Health defenders challenge scientific and ethical misconduct by editor of European Journal of Cancer Prevention

Tue, Jan 28, 2014


Kathleen Ruff,

Over 130 scientists, health defenders and civil society organisations have sent a letter to the European Cancer Prevention Organisation (ECPO) regarding serious scientific and ethical improprieties in an article on asbestos published by the organisation’s official scientific journal, the European Journal of Cancer Prevention. The article was written by Dr. Carlo La Vecchia, who is an Associate Editor of the journal and a member of the organisation’s International Advisory Board, and by Dr. Paolo Boffetta.

In their letter, the scientists and health defenders point out that:

  • The article distorts the scientific evidence, claiming that continued exposure to asbestos causes no additional risk of mesothelioma.
  • The article falsely states that the authors had no conflict of interest, when they had been paid by a company, charged with criminal offenses for the deaths of a number of its workers from mesothelioma, to put forward this same argument in court, which would allow the current company managers to have impunity for the deaths of the workers.
  • The article falsely states that it was funded by the Italian Cancer Research Association (AIRC), thus adding an advantageous air of legitimacy to the article and its arguments. AIRC has confirmed that it gave no funding whatsoever for the article.
  • The article violates the conflict of interest and ethical requirements of ECPO and goes directly against ECPO’s stated goals to prevent cancer and to help cancer victims.

In addition, the letter voices serious concern that a consulting company, the International Prevention Research Institute, set up by Dr. La Vecchia and Dr. Boffetta and others in 2009, publishes articles, funded by toxic industries, that deny harm caused by known carcinogens, produced by these companies, such as diesel fumes, TCDD and Agent Orange.

The signers of the letter state:

“We believe that Dr. La Vecchia’s conduct, as documented above, is incompatible with holding the position of Associate Editor of the European Cancer Prevention Organisation’s official European Journal of Cancer Prevention and is incompatible with being a member of your organisation’s International Advisory Board.

  • We therefore request that you terminate Dr. La Vecchia’s position as Associate Editor of your journal and his position as a member of your International Advisory Board.
  • We furthermore urge you to publish a correction of the inaccurate information that was put forward in the article by Drs. La Vecchia and Boffetta.




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