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Monday, September 3, 2012

Go West, Young Man

In my last post, I dramatically concluded that there is a connection between Lyme Disease and Multiple Myeloma.  Tada!  Well, maybe I was a bit hasty and jumped the gun just a tad.  Upon further reflection and analysis, I'm prepared to back down on that conclusion.

One of the problems with my previous analysis is staring me right in my reddened face from the table I included in my last post.  Notice that of the nine states I included in the Northeast US Region, New York and New Jersey have the highest age-adjusted MM incidence, but not the highest Lyme Disease incidence.  In fact, if you focus on those states in this region with the highest incidence of Lyme Disease (CT, ME, MA, NH, VT), the age-adjusted MM incidences are all below the national average of 6.0 cases/10K population.  Hmmm.  Now why didn't I notice that earlier?  Therefore, despite having more than 6 times the national average of Lyme Disease cases, there is no discernible increased incidence of MM for these states.  That pretty much throws both the correlation and causality arguments down the proverbial poop chute.  Waaah!

There's another small problem with my previous analysis.  The CDC data show that the West Region has lower incidence of MM than the other regions of the country.  I decided to check out the statistics for some other common cancers, such as breast, lung, and prostate cancer.  Guess what?  The same pattern emerges, where the Northeast Region has the highest age-adjusted incidence and the West Region has the lowest.  Why is that?  Maybe the formulas for age adjustment are out of date, since they use the age demographics from the 2000 census.  Perhaps the Northeast Region has gotten older since 2000, so the adjustment may under-correct for the demographics for all the cancer types.  Maybe it has something to do with the pollution from all the power plants in the rest of the country that rains down on the Northeast.  Who knows?  In any case, the West just seems to be a healthier place to live.

So I'm now ready to make another suggestion. If you live in New York or New Jersey, save yourself.  Move to California now!  ;-)

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