Brain Damage Could Explain Violent Crimes, But It’s Not Always a Simple Defence


Where do we draw the line?

Four years ago, Chelsea fell head first onto the hardwood floor at her college. She had a seizure and stopped breathing, causing an anoxic injury – when the brain is damaged from not receiving enough oxygen.

Before the accident, Chelsea experienced a level of anger similar to any other person. She had certainly never been aggressive. But ever since, she has grappled with mood swings and can’t contain her rage or impulses.

“I have really bad anger problems now. I can be fine one second and when the slightest inconvenience happens I’d be throwing and breaking things,” said Chelsea, a pseudonym we are using to protect her identity.

“One time was that I was really pissed off about not being able to go back to school. I really wanted to go and try and get my old life back… I was screaming, throwing things. My mum was yelling and I start getting physical with her, and then my dad stepped in and out of nowhere I punched him in the face.”

Chelsea’s story is not unique. Behaviour changes after brain injuries have been well documented for many years.

There are cases of people recovering from a brain damage with a new talent, or even in some cases, an accent from a foreign country, like this woman who survived a stroke only to acquire a Chinese accent.

Sometimes, brain damage can create a criminal.

On 1 August 1966, Charles Whitman infamously became the “Texas Tower Sniper”. He killed his mother and wife with knives, then climbed up the tower at the University of Texas and started randomly shooting at people for 96 minutes.

He killed 14 and injured 31 others, before he was gunned down.

During his autopsy, doctors found a tumour on his brain. It is indeterminable whether the tumour caused Whitman to act the way he did, but the autopsy report concluded it was certainly a possibility.

Injuries can be linked to areas of the brain that control morals

Whitman’s story, and others like it, intrigued Ryan Darby, a professor of neurology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Cases like this raise a question,” he told Business Insider. “What is it about brain lesions in different areas that could lead to this behaviour?”

In a recent study, Darby and his team looked at 17 cases where people appeared to behave normally, then started committing crimes after changes to their brain like a tumour or an injury.

They wanted to see if lesions in certain areas of the brain were associated with criminal behaviour, but the results were inconsistent.

However, when they looked at whether lesions were connected to the same area of the brain, they started to see a pattern.

“Even though all the brain lesions were in different parts of the brain, they were all connected to the same brain network,” Darby said. “Our idea is that after an injury in one location, other parts of the brain become dysfunctional.”

Areas they saw the lesions in were the anterior temporal lobe, the ventromedial frontal cortex, the amygdala, and the nucleus accumbens. These are all areas connected to morals, value decision making, reward and punishment.

“Those were the processes we thought would be important for what keeps a normal person from committing crimes,” Darby said.

There are studies linking brain damage to crime

Brain injuries typically result in having problems with “executive skills,” explained Huw Williams, a professor of clinical neuropsychology and co-director of the Centre for Clinical Neuropsychology Research at Exeter University in Britain.

These skills include planning ahead, thinking things through, managing impulses, and memory.

When you’re dealing with such a complicated organ like the brain, it takes decades of research to pinpoint what exactly might be happening.

There still isn’t strong research to suggest you can completely determine the way someone will behave depending on what their brain scans look like.

What is certain is that in a community sample of the UK population, analysed by Williams, about 10 percent will have had some kind of brain injury at some point.

In the prison population, this number jumps dramatically to somewhere between 50 and 70 percent. This trend is echoed in the US and South Africa

“This doesn’t mean necessarily that head injury equals crime,” Williams pointed out. “It might, but also it might be coincidental, because if you’ve got a violent life, and you crash cars, you’re likely to get a head injury at some point.”

A team at Oxford University tried to shed some light on this question in a 35-year population study in Sweden led by Psychiatrist Seena Fazel.

Results showed that overall, Swedes had a 2.5 percent chance of becoming violent offenders. If they had a head injury on their records, that rose to 9 percent.

To make allowances for the fact brain injuries could be a result of upbringing, the researchers also looked at the siblings of those with brain damage – they had a 4.5 percent chance of becoming offenders too.

In other words, the Oxford research shows that people have nearly double the chance of becoming violent offenders if they something in their upbringing, genetics, or environment predisposes it. Add a head injury on top of that, then the risk is doubled again.

Criminals might not be getting the right rehabilitation

Brain injuries are not easy to recover from. If memory is damaged, for example, patients will easily forget everything they have learned about how to behave. Or they might struggle to contain their outbursts of anger, like Chelsea does.

This is more pronounced among criminals, Williams said, partly because they are not getting the right rehabilitation.

When he switched to academia from clinical work, he was asked to supervise a student’s work looking into whether prisoners had post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I gave a workshop in a local prison, to get an idea of the nature of the environment… and one of the prisoners had an area of skull missing,” Williams said.

“This was probably because he’d had a head injury and hadn’t had follow up surgery to put in a titanium plate to replace the missing part of his skull probably removed to release pressure on the brain.

“He asked me why he had these funny feelings in his body that were quite nice, when he pressed himself on that area – and it was because he was pressing on the sensory motor strip. He was told he needed more surgery, and to take care with the area.”

After that, Williams became aware that the medical and neurological needs of the prison population probably weren’t being met.

“A lot of people who are in the system seem to have head injuries,” he said.

“That complicates their rehabilitation, which means there is a lot of re-offending. That may be because the present system isn’t necessarily well geared towards rehabilitation yet, especially neuro-rehabilitation where you have to remind people when to do things, and how to do them.”

Williams and his team started projects where they helped prison staff work with young people with brain injuries. So far the outcomes have been very promising because young people are more able to participate in their own improvement.

For example, for those with injuries to the left side of the brain, who have trouble remembering what they have been told, were given visual cues instead. “It’s about trying to find a way of helping and working with the population more effectively,” Williams said.

Neurology can be used in someone’s defence

When the law comes into it, things get even more complicated. Defence attorneys have a duty to defend their clients with rigour, and so they keep up with the latest research to help minimise their punishment.

In some cases, this means zealously claiming their client was neurologically predisposed to acting the way they did. It isn’t their fault, they may claim, because their brains are just wired that way.

Judith Edersheim is the co-founder and co-director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Centre for Law, Brain and Behaviour. It’s an organisation that is helping bring science into the courtroom, by separating the fringe ideas from the theories that are a lot more established.

“It’s very hard to tell [the difference] when neuroscience itself is so new,” Edersheim told Business Insider. “And there are some features of brain science that make it perhaps more alluring and look more probative than it should be.”

It’s important to make the distinction because law and science behave in conflicting ways. Science is evolutionary like “building blocks”, where you make assumptions and test them, then talk about the limitations of your studies and invite other scientists to do the same.

Law is not like that. In a courtroom, the outcome is final, and somebody’s life is going to change. So you have to be pretty certain of your evidence.

But when applied sparingly, looking carefully at the condition of an individual rather a collective, neuroscientific evidence can be a useful defence tool.

If a person is accused of a violent crime, there may be attributes of that person’s brain which would explain abhorrent violent behaviour, like a tumour in the brain’s frontal lobe. That would be a well-founded reason that somebody’s neurology could contribute to their defence.

One of the most successful defences along these lines was a case of an obstetrician in New York, Allan Zarkin, who started behaving peculiarly at work. He became unusually angry, and was short and provocative with the nursing staff.

Zarkin performed a cesarean section on a patient, delivering a healthy baby. He then carved his initials “AZ” into her abdomen. When asked about it, he simply said he thought he should sign it because he did such a good job.

After an investigation, doctors discovered that Zarkin had progressive Pick’s disease, a frontal lobe dementia similar to Alzheimer’s, which catastrophically disrupted his ability to plan, contain himself, and behave socially appropriately.

Zarkin wasn’t convicted, due to the medical diagnosis, but his licence was revoked.

In another case, a 40-year-old man who began looking at child pornography and propositioning prostitutes at massage parlours – behaviour that was completely out of character.

He was eventually kicked out by his wife and found guilty of child molestation.

But while awaiting jail, he complained of a terrible headache and was admitted to hospital. That’s when a large, egg-sized tumour was detected in the right lobe of the orbitofrontal cortex in his brain. Surgeons immediately removed it, and after that the pedophilic urges disappeared.

He successfully completed a Sexaholics Anonymous programme and was allowed to return home.

But it’s not possible to defend everyone

These two cases are extreme, and the cause and effect are easily identifiable. But when brain damage is less severe, it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions about how it can impact behaviour.

This becomes even more complicated when you look group data.

Research may show certain brain patterns or injuries that are loosely associated with certain types of behaviour, but then the lawyer has to correlate that with the defendant’s characteristics.

For example, you may have a whole set of brain scans of people who have committed violent crimes, and a pattern has been detected by researchers. You then have to show where the defendant fits into that group data.

“Crime is about behaviour, and the trial is about the mental state of the person who is sitting in front of you,” Edersheim explained.

“If you say someone has a propensity for violence, someone who has killed his wife for example, why is your propensity for violence only towards your wife? The individuated questions will dominate.”

Without the specifics, the behaviour is explained by motive. For now, at least, there are too many vulnerabilities in the neurological evidence for it to be used effectively.

Neuroscience’s contribution to criminal behaviour is still in its infancy, Edersheim said. Researchers are building on what they have to try and map out what makes a criminal mind, but there is still a lot they do not know.

Only when the science is a lot more concrete can it be used with confidence as a defence.

Researchers are still piecing the puzzle together

With Chelsea, she doesn’t know the next time she will lose control. Last time the police were called but no charges were brought against her.

If she ever commits a violent crime, though, it looks unlikely that the evidence of her post-injury behavioural changes will be strong enough to help her.

A neurologist and psychiatrist have both said her behaviour is a result of her brain damage, but she isn’t convinced of any of the treatment they offer her.

“When I get angry like that I literally have no control. It’s almost like the fight or flight response turns on and I choose to fight for no reason. It’s not even like I enjoy attacking people or getting worked up like that… it just happens,” she said.

“They put me on mood medication, but I don’t see the point in taking it. I see it as my brain is physically damaged, not chemically imbalanced. Then again, I could just misunderstand all of this.”

Of course, not everyone with a brain injury will become a criminal. As Darby explained, brain lesions may predispose someone to criminal behaviour, but that certainly doesn’t mean everyone becomes an offender.

As for those who suddenly acquire a propensity for violence from less serious injuries, like Chelsea, they are still awaiting answers.

Malaria drug causes brain damage that mimics PTSD: case study


The case of a service member diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder but found instead to have brain damage caused by a malaria drug raises questions about the origin of similar symptoms in other post-9/11 veterans.

According to the case study published online in Drug Safety Case Reports in June, a U.S. military member sought treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, for uncontrolled anger, insomnia, nightmares and memory loss.

The once-active sailor, who ran marathons and deployed in 2009 to East Africa, reported stumbling frequently, arguing with his family and needing significant support from his staff while on the job due to cognitive issues.

Physicians diagnosed the service member with anxiety, PTSD and a thiamine deficiency. But after months of treatment, including medication, behavioral therapy and daily doses of vitamins, little changed.

The patient continued to be hobbled by his symptoms, eventually leaving the military on a medical discharge and questioning his abilities to function or take care of his children.

It wasn’t until physicians took a hard look at his medical history, which included vertigo that began two months after his Africa deployment, that they suspected mefloquine poisoning: The medication once used widely by the U.S. armed forces to prevent and treat malaria has been linked to brain stem lesions and psychiatric symptoms.

While no test is available to prove the sailor suffered what is called “mefloquine toxicity,” he scored high enough on an adverse drug reaction probability survey to tie his symptoms to the drug, also known as Lariam.

The sailor told his Walter Reed doctors that he began experiencing vivid dreams and disequilibrium within two months of starting the required deployment protocol.

Symptoms can last years

Case reports of mefloquine side effects have been published before, but the authors of “Prolonged Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in a Military Service Member Exposed to Mefloquine” say their example is unusual because it shows that symptoms can last years after a person stops taking the drug.

And since the symptoms are so similar to PTSD, the researchers add, they serve to “confound the diagnosis” of either condition.

“It demonstrates the difficulty in distinguishing from possible mefloquine-induced toxicity versus PTSD and raises some questions regarding possible linkages between the two diagnoses,” wrote Army Maj. Jeffrey Livezey, chief of clinical pharmacology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Maryland.

Once the U.S. military’s malaria prophylactic of choice, favored for its once-a-week dosage regimen, mefloquine was designated the drug of last resort in 2013 by the Defense Department after the Food and Drug Administration slapped a boxed warning on its label, noting it can cause permanent psychiatric and neurological side effects,

50,000 prescriptions in 2003

At the peak of mefloquine’s use in 2003, nearly 50,000 prescriptions were written by military doctors.

That figure dropped to 216 prescriptions in 2015, according to data provided by the Defense Department. According to DoD policy, mefloquine is prescribed only to personnel who can’t tolerate other preventives.

But Dr. Remington Nevin, a former Army epidemiologist and researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said any distribution of the drug, which was developed by the Army in the late 1970s, is too much.

“This new finding should motivate the U.S. military to consider further revising its mefloquine policy to ban use of the drug altogether,” Nevin told Military Times.

While a case study is a snapshot of one patient’s experience and not an indication that everyone who took or takes mefloquine has similar issues, one randomized study conducted in 2001 — more than a decade after the medication was adopted by the military for malaria prevention — showed that 67 percent of study participants reported more than one adverse side effect, such as nightmares and hallucinations, and 6 percent needed medical treatment after taking the drug.

Yet mefloquine remains on the market while Walter Reed Army Institute of Research conducts research on medications in the same family as mefloquine, including tafenoquine, hoping to find a malarial preventive that is less toxic but as effective.

Mefloquine was developed under the Army’s malaria drug discovery program and approved for use as a malaria prophylactic in 1989. Shortly after commercial production began, stories surfaced about side effects, including hallucinations, delirium and psychoses.

Once considered ‘well-tolerated’

Military researchers maintained, however, that it was a “well-tolerated drug,” with one WRAIR scientist attributing reports of mefloquine-associated psychoses to a “herd mentality.”

“Growing controversies over neurological side effects, though, are appearing in the literature, from journal articles to traveler’s magazines and resulting legal ramifications threaten global availability,” wrote researcher Army Col. Wilbur Milhous in 2001. “As the ‘herd mentality’ of mefloquine associated psychoses continues to gain momentum, it will certainly affect operational compliance and readiness. … The need for a replacement drug for weekly prophylaxis will continue to escalate.”

Mefloquine was implicated in a series of murder-suicides at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2002, and media reports also tied it to an uptick in military suicides in 2003.

A 2004 Veterans Affairs Department memo urged doctors to refrain from prescribing mefloquine, citing individual cases of hallucinations, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, psychoses and more.

The FDA black box warning nine years later led to a sharp decline in demand for the medication. But while the drug is no longer widely used, it has left damage in its wake, with an unknown number of troops and veterans affected, according to retired Navy Cmdr. Bill Manofsky, who was discharged from the military in 2004 for PTSD and later documented to have mefloquine toxicity.

He said the Defense Department and VA should do more to understand the scope of the problem and reach out to those who have been affected.

New concerns rising over antimalaria drug

“I’m kind of the patient zero for this and I now spend my life trying to help other veterans who have health problems that may have been caused by mefloquine. More needs to be done,” Manofsky said.

He said while there is no cure for the vertigo and vestibular damage or the psychiatric symptoms caused by mefloquine, treatments for such symptoms, such as behavior and vestibular therapy help.

And, he added, simply having a diagnosis is comforting.

Veterans can seek help

“Veterans need to come forward,” he said. “The VA’s War Related Illness and Injury Study Center can help.”

The patient in the case study written by Livezey continues to see a behavioral therapist weekly but takes no medications besides vitamins and fish oil.

He sleeps just three to four hours a night, has vivid dreams and nightmares and vertigo that causes him to fall frequently, and continues to report depression, restlessness and a lack of motivation.

The sailor’s experience with mefloquine has been “severely life debilitating” and Livezey notes that the case should alert physicians to the challenges of diagnosing patients with similar symptoms.

“This case documents the potential long-term and varied mefloquine-induced neuropsychiatric side effects,” he wrote.

Source:www.militarytimes.com

Statin Scam Exposed! Cholesterol Drugs Cause Rapid Aging, Brain Damage And Diabetes


Over 100 million people across the world use statin drugs. The bad news is that these drugs are considered as cellular poisons that speed up the aging process, and their use is connected with muscle fatigue, diabetes, memory loss, etc.

According to scientists at Tulane University in New Orleans, statins “prematurely age” stem cells that control the cellular repair in the body. These drugs generate tens of billions of dollars every year. Although the pharmaceutical companies do their best to sell these drugs, statins can cause disastrous and even fatal side-effects.

 Some of the most severe side-effects include “memory loss, muscle pain, diabetes, cataracts, liver dysfunction, diabetes, fatigue and memory loss”.

“Statins make regular users become older faster”, UK Express reports, “leaving them open to long-term mental and physical decline …”

UK Express added:

“Scientists have found the heart disease drugs badly affects our stem cells, the internal medical system which repairs damage to our bodies and protects us from muscle and joint pain as well as memory loss … Professor Reza Izadpanah, a stem cell biologist and lead author of the research published in the American Journal of Physiology, said: “Our study shows statins may speed up the aging process.”

Side effects

 Pleotropic Beneficial and Adverse Clinical Effects.”

According to the study, statin drugs “side effects include memory loss, myopathy, cataract formation, and increased risk of diabetes.” The study also warned that “Statins also impaired the expression of DNA repair genes including XRCC4, XRCC6, and Apex1.”

Doctors and pharmaceutical companies worked together in an effort to hide the side-effects of stating drugs, claiming that these are “miracle” drugs. Some even suggested that stating should be added to water supply.

Patients experience severe side-effects like memory loss, diabetes, and muscle fatigue, but doctors tend to give them even more medications. In other words, statins are some sort of “gateway drugs” that lead to increased use of more high-profit drugs.

High cholesterol limits lowered

The medical system tried so hard to lower the values of “high cholesterol,” and millions of people rushed to pharmacies, asking for their medications. Pharmaceutical companies bribed panelist in the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.

Here’s what Natural News wrote in 2013:

Doctors claim the new guidelines will limit how many people with low heart risks are put on statins simply because of a cholesterol number. However, under the new advice, one-third of U.S. adults would meet the threshold to consider taking a statin, more than twice the 15 percent of adults who are recommended statins under current guidelines.

The justification for the panel having half its members with ties to Big Pharma: Ties between heart doctors and Big Pharma are so extensive that it is almost impossible to find a large group of doctors who have no industry ties.

Natural News has long warned about the side-effects caused by stating, noting that nerve damage is the most common. However, medical experts ignored this warning. It was all about the profits.

The stating drug industry is nothing better than the vaccine industry. But, researchers at the Tulane University revealed the truth, and helped people understand the damaging effect of statins.

Statin Scam Exposed: Cholesterol Drugs Cause Rapid Aging, Brain Damage And Diabetes


Statins are prescribed to patients who suffer from high levels of “bad” cholesterol, as it lowers the harmful levels, and reduces the risk of having heart issues.

Lately, statins have come under fire as a study concluded that they do more harm than good. A lot of people take statin drugs such as Crestor, Lipitor and Zocor. In the United States, prescription drug spending rose to $374 billion in the year 2014 (the highest level of spending since 2001). Statins make up for a huge portion of spending, and consumers who take these drugs are going to have a lot to worry over than the damage to their wallets.

The American Journal of Physiology, conducted a study that states that statins “…impact on other biologic properties of stem cells provides a novel explanation for their adverse clinical effects.” Specifically, the study states that such adverse effects include advancing the “process of aging” and also notes that “…long-term use of statins has been associated with adverse effects including myopathy, neurological side effects and an increased risk of diabetes.” Myopathy means skeletal muscle weakness.

Statins make cells unable to repair properly, create nerve problems and destroy memory

In the study, experts suggest that the health issues incurred due to statins, have been downplayed in the recent years. People who do take these drugs usually report having fatigue, cataracts, muscle pain, liver damage and loss of memory. These drugs have been proven to mess with cells in a way that heir main purpose is to reproduce and the process of body repair is blocked. Professor Reza Izadpanah, stem cell biologist and lead author of the published study, states, “Our study shows statins may speed up the aging process. People who use statins as a preventative medicine for [health] should think again as our research shows they may have general unwanted effects on the body which could include muscle pain, nerve problems and joint problems.”
Despite health problems linked to statin drugs, FDA says people shouldn’t be scared of them
While our FDA expresses on its online site that “Cognitive (brain-related) impairment, such as memory loss, forgetfulness and confusion, has been reported by some statin users” and that “People being treated with statins may have an increased risk of raised blood sugar levels and the development of Type 2 diabetes,” they also maintain its safety and effectiveness.

The site directs people’s attention to the advice of Amy G. Egan, M.D., M.P.H., who is the deputy director for safety in the FDA’s Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products (DMEP). She says, “This new information should not scare people off statins. Their benefit is indisputable, but they need to be taken with care and knowledge of their side effects.”

 This isn’t hard to dispute at all, especially after a previous study, we beg to differ. What’s so great and healthy about accelerated aging, muscle weakness, memory loss and cells that function improperly?
The need to continually assess prescription drugs and older studies that tout their benefits…
These findings have opened up the importance of researching the benefits of prescription drugs, which is hopefully something people will continue to do, to stay well-informed and in the best shape possible. There was a similar study that opened up many eyes, and involved the adolescent antidepressant “Paxil”, which made headlines when a re-analysis of an original study had shown incomplete information and exposed all the errors. Although, in reality, this drug wasn’t found to not be safe and efficient for its recommended demographic. Brian Nosek, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia says “signals that the community is waking up, checking its work and doing what science is supposed to do — self-correct.”

Statin scam exposed: Cholesterol drugs cause rapid aging, brain damage and diabetes.


Sadly, many people take statin drugs, which are commonly known by brand names including Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor. Prescription drug spending in the U.S. shot up to about $374 billion in 2014, representing the highest level of spending since 2001. Statins undoubtedly made up a significant portion of this spending, and now consumers who take such drugs have much more to worry about than the dent it’s making in their wallets.

The study, which was published in the American Journal of Physiology, states that statins’ “…impact on other biologic properties of stem cells provides a novel explanation for their adverse clinical effects.” Specifically, the study states that such adverse effects include advancing the “process of aging” and also notes that “…long-term use of statins has been associated with adverse effects including myopathy, neurological side effects and an increased risk of diabetes.” Myopathy refers to skeletal muscle weakness.

cholesterol-drugs-cause-rapid-aging

Statins make cells unable to repair properly, create nerve problems and destroy memory

Experts involved in the study suggest that the health problems associated with statins have likely been downplayed through the years. In reality, those taking such cholesterol-lowering drugs have been experiencing cataracts, fatigue, liver problems, muscle pain and memory loss. Simply put, the drugs have been found to tamper with cells in such a way that their primary purpose of reproducing and helping the body repair is thwarted. With that comes the onset of terrible health issues or the worsening of existing ones.

Professor Reza Izadpanah, a stem cell biologist and lead author of the published study, says, “Our study shows statins may speed up the ageing process. People who use statins as a preventative medicine for [health] should think again as our research shows they may have general unwanted effects on the body which could include muscle pain, nerve problems and joint problems.”

Pesticides, Birth Defects and Brain Damage in Children


The recent number of articles in the popular press concerning loss of intellect among children exposed to chlorpyrifos is important in the use of this pesticide. Although in-home use of chlorpyrifos was restricted in the U. S in 2000, it is widely used in agriculture, and is a serious risk to health and intellect for people working and living in proximity to fields. Detectable levels of chlorpyrifos detected in New York City children, raises the question of exposure via food.

spraying pesticides

Across the U. S. we learn that students are doing poorly in school, often blaming the teachers and their unions. Are teachers no longer competent to teach or have children been “dumbed-down” by exposure to this neurotoxin?

The State of California is considering restriction on use, but is prepared for strong opposition from the pesticide and big agricultural industries.

Back in the “Dark Ages”—a mere 50 years ago—when I was a medical student and intern at Wayne State University, I rotated through Children’s Hospital in Detroit. It was staffed by some of the most thoughtful and kind physician/professors I have ever met. I attended a clinic named “FLK” otherwise known as Funny Looking Kid clinic. There we saw children who had abnormal looking faces, abnormal body parts, and, often impaired intelligence. Many of the children required complicated medical care, but I don’t recall much discussion as to why they had these abnormalities that had dramatically cut short their futures and altered the lives of their families.

Realizing you have given birth to a child with birth defects is devastating—not only for the child, but for the family, and for society in general. If the child survives infancy, it means being “different” and having to cope with disability, and with having to learn alternative ways to function. For many families, it means 24/7 care of a child who can never live independently. For society the costs can be enormous—surgery (often multiple), medications, social services, special education, special equipment, then alternative living arrangements, if and when family cannot care for their child, now grown to a non-functional adult.

Although the neurotoxicity of pesticides has been known for decades, recently, several national magazines, have named the pesticide, chlorpyrifos (Dursban/ Lorsban), as an agent causing loss of intelligence, as well as birth defects and structural brain damage.

Dr. James Hamblin’s article in March 2014 issue of The Atlantic, titled “The Toxins that Threaten Our Brains.” listed 12 commonly used chemicals, including chlorpyrifos, which is marketed as Dursban and Lorsban. The exposures described in the Atlantic articles were urban, so we do not know exactly how widespread is this epidemic is, especially if we do not include agricultural areas such as in California, Hawaii and the mid-West..

That same month, The Nation published articles by Susan Freinkel “Poisoned Politics” and Lee Fang “Warning Signs” who reported adverse effects from exposure to Dursban and Lorsban.

Dr. Hamblin’s article generously cites Drs. Philip Landrigan of Mt. Sinai in New York City and Philippe Grandjean of Harvard that a “’silent pandemic’ of toxins has been damaging the brains of unborn children.”

Dr. Landrigan chaired a 1998 meeting of the Collegium Ramazzini International Scientific Conference, held in Carpi, Italy.   In attendance was Dr. Grandjean, whose research found “Methylmercury as a hazard to brain development.” Dr. Richard Jackson, from the U. S. CDC was also in attendance, as well as U.S. governmental and university members.

At that Collegium Ramazzini International Scientific Conference, on October 25, 1998, I presented definitive data in my paper: “Chlorpyrifos (Dursban) exposure and birth defects: report of 15 incidents, evaluation of 8 cases, theory of action, and medical and social aspects.” This presentation followed my earlier publications beginning in 1994 wherein I reported damage to the unborn from the same pesticide.

The Ramazzini organization sent my paper to the European Journal of Oncology for publication. Since my paper reported birth defects, not cancer, the paper has received little notice, but the attendees, including the EPA, have known of the findings for 16 years.

Currently a new battle is occurring in Hawaii over the use of pesticides, especially by Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer, BASF Plant Science, and Syngenta on the island of Kauai where giant seed companies develop Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and other specialized seeds. The pesticides used there include alachlor, atrazine, chlorpyrifos, methomyl, metalochlor, permethrin and paraquat. The author, Paul Koberstein fromCascadia Times estimates that annually, more than 2000 pounds of chlorpyrifos are used per acre per year on Kauai, compared to less than 0.025 averages for the U. S. Mainland.

In addition to Hawaii, areas in California include workers and families from the Imperial Valley and other intensive agricultural areas where pesticide use is extensive. Using the Koberstein data, annual use of chlorpyrifos in California is approximately 1500 pounds/ acre.

Neurological Damage: Before and After Birth

Birth defects arise as a result of two mechanisms—damage to a gene, prior to fertilization, or damage to the growing cells of the fetus after life in the womb has begun. Differing from genetic damage, such as occurs in Down syndrome or Trisomy-21, the latter damage results from exposure of the developing fetus to agents called teratogens. For many years Mongolism was the name applied to children with growth delays, similar facial and hand features and intellectual deficits.

Chlorpyrifos is a unique pesticide. It is a combination of an organophosphate and a trichlorinatedpyridinol (TCP.) TCP is not only the feedstock used in the manufacture of chlorpyrifos, but also a contaminant in the product, and a metabolic breakdown product that is known to cause central nervous system abnormalities (hydrocephaly and dilated brain ventricles), and other abnormalities (cleft palate, skull and vertebral abnormalities) in fetuses as reported by Dow Chemical Co.

In March 1995, I was asked to fly to Arkansas to see a child whose mother had been exposed to the pesticide Dursban (chlorpyrifos) early in the pregnancy of her daughter.

Mrs. S had been working in a bank when in mid-March, 1991, she noticed a man spraying the baseboards behind the station where she worked as a teller. She said she asked the man if was okay to be in the area since she was pregnant, and she said the man told her it was “perfectly safe. She said the spraying had occurred around 4 PM, and that she worked at the bank until 6:30 PM, and when she went home that evening she had nausea and a” bit of headache.” She said she retuned to work the next day, felt nausea, but worked most of the day. An electrical fire at the drive-in window followed the pesticide event, and a technician used of a “fogger” that sprayed a “citrus-like” chemical that was intended to deodorize the smoke odor. Mrs. S. said she worked at the bank until about April of that year, and then worked at a credit union until her daughter was born in September.

When Mrs. S. was about five months pregnant she had an ultrasound, which showed that her baby had enlarged ventricles in her brain. Further examination revealed absence of the septum pellucidum, a central portion of her brain. Mrs. S. had additional follow up at a university center as well as with her own physician that showed normal amniocentesis and normal chromosomes.

Both Mr. & Mrs. S. said that caring for the daughter A. has been a severe financial and emotional drain, sometimes requiring them to be up 72 hours to try to soothe A’s crying.

A. had surgery to repair her cleft lip when she was six months old, and repair of her cleft palate and left eyelid when she was a year old.

Both cleft lip and palate can now be repaired (in areas with skilled surgeon, and insurance or other funds) but until they are, the child has difficulty feeding and risks poor nutrition, upper respiratory and lung problems as a result of aspiration of food.

Additional diagnostic procedures indicated that A has a cleft left eye (failure of her eye to fuse during development), and she cannot blink her eye or move the left side of her face. A. was unable to sit up on her own by the time she was a year old, had to have food pureed until she was two, then her parents realized that when A neared her 4thbirthday, she could not hear, when they began a program of sign language with the aid of a speech therapist.

A’s brother B. was born two years later, and is well, sleeping thought the night when he was two weeks of age.

I was given a tour of the bank where Ms. S worked by its’ Senior Vice-President, and to minimize stress to A, I examined her in the presence of her pediatrician. I also accompanied her parents to their home where I could observe A. at her home environment. A. was a small-boned child who walked with a wide-based, unsteady gait and who made audible sounds, but no language content. Her head was enlarged with hydrocephaly and a small bruise due to a recent, commonly occurring fall.

Her abnormalities included to following, and were characteristic of findings in other children: low-set, tapering ears, wide-spaced nipples, and frequent infections. This litany is not to horrify readers, but to bring to attention to the burdens imposed upon this child, her parents, and society as a whole. I evaluated seven more children, two families each having two children with similar, but more severe medical conditions.

With the exception of child #1, the seven children were profoundly retarded, were diapered, could not speak, and required feeding.

I first met C & D in 1996, along with their parents and handsome, healthy older brother, at their attractive home on the West Coast. Both D (a girl) and C (a boy) were lying flat, diapered, mouths open, fists clenched, staring into space, and being fed by bottle. Even today, looking at thephotograps reminds me what a enormous burden was dealt to that family.

Ultimately I evaluated eight children, and identified seven more, reported by Dow Chemical Co., the manufacturer, to EPA on November 2, 1994, with reporting delays of as long as seven years from when the corporation first learned of them. I obtained the reports via a Freedom of Information request (FOI) from EPA. The reports were labeled with the revealing name: “DERBI”—or—“Dow Elanco Research Business Index.”

When I saw seven more children, all of who looked like siblings, (much as Trisomy-21 or Down Syndrome children do) it became clear to me, that the cause was linked to Dursban, the pre-natal exposure common to each.

Among the Dursban-exposed children, all 8 had both brain and palate abnormalities, seven had widespread nipples and growth retardation, six had low vision or blindness and six had genital abnormalities, five had brain atrophy and external ear abnormalities, four children had absence of the corpus collosum that is the critical connection between the two hemispheres of the brain. Chromosomal studies were normal in all 8 families. All families reported stress and enormous financial burden to care for their children.

In addition to the children with birth defects, I also evaluated a number of families and a group of adults who had been exposed at their work site. Of the workers, all 12 complained of headache, and three of dizziness. Eight had findings of central nervous system damage, and six had peripheral nervous system damage. The patients reported upper respiratory and chest symptoms, as well as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and four had incontinence. The families also reported abnormalities and deaths in their household pets.

In February 1996, my deposition in the first case was taken by three groups of attorneys representing the defendants, two principally defending Dow Elanco. I was questioned for three 8-hour days. Ultimately a list of 565 exhibits was accumulated that included over 10,000 pages of materials that I supplied and relied upon for my opinion. These materials included Dow documents and correspondence, EPA documents, legal depositions, basic embryology, biochemistry and toxicology of chlorpyrifos, medical records of other exposed children, patents, books, articles, etc, etc.

Chlorpyrifos was designed to be neurotoxic in action. It is an interesting pesticide, in that it has not only an organophosphate portion, but also it has three chlorine atoms attached to a pyridinol ring. This ring is trichloropyridinol (TCP), a significant hazard, because it is fat-soluble, and persistent, up to 18 years as claimed by Dow Chemical Co. TCP also forms the body of trichlophenoxyacetic acid, part of Agent Orange, also linked to birth defects and cancer. In a war that ended in 1975, Agent Orange continues as a risk to the Vietnamese, and to military troops that were stationed there.

According to multiple Dow documents, TCP is the feedstock for production of chlopryrifos, a contaminant in the product, and a metabolic breakdown product. TCP has been demonstrated to cause central nervous system anomalies (hydrocephaly and dilated brain ventricles) as well as cleft palate, skull and vertebral abnormalities in the fetus at doses nontoxic to the mother, similar to the defects seen in affected children.

That TCP caused birth defects was known by Dow in 1987, but not reported to EPA until five years later in 1992. TCP is used to manufacture chlorpyrifos, and as such, comes under regulation of Section 8(e) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), rather than the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Control Act (FIFRA.) Though there was regulatory difference, TSCA states very clearly “any person who manufactures, processes or distributed in commerce a chemical substance or mixture, or who obtains information which reasonable supports the conclusion that such substance or mixture presents a substantial risk of injure to heath or the environment, shall immediately inform the Administrator of such information. [Emphasis added.] From 1976 to 1982, I was a member of a 16 person Advisory Committee to the EPA for TSCA, Chairman of the Risk-Benefit Assessment Group from 1977 to 1979, and a member of the Carcinogen Policy Sub-group from 1977 to 1981. It was clear that risks and benefits do no accrue to the same party. In the case of chlorpyrifos, the risks are to the unaware public, and the benefits to the corporation.

The Legal System is Not the Same as the Justice System

Bernard P. Whetstone was a well-established attorney who handled the initial birth defects case in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was aware of another case in that state. Mr. Whetstone was a “Southern Gentleman” with a soft drawl who had earned both a bachelor and doctorate of jurisprudence, and started practice in 1934. In 1995, he worked with Davidson and Associates until he retired in 1999 at age 86. Mr. Whetstone died in 2001.

I was required to appear in court in Little Rock, where Judge Eisley ruled that I was not qualified. Hard to believe that 10,000 pages of documents is not adequate, but that opinion was softened because he ruled that all the plaintiff’s experts were not qualified. Another physician/ toxicology expert and I evaluated additional patients (adults) who developed multiple adverse effects, including central nervous system damage, so Dow, employing the Eisley decision, argued successfully in other court jurisdictions that we were not qualified to give an opinion.

The main Dow law firm was Barnes and Thornburg from Indianapolis, where DowElanco, the co-manufacturer, Eli Lilly is located. Eli Lilly is a manufacturer of both pharmaceuticals and pesticides. Barnes & Thornburg has over 500 attorneys in 12 cities and appeared to be very well staffed and funded.

A recent news release noted that William W. Wales, who spent more than 30 years in the legal department of The Dow Chemical Company and Dow AgroSciences LLC, had joined Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Indianapolis office as a partner in the firm’s litigation and corporate departments. “Bill’s depth and breadth of experience in a variety of matters will be a tremendous asset to many of our clients who are dealing with similar issues,” said Joseph G. Eaton, Vice Chair of the firm’s Litigation Department and Co-Chair of the Toxic Tort Practice Group. Joseph Eaton is one of the attorneys who took my extensive deposition. They were the most aggressive law firm I had ever encountered, and I have testified in more than 700 depositions and/or court appearances

In defense of their product, the Dow attorneys argued that there were no reports of levels of pesticides used or actual, existing levels—a questionable tactic, since the corporation has never suggested or requested that such records be obtained.

Although the EPA stopped home use of Dursban in 2000, Lorsban is widely used in agriculture, on ornamentals, and places where women, the unborn and children are exposed. For many, this exposure is without their knowledge or consent. How is this allowed to happen?

Is the continuing use of Dursban/ Lorsban due to successful advertising, and recommendations from country and state agricultural agents, or is it an inept or politically adept EPA?

We must recall, September 2001, when the then administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and former governor of New Jersey Christie Whitman said on September 13, 2001, “EPA is greatly relieved to have learned that there appears to be no significant levels of asbestos dust in the air in New York City.” A week later, Whitman said: “Given the scope of the tragedy from last week, I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington, DC that their air is safe to breathe and their water is safe to drink.”

In 2008, the U. S. EPA named Dow as an Energy Star Partner of the Year for excellence in energy management and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Dow’s fleet of skilled lawyers have managed to save Dow from liability, such as when they achieved a reversal of a $925 million judgment for the contamination of the area around Rocky Flats, the Colorado facility that produced plutonium triggers for hydrogen bombs. And, a lawsuit filed by Vietnamese, damaged by Agent Orange against Dow and Monsanto was dismissed.

Dow is a multinational corporation and the third largest chemical manufacturer in the world, with earnings more than $57 billion in 2013. In addition to the manufacture of insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and genetically modified seeds, Dow also manufactures multiple plastics, polystyrene, polyurethane, synthetic rubber, biphenyl-A as well as many other chemicals.

What are the chances that the use of Lorsban will be curtailed in the agricultural areas of Hawaii, California and elsewhere? Given what we know of the financial strength of the Dow Corporation, the weakness of the EPA, and our paid-for Congress, the outlook does not look promising.

The Burden of Brain Damage

If the top corporate officials were required to care for one of these severely brain-damaged children for a week, would it change their minds about the ethics of manufacturing chlorpyrifos and corporate profits?

There is not a teacher who can teach brain-damaged children to read and do math, which raises the larger question being proposed: are children’s lack of learning due to poor teachers, or to subtle brain damage? If children are being damaged to various degrees, profoundly in the situation of the 15 children sited in my research, to “mild” learning and/or behavioral problems, ranging from decreased IQ, Asperger’s, hyperactivity, autism, etc., how much is attributable to exposure to pesticides such as Dursban/Lorsban? If we blame poor teaching, and teachers’ unions, but don’t stop the use of brain-damaging pesticides, where does that leave our U. S, society as a source of creativity and intellect in this world?

Statin scam exposed: Cholesterol drugs cause rapid aging, brain damage and diabetes


Statins, the widely prescribed class of drugs said to lower “bad” cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart problems, has recently come under fire after a study revealed that they destroy human health more than they work to improve it.

Sadly, many people take statin drugs, which are commonly known by brand names including Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor. Prescription drug spending in the U.S. shot up to about $374 billion in 2014, representing the highest level of spending since 2001. Statins undoubtedly made up a significant portion of this spending, and now consumers who take such drugs have much more to worry about than the dent it’s making in their wallets.

The study, which was published in the American Journal of Physiology, states that statins’ “…impact on other biologic properties of stem cells provides a novel explanation for their adverse clinical effects.” Specifically, the study states that such adverse effects include advancing the “process of aging” and also notes that “…long-term use of statins has been associated with adverse effects including myopathy, neurological side effects and an increased risk of diabetes.” Myopathy refers to skeletal muscle weakness.

Statins make cells unable to repair properly, create nerve problems and destroy memory

Experts involved in the study suggest that the health problems associated with statins have likely been downplayed through the years. In reality, those taking such cholesterol-lowering drugs have been experiencing cataracts, fatigue, liver problems, muscle pain and memory loss. Simply put, the drugs have been found to tamper with cells in such a way that their primary purpose of reproducing and helping the body repair is thwarted. With that comes the onset of terrible health issues or the worsening of existing ones.

Professor Reza Izadpanah, a stem cell biologist and lead author of the published study, says, “Our study shows statins may speed up the ageing process. People who use statins as a preventative medicine for [health] should think again as our research shows they may have general unwanted effects on the body which could include muscle pain, nerve problems and joint problems.”

Despite health problems linked to statin drugs, FDA says people shouldn’t be scared of them

While the FDA notes on its web site that “Cognitive (brain-related) impairment, such as memory loss, forgetfulness and confusion, has been reported by some statin users” and that “People being treated with statins may have an increased risk of raised blood sugar levels and the development of Type 2 diabetes,” they also maintain its safety and effectiveness. The site directs people’s attention to the advice of Amy G. Egan, M.D., M.P.H., who is the deputy director for safety in the FDA’s Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products (DMEP). She says, “This new information should not scare people off statins. Their benefit is indisputable, but they need to be taken with care and knowledge of their side effects.”

Indisputable? Especially after this latest study, we beg to differ. What’s beneficial about accelerated aging, cells that don’t properly function, muscle weakness and memory loss?

The need to continually assess prescription drugs and older studies that tout their benefits

This finding demonstrates the importance of revisiting the so-called benefits of prescription drugs, something that hopefully continues so consumers can be fully informed and kept in the best health possible.

A similar eye-opening study involving the adolescent antidepressant Paxil recently made headlines when a reanalysis of an original study exposed errors and incomplete information. In reality, the drug was found not to be safe and effective for its intended demographic after all, a finding that Brian Nosek, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, says “signals that the community is waking up, checking its work and doing what science is supposed to do — self-correct.”

Brazil declares emergency after 2,400 babies are born with brain damage, possibly due to mosquito-borne virus


Brazilian health authorities are sounding the alarm about a mosquito-borne virus that they believe may be the cause of thousands of infants being born with damaged brains.

The pathogen, known as Zika and first discovered in forest monkeys in Africa over 70 years ago, is the new West Nile — a virus that causes mild symptoms in most but can lead to serious neurological complications or even death in others. Brazil’s health ministry said on Nov. 28 that it had found the Zika virus in a baby with microcephaly — a rare condition in which infants are born with shrunken skulls — during an autopsy after the child died. The virus was also found in the amniotic fluid of two mothers whose babies had the condition.

“This is an unprecedented situation, unprecedented in world scientific research,” the ministry said in a statement on its website, according to CNN.

Brazil is investigating more than more than 2,400 suspected cases of microcephaly and 29 deaths of infants that occurred this year. Last year the country saw only 147 cases of microcephaly.

The situation in Brazil is so overwhelming that Angela Rocha, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist in Pernambuco, one of the hardest hit states, said in an interview with CNN that women may want to hold off on getting pregnant.

“These are newborns who will require special attention their entire lives. It’s an emotional stress that just can’t be imagined…,” Rocha said. “We’re talking about a generation of babies that’s going to be affected.”

 

Until a few years ago, human infections with the virus were almost unheard of. Then, for reasons scientists can’t explain but think may have to do with the complicated effects of climate change, it began to pop up in far-flung parts of the world. In 2007, it infected nearly three-quarters of Yap Island’s 11,000 residents. In 2013, Zika showed up in Tahiti and other parts of French Polynesia and was responsible for making an estimated 28,000 people so ill they sought medical care. It arrived in Brazil in May, where tens of thousands have fallen ill.

The World Health Organization, which has been monitoring the spread of the virus closely and issued an alert about the situation in Brazil, reported this month that it had popped up for the first time in the West African nation of Cape Verde and that it had led to additional illnesses in Panama and Honduras.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found the virus in a few travelers returning from overseas, but says there have not come across any cases of people being infected by mosquitoes in the country.

Brazil has been struggling to contain the virus for months through both public education campaigns –which urge residents to use insect repelant and limit their time outdoors — as well as by sending mosquito eradication teams house to house to treat places where aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the virus might breed. The health ministry said it was sending truckloads of larvicide — enough to treat 3,560 Olympic-sized swimming pools — to northeastern and southeastern states that have been most affected and that it would add 266,000 new community health agents to make the house calls.

Targeted brain training may help you multitask better.


The area of the brain involved in multitasking and ways to train it have been identified by a research team at the IUGM Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal and the University of Montreal.

The research includes a model to better predict the effectiveness of this . Cooking while having a conversation, watching a movie while browsing the Web, or driving while listening to a radio show – is an essential skill in our daily lives. Unfortunately, it decreases with age, which makes it harder for seniors to keep up, causes them stress, and decreases their confidence. Many commercial software applications promise to improve this ability through exercises. But are these exercises truly effective, and how do they work on the ? The team addresses these issues in two papers published in AGE and PLOS ONE.

Targeted Action for a Specific Result

The findings are important because they may help scientists develop better targeted cognitive stimulation programs or improve existing training programs. Specialists sometimes question the usefulness of exercises that may be ineffective simply because they are poorly structured. “To improve your cardiovascular fitness, most people know you need to run laps on the track and not work on your flexibility. But the way targeted training correlates to cognition has been a mystery for a long time. Our work shows that there is also an association between the type of cognitive training performed and the resulting effect. This is true for healthy seniors who want to improve their attention or memory and is particularly important for patients who suffer from damage in specific areas of the brain. We therefore need to better understand the ways to activate certain areas of the brain and target this action to get specific results,” explained Sylvie Belleville, who led the research.

Researchers are now better able to map these effects on the functioning of very specific areas of the brain. Will we eventually be able to adapt the structure of our brains through highly targeted training? “We have a long road ahead to get to that point, and we don’t know for sure if that would indeed be a desirable outcome. However, our research findings can be used right away to improve the daily lives of aging adults as well as people who suffer from ,” Dr. Belleville said.

The Right Combination of Plasticity and Attentional Control

In one of the studies, 48 seniors were randomly allocated to training that either worked on plasticity and attentional control or only involved simple practice. The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging to evaluate the impact of this training on various types of attentional tasks and on brain function. The team showed that training on plasticity and attentional control helped the participants develop their ability to multitask. However, performing two tasks simultaneously was not what improved this skill. For the exercises, the research participants instead had to modulate the amount of attention given to each task. They were first asked to devote 80% of their attention to task A and 20% to task B and then change the ratio to 50:50 or 20:80. This training was the only type that increased functioning in the middle prefrontal region, or the area known to be responsible for multitasking abilities and whose activation decreases with age. The researchers used this data to create a predictive model of the effects of on the brain based on the subjects’ characteristics.

VARIATIONS IN NEURONAL NETWORKS COULD EXPLAIN TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY OUTCOMES.


A team of researchers at the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State University has discovered that hidden differences in the properties of neural circuits can account for whether animals are behaviorally susceptible to brain injury. These results could have implications for the treatment of brain trauma.

Credit: https://flic.kr/p/nkDhMP

People vary in their responses to stroke and trauma, which impedes the ability of physicians to predict patient outcomes. Damage to the brain and nervous system can lead to severe disabilities, including epilepsy and cognitive impairment.

If doctors could predict outcomes with greater accuracy, patients might benefit from more tailored treatments. Unfortunately, the complexity of the human brain hinders efforts to explain why similar brain damage can affect each person differently.

The researchers used a unique research animal, a sea slug called Tritonia diomedea, to study this question. This animal was used because unlike humans, it has a small number of neurons and its behavior is simple. Despite this simplicity, the animals varied in how neurons were connected.

Under normal conditions, this variability did not matter to the animals’ behavior, but when a major pathway in the brain was severed, some of the animals showed little behavioral deficit, while others could not produce the behavior being studied. Remarkably, the researchers could artificially rewire the neural circuit using computer-generated connections and make animals susceptible or invulnerable to the injury.

 

“This study is important in light of the current Obama BRAIN initiative, which seeks to map all of the connections in the human brain,” said Georgia State professor, Paul Katz, who led the research project. “it shows that even in a simple brain, small differences that have no effect under normal conditions, have major implications when the nervous system is challenged by injury or trauma.”