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Chiropractor backs new theory in Clyde cancer cluster

Tom Jackson • Jul 16, 2013 at 6:20 PM

A Castalia chiropractor is offering a new theory on the root cause of the Clyde cancer cluster: A lack of magnesium in the local water supply.   

Dr. Dan White says he can produce a stack of scientific studies suggesting his theory deserves a look, but says he can’t get the health department or anyone else to examine his ideas.    “If they want to shoot holes in it, fine,” he said. “I want somebody to look at it.”   

White’s theory takes its place alongside other theories on the cause of the cancer cluster, which is blamed for killing at least four people and sickening about 40. Other theories and updates:   

• A federal lawsuit filed by many of the cancer cluster families against Whirlpool blames the company for burning waste materials and putting a chemical called benzaldehyde into the air. The lawsuit, filed in Toledo, also blames chemical dumping in the former Whirlpool Park.

• Another lawsuit, filed in state court by a Fremont law firm, focuses blame on alleged dumping at Whirlpool Park.   

• A Bellevue businessman, Steve Burroughs, argues that lead arsenate pesticides applied to fruit orchards decades ago poisoned the soil and led to the cancers. Burroughs has called for government agencies to carry out tests to prove or disprove the theory.   

• Officials may not be able to find a cause. That’s what Robert Indian, head of the state health department’s cancer control program, told the Toledo Blade in 2011.    “I think we’ve done everything we can do,” Indian said.    Indian is not currently giving interviews, a health department spokesman said.   

• The cancer outbreak may be a statistical anomaly.  Daniel Kahneman’s bestselling book, “Thinking: Fast and Slow,” includes a chapter, “The Law of Small Numbers,” which says small samples tend to produce misleading results. The chapter notes that rural, relatively sparsely populated   counties have both the highest rates and the lowest rates of kidney cancer in the country, because they have small populations and are affected by a small number of cases. Kahneman writes that “extreme outcomes (very high and/or very low cancer rates) are most likely to be found in sparsely populated counties. That is all there is to the story.”   

White, discussing his theory, cites an Ohio EPA report, “Drinking Water Quality Sampling to Support the Ohio Department of Health Childhood Cancer Investigation, City of Clyde and Surrounding Townships.” The report includes a table that shows magnesium of four to five parts per million in three samples of Clyde’s water supply, with calcium ranging from 32 to 38 parts per million. Studies show a rate of 1:1 is ideal, and ought to be at least be 1:2, White said.   

Studies such as “Does a higher ratio of serum calcium to magnesium increase the risk for postmenopausal breast cancer?” — available on the Internet by searching for the title — illustrate the results of a lack of magnesium, White said.   

A search for “Mg deficiency” and “cancer” at Pubmed.gov, which compiles medical studies, produces a number of links.  White said he wants officials who are responsible for finding a cause for the childhood cancer cluster to look at the scientific studies and tell him if he is right or wrong.    He’s nettled about what he says is the cold shoulder he’s received from the Sandusky County Health Department. He’s particularly unhappy about his perception that the Sandusky County Health Department has helped Burroughs pursue the lead arsenate theory, but has not listened to his magnesium theory. White said he met with two officials at the health department and left literature, but there was no follow-up. “I tried to contact them afterwards and was never able to get a return phone call,” he said.   

Sandusky County’s health commissioner, David Pollick, said he is not familiar with White’s theory and cannot evaluate it. Pollick said if White calls him, he will talk to him. “He’s never called me,” Pollick said. “I return my calls.”

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