Do you think being a barber will cause you to get cancer? Listening to the radio? Drinking from a paper straw?

If the answer is yes, you are an International Agency for Research on Cancer epidemiologist. If you know better, then you know it is safe to keep on chewing Trident gum, or any other gum with aspartame. A message that dentists are in the awkward position of having to reinforce for patients who believe that New York Times endorsements mean IARC is a legitimate force for public health.

IARC is a France-based statistical group which at one time existed to find evidence for cancer-causing agents, but in recent decades has become a caricature of science; it is the world's most militant, anti-corporate demographers peer-reviewing each others' papers and insist that their spreadsheet and unweighted random effect meta-analyses are finding cancer risks that biologists, toxicologists, and chemists can't find.

Unfortunately for the world, progressive politicians, who share their anti-corporate, ban-happy sensibilities, really think IARC statisticians know what they are talking about. Recently, 180 countries (not the US) agreed to ban paper straws - remember when those needed to be mandated to save us from plastic? - because IARC gave a PFOA its tepid listing; possibly carcinogenic. The same risk as being a barber or listening to a radio.

And this year they turned their ideological gun on aspartame, an artificial sweetener that is probably the most studied on earth, which has been found harmless. It is the same weak designation, too dodge-y to be meaningful, unless you drink 10,000 diet sodas each day.

Epidemiologists don't need evidence, they only need correlation. They look at surveys and find people who claim they use aspartame and if enough eventually got cancer, they can claim statistical significance. Just like I can show a link between toothpaste and cancer, or organic food. 

Even the World Health Organisation, which bankrolls IARC, distanced itself from the claims of its rogue stepchild, noting their use of hand-picked and limited evidence, and no plausible biological mechanism. It's as crazy as saying grass is tiny green versions of people so a weedkiller can harm us. The U.S. FDA, the strictest scientific body in the world, flat out rejected IARC claims, just as they did IARC claims about coffee - which IARC later recanted when not only were the lawyers they consult for not getting rich, they were getting laughed out of court.

Dentists don't want to spend time debunking chemical scaremongering by the UN, they want to promote oral health. Sugar-free gum has saved a billion teeth, and resulting oral diseases that used to be rampant before sugar-free gum was invented. IARC longs for a bygone day when their work was still relevant to public health - unfortunately in this case, they are opposing sugar-free gum, which was created thanks to real scientific evidence for how it could help people.

Dentists know this. Epidemiologists are instead paid to deny both science and common sense.