After my post this weekend regarding Matt Stoller’s venomous attack on cancer patients (oh, and John McCain, too), it looks like some others have been doing some digging on Matt’s unsubstantiated claims.
Jon Henke at the next right also took issue with Stoller’s claim that POWs suffer more illness than others. What did he find?
Stoller provided no citation for his claim – and I cannot imagine what the link could be between being a former POW and getting cancer (he does not offer suggestions) – so I checked. According to a Institute of Medicine study of WWII and Korean War POW’s, he’s wrong.
In summary, excepting psychiatric illness, this report shows little evidence of wide spread ill health among former prisoners of war compared with their non-POW veteran counterparts.
While there are some medical conditions associated with POW’s, they are largely things like joint pain and issues related to the physical duress. These are quality-of-life, and not mortality, issues. Otherwise, there is “little evidence of wide spread ill health among former” POW’s.
The Institute of Medicine study did except psychiatric illnesses – which, I assume consists of PTSD, readjustment to civilian life and the like – which would seem in one degree or another to most veterans of war. I checked on that, as well. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, which did research specifically on the subject of “the relative cognitive status of US Navy Vietnam-era POWs”…
The few statistically significant differences between repatriated POWs and controls showed better intellectual functioning in the POWs.
Yup. As I suspected, Matt Stoller just made that up – as he does with most of his “facts”. There is little to support the idea that POWs suffer anymore health problems than others, and in fact, POWs seemed to be more mentally acute, rather than less.