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July 1990

Health Risks and the Press: Perspectives on Media Coverage on Risk Assessment and Health

Author Affiliations

Boston, Mass

Arch Ophthalmol. 1990;108(7):924. doi:10.1001/archopht.1990.01070090026015

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This book is a collection of essays on the problems facing journalists reporting on environmental health risks.

In the first essay, Bruce Ames of the University of California presents a number of misconceptions, presumably fostered by media coverage, about cancer rates, environmental causation of cancer and birth defects, and the ability to quantify health risks to humans based on rodent testing. He concludes that there is "no persuasive evidence from epidemiology or toxicology linking pollution as a significant source of birth defects or cancer." He argues that the ability of science to measure minute components of chemicals in the environment obscures the fact that there is currently no way to quantify the risk to humans based on tests on rodents, and this ability diverts attention from known risks, such as cigarette smoking and radon. This essay lays the groundwork for the subsequent essayists as they analyze the difficulties faced by

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