Geoffrey Kabat

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Geoffrey C. Kabat is an American epidemiologist, cancer researcher, and author. He has been on the faculty of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and State University of New York, Stony Brook. He is the author of Hyping Health Risks: Environmental Hazards in Daily Life and the Science of Epidemiology and Getting Risk Right: Understanding the Science of Elusive Health Risks.

Scientific work[edit]

Over a forty-year career, Kabat has studied a wide range of lifestyle, clinical, and environmental exposures in relation to cancer and other diseases, and mortality. Major topics of interest include: smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and nutrition, endogenous and exogenous hormones, obesity and height, the metabolic syndrome, physical activity, electromagnetic fields, and sleep.[1]

In 2003, Kabat, who then worked at the State University of New York, Stony Brook,[2] co-authored a study in BMJ examining the association between passive smoking and tobacco-related mortality. The study concluded that its results "do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality."[3][4] The study was partly funded by the tobacco industry and was heavily publicized by it,[5][6] and was criticized for using a dataset that did not include an "unexposed" group.[7] In his book Hyping Health Risks, Kabat describes the criticism of this study as scientific McCarthyism.[8]


Kabat is the author of the book Hyping Health Risks, published in 2008 by Columbia University Press. The book examines several alleged environmental health risks, such as the proposed link between artificial chemicals and cancer, and concludes that these risks have been distorted.[9] In the book, Kabat also discusses the science relating to the adverse health effects of passive smoking, arguing that anti-smoking activists have manipulated the results of scientific studies to justify increasingly stringent anti-smoking regulations.[10] Skeptical Inquirer notes that "Kabat ... helps readers understand relative versus absolute risk, medical research, [and] how pseudoscientific and questionable claims get [mis]reported by news media and activists...."[11]

David A. Savitz reviewed the book and wrote "For the most part, the story of truth and misrepresentation of evidence on health risks [in the book] was engaging".[12] It was also reviewed in the New England Journal of Medicine, where Barbara Gastel wrote that "Kabat is at his best in the chapters in which he presents the case studies," but she criticized the book's first chapter, entitled "Introduction: Toward a Sociology of Health Hazards in Daily Life".[13] In a more negative review, Neil Pearce wrote in the International Journal of Epidemiology that he "became more frustrated and less impressed as [he] worked [his] way through the book" and criticized the book for what he called its "lack of balance".[14]

Terence Hines wrote that Kabat "more than accomplishes" his goals of discovering how it is that extraordinary progress is made solving some problems but little is made solving others and why instances of progress get little attention while scientifically questionable issues get more attention. Hines said of the chapter reviewing the question of whether cell phones cause cancer, it "alone is worth the price of the book."[15]

Kabat wrote another book building on the themes in Hyping Health Risks that was published in 2016.[16]


  1. ^ Search Results for author Kabat G on PubMed.
  2. ^ Pearson, Helen (May 16, 2003). "All in a puff over passive smoking". doi:10.1038/news030512-15.
  3. ^ Enstrom, J. E (15 May 2003). "Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960–98". BMJ. 326 (7398): 1057–0. doi:10.1136/bmj.326.7398.1057. PMC 155687. PMID 12750205.
  4. ^ Sullum, Jacob (16 May 2003). "Weak Link". Reason. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  5. ^ Bhattacharya, Shaoni (16 May 2003). "Controversy over passive smoking danger". New Scientist. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  6. ^ Tong, E. K.; Glantz, S. A. (16 October 2007). "Tobacco Industry Efforts Undermining Evidence Linking Secondhand Smoke With Cardiovascular Disease". Circulation. 116 (16): 1845–1854. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.107.715888. PMID 17938301.
  7. ^ Bero, LA; Glantz, S; Hong, MK (April 2005). "The limits of competing interest disclosures". Tobacco control. 14 (2): 118–26. PMC 1748015. PMID 15791022.
  8. ^ Hines, Terence (July–August 2009). "When Science Gets Distorted for Nonscientific Reasons". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  9. ^ Bailey, Ronald (11 August 2008). "Scared Senseless". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  10. ^ Fitzpatrick, Michael (30 October 2009). "The anti-smoking 'truth regime' that cannot be questioned". Spiked. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  11. ^ "New and Notable". Skeptical Inquirer. 41 (2): 60. 2017.
  12. ^ Savitz, D. A. (3 March 2009). "Hyping Health Risks: Environmental Hazards in Daily Life and the Science of Epidemiology: By Geoffrey C. Kabat". American Journal of Epidemiology. 169 (8): 1039–1041. doi:10.1093/aje/kwp013.
  13. ^ Gastel, Barbara (29 January 2009). "Book Review Hyping Health Risks: Environmental Hazards in Daily Life and the Science of Epidemiology By Geoffrey C. Kabat. 250 pp. New York, Columbia University Press, 2008. $27.95. 978-0-231-14148-2". New England Journal of Medicine. 360 (5): 548–549. doi:10.1056/NEJMbkrev0807040.
  14. ^ Pearce, N. (18 September 2008). "Hyping Health Risks: Environmental Hazards in Daily Life and the Science of Epidemiology. Kabat GC". International Journal of Epidemiology. 38 (6): 1746–1748. doi:10.1093/ije/dyn198.
  15. ^ Hines, Terence (2017). "Why We Often Get Risks Wrong". Skeptical Inquirer. 41 (4): 58–60. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  16. ^ Hartge, Patricia (2017). "Getting Risk Right: Understanding the Science of Elusive Health Risks". American Journal of Epidemiology. 186 (3): 385–386. doi:10.1093/aje/kwx148. ISSN 0002-9262.

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