Another unpublished letter to : “Ron Cunningham” <email@example.com>
Attn: Editor, Gainesville Sun
I write regarding the Sun’s coverage of the recent so-called “cancer study” of the Stephen Foster Neighborhood.
As a past Hospital Director of Nursing, as well as Director of Investigational Drug Studies, I am fully aware, through my education and extensive experience, how health studies should be designed, conducted, and so how their results should be determined and reported.
The study was conducted in a manner that can only be considered unscientific, based upon data that cannot be considered complete or accurate. The Sun’s unequivocal headline screamed “No cancer cluster near Koppers”. It was, therefore, biased and misleading, since Florida’s Department of Health (DOH) never conducted a real health or cancer study.
For starters, residents affected by the Koppers site include many more neighborhoods than just Stephen Foster, which the local, state, and federal spin-doctors just love to focus on to beguile and mislead the rest of Gainesville’s citizenry at large.
Stephen Foster and other residents, past and present, have been dealt a grave disservice by the Sun and the DOH. We have never been asked directly about our health, nor in any meaningful numbers. Past residents have not been tracked, nor have short- or long-term renters been sought out, or included.
The Sun reported that Anthony Dennis had determined, through study, that there were no greater risks of residents getting cancer in the Koppers’ area than in similar areas not near toxic Superfund sites. This type of propaganda and damage control by the DOH is irresponsible and disgraceful.
All in all, the DOH’s so-called “study” is nothing but a chart compiled from inadequate, 11 year-old census data. The data came from census reports through the year 2000 and references were made concerning use of tumor registry reports. With regard to census reports, many residents, myself included, provided only the minimum information required by law. Moreover, many residents do not return their surveys. Information derived from such census reports are unscientific and are, therefore, in no way, “cancer studies”.
Although reference was made to Tumor Registry reports, such data were not provided in the DOH report. In my professional capacity, I can attest to the fact that Tumor Registries are inaccurate, ignored, underfunded and, therefore, are highly flawed when attempting to draw useful conclusions from them. It is widely known that the Joint Commission and the State Surveyors spend little time on Tumor Registry systems, policy and procedures. Indeed, in past surveys, the phrase “Tumor Registry” was never used by either group in any survey with which I was intimately involved.
Proper and valid health studies take years. They require thousands of people to be studied, tracking back over many generations, and must be designed and fully completed by scientists. Bottom line, Gainesville’s citizenry have been handed “junk science” and the Sun has blithely aided and abetted the furthering of this propaganda.