‘No one should be doing the ketogenic diet,’ says top U.S. cardiologist


Ketosis is known to work wonders in terms of short-term weight loss. But what about the diet’s effects over the long term?

 

The ketogenic diet is one of the latest dietary fads to sweep the U.S., promising rapid weight loss, enhanced brain function and sustained energy throughout the day. These effects are achieved by replacing high-carb foods with fatty, protein-rich foods that will eventually put the body in ketosis: a natural metabolic state in which the body burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.

Ketosis is known to work wonders for short-term weight loss. But what about the diet’s effects over the long term?

According to Dr. Kim Williams, former president of the American College of Cardiology, no one should adopt the ketogenic diet over the long term—unless weight loss is more important than lifespan.

“I like the idea, the basic concept: you change your dietary habits and you change something,” Williams told Plant Based News. “Unfortunately, the science of it is wrong. If all you wanted was short-term weight loss—and short-term could be a year or two—if that’s all you’re looking for, great.”

Williams’ argument is based on a 2013 systematic review of 17 studies that found low-carbohydrate diets to be associated with an increased chance of death, with particularly increased risks to cardiovascular health.

“So I was talking about that and making sure everyone was hearing about that, and then there was one the Journal of the American Heart Association published a few years later that isolated the people who had had a heart attack in the past, the cardiology population that we’re seeing, and they were doing a ketogenic diet,” Williams told Plant Based News. “It was a 53 percent increase in mortality. No one should be doing this.”

The authors of the 2013 systematic review offered similar advice:

“Given the facts that low-carbohydrate diets are likely unsafe and that calorie restriction has been demonstrated to be effective in weight loss regardless of nutritional composition, it would be prudent not to recommend low-carbohydrate diets for the time being. Further detailed studies to evaluate the effect of protein source are urgently needed.”

The ketogenic diet can pose long-term health risks because “low-carbohydrate diets tend to result in reduced intake of fiber and fruits, and increased intake of protein from animal sources, cholesterol and saturated fat, all of which are risk factors for mortality” and cardiovascular disease, wrote the authors of the review.
What foods can you and can’t you eat on the keto diet?

It’s worth noting that the review focused on low-carbohydrate diets, which are not always ketogenic. To be sure, there are balanced ways to adopt the ketogenic diet, and it can beneficial to some. In addition to its proven weight-loss effects that can be especially helpful for obese people, the diet is also a proven treatment for children with epilepsy. That’s because the state of ketosis produces a natural chemical called decanoic acid, which can reduce seizures.

But if you’re looking for a safe diet that you can rely on over the long term, you might follow the advice given by Dr. Marcelo Campos in an article posted on the Harvard Health Blog:

“Instead of engaging in the next popular diet that would last only a few weeks to months (for most people that includes a ketogenic diet), try to embrace change that is sustainable over the long term. A balanced, unprocessed diet, rich in very colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and lots of water seems to have the best evidence for a long, healthier, vibrant life.”

Watch the video discussion. URL:https://youtu.be/VNW_5EqqWoo

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CRISPR: Crispy Fries Your DNA


Story at-a-glance

  • CRISPR gene-editing technology may have significant unintended consequences to your DNA, including large deletions and complex rearrangements
  • The DNA deletions could end up activating genes that should stay “off,” such as cancer-causing genes, as well as silencing those that should be “on”
  • The deletions detected were at a scale of “thousands of bases,” which is more than previously thought and enough to affect adjacent genes
  • As a result of CRISPR-Cas9, DNA may be rearranged, previously distant DNA sequences may become attached, or unrelated sections could be incorporated into the chromosome

By Dr. Mercola

CRISPR gene-editing technology brought science fiction to life with its ability to cut and paste DNA fragments, potentially eliminating serious inherited diseases. CRISPR-Cas9, in particular, has gotten scientists excited because,1 by modifying an enzyme called Cas9, the gene-editing capabilities are significantly improved. That’s not to say they’re perfect, however, as evidenced by a recent study that showed CRISPR may have significant unintended consequences to your DNA, including large deletions and complex rearrangements.2

Many of the concerns to date regarding CRISPR, or Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat, technology have centered on off-target mutations. The featured study, published in Nature Biotechnology, looked at on-target mutations at the site of the “cuts,” revealing potentially dangerous changes that could increase the risk of chronic diseases like cancer.

Is CRISPR Scrambling DNA?

Researchers at the U.K.’s Wellcome Sanger Institute systematically studied mutations from CRISPR-Cas9 in mouse and human cells, focusing on the gene-editing target site. Large genetic rearrangements were observed, including DNA deletions and insertions, that were spotted near the target site.

They were far enough away, however, that standard tests looking for CRISPR-related DNA damage would miss them. The DNA deletions could end up activating genes that should stay “off,” such as cancer-causing genes, as well as silencing those that should be “on.” One of the study’s authors, professor Allan Bradley, said in a statement:3

“This is the first systematic assessment of unexpected events resulting from CRISPR/Cas9 editing in therapeutically relevant cells, and we found that changes in the DNA have been seriously underestimated before now. It is important that anyone thinking of using this technology for gene therapy proceeds with caution, and looks very carefully to check for possible harmful effects.”

The deletions detected were at a scale of “thousands of bases,” which is more than previously thought and enough to affect adjacent genes. For instance, deletions equivalent to thousands of DNA letters were revealed. “In one case, genomes in about two-thirds of the CRISPR’d cells showed the expected small-scale inadvertent havoc, but 21 percent had DNA deletions of more than 250 bases and up to 6,000 bases long,” Scientific American reported.4

The cells targeted by CRISPR try to “stitch things back together,” according to Bradley, “But it doesn’t really know what bits of DNA lie adjacent to each other.” As a result, the DNA may be rearranged, previously distant DNA sequences may become attached, or unrelated sections could be incorporated into the chromosome.5

Cas9, a bacteria enzyme that acts as the “scissors” in CRISPR, actually remains in the body for a period of hours to weeks. Even after the initial DNA segment had been cut out and a new section “pasted” into the gap to repair it, Cas9 continued to make cuts into the DNA. “[T]he scissors continued to cut the DNA over and over again. They found significant areas near the cut site where DNA had been removed, rearranged or inverted,” The Conversation reported.6

Does This Mean CRISPR Isn’t Safe?

It’s too soon to say what the long-term effects of gene-editing technology will be, and there are many variables to the safety equation. The findings likely only apply to CRISPR-Cas9, which cuts through the DNA’s double strand. Other CRISPR technologies exist that may alter only a single strand or not involve cutting at all, instead swapping DNA letters.

There are also CRISPR systems that target RNA instead of DNA and those that could potentially involve only cells isolated from the body, such as white blood cells, which could then be analyzed for potential mutations before being put back into the body.7

The Nature study did make waves in the industry, though, such that within the first 20 minutes of the results being made public three CRISPR companies lost more than $300 million in value.8

Some companies using CRISPR have said they’re already on the lookout for large and small DNA deletions (including one company using the technology to make pig organs that could be transplanted into humans). One company also claims it hasn’t found large deletions in their work on cells that do not divide often (the Nature study used actively dividing cells).9

The researchers are standing by their findings, however, which the journal took one year to publish. During that time, Bradley says, he was asked to conduct additional experiments and “the results all held up.”10 Past studies have also found unexpected mutations, including one based on a study that used CRISPR-Cas9 to restore sight in blind mice by correcting a genetic mutation.

The researchers sequenced the entire genome of the CRISPR-edited mice to search for mutations. In addition to the intended genetic edit, they found more than 100 additional deletions and insertions along with more than 1,500 single-nucleotide mutations.11 The study was later retracted, however, due to insufficient data and a need for more research to confirm the results.12

CRISPR-Edited Cells Could Cause Cancer

Revealing the many complexities of gene editing, CRISPR-Cas9 also leads to the activation of the p53 gene, which works to either repair the DNA break or kill off the CRISPR-edited cell.13

CRISPR actually has a low efficacy rate for this reason, and CRISPR-edited cells that survive are able to do so because of a dysfunctional p53. The problem is that p53 dysfunction is also linked to cancer (including close to half of ovarian and colorectal cancers and a sizable portion of lung, pancreatic, stomach, breast and liver cancers as well).14

In one recent study, researchers were able to boost average insertion or deletion efficiency to greater than 80 percent, but that was because of a dysfunctional p53 gene,15 which would mean the cells could be predisposed to cancer. The researchers noted, ” … it will be critical to ensure that [CRISPR-edited cells] have a functional p53 before and after engineering.”16

A second study, this one by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, found similar results and concluded, ” … p53 function should be monitored when developing cell-based therapies utilizing CRISPR–Cas9.”17

Some have suggested that if CRISPR could cure one chronic or terminal disease at the “cost” of an increased cancer risk later,18 it could still be a beneficial technology, but most agree that more work is needed and caution warranted.

A CRISPR clinical trial in people with cancer is already underway in China, and the technology has been used to edit human embryos made from sperm from men carrying inherited disease mutations. The researchers successfully altered the DNA in a way that would eliminate or correct the genes causing the inherited disease.19

If the embryos were implanted into a womb and allowed to grow, the process, which is known as germline engineering, would result in the first genetically modified children — and any engineered changes would be passed on to their own children. A February 2017 report issued by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences (NAS) basically set the stage for allowing research on germline modification (such as embryos, eggs and sperm) and CRISPR, but only for the purpose of eliminating serious diseases.

In the U.S., a first of its kind human trial involving CRISPR is currently recruiting participants with certain types of cancer. The trial is going to attempt to use CRISPR to modify immune cells to make them attack tumor cells more effectively. As far as risks from potential mutations, it’s anyone’s guess, but lead researcher Dr. Edward Stadtmauer of the University of Pennsylvania told Scientific American, “We are doing extensive testing of the final cellular product as well as the cells within the patient.”20

Are ‘Designer Babies’ Next?

It’s easy to argue for the merits of CRISPR when you put it in the context of curing deafness, inherited diseases or cancer, and at least 17 clinical trials using gene-editing technologies to tackle everything from gastrointestinal cancer to tumors of the central nervous system to sickle cell disease have been registered in the U.S.21 Another use of the technology entirely is the creation of “designer babies” with a certain eye color or increased intelligence.

About 40 countries have already banned the genetic engineering of human embryos and 15 of 22 European countries prohibit germ line modification.22 In the U.S., the NAS report specifically said research into CRISPR and germline modification could not be for “enhancing traits or abilities beyond ordinary health.” Still, using gene editing to create designer babies is a question of when, not if, with some experts saying it could occur in a matter of decades.23

There are both safety and ethical considerations to think about. With some proponents saying it would be unethical not to use the technology. For instance, Julian Savulescu, an ethicist at the University of Oxford, told Science News he believes parents would be morally obligated to use gene-editing technology to keep their children healthy.

“If CRISPR could … improve impulse control and give a child a greater range of opportunities, then I’d have to say we have the same moral obligation to use CRISPR as we do to provide education, to provide an adequate diet …”24 Others have suggested CRISPR could represent a new form of eugenics, especially since it can only be done via in vitro fertilization (IVF), putting it out of reach of many people financially and potentially expanding inequality gaps.

On the other hand, some argue that countries with national health care could provide free coverage for gene editing, possibly helping to reduce inequalities.25 It’s questions like these that make determining the safety of CRISPR and other gene-editing technology more important now than ever before.

What Does a CRISPR-Enabled Future Hold?

We’ve already entered the era of genetic engineering and CRISPR represents just one piece of the puzzle. It’s an exciting time that could lead to major advances in diseases such as sickle-cell anemia, certain forms of blindness, muscular dystrophy, HIV and cancer, but also one that brings the potential for serious harm. In addition to work in human and animal cells, gene-edited crops, in which DNA is tweaked or snipped out at a precise location, have already been created — and eaten.

To date, the technology has been used to produce soybeans with altered fatty acid profiles, potatoes that take longer to turn brown and potatoes that remain fresher longer and do not produce carcinogens when fried. The latter could be sold as early as 2019.

The gene-editing science, in both plants and animals, is progressing far faster than long-term effects can be fully realized or understood. There are many opportunities for advancement to be had, but they must come with the understanding that unintended mutations with potentially irreversible effects could be part of the package.

Watch the video.URL:https://youtu.be/faSoxyiAAPE

Chinese Botanical Medicine: Wikipedia Claims it is Fake, We are Certain it is Real


According to the World Health Organization, 80% of the world’s population uses herbal medicine. Are these hundreds of millions of people simply deluded by superstitious nostrums, as Wikipedia and so-called ‘skeptics’ imply? 

Modern conventional medicine has increasingly become a culture of scientific and historical denialism. Although claiming to be an objective discipline of consistent progress, the medical establishment more often than not denies the insights, discoveries, medical systems and methodologies of the distant past and non-Western cultures. Rather, Western medicine is racing more rapidly towards a retro-future with a blind faith in the promises of new engineered, synthetic drugs. Sadly, this pursuit is misconstrued as synonymous with important medical breakthroughs and the evolution of scientific medicine in general. Yet as the statistics show, modern medicine is on a collision course with itself. This is most evident in the increasing failures conventional medicine faces in fighting life-threatening diseases and the annual increases in iatrogenic injuries and deaths.

Upon graduation, every new physician repeats “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan.” The Oath composed by the wise Greek medical sage, Hippocrates, goes on to say “I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgement, and I will do no harm or injustice to them.” Hippocrates was a naturalist. Unlike physicians today, he was expert in the healing powers found in the natural world and was a keen observer about the health benefits of different foods, plants and herbs. However, modern allopathic doctors are not only largely ignorant about the natural world but also the epigenetic, environmental and behavior causes of diseases and the means to prevent them. They have also removed themselves from honoring the Hippocratic Oath.

How well has modern medicine lived up to its Oath? Adverse drug events (ADEs) are rising. They have become a plague upon public health and our healthcare system. As of 2014, prescription drug injuries totaled 1.6 million events annually. Every day, over 4,000 Americans experience a serious drug reaction requiring hospitalization. And over 770,000 people have ADEs during hospital stays.[1] The most common ADEs are hypertension, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, volume depletion disorders and atherosclerotic heart disease.[2] According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2016 there were 64,070 deaths directly associated with prescription overdoses; this is greater than the number of American soldiers killed during the entire Vietnam War.[3] For 2017, the CDC reported over 42,000 deaths from prescription opioid drugs alone.[4] Yet this figure is probably much higher due to the CDC’s practice of reporting statistics very conservatively and many cases not getting properly reported. So when we consider that there were over 860,000 physicians in the US practicing in 2016, potentially most physicians in America have contributed to ADEs.

No legitimate and highly developed alternative or natural medical practice has such a dismal track record of illness and death. Nevertheless, when a rare ADE, poisoning or death occurs Skeptics in the radical fringe Science-Based Medicine (SBM) movement, who rabidly oppose Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), are quick to report the incident as a national crisis and condemn the use of traditional natural medicine altogether. Yet if we look at the potential number of iatrogenic injuries and deaths over the last four decades since the start of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology boom in the late 1980s, we are looking at over 60 million ADE incidences caused by conventional Western medicine alone. This is nothing celebrate and no concerted national effort within the medical establishment nor among the followers of SBM is being made to challenge the dominant medical paradigm responsible for this crisis.

According to the World Health Organization, 80% of the world’s population uses herbal medicine. And this trend is increasing exponentially.[5] Skeptics have few viable and rational explanations to account for this trend. Since they regard traditional herbal medical systems as quackery, everyone experiencing relief or having a successful treatment from botanicals is simply having a placebo effect conversion experience. Fortunately in the US and other Western nations, the public is rapidly losing its trust and satisfaction with conventional Western medical practice and is seeking safer alternatives. With healthcare costs escalating annually and prescription ADE’s on the increase as more and more drugs are fast-tracked through federal regulatory hurdles, relying solely upon allopathic medicine is a dangerous bargain. Dr. Dominic Lu at the University of Pennsylvania and president of the American Society for the Advancement of Anesthesia and Sedation recommends that Chinese herbal and Western medicine might complement each other if we make the effort to investigate their synergistic therapeutic effects. Lu believes oriental concepts of human anatomy should be further included in higher educational health science curriculums.[6] In addition, we would also note that with conventional medicine in a crisis people are accessing the numerous resources on the internet to educate themselves about the medicinal properties of plants, herbs, supplements and foods as part of their personal therapeutic protocols.

In our previous article in this series exposing the scientific denialism and ideological agenda of Skepticism’s and Wikipedia’s role in promoting SBM’s regressive agenda to turn people away from non-conventional drug-based medicine, we tackled SBM’s and Wikipedia’s attack on acupuncture. In this segment we will focus upon Chinese botanical medicine. In mainland China, acupuncture and herbology are treated as separate disciplines; therefore we will only look at Chinese botanical medical.

Wikipedia has a noteworthy amount to say about traditional Chinese herbal medicine. However, its major criticisms rely heavily upon five-plus year old reviews of the peer-reviewed research. Some references in fact have nothing to do with Chinese herbology. The majority of clinical research into Chinese botanicals and medical preparations are only found in Chinese databases. Therefore, Western analytical reviews, including the Cochrane reports, are extremely limited, inconclusive and biased. Critics of TCM frequently criticize published Chinese research as “incomplete, some containing errors or were misleading.”[7] These are the same Skeptic criticisms Wikipedia levels against traditional herbal medical systems in general. With over 181,000 peer-reviewed research papers and reviews listed in the National Institutes of Health PubMed database referring to TCM, it is ridiculous and disingenuous to assume Wikipedia’s editors have scoured this massive body of science to make any sound judgement about TCM’s efficacy.

Under the heading “Chinese Herbology,” Wikipedia states, “A Nature editorial described TCM as “fraught with pseudoscience,” and said that the most obvious reason why it has not delivered many cures is that the majority of its treatments have no logical mechanism of action… Research into the effectiveness of traditional Chinese herbal therapy is of poor quality and often tainted by bias, with little or no rigorous evidence of efficacy.”[8] Nature’s editorial, which reflects the same ill-informed opinions frequent in Skeptical criticisms about natural health, does not cite any research to support its sweeping prejudiced opinion. The editorial is primarily a diatribe against the growing popularity of traditional medicine in the Chinese domestic market, estimated by the Boston Consulting Group to be worth $13 billion in 2006.[9] In addition, as noted above, Wikipedia’s sources include a review of herbal medicine published in the South African Medical Journal that only looked at six African botanicals, none which are part of the Chinese pharmacopoeia.[10]

We would be negligent to not state a serious concern that readers should be aware of regarding Chinese medicinal herbs and preparations. This has been rightly noted by the SBM writers and Wikipedia; that is the high levels of toxic contaminants, notably arsenic, lead and other toxic chemicals found in Chinese herbs and formulas being exported. However Wikipedia fails to note the real reasons for this warning. Rather it frames caution as a means to discredit Chinese botanical medicine altogether. The export of toxic herbs is largely due to the enormous and out-of-control environmental problem including toxic atmospheric particulate matter from over-pollution, toxic dumping and waste spills in water supplies and poor agricultural practices. However, in some countries such as Japan and Taiwan, federal regulations for the import and export of medical botanicals are stricter and clean, non-toxic botanical herbs and preparations are readily available. There remain very reliable sources for getting highly quality grown Chinese herbs.

One of SBM’s leading spokespersons David Gorski would like us to believe that Mao Tse-tung should be condemned for restoring traditional Chinese medicine in mainland China. [11] But this is a blatant half-truth. In fact, Gorski and his colleagues have far more in common with Chairman Mao based upon the historical facts. It was during Mao’s reign that classical Chinese medicine took an enormous leap backwards. The ancient system was originally banned during the Chinese Nationalist movement in the early 20th century because its leaders believed the old ways were preventing the nation from modernizing. Mao initially made a small effort to restore the practice when he came to power. However, it was after the Communist Revolution when Mao turned against traditional medicine. The Cultural Revolution again outlawed the practice. Traditional doctors who retained the most extensive knowledge and wisdom about classical Chinese anatomical theory and knowledge of medicinal herbs were systematically gathered for Communist conversion programs, imprisoned and/or killed. TCM nearly died out altogether from the mainland. Years later when the Communists attempted to resurrect the ancient medical wisdom, only a few hundred doctors could be found throughout the country with sufficient knowledge to start TCM anew. Yet Mao remained ambiguous. He wrote, “Even though I believe we should promote Chinese medicine… I personally do not believe in it. I don’t take Chinese medicine.”[12] Unfortunately what is commonly called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) today is a partial reconstruction of the original ancient system that had developed over thousands of years. Much has been lost. The government’s effort failed. According to Dr. Brigetta Shea, “once the government decided to reinstate some form of China’s traditional medicine, they did it with an emphasis on combining it with Western medical theory. This shifted even acupuncture theory, as Western anatomical teaching was adopted and esoteric subtle anatomy was discarded.”[13] The result has been that TCM today is a mere shadow of what it was in the past, and is little more than a watered down system contaminated with Western reductionist medical theories. Fortunately, growing interest in TCM is inspiring young researchers and practitioners to travel to China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea to try to recover the more ancient classical medical teachings that were not included in the standardized TCM curriculums.

SBM founder Stephen Novella remarks, “TCM is a pre-scientific superstitious view of biology and illness, similar to the humoral theory of Galen, or the notions of any pre-scientific culture. It is strange and unscientific to treat TCM as anything else. Any individual diagnostic or treatment method within TCM should be evaluated according to standard principles of science and science-based medicine, and not given special treatment.”[14] The remainder of Novella’s argument is an example of taking TCM terms literally and not penetrating their deeper functions to discover their correlations with scientifically identified biomolecular substances and events. Novella also believes that the Chinese medical theories of qi and the acupuncture meridians share the same magical thinking as “ether, flogistum, Bigfoot, and unicorns.”[15]

The master physicians and pioneers of the advanced traditional medical systems of Greece, India, China and Tibet, were very skilled and astute in identifying metabolic disturbances in their patients. Although on the surface, the humors may appear to be outdated or primitive mythological terms, a deep study of the traditional medical texts reveals they have direct correspondences to biochemical and biological processes that are well known in modern medicine. For example, according to the recent translators of the enormous medical corpus composed by one of the world’s greatest medical doctors Avicenna in the 11th century, who revived the medical theories of Galen at the height of Islamic civilization’s golden age, Dr. Hakima Amri, professor of molecular biology at Georgetown University and Dr. Mones Abu-Asab, a senior scientist and expert in phylogenetic systematics at the National Institutes of Health, discovered the ancient descriptions of the humors have a direct correlation to properties of fats, proteins and organic acids  — the cornerstones of metabolic changes. Due to its linear and non-systematic way of analyzing health and disease, modern medicine focuses upon single metabolic pathways and fails to consider that these pathways work in concert and are co-dependent with others. For example, a patient with high LDL cholesterol will be prescribed a statin without fully understanding the biological imbalances that increased LDL. But traditional herbal systems, including Chinese botanical medicine, provide more parameters such as a tissue’s hydration and energy production in the case of abnormal cholesterol levels. Western medicine does not take into account hydration and energy production in making an accurate diagnostic assessment of the reasons for a patient’s cholesterol imbalance. This is where the ancient theory of humors, or the fundamental “fluids” in the body — traditionally defined as blood, phlegm and yellow and black bile —  provides clues.

Western medicine has no equivalent to what traditional systems refer to as “dystemperament” in a biological system or organ. Dystemperament was understood as an imbalance in a person’s unique personalized physical, genetic and psychological disposition. Today the rapidly growing discipline of Functional Medicine finds agreement with this principle for diagnosing and treating an illness. In fact, conventional medicine still endeavors to define the causes of many diseases at a singular cellular or molecular level. It also faces a serious predicament in being based upon a one-drug-one-target paradigm in drug research and development. Traditional systems, including Chinese herbology, being far more complete and efficient medical systems, don’t struggle with this dilemma. For half a century we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on reductionist biomedical research to identify genes, proteins and metabolic biochemical changes that contribute to disease. But despite the enormous body of knowledge and data we have gathered from astronomic costly projects there have been few practical and meaningful results to find safe and effective treatments outside of prescribing potentially lethal drugs.

Most evidence-based medical reviews of research conducted on the efficacy of specific Chinese herbs fail to take into account that Chinese herbology is a complete system. It is unrealistic to research a single traditional Chinese herb and draw a definitive conclusion. An herbal concoction can include up to 18 or more ingredients, and these may be fermented or simmered for hours to produce pharma-therapeutic properties useful for the treatment of disease. This was noted in a Cochrane review of Chinese medical herbs for treating acute pancreatitis.[16] It is estimated that there are over 13,000 different medicinal ingredients found in the annals of Chinese medical texts and well over 100,000 unique decoctions and recipes. While the vast majority of substances used in Chinese medicinal preparations are plant-based, parts of animals and specific minerals may also be included.[17,18]

Regardless of the Skeptics’ and Wikipedia’s invective to diminish Chinese medicine’s efficacy and successes, TCM is booming and extraordinary research continues to pump out positive discoveries. Even Bayer Pharmaceutical purchased the Chinese herbal company Dihon Pharmaceutical Group in 2014 because of the huge potential for discovering powerful phytochemicals to treat a wide variety of diseases. Helmut Kaiser Consultancy in Germany predicts that annual revenues in Chinese botanicals will triple by 2025 from 2015 revenues of $17 billion.[19] A Morgan Stanley 2012 review found that even among Chinese physicians trained in Western medical schools, TCM is being used as the first line of defense against disease in 30% of medical cases.[20]

Curiously Skeptics and Wikipedia fail to acknowledge that the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to China’s scientist Tu You-you for her use of the Chinese medical remedy artemisia to develop an anti-malarial drug.[21] In 2015, researchers at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute and the Center for Integrative Protein Science in Munich published their findings in Science of an alkaloid in an ingredient of the Chinese formula Han Fang Ji that protected human white blood cells from the Ebola virus.[22] And in 2006, the FDA gave its first drug approval to an ointment based upon Chinese botanicals, including green tea leaves, for the treatment of genital warts caused by human papillomavirus.[23] In a bioinformatics database analysis comparing phytochemicals in Chinese plants with the modern Comprehensive Medical Chemistry database of pharmaceutical drug ingredients, over 100 Chinese herbal phytochemicals had direct correlates with ingredients used in approved pharmaceutical drugs on the market.[24]

Taking one excellent example of the synergistic effects of herbal combinations in TCM is the duo Coptidis rhizoma and Evodia rutaecarpa. In classical Chinese medical practice, this formula has been given for centuries to treat gastric conditions including rapid healing of ulcers. Modern research has shown that together these herbs inhibit the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which frequently accompanies ulcers. In the US approximately 20% of people under 40 years and over 50% of those above 60 years are estimated to have an H. pylori infection which can be responsible for gastritis, stomach and duodenal ulcers, gastric lymphoma and stomach cancer. The herbs were also found to contain limonene used in drugs as an antineoplastic molecule and gamalenic acid used in as an ingredient in pharmaceutical anti-tumor drugs.[25]

Finally, we might take a look at the 2017-2018 flu season. In fact, the influenza vaccine for this past season was a dud and failed to protect most recipients from infection. According to the CDC, the vaccine was 36% effective.[26] Almost 100 pediatric flu deaths were reported. However, later research at Rice University determined the vaccine was at best only 20% efficacy.[27] With conventional medicine and our federal health agencies failing to protect the public, tens of thousands of people experiencing the onset of flu-like symptoms rushed to purchase the Chinese herbal cold formula Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa. The formula costs as little as $6 in New York City’s Chinatown. Pei Pa Koa is one of the most popular cold, flu and cough remedies across East Asia and Singapore. It was first formulated during the Qing dynasty in the 17th century. The results are often immediate. When we desire relief from a health condition that is all that matters.

Therefore, we have absolutely no need for Skeptics preaching from their bully pulpits. There is no need to read the vitriol of Science-based medicine’s priesthood. And we certainly have no need to refer to Wikipedia’s encyclopedia of biased misinformation parroting Skepticism’s paranoia and deceptive efforts to censor natural health. We don’t need any of them to tell us that the relief we experience after taking a medicinal herb or natural formula is only a placebo effect or a figment of our imagination because the scientific research doesn’t meet their standards. The fact of the matter is that the science will never meet their standards because fundamentalists, either religious or science-based, cannot be persuaded by factual evidence that conflicts with their ingrained psychological ideologies and fears. And this is the fundamental fallacy and blatant hypocrisy that runs throughout SBM Skepticism and Wikipedia. It is not “science-based” because it is impoverished of the necessary inquisitive open-mindedness that defines those who are authentic scientists. SBM is faith-based, and holds fealty with a grossly reductionist, petulant and brattish mentality incapable of seeing the forest from the trees. In his criticism of TCM, Novella brings the absurdity of Skepticism to a climax. “I maintain that there are many good reasons to conclude that any system [i.e. TCM] which derives from everyday experience is likely to be seriously flawed and almost entirely cut off from reality.”[28] However, for thousands of years there have been countless people who experienced and claimed the benefits from Chinese botanical medicine. We have no need for Skepticism’s scientific reductionist validation to prove the reality of natural medicine.

Should we be worried about artificial intelligence?


Not really, but we do need think carefully about how to harness, and regulate, machine intelligence.

By now, most of us are used to the idea of rapid, even accelerating, technological change, particularly where information technologies are concerned. Indeed, as consumers, we helped the process along considerably. We love the convenience of mobile phones, and the lure of social-media platforms such as Facebook, even if, as we access these services, we find that bits and pieces of our digital selves become strewn all over the internet.

More and more tasks are being automated. Computers (under human supervision) already fly planes and sail ships. They are rapidly learning how to drive cars. Automated factories make many of our consumer goods. If you enter (or return to) Australia with an eligible e-passport, a computer will scan your face, compare it with your passport photo and, if the two match up, let you in. The “internet of things” beckons; there seems to be an “app” for everything. We are invited to make our homes smarter and our lives more convenient by using programs that interface with our home-based systems and appliances to switch the lights on and off, defrost the fridge and vacuum the carpet.

Robots taking over more intimate jobs

With the demise of the local car industry and the decline of manufacturing, the services sector is expected to pick up the slack for job seekers. But robots are taking over certain roles once deemed human-only.

Clever though they are, these programs represent more-or-less familiar applications of computer-based processing power. With artificial intelligence, though, computers are poised to conquer skills that we like to think of as uniquely human: the ability to extract patterns and solve problems by analysing data, to plan and undertake tasks, to learn from our own experience and that of others, and to deploy complex forms of reasoning.

The quest for AI has engaged computer scientists for decades. Until very recently, though, AI’s initial promise had failed to materialise. The recent revival of the field came as a result of breakthrough advances in machine intelligence and, specifically, machine learning. It was found that, by using neural networks (interlinked processing points) to implement mathematically specified procedures or algorithms, machines could, through many iterations, progressively improve on their performance – in other words, they could learn. Machine intelligence in general and machine learning in particular are now the fastest-growing components of AI.

The achievements have been impressive. It is now 20 years since IBM’s Deep Blue program, using traditional computational approaches, beat Garry Kasparov, the world’s best chess player. With machine-learning techniques, computers have conquered even more complex games such as Go, a strategy-based game with an enormous range of possible moves. In 2016, Google’s Alpha Go program beat Lee Sedol, the world’s best Go player, in a four-game match.

Allan Dafoe, of Oxford University’s future humanities institute, says AI is already at the point where it can transform almost every industry, from agriculture to health and medicine, from energy systems to security and the military. With sufficient data, computing power and an appropriate algorithm, machines can be used to come up with solutions that are not only commercially useful but, in some cases, novel and even innovative.

Should we be worried? Commentators as diverse as the late Stephen Hawking and development economist Muhammad Yunus have issued dire warnings about machine intelligence. Unless we learn how to control AI, they argue, we risk finding ourselves replaced by machines far more intelligent than we are. The fear is that not only will humans be redundant in this brave new world, but the machines will find us completely useless and eliminate us.

The University of Canberra's robot Ardie teaches tai chi to primary school pupils.
The University of Canberra’s robot Ardie teaches tai chi to primary school pupils.

If these fears are realistic, then governments clearly need to impose some sort of ethical and values-based framework around this work. But are our regulatory and governance techniques up to the task? When, in Australia, we have struggled to regulate our financial services industry, how on earth will governments anywhere manage a field as rapidly changing and complex as machine intelligence?

Governments often seem to play catch-up when it comes to new technologies. Privacy legislation is enormously difficult to enforce when technologies effortlessly span national boundaries. It is difficult for legislators even to know what is going on in relation to new applications developed inside large companies such as Facebook. On the other hand, governments are hardly IT ingenues. The public sector provided the demand-pull that underwrote the success of many high-tech firms. The US government, in particular, has facilitated the growth of many companies in cybersecurity and other fields.

Governments have been in the information business for a very long time. As William the Conqueror knew when he ordered his Domesday Book to be compiled in 1085, you can’t tax people successfully unless you know something about them. Spending of tax-generated funds is impossible without good IT. In Australia, governments have developed and successfully managed very large databases in health and human services.

The governance of all this data is subject to privacy considerations, sometimes even at the expense of information-sharing between agencies. The evidence we have is that, while some people worry a lot about privacy, most of us are prepared to trust government with our information. In 2016, the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced that, for the first time, it would retain the names and addresses it collected during the course of the 2016 population census. It was widely expected (at least by the media) that many citizens would withhold their names and addresses when they returned their forms. In the end, very few did.

But these are government agencies operating outside the security field. The so-called “deep state” holds information about citizens that could readily be misused. Moreover, private-sector profit is driving much of the current AI surge (although, in many cases, it is the thrill of new knowledge and understanding, too). We must assume that criminals are working out ways to exploit these possibilities, too.

If we want values such as equity, transparency, privacy and safety to govern what happens, old-fashioned regulation will not do the job. We need the developers of these technologies to co-produce the values we require, which implies some sort of effective partnership between the state and the private sector.

Could policy development be the basis for this kind of partnership? At the moment, machine intelligence works best on problems for which relevant data is available, and the objective is relatively easy to specify. As it develops, and particularly if governments are prepared to share their own data sets, machine intelligence could become important in addressing problems such as climate change, where we have data and an overall objective, but not much idea as to how to get there.

Machine intelligence might even help with problems where objectives are much harder to specify. What, for example, does good urban planning look like? We can crunch data from many different cities, and come up with an answer that could, in theory, go well beyond even the most advanced human-based modelling. When we don’t know what we don’t know, machines could be very useful indeed. Nor do we know, until we try, how useful the vast troves of information held by governments might be.

Perhaps, too, the jobs threat is not as extreme as we fear. Experience shows that humans are very good at finding things to do. And there might not be as many existing jobs at risk as we suppose. I am convinced, for example, that no robot could ever replace road workers – just think of the fantastical patterns of dug-up gravel and dirt they produce, the machines artfully arranged by the roadside or being driven, very slowly, up and down, even when all the signs are there, and there is absolutely no one around. How do we get a robot, even one capable of learning by itself, to do all that?

For all book lovers please visit my friend’s website.
URL: http://www.romancewithbooks.com

Recent Study Shows How Sunscreen Causes Cancer, Not the Sun


Did you know that despite the invention of sunscreen, cases of skin cancers are on the rise every year? Elizabeth Plourde, Ph.D., is a California-based scientist who has shown that malignant melanoma and all other skin cancers increased significantly with ubiquitous sunscreen use over a 30-year period. Sunscreens contain chemicals that are known carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC).

So why so much faith in sunscreen? What’s going on here? Sunscreen is a product we’ve been sold that we cannot live without. But just think about what we did for the thousands of years before it’s invention. The sun has been a source of life since the beginning of human existence and has many benefits to the human body.

The Sun Doesn’t Harm Us

Firstly, the sun doesn’t harm us. It only nourishes us. There’s even really good science to prove this. One of the latest major studies was published by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden in 2014.

They conducted a study that found women who avoided lying out in the sun were actually TWICE as likely to die compared to those who make sunbathing a daily ritual.

This wasn’t a small study either. It looked at 30,000 women for a period of 20 years!

The A’s And B’s Of Sun Rays

We often hear about the different types of sun rays, so here’s the low down.

Ultraviolet B rays (UVB) are the primary cause of sunburn and non-melanoma skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma. The chemicals that form a product’s sun protection factor are aimed at blocking those UVB rays.

Ultraviolet A rays (UVA) penetrate deeper into the skin and are harder to block. Scientists know less about the dangers of UVA radiation and this could potentially be very dangerous. The general consensus now is that whilst UVA ray damage is much less obvious than UVB, it is probably a lot more serious!!

False Sense Of Security

A sunscreen lotion’s SPF rating has little to do with the product’s ability to shield the skin from UVA rays (this is because UVA and UVB protection do not harmonize). High-SPF products suppress sunburn from UVB but not other types of sun damage. Therefore they tend to lull users into staying in the sun longer and overexposing themselves to both UVA and UVB rays.

Since people think they are ‘protected’ they tend to extend their time in the sun well past the point when users of low-SPF products or natural oils head indoors. As a result, while the users of conventional sunscreen may get less UVB-inflicted sunburns as unprotected sunbathers, they are more likely to absorb more damaging UVA radiation (which studies are still inconclusive as to cancer-causing effects).

Philippe Autier, a scientist formerly with the International Agency for Research on Cancer and part of the World Health Organization, has conducted numerous studies on sunbathers and believes that high-SPF products spur “profound changes in sun behavior” that may account for the increased melanoma risk found in some studies. We can now spend the whole day at the beach without having to retreat to cover.

More Chemicals Than You Bargained For

High SPF products require higher concentrations of sun-filtering chemicals than low SPF sunscreens or natural oils. Some of these ingredients may pose health risks when they penetrate the skin. They have been linked to tissue damage, potential hormone disruption and may trigger allergic skin reactions.

If studies showed that high SPF products were better at reducing skin damage and skin cancer risk, then perhaps this extra chemical exposure might be justified. But since they don’t offer any benefit, then choosing alternative sunscreens really start to look a whole lot more appealing.

Natural Sun Protection

When we are outside the light that comes into our eyes sends signals to the pituitary gland which triggers hormones to be released for skin protection.

The more we try to fool nature with chemicals the more cancer and other sickness shows up. Often the stress surrounding these health concerns is more detrimental than the issue itself. Health is simple and always has been.

At least let kids go out and play in the sun to develop enough Vitamin D before slathering all those chemicals on them.

Enjoy the life-giving amazing sun rays you are so blessed to have! Build a tan slowly, be smart and you will live a long healthy happy life.

 

Do Cellphones Cause Cancer?


The question of whether cellphones can cause cancer became a popular one after the dramatic increase in cell phone use since the 1990s. Scientists’ main concern is that cell phones can increase the risk of brain tumors or other tumors in the head and neck area – and as of now, there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer.

Cell phones give off a form of energy known as radiofrequency (RF) waves. They are at the low-energy end of the electromagnetic spectrum – as opposed to the higher-energy end where X-rays exist – and they emit a type of non-ionizing radiation. In contrast to ionizing radiation, this type does not cause cancer by damaging DNA in cells, but there is still a concern that it could cause biological effects that result in some cancers.

However, the only consistently recognizable biological effect of RF energy is heat. The closer the phone is to the head, the greater the expected exposure is. If RF radiation is absorbed in large enough amounts by materials containing water, such as food, fluids, and body tissues, it produces this heat that can lead to burns and tissue damage. Still, it is unclear whether RF waves could result in cancer in some circumstances.

An iPhone.

Many factors affect the amount of RF energy a person is exposed to, such as the amount of time spent on the phone, the model of the phone, and if a hands-free device or speaker is being used. The distance and path to the nearest cell phone tower also play a role. The farther a way a person is from the tower, the more energy is required to get a good signal on the phone. The same is true of areas where many people are using their phones and excess energy is required to get a good signal.

RF radiation is so common in the environment that there is no way to completely avoid it. Most phone manufacturers post information about the amount of RF energy absorbed from the phone into the user’s body, called the specific absorption rate (SAR), on their website or user manual. Different phones have different SARs, so customers can reduce RF energy exposure by researching different models when shopping for a phone. The highest SAR in the U.S. is 1.6 watts/kg, but actual SAR values may vary based on certain factors.

Studies have been conducted to find a possible link between cell phone use and the development of tumors. They are fairly limited, however, due to low numbers of study participants and risk of recall bias. Recall bias can occur when individuals who develop brain tumors are more predisposed to recall heavier cell phone use than those who do not, despite lack of true difference. Also, tumors can take decades to develop, and given that cell phones have only been in use for about 20 years, these studies are unable to follow people for very long periods of time. Additionally, cell phone use is constantly changing.

Outside of direct studies on cell phone use, brain cancer incidence and death rates have changed little in the past decade, making it even more difficult to pinpoint if cell phone use plays a role in tumor development.

For all book lovers please visit my friend’s website.
URL: http://www.romancewithbooks.com

Do Cellphones Cause Cancer?


The question of whether cellphones can cause cancer became a popular one after the dramatic increase in cell phone use since the 1990s. Scientists’ main concern is that cell phones can increase the risk of brain tumors or other tumors in the head and neck area – and as of now, there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer.

Cell phones give off a form of energy known as radiofrequency (RF) waves. They are at the low-energy end of the electromagnetic spectrum – as opposed to the higher-energy end where X-rays exist – and they emit a type of non-ionizing radiation. In contrast to ionizing radiation, this type does not cause cancer by damaging DNA in cells, but there is still a concern that it could cause biological effects that result in some cancers.

However, the only consistently recognizable biological effect of RF energy is heat. The closer the phone is to the head, the greater the expected exposure is. If RF radiation is absorbed in large enough amounts by materials containing water, such as food, fluids, and body tissues, it produces this heat that can lead to burns and tissue damage. Still, it is unclear whether RF waves could result in cancer in some circumstances.

An iPhone.

Many factors affect the amount of RF energy a person is exposed to, such as the amount of time spent on the phone, the model of the phone, and if a hands-free device or speaker is being used. The distance and path to the nearest cell phone tower also play a role. The farther a way a person is from the tower, the more energy is required to get a good signal on the phone. The same is true of areas where many people are using their phones and excess energy is required to get a good signal.

RF radiation is so common in the environment that there is no way to completely avoid it. Most phone manufacturers post information about the amount of RF energy absorbed from the phone into the user’s body, called the specific absorption rate (SAR), on their website or user manual. Different phones have different SARs, so customers can reduce RF energy exposure by researching different models when shopping for a phone. The highest SAR in the U.S. is 1.6 watts/kg, but actual SAR values may vary based on certain factors.

Studies have been conducted to find a possible link between cell phone use and the development of tumors. They are fairly limited, however, due to low numbers of study participants and risk of recall bias. Recall bias can occur when individuals who develop brain tumors are more predisposed to recall heavier cell phone use than those who do not, despite lack of true difference. Also, tumors can take decades to develop, and given that cell phones have only been in use for about 20 years, these studies are unable to follow people for very long periods of time. Additionally, cell phone use is constantly changing.

Outside of direct studies on cell phone use, brain cancer incidence and death rates have changed little in the past decade, making it even more difficult to pinpoint if cell phone use plays a role in tumor development.

Source:http://www.dana-farber.org

 

For all book lovers please visit my friend’s website.
URL: http://www.romancewithbooks.com

Posthumous conception raises ‘host of ethical issues’


The legal and moral propriety of conceiving a child with a dead person’s egg or sperm is among the latest fronts being discussed in bioethics.

In Ireland, legislation is under consideration that would

permit reproductive cells from deceased individuals to be used by their spouses or partners to conceive children posthumously, according to media reports. The Irish legislature’s Joint Committee on Health discussed the bill once in January and again in February, a spokesperson for the legislature told Baptist Press. A final bill could be drafted in the coming months and put before parliament for debate.

Health Committee chairman Michael Harty said in a news release, “Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR) is becoming increasingly important in Ireland and measures must be put in place to protect parents, donors, surrogates and crucially, the children born through AHR.”

The posthumous conception legislation, which is part of a broader bill, would require children of the procedure to be carried in the womb of a surviving female partner in the relationship, according to an online commentary by Denver attorney Ellen Trachman, who specializes in reproductive technology law.

Posthumous conception has also been considered by lawmakers and courts in the United States, Canada and Israel.

Southern Baptist bioethicist C. Ben Mitchell said posthumous conception “raises a host of ethical issues.”

“There is no moral duty to use the sperm of a deceased husband or the eggs of a deceased wife,” Mitchell, Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy at Union University, told BP via email. “And intentionally bringing a child into the world with only a single parent raises a host of ethical issues, not to mention a host of psychological, emotional and relational issues for that child.”

Frozen sperm can be used later via artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF). Frozen eggs can be used to conceive a child through IVF. Following IVF, the resultant embryo must implant in a woman’s womb — either the biological mother or a surrogate.

Sperm and eggs can be either donated prior to death or extracted from a corpse shortly following death, according to the German newspaper Der Spiegel.

In Israel, approximately 5,000 young adults have established “biological wills” stating they want their eggs or sperm frozen and used to conceive offspring if they die before having children, Der Spiegel reported March 28. Some posthumously conceived children have been born in Israel and elsewhere, according to media reports.

Posthumous conception also has emerged in the U.S. and Canada, including the 2016 birth of a New York police detective’s daughter two and a half years following her father’s murder, the Irish Examiner reported. The night the detective was murdered, his wife of three months requested that sperm be extracted from his body and preserved.

U.S. law, Trachman wrote, “lacks any clear uniform rules” regarding posthumous conception “but generally permits post-death reproduction with specific consent in place.”

An additional issue related to posthumous reproduction is what to do with frozen embryos when one or both parents die.

Der Spiegel reported a case in Israel, in which a widower sought, via a surrogate mother, to bring to term embryos he and his wife had frozen. A Harvard Law School blog noted a 2014 Texas case in which a 2-year-old stood to inherit 11 frozen embryos after both of his parents were murdered.

Frozen embryos, Mitchell said, are a separate ethical consideration from posthumous conception.

“If the eggs have already been fertilized, there is a moral duty to bring the embryos to term,” Mitchell said. “We should not generate a new human being only to abandon him or her in a petri dish or nitrogen tank. Embryos belong in uteruses.”

Southern Baptist Convention resolutions repeatedly have affirmed that life begins at conception and that all unborn life must be protected. A 2015 resolution, for example, affirmed “the dignity and sanctity of human life at all stages of development, from conception to natural death.”

Is the MMR Vaccine a Fraud or Does It Just Wear Off Quickly?


Story at-a-glance

  • Ninety-five percent of children entering kindergarten have received two doses of MMR vaccine, as have 92 percent of school children ages 13 to 17 years. In some states, the MMR vaccination rate is near 100 percent
  • Despite achieving a vaccination rate that theoretically should ensure vaccine-acquired herd immunity, outbreaks of mumps keep occurring, primarily among those who have been vaccinated
  • Mumps is making a strong comeback among college students, with hundreds of outbreaks occurring on U.S. campuses over the past two decades
  • Recent research suggests the reemergence of mumps among young adults is due, at least in part, to waning immunity; protection from the vaccine is wearing off quicker than expected
  • According to a still-ongoing lawsuit filed in 2010, Merck is accused of falsifying efficacy testing of its mumps vaccine to hide its poor effectiveness. So, resurgence of mumps may be the result of using a vaccine that doesn’t offer much in terms of protection

By Dr. Mercola

In 1986, public health officials stated that MMR vaccination rates for kindergarten children were in excess of 95 percent and that one dose of live attenuated measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) would eliminate the three common childhood diseases in the U.S.1 In 1989, parents were informed that a single dose of MMR vaccine was inadequate for providing lifelong protection against these common childhood diseases and that children would need to get a second dose of MMR.2

Today, 95 percent of children entering kindergarten3 have received two doses of MMR vaccine, as have 92 percent of school children ages 13 to 17 years.4

In some states, the MMR vaccination rate is approaching 100 percent.5 Despite achieving the sought-for MMR vaccination rate for more than three decades, which theoretically should ensure “herd immunity,” outbreaks of both measles and mumps keep occurring — and many of those who get sick are children and adults who have been vaccinated.

Mumps Is Making a Comeback

As recently reported by Science Magazine6 and The New York Times,7 mumps is making a strong comeback among college students, with hundreds of outbreaks occurring on U.S. campuses over the past two decades. Last summer, the Minnesota Department of Health reported its largest mumps outbreak since 2006.8

According to recent research,9 the reason for this appears to be, at least in part, waning vaccine-acquired immunity. In other words, protection from the MMR vaccine is wearing off quicker than expected. Science Magazine writes:

“[Epidemiologist Joseph Lewnard and immunologist Yonatan Grad, both at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston] compiled data from six previous studies of the vaccine’s effectiveness carried out in the United States and Europe between 1967 and 2008. (None of the studies is part of a current fraudulent claims lawsuit against U.S. vaccine maker Merck.)

Based on these data, they estimated that immunity to mumps lasts about 16 to 50 years, or about 27 years on average. That means as much as 25 percent of a vaccinated population can lose immunity within eight years, and half can lose it within 19 years … The team then built mathematical models using the same data to assess how declining immunity might affect the susceptibility of the U.S. population.

When they ran the models, their findings lined up with reality. For instance, the model predicted that 10- to 19-year-olds who had received a single dose of the mumps vaccine at 12 months were more susceptible to infection; indeed, outbreaks in those age groups happened in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1989, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added a second dose of the vaccine at age 4 to 6 years. Outbreaks then shifted to the college age group.”

A Third Booster Shot May Be Added

According to public health officials, the proposed solution to boosting vaccine-acquired mumps immunity in the U.S. population is to add a third booster shot of MMR vaccine at age 18.

Unfortunately, adding a booster for mumps means giving an additional dose of measles and rubella vaccines as well, as the three are only available in the combined MMR vaccine or combined MMR-varicella (MMRV) vaccine. At present, a third MMR shot is routinely recommended during active mumps outbreaks, even though there is no solid proof that this strategy is effective.

Considering two doses of the vaccine are failing to protect young adults from mumps, adding a third dose, plus two additional doses of measles and rubella vaccines, seems like a questionable strategy, especially in light of evidence that the mumps vaccine’s effectiveness may have been exaggerated to begin with.

According to a lawsuit filed eight years ago, the manufacturer of mumps vaccine — which is also the sole provider of MMR vaccine in the U.S. — is accused of going to illegal lengths to hide the vaccine’s ineffectiveness. So, might this resurgence of mumps simply be the result of using a vaccine that doesn’t provide immunity to begin with?10 And, if so, why add more of something that doesn’t work? After all, the MMR vaccine is not without its risks, as you’ll see below.

Still-Pending Lawsuit Alleges MMR Fraud

In 2010, two Merck virologists filed a federal lawsuit against their former employer, alleging the vaccine maker lied about the effectiveness of the mumps portion of its MMR II vaccine.11 The whistleblowers, Stephen Krahling and Joan Wlochowski, claimed they witnessed “firsthand the improper testing and data falsification in which Merck engaged to artificially inflate the vaccine’s efficacy findings.”

According to Krahling and Wlochowski, a number of different fraudulent tactics were used, all with the aim to “report efficacy of 95 percent or higher regardless of the vaccine’s true efficacy.”12 For example, the MMR vaccine’s effectiveness was tested against the virus used in the vaccine rather than the natural, wild mumps virus that you’d actually be exposed to in the real world. Animal antibodies were also said to have been added to the test results to give the appearance of a robust immune response.13

For details on how they allegedly pulled this off, read Suzanne Humphries’ excellent summary,14 which explains in layman’s terms how the tests were manipulated. Merck allegedly falsified the data to hide the fact that the vaccine significantly declined in effectiveness.15 By artificially inflating the efficacy, Merck has been able to maintain its monopoly over the mumps vaccine market.

This was also the main point of contention of a second class action lawsuit, filed by Chatom Primary Care16 in 2012, which charged Merck with violating the False Claims Act. Both of these lawsuits were given the green light to proceed in 2014,17,18 and are still pending.

In 2015, Merck was accused of stonewalling, “refusing to respond to questions about the efficacy of the vaccine,” according to a court filing by Krahling and Wlochowski’s legal team.19 “Merck should not be permitted to raise as one of its principal defenses that its vaccine has a high efficacy … but then refuse to answer what it claims that efficacy actually is,” they said.

There’s No Such Thing as Vaccine-Acquired Herd Immunity

This certainly isn’t the first time vaccine effectiveness has been questioned. While herd immunity is thrown around like gospel, much of the protection vaccines offer has actually been shown to wane rather quickly. The fact is, vaccine-acquired artificial immunity does not work the same way as the naturally-acquired longer-lasting immunity you get after recovering from the disease.

A majority of adults do not get booster shots, so most of the adult population is, in effect, “unvaccinated.” This calls into question the idea that a 95 percent-plus vaccination rate among children achieves vaccine-acquired “herd immunity” in a population. While there is such a thing as naturally acquired herd immunity, vaccine-induced herd immunity is a total misnomer.

Vaccine makers have simply assumed that vaccines would provide the same kind of longer-lasting natural immunity as recovery from viral and bacterial infections, but the science and history of vaccination clearly shows that this is not the case.

Vaccination and exposure to a given disease produce two qualitatively different types of immune responses. To learn more about this, please see my previous interview with Barbara Loe Fisher, cofounder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). As explained by Fisher: 

“Vaccines do not confer the same type of immunity that natural exposure to the disease does … [V]accines only confer temporary protection… In most cases natural exposure to disease would give you a longer-lasting, more robust, qualitatively superior immunity because it gives you both cell mediated immunity and humoral immunity.

Humoral is the antibody production. The way you measure vaccine-induced immunity is by how high the antibody titers are. (How many antibodies you have.) The problem is, the cell mediated immunity is very important as well. Most vaccines evade cell mediated immunity and go straight for the antibodies, which is only one part of immunity.”

MMR Does Not Work as Advertised

It’s quite clear the MMR vaccine does not work as well as advertised in preventing mumps, even after most children in the U.S. have gotten two doses of MMR for several decades. Public health officials have known about the problem with mumps vaccine ineffectiveness since at least 2006, when a nationwide outbreak of mumps occurred among older children and young adults who had received two MMR shots.20

In 2014, researchers investigated a mumps outbreak among a group of students in Orange County, New York. Of the more than 2,500 who had received two doses of MMR vaccine, 13 percent developed mumps21 — more than double the number you’d expect were the vaccine to actually have a 95 percent efficacy.

Now, if two doses of the vaccine have “worn off” by the time you enter college, just how many doses will be needed to protect an individual throughout life? And, just how many doses of MMR are safe to administer in a lifetime? Clearly there is far more that needs to be understood about mumps infection and the MMR vaccine before a third dose is added to the already-packed vaccine schedule recommended by federal health officials for infants, children and adolescents through age 18.

Mumps Virus May Have Mutated to Evade the Vaccine

Poor effectiveness could also be the result of viral mutations. There are a number of different mumps virus strains included in vaccines produced by different vaccine manufacturers in different countries. The U.S. uses the Jeryl-Lynn mumps strain in the MMR vaccine developed and sold in the U.S. by Merck. There’s significant disagreement among scientists and health officials about whether the mumps virus is evolving to evade the vaccine.

Two years ago, Dr. Dirk Haselow, an epidemiologist with the Arkansas Department of Health said,22 “We are … worried that this vaccine may indeed not be protecting against the strain of mumps that is circulating as well as it could. With the number of people we’ve seen infected, we’d expect 3 of 400 cases of orchitis, or swollen testicles in boys, and we’ve seen 5.”

A 2014 paper written by U.S. researchers developing a new mumps vaccine also suggested that a possible cause of mumps outbreaks in vaccinated Americans could be due to ” … the antigenic differences between the genotype A vaccine strain and the genotype G circulating wild-type mumps viruses.”23

Be Aware of MMR Vaccine Risks

If a vaccine is indeed highly effective, and avoiding the disease in question is worth the risk of the potential side effects from the vaccine, then many people would conclude that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks. They may even be in favor of an additional dose.

However, if the vaccine is ineffective, and/or if the disease doesn’t pose a great threat to begin with, then the vaccine may pose an unacceptable risk. This is particularly true if the vaccine has been linked to serious side effects. Unfortunately, that’s the case with the MMR vaccine, which has been linked to thousands of serious adverse events and hundreds of deaths. According to NVIC:24

“As of March 1, 2018, there had been 1,060 claims filed in the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program for injuries and deaths following MMR or MMR-Varicella (MMRV) vaccinationsUsing the MedAlerts search engine, as of February 4, 2018, there had been 88,437 adverse events reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) in connection with MMR or MMRV vaccines since 1990.

Over half of those MMR and MMRV vaccine-related adverse events occurred in babies and young children 6 years old and under. Of the MMR and MMRV vaccine related adverse events reported to VAERS, 403 were deaths, with over 60 percent of the deaths occurring in children under 3 years of age.”

Keep in mind that less than 10 percent of vaccine adverse events are ever reported to VAERS.25 According to some estimates, only about 1 percent are ever reported, so all of these numbers likely vastly underestimate the true harm.

A concerning study published in Acta Neuropathologica in February 2017 also describes the first confirmed report of vaccine-strain mumps virus (live-attenuated mumps virus Jeryl Lynn, or MuVJL) found in the brain of a child who suffered “devastating neurological complications” as a result. According to the researchers:26

“This is the first confirmed report of MuVJL5 associated with chronic encephalitis and highlights the need to exclude immunodeficient individuals from immunization with live-attenuated vaccines. The diagnosis was only possible by deep sequencing of the brain biopsy.”

Is homeopathy the biggest lie ever told in the history of healthcare in reference to the attached link? Why or why not?


That video might be one the gentlest criticisms of homeopathic medicine I have ever seen.

But the conclusion is very true. Most of the alternative systems of medicine, including homeopathy, are ineffective, and their popularity reflects a lack of confidence in valid, scientifically proven medicine, rather than efficacy of alternative therapies.

There is a reason why alternative systems of medicine are questioned again and again. We live in an era of evidence based medicine. More and more doctors are being sued everyday. They are expected (rightly) to justify every investigation they demand of their patients, every procedure they do and every drug they prescribe. That is why doctors have to undergo rigorous training and life-long continuous professional development. In contrast, even in countries where regulatory frameworks for alternative therapies are in place, there is no (or minimal) structure of training, certification and accreditation, and practice is effectively open to all.

Coming back specifically to homeopathy.

Here is rough idea about how evidence-based medicine works:

  1. When we see a disease, we try to understand its pathophysiology – which part of the body is involved (anatomy), what is the cause (infectious, non-infectious, autoimmune etc), what is the mechanism underlying the disease (pathology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics etc), and how these correlate with the manifestations of the disease (symptoms and signs).
  2. We confirm/substantiate our impressions by appropriate investigations.
  3. We try to see how our understanding applies to the population in general. This is where the disciplines of epidemiology and statistics come to our aid.
  4. We design therapies on the basis of data we have so far gathered. This is in itself a protracted task and the therapies are again tested in clinical trials. And note this – majority of the therapies are rejected in the trials. According to a conservative estimate, “it takes an average of 12 years for an experimental drug to travel from the laboratory to your medicine cabinet. That is, if it makes it. Only 5 in 5,000 drugs that enter pre-clinical testing progress to human testing. One of these 5 drugs that are tested in people is approved.”[1]
  5. Then there is the matter of applying the evidence to the individual patient.

None of these steps is an end in itself. Often, researchers have to go back to step 1. Trials are stopped. Drugs are withdrawn from the market. Procedures become obsolete. Protocols are redefined, and newer and more stringent laws are imposed.

Homeopathy follows none of these steps with a scientific rigor. I repeat, none. I know that it sounds unduly harsh, but a homeopathic practitioner barely knows the natural course of the disease. An apt analogy would be a person calling himself theoretical physicist without knowing anything about basic calculus, manifolds, topology etc.

Not to mention, the purported science behind designing the homeopathic drugs is absurd, and fanciful to the point of invoking magic.

Consider this. A 30X dilution means that the original substance has been diluted 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 times. Assuming that a cubic centimeter of water contains 15 drops, this number is greater than the number of drops of water that would fill a container more than 50 times the size of the Earth[2]. (My head hurts on seeing that number, I would rather have mathematicians give their insights on this, if it is worth their time. I am sure it isn’t.)

As an aside, how is it possible to potentiate a chemical when it is diluted. (Yes, I know it is called potentization. Potato, potahto … whatever.)

Furthermore, let us have a look at the result of some studies.

  • Cochrane reviews of studies of homeopathy do not show that homeopathic medicines have effects beyond placebo[3].
  • One of the reviewers graciously notes that “memory of water and PPR entanglement are not competing but most likely complementary hypotheses, and that both are probably required in order to provide a complete description of the homeopathic process.”[4] In other words, the mechanism by which homeopathic drugs are supposed to act is bullshit.
  • A 10 year study conducted by FDA concluded that homeopathic medicines have harmed hundreds of babies between 2006–2016[5].
  • Homeopathic therapy is also ineffective in multiple diseases it claims to treat, such as allergic rhinitis[6] and rheumatoid arthritis[7].

And these are just a fraction of the studies conducted. Multiple independent studies as well as meta-analyses have found that effect of homeopathic medicine is ambiguous, nil or frankly injurious.

No wonder OTC homeopathic remedies sold in the US will now have to come with a warning that they are based on outdated theories ‘not accepted by most modern medical experts’ and that ‘there is no scientific evidence the product works’