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In-Depth Interview: Part 1 with Journalist Peter Byrne on His Series “Busted”

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Science writer and investigative journalist Peter Byrne shares his findings from a deep investigation of claims of “breast cancer epidemic” in Marin County, California.  Byrne dug into the data, and found that widespread mammography is the most likely cause of false reports of large cluster of cases.Byrne was a guest on our show last year, and your humble host invested in the crowdfunding for his investigation, culminating in the publication of an 11-part series of reports in the scrappy Point Reyes Light, entitled “Busted: Breast Cancer, Money and the Media”.  You can read the articles here.

In the first of a 2-part interview, Byrne details the path his reporting took, and how close examination of the data that fed epidemiological studies shows that upscale, white women in Marin have more mammograms, producing many false positive diagnoses.  He states that many non-cancerous findings are routinely reported to the state registry as cancerous.  You will hear audio clips from two experts, Dr. Olampadi and Dr. Kelly.  Byrne shares the story of Dr. Renee Willard who had a mastectomy before finding out that she did not have breast cancer.

Local media, public health experts and cancer nonprofits all rejected a report from the Centers for Disease control in 1999 that dismissed the claims of an epidemic, citing high levels of mammography and unchanged mortality figures.

We also discuss the unreliability of data collected by the California Cancer Registry and the impact of the 2002 scare about estrogen replacement therapy and links to breast cancer.