Thursday, October 17, 2013

More Exaggeration and Fear-Mongering From the CDC

Recently I discussed the irresponsible theatrics from federal officials about slight increases in e-cigarette use by teenagers (here).  That report appeared in the CDC’s September 6 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (here).  It turns out that this issue contained another grossly exaggerated CDC study that was tailor-made for major media treatment, and it succeeded.

The study, which examined death statistics from 2001 to 2010, claimed that 200,000 out of the 800,000 deaths each year among Americans from heart disease, stroke and hypertension are avoidable. 

As usual, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden was the scaremonger-in-chief: “These findings are really striking.  We're talking about hundreds of thousands of deaths that don't have to happen.  It's possible for us to make rapid and substantial progress in reducing these deaths.” (here).

Here is what the CDC didn’t tell Americans about these scary statistics. 

First, the CDC used a completely unrealistic definition to define these deaths as avoidable: anyone dying from heart disease, stroke or hypertension before the age of 75.  Hoping for a world where no one dies prematurely from any disease is admirable, but badgering Americans about “improving health-care systems and supporting healthy behaviors” as a way to eliminate ALL deaths from heart disease, strokes and high blood pressure up to age 75 is preposterous.

The biggest problem with the CDC report is that it cherry-picked a relatively flat period (2001-2010) of decline in these deaths.  Never mind that the decline over the period was 28% in men and 31% in women!  It completely ignored what has happened over the entire 45-year period for which data is available (here).  Look at the chart to see the astounding decline in these deaths since 1968, 78% in both men and women! 

The decline in cardiovascular deaths among Americans is nothing short of astonishing and breathtaking.  Of course, there’s always room for improvement.  But the CDC should be ashamed to create health care crises using isolated and exaggerated statistics.


FXR said...

If you look at the raw numbers. The chart would seem to indicate smoking is not as large a factor as they have been promoting for decades. The number of people smoking has not changed significantly in over 50 years with 50% of a 120 million population or 60 million then, and 20% of a 300 million today and again 60 million smoking. Population percentage numbers have declined however real numbers have remained constant. When we see such a large change in mortality figures, based in actual mortality counts, clearly smoking played very little part in the outcomes.

What is ignored [discredited]in these studies, is the advancements of empirical medical knowledge and life saving procedures. Leaving their promotions a tad short of the much needed fear factor to drive their prohibitionist ideals while moral bigotry, suffers from it's own inbred ignorance as a result.

dearieme said...

"advancements of empirical medical knowledge and life saving procedures": as I understand it, these advances are not remotely enough to explain the decline, which remains a mystery. One writer I follow suspects it shows the pattern of an infectious disease.