Do Hamburger and Salmon Cause Cancer?

The following is an article from the magazine The Annals of Improbable Research.

by Stephen Drew, Improbable Research staff. Top image credit: Flickr user Charlie Kindel.

Hamburger and Salmon are highly correlated with cancer. The association lay largely unsuspected until late 2005, when Ian Davis of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, in Melbourne Australia, identified ten especially suggestive published reports. These are:

Hamburger, A.W. and Salmon, S.E.: “Primary Bioassay of Human Tumor Stem Cells,” Science, vol. 197, 1977, pp. 461-3.

Hamburger, A.W., Salmon, S.E., and Alberts, D.S.: “Development of a Bioassay for Ovarian Carcinoma Colony-forming Cells,” Progress in Clinical and Biological Research, vol. 48, 1980, pp. 63-73.

Hamburger, A.W., Jones, S.E., and Salmon, S.E.: “Soft-agar Cloning of Cells from Patients with Lymphoma,” Progress in Clinical and Biological Research, vol. 48, 1980, pp. 43-52.

Hamburger, A.W. and Salmon, S.E.: Development of a bioassay for human myeloma colony-forming cells. Prog Clin Biol Res 48:23-41, 1980

Hamburger, A.W., Kim, M.B., and Salmon, S.E.: “The Nature of Cells Generating Human Myeloma Colonies in vitro,” Journal of Cellular Physiology, vol. 98, 1979, pp. 371-6.

Salmon, S.E., Durie, B.G., and Hamburger A.W.: “A New Basis for Treatment of Multiple Myeloma,” Schweizerische medizinische Wochenschrift, vol. 108, 1978, pp. 1568-72.

Hamburger, A.W., Salmon, S.E., Kim, M.B., Trent, J.M., Soehnlen, B.J., Alberts, D.S., and Schmidt, H.A. “Direct Cloning of Human Ovarian Carcinoma Cells in Agar,” Cancer Research, vol. 38, 1978, pp.438-44.

Salmon, S.E., and Hamburger, A.W.: “Immunoproliferation and Cancer: a Common Macrophage-derived Promoter Substance,” Lancet, vol. 1, 1978, pp. 1289-90.

Salmon, S.E., Hamburger, A.W., Soehnlen B., Durie, B.G., Alberts, D.S., and Moon, T.E.: “Quantitation of Differential Sensitivity of Human-tumor Stem Cells to Anticancer Drugs,” New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 298, 1978, pp. 1321-7.

Hamburger, A., and Salmon, S.E.: “Primary Bioassay of Human Myeloma Stem Cells,”
Journal of Clinical Investigation, vol. 60, 1977, pp. 846-54.

Do Hamburger and Salmon Cause Cancer?

It would be premature, and perhaps foolish, to conclude that Hamburger and Salmon cause cancer. No investigator has publicly made such a statement. Correlation, they point out, does not imply causation.

Yet -- in the absence of experimental evidence -- it may be impossible to rule out the possibility.

Sadly, one of the key figures in the very specialized field of Salmon-Hamburger cancer research is no longer available to work on the question.

Dr. Sydney E. Salmon passed away several years ago. He was Founding Director of the Arizona Cancer Center, University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson. During his lifetime, Dr. Salmon published more than 200 cancer research studies. One of his most frequent collaborators was Anne W. Hamburger. Dr. Hamburger is Professor of Pathology at the University of Maryland’s Greenebaum Cancer Center, in Baltimore.

The Salmon Mystery

There is a statistical oddity to Dr. Salmon’s demise. His passing is strange, because:

1) Dr. Salmon died in 1999, according to a November, 1999 press release issued by the University; and

2) Dr. Salmon died in 2002, according to a June 30, 2005 press release issued by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

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This article is republished with permission from the March-April 2005 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

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I found out that Dr. Salmon died of complication due to pancreatic cancer. If that's not yet another nail in the Hamburger-Salmon cancer nexus, I don't know what is.
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