MONDAY, APRIL 30, 2012
A Plant in Environmental Health Perspectives?
I was reading my favorite health journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, which is published by the National Institutes of Health, and I came across a rather strange article: “Integrated Molecular Analysis Indicates Undetectable DNA Damage in Mice after Continuous Irradiation at ~400-fold Natural Background Radiation”
Online 26 Apr 2012 | http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1104294
find it here: http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.1104294
The article looked at DNA damage to mice after exposed to 5 weeks of continuous ionizing radiation at 400X background level.
This was a strange study because it showed no effects at all: “These studies suggest that exposure to continuous radiation at a dose-rate that is orders of magnitude higher than background does not significantly impact several key measures of DNA damage and DNA damage responses.”
I’ve researched the effects of ionizing radiation enough that I know that effects are present even after extremely low levels of exposure.
In fact, a few weeks ago I posted information about the bystander effect, which explains how cell damage and repair can occur as a result of exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation. See my relevant posts at the end of this post.
So, I read the article carefully and I also did a background check on the lead author, Werner Olipitz.
What I found may be indicative of a “plant.”
I am defining a plant as an article that has been written deliberately to inoculate readers, either for, or against, a position.
An article that is a plant structures the research methodology so that results support a preconceived conclusion. The release of the article is timed to inoculate readers.
An experiment that is set up to prove a point may have internal validity, but not have ecological validity; that is, the experiment results may not be generalizable to the real world environment it purports to represent, even if the internal experimental conditions are valid.
Here is Wikipedia’s definition of Ecological Validity: “Ecological validity is a form of validity in a research study. For a research study to possess ecological validity, the methods, materials and setting of the study must approximate the real-life situation that is under investigation. Unlike internal and external validity, ecological validity is not necessary to the overall validity of a study” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_validity
Majia here: Drug research paid for by pharmaceutical companies is notoriously problematic in this regard.
Examination of ecological validity for “Integrated Molecular Analysis Indicates Undetectable DNA Damage in Mice after Continuous Irradiation at ~400-fold Natural Background Radiation”
The study on irradiation of mice explicitly claims to have relevance for humans, but does not have ecological validity for our current conditions (i.e., Fukushima fallout) because the exposure pathway was purely external and only examined photons (i.e., gamma radiation).
The mice did not eat or drink radionuclides.
Furthermore, the research did not follow the mice across time beyond the experimental condition.
AN IMPORTANT EXPOSURE PATHWAY FOR RADIONUCLIDES IS INGESTION: THE HUMAN BODY ABSORBS RADIATION in food and water
“the human body absorbs iodine and caesium readily. “Essentially all the iodine or caesium inhaled or swallowed crosses into the blood,” says Keith Baverstock, former head of radiation protection for the World Health Organization’s European office, who has studied Chernobyl’s health effects.” (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20285-fukushima-radioactive-fallout-nears-chernobyl-levels.html)
THIS STUDY ALSO DID NOT INVESTIGATE LONG-TERM EFFECTS
The exposed mice were killed immediately after the 5 week exposure period. Consequently, there was no follow-up investigation of long-term effects.
The effects of exposure to ionizing radiation include both acute and long-term effects (Elgazzar & Elsaid 2001).
Past research has documented delayed effects on genomic instability from exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation (see Huang, Nickoloff, & Morgan, 2007; Sahina et al, 2009).
This study did not address long-term effects, only acute effects.
SO, THE STUDY HAD 2 LIMITATIONS FOR ECOLOGICAL VALIDITY.
Studies that have examined actual people exposed to low-dose ionizing radiation have documented effects at low-levels of exposure (see Little, Wakeford & Kendall, 2007; Sermage-Faure et al.,)
NEXT I INVESTIGATED THE LEAD AUTHOR AND THE FUNDING
“This work was supported primarily by the Office of Science (BER), U.S. Department of Energy (DE-FG02-05ER64053). This work was partially supported by R33-CA112151 and 1U19AI68021-06)…”
This is where things get very strange.
The lead author identifies his institutional affiliation as the Dept of Biological Engineering at MIT; HOWEVER, he is not listed as a faculty member or research assistant of this department and his name does not come up when searched at the MIT “people search” function at the university of home page.
I called MIT’s Department of Biological Engineering and he is not on staff or faculty. The assistant I spoke to says he may have been a graduate student in the program.
According to this site he was a post-doc at MIT in 2009
His profile here does not give any locations, nor contact info.
According to google scholar he has had only 2 articles plus the one above published since 2009 (which is not very many).
In 2011 he had a study published in final edited form as:
Development and characterization of a novel variable low-dose rate irradiator for in vivo mouse studies. Health Phys. 2010 May; 98(5): 727–734.
doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e3181d26dc5 PMCID: PMC3020895
NIHMSID: NIHMS198669 Linked here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3020895/
He puts MIT’s Dept of Biological Engineering as his address and also acknowledges grant funding from the DoE (http://www.federalgrants.com/Low-Dose-Radiation-Research-Program-Molecular-Mechanisms-and-Pathways-2582.html).
He had one other article published in 2010 and it also refers to MIT’s Dept of Biological Engineering as his address
Yet, he isn’t there! A google search finds no current institutional affiliation. Institutional affiliation is everything in the world of academe.
The correspondence is supposed to be directed to the article’s last author, B.P. Engelward, at the Dept. of Biological Engineering at MIT. She was probably the faculty advisor http://web.mit.edu/be/people/engelward.shtml
Even stranger, Engelward’s latest research study “Methyltransferases Mediate Cell Memory of a Genotoxic Insult” in Oncogene demonstrates precisely the type of effects that Olipiitz’s study is refuting. Here is an excerpt from her study:
“that a single exposure can lead to long-term genome-destabilizing effects that spread from cell to cell, and we provide a specific molecular mechanism for these persistent bystander effects” (p. 751)…
“It is becoming increasingly clear that indirect mechanisms of mutation induction that involve
changes in cellular behaviour, in addition to the directly induced DNA lesions, can lead to an increased risk of disease-causing mutations for months or even years after exposure (Pant and Kamada, 1977; Mothersill and Seymour, 2001; Lorimore et al., 2003; Morgan, 2003; Maxwell et al., 2008). Furthermore, at least one study suggests that the extent of bystander-induced DNA damage can be as great as that of the original exposure (Dickey et al., 2009)….” (p. 754).
THIS IS ALL VERY STRANGE.
I strongly suspect that this article (“Integrated Moleculary Analysis” by Olipitz et al) is a plant that is aimed at debunking concerns about our exposure to Fukushima fallout.
Although the study may have impeccable internal validity, its ecological validity is highly suspect.
However, the article can be cited later by authorities wishing to trivialize Fukushima fallout as non-important.
There is of course considerable research that directly CONTRADICTS the findings of Olipitz’s study of irradiated mice (apparently including research by his adviser).
I’ll include some in my list of references and link some of my previous posts on the subject.
I am very unhappy because Environmental Health Perspectives is one of the leading, if not the leading, outlet for research on environmental effects.
The idea that this journal may have been hijacked in order to spread dis-information about radiation’s effects on human health is TREMENDOUSLY DISTURBING on many levels.
It would indicate that scientific inquiry and publishing are far more compromised than I ever knew.
The external reviewers should have called into question the study’s assertions about the generalizability of findings to human exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation.
It is possible that this study is indicative of a CONCERTED AND DELIBERATE PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN TO SPREAD DIS-INFORMATION ABOUT FUKUSHIMA.
Let us hope that my analysis and concerns are inaccurate or misdirected.
Averbeck, D, Towards a New Paradigm for Evaluating the Effects of Exposure to Ionizing Radiation Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis Volume 687, Issues 1-2, 1 May 2010 pages 7-12.
Elgazzar, A. H., & M. Elsaid (2001). The pathophysiologic basis of nuclear medicinein Biological effects of ionizing radiation A.H. Elgazzar (Ed.), pp. 369–370
Huang L, Kim PM, Nickoloff JA, Morgan WF. 2007. Targeted and nontargeted effects of low-dose ionizing radiation on delayed genomic instability in human cells. Cancer Research 67:1099–1104
Little, Mark, Richard Wakeford and Gerald M Kendall. Updated estimates of the proportion of childhood leukaemia incidence in Great Britain that may be caused by natural background ionising radiation Journal of Radiological Protection Volume 29 Number 4 467 10.1088/0952-4746/29/4/001
Sahina, A., Abdulgani Tatarb, Sıtkı Oztasb, Bedri Sevena, Erhan Varoglua, Ahmet Yesilyurtb, Arif Kursad A. (2009) Evaluation of the genotoxic effects of chronic low-dose ionizing radiation exposure on nuclear medicine workers. Nuclear Medicine and Biology, 36(5), 575–578
Sermage-Faure, D. Laurier, S. Goujon-Bellec, M. Chartier, A. Guyot-Goubin, J. Rudant, D. Hemon and J. Clavel. Childhood leukemia around French nuclear power plants – the Geocap study, 2002 – 2007,” International Journal of Cancer study by C document is online in English at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ijc.27425/pdf.
SEVERAL MY PREVIOUS POSTS ON RESEARCH ON EFFECTS OF LOW-DOSE IONIZING RADIATION
Research Demonstrating Significant Effects at Low Dose Rates of Exposure to Ionizing Radiation. April 18, 2012
Propaganda Alert April 2012
Estimating Dose and the History of Radiation Research
Is Low-Dose Ionizing Radiation from Fukushima a Risk to Health?