Neufeld Letter to
TASSC Advisory Board Members

February 10, 1998

Members of the TASSC Advisory Board
Professor Mickey Edwards
Dr. Bruce Ames
Mr. Michael Fumento
Dr. John Graham
Dr. James Steele
Dr. Lester Lave
Dr. Alice Ottoboni
Dr. Frederick Seitz
Dr. Michael Gough

Dear Advisory Board members,

A colleague pointed me toward the web site, which savaged a recent paper of ours regarding an association between secondhand cigarette smoke and low levels of HDL- cholesterol. I see that touts the support of TASSC, though there is a small disclaimer that the board and its members don't necessarily agree with positions.

I am not writing to quibble about the review of my paper. The reviewer correctly points out that the study is small, that the implications are difficult to extend to the population at large. Although the critical reaction is overdone and oversimplified, and suggests a superficial reading of our paper, the reviewer is entitled to his/her opinion.

Rather, I am writing to complain about a different review, which is attached here (in case you haven't seen it). The review purports to show that a recent study in Pediatrics about the effect of secondhand smoke on childhood asthma is incorrect. The review by is itself characterized by poor science and half-truths. As a pediatrician and geneticist, I can attest to the fact that whatever the genetic roots of asthma, it is strongly exacerbated by respiratory infections and respiratory tract inflammation, and these are surprisingly strongly associated with exposure to irritants like cigarette smoke (or smoke from a wood stove, for that matter). This is independent of and probably additive to the effect of cockroach and dust mites cited by your reviewer.

I find it hard to believe that the TASSC Board members subscribe to the attached review. If you do, I ask you to say so in public. If you do not, I urge you to repudiate this particular article. The review reeks of influence from the tobacco industry. Is this possible?

I am a supporter of Dr. Ames' plea for a reasoned approach to assess relative risks of environmental carcinogens, and I appreciate Mr. Edwards' common sense comments on NPR. I hope the TASSC board members will apply reason and common sense to rejecting the editorial.



Ellis J. Neufeld, MD, PhD

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