‘Do no harm! That’, said Dr David Freed, introducing the British Society of Environmental Medicine’s excellent conference which he had also organised, ‘is the charge put upon doctors when they qualify. But do they?’
The assumption is that the more medical care is available, the more good it will do but the facts do not always bear this out. On two rare occasions when doctors actually went on strike (one in Canada in the 1950s and one more recently in Israel) their patients seem to have got better but, before any attempt is made to ban all doctors, association does not necessarily indicate causation.
The concept of disease prevention is relatively modern and dates from the invention of the small pox vaccine. Earlier generations of doctors saw their role as one of curing illness not preventing it – what right had they to interfere with perfectly healthy people?
However, smallpox was such a horrendous disease that the possibility that you could prevent someone catching it by injecting them with small quantity of infected serum, even if this carried significant risks (which it did – three to four deaths and around 1,000 cases of serious illness per 100,000 vaccinations) seemed worth pursuing.
However, the concept once established, does open the door to almost limitless opportunities for doctors to ’do harm’.
23rd August 2011. We have just heard of the very sad and unexpected death of Dr Freed on the 15th of this month. His wisdom and humanity will be deeply missed by all who knew and worked with him. This conference stands as a fitting tribute to all that he taught.
Routine vaccinations – the science – Dr Jayne Donegan.
Dr Donegan trained at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School and, after a series of specializations, became a GP. When during the 1994 measles/rubella campaign, over seven million school children were vaccinated against measles, some for the third time, she began to question the universal childhood vaccination programme and to study the science behind vaccination.
In 2002 she was engage as an expert witness in the High Court by two mothers who refused to vaccinate their children. Her opinion that it was a reasonable choice not to vaccinate led her ‘fitness to practice’ to be questioned two years later by the General Medical Council. After three years of investigation her opinions and her research were entirely vindicated. As a result she is now the only doctor in the UK whose opinion on vaccination has been tested in extensive legal proceedings and has been proved to be sound ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.
How well does your GP understand the science?
Dr Donegan first questioned how good the average medical professional actually was at evaluating the scientific evidence put before them. And by asking what proportion of the treatments that they use are actually supported by good evidence.
Recent research suggests that, even in mainstream medicine, only 36% of interventions actually prove to be beneficial while the effectiveness of a further 48% is unknown – which would suggest that there is a serious disconnect between what doctors understand science to say and what it actually says.
‘Results’ and ‘conclusions’ may differ – widely…
Based on her researches, Dr Donegan suggested that the research described in the ‘methods’ and ‘results’ in any scientific paper often differed significantly from what was described in the ‘abstract’, the ‘discussion’ and the ‘conclusion’ in that same study. Researchers who write papers often have an agenda unrecognised by the reader of that paper – they need funding, they need to get the paper published – and while there may be little they can do to influence the results of a trial, it is easy enough to ‘spin’ an abstract or a conclusion. Yet it is the abstract and the conclusion that are most often read and studied.Dr Donegan then took the conferees through a study on the MMR vaccine, published in the journal Pediatrics by a well respected and conscientious investigator, highlighting a number of flaws which should alert the vigilant reader to the fact that, despite the credentials of its authors, its conclusions might be questionable. For example:
• The study was partially funded by Merck, a pharmaceutical company making the MMR vaccine.
• The whole study only lasted for 21 days after the vaccination so could cover no more than immediate reactions.
• There were no genuine, unvaccinated controls.
• In the study the vaccinated children had already had measles.
• The study specifically excluded gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms – why?
• No details were given of the placebo used yet, on investigation, it proved to contain neomycin, phenol red and MSG all of which could have caused reactions independently of any active MMR component.
Vaccination research – points to note
In respect of vaccination research in general Dr Donegan pointed out that:
• There have no well designed safety studies.
Vaccination policy, she concluded, is based not on the science (of which there is very little) but on opinion.
Vaccines, Atopy and Allergy: Problems and Solutions – Dr Richard Halverson
Dr Halverson described how, as a GP working in London and doing a bit of medical writing on the side, he had little specific interest in vaccination until he was asked to write an article on the MMR controversy when it broke in 1998.
His research for the article suggested that there was some evidence, if slightly tenuous, that there could be a problem with the MMR vaccine. However, when he turned to the Department of Health and to other government bodies for evidence that the vaccine did not cause a problem, he found none at all.
In 2009 he left the NHS to concentrate on childhood immunisation – he is now medical Director Babyjabs, a childhood immunisation service. www.babyjabs.co.uk
He is not, as he says, anti vaccine but he is concerned about the quantity and frequency of vaccines given to young babies. He is also concerned that the vaccine ‘debate’ is often polarised between those who are either obsessively pro-vaccine or totally opposed to any sort of vaccination, neither of which viewpoints are helpful to parents who are confused and unsure about which immunisations to give their child.
Allergy and infection
Looking specifically at vaccines, Dr Halverson pointed out that most vaccines were both THelperType 2 inducing and IgE stimulating, thus likely to stimulate allergy in an atopic (allergy prone) subject. Moreover, aluminium, frequently used as an adjuvant (a substance included in the vaccine to increase its potency) is a powerful inducer of IgE.
However, actually catching some of the infections against which we are vaccinating our children appears to reduce their risk of allergy dramatically. Catching measles reduces the risk of asthma by 80% and of allergy in general by 30%; chicken pox, caught under the age of eight, reduces the risk of eczema by 45% and reduces the risk of severe eczema by a dramatic 96%.
The timing of the administration of the vaccine also seems to be important. Children who completed the triple course after 12 months reduced their risk of developing hay fever while if the first vaccine was delayed from two month to five months old, the risk of asthma was reduced by 50%.
Dr Halverson also pointed out that the conclusions drawn from scientific papers were often at odds with their results. For example, is was generally concluded that the MMR vaccine was not a risk factor for asthma and eczema, a conclusion that was in direct contradiction to the results of the research.
Aluminium is used as an adjuvant in most vaccines although not in the MMR. It is IgE inducing and carries other significant risks.
The WHO safety level for aluminium is based on aluminium which is ingested (taken by mouth) of which only one part per thousand is actually absorbed. But in a vaccine, which is injected, all the aluminium is absorbed so the safety levels should be adjusted accordingly, which they are not. As a result, UK babies are receiving over 100 times the recommended level of aluminium known to cause damage. Moreover there have been no studies of any kind done on the safety of aluminium absorbed this way.
So – what to do?
Should a vaccine be given later? Should they be spread over a longer period? Should there be fewer vaccinations? Should they include less potentially harmful other ingredients?
Giving them later
Based on the existing evidence, it is reasonable to assume that doing so would reduce the incidence of some allergic conditions such as asthma.
Does the delay matter as far as the protection of the child is concerned? Certainly not as far as vaccinations against polio, tetanus or diptheria is concerned; maybe as far as meningitis or whooping cough.
Giving fewer vaccines
MMR could be given as a single vaccine.
Giving fewer vaccinations together?
There is no reason to administer all the vaccinations together apart from convenience.
Dr David Salisbury, Head of Immunisation at the Department of Health maintains that an baby’s immune system can withstand 1,000 vaccinations yet the case of Hannah Poling in the US has for the first time forced an acceptance that this may not be the case.
Hannah, the daughter of a neurologist, had fallen behind on her vaccination schedule and so, to catch up, she was administered nine vaccines in one day when she was 18 months old. She is now severely autistic and it has been accepted in court that it was the vaccines which caused her to regress into autism. However, it is claimed that the only reason that she reacted this way to this number of vaccines is because she suffered from mitochondrial dysfunction. Which is very possible – but, since one in 200 children in the UK also suffer from some sort of mitochondrial dysfunction, might this not be a cause for alarm?
Most vaccines do offer benefit and probably do no harm to most children most of the time but at what cost? And there is no doubt that some vaccines do some harm some children some of the time.
But the official line is that the more vaccines you have the more diseases you remove. Far more dangerously, not only does the government not allow any discussion of vaccine safety, they actively suppress any discussion on safety.
The way forward?
Honesty and informed choice. An environment in which parents can have a reasonable discussion of the options without being bullied, patronised or threatened with a withdrawal of healthcare, denial of entry to school and even, in the worst cases, of having their children taken into care.
Dr Lucija Tomljenovic of the University of British Columbia has made a study of the JCVI’s and the Department of Health’s policies and actions over the last 30 years in pursuit of their vaccination programmes. As she provided an excellent overview of her paper, it appears below with occasional further notes which emerged during her talk, in the course of which she displayed numerous images of JCVI and DOH transcripts verifying her contentions.
No pharmaceutical drug is devoid of risks from adverse reactions and vaccines are no exception. Vaccination is a medical intervention and as such, it should be carried out with full consent of those who are being subjected to it, in case of children and infants, full consent should be given by the parents. Deliberately concealing information from parents for sole purpose of getting them to comply with an ‘official’ vaccination schedule could thus be considered as a form of ethical violation or misconduct. Official documents obtained from the UK Department of Health (DH) and the joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) reveal that the British health authorities have been engaging in such practices for the last 30 years, and are currently planning on doing so again, in order to protect the vaccine program.
During the talk I will present evidence that shows that the JCVI engaged in continuous efforts to withhold critical data on severe adverse reactions and contraindications to vaccinations from both parents and health practitioners in order to reach overall vaccination rates that they deemed were necessary for ‘herd immunity’, a concept that, incidentally, does not rest on any solid scientific evidence. This information is critical for understanding the government’s and the JCVI position on vaccine damage: one of persistent denial.
As a result of this vaccine policy, many children have been vaccinated without the facts having been disclosed to their parents about demonstrated serious risks of adverse reactions, of which the JCVI have been fully aware. By withholding this information, the JCVI neglected the right of individuals to make an informed choice concerning vaccination.
The transcripts of the JCVI meetings also shows that some of its members had extensive ties to pharmaceutical companies, and the JCVI itself frequently co-operated with manufacturers on strategies aimed at boosting vaccine uptake. Some minutes of the meeting at which such controversial items were discussed have either been moved from official JCVI website and not made available to the public, or modified due to their ‘commercial in confidence’ nature (CSM/JCVI/ARVI Minutes of the meeting held on 7 Feb 1986; 6 Jun 1986; 3 Oct 1986; 6 Feb 1987; 6 Jul 1987; 8t Mar 1988). These particularl meeting (the transcripts of which have been obtained thorough the Freedom of Information Act) reveal a clear and disturbing lack of transparency (names of JCVI participants are frequently blanked out). The transcript of JCVI meetings from the period from 1983 to 2010 reveal that
If you wish to contact Lucija Tomljenovic you can email her here.
Professor Michel de Lorgeril of the Faculté de Medicine de la Merci at the University of Grenoble’s discussion of the ‘Curious Case of the Post Vioxx Statin Trials’ proved as entertaining as it was enlightening.
Professor Lorgeril started by reminding his audience of the known, but often overlooked, fact that pharmaceutical companies make their money through the patents that they hold on their drugs. Once a patent runs out, so do their fees. However, drug patents are now running out fast and it is not easy, or cheap, to discover new drugs. Drug companies are, therefore, forced to make ever more desperate attempts to capitalise on the drugs on which they do still hold patents by exaggerating the benefit that the drug delivers and/or minimising its side effects.
But who are we to trust? Certainly not journals such as the ‘prestigious’ New England Journal of Medicine who are all too often linked in some way or other with the companies whose drug trials they review.
Even when the review is relatively independent, standard pharmacovigilance is very limited as it will only search for problems which it expects to find. So, in the case of a statin, if no connection with depression or cancer is known, then no links will be sought and no connections made.
Massaging the evidence
The Vioxx affair (Vioxx was a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug - NSAID – made by Merck which Merck knew to be associated with a 35% increased risk of heart attack or stroke for four years before they finally withdrew it from the market) caused a tightening of the regulations governing drug trials, but has not prevented bias.
Pre Vioxx, a drug company could undertake as many trials of a drug as it liked, but it was not required to publish them. So trials which demonstrated harm or minimal success rates could be quietly binned, while only those which showed significant benefit were published. Post Vioxx drug companies were required to publish the results of all trials undertaken. As a result, far fewer trials are now done – but those that are designed in such a way that they really cannot fail.
So, for example, 2008 trials for the statin Simvastin, only included very high risk patents with very high cholesterol levels that the statin was guaranteed to reduce. But, as a result of reducing their cholesterol levels did the participants suffer from fewer heart attacks and strokes? The answer was, no. The statins may have reduced the cholesterol but there was no difference in the number of deaths between those taking the drugs and the placebo group.
None the less, these trials were hailed as a success, and even though a drug which had not improved the end-point outcome for high risk patents was even less likely to do so for low risk patients, the widespread prescription for ‘preventative’ statins was stepped up.
One other statin trial, the Jupiter trial, illustrated an alternative way to massage the outcome. The trial, which did not include end-point data on fatal heart attach or stroke either, was stopped after only 1.9 years because ‘the results they were getting were so good that they wanted the placebo patients to benefit from the drug’. But stopping the trial half way through cannot give an accurate picture of the effect of the drugs as it is not fulfilling the trials’ design.
Other brief points which came up in Professor Lorgeril’s talk:
• So called herd immunity is only relevant to infectious diseases such as measles, not to non-infectious conditions such as tetanus – and its effectiveness depends on how infectious is the disease.
Christina England, adoptive mother of two special needs boys, described the horrifying misdiagnoses of Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy (a condition in which a parent is deemed to invent the illness of a child in order to draw attention or sympathy to themselves) which had been made in her own case and in those of many other parents whose children suffered from multiple allergies, autistic spectrum disorders, vaccine damage and what was thought to be shaken baby syndrome. Although, after years of struggle, she kept custody of her own children, in many cases the individual child, and sometimes all the children in the family have been taken into care, destroying a family already torn apart by the child’s illness of disabilities.
Christina has co-authored a book with Dr Harold Buttram, 'Shaken Baby Syndrome or Vaccine Induced Encephalitis - Are Parents Being Falsely Accused?' which you can buy at www.sbswebinfo.com or directly from Christina (send £6 which include P&P to Suite 106, 94 London Road, Headington, Oxford OX3 9FN).
The HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine is claimed to protect teenagers (girls from cervical cancer, boys from genital warts) but a rising tide of adverse reactions are now causing serious concern.
Freda Birrell, of Sanevax Scotland, and Lesley Carol Botha of Sanevax USA presented some of this data on the ‘Adverse Vaccine Events which have been reported in the US and which are thought to represent less than 10% of the actual incidence, since there is so little awareness among both the public and physicians of the adverse effects that the vaccines can have and the availability of a reporting system for adverse events.
These reports now stand at well over 21,000 of which over 20,000 are girls and include 93 deaths, 8,617 emergency room visits, 4,346 cases who have not recovered, 689 who have been disabled and 372 who have subsequently had an abnormal pap smear.
Meanwhile, enormous pressure is being put on families with teenage children to get them vaccinated even though there is no support for the treatment and many families are putting themselves under severe financial pressure to enable their children to complete the course.
• Hormonal contraceptives are now being linked with an increased incidence of the HPV virus but there has been no research done on how the vaccine reacts with contraceptive pills.
Dr Ellen Grant, a founder member of the BSEM and a long time campaigner against the contraceptive pill gave a talk linking the use of the contraceptive pill and the resulting progesterone dominance and endocrine disruption to the massive rise in autism and related conditions – up between 1987 and 1998, in California, by 300% in comparison to rises of around 3% in cerebral palsy, epilepsy and mental retardation during the same period. Today an estimated 21% of children. just over one in five, need ‘special needs treatment’ while one in 64 has autistic spectrum disorders.
In 1972 only 10% of single women were using oral contraceptives before their first pregnancy but by 1981 that figure had risen to 95%. Progestins act like progesterone leading to mitochondrial damage in women. One recent research paper found some mitochondrial DNA abnormalities in children with ASD while another researcher found a range of various toxic DNA adducts in some autistic children which can result in mitochondrial dysfunction. Oral contraceptive (or progestin) users are more likely to have mitochondrial dysfunction and toxic DNA adducts.
Over the subsequent 20 years, the rising rate of autism was matched by the rising rate of breast cancer in younger women and the rate of lung cancer in older women taking HRT. In each case, excessive progesterone was implicated.
For children born through IVF treatment the situation is made worse as the mothers are given added progesterone both to prevent miscarriage and to control labour.
For a more detailed exposition of Dr Grant’s ideas, see her website at www.harmfromhormones.co.uk
Dr Andrew Wakefield, whose recently published book Callous Disregard, Autism and Vaccines – the truth behind a tragedy, tells the story of his research at the Royal Free into the inflammatory bowel conditions of autistic children and his subsequent vilification by the UK medical establishment and by the UK government, gave a brief overview of the autism/vaccine link from the late 1980s to the present day.
Fifteen to twenty years ago autism was a relatively rare, ancient, genetic condition; a psychiatric disorder from which there was no recovery, that was unconnected with intestinal disease and that was suffered from birth. Children did not regress into autism. There was no link, no causal association with vaccination; any apparent link was purely coincidental as vaccines were known to be completely ‘safe’.
Today autism is recognised as a medical, not a genetic disorder; it has grown to epidemic proportions; it appears to be triggered by some environmental assault or toxin; regression is common; autistic children very frequently have intestinal disease; it has been replicated; diets can be helpful and recovery is possible although not necessarily universal.
Dr Wakefield places the change around the last years of the 1980s, first in California, then in the rest of the US and then in Japan. So what environmental exposures happened in all of those countries at that time?
The importance of history
In diagnosis, history is the most important element. Infection and disease are highly complex and their effects can differ hugely depending on the age and health of the individual who catches them and on the strength and type of the infection. Also important is what Dr Wakeful described as ‘ecological synergy’.
For example, in Mongolia the ground squirrel carries the plague in its throat but while it kills some squirrels it does not kill others. A recent study carried out in Moscow showed that if the forest plants on which the squirrel feeds are either high in toxins or low in nutrients, the squirrels die of the plague, but if the forest plants are low in toxins and high in nutrients, the plague that they carry does not infect them and they live.
In the case of a vaccinated child, the thimersol (mercury) and aluminium in the vaccines bias the child towards the creation of more TH2 (‘allergic’) cells. If you then apply a live vaccine, you have no idea what other, as yet unknown, risks you are creating.
Gastrointestinal symptoms of all kinds are very common in autism – 45–80% of autistic children have some sort of gastrointestinal condition; of these 76–100% have inflammatory bowel diseases. (But inflammatory bowel disease is a condition that can be treated.)
So is there a link between bowel and brain? Normal gut bacteria determine brain development and are relevant in autistic spectrum disorders and in food allergy.
The cumulative effect of the vaccine programme has never been tested. Preclinical WHO testing for the MMR vaccine was done in monkeys and only monitored effects for 17–21 days after the vaccination. If a monkey died within the first 48 hours they were allowed to replace it with another monkey. If too many animals died, they just started the trial again….
A recent study that his group has done with new born macaque monkeys showed that a vaccine containing thimersol significantly delayed their acquisition of survival mechanisms – normally acquired very shortly after birth. A second study looked a macaques both before and after they were given the MMR vaccine found that the administration of the vaccine significantly affected the growth of the monkeys’ brains.
The age exposure also seems to be very important. The risk associated with the Hepatitis B triple vaccines appears to be significantly greater the younger the child.
Environmental exposure combined with genetic predisposition
However, environment combined with genes still seems to be key. For example, autism is virtually unknown in Somalia (where there is no vaccination) yet amongst the Somali population in Sweden (where the children are vaccinated), there is a one in 28 incidence of autism. Infant mortality is very much higher in Somalia than amongst the Somali community in Sweden but that does not explain a jump from none to one in 28.
And what happens to children who get two doses of MMR? It appears that there is a systemic difference after the second vaccination with the bowl disease becoming much worse.
Far more worrying is the possibility of horizontal transmission – between siblings or friends. For example:
There are outbreaks of vaccine-related measles happening all round the world right now. Could the virus be ‘shedding’ from one individual to another?
Strains of measles vaccines have been found in unvaccinated monkeys who had associated with vaccinated monkeys – had the virus been transmitted from one to the other?
And if vaccine viruses can escape in this way, could they then transmute into some entirely new virus?
It is also important which vaccines are combined. The urabe mumps vaccine did not present any problems when administered alone. It was only when it was put into the MMR vaccine that it caused meningitis.
Wild boosting of immunity
When infection diseases were caught by children immunity was conferred. However, this immunity only became lifelong when it was regularly boosted by contact with the disease – as happened as the child grew into an adult and then came into contact with other children which the disease.
The supposed case against him
Speaking of the recent hearings before the Medical Research Council and the accusations by the journalist Brian Deer, Dr Wakefield pointed that:
Moreover, he suggest that the reason why the government were so keen to dismiss his findings and any concerns about the MMR vaccines was because they had already agreed to indemnify Smithkline Beecham/GlaxoSmithKline against any claims for vaccine damage.
To buy Dr Wakefield’s book, Callous disregard, or to contact Dr Wakefield, check into www.callous-disregard.com where you will also find a good deal of research on the subject.
Click here for more details on the British Society for Ecological Medicine.