HUGE STUDY: Air pollution-asthma epidemic link in tatters

Is Tylenol — not improving air quality — to blame for the alleged asthma epidemic of the past 30 years?

The EPA and enviros have improbably claimed since the mid-1990s that the alleged epidemic of childhood asthma was caused by air pollution — despite steadily improving air quality since 1980.

A new study in Pediatrics reports,

The epidemiologic association between acetaminophen use and asthma prevalence and severity in children and adults is well established. A variety of observations suggest that acetaminophen use has contributed to the recent increase in asthma prevalence in children: (1) the strength of the association; (2) the consistency of the association across age, geography, and culture; (3) the dose-response relationship; (4) the timing of increased acetaminophen use and the asthma epidemic; (5) the relationship between per-capita sales of acetaminophen and asthma prevalence across countries; (6) the results of a double-blind trial of ibuprofen and acetaminophen for treatment of fever in asthmatic children; and (7) the biologically plausible mechanism of glutathione depletion in airway mucosa. Until future studies document the safety of this drug, children with asthma or at risk for asthma should avoid the use of acetaminophen…

Many observations suggest that the epidemiologic association between acetaminophen and asthma is causative: (1) the strength of the association; (2) the consistency of the association across geography, culture, and age; (3) the dose-response relationship between acetaminophen exposure and asthma; (4) the coincidence in the timing of increasing asthma prevalence and increasing acetaminophen use; (5) our inability to identify any other abrupt environmental change that could explain this increase in asthma morbidity; and (6) the relationship between per-capita sales of acetaminophen and asthma morbidity across countries. Furthermore, the metabolism of acetaminophen provides a biologically plausible explanation for causation: depletion in airway mucosal glutathione that could contribute to vulnerability to oxidant stress.[Emphasis added and footnotes omitted]

Specifically about the ‘epidemic of asthma,” the study says,

ACETAMINOPHEN AND THE ASTHMA EPIDEMIC

The possibility that acetaminophen causes asthma is of particular importance because of the coincidence of the asthma epidemic and the increased use of acetaminophen that followed recognition of the association of Reye syndrome with the use of aspirin. Between 1980 and 2003, the prevalence of pediatric asthma in the United States increased from 3.6% to 5.8%, and similar increases were observed throughout the world. Asthma prevalence leveled off in the 1990s at a time in which acetaminophen had already become the most commonly used analgesic/antipyretic for children. Although other changes in the environment have been suggested that might explain an increase in childhood asthma, including the “hygiene hypothesis,” none so easily explains the rapid increase in asthma in the 1980s and the subsequent leveling off of asthma prevalence over the last 15 years. Furthermore, the prevalence of childhood wheezing in 36 countries around the world is predicted by each country’s per-capita sales of acetaminophen. [Emphasis added and footnotes omitted]

If indeed the increase in asthma prevalence from 3.6% to 5.8% over 23 years is real and not due to increased reporting and diagnostic changes, then unless the fine particulate swirling in the air is Tylenol, the unlikely air quality-asthma epidemic link ought finally be ascribed to the ash heap of junk science history.

Click to read the Pediatrics study.

Read Steve Milloy’s FoxNews.com column, “Dirt-Asthma Link Needs Scrubbing”.

10 thoughts on “HUGE STUDY: Air pollution-asthma epidemic link in tatters”

  1. While it holds more weight than other hypotheses, Tylenol consumption can likely be well correlated with disease control in general (it being a relatively inexpensive and commonly used drug that will only be in use when large diseases are under control), and I seriously doubt that it can be statistically separated from the hygene hypothesis.

  2. One study on a separate issue – and an incomplete one at that – does not negate dozens of well done studies that look at specific environmental linkages. It appears that your website “Junk Science” has chosen to promote junk, instead of science.

  3. I am 66 years old and I had asthma as a child until my early 20’s. In 2000, I started having attacks again. Asthma is triggered by different things in different people. Cigarette smoke, burning leaves, auto fumes are a few of the things that can trigger an attack in me. My 35 year old son has always had asthma and smoke does not bother him, he is more likely to have exercise induced asthma. My father started having asthma in his 70’s even though he never had it before that. In our cases, I believe that the tendency to have asthma is partially genetic. Another common problem that we have is allergies, but we are allergic to different things. I also believe that doctors are more likely to recognize mild cases of asthma now than they did when I was a child. I am not inclined to believe the that the EPA or this study are completely correct about the causes of asthma based on my lifetime of studying and experiencing asthma.

  4. It’s called “The priority of the Paradigm” Notwithstanding all evidence to the contrary, a lie still remains a Fact. Ozone (Ionosphere) depletion a lie, Acid Rain, a lie. See NAPAP Study that Bush 41 would not read. Who was it who said there is a sucker born every minute, and one dies every ten years.

  5. my money is on junkscience .. not on doc (above) .. js is too often correct .. they dig deep for their conclusions .. and follow up on items of comment..

    i’ll stick with junk science for my info…

  6. Thank you. That’s a lovely, concise explanation. Asthma is a complex set of symptoms, not a disease in and of itself.

  7. Doc, It’s a study, peer reviewed, and put forth for all to consider. This has far more statistical power than the air pollution theory (if nothing else, it’s it the same direction), and the dose-response relationship does appear to indicate a link. My theory that Tylenol is a good proxy for disease control, which correlates well with allergies (called the hygiene hypothesis). However, I agree with you that I am seriously doubtful of a causal relationship.

    Why do you not read the study and then debunk it on it’s finer points, or at least consider it and comment on the idea instead of dismissing it outright? At the very least, you can have more fun that way.

  8. Dont let the anti-obesity folks get wind of that one………..they just got billions to create junk science anti-obesity studies for michelle obamas new czarina roll as head public health policeman……the dems stole billions from food stamp programs to finance the war on obesity…

    If you lose your job and you get a reduced food stamp amount blame it on the fraudulent obesity epidemic that was created like everything else to get public health laws enacted against us all!

    http://easydiagnosis.com/secondopinio….

    Diabetes:

    Old Definition: Blood sugar > 140 mg/dl
    People under old definition: 11.7 million
    New Definition: Blood sugar > 126 mg/dl
    People added under new definition: 1.7 million
    Percent increase: 15%

    The definition was changed in 1997 by the American Diabetes Association and WHO Expert Committee on the Diagnosis and Classification of Diabetes Mellitus.

    Hypertension:

    High blood pressure is reported as two numbers, systolic or peak pressure and diastolic pressure when heart is at rest) in mm Hg.

    Old Definition: cutoff Blood Pressure > 160/100
    People under old definition: 38.7 million
    New Definition: Blood Pressure > 140/90
    People added under new definition: 13.5 million
    Percent Increase: 35%

    The definition was changed in 1997 by U.S. Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure.

    Prehypertension, a new category created in 2003: blood pressure from 120/80 to 138/89 includes 45 million additional people! If one includes this category, we have a grand total of 97.2 million total numbers of hypertensives and prehypertensives (whatever that is).

    High (Total) Cholesterol:

    Old Definition: Cholesterol > 240 mg/dl total cholesterol
    People under old definition: 49.5 million
    New Definition: Cholesterol > 200 mg/dl total cholesterol
    People added under new definition: 42.6 million
    Percent increase: 86%

    The definition was changed in 1998 by U.S. Air Force/Texas Coronary Atherosclerosis Prevention Study.

    Overweight:

    Body Mass Index (BMI) is defined as the ratio of weight (in kg) to height (in meters) squared and is an inexact measure of body fat, though it supposedly establishes cutoff points of normal weight, overweight, and obesity.

    Old definition: BMI > 28 (men), BMI > 27 (women)
    People under old definition: 70.6 million
    New definition: BMI > 25
    People added under new definition: 30.5 million
    Percent Increase: 43%

    The definition was changed in 1998 by U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

    “The new definitions ultimately label 75 percent of the adult U.S. population as diseased,” conclude the two researchers.

  9. Dont let the anti-obesity folks get wind of that one………..they just got billions to create junk science anti-obesity studies for michelle obamas new czarina roll as head public health policeman……the dems stole billions from food stamp programs to finance the war on obesity…

    If you lose your job and you get a reduced food stamp amount blame it on the fraudulent obesity epidemic that was created like everything else to get public health laws enacted against us all!

    Diabetes:

    Old Definition: Blood sugar > 140 mg/dl
    People under old definition: 11.7 million
    New Definition: Blood sugar > 126 mg/dl
    People added under new definition: 1.7 million
    Percent increase: 15%

    The definition was changed in 1997 by the American Diabetes Association and WHO Expert Committee on the Diagnosis and Classification of Diabetes Mellitus.

    Hypertension:

    High blood pressure is reported as two numbers, systolic or peak pressure and diastolic pressure when heart is at rest) in mm Hg.

    Old Definition: cutoff Blood Pressure > 160/100
    People under old definition: 38.7 million
    New Definition: Blood Pressure > 140/90
    People added under new definition: 13.5 million
    Percent Increase: 35%

    The definition was changed in 1997 by U.S. Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure.

    Prehypertension, a new category created in 2003: blood pressure from 120/80 to 138/89 includes 45 million additional people! If one includes this category, we have a grand total of 97.2 million total numbers of hypertensives and prehypertensives (whatever that is).

    High (Total) Cholesterol:

    Old Definition: Cholesterol > 240 mg/dl total cholesterol
    People under old definition: 49.5 million
    New Definition: Cholesterol > 200 mg/dl total cholesterol
    People added under new definition: 42.6 million
    Percent increase: 86%

    The definition was changed in 1998 by U.S. Air Force/Texas Coronary Atherosclerosis Prevention Study.

    Overweight:

    Body Mass Index (BMI) is defined as the ratio of weight (in kg) to height (in meters) squared and is an inexact measure of body fat, though it supposedly establishes cutoff points of normal weight, overweight, and obesity.

    Old definition: BMI > 28 (men), BMI > 27 (women)
    People under old definition: 70.6 million
    New definition: BMI > 25
    People added under new definition: 30.5 million
    Percent Increase: 43%

    The definition was changed in 1998 by U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

    “The new definitions ultimately label 75 percent of the adult U.S. population as diseased,” conclude the two researchers.

  10. As long as Pfizer and Johnson and JOhnson OWN the FDA and most of our elected officials, it will be perfectly acceptable for them to kill us all with their overpriced drugs, and their paid for junk studies about second hand smoke causing every problem except stubbed toes. (And they are probably working on that now)

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