27/11/08 Dr Ken Denson & The Truth About Smoking

For years the medical community has rammed the notion that smoking is a killer, and that there is no safe level of tobacco smoke.  It is refreshing, therefore, to hear a well known and respected doctor speak out against that.

Dr. Ken Denson invented the INR and discovered Factor X.  He was not funded by, or received money from, any tobacco company.  Joe Jackson has written an essay on smoking, which is available from the Freedom 2 Choose website, and in it he speaks of Dr Denson:

“Dr Denson had devoted ten years to researching smoking, and published several medical journal articles eloquently arguing that the evidence, if looked at impartially and in total, was equivocal. He had unearthed countless studies showing that changes in diet could offset any risks, that moderate smokers who exercised had less disease than nonsmokers, and so on, and simply wanted to know why such studies were ignored while anything appearing to show the slightest risk was trumpeted from the rooftops. In Dr Denson’s view, doctors were failing smokers by preaching zero-tolerance instead of balance and moderation. He also suggested that we talk about ‘smokers-related,’ rather than ‘smoking related’ diseases, since a majority of smokers have tended to have overall unhealthy lifestyles.”

So here is an impartial doctor explaining that if we look at the studies without bias, they prove nothing at all. He also mentions something I have written in the book – cigarette smokers tend to have poorer lifestyles than non-smokers, and that a healthy diet appears to offset any risk associated with smoking.  Another interesting point is that moderate smokers who exercise seem to have less disease than non-smokers.  I whole-heartedly agree with the final point in the above quote: we see ‘smokers-related’ illness and not ‘smoking related’ illness.  The difference is crucial – ‘smoking related’ means that the smoking caused the illness, whereas ‘smoker related’ means the smoking was a correlation, it was the lifestyle and diet that was the causative agent.

Dr Denson is also had this to say:

“Smokers across the board have a higher intake of total and saturated fat, lower HDL cholesterols, a lower intake of poly and mono unsaturated fat, fruit, vegetables, folate and fibre, and take less exercise (p<0.00001)…”

“In the British doctors study, women doctors who smoked less than 14 cigarettes per day had no increased risk for heart disease or lung cancer, and in the cornerstone Framingham study people who smoked less than 10 cigarettes per day had no increased risk for heart disease…”

“Then there are the geographical studies where some 300 million people in Japan and Southern Mediterranean countries have a lower incidence of heart disease, lung cancer and COPD and yet the highest incidence of smoking in the developed world…”

(after a long intellectual anecdote)”I relate this anecdote because it required some thought, unlike the efforts of the academic pygmies who jump on the anti-smoking bandwagon…”

“Smokers have the most atrocious lifestyles, but otherwise healthy smokers in my opinion live longer than non-smokers. What a terrible mistake the medical establishment has made”

In this quote he touches upon a few things that I have explained in Smoke Screens, such as the world data contradicting the notion that smoking kills, and that smokers statistically belong to the lower classes, thus are at higher risk of disease and early death by the myriad of factors in their life – stress, poor diet, poor healthcare etc, plus the fact that smokers are less likely to take as much interest in their health as non-smokers – after all, if they smoke believing it will kill them, why would they be otherwise healthy?

The Guardian newspaper ran a small – and underwhelming – article on Dr Denson, viewable online[1].  It is testament to the current thought to smoking, both politically and medically, that the journalist who authored the article had very little to say on the matter, and the only people contending what Dr Denson has to say are an ASH spokesperson and Professor Peto, a man who has spent his working life demonising smoking and sending out falsified figures on the dangers of tobacco.  Peto worked with Sir Richard Doll in the 1950’s, when Doll was shaping the future of the tobacco witchhunt by intentionally setting out to prove smoking killed – not objective science by any means.  It is a curious point that no respectable or objective scientists were asked to speak about Dr Denson’s comments.

It is becoming more of a trend that scientists and doctors not associated with anti-tobacco groups are speaking out in a more defensive way about tobacco, claiming that the risk is grossly exaggerated and the studies fatally flawed.  I recently had the opportunity to speak to a Canadian Licensed Practising Nurse, who confirmed that it is not possible from surgery to tell whether or not a person smoked and that in his opinion smoking is a correlation in statistics, rather than a causative agent.  Chapter 1: The Black Lung Myth contains more of the information provided by that kind nurse.

Hopefull Dr Denson’s words will reach a wider audience.  We are already seeing the turning of the tide for the anti-smoking movement, with even the most extreme non-smokers finally noticing that the ‘information’ and legislation is going much too far. It won’t be too long before they implode, and hopefully it will be the words of people like Denson that will help people overcome the unjustified fear of tobacco.

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/1999/nov/21/smoking.tracymcveigh

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