San Luis Obispo County Health Department Refutes Elevated Cancer Claims of Mangano Report

Several Anti-Nuclear groups in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, claim on their websites and Facebook pages that cancer rates in San Luis Obispo County have “Skyrocketed” since 1980 when the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power plant started up and cite a study entitled “Report on Health Status of Residents in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barba Counties Living near the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Reactors Located in Avila Beach, California”, issued on March 3, 2014 by Joseph Mangano.   Mr. Mangano is executive director of The Radiation and Public Health Project, an anti-nuclear power advocacy group headquartered in New Jersey. The Mangano report makes 12 claims regarding dangerous health effects on the residents of San Luis Obispo County and northern Santa Barbara County.

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department (SLOCPHD), with input from State and Santa Barbara County epidemiologists, undertook a detailed review of the study and found that all 12 of Mangano’s alarmist claims were incorrect.  SLOCPHD found that  Mangano used improper methodology to show increases in cancer incidence over time by not properly adjusting or controlling for confounding variables, such as age or race/ethnicity.  The author creates the impression of increased cancer risk when it simply does not exist. Statistically adjusted rates, when done properly, show that not only were the overall rates of cancer not increasing in San Luis Obispo  County, the trend has been downward.

Mangano’s false claims focused mainly on trying to prove cancer rates were elevated in both counties as well as elevated rates of low birth weight and infant mortality.  The San Luis Obispo County Health Department also stated that the conclusions Mangano makes are unsupported by the evidence and health data presented in the report. Mangano also writes that his report supports findings in three other reports, all of which were also written by Mangano. For the one of these prior articles that is readily available, the author also used crude rates, and did not control for age, ethnicity or any other potential confounders. Using one flawed study to support another does not strengthen the conclusion.

The complete  San Luis Obispo County Health Department report can be found at:,-114,792