NIH wakes up

By Phil Plait | September 21, 2008 5:25 pm

The National Institutes of Health has shut down a study based on antivaccination garbage.

Hurray!

The research was looking into chelation, the idea that an amino acid can be pumped into the bloodstream where it will remove some potentially toxic metals. What spurred this? The nonsense that mercury is present in the blood due to childhood vaccines.

Yeah, that crap again. So why was the study stopped by NIH?

The board determined that there was no clear evidence for direct benefit to the children who would participate in the chelation trial and that the study presents more than a minimal risk.

In other words, they looked into chelation, and it doesn’t work well enough to risk performing it on children. In fact, it can do substantial harm, and can even be fatal: children have died because they were chelated. Isn’t it bad enough that antivaxxers want to see kids suffer through preventable diseases like measles and rubella? Do we have to make people sicker or even kill them to make some antiaxxers happy?

I’m actually happy the NIH saw fit to look into this — it’s always better to investigate and be sure — and I’m not surprised they found it to be not worth the risk, especially given that it was based on nonsense to start with.

Comments (50)

  1. My ex father in law spent thousands on chelation therapy after learning he had major arterial blockage. While he did have conventional therapy as well, the chelation didn’t do a bit of good as he had a fairly major heart attack and had a quadruple bypass.

    You wouldn’t believe the crap my ex and I were offered when we had our youngest daughter who has Down syndrome. Remedies that would cure it, and take away the distinctive features. It should be a crime how these people play off personal tragedy and suffering.

  2. Hooray for our side!
    Every once in a while we win one! It’s about time that actors & actresses (yes, YOU Jenny McCarthy & Jim Carrey) who are known to have fantasy-prone personalities, stop calling the public health shots (pun intended :-D ) for the rest of us!
    W00T!
    Rich in Charlottesville with 2 daughters who got Guardisil, BTW

  3. Ticknick

    There are some dangerous people in the world. Seriously dangerous. Retarded.

  4. Of course the flip side is that the anitvaxxers will claim that it’s just a continuance of the conspiracy. But I could not care less about them. I want what’s best for the public interest which they clearly do not represent.

  5. Quiet Desperation

    Geez, that first sentence threw me at first. I thought you were saying that antivaxx stuff caused some sort of vaccine research to be shut down.

  6. IAmMarauder

    Spooky: PZ mentioned an article Salon has on the topic of anti-vax as well: http://www.salon.com/books/review/2008/09/22/autism/index.html

    Very interesting read, might have to look into buying the book as well.

  7. Dave Hall

    It is good the NIH looked into it and found it worthless.

    But then the nutcases out there will find some way to twist the facts (or ignore them) to fit their prejudices. Isn’t it somewhere in the bible where it says “For the dumb will always be with you?”

  8. LukeL

    First of all chelation therapy is useful for heavy metal poisoning but even then it is usually done in a hospital and is very dangerous and painful. I am against vaccines for disease like the flu and others which carry a very low risk of complications. We try to live in a sterile society which does in fact weaken our immune system and may explain the rise of allergies and asthma in children.

    Instead of using a mild soap and hot water to clean our house, we bust out bleach, ammonia and 90% alcohol along with powerful acids. These not only get rid of the helpful bacteria they also can cause severe damage to the lungs over a long period of time and may explain many cases of COPD in non smokers and non industrial workers.

  9. Naomi

    Thank logic for that! Why can’t these people see that autism ‘cures’ do far, FAR more harm than good? And vaccines are essential! Know why there are very few deaths from measles these days? Vaccination. Know why whooping cough is so rare these days? Vaccination. Know why scratching yourself on a rusty nail isn’t fatal? Vaccination! Know why no one has smallpox these days? VACCINATION, PEOPLE! *beats the antivaxxers over the head with it*

  10. Daniel

    LukeL,

    I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss influenza as harmless, it’s killed somewhere around 75 million people in the last century. Even today it’s still potentially fatal for the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

    The “dangerously clean” argument may have some merit, but I think you’re overstating the case. This has not been examined in sufficient detail, and even if there is a correlation it does not prove causation.

  11. Lawrence

    A few hundred thousand people die every year of the flu – so I wouldn’t put it in the “low” risk category. It is only a matter of time before we get another “Spanish Flu”-type strain that kills quite a few more people this time around.

    Again, I recommend reading “The Great Influenza” to get a real sense of how bad it was.

  12. amphiox

    Daniel and LukeL,

    Not just the elderly, but young children and infants as well.

    Many often lump flu and the common cold together and think of them as the same thing. They most certainly are not. Influenza is a serious infection.

  13. Todd W.

    LukeL beat me to it. Chelation does have benefit in some cases, but if I understand correctly, they usually involve measurably high levels of heavy metals. Even then, while chelation is the only way to get the metals out of the body, it is risky.

    The whole chelation cures autism bit is based solely on faulty logic and not on observable science. Vaccines had mercury in them. Mercury is a heavy metal. Heavy metals cause neurological damage. Autism is a neurological problem. Chelation gets rid of heavy metals. Getting rid of heavy metals heals people with toxicity. Therefore, chelation heals autism. They forget to take into account that a) there needs to be a measurable level of heavy metals that goes beyond what is safe and b) chelation doesn’t just remove “bad” metals, it removes the “good” stuff that our bodies actually need, too.

  14. Luke L,

    I don’t know what “powerful” acids we’re supposedly using on a routine basis. Vinegar? Most cleaning products (including warm soapy water) are alkaline. Maybe pine sol is acidic, but I wouldn’t characterize it as dangerously so. Truly “powerful” concentrated acids wouldn’t end up anywhere near your average household.

    Many cleaning products are effective are very low and non-hazardous concentrations, so much so that people get ripped off by the companies selling them.

    As for the 90% alcohol, how is that worse than a shot of Everclear? More importantly, who’s actually using it to clean their house?

    Also, the amount of ammonia in window cleaners is exceedingly low, and is actually disappearing from many products. My “family size” 946mL container of Windex has less than half of half a drop of 28% ammonia solution. Even this guy had trouble actually finding ammonia to do a demonstration for his kid.

    (Here’s an interesting chelation related post from the same guy.)

    Methinks you have alarmed yourself too much. Relax, the fact is we still live longer lives than in any other period in human history, very likely because of our use of disinfectants rather than because of them.

    Besides, how does getting a shot weaken your immune system? Getting sick weakens it for the duration of the illness. My brother had painful opportunistic shingles. A vaccination forces your body to produce the antibodies you would have produced as a result of getting sick in the first place. I don’t understand how suffering somehow improves their quality.

  15. Joe

    Stick to astronomy. Your rantings, while generally correct, veer towards clear ignorance of how biology. medicine, and some therapies such as chelation actually work. There is nothing worse than a bad understanding of science being used to shoot down quackery. Chelation is obviously misapplied in the case of a supposed link between vaccines and autism, but it has clear value in other courses of medical treatment for other maladies.

  16. Dan

    Joe;

    You seem to be reading Phil’s column as being a total denunciation of chelation.

    It isn’t. He says it doesn’t work well enough to take the risk to use it on children to remove the small amount of mercury that is used in a vaccine.

    That’s all. He doesn’t get into the fact (and I’m sure Phil would accept) that there are situations in which chelation is appropriate. He merely says that in the circumstances the antivaxxers want chelation employed…they are doing far more harm than good (if any good at all).

  17. Todd W.

    @Joe

    In addition to what Dan said, while this is mainly an astronomy blog, it is also a science blog and covers issues that deal with science and critical thought, regardless of whether or not they are tied to astronomy. So, you will occasionally see posts on science fiction movies and TV shows, politics, medicine and so on, all because some element of science or critical thinking is involved.

    Then there’s also just the fact that it’s Phil’s blog and he can say whatever he darn well chooses. :)

  18. justcorbly

    Joe, you’re reading something that is not there. Phil supported the the cancellation of this NIH trial. He pointed to real chelation risks. He did not condemn all chelation therapy. What he continues to condemn, as he should, is specious and illogical thinking that puts the lives of children at risk.

    Remember, in the face of real evidence, people like Phil would be quicker to change their minds than the antivax crowd is today.

  19. My father had voluntary chelation for years but still had to have seven bypasses. He was an engineer, which is a sort of science and involved critical thinking and reliance on proven facts. Yet even he was susceptible to quackery.

    I think this speaks to the needs and motivations of the antivaxxers. The despair they feel for their child’s condition (whether autism, Down’s syndrome, or other) obviously overrides the reasoning centers in their brains. They are grasping at straws, trying to find some fix or fix some blame so that they can feel better about the hand they were dealt. Logic and evidence are valid (and I suspect at some level these people know it), but their drives are not reasonable. They are motivated by something (love? hate? blame? guilt? despair?) that is not amenable to reason. The fence sitters may be persuaded, but these people are operating in a different arena of decision making. It is important to understand this at the same time that it is important to speak reasonably about this subject.

  20. @Joe,

    More reading comprehension (and less jumping to unwarranted conclusions based on what you imagined somebody said or wrote) is generally considered a good thing. I wish more people in our society would read more carefully.

    About the chelation, I have to say that I have heard of it being used in cases of near-toxic metal poisoning, but I’ve also read that it’s not a guarantee that all the material will be removed. I remember once a few years ago talking to a young woman at a star party who claimed that she was using chelation to get rid of the mercury poisoning from her silver dental crown… a couple of the MDs who were there and overheard her pointed out that unless her fillings were REALLY old (and she didn’t look that old), she wouldn’t have mercury in her fillings, and a silver crown didn’t pose a threat. She explained that her holistic practitioner (NOT a doctor) had recommended chelation…

    About the flu shots: as others have pointed out, there are many who ARE challenged by a sol-called “simple” flu… and flu shots are warranted in those cases. A few years ago I had major surgery in the fall and my resistance was down just enough that I got a flu shot and then a pneumonia shot while still in the hospital.

  21. This is an Astronomy blog, a JREF blog, a skeptic’s blog, and Dr Phil Plait’s personal blog… Why can’t he post whatever is on his mind here?

    Rock on BA! :)

  22. Nick

    I’m sure I’ll ridicule but my best judgment is to use what I see. My son has undergone chelation and testing has shown him having dangerously high amounts of lead and copper in his urine following treatments.

    Here’s the deal, and why so many of us whackos believe what we do. We had children progressing along the so called “normal” path. My child was talking and interacting with us. The day after receiving 5 vaccinations he became near mute with nothing but guttural sounds. Interaction ceased. We eventually thought perhaps he became deaf as it became almost impossible to get his attention. This is when he was diagnosed with Autism.

    After a lot of research we decided to try to some of what you all like to refer to as wacky bad science things. The first of which was a GFCF diet. Within weeks we noticed some improvement (after and initial first two weeks of hell). He was speaking again! Albeit in singe words, but what a lovely sound to our ears. Progress from there was slow but improving. We decided to take another step, and removed soy from his diet. Within a week it was amazing! He went from single words to stringing together 3 or 4 word “sentences”. That began a snowball of improvement.

    Since then we also have included a regiment of vitamins and minerals and everone who has had contact with him throughout all this has been amazed – including the public school who we are in constant battle with. We do chelation because it shows results. If you saw dangerously high amounts of lead coming out of your child wouldn’t you?

    The thing is, my story is far from an isolated incident. You could sit in a DAN doctor’s office and hear this story repeated time and again. So as for wackos like me you all these iffy studies that show no link to vaccines do is prove that they haven’t found it yet. There is just far too much anecdotal evidence there for me to believe there is not some kind of link on some level. It goes beyond coincidental.

    You talk about harming children. You know what breaks my heart? Hearing people say we need to quit talking about curing Autistic children and learn to accept them for the people they are. I want to give my child the best chance he can have to live an independent life. It’s not easy, and there’s a long way to go but I’m doing what I believe is best for my child. It would be so much easier and cheaper and just learn to accept him for what he was – but seeing how far he’s come, I don’t regret that I’ve basically lost the last eight years of my life.

    I like to think of myself as a real skeptic. I question everything. I don’t go into any treatment for my son blindly. We research everything as best as we can and take bay steps into it. Some things we’ve backed away from really quickly. the last thing we want to do is do any more harm. I crack up sometimes as people on this blog calling themselves skeptics yet accepting any study or article they read as long as it coincides with what they believe.

    Call me skeptical of your skepticism.

  23. This is another example of the unintellectualism “crisis” of America. People don’t trust science, and empirical methods- but anonymous forwarded e-mails and junk “medical” books are golden.

    There are times when I think “what is happening to America?” And then latter come up with the answer “we deserved that.”

    That’s my rant for the morning :)

  24. I’m a newspaper reporter living fairly near Kathleen Seidel (blogger supreme on this issue), so I’ve written about it occasionally and have received the angry calls about “why do you hate children?!?” for not accepting the connection as valid.

    I have linked to this post as part of a short blog item on the issue today, and decided to toss this at the bottom (if I may be so self-centered as to quote myself):

    “As a journalist, I’m very objective on this topic. Objectively, studies have demonstrated that there is no link between autism and vaccines. … Reporting anything else would be biased.”

  25. Nick,

    The world is full of illusion. All humans are susceptible to falling for these misdirections. Scientists/skeptics try to minimize these illusions as much as possible. While the scientific method is no gaurantee, it does help to reduce the acceptance of untrue ideas.

    I bet one of the most common illusions is perceiving something as causal when it is merely happening around the same time. You saw your son’s behavior change around the same time as he received a vaccination. It may be that the vaccine caused the behavior change. But it may be that the vaccine was not what caused the change (I am assuming there was a change that began after the vaccination and not some change that began before the vaccination which you only began to notice after the vaccination. This is a possiblity too). It could have been something else. I assume your child received the vaccination at a doctor’s office/clinic or hospital. Those are places that have lots of infected and contagious people in them. They are also places where some people get even sicker than they were before they entered – because they contracted something there. It is possible that your child contracted something at the place he received the vaccination. It could have been somewhere along the way or at home. There are many other possiblilities too, but this post would be too long. Note also, that I am not saying that it definitely wasn’t the vaccine or that it was definitely something else. The point is, rather than accepting that the vaccination caused the change, a scientist or anyone wanting to be more scientific/skeptical in their approach, would try to isolate the causal factor. It is difficult to do that with one case.

    To minimize falling for the illusion of causation a scientist would like to give the vaccine to a random half of a good sized group of people and watch for differences between the half that received the vaccine and the half that did not. Since the vaccine is essentially the only thing different between the groups, any differences between the groups can more reasonably be attributed to the vaccine.

    To study one person instead of a group, that person has to serve as their own comparison. This is not easy to do because the person is growing and changing whether or not the treatment does anything. It is hard to say that the treatment was the cause of a change or if it was growth, inherent biological change, or something else that caused the change. Ideally, case studies involve repeated treatments with periods of non-treatment between, so that the treatment period and the non-treatment periods can be compared. I don’t know that one can do that with a vaccine. You can’t vaccinate someone and then unvaccinate someone and repeat that a few times. But that would theoretically be ideal in terms of establishing that the vaccine caused something. You can more readily do it with diet, though. You could try soy for a few weeks and no soy for a few weeks and repeat that a few times. Likewise with the GFCF diet you spoke of (though, don’t do any of that without talking to a physician or nutritionist. This is not my area of expertise). I’m just pointing to the method one might use to establish that something caused another thing and minimizing the illusion of causality.

    With so many people susceptible to seeing causation when there is none, it is not surprising that you might hear a lot of stories. Everyone is trying to get to the bottom of the problems they face. Most people are making guesses, but aren’t so cautious as to acknowledge that they are guessing and could be missing the true cause. So, when you collect stories and ideas you aren’t necessarily building a case for one thing causing another. The anectodal stories are only an indication that something might be studied more carefully. Take the stories not to establish causation, but as an indication that “something” might be going on, but only more careful study will establish what it is.

    Don’t forget, there are a lot of anecdotal stories of people getting probed by space aliens, seeing a deity’s face in sprinkler stains on a building, and seeing long-dead people walking through old hotels. A lot of anecdotal stories does not necessarily build a case for truth. The more often you hear a story the more it can seem true or probable. This is called the availability heuristic; another known illusion. The thing that better indicates the truth of a story is not how many people say it, but the degree of care that has been applied to studying it.

  26. Celtic_Evolution

    @ Nick

    I crack up sometimes as people on this blog calling themselves skeptics yet accepting any study or article they read as long as it coincides with what they believe.

    While I sympathize with your situation, I take exception to this completely erroneous categorization. When it comes to the issue of vaccinations, we here who support them and deride the anti-vaxxer crowd do not do so as a result of any single article or study. We do so as a result of the following: At least 11 independent studies that show no link between the MMR vaccine and autism, at least 6 studies that show no relation between Thimerosal and autism, and at least 3 other studies that show no link between Thimerosal and any neurological problem. In addition, we have clear evidence of fraud and poorly performed science on the part of the most noted anti-vax proponents like Andrew Wakefield… this is not a position we take as a result of any one, single study. It’s a preponderance of evidence that gives us the clearest indication of what the science actually says about the issue.

    I’d argue that it’s in fact the anti-vaxxer crowd that does just what you are chiding us for: taking the results of one single study and claiming them as fact before they have been confirmed or reproduced.

  27. drksky

    To expand a little on what Celctic just said, the anti-vaxxers would surely read Nick’s story and say, “See? See?!?! Just like we’ve been saying all along”, without any verification or testing involved.

    I have a friend with two autistic sons, and I know it’s tough, so I can sympathize with Nick. But as many have said before me, causation does not equal correlation…or something like that.

  28. Pieter Kok

    “causation does not equal correlation…or something like that.”

    Correlation does not imply causation. :-)

  29. @Nick:

    “There is just far too much anecdotal evidence there for me to believe there is not some kind of link on some level. It goes beyond coincidental.”

    Well if that’s the case you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a properly executed, well documented study that demonstrates the relationship.

    There’s just one problem: there isn’t one. Meanwhile there are nearly a dozen studies which disprove the precise link that you claim “goes beyond coincidental”. So, who’s *really* being a balanced skeptic, here?

  30. harpe éolienne

    @PsyberDave

    brilliantly said.

  31. has

    IANAD, so of curiousity I looked up the LD50 (measurement of toxicity) for thimerosal vs. EDTA (popular chelating agent), and it turns out they’re pretty similar (e.g. in mice, both about 30mg/kg of body weight in intravenous use, 90 vs 30 oral, 54 vs 250 intraperitoneal).

    The amount of thimerosal in vaccines (before it was taken out) was about 0.5ug; maybe 0.1ug/kg for an infant starting their vaccination schedule. I don’t know how much EDTA actually goes into chelating autistic kids, but a quick online skim of one alt-med site suggests a typical dosage rate for general oral chelation might be 5-50mg/kg. (If anyone has a better idea of the numbers involved, feel free to chip in.) So who is really poisoning who?

    Good on the NIH for coming to their senses.

  32. TheBlackCat

    @has: so they have similar LD50 dosages, but they are giving them roughly 10,000-500,000 times more chelation agent than the thimerosal would be getting with vaccination. Plus the dosage of thimerosal is between 180,000 and 60,000 times below the LD50 dosage while the oral chelating may actually be above the LD50 dosage.

    BTW, for those who don’t know LD50 stands for “lethal dose 50%”, that is the dosage that will kill 50% of the people (or other organisms) who receive it.

  33. LukeL

    I still say the flu is mostly harmless and most people shouldn’t get the vaccine. I had cancer (rhabdomyosarcoma) some 20 years ago and don’t even get the vaccine. The way we weaken our immune system is by making sure our children never get a single viral illness by protecting them from everything. Then if they get sick we pump medicine into their bodies which recent studies have shown does nothing at all.

    There is nothing wrong with getting the occasional cold or flu bug and we shouldn’t be rushing to a doctor to get pills every time we get sick.

    If you want the answer to the rise in Autism look at over dx and parents wanting to have an excuse if their kid is misbehaving (look at ADD) Not only is this a cop out it also takes resources away from those who truley have autism.

  34. ND

    LukeL,

    What do vaccines have to do with rhabdomyosarcoma?

  35. trrll

    So the flu is mostly harmless? I’m sure that was of great comfort to the 56,247 people who died of it in the US in 2006. The CDC was pleased, because that was 13% lower than the year before.

    Still, by influenza standards, I suppose that one could call that “mostly harmless.” After all, the flu epidemic of 1918/1919 killed half a million people in the US, and 50-100 million worldwide, more than the Black Death.

  36. Calli Arcale

    Influenza (as opposed to the run-of-the-mill rhinoviruses that are frequently mistaken for influenza) is a very serious virus. Most people will do fine, although they’ll pass it on to hundreds of other people, not all of whom will do so well. Therein lies the motivation for mass vaccination — not merely to protect them, but to protect everyone they may meet. But influenza vaccines are not yet reliable enough to justify mass vaccination, so instead, high-risk patients and people who interact with high-risk patients are the only ones advised to take it routinely.

    I think Luke is probably correct that the real reason why autism diagnoses has risen is overdiagnosis, combined with diagnostic substitution. The actual textbook definition of autism has broadened considerably in the past twenty years. Awareness has also been increased considerably. Add these three things together, and it’s no wonder the diagnoses have increased.

    But why do we want to subject people to live viruses when we can give their immune systems the same training for far less risk? That’s what vaccination is. It doesn’t prevent their immune systems from learning how to attack invading pathogens. On the contrary, it trains them, and by a means which is far less dangerous. Measles encephalitis was once a leading cause of mental retardation. It’s almost unheard of today, and that’s because of the MMR.

    Regarding your son testing positive for heavy metals by a urine test after chelation, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but so-called “provoked” urine tests are worthless. They can be expected to return positive results in almost everyone, heavy-metal poisoning or no, and quacks exploit this fact — perhaps unwittingly, but it is telling that most of the autism-chelating doctors do not use blood tests but instead use hair assays or provoked urine tests, both of which are notoriously unreliable. There is a very real chance your son never had heavy metal poisoning, but since no reliable tests were used, you will never know.

    It is also worth mentioning that there is no logical reason why removing mercury would cure autism, even if mercury caused autism in the first place. When you have real brain damage from real mercury poisoning, chelation does not reverse it. It merely prevents it from getting any worse. Furthermore, the form of mercury found in the flu vaccine (Thimerosal, aka ethyl mercury) is excreted rapidly from the body — much more rapidly than the methyl mercury which is used as the basis of the official guidelines on safe limits for routine, daily exposure.

  37. LukeL

    I am saying that people who had childhood cancer are encouraged to get the vaccine every year as chemo can destroy or harm an immune system for life. I also have a bone tumor disorder as well. I see a lot of vaccines as nothing more than a money making tool, or a way to give false security to people.

    The vaccines for HPV and Hep B are some of the worst as these are nearly 100% preventable and people who get the vaccine may be under the impression they are immune for life, or engage in risky behaviors and get another disease. I just find it sick that we are pushing for HPV vaccination (a std) amongst 9-11 year old girls under the idea it is a cancer vaccine.

    Vaccines for things like Small Pox, Polio, Measles etc. are great but ones for common aliments should only be used for those who have very weakned immuned systems.

  38. LukeL, as far as preventing risk behaviour cancer.gov refers to this as “refrain from any genital contact with another individual”.
    That should be easy enough.
    For those who choose to be sexually active cancer.gov suggests “a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is the strategy most likely to prevent genital HPV infection”.
    That should be easy too but they go on to say “However, it is difficult to determine whether a partner who has been sexually active in the past is currently infected”.
    Oops.
    What about condoms you say? Cancer.gov says “HPV infection can occur in both male and female genital areas that are covered or protected by a latex condom, as well as in areas that are not covered”
    Damn, now that is a bugger.
    Let us see what is left? I know maybe could immunise young girls before they become sexually active. Boys too because we carry HPV too. We don’t get as much cancer as the girls but we bare some of the responsibility. But of course that will just promote risky behaviours just like condoms do…

  39. LukeL

    The problem I have is schools requiring it for admission. We are not talking about an endemic disease which spreads like wildfire. A couple of girls have died from this vaccine and I think more studies need to be done to make sure it is safe.

    I also guess those “One Less” commercials tick me off, I got the hep B vaccine back in 6th grade and regret it now as it was pointless and the schools said they were trying to prevent the spread of disease in classrooms. (which of course is a lie)

  40. From the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) on 2 deaths in Europe.

    The EMEA said: “In both cases, the cause of death could not be identified.
    “No causal relationship has been established between the deaths of the young women and the administration of Gardasil.”

    There have been 3 deaths in the US. I can’t find a link to a citation that Gardasil was a causal link to the deaths. Lots of blogs from anti-vaxers though.

  41. Todd W.

    @Calli Arcale

    Interesting info on the false positive aspect of hair samples and forced urine tests. Can you provide a link that has more info on those?

  42. Celtic_Evolution

    @ LukeL

    Luke, you make quite a few “truth-statements” that don’t seem to be based in much truth. Not any that any of us can find that is factually verifiable. Shane already pointed out your complete mis-representation of deaths caused by Gardasil. I think you need to look into these things yourself instead of just buying into the latest mass-hysteria driven hype. No link has been found between Gardasil and any death. Period. Until proven, any outrageous claims to the contrary are just that…outrageous claims.

    I also guess those “One Less” commercials tick me off, I got the hep B vaccine back in 6th grade and regret it now as it was pointless and the schools said they were trying to prevent the spread of disease in classrooms. (which of course is a lie)

    Ok… so you think it was pointless. What are you basing that on? What factual evidence do you have to back up the claim that it is pointless? Are you just smarter than pretty much every trained physician at the CDC? Or are you just guessing? And so what if it was pointless in your mind? Were you harmed in some way by getting it? Why on earth would you regret it?

    Luke… I think you have some anger issues that might be terribly misplaced here. What are you really angry at? Just think about it…

  43. Calli Arcale

    Todd, I’ll see if I can dig some up. I know it’s come up a lot at Respectful Insolence, as vaccination is something of a pet topic over there.

    Luke, regarding Gardasil I think it’s a worthy thing. But I do not think it is worth mandating for school admission, and indeed, few districts do. It is not required in my state (Minnesota). This is not merely because of safety concerns but because it is not possible to obtain herd immunity when such a large disease reservoir (males) will remain. It has insufficient societal benefit to justify recommending mass vaccination. It fails the risk-benefit test, at least on the societal level. On the individual level, it may be a different matter. I have a few years yet before I have to decide whether or not to have my daughters vaccinated against HPV. I think it’s a good vaccine, and individually there is a good risk-benefit equation. But I am concerned that it is being overhyped, perhaps in an attempt to recoup development costs, and perhaps among politicians out of a misguided attempt to pander to women voters by appearing to be extra focused on their health.

    Other vaccines are a different story. The mandatory childhood vaccines are not a money-making enterprise. In many cases, the government actually has to subsidize them in order to ensure the vaccine makers will keep producing enough quantity of them, and they furthermore have to provide litigant-friendly mechanisms for compensating people who are injured. Unlike other drugs, the profit margin for vaccines (even with the subsidies) is so paper-thin that it wouldn’t take very many lawsuits to scare a manufacturer away. So the government pays out instead. It’s fair; mandating the vaccine was the government’s idea in the first place, after all. But by and large, vaccines are not a big profit maker. They’re reliable (in terms of return on investment) but the payout is not all that large. If you want someplace with a really big profit margin, look to impotence cures and anti-aging treatments, both alternative (Enzyte, Juvenon) and pharmaceutical (Viagra, Botox). That’s where the real money is.

  44. Calli Arcale

    Todd, here’s a link about provoked mercury testing. There are sensible urine tests for mercury, but that’s not what Luke was describing. He described what the chelation-pushers often recommend: a provoked urine test. In a provoked urine test, a chelating agent is adminstered before urine is collected. In a perfectly normal person, this will produce an abnormally high urine mercury level. It’s useless unless you have their normal baseline to compare it against. In other words, an ethical practitioner (and/or one who actually knew what they were doing) would have tested Todd’s son’s urine *before* giving him a chelating agent.
    http://autismdiva.blogspot.com/2006/02/got-mercury.html

    I’m still looking for a reference on the hair analysis. Mercury does show up in hair, but I understand the usefulness of testing hair is not as good as patients are led to believe. I’ll dig up the reference, make sure I’m remembering it right.

  45. I also guess those “One Less” commercials tick me off, I got the hep B vaccine back in 6th grade and regret it now as it was pointless and the schools said they were trying to prevent the spread of disease in classrooms. (which of course is a lie)

    Maybe because no one got hep B? That is a shame that a preventable disease was like prevented.

  46. Lisa

    So if you’ve been exposed to heavy metals throughout your life, would chelation be an effective method in treating the symptons or not?

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