Saturday, December 07, 2013

Cause Versus Association

You've just entered a room where a person has been murdered. There is a person standing over the body, holding the smoking gun.

This is a puzzle of cause versus association.

There's no doubt that the person died of a gunshot wound (cause), but was the fatal bullet fired from that particular gun?

If that was the gun that fired the deadly shot, was the person holding the gun the person that actually fired the shot?

All of these questions have to be answered before any valid conclusions can be made.

Someone pulled the trigger on a gun that fired a shot that killed someone.

Just because there is a gun associated with the current scene, it does not make the associated gun the fatal weapon.

The same holds true for the person holding the gun. Just because a person is holding a gun while standing in a room where someone was shot and killed, does not mean that person did the killing, even if they are holding the murder weapon.

The gun and the person holding the gun are associated with the murder, but we do not yet know if they actually caused the murder.

A few years ago, I read an article that said people with high cholesterol levels developed cancer at a much lower rate than those with average cholesterol levels.

I was thrilled because I have high cholesterol.

A few years later, I read another health related article regarding the research, and the high cholesterol subjects involved in the study were also taking statin drugs to lower their cholesterol. It turned out that the statin drugs being taken to reduce cholesterol were also helping to ward off cancer.

So, high cholesterol is still not a good thing.

Today, I read an article about colon cancer and I wrote this article mainly to give kudos to the writer of that article, who included all the details and explained that the association found does not necessarily mean that they have found a cause.

The study found an association, not a cause-and-effect link, between gut bacterial diversity and colon cancer.

Kudos to Cari Nierenberg for explaining the meaning or lack thereof, of this recent finding regarding colon cancer and gut bacteria.

When reading medically related articles, make sure you understand the conditions of the research, and the true cause versus association relevance.

Read the full article at Yahoo.com.

Be Well!

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