More Canadians die from NSAID complications than from firearms homicide

Sometimes, it’s hard to know what to worry about.

Back in the 1990s it was estimated that between 1,000 and 2,000 people died annually from NSAID complications while, according to Stats Can, something under 250 people were murdered with guns.

Drug companies placed this ad in Canadian medical magazines decades ago in an effort to signal the dangers of non-steroid anti-inflammatories like Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, aspirin and other similar drugs. And, of course, to peddle their remedy.

The situation in Canada is similar to that in the United States, where between 3,600 and 26,000 people are estimated to die annually from NSAID complications. (Obviously the range is so wide due to the great difficulty of making accurate estimates). These estimates bracket the roughly 8,300 murders involving guns in 2016 in the US — down from 17,000 in 1993.

Gun homicide rates have fallen precipitously in both countries since the 1990s, but deaths due to NSAID complications continue to pose a threat. How much of one is hard to say.

No one should confuse scary headlines or official worries with reality. As HL Mencken said,

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

 

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