In a recent blog post on the Age of Autism blog, Dr Lorene E.A. Amet wrote about “Testosterone and Autism”. While much of the piece seems to be fighting a straw man (the theme is that Simon Baron-Cohen wants to use testosterone to screen for autism prenatally—without a link to the story or a quote from SBC, I found this difficult to wade through). But, as part of her piece, Dr. Amet wrote:
It is of great concern that studies on testosterone and autism are being misinterpreted, leading to the use of therapies aimed at disturbing steroid hormone production in individuals with autism. Currently, many autistic children may be being treated, without proof of safety and scientific and medical evidence of benefit, with a view to reducing their hormonal secretion of testosterone (Lupron Therapy, Spironolactone). The rationale behind advocating these therapies appears to be based on a misunderstanding of autistic behaviours and without systematic laboratory evidence of abnormal testosterone levels.
I had to double check that I was reading the right blog! I mean, Age of Autism allowed someone to state that the the rationale behind using Lupron to treat autism is “based on a misunderstanding”.
For those who are lucky enough to not know, Lupron as a treatment for autism is the pet project of Mark and David Geier. These are near heroes to the world of Age of Autism, due in large part to their promotion of REALLY bad epidemiology (for example, here, here and here on Epiwonk’s blog) to support the thimerosal/autism link.
The Geiers took the testosterone theory of Dr. Baron-Cohen and ran with it. Ran without knowing what they were doing or where they were going. Somehow they came to the conclusion that Testosterone binds with mercury in the brain, making it difficult to remove the mercury with chelation. Reduce the testosterone in the system, they guessed, and one could get the mercury out. Since in their world autism is caused by mercury, this will “recover” or “cure” people of autism.
Doesn’t make any sense to you? That’s because it doesn’t make any sense. At all.
Even though the idea of using lupron is misguided and potentially dangerous, that doesn’t mean that the groups that sponsor the Age of Autism blog would be willing to out the Geiers, even without specifically naming them, for the unscientific team that they are.
To be honest, I think the Age of Autism editors just missed that paragraph by Dr. Amet before approving it to be published (if they approve at all).
But, it’s there now for all to read. Bravo Age of Autism. Bravo for joining the world of people who find the Lupron Protocol to be based on a “misunderstanding” of the science.