Leszczynski responds to Kabat's blog in Forbes Magazine

Forbes' Magazine blogger attacks me for criticizing the flaws of the Danish Cohort Study, published in The Scientist Magazine Photo: author

HELSINKI, Finland, March 18, 2013 – On February 25, 2013, The Scientist Magazine published my opinion on peer-review and the Danish Cohort study. Few days later, Geoffrey Kabat published blog in Forbes Magazine where he attacked me for my opinions on cell phone radiation and health.

For those not familiar with the research of Geoffrey Kabat, he has extensively published on the health effects of tobacco in research studies supported by tobacco companies (list of G. Kabat articles on tobacco).

Kabat is most known for defending the second-hand smoking and claiming that the non-smokers have no worries of getting lung cancer (article; article) or coronary disease (article) or suffering premature death (article) when exposed to second hand smoke. In respect to breast cancer, Kabat participated in a study that found that there is a correlation for breast cancer in women with long-term heavily smoking spouses (article).

Now, that defending tobacco is not possible anymore, Geoffrey Kabat has become relentless defender of harmlessness of the cell phone radiation. He has taken this stance although he has not done any research and has no experience in this area at all. This was displayed clearly in his vehement criticism of the IARC decision to classify cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen. Also, his criticism of the scientists who participated in the IARC evaluation was strongly worded because, in Kabat’s opinion, some of them were influenced by the so called “activists” and caused distortion of the scientific evidence and health effects debate.

In the context of Kabat’s “tobacco-link” and Kabat’s own “pro-RF-activism” it is not surprising that he attacked me for my opinion on the Danish Cohort.

However, instead of debating the flaws of the Danish Cohort, Geoffrey Kabat wrote, very broadly and generally, a story defending the harmlessness of cell phone radiation and condemning the “diehards clinging desperately to opinion”.

It seems like my short critical opinion published in The Scientist Magazine touched something very important, which caused Geoffrey Kabat to speak up. My focus on the failed peer-review and editorial review that led to publication of the flawed Danish Cohort study in the British Medical Journal, Geoffrey Kabat calls in one of his comments “small-minded”.

I think that Kabat should learn what the meaning of the phrase “small-minded” is. My opinion presented flaws in one study. My short opinion did not intend, and did not say, that when this one flawed study is retracted then the existence of health effects will be clearer. I think that Geoffrey Kabat wanted to avoid discussion about the indefensible flaws in the Danish Cohort and selected more general debate on “diehards”.

The only significant defense of the Danish Cohort by Geoffrey Kabat was when he assaulted my logic and said that:

“…Leszczynski’s logic is as follows: The Danish study found no association of cell phone use with brain tumors; however, the International Agency for Research on Cancer says that radiofrequency energy from cell phones is a “possible carcinogen”.Therefore, the study must be wrong.  Actually, IARC’s conclusion was a concession to activists and proponents of the “precautionary principle” (including the anomalous group from Sweden) rather than a dispassionate assessment of the evidence…”

My opinion in The Scientist Magazine was a dispassionate list of flaws of the Danish Cohort that invalidate conclusions of this study. My opinion had nothing to do with what the IARC decided. It is Geoffrey Kabat who seemingly got upset and who “passionately” defends this clearly failed study.

Geoffrey Kabat counts me as a “diehard”, which clearly shows that either he does not know my opinions at all or does not admit it. If he would read my science blog and/or my science column in The Washington Times Communities he would know that I am not diehard defender, neither of the option of proven health effects nor the option that the cell phone radiation is safe.

My way is the middle way because we do not have yet sufficient evidence to scientifically support either of these options. And that is why, for Geoffrey Kabat to understand, my science blog and my science column are called “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”. Some of my opinions are liked by one side of the debate and some by the other side. But this is the reality that I think we live in. We need more research.

In his blog Geoffrey Kabat “decorated” the column with one graph showing slow decline in brain cancer and dramatic increase in cell phone usage. This graph, as Kabat pointed out, does not prove anything.

Such graphs are often used to make the readers to “understand”, or rather misunderstand, that in spite of the rapid growth in cell phone usage the bran cancer is not increasing.

Geoffrey Kabat forgets to mention that the latency of the brain cancer is so long that there was not yet sufficient time to clearly see effects of cell phone radiation, and we need to wait for next 20-30 years to see if there are effects predicted by Interphone and Hardell studies.

When Kabat suggests that brain cancer is in decline in the USA, he is apparently not familiar with the study of Mark Little and co-workers who have shown the slow increase of brain cancer in the USA that (sic!) correlates with the predictions of the Interphone study (though maybe not exactly with Hardell studies). This suggests that things are not yet clear and require further studies.

Geoffrey Kabat was in the near past defending smoking and the tobacco industry by claiming that second hand smoke is irrelevant to our health. Now, Geoffrey Kabat, who has not published a single study on cell phone radiation, very actively defends the harmlessness of cell phone radiation and is standing by that industry.

Unlike Geoffrey Kabat, I have 15 years experience of research on cell phone radiation and my expert opinions were, among others, desired in the 2009 US Senate hearing and in the 2011 IARC classification of cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen.

Finally, I think that such a prominent business journal as Forbes Magazine should be embarrassed by publication of such pseudo-scientific blog opinions on cell phone radiation as those of Geoffrey Kabat.

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Read more from Dariusz Leszczynski in his science blogs “BRHP - Between a Rock and a Hard Place” and “The Round-Table Initiative“.

Follow Dariusz on twitter: @blogBRHP

Disclaimer: the opinions presented in this column are author’s own and should not be automatically considered as opinions of his employer.

 

 


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Dariusz Leszczynski

Dariusz Leszczynski is an expert in the biological and health effects of cell phone radiation.

Since 2009 he publishes a science blog dealing with the issue of cell phone radiation and health: http://betweenrockandhardplace.wordpress.com  

Disclaimer: the opinions presented in this column are authors' own and SHOULD NOT be considered as opinions of any of his employers.

Contact Dariusz Leszczynski

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