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Ministry's cancer study just PR spin - Kedgley

12 December 2005

Ministry's cancer study just PR spin - Kedgley

A Ministry of Health funded study comparing cancer rates in New Plymouth with the rest of New Zealand is scientifically invalid and appears to be little more than public relations spin, Green Party Heath Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

The study, published today, says it provides a 'level of reassurance about cancers associated with dioxin'. It finds there is no evidence of an increased cancer risk from living near to the Dow factory when it was producing 245T.

However, Ms Kedgley says, there is no way these kinds of reassurances can be made as the study has focussed on the wrong population group.

"The Ministry of Health advised the Minister on 12 February 2001 that for any study of the potential health effects of residents exposed to dioxin to be scientifically valid, it would have to concentrate on residents who had lived near the plant at key exposure periods, and then trace those residents, including any who had since moved away from New Plymouth. Otherwise the, Ministry advised, the study would not be valid," Ms Kedgley says.

"Yet the authors of this study have ignored this advice and have looked at the whole of New Plymouth population instead of the target groups of residents who lived near the Dow plant at key exposure periods.

"They have also excluded from their study the vast number of residents who lived near the plant at key exposure periods but who have since moved away from New Plymouth.

"Its almost as if the study was done as a means to try to reassure the public rather than as a genuinely independent, scientific study which was determined to get to the truth of the matter, Ms Kedgley says.

"It is a tragedy that they have undertaken a major study, and invested significant resources and funding into it, without ensuring it was scientifically valid," Ms Kedgley says

"Given the unscientific nature of the study, I am particularly concerned at the Ministry's statement that the results are 'reassuring'."

ENDS

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