I’ve made it no secret how I feel about Big Tobacco. To put it mildly, I’m not a big fan.
In fact, it was just a few short weeks ago that wrote about the unholy alliance between Big Pharma and Big Tobacco that will likely soon lead to Chantix’s evil twin TC-5214 hitting a pharmacy shelf near you.
So consider this fair warning. This next story I’m about to tell you might make you mad enough to send smoke streaming from your ears…which, now that I think about it, is rather appropriate for reasons that you’ll understand in just a few moments.
Allow me set the stage.
It was the late 1950’s and business was booming for Big Tobacco.
During World War II tobacco sales had shot up like a rocket, with cigarettes even finding their way into soldier’s C-Rations right alongside their chow. With scores of newly-addicted G.I.s returning home from war and introducing their wives and girlfriends to the habit a boon like the industry had never seen before followed.
Sure, stories linking cigarettes with lung cancer were starting to leak out here and there around the edges, but the industry was quick to stomp out any fires. Big Tobacco’s scientific goons-for-hire swiftly counteracted any bad press by introducing new and improved “safer cigarettes” with lower tar and filters.
Where There’s Cigarette Smoke There’s Fire
It was around this same time that the tobacco industry uncovered something that could threaten the health and even the very lives of their customers. A secret so huge in fact, that it had the potential to bring the industry to its knees.
Tobacco executives learned that their products contained radioactive substances known as alpha particles.
It turns out that the radioactive matter found in cigarette smoke–eventually identified as carcinogenic isotope polonium-210–was being absorbed by tobacco leaves both through naturally occurring radon gas and through high-phosphate chemical fertilizers that were being used by the tobacco growers.
So how did the big wigs at Big Tobacco react to this devastating and potentially deadly news?
Did they issue warnings to smokers? Perhaps they pulled the tainted products off the shelves? Or maybe they started looking for solutions that would remove the radioactive substance from the tobacco?
Remember, this is Big Tobacco we’re talking about here…ethics is not their strong suit. Naturally, the tobacco executives kept it under wraps. After all, news like that would definitely put a damper on business.
Finding this tale a bit hard to swallow?
I would too…except for the fact that internal tobacco industry documents reveal that the industry was well aware of this killer secret as early as 1959, yet did nothing about it.
Well…nothing that is except extensive testing to find out what the long-term effects of the radioactivity on smokers might be.
In fact, their own investigations…over-a-decades worth of data…clearly showed that the radioactive cigarette smoke had the potential to cause cancer, yet they never released these findings to the public.
Instead, knowing that their product might be exposing people to radioactivity that may, quite literally, kill them they elected to continue with business as usual stocking the store shelves with radiation-tainted tobacco.
Making the Evidence go up in Smoke
Well as shocking as this tale already is, believe it or not it’s…arguably…not even the worst part of the story.
A recent UCLA study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research has raised the possibility of an even more sinister agenda. According to the study’s authors, “…the industry used misleading statements to obfuscate the hazard of ionizing alpha particles to the lungs of smokers and, more importantly, banned any and all publication on tobacco smoke radioactivity.”
In other words, according to the UCLA researchers, Big Tobacco not only committed the sin of omission by not telling people about the hazards, but they also went one giant immoral step further by deliberately covering up the potentially life-saving information.
Tallying up the Radioactive Damage
So, just how much radiation is a regular smoker absorbing? Over a 20 to 25 year period it equals about 40 to 50 rads. A number that, according to the EPA’s figures on lung-cancer risk in people exposed to radon gas, equals about 120 to 138 deaths per 1,000 smokers.
It doesn’t take a math whiz to figure out that with over 46-million adult smokers in the U.S.A. alone we’re talking about a huge number of potential deaths here.
Yet, despite these frightening statistics, to this day the industry has declined to make any changes, even refusing to adopt techniques that were developed that could have helped eliminate the IP-210 from tobacco. A choice they likely made–according the UCLA team’s research–because the process would ionize the nicotine in the cigarettes making it more difficult to absorb and less likely to keep a smoker addicted.
Taking Action to Put Out Fires
So what now?
The first thing to do, obviously, is kick the habit. Whether it’s cold turkey, a support group, the patch, or gum do whatever it takes to get yourself off the stuff as soon as you can.
Your doctor might be able to help you with some useful suggestions (but if he writes you a prescription for Chantix find yourself a new doc because, as I warned you all the way back in 2008, the drug may have violent and even deadly consequences for some).
Next consider increasing the amount of cancer-fighting vitamin-K2 rich foods in your diet. In one study men and women with the highest K2 levels developed 50 percent fewer cases of lung cancer compared to those with the lowest intake. You can eat more sauerkraut, butter, fermented cheeses (like feta), organ meats, and egg yolks to bump up your K2 levels naturally.
And finally, I urge you to contact the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products to tell them that they should make the removal of alpha particles from tobacco products a top priority (a regulatory right given to them by the passage of the 2009 passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act).
Dr. Allan Spreen
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