Attn: Smokers in the US

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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Boyfriend » Mon Jun 27, 2011 5:59 am

Smoking is about as deadly as exposing yourself to 1500 millisievert of ionizing radiation per year. (single dose every year or spread out doesn't matter, if you recieve it in a single dose you will need treatment for radiation sickness but your cancer risk will be the same)

With 250 millisievert being the limit for the nuclear workers at the fukushima plant, and ~500 millisievert being the yearly dose you would recieve living a km from the fukushima plant.

edit-sources:
Cancer Risk based on radiation exposure
Lung Cancer rates for smokers and non-smokers
Fukushima integrated radioactivity doses
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Fridmarr » Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:19 am

Barathorn wrote:
Fridmarr wrote: I have no problem with folks smoking, but if you admit that smoking increases your odds of dying by cancer, you can't really complain about the vernacular stance of smoking causing cancer. You don't need to prove it at an individual level, if you admit it increases the odds, then you are also admitting that someone got cancer and wouldn't have if they did not smoke. Thus, the vernacular is pretty reasonable.


It seems reasonable to the uninformed I agree. To anyone who actually reads about the subject then no that isn't a reasonable stance to take on it.

Smoking is bad for you. No-one disputes that. Cancer however is something that people can get without ever having smoked. If you smoke you have an increased risk of getting cancer but if you smoke it doesn't mean you will get cancer.

What? Where did I say smoking means you will get cancer?

Look, if you admit smoking increases the risk of getting cancer, then you admit that people have gotten cancer because they smoked. So, it's a more than reasonable assertion regardless of your education level on the matter, to suggest that smoking can cause cancer. In fact it appears that educating oneself on the matter can be counterproductive, in that it seems to have given people another logical fallacy to use as a rationalization. Then again, maybe that was the point.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Fivelives » Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:33 am

It's not a logical fallacy, it's a basic rule of statistics - correlation does not imply causation. Due to the way that carcinogens work, it's currently impossible to say which carcinogen causes what cancer.

Now, if the only cancer smokers got that non-smokers didn't get was lung cancer, then there would be an argument to be made for smoking causing lung cancer, but that's not the case. Non-smokers get every form of cancer that smokers get, so it's impossible to tell which are caused by what carcinogens; especially when dealing with environmental carcinogens that can't be controlled in an experimental setting.

For instance, in order to prove a causal relationship between cigarettes and cancer, they would have to completely isolate the experimental group from all carcinogens except for cigarettes and they would have to completely isolate the control group from all carcinogens, period. And with the discoveries regarding the MUCH wider array of oncoviruses out there - things that everyone has had, like mononucleosis and chicken pox, even down to the simple cold sores we've all gotten - as well as the random genetic factor, it's impossible to do that.

You can say that smoking cigarettes is positively correlated with a higher rate of cancer, but then - you can also say that chewing gum sales are negatively correlated with a higher incidence of murder (there was a study done on that, too).

So no, there is no causal link between cigarette smoking and cancer. There's a strong correlation between the two, but due to the nature of the studies done and the questionable raw data (in most cases) as well as the impossibility of designing a valid experiment to prove a causal link, you can't say "cigarettes cause cancer".

Edit to add:
Fridmarr wrote:What? Where did I say smoking means you will get cancer?

Fridmarr wrote:You don't need to prove it at an individual level, if you admit it increases the odds, then you are also admitting that someone got cancer and wouldn't have if they did not smoke. Thus, the vernacular is pretty reasonable.


It was sort of implied there, or at least that's what I gathered from it?
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Boyfriend » Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:55 am

It is correct that correlation does not imply causation, however correlation does suggest EITHER causation OR common cause.
If smoking does not increase your lifetime lung cancer risk from 1.3% to 17.6% then whatever it is that does cause lung cancer also makes almost everyone afflicted take up smoking, and to me it seems implausible that this common cause of both smoking and lung cancer would have an over 80% success rate on forcing the afflicted to smoke (85-90% of lung cancer patients have smoked).
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Candiru » Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:19 am

If you imagine rolling a 10,000 sided die every time you smoke a cigarette. If it comes up 1 you gain a cancer point. If you get some number of cancer points which depends on your genes, you get cancer.

Now, you roll this die anyway. Lets pretend you roll it every day. You roll it every time you take a plane flight. You roll it every time you do all sorts of things. But you also roll it every time you smoke a cigarette. It could be the plane flight that tips you into getting cancer, it could be your everyday background radiation. But if you smoke a *lot* then its probably going to the the smoking.

Call it what you will, personally I would say that both smoking and taking a plane flight (among a large list of other things) cause an increased risk of cancer.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Fridmarr » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:23 am

Fivelives wrote:It's not a logical fallacy, it's a basic rule of statistics - correlation does not imply causation. Due to the way that carcinogens work, it's currently impossible to say which carcinogen causes what cancer.
Honestly, this is fairly silly. I mean is there a link between AIDS and death since people actually die from the ensuing illness? Hell is there even a link between heart disease and death since people don't actually die from a heart attack, they die from the ensuing encepalopthay?

At its core, the argument that states "smoking increases your odds of getting cancer, but smoking does not cause cancer" is an oxymoron. If the first part is true, then by definition, the second part had to happen. All this causation/corrletaion nonsense is just smoke and mirrors, using grammatical scemantics to ignore the obvious. If you want to argue that smoking doesn't increase your cancer risk, or even that it does so at a relatively insignificant rate (like many common things do), that's a fair argument. This wordplay though, doesn't pass the common sense sniff test and it contradicts itself.

Fivelives wrote:
Fridmarr wrote:What? Where did I say smoking means you will get cancer?

Fridmarr wrote:You don't need to prove it at an individual level, if you admit it increases the odds, then you are also admitting that someone got cancer and wouldn't have if they did not smoke. Thus, the vernacular is pretty reasonable.


It was sort of implied there, or at least that's what I gathered from it?
I can't imagine how that was interpreted as me saying, "if you smoke you will get cancer". What I'm saying is that if A (smoking increases your cancer risk) is true, then B (somebody got cancer because they smoked) is an undeniable fact whether you can prove it or not.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Fivelives » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:38 am

The point I'm trying to make is that since we can't pin down a single cause for cancers, we can't blame cancer on any one thing. There haven't been any studies done on, say, the effect of gasoline on cancer rates, because smoking was demonized first.

Carcinogens relate to cancer, period. Cigarettes contain carcinogens, as do many other things that we deal with on a daily basis. Since we can't pin it down on any one cause, it's rather stupid of us to assume that cigarettes ARE the cause.

And you can go up to any statistician, and I'm sure they'll be more than happy to explain why the correlation/causation issue isn't "just semantics" or "smoke and mirrors".

This analogy might not work, but here goes:

Rolling dice a certain way at the craps table will increase your odds of rolling a 7, but they will not cause you to roll a 7.

And as it's been said many many many times before here in this thread, if smoking caused cancer, then every smoker would have cancer. That's how a causal relationship works: "if <x> occurs, then <y> occurs". It's not "if <x> occurs, then <y> might happen". Or, if you'd like it in notation form: P(Y|X)=1 (where {X}=smokers and {Y}=cancer). Not P(Y|X)=.5 or even P(Y|X)=.99999~.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Fridmarr » Mon Jun 27, 2011 12:03 pm

Fivelives wrote:The point I'm trying to make is that since we can't pin down a single cause for cancers, we can't blame cancer on any one thing. There haven't been any studies done on, say, the effect of gasoline on cancer rates, because smoking was demonized first.

Carcinogens relate to cancer, period. Cigarettes contain carcinogens, as do many other things that we deal with on a daily basis. Since we can't pin it down on any one cause, it's rather stupid of us to assume that cigarettes ARE the cause.

And you can go up to any statistician, and I'm sure they'll be more than happy to explain why the correlation/causation issue isn't "just semantics" or "smoke and mirrors".

This analogy might not work, but here goes:

Rolling dice a certain way at the craps table will increase your odds of rolling a 7, but they will not cause you to roll a 7.

And as it's been said many many many times before here in this thread, if smoking caused cancer, then every smoker would have cancer. That's how a causal relationship works: "if <x> occurs, then <y> occurs". It's not "if <x> occurs, then <y> might happen". Or, if you'd like it in notation form: P(Y|X)=1 (where {X}=smokers and {Y}=cancer). Not P(Y|X)=.5 or even P(Y|X)=.99999~.

And I'm saying pretty much none of that matters and you are applying these statistical principles improperly. I understand correlation and causation, it really doesn't matter. Ask a statistician if smoking causes cancer and see what he says.

Speaking of improper usage of statistics... Smoking causing cancer in one person by no means implies that it must in every person. Each person is different, the equation would never again be the same. All that it would require is that if everything in that person's life were replayed exactly the same, they'd still get the same result. Since that's impossible to do, saying that "if smoking caused cancer, every person who smoked would have cancer" is a pretty gross violation of statistical principles as well.

Also, it's not stupid to make the association between cancer and smoking when aggregate data can be observed. If you want to challenge the statistical sampling and the studies be my guest. You would have a much more solid case than you do now. But if you believe that it's true that smoking increases your odds of getting cancer, then (broken record I know, but it's rather fundamental logic) smoking must have caused someone to get cancer, otherwise there would be no increase in the odds.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Fivelives » Mon Jun 27, 2011 1:19 pm

I'll happily challenge the statistical sampling. When you collect data with too many variables, you make it impossible to isolate a single variable and link it to a result. I described what you'd have to do above in order to get solid evidence - right now, it's all circumstantial.

You would have to isolate smoking as the only variable in order to positively be able to say "this causes cancer". Can you suggest a way of doing that? The sampling they use is across different age groups, different lifestyles, different living areas (city vs rural, high vs low altitude, etc). You said it yourself: "Each person is different, the equation would never again be the same."

Unless you can isolate a single variable, or compensate for the ones you can't control, then any experiment is going to have questionable results. This is one situation where aggregate data is a hindrance, not a benefit. People get cancer - and smokers get cancer. Since everyone's situation is different, and there are more and more carcinogens being discovered, how do you know that it's caused by smoking instead of, say, the Bisphenol A in their water bottles?

Or for that matter, the pesticides used on their foods? Or a hepatitis virus? Or the Epstein-Barr virus? Or any of the other oncoviruses? Twin studies showed that genetics plays a HUGE role in whether or not we get cancer, are any of the people in the studies done "on smoking" disqualified as subjects because of a family history of cancer? What kind of diet do they have - are they primarily meat eaters, or are they vegetarians? Do they live near a cluster of power lines or any other major source of ionizing radiation? Has there been any toxic waste dumping in their water table? Do they live in an urban area where they're exposed to lots of vehicle exhaust? Are they in a rural area where they would be exposed to more pesticides that are aerosolized during the year? How about cellphones - do they use them a lot or just a little, or not at all? How much time do they spend outdoors? Have they traveled extensively and been exposed to "exotic" viruses?

See, these are just the variables I can come up with off the top of my head. The biggest "mistake" (and I use that term loosely - I firmly believe that most smoking studies are done to prove their hypothesis rather than in an attempt to disprove it) the studies make is that they don't account for a single variable other than smoking vs non-smoking. That's if they actually collect their own data rather than use data gathered from death certificates, which would inflate the numbers rather more than they already are.

Plus, you seem to agree with the "weight of the evidence" theory? Isn't it odd that everything that's attributed to cigarettes is ONLY ever attributed to cigarettes? It's almost as though smoking has just become a catch-all bin for every disease and illness known to mankind. I also firmly believe that it's impossible for one thing to have such vastly differing effects on different functions of the same body.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby cerwillis » Mon Jun 27, 2011 1:50 pm

While all this statistics talk is fun and all, I thought I'd post some actual statistics.

Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center wrote:Our research shows that among long-term smokers over the age of 50, risks of developing lung cancer can vary. However, the lung cancer risk of a person who has never smoked is typically much lower than the lowest percentages calculated by this tool. Quitting smoking not only reduces risk of lung cancer, but reduces risk of many other smoking-related health problems.

And a link to a sim that will calculate your risk:
http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/12463.cfm

George Mason University wrote:The chance of getting some form of invasive cancer in your lifetime is high: almost one in two women and more than one in three men in the United States will develop cancer (excluding certain skin cancers). Lung cancer is much less frequent, however. The chance of ever developing lung cancer is about one in 13 if you are female, and one in 18 if you are male.

These statistics obviously change if you are a smoker or not, and whether you have other risk factors. Though varying sources come up with different risk assessments, according to the Centers for Disease Control, women are twelve times more likely to get lung cancer if they smoke than if they don’t. Men are more than twenty times as likely. And the more you smoke, the worse it is.

http://stats.org/stories/lung_cancer_rates_mar08_06.htm
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Fivelives » Mon Jun 27, 2011 1:59 pm

Interesting sim - it tells me that a pack a day smoker who's smoked for 31 years and is 50 years old has a 2% risk of getting lung cancer by the time they're 60, if they continue smoking. That sounds quite a bit more reasonable than the studies that can't or won't account for variables.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Koatanga » Mon Jun 27, 2011 2:44 pm

I think we do enough theorycraft here to recognise that the important events are not the misses, but the hits. The calculator shows a 50-year-old non-smoker has < 1% chance of developing lung cancer by the time they're 60, so really what you are looking at is at lease a doubling of the chance of getting lung cancer by continued smoking.

How many people here would take action if doing so meant they could reduce the chance of wiping by 50%?
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Fivelives » Mon Jun 27, 2011 4:18 pm

There's a bit of difference between theorycrafting for wow and critiquing cancer statistics. For one, wow is far simpler than real life.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Heil » Mon Jun 27, 2011 4:34 pm

Did this thread go this long without someone pointing out how great a seer Denis Leary is??
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulKfMR2stdo skip to 00:08 for the premonition
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Koatanga » Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:39 pm

Fivelives wrote:There's a bit of difference between theorycrafting for wow and critiquing cancer statistics. For one, wow is far simpler than real life.

The point is that in a stupid video game we can see the benefit of mitigating the risks of our stupid on-screen avatar dying, and will even point out when someone is Doing It Wrong.

Can you imagine one of us justifying standing in the fire because if you look at the parses it was the crackle that killed people, not the fire?

But when it comes to real life, standing in the fire is defensible?

What odd people we humans are.
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