Further Information

Improvement in Bronchial Squamous Metaplasia in Smokers Treated With Folate and Vitamin B12 | Douglas C. Heimburger, MD; C. Bruce Alexander, MD; Robert Birch, PhD; C. E. Butterworth, Jr, MD; William C. Bailey, MD; Carlos L. Krumdieck, PhD, MD
Article Published: 1988

Type: Population
Funding Source: Public Health Service grants U01-CA34275 and P01CA28103, awarded by the National Cancer Institute, Department of Health and Human Services
Published By: JAMA, March 11, 1988-Vol 259, No.1 0

Further Information

Although the authors appear to go to great extent to confirm their faith that smoking “causes” cancer (“The results should not be construed as pointing to a potential way of preventing lung cancer in individuals who continue to smoke or as supporting self-medication with large doses of folate or B12 by smokers") and that, therefore, the best way not to get cancer is not to smoke, it offers interesting information on the role of diet and vitamins, that can be used by smokers to improve their health and better understand the dynamics behind that improvement.

"Our results provide preliminary evidence that the severity of atypical bronchial squamous metaplasia may be improved by supplementation with folate and vitamin B12. A change in circulating levels of folate and B12 was achieved, but there was no change in the subjects' smoking habits or circulating levels of carotene or vitamins A, C, or E. The placebo group's folate and B12 levels also did not change, probably indicating that they made no major changes in their dietary habits.

Vegetables are a major source of dietary folate. Many epidemiologic studies of diet and lung cancer have shown a negative association between vegetable intake and lung cancer incidence.  A variety of reports attribute the major protective effect of vegetables to carotene, but this does not rule out the synergistic effect of other nutrients such as folate."

Although hydrocarbons and other “harmful” components in tobacco smoke are mentioned and indicated as carcinogens, what it is NOT said is whether the quantities or those toxics are necessary and sufficient to induce cancer. That is because — plain and simple — they do not know, and nobody else knows that either.

Furthermore, that smoking is neither a necessary, nor a sufficient element in cancer causality is a fact that is as well-established as it is withheld from public knowledge, to serve the ideology of abstention. If smoking were a necessary and sufficient cause of lung cancer, in fact, practically all smokers would contract it. As it happens, only one in 1,000 smokers gets lung cancer in a given year, and the great majority of smokers will not get lung cancer in a lifetime.

A plethora of suspected influences may and may not interplay in this, and indisputably, smoking cannot properly or logically be called "the cause" or "a cause" of lung cancer. Smoking is not necessary and is not sufficient to the development of lung tumours. Call it what it isn't — cause — and you will proceed from that idiocy to a twisted chain of idiocies: namely "the consensus" on smoking and health hammered into us by "the authorities" who are absolutely assured of the "causal" connection.

Furthermore, it is a serious error to assume that, were smokers to quit or had they never started, they would have exactly the same lung cancer incidence that non-smokers have as — again — that proceeds from the assumption that smoking is the main causality of lung cancer — an assumption never demonstrated by hard science, and that totally and wilfully ignores the other numerous co-factors. Amongst these, for example, there are socio-economic situations that are highly prevalent amongst smokers and not amongst non-smokers, that may have a serious bearing on the health of the individuals.

It is an indisputable fact that the general improvement of socio-economic conditions in society has played a tremendous role in declining incidence of many disease, including some of uncertain origin. Conversely, an expanding average lifespan has created a relative increase in age-related illnesses, which include most cancers, lung cancer among them. Moreover, a continuing prevalence of lung cancer in Western populations, and even a recent notable spike in incidence in the USA, despite a drastic drop in smoking dating back as far as the 1960s, further demonstrates the impossibility that smoking could be the commanding influence commonly purported, let alone "the cause" as it is commonly and completely fallaciously called.

As the most basic elements of cancer genesis are plainly unknown, stating that “smoking is the first preventable cause of cancer (or death)” is totally and glaringly dishonest, and serves only to indicate the dysfunction of public institutions, which have turned to ideology, superstition, and propaganda to compensate for their lack of knowledge. They diverted immense economic resources from the acquisition of that knowledge to campaigns of disinformation and behaviour control, all the while misrepresenting the opinions of some as the science of all.

The results of this study are tentative. The study group is small. The method of sputum analysis is subject to much random variation. There are other "ifs, ands, and buts." The study should be viewed with objective scepticism. This, however, is true of all scientific research. The findings of this research were essentially duplicated in a study by Saito of 1994. Yet this line of research has been little noted and has received no apparent follow-up in recent years.

The point here is that vitamin B12 and folate may be of particular benefit to smokers. Research of far greater ambivalence which purportedly indicts smoking receives funding and follow-up to the point of insanely repetitive hectoring. We point particularly to research on "passive smoking" which gets repeated and drilled into the public incessantly although the only true and objective reading of that research is that "passive smoking" is harmless.

Political motivation, i.e. prohibitionism, is the motivating factor in "public health" research and funding in our sick times. The philosophy is "quit or die." Perhaps the nutrients studied here are beneficial to smokers. If so the "public health" establishment does not care. Indeed the establishment is antagonistic to anything which could ameliorate political momentum toward smoking cessation and prohibition.

Heimburger's own caveats in this study illustrate his knowledge that smokers must be hounded to quit and must never be given any counsel other than total abstention from tobacco. Had he not included those politically correct caveats this study would almost certainly have remained unpublished. The bug-eyed "public health" message has been, and remains: quit smoking, or die, and good riddance to heretics.

We remind that readers with an interest in Heimburger's research will also wish to consult the Saito 1994 follow-up.

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