What Would Jesus Do About Measles?

The New York Times

MEASLES is back. Last year, about 650 cases were reported in the United States — the largest outbreak in almost 20 years. This year, more than a hundred have already been reported.

Parents have chosen not to vaccinate their children because they can; 19 states have philosophical exemptions to vaccination, and 47 have religious exemptions. The other reason is that parents are not scared of the disease. But I’m scared. I lived through the 1991 Philadelphia measles epidemic. Read more

Let’s Not Talk About Sex

The New York Times

EVERY year in the United States thousands of men and women die from cancers that can be prevented with a simple vaccine. Sadly, uptake of this cancer-preventing vaccine is abysmal. One reason: Doctors don’t want to talk about sex. The good news is, they don’t have to.

In the past decade, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in concert with the American Academy of Pediatrics, has recommended three vaccines for adolescents. One to prevent meningococcus, which causes bloodstream infections and meningitis; another, given in a three-in-one shot called Tdap, to prevent tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough); and a third to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes several types of cancer. Read more

Don’t Take Your Vitamins

The New York Times

LAST month, Katy Perry shared her secret to good health with her 37 million followers on Twitter. “I’m all about that supplement & vitamin LYFE!” the pop star wrote, posting a snapshot of herself holding up three large bags of pills. There is one disturbing fact about vitamins, however, that Katy didn’t mention.

Derived from “vita,” meaning life in Latin, vitamins are necessary to convert food into energy. When people don’t get enough vitamins, they suffer diseases like scurvy and rickets. The question isn’t whether people need vitamins. They do. The questions are how much do they need, and do they get enough in foods? Read More

Studying Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Journal of the American Medical Association

IN 1992, WITH AN INITIAL BUDGET OF $2 MILLION, Congress created the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM). Based on legislation sponsored by Iowa politicians Tom Harkin and Berkeley Bedell, OAM’s mission was “to explore complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science.”1 Senator Harkin reportedly believed that bee pollen had cured his hay fever, and Representative Bedell reportedly thought that cow colostrum had cured his Lyme disease. They hoped that OAM would prove that alternative therapies like theirs should be brought into the mainstream. Harkin and Bedell’s efforts reflected the popular culture; about 50% of US residents use some form of alternative medicine; 10% use it for their children… Read More

End Religious Exemption

Philadelphia Inquirer

The Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State generated a public outcry for stronger laws against child abuse and neglect. Several bills have been introduced that purportedly provide a “complete overhaul” of Pennsylvania’s child-protection laws.

For example, Senate Bill 20 makes it clear that any adult who “causes serious bodily injury,” either by “kicking, biting, stabbing, cutting, or throwing a child,” or “forcefully shakes or slaps a child under one year of age,” or “causes serious physical neglect,” or “causes a child to be near a methamphetamine lab,” or “operates a vehicle in which a child is a passenger while driving under the influence of alcohol,” has committed child abuse… Read More

Junk Science Isn’t a Victimless Crime

The Wall Street Journal

In 1998, a British surgeon named Andrew Wakefield published a paper claiming that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine might cause autism. To support his case, Dr. Wakefield reported the stories of eight children who had developed symptoms of autism within one month of receiving MMR. He proposed that measles vaccine virus travels to the intestine, causes intestinal damage, and allows for brain-damaging proteins to enter children’s blood streams.

The problem with Dr. Wakefield’s study—published in the Lancet, a leading medical journal—was that it didn’t study the question. To prove his hypothesis, he should have examined the incidence of autism in hundreds of thousands of children who had or hadn’t received MMR. This kind of study has now been performed 14 times on several continents by many investigators. The studies have shown that MMR doesn’t cause autism… Read More

Nothing to Fear but the Flu Itself

The New York Times

Public health officials are now battling not only a fast-spreading influenza virus but also unfounded fears about the vaccine that can prevent it.

Since April, more than a million Americans have caught H1N1 flu, more than 10,000 have been hospitalized, and about 1,000 have died, including 76 children. And it’s only the beginning of October. Yet, in a new survey, 41 percent of adults said they will not get vaccinated… Read More

The Power of ‘Box A’

Future Drugs

On April 6 2000, the US Committee on Government Reform convened to discuss the growing rates of autism in the USA. The chairman of the committee opened the session with the following statement: “I can’t believe that that’s just a coincidence – that the shot is given and that within a very short time, he got nine shots in 1 day, the MMR (measles–mumps– rubella vaccine) and the DTaP (diphtheria– tetanus–acellular pertussis vaccine) and within just a matter of a few days instead of being the normalchild that we played with and talked and everything else, he was running around and banging his head against the wall flailing his arms.” The congressman was convinced that the MMR vaccine had caused his grandson to be autistic. Data from a study in England were presented at the same meeting showing that when autism followed receipt of MMR vaccine, it occurred at a rate that would be predicted by chance alone. But the congressman remained unconvinced. He knew what he had seen… Read More

Sick Propaganda

In Michael Moore’s “Sicko,” pharmaceutical companies are taken to the movies. It isn’t the first time. In “The Constant Gardener,” a pharmaceutical company that also makes pesticides makes an antibiotic that is highly effective against multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. When the antibiotic is found to have a fatal side effect, the company buries victims in a mass grave outside of town and kills others who know of the problem. In “The Fugitive” a pharmaceutical company hires a one-armed man to kill Richard Kimble when he finds out that their drug, nearing FDA approval, causes fatal liver damage. Neither the screenwriters nor the public considered these two scenarios to be implausible… Read More

The Risk of Being Averse

“Knocked Up” is a movie about taking risks. Ben Stone meets Alison Scott at a bar; they get drunk, sleep together, and Alison gets pregnant. In a somewhat surprising twist, Alison decides not to end her pregnancy; young and unmarried, she risks bringing a baby into her life. Now she must decide whether she wants to risk marrying Ben, a well-meaning, good-hearted man with a frat-house mentality. And Ben must decide whether he wants to risk marrying Alison, knowing that he will be forced to grow up.

The movie also centers on Alison’s sister, Debbie, a women who is skeptical of Ben as a husband and is herself consumed by daily risks: specifically, neighborhoods with sex offenders and vaccines with mercury. Debbie reflects today’s risk-averse culture. But like most of us, she’s really not risk averse. Because we don’t know where the real risks lie, we’re actually risk takers… Read More

The Omnibus Autism Hearing

Parents of autistic children are about to have their day in court. On June 11, in an unprecedented action before a federal claims court, lawyers for 4,800 autistic children will argue that vaccines caused autism. If successful, these claims could exhaust the pool of money currently set aside to compensate children who have been hurt by vaccines. Further, lawyers will then be encouraged to take their claims that vaccines caused autism to civil court, where awards could be enormous. “We need to figure out how we’re going to compensate these families; how we’re going to take care of these children; how we’re going to remove the burden from states, because right now they’re footing the bill for everything,” said David Kirby, author of the book “Evidence of Harm.” “I don’t want to see the drug companies go out of business. I don’t think anyone wants that. [But] we are looking at trillions and trillions of dollars of care for these people.” Massive litigation against vaccines threatens one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine… Read More

Death of an Autistic Child from Chelation Therapy

On the morning of August 23, 2005, Marwa Nadama brought her 5-year-old autistic son, Abubakar, to the Advanced Integrative Medicine Center in Portersville, Pennsylvania for treatment. There she met Dr. Roy Eugene Kerry, a board-certified physician and surgeon. Dr. Kerry was certain that he could help cure Abubakar’s autism by removing mercury from his body.

Ms. Nadama had heard that thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative in some vaccines, caused autism. Indeed, parent testimonials found throughout the Internet claim that thimerosal causes autism. Although thimerosal had been taken out of most vaccines by 2001, Ms. Nadama believed that its toxic effects hadn’t been taken out of her son’s body… Read More

Pandemic Flu, the Cutter Incident and Vaccine Liability

In response to the growing threat of bird flu in Southeast Asia, President Bush released his “National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza” on November 2, 2005.

One component of the plan surprised and angered some lawmakers: “The Administration is seeking to remove one of the greatest obstacles to domestic vaccine production – the growing burden of litigation…Congress must pass liability protection for the makers of life-saving vaccines.”… Read More