Does peer review at Environmental Health Perspectives amount to little more than spell check?
A new study in Environmental Health Perspectives reports that,
… environmentally relevant levels of metals [i.e., cadmium, lead and mercury] are associated with modest changes in reproductive hormone levels in healthy, premenopausal women.
It’s a scary sounding conclusion that isn’t supported by the data.
First, the researchers only found marginal and/or insignificant correlations between serum levels of the metals and changes/differences in follicle stimulating hormone and progesterone. They then just assumed that the metal exposures caused the hormone levels to change — without adequately exploring myriad factors that could be the actual causes of the observed hormonal changes/differences.
To cap it all off, the researchers reported,
Metals were not significantly associated with anovulation.
Given that anovulation is the health effect of concern, exposure to “environmentally relevant levels of metals” doesn’t seem to be a problem.
So the researchers can’t show that metals caused or are in any way related to the observed hormonal changes and the observed hormonal changes themselves are biologically meaningless. How exactly do these results support an indictment of cadmium, lead and mercury? Does anyone read this stuff before they press “publish”?