understand some things about climate, and don’t understand other things. It’s the same in every science: there are the things that are known, and the things that are unknown.
And perhaps that’s why there’s panic about smoking and climate change. The panic grows out of not understanding what’s happening. People who know what they’re doing don’t panic.
Yesterday I was watching a documentary about earthquakes and earthquake science. One of the scientists said that when she’d got into the field in the early 1970s, it was in the confident belief that in a few years they’d be able to predict when and where earthquakes would happen, But now, 40 or 50 years on, that belief had ebbed away. One of them said that the surface of the Earth was too complex and chaotic to ever understand. Pretty much every earthquake that happened took them by surprise, and they said as much. I was left with the impression that they’d all pretty much given up.
And maybe that’ll happen with climate science and epidemiology and asteroid impact prediction too? Maybe scientists will simply start giving up, and saying it’s too complex and chaotic for us ever to be able to understand it.
It would certainly be a welcome change if a lot more scientists stopped pretending that they were Masters Of The Universe, and instead admitted that we don’t really understand very much about anything, and so remain the Playthings of the Gods.