- No decrease in flu hospitalization from flu shots – Vaccine Journal
- French researcher claims Monsanto lobbyists pulled his study from journal
- Experts make the link between Gardasil and multiple sclerosis – Le Monde
- Why You Should Never Get A Flu Shot
- What happens if you decide not to vaccinate your child?
- JoAnn on Dr Wakefield: Govt. experts have conceded that MMR vaccine caused autism
- Jennifer Z Vaughn on No decrease in flu hospitalization from flu shots – Vaccine Journal
- Scribe64 on What happens if you decide not to vaccinate your child?
- Jennifer Z Vaughn on What happens if you decide not to vaccinate your child?
- Jennifer Z Vaughn on What happens if you decide not to vaccinate your child?
Author Archives: The Refusers
By MB Oct 14, 2013
Eight infants died immediately after receiving the pentavalent vaccine in Kashmir. The pentavalent (5-in-1) vaccine is the pet project of Bill Gates’ GAVI organization, UNICEF and the World Health Organization. It combines hepatitis-B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and Hib into one vaccine.
Two months ago the head of pediatrics at St. Stephens Hospital in New Delhi predicted ‘3125 children will die from vaccine adverse effects.’ related to this vaccine when he blasted it in the peer-reviewed Indian Journal of Medical Ethics.
Sadly, his forecast of the pentavalent vaccine killing children is coming true.
You won’t read about this in the Western mainstream media, which censors any mention of vaccine reactions or death and worships Bill Gates after receiving his financial support.
Vaccine colonialism is killing kids in the name of saving them. Gates’ GAVI organization stands at the center of this tragedy and is entirely responsible for perpetrating it.
5-member central team to probe 5 infant deaths in Kashmir
SRINAGAR, Oct 13: A five-member union health ministry team has arrived here to assist investigations into the death of eight infants, allegedly after administration of Pentavalent vaccine, officials said.
The team of paediatricians, headed by Dr. N.K. Arora, arrived here Saturday on a three- day visit.
Dr. Muneer Masoodi of Srinagar’s G.B. Pant hospital said the team would assist investigations into the death of infants following administration of the vaccine given to protect infants from hepatitis-B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and Hib (haemophilus influenzae type-b).
Eight infants died in Kashmir valley last week allegedly following administration of Pentavalent vaccine in various hospitals.
Masoodi said that the two infants died on October 10 after being given the vaccine. Six infants allegedly collapsed after the vaccination was administered to them in various district hospitals.
“The infants developed vomiting and severe allergic reaction which are very difficult to control after administration of Pentavalent vaccine,” he said.
The local doctors association has demanded a ban on Pentavalent vaccine in the state, but it can only be done through an order of the union health and family welfare department, said the doctor.
Pentavalent vaccine, also known as Easy-Five, is given to protect infants from hepatitis-B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and Hib (haemophilus influenzae type-b).
Baldev Sharma, director family welfare Jammu and Kashmir said that since the launch of the Pentavalent vaccine in the state many vials of the vaccine had been administered to children for protection from these diseases, but no adverse reactions was reported till now.
The director said a detailed investigation has been ordered into these allegations and the probe would be completed within one week.
No decision could be taken on banning the vaccine till the completion of probe, said Sharma.
Affected families have been agitating following the death of the infants.
“I will not take my daughter for any vaccination unless the controversy is resolved,” said Bashir Ahmad, father of a two-year-old.
Official sources said the pentavalent vaccine was first introduced in December 2011 in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and later in Jammu and Kashmir, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Pondicherry and Karnataka.
Pentavalent vaccine was introduced to replace the traditional DPT vaccine administered to infants as protection against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus.
According to a PIL filed in the Supreme Court against the use of the vaccine, the Pentavelent vaccine has been banned or was not being used in European countries, Japan, the UK, Canada, and the US.
The PIL also said that Pakistan, Vietnam, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka have stopped using the vaccine after reports of serious allergic reactions and even deaths.
“Five infants have died in the Kashmir last week and the team is ascertaining the cause of these deaths,” Taj Mohi-u-Din, minister for medical educations aid. He said the government is ascertaining the facts from the ground. “There are five infant deaths and we are ascertaining the cause. The central team is here but they are assisting us to reach out to the cause of deaths,” he added.
The minister informed hat Pentavalent vaccination is a government of India programme which is being implemented across the country and there are no reports of any adverse effects. “This vaccination programme is being implemented in the whole country and crores of children are being administered this vaccine. No adverse effects of this vaccination have been reported sofar.”
Taj said medical superintendent of G B Pant hospital had given an irresponsible statement wherein he had said that the two infant deaths that took place in the hospital on Thursday evening were due to Pentavalent vaccine administered to these babies.
“The medical superintendent gave his verdict before ascertaining the facts. The central team in coordination with state authorities is ascertaining the facts and as the report comes, we will know what led to the death of five infants in Valley. Unfortunately, some people are blowing this number (five infant deaths) out of proportion, which is not a fact. Pertinently, these deaths had sparked off massive protests against G B Pant hospital administration,” he said.
Although a detailed investigation has been ordered into these allegations, the central team has started surprise inspections across the Valley. The team visited Budgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Anantnag and Baramulla hospitals.
Psychology Today September 13, 2013 by Allen J. Frances MD
“Medical science is making such remarkable progress that soon none of us will be well.” (Aldous Huxley)
The just completed conference ‘Preventing Over Diagnosis’ was easily the most important meeting I ever attended. Sponsored by the British Medical Journal, Consumer’s Reports, and Dartmouth and Bond Universities, the goal was to identify the excesses in medical care and to figure out how to correct them.
The evidence is compelling that we in the developed countries (especially the US) are overtesting for disease, overdiagnosing it, and overtreating. Wasteful medical care of milder or nonexistent problems does more harm than good to the individual patient, diverts scarce medical resources away from those who really need them, and is an unsustainable drain on the economy.
The causes of medical excess are many and powerful. Here is a truncated list:
•With very few exceptions, the early screening and intervention touted by preventive medicine has turned out to be an oversold, dangerous, and expensive flop.
Routine PSA screening for prostate cancer is the clearest example. It used to be recommended that men of a certain age be tested yearly. It is now recommended that the test not be done at all unless a man has a family history or other special risk factors.
Why the big change? Definitive long term studies prove that the test doesn’t save lives and instead ruins them by triggering invasive interventions with painful complications. Screening is usually too late to stop fast spreading tumours and too good at identifying slow growing ones that don’t count and are better left alone. If they live long enough, the majority of men will develop an incidental and benign prostate cancer before they die from something else. Picking up these tumours early causes great grief for no return.
•Lowering the thresholds of disease definitions has identified diseases that don’t exist. The dream was that getting there early would help prevent the development of severe heart problems, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, and a score of other illnesses. The reality is that getting there too early misidentifies too many people who are not really at risk and then subjects them to needless and harmful tests and treatments
•The technology is out of hand. If we do enough CT scans we can find structural abnormalities in just about everyone. But most findings are incidental and don’t have any real clinical meaning. Paradoxically, lots of otherwise healthy people will get dangerous cancers from the CT radiation that served no useful purpose.
•Doctors have gotten into the habit of ordering huge batteries of laboratory tests and treating the results while ignoring what is best for this particular patient. There needs to be retraining of those already in practice, a change in how medicine is taught to new doctors, and a realignment of financial incentives to promote best care, not excessive care.
•Except for hospice care, it has become almost impossible to die in a dignified, humane, and cost effective way. Hospitals have become frenetic torture chambers that make dieing much worse than death and cost an obscenr fortune. .
Curing medical excess will not be easy. Harmful overtesting and overtreating is promoted and protected by the enormous economic and political power of the medical industrial complex. Here’s just a beginning list of what needs to be done:
•Tame and shame Big Pharma. Stop the direct to consumer advertising that is allowed only in the US and New Zealand. Prohibit all Pharma contributions to professional associations and consumer groups. Regulate and make transparent all the marketing ploys used to mislead doctors. Force the publication of all clinical research trial data.
•Recognise that all existing medical guidelines that define disease thresholds and make treatment recommendations are suspect. They have been developed by experts in each field who always have an intellectual conflict of interest (and often enough also have a financial conflict of interest) that biases them toward overdiagnosis and overtreatment in their pet area of research interest. New diagnostic standards are as dangerous as new drugs and need the same careful and independent vetting to tame unrealistic diagnostic enthusiasm.
•Employers, insurance companies, and government payors should be smarter consumers of health services and should stop paying for tests and treatments that do more harm than good and are not cost effective.
•Consumers should be smarter consumers and not buy into the idea that more is always better.
•Medical journals need to be more sceptical of the medical research enterprise and should look toward the harms, not just the potentials, of each new purported advance. They should stop drum beating each new study as if it is another big step toward the cure for cancer- which has proven more elusive than anyone imagined.
•The media needs to expose the real harms, not just the imagined wonders, inherent in medical procedures.
•We need to provide more resources to treat the really sick who now often get very inadequate care and at the same time need to protect the really well from getting what is often excessive and harmful care. It is wonderful that medical knowledge and tools have advanced so far, but disheartening that we are so bad at distributing them rationally.
A great deal of progress has already been made. Fifty medical professional associations in the US have seen the need to cut back on inappropriate testing and treatment. Their ‘Choosing Wisely’ initiative is a terrific start in reforming the disaster of our medical non system. See http://www.choosingwisely.org/ The British Medical Journal and Consumers’ Reports have already played a catalytic role and are powerful platforms for spreading the evidence to physicians and patients.
The participants at the ‘Preventing Overdiagnosis’ conference were 330 policy makers, clinicians, researchers, consumers, medical journal editors, and representatives of several other initiatives also trying to make medical care safer and more rational. Although the US leads the way in wasteful and harmful care, the problem is clearly international- people came to Hanover, NH came from 28 countries.
This is a David vs Goliath struggle. The forces that benefit from massive overdiagnosis can martial hundreds of billions of dollars a year to promote and protect it. The forces supporting rational medical decision making have access to just a few million dollars a year. The smart money is betting on the big bucks and the status quo.
But there is hope. Big Tobacco also seemed impregnable just twenty five years ago but was brought down by hard facts and a tiny band of dedicated reformers. Right sometimes does bring might.
By MB Oct 10, 2013
Refreshing honesty here about vaccine adverse reactions from a Chinese CDC official.
Contrast this candid admission of neurological damage from vaccination (the medical textbook definition of a vaccine adverse reaction) with the absolute denial on the subject from doctors and medical authorities in the West.
Memo to US CDC: Dispatch your propaganda squad to China and get their CDC signed up for your campaign of media deception and denial about vaccine adverse reactions. We can’t have medical authorities tell people the truth about vaccine adverse reactions, can we?
‘Dr Wang Yu, an expert with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, explains the magnitude of these adverse effects.
“If a person’s immune system doesn’t work properly, it is unable to stimulate antibodies,” Wang said. “Therefore, rather than being destroyed in the body, the pathogens attack the nervous system and actually cause the disease that they are supposed to prevent.” …
According to Wang, unwanted reactions to vaccinations can vary. Some recipients experience sudden swelling of the organs, which can be cured with timely treatment. Some however develop Epilepsy. Others suffer irreversible damage to their bodies, an effect referred to as vaccine sequelae …
Dr Wang warns it can take several days to several months for a patient to present symptoms of an adverse reaction, making it even more difficult to identify sequelae.’
Unpredictable pain: children suffer vaccine side effects
Xinhua | 2013-10-9
When Hu Haitao watched his son Hu Bing swallow the small white pills meant to protect him from polio, he never imagined what the end result would be.14 days after taking the vaccine, the four-and-a-half-month-old was on life support.”My baby experienced diarrhea and respiratory failure,” said Hu. “He was critically ill and had to stay in the ICU.”What followed next is every parent’s worst nightmare.
Young Hu slipped into a coma and experienced heart failure.
After three days of treatment, the baby recovered, but his left leg was left paralyzed.
Staff at the hospital in Jinan, in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong said the baby was suffering from polio, but did not give a more specific explanation.
It is a story too close for comfort for mother Ma Yongmin.
Her daughter Zhang Liyang received the polio vaccine in December 2012. Nine days later, the six-year-old was also in hospital.
After taking the vaccine, the youngster complained about a pain in her back. Like most mums, at first Ma thought her daughter just did not want to go to school. But she kept complaining, so her father Zhang Gongxian took her to their local hospital.
“The doctor asked me if she had received any vaccinations, I told him “yes, she had a varicella vaccination,” Zhang said. “The doctor told me that the vaccine can possibly lead to illness, but we didn’t think it would become so bad.”
Little Zhang then lost feeling below the waist.
Desperate for answers, her father took her to a major hospital, also in Jinan, where doctors diagnosed her with myelitis, or inflammation of the bone marrow in her spinal cord.
“She suffers from incontinence and her legs cannot feel any pain or temperature changes,” Shi Jiming, the girl’s physician said. “From a medical perspective, she is paralyzed from the waist down.”
Once a happy six-year-old who loved dancing and singing, Zhang is now confined to her bed. Her days are spent watching cartoons. Sometimes her parents tie her to a makeshift rack so she can experience the sensation of standing.
Young Zhang has been receiving therapy for her condition, but is not expected to walk again.
Ma believes the varicella vaccination given to her daughter is the cause of her paralysis.
A vaccination works by administrating an antigenic material to stimulate an individual’s immune system. The immune system then develops immunity to the pathogen being targeted. The benefits of vaccination have been widely accepted globally. Although safe for the vast majority of the population, those with an impaired immune system may suffer from complications.
Dr Wang Yu, an expert with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, explains the magnitude of these adverse effects.
“If a person’s immune system doesn’t work properly, it is unable to stimulate antibodies,” Wang said. “Therefore, rather than being destroyed in the body, the pathogens attack the nervous system and actually cause the disease that they are supposed to prevent.”
Eleven types of free vaccines are currently on offer to children born in China. Experts say the greater the number of vaccines, the greater the risk of complications.
Wang says multi-function vaccines are currently being used in developed countries, helping to lower the risks posed by multiple vaccinations. But these new technologies are not being used in China yet.
He also warns some vaccines are being produced in China using outdated methods, some dating back 50 years.
According to Wang, unwanted reactions to vaccinations can vary. Some recipients experience sudden swelling of the organs, which can be cured with timely treatment. Some however develop Epilepsy. Others suffer irreversible damage to their bodies, an effect referred to as vaccine sequelae.
Zhang’s father had never heard of vaccine sequelae until his daughter became ill.
“I had never considered such terrible consequences,” he said. “The doctor only told me how good the vaccine would be, but never said anything about possible side effects.”
Wang Yu said vaccine sequelae can theoretically be prevented through preliminary testing to test a person’s risk of developing an adverse reaction. However, these tests are not technically feasible. It is a question that baffles the whole world.
According to the CCDCP, around 500 million vaccinations were given in China last year. Adverse reactions accounted for roughly one in every one million vaccinations, affecting about 500 people.
Dr Wang warns it can take several days to several months for a patient to present symptoms of an adverse reaction, making it even more difficult to identify sequelae.
It was only after discussing similarities between his son’s illness and those of a friend’s child that Hu stumbled upon the truth.
After his son’s vaccination in 2005 and the subsequent results, he carried out exhaustive research on adverse effects. Hu decided to have his child tested to see if his illness was caused by the shot.
14 months later he received the result. He cried for two hours.
“I have very mixed feelings,” Hu said. “On one hand, I was happy to get the test results. On the other hand, they mean that my son will be permanently disabled.”
Zhang is still working to get the test results for his daughter. He has already spent more than 100,000 yuan, or 16,338 US dollars, on medical treatment. But debt is not the family’s biggest concern.
“Compared to the debt, we are more worried about our child’s future,” Zhang said. “What can she do if her condition doesn’t improve?”
The Zhang family’s days are now filled with doctor appointments and multiple therapy treatments in their never-ending battle to make her walk again.
Their mornings start early with Zhang taking his daughter to physical therapy. They then travel to another clinic for acupuncture, before another round of physical therapy in the afternoon.
Despite the magnitude of their sad stories, the Hu and Zhang families are not alone.
Other parents are seeking both help and compensation from the government, particularly those whose children who are still in the early stages of their illnesses.
The Chinese government provides means-tested compensation to sequelae victims, the maximum compensation ranges from 100,000 to 300,000 yuan based on local annual income. However, many families say the compensation is not enough.
Hu’s family has spent more than 200,000 yuan treating their son so far. He is not sure how much they will have to spend in the future.
“My son will undergo his second operation soon,” Hu said. “The doctor told us he is expected to require 15 operations from now until he turns 40. We can’t imagine how much money we will need.”
Natural Blaze Oct 5, 2013
Reporters are having a field day with headlines, outright blaming parents who sign vaccine exemptions for the spread of pertussis, also known as whooping cough. It’s not even posed as a question anymore:
- Anti-vaccine parents caused California’s lethal whooping cough epidemic
- What caused a whooping cough epidemic? Scientists blame parents
- Whooping Cough Outbreaks Tied to Parents Shunning Vaccines
- Vaccine Refusals Fueled California’s Whooping Cough Epidemic
However, there is much much more they are not telling you…
They can’t explain why whooping cough is back with a vengeance despite the most vaccinated populace ever known, why the DTaP-vaccinated are getting sick with it, or why “herd immunity” is falling apart. Forget it, let’s place all the blame on the few people who refuse vaccines – and call them baby killers.
The study in the journal Pediatriacs is quoted as having “confirmed” that it is parents who take vaccine exemptions as the Typhoid Marys of California, actually concluded:
Our data suggest clustering of NMEs [non-medical exemptions] may have been 1 of several factors in the 2010 California pertussis resurgence.
The researchers are taking data from geographical clusters of outbreaks in California neighborhoods where more people filed personal belief exemptions. Basically, people in those areas with more exemptions were 2.5 times more likely to live in areas with whooping cough outbreaks. They did not follow up on those exemptions to see if the parents later had themselves or their children vaccinated, and they did not see if the people who contracted it were actually vaccinated individuals. They simply used geographic clusters and drew a conclusion based on 39 clusters of high vaccine exemptions and 2 clusters of pertussis in 2010. The media took it further and wider in scope saying the unvaccinated are definitely a major factor – which differs significantly from a headline of outright blame. What a stretch!
The other factors in the study, briefly mentioned towards the end of some of the articles, were; ”the cyclical nature of pertussis, improved diagnosis, and waning immunity.” The major factor, brushed under the rug involves vaccination itself and newer vaccines as you will see.
Some of the reports even claimed that it was so crucial to get vaccinated because little babies can’t get the vaccines and are especially vulnerable. Actually, they do get the DTaP – it is recommended they get 5 doses by the age of six starting at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months….
California saw one of its worst epidemics in 2010 with 9 deaths and over 9,000 sickened – one of the worst in 60 years. What no one wants to emphasize is that whooping cough was on a steady decline in multiple countries, continuing to drop almost out of existence until the vaccine was in heavy use. Pertussis was almost wiped completely off the U.S. map in the ’70s. Vaccines did not save us from disease.
Then, the ’90s brought new acellular vaccines, because the older more toxic whole cell ones left people brain damaged and got vaccine makers sued before they scurried out of the market. Those faulty vaccines are creating great debate as cases of whooping cough are going up. So it’s readily admitted by scientists that the new vaccines are creating rebound pertussis.
This study really tried to project blame on people who don’t vaccinate by magically making it appear that way with unfounded comparisons. Yet, more often than not, pertussis happens to those who are fully vaccinated. This graph is just one example of pertussis rates climbing with vaccination rates:
If statistics are what people want, then here are some alarming ones about the DTaP vaccine from Dr. James Howenstine (2003):
In 1975 Germany stopped requiring pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination. Today less than 10 % of German children are vaccinated against pertussis. The number of cases of pertussis has steadily decreased even though far fewer children are receiving pertussis vaccine.
In 1986 there were 1300 cases of pertussis in Kansas and 90 % of these cases occurred in children who had been adequately vaccinated. Similar vaccine failures have been reported from Nova Scotia where pertussis continues to be occurring despite universal vaccination. Pertussis remains endemic in the Netherlands where for more than 20 years 96 % of children have received 3 pertussis shots by age 12 months. (source)
While pertussis is certainly a concern and on the rise, each year, the push for vaccination is bigger using low-blow emotional tactics. Yet, the number of deaths from last year (18) is less than half of those reported in 2005 (39). So how can it be that the 2% of the California population who were only recorded as filing exemptions in 2010 be responsible for an epidemic that has been on the rise for the last 10-15 years after a new vaccine was introduced?
People who are frightened and shamed by media and medical sleight of hand would do well and empower themselves by taking a few extra minutes to look at the bigger picture and numbers from years back – before they rush out to get their jabs. To everyone else, be strong.
This trend is common to almost all vaccines. http://www.whale.to/vaccines/decline1.html
This trend is common to almost all vaccines. http://www.whale.to/vaccines/decline1.html
ProPublica, Sep. 19, 2013 by Marshall Allen
It seems that every time researchers estimate how often a medical mistake contributes to a hospital patient’s death, the numbers come out worse.
In 1999, the Institute of Medicine published the famous “To Err Is Human” report, which dropped a bombshell on the medical community by reporting that up to 98,000 people a year die because of mistakes in hospitals. The number was initially disputed, but is now widely accepted by doctors and hospital officials 2014 and quoted ubiquitously in the media.
In 2010, the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services said that bad hospital care contributed to the deaths of 180,000 patients in Medicare alone in a given year.
Now comes a study in the current issue of the Journal of Patient Safety that says the numbers may be much higher 2014 between 210,000 and 440,000 patients each year who go to the hospital for care suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death, the study says.
That would make medical errors the third-leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease, which is the first, and cancer, which is second.
Click PLAY to hear Refusers song Unavoidably Unsafe
The new estimates were developed by John T. James, a toxicologist at NASA‘s space center in Houston who runs an advocacy organization called Patient Safety America. James has also written a book about the death of his 19-year-old son after what James maintains was negligent hospital care.
Asked about the higher estimates, a spokesman for the American Hospital Association said the group has more confidence in the IOM’s estimate of 98,000 deaths. ProPublica asked three prominent patient safety researchers to review James’ study, however, and all said his methods and findings were credible.
What’s the right number? Nobody knows for sure. There’s never been an actual count of how many patients experience preventable harm. So we’re left with approximations, which are imperfect in part because of inaccuracies in medical records and the reluctance of some providers to report mistakes.
Patient safety experts say measuring the problem is nonetheless important because estimates bring awareness and research dollars to a major public health problem that persists despite decades of improvement efforts.
“We need to get a sense of the magnitude of this,” James said in an interview.
James based his estimates on the findings of four recent studies that identified preventable harm suffered by patients 2013 known as “adverse events” in the medical vernacular 2013 using use a screening method called the Global Trigger Tool, which guides reviewers through medical records, searching for signs of infection, injury or error. Medical records flagged during the initial screening are reviewed by a doctor, who determines the extent of the harm.
In the four studies, which examined records of more than 4,200 patients hospitalized between 2002 and 2008, researchers found serious adverse events in as many as 21 percent of cases reviewed and rates of lethal adverse events as high as 1.4 percent of cases.
By combining the findings and extrapolating across 34 million hospitalizations in 2007, James concluded that preventable errors contribute to the deaths of 210,000 hospital patients annually.
That is the baseline. The actual number more than doubles, James reasoned, because the trigger tool doesn’t catch errors in which treatment should have been provided but wasn’t, because it’s known that medical records are missing some evidence of harm, and because diagnostic errors aren’t captured.
An estimate of 440,000 deaths from care in hospitals “is roughly one-sixth of all deaths that occur in the United States each year,” James wrote in his study. He also cited other research that’s shown hospital reporting systems and peer-review capture only a fraction of patient harm or negligent care.
“Perhaps it is time for a national patient bill of rights for hospitalized patients,” James wrote. “All evidence points to the need for much more patient involvement in identifying harmful events and participating in rigorous follow-up investigations to identify root causes.”
Dr. Lucian Leape, a Harvard pediatrician who is referred to the “father of patient safety,” was on the committee that wrote the “To Err Is Human” report. He told ProPublica that he has confidence in the four studies and the estimate by James.
Members of the Institute of Medicine committee knew at the time that their estimate of medical errors was low, he said. “It was based on a rather crude method compared to what we do now,” Leape said. Plus, medicine has become much more complex in recent decades, which leads to more mistakes, he said.
Dr. David Classen, one of the leading developers of the Global Trigger Tool, said the James study is a sound use of the tool and a “great contribution.” He said it’s important to update the numbers from the “To Err Is Human” report because in addition to the obvious suffering, preventable harm leads to enormous financial costs.
Dr. Marty Makary, a surgeon at The Johns Hopkins Hospital whose book “Unaccountable” calls for greater transparency in health care, said the James estimate shows that eliminating medical errors must become a national priority. He said it’s also important to increase the awareness of the potential of unintended consequences when doctors perform procedure and tests. The risk of harm needs to be factored into conversations with patients, he said.
Leape, Classen and Makary all said it’s time to stop citing the 98,000 number.
Still, hospital association spokesman Akin Demehin said the group is sticking with the Institute of Medicine’s estimate. Demehin said the IOM figure is based on a larger sampling of medical charts and that there’s no consensus the Global Trigger Tool can be used to make a nationwide estimate. He said the tool is better suited for use in individual hospitals.
The AHA is not attempting to come up with its own estimate, Demehin said.
Dr. David Mayer, the vice president of quality and safety at Maryland-based MedStar Health, said people can make arguments about how many patient deaths are hastened by poor hospital care, but that’s not really the point. All the estimates, even on the low end, expose a crisis, he said.
“Way too many people are being harmed by unintentional medical error,” Mayer said, “and it needs to be corrected.”
By Alexis Baden-Mayer Organic Consumers Association, September 11, 2013
Soylent Green, the 1973 science fiction film starring Charlton Heston, depicts a dystopian future where a population suffering from pollution, depleted resources, poverty, dying oceans, and climate change survives largely on processed food rations produced by the Soylent Corporation. Soylent Green is a green wafer advertised to contain “high-energy plankton.”
The climax of the film occurs when one of the characters reveals the truth: The world’s polluted oceans no longer produce the plankton from which Soylent Green is reputedly made. Soylent Green is made from human remains.
Like all great science fiction, the story of Soylent Green sticks with us because it provides a glimpse into the future. Today, only 40 years after Soylent Green debuted in movie theaters, we have a population suffering from pollution, depleted resources, poverty, dying oceans and climate change. And we’re surviving largely on processed foods derived from plants that have been genetically modified by the Monsanto Corporation.
Very few of us, only 26 percent, know that there are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food. Yet when polled, 93 percent of Americans say that they want the right to know. Yet the International Food Information Council (IFIC), which is supported by companies like Monsanto, Dow, Coca-Cola, Dannon, Kraft, McCormick and Mars, works on behalf of those companies to block the will of the nine out of 10 people who want the right to know what we’re eating.
Could it be that the truth about GMOs, just like the truth behind the protein source in Soylent Green, is a science-fiction horror story? One that the food and biotech industries will go to any lengths to hide from consumers?
The IFIC has produced a handy, nicely Orwellian guide for food manufacturers on what to say, and what not to say, when talking about GMOs. Its very own GMO Newspeak. IFIC’s “Food Biotechnology: A Communicator’s Guide to Improving Understanding” contains a list of “Words to Use, Words to Lose.” The guide instructs readers to “lose” phrases like “not a direct danger to human health” or “most research has not found an adverse effect” and replace them “safe, healthful, sustainable.”
Is lack of safety testing evidence of safety?
The genetically engineered food we’re eating today has never been safety tested for human consumption, using reliable, independent long-term testing methods. Yet the IFIC, which opposes the pre-market safety testing of GMOs, insists that the lack of safety testing is evidence of safety.
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), GMOs have been “consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature.” So, no scientist has proven that GMOs are causing disease in humans. Does that mean that GMOs don’t cause disease? Is it proof that GMOs are safe?
Here’s how two different doctors’ associations answer that question:
The AMA has a glass half-full approach, but they acknowledge that the reason we think everything’s fine is that we haven’t adequately addressed the potential harms of bioengineered food. The AMA wants U.S. regulators to do something they’ve never done before: require companies to submit to mandatory pre-market safety assessments instead of relying on the current voluntary notification process.
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has a glass half-empty approach. While the AMA talks about “potential harm,” the AAEM talks about “probable harm.” Just like the AMA, the AAEM supports a change in U.S. law to require mandatory pre-market safety testing. But in the meantime, rather than wait another decade or two for federal agencies to require pre-market testing, the AAEM encourages doctors to recommend non-GMO diets.
Despite the difference in policy positions between the two groups of doctors, there’s one thing they can both agree on: GMOs haven’t been safety-tested yet. And they need to be.
IFIC says: “Consuming foods produced through biotechnology is safe for children and women who are pregnant or nursing.” Wow, that’s reassuring. Wouldn’t we all love for that to be true? But now that we know that to IFIC “safe” just means “hasn’t been safety tested,” let’s look into this.
IFIC’s reference for that statement is: U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Genetically engineered plants for food and feed, 2012. I wasn’t aware the FDA had issued a statement on GMOs in 2012, so I clicked the link.
I found the old FDA statement of policy that hasn’t been updated since 1997. I had read it before. But I read it again, and found that it says absolutely nothing about the safety of biotechnology for children or women who are pregnant or nursing. But I did notice something I hadn’t before. A little asterisk at the bottom of the page that says, “Effective June 18, 2001, the Office of Premarket Approval is now the Office of Food Additive Safety.”
Once the FDA had decided against putting GMOs through premarket safety tests, the agency could no longer claim to have an office of premarket approval. I suggest an additional entry to the IFIC’s GMO Newspeak Dictionary, on behalf of the FDA: “Lack of premarket safety testing is food additive safety.”
So what do we know about the safety of GMOs for children and pregnant or nursing women?
According to a study published in 2011 in the , genetically engineered DNA survives in our bodies and is passed on to our children before birth. The study found that 93 percent of pregnant women and 80 percent of their babies have genetically engineered DNA in their blood.
Is this causing disease? We don’t know yet. The researchers in this study said that babies developing in the womb are highly susceptible to the adverse effects of xenobiotics, chemicals found in an organism which are not normally produced or expected to be present in it. In this case, they’re talking about crops that are genetically engineered to produce their own insecticides inside the plant. The researchers warn that GMOs could disrupt the biological events that are required to ensure normal growth and development. They say we need a new field of multi-disciplinary research, combining human reproduction, toxicology and nutrition.
In the meantime, we need to label GMOs and let people make their own choices about what they want to eat.
Many people are finding that their health and their children’s health improves when they go non-GMO. The type of person I most frequently meet through my activism these days is a mother who had to address a health problem of her own, or a health problem in her children, and who found that going non-GMO improved that condition. This is case for Robyn O’Brien, who started Allergy Kids; Kathleen Hallal, who co-founded Moms Across America (her son had an autoimmune problem that was relieved with a non-GMO diet); Tara Cook-Littman, who is responsible for passing the country’s first GMO labeling law with GMO Free CT (she got rid of a variety of her own health problems, including headaches, gastrointestinal issues, tingling fingers and anxiety by going non-GMO); and Diana Reeves, who started GMO Free USA (she treated health problems in her two daughters by going non-GMO after her son died from cancer at age 4).
Better nutrition from foods with no nutritional value?
Now, one question you might have is, if we label GMOs, and more people start eating non-GMO diets, could we be steering people away from healthy food? Is there nutrition that only GMO plants provide? IFIC says: “Food biotechnology is being used to improve nutrition.”
Not really. Unless you think high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and refined sugar provide nutrition.
Genetically engineered crops are used to make the worst junk-food ingredients. GMOs are primarily used to produce high-fructose corn syrup made from genetically engineered corn, refined sugar made from genetically engineered sugar beets, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils made from genetically engineered corn, soy, canola and cotton. If you don’t think you’re eating cotton, look at the ingredients on a box of Ritz crackers.
Beyond talking about what genetic engineering might produce someday in the future, there’s really no way for IFIC to spin the fact that genetic engineering hasn’t produced any uniquely nutritious foods. IFIC’s list of “Foods from Crops & Animals Raised Using Biotechnology” is “sweet corn, papaya, dairy products [from cows given genetically engineered growth hormone], sweeteners (e.g. corn syrup, sugar), vegetable oils, corn starch, soy protein, and more.” By “more” they mean more processed food ingredients made from corn, soy, cotton, canola and sugar beets. Where’s the “improved nutrition” on that list?
More pesticides equals fewer pesticides?
IFIC says that GMOs have reduced the amount of insecticide used on crops. But where’s the proof?
Independent scientists have reviewed industry’s claims of insecticide reduction and found that overall, when you balance a supposed reduction in insecticide use against how GMOs have increased herbicide use, GMOs have actually increased the use of pesticides on average by 404 million pounds per year.
Herbicides used to be sprayed around your food. Now, thanks to genetic engineering, they can be sprayed directly on your food. Insecticides used to be sprayed on your food. Now, thanks to genetic engineering, they’re produced by your food. And, as we’ve learned from the Journal of Reproductive Toxicology study, the genetically engineered insecticide gene stays in your body and can be passed on to your children before birth.
Contrary to Monsanto’s marketing, RoundUp, the herbicide used on genetically engineered crops, is not benign. Ask the people who live in Argentina in what have come to be known as the “crop-sprayed towns.” They live so close to the genetically engineered “RoundUp Ready” soy plantations that they are regularly sprayed with the herbicide. They have extremely high rates of birth defects, cancers and other serious health problems.
If consumers knew about genetically engineered food, would they still eat it? The New York Times poll that showed nearly unanimous support for GMO labels also revealed that about half us would not eat genetically engineered food if we knew how to avoid it. This is why IFIC has to hide the truth about GMOs.
Consumers’ growing distrust of GMO foods is also why IFIC’s “Words to Use, Words to Lose” guide advises proponents of GMOs not to say “genetically altered” and instead use the word “enhanced.” Why it suggests GMO proponents drop the word “pesticides” and talk about “crop protection” or even “organic” It explains why the IFIC recommends replacing “transgenic” with “high-quality.” And substituting “chemical” for “natural.” And dropping the words “insect- or drought-resistant” in favor of “plentiful.”
It also explains why the IFIC wants the purveyors of GMOs to talk about “ancestors” not “DNA,” and why they substitute “biology,” “genetically modified.”
Obviously, I think the way IFIC talks about GMOs is ridiculous and deceiving, but I’ll give them this: Talk about GMO food any way you like, just label it.
It’s possible that I’m in a room filled entirely with people who are outside the 93 percent who want GMOs labeled. But just in case anyone here agrees with me, you can help make history this year by supporting the Yes on 522 campaign for GMO labels in Washington State.
This is an edited version of a presentation made on Sept. 10, 2013, by OCA political director Alexis Baden-Mayer, at the American Frozen Food Institute’s (AFFI) Government Action Summit. Presenting opposite Baden-Mayer was David Schmidt, president and CEO of the International Food Information Council (IFIC). AFFI is a trade group that opposes mandatory GMO labels. AFFI’s largest and most influential member is ConAgra, which contributed $1,176,700 to defeat Prop 37, California’s 2012 ballot initiative to label GMOs. ConAgra hasn’t yet donated to oppose I-522, the 2013 Washington ballot initiative to label GMOs. But the company is a member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which has so far donated $2.2 million to the NO on 522 campaign. ConAgra’s CEO, Gary Rodki, is the GMA’s chairman.
Click PLAY to hear the Refusers song Right To Know
By Richard Smith – editor of the BMJ until 2004
Sept 10, 2013
The piece that follows is my foreword to a new and fascinating book by Peter Gøtzsche, the head of the Nordic Cochrane Centre, entitled Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare …
The characteristics of organised crime, racketeering, is defined in US law as the act of engaging repeatedly in certain types of offence, including extortion, fraud, federal drug offences, bribery, embezzlement, obstruction of justice, obstruction of law enforcement, tampering with witnesses, and political corruption. Peter produces evidence, most of it detailed, to support his case that pharmaceutical companies are guilty of most of these offences.
And he is not the first to compare the industry with the Mafia or mob. He quotes a former vice-president of Pfizer, who has said: “It is scary how many similarities there are between this industry and the mob. The mob makes obscene amounts of money, as does this industry. The side effects of organized crime are killings and deaths, and the side effects are the same in this industry. The mob bribes politicians and others, and so does the drug industry …”
Most of Peter’s book is devoted to building up the case that the drug industry has systematically corrupted science to play up the benefits and play down the harms of their drugs. As an epidemiologist with very high numerical literacy and a passion for detail, so that he is a world leader in critiquing clinical studies, Peter is here on very solid ground. He joins many others, including former editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, in showing this corruption. He shows too how the industry has bought doctors, academics, journals, professional and patient organisations, university departments, journalists, regulators, and politicians. These are the methods of the mob …
Laws that are requiring companies to declare payments to doctors are showing that very high proportions of doctors are beholden to the drug industry and that many are being paid six figures sums for advising companies or giving talks on their behalf. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that these “key opinion leaders” are being bought. They are the “hired guns” of the industry …
the public, despite its enthusiasm for taking drugs, is sceptical about the drug industry. In a poll in Denmark the public ranked the drug industry second bottom of those in which they had confidence, and a US poll ranked the industry bottom with tobacco and oil companies …
At the moment the public tends to trust doctors and distrust drug companies, but the trust could be rapidly lost …
Critics of the drug industry have been increasing in number, respectability, and vehemence, and Peter has surpassed them all in comparing the industry with organised crime. I hope that nobody will be put off reading this book by the boldness of his comparison, and perhaps the bluntness of the message will lead to valuable reform.
Richard Smith was the editor of the BMJ until 2004 and is director of the United Health Group’s chronic disease initiative.
Click PLAY to hear The Refusers song Unavoidably Unsafe
Science and Social Control: Political Paralysis and the Genetics Agenda
Independent Science News August 3, 2013 By Jonathan Latham, PhD
Variations in individual “educational attainment” (essentially, whether students complete high school or college) cannot be attributed to inherited genetic differences. That is the finding of a new study reported in Science magazine (Rietveld et al. 2013). According to this research, fully 98% of all variation in educational attainment is accounted for by factors other than a person’s simple genetic makeup.
This implies that most of student success is a consequence of potentially alterable social or environmental factors. This is an important and perhaps surprising observation, of high interest to parents, teachers, and policymakers alike; but it did not make the headlines.
The likely reason is that the authors of the study failed to mention the 98% figure in the title, or in the summary. Nor was it mentioned in the accompanying press release.
Instead, their discussion and interest focused almost entirely on a different aspect of their findings: that three gene variants each contribute just 0.02% (one part in 5,000) to variation in educational attainment. Thus the final sentence of the summary concluded not with a plea to find effective ways to help all young people to reach their full potential but instead proposed that these three gene variants
“provide promising candidate SNPs (DNA markers) for follow-up work”.
This is as spectacular a misdescription of a scientific finding as is to be found anywhere in the scientific literature. But the question is why? Why did the more than two hundred authors decide to highlight the unimpressive 0.02% and bury the 98%? The easy answer is that the authors are geneticists and that geneticists will not have distinguished careers if variation in genes is irrelevant to health and human achievement. The full answer, however, is considerably more interesting, and much more significant, than simple conflicts of interest.
The broader explanation, which needs to account, for example, for the fact that Science magazine would publish such a discrepant conclusion, is that the science of human biology is in the grip of hidden political forces. These forces are powerful enough to enable (this and other) comprehensively misrepresented genetic studies to evade the corrective potential of the scientific peer review process, and be published in the foremost journals of science.
How money and politics can dictate the conclusions of a scientific study
The easiest starting point to explain this miscarriage of science is to begin with funding. The Rietveld research, we know for a fact, was part of a genetic epidemiology project called the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium (SSGAC). The consortium obtains its money almost entirely from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation, i.e. the US government.
The self-described funding premise of SSGAC is that:
“for most outcomes in life, over half the resemblance of two biological siblings reared in the same family stems from their genetic similarity” (Benjamin et al. 2012).
In other words, SSGAC believed even before Rietveld was published that inherited genetic predispositions make the dominant contribution to ones’ lifetime achievements, in education and apparently “most” spheres of human behavior. Consequently, the aim of all its projects is to physically locate these specific genetic factors on human DNA.
But the actual Rietveld result implies that such genetic predispositions are pretty much irrelevant, at least as far as educational attainment is concerned. Moreover, SSGAC had previously searched for gene variants associated with “general intelligence”, and “economic and political preferences” (such as risk-aversion and trust). For all these traits the search was again unsuccessful; in only one instance did project members find a genetic variant that reached the threshold of statistical significance (which is itself far below what might be considered important as a predisposing factor) (Benjamin et al. 2012; Chabris et al. 2012). Thus we can say that SSGACs’ founding premise is not in alignment with the data.
But that just brings the question back one stage further: why is the US government funding excessively genetic determinist projects such as this in the first place?
The probable answer is that the US education system has many problems, which are exemplified by its low rankings on international scales. There is a danger that blame for these problems might be laid at the door of the secretary for education, the administration, or the President. This possibility could be neatly sidestepped, however, if educational attainment was genetically fated.
Essentially the same political logic applies to any human disease or disorder, or even any social complaint. If the disorder, for example autism, can be shown (or even just suggested) to have a partial genetic origin then a barn door is opened for any accused vaccine maker, or polluter, or policymaker, to evade the blame–both legally and in the perception of the public.
This opportunity within biology to make inequality (not just of wealth) look ‘natural’ has been recognized for a long time. Harvard Geneticist Richard Lewontin summed it up his 1992 book ‘The Doctrine of DNA: Biology as Ideology’:
“The notion that the lower classes are biologically inferior to the upper classes……..is meant to legitimate the structures of inequality in our society by putting a biological gloss on them”
Recognition that this reasoning aligns the interests of both corporations and governments has coincided with the extraordinary funding opportunities for scientists willing to apply DNA analysis and genomic approaches to vast areas of mental and physical health. Precise figures are not available, but over the last fifteen years close to half the budget of the NIH has gone to genetic analysis of human populations. That is likely in excess of $100 billion dollars in the US alone.
The financial outlay is ongoing: the same SSGAC consortium is also researching the possibility of genetic factors in “subjective well-being” (happiness) and “fertility”. Furthermore, the scope of the search for genetic predispositions is widening. In 2004 science writer John Horgan noted that (unsuccessful) searches have been made for “genes for”
“attention-deficit disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, manic depression, schizophrenia, autism, dyslexia, alcoholism, heroin addiction, high IQ, male homosexuality, sadness, extroversion, introversion, novelty seeking, impulsivity, violent aggression, anxiety, anorexia, seasonal affective disorder, and pathological gambling.”
Since he compiled that list the field of “behavioral economics” has been added to the list of genetic searches considered worthy of public support. For example, a 2013 publication in the journal PLOS one (with 68 authors) goes by the title “The Molecular Genetic Architecture of Self-Employment” (van der Loos et al. 2013). Meanwhile, the US National Human Genome Research Institute last year put out a call for evidence asking geneticists to support a search for predispositions to “behavioral adherence” to expert advice (i.e. compliance).
Thus there is operating within the disciplines of medicine, public health, social science, and now economics, a research framework that, if successful, would locate the causes of negative human outcomes internally. At fault will be genes and not circumstances. It is an officially sanctioned and scientific version of “blame the victim”.
Three major strands of evidence support this thesis.
Big tobacco and the origins of human genetics
Most directly of all, there is clear evidence that the search for genetic predispositions is the centerpiece of a longterm corporate agenda whose purpose is to sway public opinion. It began in the 1960s with the tobacco industry at a time when smoking was first implicated in lung cancer. The strategic purpose was to deflect the public fear of smoking, minimize the likely policy responses, and eliminate potential legal expenses, by funding, encouraging, and then exploiting, human genetic research. This could be done, so the industry thought, by building from scratch a science of genetic risk factors.
This agenda operated until the late 1980s when the tobacco industry became politically too controversial for medical organizations to maintain formal relations. According to research by Helen Wallace of the UK non-profit GeneWatch, the tobacco industry by 1994 had awarded around 1,000 researchers £225 million ($370 million) to nurture research in human genetics (Wallace 2009). This tobacco research money was directed in particular to searches for genetic associations with lung cancer.
As early as 1965, this strategy was sowing uncertainty about the causes of lung cancer. As Dr. George L. Saiger, a consultant paid over $50,000 by the tobacco industry, testified before the US Senate Commerce committee:
“There is strong reason to believe that the constitutional hypothesis fits the evidence appearing in the Report of the Surgeon General’s Committee at least as well as the cigarette hypothesis…”
Proof that this statement was part of a conscious program to build the credibility of a “constitutional hypothesis” (i.e. the existence of genetic predispositions to lung cancer) was subsequently confirmed by searches of the Legacy Tobacco Documents (Gundle et al. 2010). These are internal documents of the tobacco industry, now kept by the University of California, San Francisco, that the industry was compelled to release in a lawsuit settlement.
The tobacco industry also pioneered ‘behavioral genetics’. The idea that even addiction to cigarettes was a genetic phenomenon (and not a characteristic of cigarettes or tobacco) originated with the tobacco industry. The consistent aim behind promoting genetics, according to a memo written by Fred R. Panzer, Vice President of Public Relations for the Tobacco Institute, was to change the focus of attention “from one product to a type of person”.
The tobacco industry was still actively pursuing the same public relations (PR) strategy when, for example, senior tobacco executives met with geneticist and Nobel Laureate Sydney Brenner in 1988, just a month before he set up the Human Genome Organization (HUGO) (Wallace 2009). HUGO was the organization formed to oversee the Human Genome Sequencing Project.
Human genetics is not public health
The second important point of evidence is that the public interest justification for identifying gene variants is hard to discern. For example, even if predispositions for educational attainment were to be found, it is not clear how public welfare would benefit. For example, it wouldn’t affect at all the need for high quality education, either for individuals found wanting, or for those of average or higher ability. This crucial point is glossed over by proponents of genetic explanations who, according to Chaufan and Joseph (2013), merely assume that genetic knowledge
“will necessarily improve the prediction, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of common disorders.”
As these weaknesses have become clearer, it has become more common for public health professionals to question the utility of these studies and argue that, at a minimum:
“advocates of genomic medicine should be much more modest”
about the likely impacts on public health (Hall, Mathews, and Morley 2010).
The genetic evidence deficit
The third reason to suspect that a political and not a scientific agenda underlies the continued push for genetic research is that the money has continued to flow even in the face of a tsunami of evidence against its major predictions. As Hall and colleagues also wrote, geneticists:
“have not identified major susceptibility alleles (gene variants) for most common diseases.” (Hall, Mathews, and Morley 2010).
Even the findings that have been claimed (which are modest) have consistently not stood up to retrospective replication (Ioannidis and Panagiotou 2011). The absence of evidence is now so clear that even leaders in the field of human genetics sometimes find an acknowledgement is necessary (though only in the context of a request for more funding) (Manolio et al. 2009).
As the evidence for genetic causations has continuously and stubbornly refused to appear, critics have grown bolder. Chaufan and Joseph in 2013 felt confident enough to write:
“these variants have not been found because they do not exist” (Chaufan and Joseph 2013).
It is important, nevertheless, to acknowledge that there are exceptions. The breast cancer mutations of the BRCA1 gene are one class of exception. But even BRCA1 is an exception that proves the rule. BRCA1 is well known precisely because it remains an almost unique example of a prominent genetic predisposition to a common disease. Yet even BRCA1 is oversold. More than 90% of all breast cancer cases are unrelated to it (Gage et al. 2012).
The other class of exceptions are those relatively rare disorders for which there is clear evidence of a simple genetic cause. Cystic fibrosis is an example of such a disease; Huntington’s disease is another.
However, to return to the main point, for common physical and mental health conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, autism and schizophrenia, the situation has proven very different. The epidemiological and genetic evidence suggests that genetic risk is at most a minor contributing component. For behavioral and economic traits the lack of positive genetic data is even more apparent.
Consequently, an extra-scientific explanation is required to explain why very large sums of taxpayer money have funded human genetic research in the face of such negative results.
Human genetics: a PR success built on a scientific failure
In purely research terms, the search for human genetic predispositions has foundered. Yet this failure has done curiously little to prevent medical and behavioral genetics from being an overwhelming PR success. Thanks to the tobacco industry (joined later by the chemical industry, the food industry, the pharmaceutical industry, all the way to the gambling industry), “genes for” any disease, or talent, or human oddity, is nowadays a standard topic of adult conversation.
This was not always the case. When the geneticist Mary-Claire King (co-discoverer of the BRCA1 gene) was interviewed recently in New Scientist, she was at pains to remind the interviewer that in the 1980s convincing funders to explore an inherited genetic basis for cancer was exceedingly difficult.
“The main experience of the period was that people completely ignored me” (Powerful genes New Scientist 22 June 2013).
It is hard to be certain but it is likely that this sea change in public opinion did indeed protect the tobacco industry, which continues to thrive. It also, we have previously argued, played a key role in protecting polluters and politicians of all kinds from facing regulations and responsibility. Much of the explanation for our societies’ generic failure to address social and environmental problems can probably be attributed to the simple overreliance on genetic determinist explanations.
Yet beyond the example of BRCA1, few scientists or lay people could name a specific discovery to back up their genetic suppositions. This discrepancy, between the failure of the science program itself and its success as a PR project is truly a sobering testament to the power of modern public relations. It is also an indictment of science journalism and the inadequacy of the science media as a whole.
Free enquiry vs directed science
The above analysis proposes that it is a mistake to ascribe responsibility for their conclusions solely to authors of papers such as Rietveld et al. Equally culpable is the operating system within which these researchers find themselves. Science magazine and its editors and reviewers, for example, are clearly complicit in publishing misleading conclusions. Funding agencies are complicit in awarding public funds to speculative gene hunting projects at the expense of pressing public health questions. The evidence thus points to a broad system-wide failure.
Not sufficiently understood by outsiders is the fact that most of science is essentially now a top-down project. There persists a romantic notion (retained by many scientists) that science is a process of free enquiry. In this view, the endless grant applications and the requests for applications are merely quality control measures, or irritants imposed by bureaucrats.
But free enquiry in science is all but extinct. In reality, only a tiny proportion of research in biology gets done outside of straightjackets imposed by funding agencies. Researchers design their projects around funding programs; universities organize their hiring around them, and every experiment is carefully designed to bolster the next grant application.
The consequences of this dynamic are that individual scientists have negligible power within the system; but more importantly it opens a route by which powerful political or commercial forces can surreptitiously set the science agenda from above.
In the case of medical genetics that power has been used to deform our understanding of human nature itself. Thus public money has bought not scientific ‘progress’ but the domination of intellectual enquiry by an entirely malevolent project, conceived fully outside of science. This project was intended only to ensure political paralysis and the consolidation of economic power and whatever agenda scientists thought they were following was entirely incidental. What we observe is in fact a full-blown enlightenment malfunction.
Nevertheless, despite the almost daily PR barrage of genetic determinist headlines, our fate is not written in our DNA and the state of public understanding can in principle be reversed. The hopeful truth is that there are compelling reasons to remove subsidies for junk food, pesticides from the food and water, toxins from the workplace, and social and economic injustices from society, and that when we do, things will improve.
Benjamin et al. (2012) The Promises and Pitfalls of Genoeconomics Annual Review of Economics 4: 627-662.
Benjamin D et al. (2012) The genetic architecture of economic and political preferences. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 109: 8026–8031.
Chabris CF, et al. (2012) Most reported genetic associations with general intelligence are probably false positives. Psychol Sci. 23: 1314-23.
Dermitzakis E.T. and Clark A.G. (2009) Life after GWA studies. Science 326: 239-240.
Gage M, Wattendorf D, Henry LR. (2012) Translational advances regarding hereditary breast cancer syndromes. J Surg Oncol. 105: 444-51. doi: 10.1002/jso.21856.
Gundle KR. Dingel, M and Barbara A. Koenig (2010) “To Prove This is the Industry’s Best Hope”: Big Tobacco’s Support of Research on the Genetics of Nicotine. Addiction. 105: 974–983. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.02940.x
Hall WD, Mathews R, Morley KI (2010) Being More Realistic about the Public Health Impact of Genomic Medicine. PLoS Med 7(10): e1000347. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000347
Ioannidis JP and Panagiotou O (2011) Comparison of Effect Sizes Associated With Biomarkers Reported in Highly Cited Individual Articles and in Subsequent Meta-analyses. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 305: 2200-2210.
Chaufan C and Joseph J (2013) The ‘Missing Heritability’ of Common Disorders: Should Health Researchers Care? International Journal of Health Services 43: 281–303
Manolio T. et al. (2009) Finding the missing heritability of complex diseases. Nature 461: 747-753.
Rietveld et al. (2013) GWAS of 126,559 individuals identifies genetic variants associated with educational attainment. Science, 340, 1467-1471, . doi:10.1126/science.1235488
van der Loos MJHM, Rietveld CA, Eklund N, Koellinger PD, Rivadeneira F, et al. (2013) The Molecular Genetic Architecture of Self-Employment. PLoS ONE 8(4): e60542. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060542
Wallace H (2009) Big tobacco and the human genome: Driving the scientific bandwagon? Genomics, Society and Policy 5: 1-54.
By MB Sept 5, 2013
If you are sick and tired are getting hassled to vaccinate your kids and yourself by pushy doctors, try doctor-shopping for a younger doctor. This intriguing study found almost 4% of recent medical school graduates believe that immunizations do more harm than good. 15% doubt vaccines are safe and effective. While you still have to wade through the 85% of younger doctors that are brainwashed pharmaceutical company robots, it is worth looking for that needle in the haystack - a doctor who realizes the truth about vaccines, the corrupt process by which vaccines are recommended, how they don’t work and how they harm patients.
This study is getting spun by pro-vax morons as young doctors are failing to champion immunization. Ha ha. Not surprising, when one of the study authors is old coot Neal Halsey who has received a research grant from Merck through Johns Hopkins University for the study of human papillomavirus vaccine and serves on so-called safety monitoring boards for Merck and Novartis.
The study concludes: ‘These results likely reflect both decreasing prevalence of vaccine preventable diseases and increasing awareness of vaccine adverse effects.’
Read between the lines and choose health freedom by finding a younger doctor who believes in informed consent and vaccine choice.
Are Recent Medical Graduates More Skeptical of Vaccines?
Vaccines Journal 2013, 1(2), 154-166;
Abstract: Rates of delay and refusal of recommended childhood vaccines are increasing in many U.S. communities. Children’s health care providers have a strong influence on parents’ knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about vaccines. Provider attitudes towards immunizations vary and affect their immunization advocacy. One factor that may contribute to this variability is their familiarity with vaccine-preventable diseases and their sequelae. The purpose of this study was to investigate the association of health care provider year of graduation with vaccines and vaccine-preventable disease beliefs. We conducted a cross sectional survey in 2005 of primary care providers identified by parents of children whose children were fully vaccinated or exempt from one or more school immunization requirements. We examined the association of provider graduation cohort (5 years) with beliefs on immunization, disease susceptibility, disease severity, vaccine safety, and vaccine efficacy. Surveys were completed by 551 providers (84.3% response rate). More recent health care provider graduates had 15% decreased odds of believing vaccines are efficacious compared to graduates from a previous 5 year period; had lower odds of believing that many commonly used childhood vaccines were safe; and 3.7% of recent graduates believed that immunizations do more harm than good. Recent health care provider graduates have a perception of the risk-benefit balance of immunization, which differs from that of their older counterparts. This change has the potential to be reflected in their immunization advocacy and affect parental attitudes.
Click PLAY to hear Human Right by The Refusers
By MB Sept 4th 2013
This sobering analysis of New England Journal of Medicine articles by a Chief Fellow of the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health should be required reading for any patient of mainstream medicine.
Dr. Vinay Prasad states: “A large proportion of current medical practice, 40%, was found to offer no benefits in our survey of 10 years of the New England Journal of Medicine. These 146 practices are medical reversals. They weren’t just practices that once worked, and have now been improved upon; rather, they never worked. They were instituted in error, never helped patients, and have eroded trust in medicine.”
The procedures he refers to are screening tests, diagnostics tests, medication and surgery. He advises patients to scrutinize evidence before they consent to medical procedures that may be reversed because they are based on faulty data.
An excellent supplement to this study is the Harvard Safra Ethics study entitled Institutional Corruption of Pharmaceuticals and the Myth of Safe and Effective Drugs which concludes that the pharmaceutical ‘industry has commercialized the role of physicians and undermined their position as independent, trusted advisers to patients.’
Paul Offit argues in his latest book, Do You Believe in Magic? that ‘people should put their faith, and fate, in concrete data, not charisma or any of the myriad other unscientific elements that suffuse the alternative medicine industry.’
This Mayo Clinic study reveals Offit is a hypocritical pharmaceutical industry sock puppet who is ignoring the unscientific mainstream medical garbage beneath his own nose.
Researchers Identify 146 Contemporary Medical Practices Offering No Net Benefits
Study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings documents reversal of established medical practices in last decade
Rochester, MN, July 22, 2013
While there is an expectation that newer medical practices improve the standard of care, the history of medicine reveals many instances in which this has not been the case. Reversal of established medical practice occurs when new studies contradict current practice. Reporters may remember hormone replacement therapy as an example of medical reversal. A new analysis published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings documents 146 contemporary medical practices that have subsequently been reversed.
A team of researchers led by Vinay Prasad, MD, Medical Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, reviewed ten years of original articles published in the New England Journal of Medicine testing standard of care.
“The purpose of our investigation was to outline broad trends in medical practice and identify a large number of practices that don’t work,” says Dr. Prasad. “Identifying medical practices that don’t work is necessary because the continued use of such practices wastes resources, jeopardizes patient health, and undermines trust in medicine.”
Dr. Prasad and his investigative team evaluated 1,344 original articles published in the New England Journal of Medicine between 2001 and 2010 that examined a new medical practice or tested an established one. This included assessment of a screening, stratifying, or diagnostic test, a medication, a procedure or surgery, or any change in health care provision systems.
Dr. Prasad and colleagues made several interesting findings. First, only a minority of studies over the last 10 years even tested current medical practices. Dr. Prasad found that only 27% (363/1344) of articles that tested a practice tested an established one. Instead, the vast majority of such studies, 73% (981/1344), tested a new medical practice. Dr. Prasad says, “While the next breakthrough is surely worth pursuing, knowing whether what we are currently doing is right or wrong is equally crucial for sound patient care.”
Dr. Prasad’s major conclusion concerns the 363 articles that test current medical practice — things doctors are doing today. His group determined that 146 (40.2%) found these practices to be ineffective, or medical reversals. Another 138 (38%) reaffirmed the value of current practice, and 79 (21.8%) were inconclusive — unable to render a firm verdict regarding the practice.
Dr. Prasad comments, “A large proportion of current medical practice, 40%, was found to offer no benefits in our survey of 10 years of the New England Journal of Medicine. These 146 practices are medical reversals. They weren’t just practices that once worked, and have now been improved upon; rather, they never worked. They were instituted in error, never helped patients, and have eroded trust in medicine.”
Dr. Prasad adds, “Health care costs now threaten the entire economy. Our investigation suggests that much of what we are doing today simply doesn’t help patients. Eliminating medical reversal may help address the most pressing problem in health care today.”
Key examples of medical reversal include the following:
Stenting for stable coronary artery disease was a multibillion dollar a year industry when it was found to be no better than medical management for most patients with stable coronary artery disease. Hormone therapy for postmenopausal women intended to improve cardiovascular outcomes was found to be worse than no intervention. The routine use of the pulmonary artery catheter in patients in shock was found to be inferior to less invasive management strategies.
Other instances pertain to the use of the drug aprotinin in cardiac surgery, use of a primary rhythm control strategy for patients with atrial fibrillation, use of cyclooxygenase 2 inhibitors, early myringotomy procedures, and application of recommended glycemic targets for patients with diabetes.
Says Dr. Prasad, “To our knowledge, this is the largest and most comprehensive study of medical reversal. The reversals we have identified by no means represent the final word for any of these practices. But, the reversals we have identified, at the very least, call these practices into question.”
In an accompanying editorial, John P. A. Ioannidis, MD, DSc, of the Stanford Prevention Research Center, Department of Medicine and the Department of Health Research and Policy at Stanford University School of Medicine, comments on the work of Prasad and his team and evaluates it within a broader context.
“The 146 medical reversals that they have assembled are, in a sense, examples of success stories that can inspire the astute clinician and clinical investigator to challenge the status quo and realize that doing less is more,” notes Dr. Ioannidis. “If we learn from them, these seemingly disappointing results may be extremely helpful in curtailing harms to patients and cost to the health care system.”
According to Dr. Ioannidis, it is just as important to promote and disseminate knowledge about ineffective practices that should be reversed and abandoned. Given the widespread attention that practice guidelines typically receive, particularly when published by authoritative individuals or groups, he questions whether a generally higher level of evidence should be required before these guidelines are recommended and can impact clinical practice.
“Finally, are there incentives and anything else we can do to promote testing of seemingly established practices and identification of more practices that need to be abandoned? Obviously, such an undertaking will require commitment to a rigorous clinical research agenda in a time of restricted budgets,” concludes Dr. Ioannidis. “However, it is clear that carefully designed trials on expensive practices may have a very favorable value of information, and they would be excellent investments toward curtailing the irrational cost of ineffective health care.”
Watch a video interview with the study author.