Kathleen Ruff, RightOnCanada.ca
In a letter of January 28, over 140 scientists, health defenders and civil society organisations challenged scientific and ethical misconduct by Dr. Carlo La Vecchia, an Associate Editor of the European Cancer Prevention Journal (EJCP).
Dr. La Vecchia and his colleague, Dr. Paolo Boffetta, had published an article in the EJCP on continued exposure to asbestos that distorted the scientific literature; stated that they had no conflicts of interest when they were in a financial relationship with a company to testify in court to put forward the same arguments contained in the article; and falsely stated that the article was funded by the Italian Association for Cancer Research.
Dr. La Vecchia and Dr. Boffetta were also owners of a for-profit consulting company that published articles, financed by mining companies, fast-food companies and chemical companies, that claimed that products of the companies which have been recognized as human carcinogens did not cause harm to health. These articles assisted the companies in being able to continue to expose workers to these carcinogens.
Jaak Janssens, Editor-in-Chief of the EJCP, has responded in a letter of February 10 saying that they see nothing wrong in this conduct.
A letter has been sent to Prof. Janssens in reply, stating that this response discredits both the European Cancer Prevention Organisation and the EJCP and asking that the EJCP’s International Advisory Board carry out a thorough, transparent review of the complaint and provide a full, public report.
The letter to Prof. Janssens notes that Dr. La Vecchia’s conduct conflicts with the stated mission of the EJCP:
“Whether testifying in court or through his consulting company, Dr. La Vecchia had the right to do work, on behalf of industries, that denies harm of known carcinogens. Your organisation and journal, however, claim to be dedicated to preventing “this dreadful disease, cancer, before it strikes” (to quote your words). It is, in our view, a betrayal of public trust when your organisation and journal place in a leadership position a person who sanctions exposure to known carcinogens, with consequent increased risk of cancer. This is the opposite of prevention and the opposite of the mission you claim to pursue.”
Associate Editor of the EJCP, Prof. Dr. J. Bogers, has said that “The full response to your letter will be handled by the editor in chief, Dr Janssens.”
It is to be hoped that this response will address the serious scientific and ethical concerns that have been raised and will demonstrate that the EJCP is genuinely committed to its mission of preventing cancer.