Saturday, February 27, 2010

Relationship between autism and cancer?

I just ran across this study and wanted to point it out.  The implication of this study is sure to raise a few eyebrows.

The Correlation between Rates of Cancer and Autism: An Exploratory Ecological Investigation

Autism is associated with high rates of genomic aberrations, including chromosomal rearrangements and de novo copy-number variations. These observations are reminiscent of cancer, a disease where genomic rearrangements also play a role. We undertook a correlative epidemiological study to explore the possibility that shared risk factors might exist for autism and specific types of cancer.

Methodology/Principal Findings
To determine if significant correlations exist between the prevalence of autism and the incidence of cancer, we obtained and analyzed state-wide data reported by age and gender throughout the United States. Autism data were obtained from the U.S. Department of Education via the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (2000–2007, reported annually by age group) and cancer incidence data were obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (1999–2005). IDEA data were further subdivided depending on the method used to diagnose autism (DSM IV or the Code of Federal Regulations, using strict or expanded criteria). Spearman rank correlations were calculated for all possible pairwise combinations of annual autism rates and the incidence of specific cancers. Following this, Bonferroni's correction was applied to significance values. Two independent methods for determining an overall combined p-value based on dependent correlations were obtained for each set of calculations. High correlations were found between autism rates and the incidence of in situ breast cancer (p≤10−10, modified inverse chi square, n = 16) using data from states that adhere strictly to the Code of Federal Regulations for diagnosing autism. By contrast, few significant correlations were observed between autism prevalence and the incidence of 23 other female and 22 male cancers.

These findings suggest that there may be an association between autism and specific forms of cancer.

The text of the study is freely available, so I suggest you read it if you are interested


  1. "I did not intend to misquote you but your sentence was so poorly constructed that misunderstanding it was very easy. I had to go back and read what you wrote several times now to see what you were talking about.

    If you do not want people to misunderstand, perhaps you should work on expressing yourself better rather than accusing me of purposely misinterpreting what you are saying.

    Now don't you feel ashamed of yourself, pointing out the faults of others, especially those with dyslexia and Asperger's? In the community, we've always granted him the "standard Larry exception", exactly because he's easily misread.

  2. Clay,

    This is not really the place for this sort of comment, if you feel the need to heckle me for what I have written elsewhere, feel free to use the e-mail link to the left.

    However, I was not aware that that the commenter in question had dyslexia. I take people at their word, and when that involves online conversations, that is what they have written.

    Even if I had known, I would have responded in a similar fashion. A simple "I didn't mean to say that" or "you misunderstood me" would have been all that was required and I would have accepted that at face value. But instead it was an implication that I purposely misquoted him, which I did not.

    Now that I know that he has issues with this, I will take more care in the future when I read his comments.

    But no, I don't feel ashamed.

  3. "feel free to use the e-mail link to the left."

    Ah, I didn't see that. And I brought it here because the Mitchell won't let me respond there, even when I'm nice.

    And don't believe Best about me drinking, my parents did that, it's not for me. See recent post: