First, please click HERE to go to the Center for Disease Control website titled, Cancer: Addressing the Cancer Burden at a Glance, and scroll down to Texas Cancer Programs. There you should find this:
In 2009, data from the registry showed that six counties in the western Dallas-Fort Worth area had the highest incidence of invasive breast cancer in the state. These counties are Tarrant (which includes the city of Fort Worth), Denton, Wise, Parker, Hood, and Johnson.
HERE is a map of those six counties outlined in pink over a map showing production in the Barnett Shale. Add 2 + 2.
And let me say this without stuttering:
SCREENING IS NOT PREVENTION
Second: Ask yourself why an Old story is news again. Click that link and you might find your answer.
I’m just going to say this out loud: Whose water is this AP reporter carrying? I would be careful, fella, about drinking any of that especially if it’s from Texas because we do have radioactive water.
I’m trying to remember just how many water wells in the Texas gas patch have tested with high levels of radiation. And this is despite TCEQ fraud where they were reducing the amount of radioactivity by 50%. You can scroll through these posts and count if you like.
My favorite part of the AP article is this:
“You can literally put facts in front of people, and they will just ignore them,” said Mark Lubell, the director of the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior at the University of California, Davis.
Could that have anything to do with Frackademia the fracking industry’s habit of influencing academics and buying science? Or the fact that we, as a nation, have been through this before with the Big Tobacco industry?
ICYMI: Lung cancer on the rise among non-smokers. An oncologist with University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas called it an epidemic. Pollution and radon gas are causes of lung cancer. IJS
ICYMI 2: Susan G. Komen might have a conflict of interest since Koch Industries is one of their biggest contributors and all. Another important question to ask: Can You Trust a Breast Cancer Organization Whose Staff and Board Members Lie About Breast Cancer?
If you live in a fracking zone of extraction, you should take the health risks from pollution to heart. LITERALLY.
UPDATE: Response from Josh Fox. LINK TO STATEMENT
Gasland Filmmaker Josh Fox Responds to AP Criticism
NY Breast Cancer Network and Renowned Expert Dr. Sandra Steingraber Support Josh Fox
Josh Fox, NYS Breast Cancer Network, Dr. Sandra Steingraber respond to AP article, ”Experts: Some fracking critics use bad science” by Kevin Begos.
As part of a longer response (included below), GASLAND Filmmaker Josh Fox said, “From the outset, the premise of this article was biased. We gave the AP an expert source that supported our reporting. We called the author of the original article in the award winning Denton Record Chronicle (a paper that has long covered this issue), Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, who stood behind her story and her sources and pointed out that the statistics that the AP reporter had sent to us were incomplete and looked cherry-picked. Mr. Begos ignored all of these things.”
“It is clear to me, as it was from the first moment, that Kevin Begos was not out to give fracking critics a fair shake or look objectively at the facts. He was deliberately seeking ways to try to discredit the anti-fracking movement and he was willing to twist facts and quotes to serve that purpose while disguising his work as impartial. It is worse than bad journalism, it is highly unethical, dangerous and irresponsible, especially in light of the fact that his article sets out to skewer important science that is being waged for the public good and disregards expert opinion arguing for the precautionary principle when public health is at stake. He ignored all the data in the film about the gas industry, instead focusing on a cancer study by CDC which he insisted was misreported.”
The New York State Breast Cancer Network released this statement in support of Josh Fox:
“The New York State Breast Cancer Network is the only network of community-based, survivor-driven breast cancer organizations in New York. Our member organizations provide a broad range of support and information services in communities stretching all the way from Buffalo to Long Island and collectively our member organizations reach over 100,000 New York State residents affected by breast cancer each year.”
“The NYS Breast Cancer Network understands personally the danger of incomplete, shortcut reporting that can influence decisions about a serious public health issue. In his article Some Fracking Critics Use Bad Science, Kevin Begos misrepresents existing facts and completely ignores the many still-unanswered questions about the safety of hydrofracking. He makes a common and, yes, emotional error by putting the burden of proof on the victims of industry rather than requiring that industry actually answer all the questions necessary to prove that hydrofracking is safe.”
Dr. Sandra Steingraber’s statement is included at the end.
GASLAND Filmmaker Josh Fox’s full statement:
On June 20th 2012, nearly a month ago and interestingly on the same day I released my new short film “The sky is Pink”, I received a phone call from a Journalist in Pittsburgh named Kevin Begos at AP. He requested an interview and offered this statement right off the bat, “I am writing a piece about how environmentalists exaggerate.” I said, “why would you do that? Why not write a story about how the gas industry is perpetually lying?” He said that he had covered both sides’ “exaggerations” before and referred me to a piece he wrote in November of 2010 in which he places quotes of mine (taken out of context) alongside quotes from Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon and said we were both guilty of hyperbole. It was exactly the kind of he-said-she-said journalism that I draw attention to in my new short film “The Sky is Pink.” In it, I explore how the mainstream media often will pit two “experts” against each other in a “debate” and not actually investigate the facts or get to the bottom of the controversy.
Immediately wary of him based on the prior article, and his stated intent for this one, I asked what his focus would be. He was vague in response. Having just further bolstered the case that the thousands of incidents of water contamination and flammable water reported in gas drilling areas throughout the nation were in fact caused by the gas industry in my new short THE SKY IS PINK, I asked him if he had seen it. He hadn’t. I asked him to take a look and call me back, hoping that the thorough presentation of evidence in the film would dissuade him from writing a story with such a clearly biased premise.
So three weeks later he calls me up and sends me some charts via email challenging reporting from the Denton Record Chronicle on Breast Cancer statistics in Texas. The chart he sent me is here:(Chart does not format well for blog post but, as you can see below, it’s not an accurate chart anyway.)
As you can clearly see, the chart (whose origins are unclear) says not to use this data as it is incomplete:
“Veterans Health Administration and military hospital reporting is incomplete for 2008-2009 Texas Cancer Registry (TCR) cancer cases.
Therefore, case counts and incidence rates in 2008-2009 are underestimated and should be interpreted with caution. [italics added]”
In addition, according to the chart, there was a question only about data in one county, when my claim referred to a cluster of six Counties. I brought this up with him. He said, I have several experts on record that say you are simply wrong. I said, who are they? He declined to answer.
I went to Sandra Steingraber, a cancer survivor and a breast cancer expert with a long list of bona fides, to weigh in. She sent me a full statement to send to Kevin Begos at the AP. Of course, neither of our statements were featured in the article, mine was quoted in a questionable way and hers was neglected altogether.
I was hoping that Kevin Begos would address the fact that the gas industry’s own science shows massive well casing failure. That Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission reports many gas migration issues in their 2010 groundwater report and PA DEP reports show high rates of gas migration into aquifers near drilling sites in PA.
This AP story has reported on none of this.
But Mr. Begos showed his hand early, by stating the original premise of his story. His story is short on facts. The quotes he uses in the story can actually be taken either way.
THE SKY IS PINK calls attention to several health studies that point to serious questions and risks in gas drilling areas and supports those who are calling for further study. Further study into public health risks is a good thing. It’s not an exaggeration and it’s not bad science. Kevin Begos also refused to deal with the main thrust of THE SKY IS PINK which is to point to the enormous failure of the gas industry to stop their wells from leaking into aquifers. He also misses the point entirely, that the film calls for FURTHER STUDY on the issue. Which is to say MORE SCIENCE. One of his own “experts” that he quotes actually says the same thing: Chandini Portteus, Komen’s vice president of research, adding that they sympathize with people’s fears and concerns, but “what we do know is a little bit, and what we don’t know is a lot” about breast cancer and the environment. Sounds like a call for more science and more study doesn’t it?
Sandra Steingraber’s statement, which was sent to Kevin Begos while he was writing his story:
Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D. is a Heinz Award-winning biologist and scholar in residence at Ithaca College. She served on President Clinton’s National Action Plan on Breast and as science advisor to several breast cancer organizations, including Breast Cancer Action and the California Breast Cancer Research Program. She has testified before the President’s Cancer Panel and is the recipient of the Hero Award from the Breast Cancer Fund. Steingraber’s book, Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment, was released in a second edition in 2010. She is one of the chief editors of the exhaustive 2007 study, Identifying Gaps in Breast Cancer Research: Addressing Disparities and the Roles of the Physical and Social Environment: http://www.cbcrp.org/sri/
The larger point made in The Sky is Pink that there is something unusual about the longer-term breast cancer incidence patterns in the counties overlying the Barnett Shale where gas drilling is most intense. These patterns clearly need to be investigated further.
Even if these differences were apparent before gas drilling began, which is also not clear from the data, it does not follow that therefore gas drilling is playing no role in the story of breast cancer in the Barnett. It just means that there may be multiple factors that one needs to tease apart.
In other words, just because a given area is home to a population that, say, disproportionately smokes more and drinks harder doesn’t mean that an increase in radon exposure will have a trivial effect on the health of everyone who lives there. It just means that any possible effect will be harder to see in the data because of confounding factors.
Whenever epidemiologists see an unusual pattern of disease incidence in a given area, especially one like breast cancer that has established links to environmental exposure, the next two steps are to ask
1) are there other diseases with environmental links whose incidence rates are different in this area?
2) is there biological plausibility for an environmental explanation?
3) is there anything demographically different about the women who live there that might explain the unusual patterns? (Ethnicity, reproductive history, breastfeeding rates, access to mammograms)
In the case of breast cancer in the Barnett Shale area, the answers to the first two questions above, although incomplete, seem to be yes. I don’t have any information to answer the third question.
1) Childhood asthma is Tarrant County is more than double the national average; researchers from Baylor University are now investigating:
2) And we know from the Colorado School of Public Health study that drilling and fracking operations release benzene into air at levels known to elevate cancer risk. http://www.erierising.com/
human-health-risk-assessment- of-air-emissions-from- development-of-unconventional- natural-gas-resources/
We also know from several blue-chip studies that benzene exposure has demonstrable links to breast cancer:
a) Benzene is specifically highlighted in the 2010 President’s Cancer Panel Report: http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/
advisory/pcp/annualreports/ pcp08-09rpt/PCP_Report_08-09_ 508.pdf
The Panel was particularly concerned to find that the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated. With nearly 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, many of which are used by millions of Americans in their daily lives and are un- or understudied and largely unregulated, exposure to potential environmental carcinogens is widespread. One such ubiquitous chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), is still found in many consumer products and remains unregulated in the United States, despite the growing link between BPA and several diseases, including various cancers.
While BPA has received considerable media coverage, the public remains unaware of many common environmental carcinogens such as naturally occurring radon and manufacturing and combustion by-products such as formaldehyde and benzene.
b) Benzene’s role as a possible breast carcinogen is specifically highlighted in the new (and highly conservative) Institute of Medicine report: http://www.iom.edu/Reports/
2011/Breast-Cancer-and-the- Environment-A-Life-Course- Approach/Press-Release.aspx
c) Benzene’s links to breast cancer are described in the science review by Silent Spring Institute http://sciencereview.
silentspring.org/mamm_detail. cfm?cid=71-43-2. See also, Brody JG, Moysich KB, Humblet O, Attfield KR, Beehler GP, Rudel RA. Environmental pollutants and breast cancer: epidemiologic studies. Cancer. 2007, 109(12 Suppl):2667-711.
d) Benzene’s links to breast cancer are reviewed by the California Breast Cancer Research Program’s 2007 report, Identifying Gaps in Breast Cancer Research: Addressing Disparities and the Roles of the Physical and Social Environment: http://www.cbcrp.org/sri/
And we know that breast cancer rates are associated with industrial and traffic-related air pollution in Long Island: Lewis-Michl EL, Melius JM, Kallenbach LR, Ju CL, Talbot TO, Orr MF, Lauridsen PE. Breast cancer risk and residence near industry or traffic in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Long Island, New York. Arch Environ Health. 1996, 51(4):255-65.
We also know, from EPA data, that north Texas has at least two census tracts in which the cancer risk from toxic air pollution is significantly high: http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/
And we know that 35 different air pollutants act as breast carcinogens in animal studies: Rudel RA, Attfield KR, Schifano JN, Brody JG. Chemicals causing mammary gland tumors in animals signal new directions for epidemiology, chemicals testing, and risk assessment for breast cancer prevention. Cancer. 2007, 109(S12):2635-66.
In conclusion, there are plenty of biological reasons to suggest that air pollution and other stressors from drilling and fracking operations in the Barnett Shale area of Texas may be playing a role in the story of breast cance