Environmental Hazards in Daily Life
and the Science of Epidemiology

by Geoffrey C. Kabat



"Kabat, who wrote Hyping Health Risks--a fascinating and detailed examination of how we fell for certain, illusory environmental hazards--is possibly the only epidemiologist in the world to have also published a book on Dostoyevsky (he got a Ph.D in Russian and comparative literature from Columbia before switching tracks). And the background in literary analysis and theory adds a crucial ability to explain why we, as a society, are prone to turning hypothetical risks into "social facts." The upshot is that most public alarms about health risks dispense with the tools required to make sense of the alarm--and we end up with "disembodied findings" and ideology."
-- Trevor Butterworth, Forbes

"A strong, valuable corrective to public understanding of the debate over environmental hazards... Highly Recommended."

“The text is highly informative without overwhelming readers with details, the reasoning appears rigorous and is easy to follow, extensive documentation is provided, the writing is concise and readable, key points are listed at the ends of chapters, and the narrative flows well.
… For students in the health sciences, health journalists, and policymakers, the case studies provide information on their respective topics and also serve as lucid demonstrations of epidemiologic reasoning. For sociologists, historians of science, and media scholars, the case studies can be starting points for further exploration. And for educated general readers, the book can engage and enlighten regarding the complex context in which known and suspected health risks are identified, explored, and acted on.”
-- Barbara Gastel, Texas A&M University, review in the New England Journal of Medicine

“This book forcefully examines the question – what goes wrong when the good intentions of scientists and activists are based on weak epidemiologic findings? …Reading and reflecting on the thesis of this book can only help epidemiologists be more aware of our place in society and thus be more effective contributors as we venture beyond the technical aspects of epidemiology into the broader, messier world… Kabat identifies real issues that need closer examination and more open debate than has taken place up to now.”
-- David A. Savitz, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, review in American Journal of Epidemiology

“Health scares come and go, but they often have a tenuous scientific basis. Kabat, a cancer epidemiologist, systematically rips through cancer alerts that overrode scientific rigor in recent decades. In so doing, he dispels the dubious science underlying the scares and explains how public confusion can come about. … He extends his critique to debates linking radon gas exposure and secondhand cigarette smoke exposure to lung cancer. Those chapters will ruffle some feathers, but Kabat is unafraid of controversy.”
-- Nathan Seppa, ScienceNews, magazine of the Society for Science and the Public

Reading this book will give you a better understanding of what epidemiology can and can’t do, and insight into how the rational scientific process can be perverted by the press, politicians, and grass-roots activists.”
-- Harriett Hall, review on Science-Based Medicine Web site

“With clarity and dispassion, Geoffrey C. Kabat challenges the widespread beliefs that secondhand smoke, low levels of radon, and other ostensible environmental nemeses are certain killers. In making his case, Kabat draws extensively on scientific evidence while shunning rhetoric and political posturing. The result is an admirable search for scientific truth amid a sea of conflicting and often uninformed opinions.”
-- Leonard Cole, Rutgers Unversity

“Geoffrey C. Kabat, a respected epidemiologist, provides an insider’s account of how a number of ostensible health hazards have been blown out of proportion. While we face a daily barrage of health scares, Kabat cuts through the confusion and provides a lucid and rigorous rationale for rejecting much of the fear culture that permeates our society.”
-- Shelly Ungar, University of Toronto

"Hyping Health Risks provides a valuable counterpoint to the confusion and paranoia that seem to grow in proportion to the constant barrage of health risk studies. Examining four of the most persistent and controversial issues in public health, Kabat’s lucid and well-written book gives the lay reader all the basic concepts and epidemiologic tools she needs to understand the available evidence. His presentation allows us to better discriminate between what matters to our health and what matters to the ‘hypers’ – a wide array of stakeholders, some well-intentioned, some much less so.”
-- Ernest Drucker, Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine

“This book does an exceptionally good job, first by putting epidemiology within the context of pubic health and then by explaining key terms, concepts, and methods. It provides a penetrating treatment of a difficult and complex subject in a readily understandable way.”
-- Steven D. Stellman, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University     


























book cover