Damned if you chew, Damned if you don’t!!!!May 5, 2009
The headline Nicotine Gum Linked to Cancer could be found in newspapers around the world in the last few weeks. Here is a cutting of an article published in The Australian (23/4/o9) from The Times (UK) .
Immediately Mathspig thought “Hello”. How can anyone do this study? You would have to give nicotine gum to NON SMOKERS to see if they got cancer. There would be no point testing nicotine gum on smokers. We know they get cancer. But you can’t give gum to non-smokers. Nicotine has not been linked to cancer, but it is highly addictive. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme more gum!
This study didn’t use people. It took tissue from 75 people, added nicotine and then checked a bio-marker for cancer growth. It is not clear in the study summary if this tissue came from smokers or non-smokers. You can get an expert opinion @ Cancer Research UK
Great. Now the media is telling smokers they’ll get cancer from smoking and from the gum they chew to give up smoking. Damned if you chew. Damned if you don’t. Mathspigs, you cannot throw out 50+ years of smoking-related research which does not link nicotine to cancer based on one study using 70 test tubes (Petri dishes, actually. The flat ones.). If, due to this study alone, smokers around the world stop using nicotine gum to give up smoking it would be tragic.
We need more studies before we can say nicotine gum definitely causes cancer. And we need names. We can name plenty of people who died of smoking-related diseases. This research does not name one single person who has suffered from cancer due to chewing nicotine gum. This blog is about media-savvy maths. We’re mathspigs. We’re sick of rubbish maths in the media.