Saturday, July 21, 2018

Health agency overrules Superior Court judge

California agency is seeking to nullify court ruling about cancer warnings on coffee packaging

Despite a court decision to the contrary, California officials have basically said coffee won't cause cancer.

That unprecedented action by the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment last month was taken after "a review of more than 1,000 studies published…by the World Health Organization that found inadequate evidence that coffee causes cancer," according to a story by Brian Melley of the Associated Press.

The agency's mandate, implementing a law passed by voters in 1986, includes requiring warnings of chemicals known to cause cancer and birth defects. The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, better known as Proposition 65, has so far resulted in cautionary labels for about 900 chemicals.

The controversial chemical in coffee, the AP story notes, is acrylamide, "a byproduct of coffee roasting and brewing present in every cup of joe."

Judge Elihu Berle
Melley's article reports that Judge Elihu Berle had ruled, in an eight-year-old lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, that warnings were required on all coffee packaging sold in the state because "Starbucks and other coffee roasters and retailers had failed to show that benefits from drinking coffee outweighed any cancer risks." 

A proposed regulation by the OEHHA "would state that drinking coffee does not pose a significant cancer risk," the agency reportedly said in a statement.

"Attorney Raphael Metzger, who won the court case on behalf of The Council for Education and Research on Toxics, said he was shocked the agency would move to nullify the court decision and undermine its own report more than a decade ago that drinking even small amounts of coffee resulted in a significant cancer risk," added the AP story. "The takeaway is that the state is proposing a rule contrary to its own scientific conclusion. That's unprecedented and bad. The whole thing stinks to high hell."

More information about cancer risks can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Friday, July 13, 2018

400 lawsuits filed against Monsanto's herbicide

Is Monsanto's Roundup weed killer carcinogenic? Contentious trial underway in San Francisco  

The first court trial to determine if Roundup weed killer is likely to cause cancer is underway in San Francisco.

According to an Associated Press story by Sudhin Thanawala , the contentious trial — with a school groundskeeper dying of the disease as the plaintiff and agribusiness giant Monsanto, the hericide's manufacturer, as defendant — is expected to last about a month.
Dewayne Johnson, plaintiff
The plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, who was diagnosed in 2014 at age 42, claims Roundup caused his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after he sprayed it from a 50-gallon tank attached to a truck as a school district pest control manager. 

The AP quoted the opening statement of Johnson's attorney, Brent Wisner, to the effect that "when the wind was gusty, it would cover his face. When a hose broke once, it soaked his entire body."

The attorney showed jurors photographs of lesions on the body of the plaintiff, who had also sprayed with a similar product, Ranger Pro. 

Wisner alleged that between the diagnosis "and now, it's just nothing but pain."

Monsanto's lawyer, George Lombardi, countered by saying that "non-Hodgkin's lymphoma takes years to develop, so Johnson's cancer started well before he began working at the school district."

Thanawala's story notes that "many government regulators have rejected a link between the active ingredient in Roundup — glyphosate — and cancer. Monsanto has vehemently denied such a connection, saying hundreds of studies have established that glyphosate is safe."

While the plaintiff "is seeking unspecified damages against Monsanto [and] the outcome of Johnson's case will not affect the hundreds of other lawsuits in state and federal may serve as an indicator of how the others might go."

Earlier this week, a San Francisco U.S. District judge, Vince Chhabria, ruled that although evidence seems weak that Roundup causes cancer, experts still could make that claim at trial.

The main claim of the lawsuits by cancer victims and their families is that Monsanto long knew about Roundup's cancer risk but failed to warn them.

Chhabria is handling more than 400 of those suits.

The AP article indicates that Monsanto developed glyphosate in the '70s and that the weed killer is sold in more than 160 countries. "Farmers in California, the most agriculturally productive state in the U.S., use it on more than 200 types of crops. Homeowners use it on their lawns and gardens."

In 2015, the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, classified the herbicide as a "probable human carcinogen." California later added it to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer.

But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to the AP, "says glyphosate is safe for humans when used in accordance with label directions."

And in February, the story continues, a federal judge in Sacramento blocked California from required that Roundup carry a warning label, saying it would be "misleading because almost all regulators have concluded that there is no evidence glyphosate is carcinogenic."

In Johnson's case, according to an online story by Helen Christopher of Courthouse News Service, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos sided with Monsanto yesterday by disallowing testimony of an cancer-risk expert. The ruling came on a technicality after the corporation's lawyers accused the plaintiff's legal team of trying to sneak into evidence information about the amount of exposure Johnson experienced.

Much more information about cancer causes can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Is 'co-testing' for disease on the way out?

HPV tests may replace Pap smears regarding cervical cancer changes, study suggests

Pap smears may be on the way out, replaced by a test for HPV, when it comes to detecting cancerous cervical changes.

At least that's what a new decade-long study involving some 19,000 women suggests might happen (because the Human PapillomaVirus test apparently is more sensitive and more accurate).

The study, published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was reported in a Laurie McKinley story in The Washington Post.
Dr. Gina Ogilvie

Dr. Gina Ogilvie, a professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and lead author of the study, has cited a particular benefit — the research showing "women who received HPV testing have more reassurance with a negative test and can likely get screened less frequently."

Mark Schiffman of the National Cancer Institute, an HPV researcher himself, confirmed "that it's important to move from the Pap smear to the HPV test alone," according to the Post article. 

He also reportedly maintains that the Pap smear, which he calls "crude and inaccurate," worked only because women were tested often and because cervical cancer grows slowly.

HPV, the Post piece says, "is the most common sexually transmitted infection and is usually eliminated by the immune system. But when an infection persists, it can cause cellular changes that develop into precancerous lesions and eventual malignancies."

McGinley's story notes that "about 13,240 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2018, according to the American Cancer Society. About 42,000 women will die of the disease."

In recent years, the article continues, "most medical groups have recommended that women in the United States get both the HPV test and the Pap smear — a practice called 'co-testing.'"

Now, however, many experts are saying the Pap smear should be dropped. That position is still challenged by others who claim "that the Pap smear can catch a small number of cases of abnormal cells that might be missed by the HPV test."

The conventional Pap smear has already been replaced to a large degree by liquid-based Pap cytology tests.

The Post piece contends that "most medical groups," including the American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, urge "that women of average risk get both HPV tests and Pap smears every five years between age 30 and 65, though they say a Pap test alone every three years is an acceptable alternative."

McGinley's story also notes that "about 80 million people in the United States are infected with HPV [although] most never develop any health problems because most infections go away by themselves, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

Doctors have long urged children and young adults be vaccinated against HPV with a shot approved in 2006 by the Food and Drug Administration.

More details about cancer research can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.