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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Panic! Horrors! Oh, Noes! 
21st-Sep-2011 07:12 pm
Inspiration
How else can I describe the latest campaign by Senator Feinstein and a "Breast Cancer Fund" which, oddly, seems to do little other than advocate for the control of things not strongly associated with breast cancer, but which sound bad.

I ought to amplify that last. When discussing breast cancer, the American Cancer Society has this note under risk factors:

Chemicals in the environment
....
This issue understandably invokes a great deal of public concern, but at this time research does not show a clear link between breast cancer risk and exposure to these substances. Unfortunately, studying such effects in humans is difficult. More research is needed to better define the possible health effects of these and similar substances.


In other words, the Breast Cancer Fund (Motto: "Help us expose the environmental causes of breast cancer. Together we can stop this disease before it starts") is flailing around in the wrong direction, and wasting resources that could be better spent on the already well-established major risk factors, and amelioration of treatment, which is possible now. Sounds like a waste of money to me, though a good opportunity to sound self-righteous. Their page on BPA sounds like the usual "shotgun" kind of study where someone notes a widespread chemical and a widespread disease and makes a link. Studies like that are useful in generating hypotheses to test, not so useful in drawing conclusions -- but that's what has been done here. Cause has been inferred without, as far as I have seen, properly substantiating it. There are reasons to suppose it's not involved, primarily because the body appears to be well-adapted to get rid of it in the urine.

But who cares about that? The Breast Cancer Fund's study was that people eating a Whole Foods Market appropriate diet don't have to worry about excess BPA exposure. So all we need to do is subsidize the widespread existence of Whole Food Markets and give poor people the opportunity to dine on tofu and arugula, and everything will be lovely. Those who have been people pinching every penny to get through the month may have other things to say about that, but, hey, they're poor, so no one cares if we make their lives more expensive, cutting back other opportunities, right?

There are other studies that indicate that BPA serves as a key improvement in the delivery of food across this country, preventing can corrosion and bacterial problems, and has no replacement that is as effective, but, after all, it's one of those "chemicals" and everyone knows they are bad, right?

End of rant. I think that in the area of tradeoffs, where we all live, BPA proves its value until something better comes along. No one seems to be doing that research -- instead, silly studies like these get funded, and omnibus bills designed to make everything more expensive and more risky are threatened. That's Washington for you.



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