It was disappointing to read the Aug. 3 news story "Lou Gehrig's [ALS] Disease Claims Gulf Veterans; 28 Cases Have Researchers Taking Closer Look." Specifically:
Researchers found 28 cases when they expected 27. It would be rather amazing if they found exactly 27 cases with 27 expected. Odds don't work that way, just as flipping a coin 10 times rarely gives you five heads and five tails.
We don't even know if 27 was the proper number to expect. The article states: "there are varying estimates of the disease's incidence in young age groups."
If this "excess" single case is worrisome, how about all those studies that show statistically significant decreases in rates of cancer and death among gulf vets? Is that evidence that exposure to something in the gulf is protective?
The article states: "There have been scattered reports during the last five years that an unusual number of Gulf War veterans are suffering from ALS." Translation: This is from the rumor mill. This is the same rumor mill that has vets with semen that burns flesh, that has a fifth of all gulf vets now deceased, that says that gulf vet cancer rates are several times higher than background and so on.
Ultimately, this story tells us nothing. Yet it will be the basis for many follow-up articles and much unnecessary fear among vets and their wives.
The Hudson Institute is a nonpartisan, conservative think tank.