Wednesday 21 February 2024

Normal for Tasmania

A Tasmania anti-smoking activist called Kathryn Barnsley has made a grotesque banner lying about e-cigarettes and has been telling vapers to look forward to getting mouth cancer. It is based on a dreadful case report in Pediatrics that should never have been published and is a new low even by Australian standards, as I explain in The Critic...

The claim that e-cigarettes caused the cancer in this instance rests solely on the fact that the patient was a vaper. He was also a former smoker of cigarettes who took up smoking marijuana after biting his tongue, but this gets short shrift as an explanation from the authors. His alcohol consumption is not mentioned at all. 

Case reports of this kind can be useful to medical practitioners but they were never designed to identify the cause of illnesses and they are totally incapable of doing so. Although vaping cannot be discounted as a risk factor for oral cancer, any investigation should begin by asking whether there has been a rise in young people getting oral cancer since e-cigarettes came on the scene and whether oral cancer is more common among vapers who have never smoked than among other nonsmokers. A case study of a solitary individual tells us absolutely nothing and looks more like exploitation of a personal tragedy than a serious scientific endeavour.

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