5G looks like it’s the next best thing in tech, but it’s really a Trojan horse for harming humanity


Image: 5G looks like it’s the next best thing in tech, but it’s really a Trojan horse for harming humanity

Many so-called “experts” are claiming that it’ll be a huge step forward for innovation in everything from manufacturing and transportation, to medicine and beyond. But in reality, 5G technology represents an existential threat to humanity – a “phony war” on the people who inhabit this planet we call Earth, and all in the name of “progress.”

Writing for GreenMedInfo, Claire Edwards, a former editor and trainer in intercultural writing for the United Nations (U.N.), warns that 5G might end up being the straw that breaks the camel’s back in terms of the state of public health. Electro-hypersensitivity (EHS), she says, could soon become a global pandemic as a result of 5G implementation, with people developing severe health symptoms that inhibit their ability to live normal lives.

This “advanced” technology, Edwards warns, involves the use of special “laser-like beams of electromagnetic radiation,” or EMR, that are basically blasted “from banks of thousands of tiny antennas” installed all over the place, typically on towers and poles located within just a couple hundred feet of one another.

While she still worked for the U.N., Edwards tried to warn her superiors about the dangers of 5G EMR, only to have these petitions fall on deaf ears. This prompted her to contact the U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who then pushed the World Health Organization (WHO) to take a closer look into the matter – though this ended up being a dead end as well.

For more news about 5G and its threat to humanity, be sure to check out Conspiracy.news.

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Elon Musk is planning to launch 4,425 5G satellites in to Earth’s orbit THIS JUNE

Edwards worries particularly about 5G implementation in space, as existing space law is so woefully inadequate that countries all around the world, including the U.S., will likely blanket the atmosphere in 5G equipment, turning our entire planet into an EMR hell.

Elon Musk of Tesla fame is one such purveyor of 5G technology who’s planning to launch an astounding 4,425 5G satellites in to Earth’s orbit by June 2019. This means that, in a matter of just a few months, 5G will be everywhere and completely inescapable.

“There are no legal limits on exposure to EMR,” Edwards writes.

“Conveniently for the telecommunications industry, there are only non-legally enforceable guidelines such as those produced by the grandly named International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, which turns out to be like the Wizard of Oz, just a tiny little NGO in Germany that appoints its own members, none of whom is a medical doctor or environmental expert.”

Edwards sees 5G implementation as eventually leading to a “catastrophe for all life in Earth” in the form of “the last great extinction.” She likens it to a “biological experiment” representing the “most heinous manifestation of hubris and greed in human history.”

There’s already evidence to suggest that 5G implementation in a few select cities across the United States, including in Sacramento, California, is causing health problems for people who live near 5G equipment. At firehouses where 5G equipment was installed, for instance, firefighters are reporting things like memory problems and confusion.

Some people are also reporting reproductive issues like miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as nosebleeds and insomnia, all stemming from the presence of 5G transmitters.

Edwards encourages folks to sign The Stop 5G Appeal if they care about protecting people, animals, insects, and the planet from this impending 5G assault.

“Our newspapers are now casually popularizing the meme that human extinction would be a good thing, but when the question becomes not rhetorical but real, when it’s your life, your child, your community, your environment that is under immediate threat, can you really subscribe to such a suggestion?” Edwards asks.

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Canada Says Talc May be ‘Harmful to Human Health’


The government of Canada is considering measures that would prohibit or restrict the use of talc in some products. After reviewing the latest science and producing a draft screening assessment, the government “proposes that inhaling loose talc powders and using certain products containing talc in the female genital area may be harmful to human health.”

The announcement was made Wednesday on the Health Canada website.

The draft screening assessment will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, and will be open for public comment for 60 days, until February 6, 2019. The Risk Management Scope , which outlines the possible measures to manage the risks identified in the draft screening assessment, will also be open for public comment for the same 60-day period.

The final screening assessment and risk management approach will take into consideration any comments and new evidence received during the consultation period, the announcement notes.

No action, such as warning labels or a ban, will be taken until this final assessment is published, according to news reports.

The document notes that the draft assessment did not identify human health risks of concern from oral exposures, including talc in food and drugs; dermal exposures such as the application of talc-containing products to skin; or inhalational exposures from dry hair shampoo or pressed powder products, such as cosmetics like eye shadow and blush.

However, the assessment did identify two exposure scenarios of potential concern to human health.

One was inhalation of fine particles of talc during the use of loose powder, self-care products (eg, body powder, baby powder, face powder, foot powder), potentially resulting in damage to the lungs.

The other scenario of concern was exposure of the female perineal area, which includes the genitals, to self-care products containing talc (eg, body powder, baby powder, diaper and rash creams, genital antiperspirants and deodorants, body wipes, bath bombs), as this type of exposure has been associated with ovarian cancer in studies of the human population, the document notes.

Move Comes Amid Great Controversy, US Lawsuits

The move from Canada comes amid a growing controversy, as well as fiercely fought court battles in the United States, over whether use of talc in the female genital area contributes to ovarian cancer.

The controversy is over whether talc itself is a carcinogen, and the issue is complicated because talc is sometimes contaminated with asbestos (the two sometimes occur naturally together).

The scientific community has not reached a consensus.

A recent review appearing in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention ( Eur J Cancer Prev. 2008;17:139–146.) concludes that “data collectively do not indicate that cosmetic talc causes ovarian cancer.” The heterogeneity in the perineal dusting studies has raised important concerns over the validity of the exposure measurements, and the lack of a consistent dose–response effect limits making causal inferences. Perhaps more importantly, it is unknown whether external talc dust enters the female reproductive tract, and measures of internal talc exposure such as talc-dusted diaphragms and latex condoms show no relationship with ovarian cancer risk. Talc is not genotoxic, and mechanistic, pathology and animal model studies have not found evidence for a carcinogenic effect, the journal adds.

However, a recent review in Epidemiology ( Epidemiology. 2018;29:41–49 ), concluded that “in general, there is a consistent association between perineal talc use and ovarian cancer.” This was based on a meta-analysis of observational studies that included at least 50 cases of ovarian cancer, and looked at 24 case–control studies (13,421 cases) and three cohort studies (890 cases, 181,860 person-years).

In the US, thousands of lawsuits have been filed by individuals, or the families of deceased individuals, alleging that ovarian cancer was caused by the use of talc products such as Baby Powder and Shower-to Shower manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. The company is reported to be facing more than 10,000 plaintiffs.

Many of the lawsuits that have already taken place have found for the plaintiffs, but not all.

For example, a jury in Missouri ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million in damages to the family of Jacqueline Fox, who died from ovarian cancer. However, in two cases juries on appeal overturned multimillion dollar awards: Gloria Ristesund of South Dakota was originally awarded $55 million in 2016, but in June the verdict was overturned. In August 2017, a jury in Los Angeles awarded $417 million to Eva Echeverria, but that verdict was overturned 2 months later.

A lawsuit in October 2018 involving a New Jersey woman cleared Johnson & Johnson of liability in a case of mesothelioma and the company’s baby powder product.

In one of the most recent cases, Johnson & Johnson was ordered in July to pay $4.7 billion to 22 women and their families, who claimed that asbestos in the company’s talc products led them to develop ovarian cancer.  The company said the verdict was ‘fundamentally unfair’ and says that its talc products do not contain asbestos.

Talc–Asbestos Connection Explained 

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral, mined from the earth, composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen, explains the Food and Drug Administration. It also notes that asbestos, another naturally occurring silicate mineral, may be found in close proximity in the earth, and so mining sites should be selected carefully. “Unlike talc, however, asbestos is a known carcinogen,” the agency notes.

The FDA says that “it continues to investigate and monitor reports of asbestos contamination in certain cosmetic products,” and notes that talc is used in many cosmetic products, including baby powder and makeup such as powder blush and eye shadow.

The American Cancer Society explains that asbestos does sometimes occur naturally in talc, but guidelines issued in the US in 1976 called for the removal of asbestos from commercial talc products.

However, many consumer groups note that this is an area that is not officially regulated, and report that makeup products sold in the United States that have been found to contain asbestos/talc. Consumer groups also point out that talc in cosmetics has been removed by the European Union, but is still allowed in the United States.

The American Cancer Society also emphasizes that it is important to distinguish between the two. Talc that contains asbestos is generally accepted as being able to cause cancer if it is inhaled. However, the evidence about asbestos-free talc is less clear, it notes.

It also cites the conclusions made by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The IARC classifies talc that contains asbestos as “carcinogenic to humans.”

Based on the lack of data from human studies and on limited data in lab animal studies, IARC classifies inhaled talc not containing asbestos as “not classifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans.”

As there is limited evidence from human studies showing a link to ovarian cancer, IARC classifies the perineal (genital) use of talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

The US National Cancer Institute says that the “the weight of evidence does not support an association between perineal talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer. ”

Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14


An invigilator monitors pupils during a GCSE mathematics exam at the Harris Academy South Norwood in south east London, March 2, 2012   REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Mental illness can strike anyone at any time in their life. In fact, more than 350 million people across the world – of all ages and from all communities – suffer from depression. But half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And it is that shocking statistic which is the focus of this year’s World Mental Health Day.

 

The good news is we are learning to better understand and deal with mental health issues. Here are some key developments.

 

Early intervention

While half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, most cases go undetected and untreated.

Teenagers and young adults have many changes to deal with, including changing schools, leaving home and starting university or a new job. This can lead to stress and apprehension. In some cases, if not recognized and managed, these feelings can lead to mental illness.

In some countries, the formative years of a child’s life have been dominated by conflict and upheaval, leaving these young people particularly vulnerable to mental distress and illness.

 

In terms of the burden of disease among adolescents, depression is the third leading cause, while suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds. Harmful use of alcohol, drugs and eating disorders are also cause for concern.

Despite this troubling picture, the WHO says there is a growing recognition of the importance of helping young people build mental resilience at an early age. Parents and teachers can help young people build life skills that help them cope with everyday challenges at home and school. More schools are launching initiatives such as mindfulness and meditation, and some provide psycho-social support.

This does however require investment from governments. And that investment needs to work in tandem with programmes to raise awareness, helping peers, parents and teachers know how to support their friends, children and students.

Mental Health Facts in the US

Image: National Alliance on Mental Illness

The role of genetics

Research has shown that 30-40% of the risk for both depression and anxiety is genetic and 60-70% is due to environmental factors, according to the National Institute for Health Research.

 

Now, the NIHR and King’s College London are calling for 40,000 people diagnosed with depression or anxiety to join what they say will be the largest ever database of volunteers.

The researchers plan to explore the genetic factors behind the two most common mental health conditions – anxiety and depression.

 

“It’s a really exciting time to become involved in mental health research, particularly genetic research which has made incredible strides in recent years – we have so far identified 46 genetic links for depression and anxiety,” explains Dr Gerome Breen of King’s College London.

“By recruiting 40,000 volunteers willing to be re-contacted for research, the study will take us further than ever before. It will allow researchers to solve the big unanswered questions, address how genes and environment act together and help develop new treatment options.”

 

Technology and the brain

 

Conventional wisdom suggests that spending too much time online is in some ways detrimental to the human brain and mental health.

And there is a growing body of scientific work pointing to the dangers of a digital lifestyle. For example, neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley has written a book The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World which explores how internet-connected devices degrade our attention, and have implications for mental health and stress levels in the workplace.

 

However, many scientists also believe that technology can be harnessed to address mental health issues, and there has been a proliferation of apps aimed at wellbeing.

For example, the Happify app promises to reduce stress and anxiety by providing happiness games and activities. The basic principle is that you can change and modify the brain by training it as if it were a muscle – a theory called neuroplasticity. By adopting new thinking habits, its users can overcome negative thought patterns and learn to cope with everyday stresses.

 

The app already has 3.5 million users, and claims to help people with schizophrenia, clinical depression and chronic illnesses.

There is also growing scientific evidence that points to the success of online therapy.

In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence which provides national guidance on improving healthcare, has approved the use of online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

 

CBT is one of the well-established talking therapies, but now scientists recognize that it is sometimes easier for people to open up to a machine rather than a human being. CBT is also notoriously expensive and time-consuming, so technology may also allow for treatment to become more widely available.

 

A policy priority

 

World leaders have recognized the importance of mental health and well-being by including it in the Sustainable Development Agenda, which was adopted at the UN’s General Assembly in September 2015.

As part of Goal 3, world leaders have committed to the “prevention and treatment of noncommunicable diseases, including behavioural, developmental and neurological disorders, which constitute a major challenge for sustainable development”.

The then Director-General of the WHO, Dr Margaret Chan, explained the significance of the decision, saying it will help the world achieve greater fairness.

 

“The inclusion of noncommunicable diseases under the health goal is an historic turning point. Finally these diseases are getting the attention they deserve,” she says.

Specific goals include reducing premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases by one third by 2030 and strengthening the prevention and treatment of substance abuse including narcotic drug and alcohol use.

 

It is through this type of ongoing commitment, as well as the growing awareness of mental health issues, that progress can be made.

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.

Post-Ebola cataract surgery can safely restore vision


In Africa, 2013 Ebola outbreak left thousands of its survivors blind or those who have an impaired vision. But the modern ophthalmology has found a way to correct this impairment, the op brings back the sightseeing safely, journal EBioMedicine reported in one of its recent articles. 

The surgery on eyes is truly exciting, as it improves our ability to impact vision care and quality-of-life for thousands of Ebola survivors at-risk for eye disease, say the researchers from the Ebola Virus Persistence in Ocular Tissues and Fluids (EVICT) study. An eye inflammation that can lead to pain, light sensitivity, and severe vision impairment, often due to cataracts after Ebola virus. World Health Organization supported this important project very actively.

The first surgeries were successfully performed at Lowell and Ruth Gess Eye Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The new study’s authors note that they performed ocular fluid sampling in full personal protective equipment, and their research paper in EBioMedicine provides a diagram showing the layout of the hospital, indicating where sensitive procedures were performed.

Post-Ebola cataract surgery can safely restore vision

Post-Ebola cataract surgery improves quality-of-life for survivors

Thanks to the well-organized programme, the patients were identified through a screening program from 2015-2016 with referrals from eye clinics throughout Sierra Leone. Testing was performed at an average of 19 months after patients’ diagnosis with Ebola virus disease in the first phase of the study and at an average of 34 months after diagnosis of Ebola in the second phase of the study.

Most of the EVICT study participants had cataracts with the different level of impairment or even a total blindness but did not have active eye inflammation at the time of surgery. In EBioMedicine, the layout of the hospital, indicating where sensitive procedures were performed, were shown in details. The surgeries were performed at Lowell and Ruth Gess Eye Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Ebola Virus Persistence in Ocular Tissues and Fluids’ authors note that they performed ocular fluid sampling in full personal protective equipment.

Identifying Youth at Risk for Suicide


Toolkit from the National Institute of Mental Health can help

With suicide rates rising and an alarming number of teens and young adults at serious risk for suicide, many health professionals are not fully prepared to recognize a patient’s psychiatric difficulties. A team of researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) recently came up with the ASQ Toolkit, a simple four-question survey for health professionals to help identify and get help for at-risk youth.

NIMH’s Division of Intramural Research Programs created the free Ask Suicide-Screening Questions (ASQ) Toolkit that can be used in various medical settings. According to the NIMH, the toolkit (available in many languages) is easy to use, making it effective in many settings including emergency departments (ED), outpatient clinics, primary care offices, and inpatient medical/surgical units.

Before using the toolkit, organizations must have a plan in place to have a standard set of effective next steps for patients who do test with an outcome that indicates they are at risk, whether that is a further evaluation with an on-site mental health counselor or another trained professional. The toolkit isn’t meant to be used without a follow-up plan.

No matter what their area of practice or setting, nurses and physicians can quickly assess patients by asking the four questions in the toolkit. If a patient answers “yes” to any of the questions, it’s a red flag for the medical professionals to consider the patient at risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. From there, the toolkit offers guidance on the next steps that will be most helpful for the patient, and will also help them access the help they need.

Gaining this extra knowledge is an essential skill to have no matter who your general patient population is. According to the World Health Organization, “Suicide accounted for 1.4% of all deaths worldwide, making it the 17th leading cause of death in 2015.” With such astounding facts, it’s imperative that nurses are able to have the tools to support them in identifying youth who might be at-risk. To help that, the toolkit even offers scripts like this nursing script for ED settings or this nursing script for inpatient medical/surgical settings.

The toolkit’s importance is highlighted in the rising numbers of youth who die by suicide. But underneath those shocking figures are the hidden numbers of even greater numbers of people who are suffering with thoughts of suicide or even attempts at suicide. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention estimates that for each person who dies from suicide (all ages), 25 more make a suicide attempt. Early intervention by healthcare professionals who can identify the risk, and then have the resources to help the patient, can be a turning point for the youth.

The ASQ Toolkit is one resource for nurses to use in helping patients in a mental health crisis or who are suffering from long-term suicidal ideation. With proper steps in place to help patients who do screen positive, it is a potentially life-saving tool that healthcare organizations might find worth investigating.

Scientific Study of Surfer Butts Reveal Drug-Resistant Bacteria in the Oceans


Surfers are known to brave bad weather, dangerously sized waves, and even sharks, for the perfect ride. But, it seems another danger of surfing has been lying in plain sight all along: ocean waters are full of drug-resistant bacteria — and surfers are most at risk.

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In a study published this weekend in the journal Environmental International, a team of researchers from the University of Exeter found that regular surfers and bodyboarders are four times as likely as normal beach-goers to harbor bacteria with high likelihoods of antibiotic resistance. This is because surfers typically swallow ten times more seawater during a surf session than sea swimmers.

The cheekily named Beach Bums study, carried out with the help of UK charity Surfers Against Sewage compared rectal swabs from 300 participants and found that 9 percent of the surfers and bodyboarders (13 of 143) harbored drug-resistant E. coli in their systems, compared to just 3 percent of non-surfers (four of 130).

World Health Organization Anti-Microbial Resistance
The World Health Organization is concerned about drug resistance.

The World Health Organization has warned that widespread drug resistance may render antibiotics useless in the face of otherwise easily treatable bacterial infections, meaning that just as in the age before Penicillin, diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia, blood poisoning, gonorrhea, food– and water-born illnesses as well as routine medical procedures that can lead to infection, including joint replacements and chemotherapy, could once again be fatal.

 Indeed, a 2016 report commissioned by the British government estimated that, by 2050, infections stemming from antimicrobial resistance could kill one person every three seconds.

Solutions to an impending drug resistance epidemic have largely focused on prescriptions and use, but there is an increasing focus on the role of the environment in transmitting drug-resistant bacteria strains. The Beach Bums study adds important insight into how sewage, run-off, and pollution that makes its way into the oceans spread the drug-resistant bacteria.

“We are not seeking to discourage people from spending time in the sea,” says Dr. Will Gaze of the University of Exeter Medical School, who supervised the research. “We now hope that our results will help policy-makers, beach managers, and water companies to make evidence-based decisions to improve water quality even further for the benefit of public health.”

Though the study’s purpose is not to alarm beachgoers — or surfers — Dr. Anne Leonard, who led the research, tells Inverse that the risk for anti-drug resistance may actually be lower in the United Kingdom, which “has invested a great deal of money in improving water quality at beaches, and 98 percent of English beaches are compliant with the European Bathing Water Directive. The risk of exposure to and colonization by antibiotic resistant bacteria in seawater might be greater in other countries which have fewer resources to spend on treating wastewater to improve water quality.”

For surfers on this side of the pond, check out the free app available for Apple and iOS, Swim Guide, for updated water quality information on 7,000 beaches in Canada and the U.S.

Monsanto Uses Codex to Hide GMOs from Consumers


This article was originally published by The National Health Federation (NHF).

“Dishonest” and “disgraceful” – Monsanto attempts to gain backdoor entry for GE foods

At the recent Codex meeting in Berlin, there was an attempt to define genetically engineered (GE) food ingredients as ‘biofortified’ and therefore mislead consumers. This contravened the original Codex mandate for defining biofortification. That definition is based on improving the nutritional quality of food crops through conventional plant breeding (not genetic engineering) with the aim of making the nutrients bioavailable after digestion. The attempt was thwarted thanks to various interventions, not least by the National Health Federation (NHF), a prominent health-freedom international non-governmental organization and the only health-freedom INGO represented at Codex. But the battle is far from over.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission’s Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) convened in Berlin during early December and drafts provisions on nutritional aspects for all foods. It also develops international guidelines and standards for foods for special dietary uses that will be used to facilitate standardized world trade.

Based upon previous meetings, the initial intention of the Committee was to craft a definition for biofortification that could then be used uniformly around the World. Biofortification originally referred to increasing certain vitamin and mineral content of basic food crops by way of cross-breeding, not genetic engineering, for example by increasing the vitamin or ironcontent of sweet potatoes so that malnourished populations would receive better nutrition.

However, according to president of the NHF, Scott Tips, Monsanto wants to redefine the definition to include GE ‘biofortified’ foods and it has seemingly influenced Codex delegates in that direction. Tips says, “I am sure that Monsanto would be thrilled to be able to market its synthetic products under a name that began with the word ‘bio’.”

This year’s CCNFSDU meeting witnessed a lively debate about biofortification. At the 2016 CCNFSDU meeting, chairwoman Pia Noble (married to a former Bayer executive) had opined that the definition should be as broad as possible and that recombinant technology should be included. By the 2017 meeting, the proposed definition had morphed to include GE foods.

Deceptive marketing par excellence

The EU has raised a valid objection that “biofortification” would cause confusion in many European countries due to the widespread use of the word “bio” being synonymous with “organic.” Countries within the EU have been very vocal and support this position, arguing that the definition needs to be restrictive, not broad.

Including GE foods within any definition of biofortification risks consumer confusion as to whether they are purchasing organic products or something else entirely. “Monsanto seeks to cash in on the organic market with the loaded word ‘bio’,” argues Scott Tips.

At the Codex meeting in Berlin, Tips addressed the 300 delegates in the room. “Although NHF was an early supporter of biofortification, we have since come to see that the concept is in the process of being hijacked and converted from something good into something bad,” explained Tips.

He added that if Codex is to allow any method of production and any source to be part of the biofortification definition, it would be engaging in marketing deception of the worst sort.

As Steven Druker has shown in his book Altered Genes, Twisted Truths, GE foods should not even be on the commercial market, given the deceptions and bypassing of procedures that put them there in the first place. But now that they are on the market, most consumers want GE foods labelled. In the United States alone, some 90% of consumers want such labelling. The definition being proposed seeks to disguise GE foods under the term “biofortification.”

“That is dishonest. It is disgraceful, and for all of those sincerely concerned with the credibility and transparency of Codex, you should absolutely and positively oppose this definition,” says Tips.

The NHF feels that this is simply a strategy to gain a backdoor entry into countries for GE foods that are unneeded and unwanted. In his address to the assembled delegates, Tips added, “It is a very sad state of affairs where we have come to the point where we must manipulate our natural foods to provide better nutrition all because we have engaged in very poor agricultural practices that have seen a 50% decline in the vitamins and minerals in our foods over the last 50 years. We will not remedy poor nutrition by engaging in deceptive marketing practices and sleight of hand with this definition.”

The delegates to various Codex committees tend to be national regulatory bureaucrats and representatives from large corporations, including agritech giants like Monsanto. These interests have undue influence within Codex. Over the years, although heavily outnumbered at meetings, Scott Tips and his colleagues at the NHF have been tireless in their efforts to roll back undue corporate influence at Codex. Thanks to NHF and others urging the committee to adopt a clear, non-misleading definition that excluded GE foods, no final decision was taken on the definition of biofortification.

It is now left to the committee to resolve the matter at next year’s meeting or even the one thereafter.

The National Health Federation

The National Health Federation is the only health-freedom organization accredited by the Codex Alimentarius Commission to participate at all Codex meetings. It actively shapes global policies for food, beverages, and nutritional supplements.

Codex

The Codex Alimentarius Commission is run by the Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization. Its some 27 committees establish uniform food-safety standards and guidelines for its member countries and promote the unhindered international flow of food goods and nutritional supplements. Learn more about the Codex on GreenMedInfo.com’s page related to the topic.

The World Health Organization Identifies Gaming Disorder as a Mental Health Condition


Gaming Disorder

In 2018, the World Health Organization plans to add “gaming disorder” – characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior – to its list of mental health conditions.

According to the beta draft site, the WHO’s 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) defines a number of diseases, disorders, injuries and other related health conditions, which are listed in a comprehensive, hierarchical fashion. It enables the sharing of health information between countries and facilitates the analysis of “health information for evidence-based decision-making.” The previous version of the ICD was approved in 1990 by the 43rd World Health Assembly. The current draft that lists “gaming disorder,” is not final, nor does it list prevention or treatment options. The beta draft site, updated daily, is also not approved by the WHO.

The WHO’s impending beta draft for the next ICD classifies gaming disorder as a pattern of behavior with “impaired control over gaming,” in terms of its frequency, intensity, duration, and the capacity to quit. The disorder falls under the parent category of “Disorders due to addictive behaviors,” and is characterized by giving increased priority to gaming over other daily activities.

Applying to both online and offline video gaming, the condition is also defined by the “continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.” In order to be diagnosed, these behaviors must be evident over a period of at least 12 months, according to the draft.

A Matter of Contention

“The WHO designation is now generally in line with the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)’s description of internet gaming disorder (IGD),” Nancy Petry, a professor of medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center, told Futurism. The main difference though, Petry said, is that the DSM-5 didn’t consider the data sufficient to classify IGD as a unique mental health condition. Rather, it’s categorized under “conditions for further study.”

The WHO’s decision highlights a schism among psychologists: some think the new designation is a welcome one, but others don’t see enough evidence to justify it.

Alexander Blaszczynski, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Sydney, Australia told Futurism he is concerned about “the absence of clear diagnostic criteria determining what constitutes a gaming disorder, and the validity of applying existing addiction criteria to a behavior.” He noted that there is a range of behaviors now being identified as addictions — everything from salsa dancing, to smartphones, to in vitro fertilization. “At what point does an activity transform from an entertainment to a disorder?” he said.

The controversy ultimately reflects some deeper philosophical debates that have dogged most areas of medicine for many years, Ronald Pies, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine, told Futurism. “What should or should not count as “disease” or “disorder”? Do we require physiological, biochemical, or neurological “markers” of a putative disease entity in order to validate it, or is it sufficient to document substantial impairment and dysfunction in activities of daily living, responsibilities, etc., as the WHO criteria emphasize?”

Chris Ferguson, a professor of psychology at Stetson University in Florida told Futurism that he does not support the WHO’s designation. “Basically I don’t think the research is there yet to support this as a diagnosis and there is considerable risk of harm due to a “junk diagnosis.”

He said research suggests what we’re calling “gaming disorder” isn’t really a solitary diagnosis. Ferguson said some people certainly overdo gaming, as others may “overdo” or develop addictions to myriad other activities like shopping, exercise, and sex. “But the data we have suggests that usually individuals have a preexisting mental health condition like depression or anxiety first, then use these activities as coping mechanisms.”

Pies said he shared many of Ferguson’s concerns, saying he was “more skeptical than not” of the designation. “While some recent neurophysiological studies suggest that IGD may be a discrete disorder, there is still no scientific consensus on this point. It is unclear whether IGD is truly a “stand alone” condition; whether it is mostly explained by other underlying conditions, such as anxious or depressive disorders; or whether it is merely a subtype of so-called “behavioral addictions”, which are themselves sources of scientific controversy,” Pies said.

INFOGRAPHIC: Meet the Oculus Rift Games That Just Launched

Others, like Douglas Gentile, a psychology professor at Iowa State University, see this as a big step in the right direction. Gentile compared where we are with gaming “addiction” as “similar to where we were with alcoholism in the 1960s.” At that time, alcoholism was considered a moral failing — people thought ‘it’s your own damn fault,’” he told Futurism. “It took another 30 years for people to agree that a medical model for alcoholism makes sense and now people can get the help they need.”

Gentile doesn’t think our culture is ready to accept the medical model of video gaming, and still sees it as a moral failing — mostly by the children’s parents. “We have lots of people who could be helped, but aren’t being helped. If you walk into a doctor or psychiatrist’s office, they either won’t treat it or you have to pay out of pocket.”

Ferguson isn’t sure “why the WHO is so obsessed with gaming when a wide range of behaviors can be overdone.” Given that other potential addictions, like food or sex, have as much research as gaming, it seems likely that the WHO’s kneejerk reaction comes from a broader moral panic over video games and technology, he said.

But Gentile counters that the WHO’s acknowledgement that video gaming could be a problem “puts truth back on the table,” Gentile said. “We need to treat games with more respect. We play them because we want to be affected, but then say they have no effects.”

Access Is a Predictor Of Addiction

As our video game experience expands with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), the argument gets even murkier. “One thing that we do know about addictions, generally, is that the number one predictor [for] if you’re going to become an addict is access,” said Gentile. “If you can’t get drugs, you can’t become addicted to them. Now that we’ve made gaming this ubiquitous — on phones, with gaming tech and VR tech in-house — we’ve made access open to everyone.”

Gentile isn’t certain that VR games are more addicting than their traditional counterparts. “We don’t know if greater immersion makes the games more addictive. To say that VR will be more addictive is making the argument that seeing things in three dimensions is more addictive than seeing them in two.” But he added that we don’t have the scientific evidence to support that.

Scientists do tend to agree on one thing: that the designation will ensure researchers pay more attention to the problems that can arise from excessive gaming. “It is important that people with this condition receive help, and that research progresses in a manner consistent with state of the art science applied toward other mental health conditions,” said UCONN’s Nancy Petry.

Moreover, the WHO designation could help those diagnosed with video gaming disorder in another way: if they’re able to access treatment, it could be covered by insurance. However, Ronald Pies warned that “social goods” of this sort do not amount to a scientific justification for a disease category, and even among supporters of the diagnosis, there is no consensus regarding what the effective “treatment” would be.

The (Large) Burden of Dermatologic Disease


Investigators recently published a worldwide assessment of the burden of 15 dermatological conditions measured between 1980 and 2013. See where skin disease ranks and what experts recommend to help decrease ongoing disability.

The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) program, developed in partnership with the World Bank and the World Health Organization, is the first worldwide initiative to measure both prevalence and the relative harm of diseases across countries, time, age, and sex.

Since 1990, thousands of experts—first hailing from WHO and Harvard Medical School then eventually expanding to a global community—have quantified data on premature death and disability associated with 300 diseases and injuries from 195 countries.

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In May 2017, 12 thought leaders in dermatology published GBD results on the impact of skin disease—an update from their 2013 paper. In all, 15 dermatological conditions were assessed in the latest report.

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The investigators found skin disease to be the fourth leading cause of disability globally (excluding mortality), falling just behind iron deficiency, tuberculosis, and sense organ diseases.

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“Not only do skin diseases cause substantial pain, disfigurement, and psychological and financial morbidity,” the authors noted, “but dermatologic findings are often the initial manifestation of systemic disease.”

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Data from PubMed and Google Scholar published in English and Spanish between 1980 and 2013 were analyzed. More than 4,000 sources were used to measure the global burden of dermatologic disease.

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The top 3 most burdensome skin diseases taken from this aggregate were found to be dermatitis (atopic, seborrheic, and contact dermatitis), acne vulgaris, and psoriasis and urticaria were tied for third.

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Chante Karimkhani, MD, lead author of the paper and dermatology resident at the University of Colorado, said she’s not surprised by the results. “Despite increasing health care utilization and expenditures, dermatitis and acne continue to dominate the burden of skin disease in the U.S.” She added, “Treatments for these two conditions are not always efficacious, which can cause significant emotional and physical burden to patients.”

Globally, dermatitis was found to affect people consistently across all age stratifications, measured every 4 years from 1 to >80 years. Acne, on the other hand, is more burdensome in the first three decades of life. Other diseases that impacted young people included bacterial and viral skin diseases and scabies. Psoriasis, alopecia areata, and urticaria were among those conditions that most affected the elderly.

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“Excluding mortality, YLDs [years living with disability] from skin diseases (36.4 million) are larger than those caused by diabetes mellitus (29.5 million) and migraines (28.9 million),” the authors reported.

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Given these results, Dr. Karimkhani urges dermatologists as well as political decision makers to consider how to reduce this burden with measures like increasing public education on skin disease, promoting patient compliance with known effective therapy, and pursuing novel therapeutic options.

Indeed, one of the goals of the GBD overall is to help inform policy makers about the types of diseases that affect their citizens on a local and national level so they can prioritize research funds and public health decisions.

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In 2010, funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation helped to expand the GBD’s ability to collect and stratify data. In 2013, the GBD updated their methodologies, datasets, and tools. “Starting with GBD 2015, annual updates of the entire time series of GBD estimates are being produced to provide policymakers, donors, and other decision-makers with the most timely and useful picture of population health,” according to the GBD website.

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While more global data appear to be on the horizon, Dr. Karimkhani urges US centers to recognize what they can do now. “Major research organizations should consider devoting more resources to the study of improving the treatment of common diseases like dermatitis and acne,” she said.

In reference to dermatitis specifically, Dr. Karimkhani suggests expanding the scope of clinical trials from treating symptoms to understanding the root cause of the disease. “Policy makers should prioritize diverse dermatitis research,” Dr. Karimkhani noted. “Recent investigations have examined the use of new biologic and other medications to treat severe dermatitis. Further understanding of the pathogenesis of dermatitis must also complement this research.”

As the years unfold, the GBD has a strong investment in understanding the relevance of skin disease and disability. As the authors of the current study advocate, “A commitment to accurate, transparent, and frequently updated metrics of disease burden has the potential to affect diverse levels of health care and further the role of dermatology in global health.”

 

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