Statins Cause ALS? Fat Chance

  • by: |
  • 07/03/2007
The article today in the WSJ about a “link” between ALS and statin drugs underscores how much of epidemiology is nothing but statistical self-gratification that has grown exponentially in the hopes of seducing self-important medical journals who in turn seek to whet the appetite of journalists looking for peril in every pill.

The ALS-statin connection could have been addressed easily by asking if there was an overall increase in the incidence or prevalence in ALS since the widespread use of statin drugs beginning in the 1980s, particularly among the elderly. There are careful registry data in virtually every Western country in the world on ALS patients, some dating back to the 1920s that capture every new case of ALS and measure against increases in total populations and various demographic characteristics.

ALS incidence and prevalence is virtually unchanged since the beginning of the century. So if statins have a direct causative effect it would have shown up by now. Why no one, let alone the author of the WSJ article did not ask this simple question is beyond me.

Now more interesting is the fact that Beatrice Golomb, who is studying the evil effects of statins, claims to have found a link between low cholesterol levels and violence Indeed, there are a handful of articles that claim to have seen this association after doing some data dredging. (Uh, maybe they should control for age since most crime is committed by young people and most young people have...low cholesterol, duh.) And they NIH is giving her money?

I can’t wait to the lawsuits flying around the claims that statins cause violent behavior. They WILL come.

Meanwhile, shame on WSJ's Jacob Goldstein and WHO's Ralph Edwards for even proposing that this is anything more than a coincidence. You give me four million data points and I will show you that there is a relationship between Jacob Goldstein and half the pregancies in Passaic, NJ.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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