Respectful Insolence

While contemplating the burning stupidity that is Jenny McCarthy over the weekend as she mindlessly parroted some of the worst misinformation of the antivaccine movement and assured an interviewer that she would , all the while solemnly proclaiming that, were she to have another child she “”wouldn’t vaccinate at all, never, ever,” all the while objecting to her being portrayed as “antivaccine,” I couldn’t help but notice perhaps an uptick in the use of a favorite antivax question in reference to vaccines:

Why are we injecting TOXINS into our babies?

Jenny McCarthy repeated that question (or variants thereof) multiple times in her interview, while piously proclaiming herself “antitoxin” not “antivaccine” and demanding that the CDC “get all the toxins” out of the vaccines. Her protestations otherwise, McCarthy had latched on to a favorite antivaccination trope that is trotted out with some regularity to try to scare parents. This is why, even now that thimerosal has been removed from childhood vaccines other than the flu vaccine, I have no illusions that antivaccinationists will be mollified for one instant. As I pointed out two years ago on my old blog, it’s all about the vaccines themselves, not any individual ingredient that antivaxers view as unsafe, and now that mercury is no longer in most vaccines, they’ll just move on to other ingredients to try to blame for autism and any number of other diseases.

Just peruse any antivaccination website or blog, and it won’t be long before you find a list of scary-sounding ingredients (cross-posted here), often with commentary about what horrible effects they can cause. Of course, nearly all of these comparisons fail to acknowledge that time-honored pharmacological principle that “the dose makes the poison” and extrapolate horrible consequences known to occur during prolonged exposure or exposure to large amounts to the tiny amounts in vaccines. Indeed, particularly egregious example comes from a post by a lawyer named Kent Heckenlively at both Rescue Post and Age of Autism. In this post, Mr. Heckenlively lists all the extra ingredients that are found in various vaccines, taken straight from the CDC website. I’ll deal with others later, but this should give you an idea of the sorts of distortions common in such lists:

Neomycin is used as an anti-bacterial. It is also nephrotoxic and can cause kidney damage.

And:

Polymyxin B is used as an anti-bacterial. It binds to the cell membrane and alters its structure, making it more permeable. The resulting water uptake leads to cell death. Side effects include neurotoxicity and acute renal tubular necrosis.

And:

Streptomycin is used as an anti-bacterial. Streptomycin stops bacterial growth by damaging cell membranes and inhibiting protein synthesis. Specifically, it binds to the 16S rRNA of the bacterial ribosome, interfering with the binding of formyl-methionyl-tRNA to the 30S subunit. This prevents initiation of protein synthesis. Humans have structurally different ribosomes from bacteria, thereby allowing the selectivity of this antibiotic for bacteria. Streptomycin cannot be given orally, but must be administered by regular intramuscular injection. An adverse effect of this medicine is oto-toxicity. It can result in permanent hearing loss.

All of this is true but highly deceptive. Look at the recommended dosage of streptomycin for the treatment of various infections: 20-40 mg/kg per day, for a maximum of 1 g per day! Why is this relevant? Because every vaccine given to a child during his entire life probably doesn’t even come anywhere near 1 mg, that’s why! Here’s the reason. Antibiotics like streptomycin and neomycin are used in cell culture medium at low concentrations to suppress the growth of bacteria. There are some people who can manage to do cell culture so perfectly that they don’t need antibiotics in their cell culture medium, but for most of the rest of us we’d soon find our cell culture medium all cloudy and turning yellow (the pH indicator turns yellow as the solution becomes more acidic). In any case, the reason that these antibiotics are listed is almost certainly because they’re used in culturing the cells necessary to grow up the viruses used in making the vaccines. By the time the vaccine is made, these antibiotics are only present in trace amounts, nowhere near enough to cause ototoxicity, which only occurs with use in the range of the doses listed above. I suspect that Mr. Hackenlively knows this too but only mentions it because he knows it will scare parents. Indeed, he takes this sort of distortion to a comical extreme with this example:

Sucrose is used as a stabilizer. Over-consumption of sucrose has been linked with some adverse health effects. The most common is dental caries or tooth decay, in which oral bacteria convert sugars (including sucrose) from food into acids that attack tooth enamel. When a large amount of foods that contain a high percentage of sucrose is consumed, beneficial nutrients can be displaced from the diet, which can contribute to an increased risk for chronic disease. It has been suggested that sucrose-containing drinks may be linked to the development of obesity and insulin resistance.

Does Hackenlively think that the baby is eating the vaccine or that there’s kilogram upon kilogram of sucrose in vaccines? This sort of scaremongering is about as dumb as it gets, folks. Using Mr. Hackenlively’s logic, I could say that because there’s the chelation agent EDTA used in some vaccines as a preservative babies could use it as a treatment for heavy metal poisoning. Of course, I don’t want to pick on just him. There are some even more deceptive and idiotic statements on other such lists as well:

Sodium Hydroxide (also known as lye, caustic soda, soda lye.) Is corrosive and is an Eye, skin and respiratory irritant. Can burn eyes, skin and internal organs. Can cause lung and tissue damage, blindness and can be fatal if swallowed. Found in oven cleaners, tub and tile cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and drain openers.

And:

Hydrochloric acid: CAN DISTROY TISSUE UPON DIRECT CONTACT! Found in aluminum cleaners and rust removers.

Yes, and those effects depend upon the pH of these chemicals, too. The reason they’re used is to adjust the pH of the vaccine to neutral. The twit who wrote such breathtakingly inane prose above clearly doesn’t understand the basic concept of pH. Does she honestly think that the pH of vaccines is either 0 (very acid) or 14 (very basic)?

Of course, the list does contain a number of chemicals that do sound really scary. However, if you remember the principle “the dose makes the poison,” they are much less so. Remember how Jenny McCarthy went on and on about how there’s ANTIFREEZE (just mimicking how the voice of an antivaxer goes up when saying things like this) in vaccines? That’s straight off of a number of antivaccination websites. (Amazingly Mr. Hackenlively refrains from “the “antifreeze in vaccines” gambit. I can only hope that it is due to intellectual honesty, although I can’t rule out the possibility that he just didn’t know about it.) One website in particular links to an MSDS about Quaker State Antifreeze/Coolant, the principal ingredients of which are ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol. Guess what? There’s no ethylene or diethylene glycol in vaccines.

Of course, truth never was a major concern among antivaccinationists. Neither is knowledge. After all, Jenny McCarthy says that there’s “ether” in vaccines, too. The only “ether” I could find in the CDC’s list is polyethylene glycol pisooctylphenyl ether (Triton X-100), a common detergent agent used to make cell membranes permeable. In the past, a compound called Tween-Ether was sometimes used instead of Triton X-100; it’s the same sort of thing, a fairly large organic molecule with an ether chemical group hooked on. I suspect that Jenny and most antivaccinationists are too chemistry-challenged to realize that this is not the same thing as diethyl ether, which was used as an anaesthetic agent before safer volatile agents were developed and is often commonly referred to as just “ether.” Jenny also apparently doesn’t realize that ether is insoluble in aqueous solution. The only way I could even conceive ether being used in the vaccine manufacturing process is if it’s used for a chemical extraction, in which case, it too would be present in at best trace amounts.

In any case, I suspect that the whole “antifreeze in vaccines” canard came from a claim that ethylene glycol is used in the synthesis of thimerosal. Holy crap! Mercury and antifreeze in a single chemical! (The horror. The horror.) In actuality, it’s synthesized using ethyl mercuric chloride, thiosalicylic acid, sodium hydroxide and ethanol, although I don’t know if there are other methods of synthesis that do involve ethylene glycol. The origin of this claim could also come from other trace chemicals in vaccines as well, such as propylene glycol.

Another favorite ingredient to attack is formaldehyde. Yes, that’s the same chemical that’s used to fix tissue for pathology (usually as a 10% solution buffered to a neutral pH known as formalin) and the same chemical used in the embalming fluid for the cadavers we dissected as medical students. (Indeed, I still remember that smell, which was impossible to get rid of entirely during the months I took gross anatomy.) During the vaccine manufacturing process, it’s used to inactivate live virus, and traces remain after manufacturing. At this point, it’s hard not to point out that exposure to far more formaldehyde than any vaccine contains is nearly ubiquitous in modern life. It’s in auto exhaust, and various substances emit it:

Latex paint, fingernail hardener, and fingernail polish release a large amount of formaldehyde to the air. Plywood and particle board, as well as furniture and cabinets made from them, fiberglass products, new carpets, decorative laminates, and some permanent press fabrics give off a moderate amount of formaldehyde. Some paper products, such as grocery bags and paper towels, give off small amounts of formaldehyde. Because these products contain formaldehyde, you may also be exposed on the skin by touching or coming in direct contact with them. You may also be exposed to small amounts of formaldehyde in the food you eat. You are not likely to be exposed to formaldehyde in the water you drink because it does not last a long time in water.

And, of course, every generation of medical students is exposed to large amounts of it. I’m not saying this is a good thing; personally I wish I could have avoided it, and it would be a good thing if we could decrease the average exposure to it while going about our activities of life. However, it’s a matter of perspective. Antivaccinationists are ranting about formaldehyde in vaccines and ignoring the far larger source: the environment. Also, formaldehyde doesn’t last long in aqueous solution, such as vaccines. It breaks down to formic acid and carbon monoxide.

Oh, no. More chemicals! I hate to see what antivaccinationists will write when they find out that dihydromonoxide is a major component of virtually every vaccine. They really should add DHMO to their lists. I mean, just look at what it’s used for!

Finally, now that thimerosal has been removed from nearly all childhood vaccines, the antivaccinationists needed to find another bogeyman in vaccines to demonize, and, given their fear of heavy metals and love of chelation therapy to remove them, the most obvious candidate was aluminum, which has been used as an adjuvant in many vaccines for over 80 years to increase their ability to provoke the desired immune response. True, it’s not nearly as scary-sounding as mercury, but the antivaxers are certainly trying very hard to make it so. They may succeed. Get a load of what Mr. Hackenlively says:

Aluminum hydroxide, aluminum phosphate, and aluminum potassium sulfate are all used as adjuvants to stimulate the immune system. Aluminum products found in commercial antiperspirants have been linked with breast cancer. A recent article published in the Journal of Inorganic Chemistry based on research from Keele University in England was trying to explain the “known, but unaccounted for, higher incidence of tumors in the upper outer quadrant of the breast.” They found that aluminum content was higher in the outer regions where there would be the highest density of antiperspirant. In discussing aluminum’s potential danger the report stated, “Aluminum is a metalloestrogen, it is genotoxic, is bound by DNA and has been shown to be carcinogenic. It is also a pro-oxidant and this unusual property might provide a mechanistic basis for any putative carcinogenicity. The confirmed presence of aluminum in breast tissue biopsies highlights its potential as a possible factor in the etiology of breast cancer.”

And applying an aluminum-based compound to one’s skin over the course of many, many years is related to some injections of aluminum-based adjuvants in vaccines exactly…how?

Of course, the above claim is a total nonsequitur, but what about the frequent rants on antivaccination websites that aluminum causes Alzheimer’s disease and that by implication vaccines cause Alzheimer’s? This is a claim by antivaccinationist Hugh Fudenberg, who is often quoted thusly:

According to Hugh Fudenberg, MD (http://members.aol.com/nitrf), the world’s leading immunogeneticist and 13th most quoted biologist of our times (nearly 850 papers in peer review journals), if an individual has had five consecutive flu shots between 1970 and 1980 (the years studied) his/her chances of getting Alzheimer’s Disease is ten times higher than if they had one, two or no shots. I asked Dr. Fudenberg why this was so and he said it was due to the mercury and aluminum that is in every flu shot (and most childhood shots). The gradual mercury and aluminum buildup in the brain causes cognitive dysfunction. Is that why Alzheimer’s is expected to quadruple? Notes: Recorded from Dr. Fudenberg’s speech at the NVIC International Vaccine Conference, Arlington, VA September, 1997. Quoted with permission. Alzheimer’s to quadruple statement is from John’s Hopkins Newsletter Nov 1998.

I’ve dealt with this claim before, pointing out that there is actually evidence that the flu vaccine is associated with a lower later incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in some studies. Whether that study is replicated or not, what we can say is that there’s no good evidence that the flu vaccine is associated with an increased incidence of Alzheimer’s. Also, Steve Novella has nicely summarized the evidence regarding whether or not aluminum is involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease, concluding:

The evidence of aluminum and AD is mixed, without a clear direction. At present the best answer we have is that aluminum probably does not cause AD but appears to be playing some role, perhaps influencing severity. But even after 42 years, there remains a question mark next to these conclusions. We can rule out that aluminum is the single cause of AD, but whether or not it is an independent risk factor is a qualified “probably not.”

And, most importantly, about how this science is abused by cranks:

The mainstream scientific and patient or disease-oriented groups accurately reflect the above interpretation of the research. But the complexity of the results make it very easy to exploit for the purpose of fear-mongering. The notorious crank website, Rense.com, for example, cherry picks the evidence that suggests there is a correlation and piles it up to present a very distorted view of the issue. There will likely persist rumors, scare e-mails, and conspiracy websites promoting the idea that aluminum causes AD regardless of how the research progresses.

And now the antivaccination cranks are climbing aboard the aluminum scare train as well.

Why? Because the scientific evidence is becoming so clear that their previous favorite bogeyman vaccine ingredient, thimerosal, is not associated with autism that even the die-hards are having a hard time arguing that it is anymore, particularly now that thimerosal is no longer present above trace amounts in most childhood vaccines. Consequently, they’re branching out to other scary-sounding ingredients in vaccines and invoking vague (and, conveniently enough, almost impossible to demonstrate) “environmental toxins.”

No matter how many of the “toxins” scientists remove from vaccines, it will never be enough for people like Jenny McCarthy and the antivaccinationists whose propaganda she helps to spread. Because it’s all about the vaccines and the very concept of vaccination itself, not any individual ingredients in the vaccines. Antivaccinationists will never come to a point where they say, “OK, now I believe that all the toxins are gone and vaccines are safe.” They’ll either fixate on the viruses or the viral or bacterial antigens themselves, or they’ll make the claim that vaccines are made using “aborted fetuses” because some cell lines used to grow up virus stocks were derived from aborted fetuses 40 or more years ago. If every trace of formaldehyde, aluminum, or any other scary-sounding chemical with more than two syllables in its name were somehow to be removed from all vaccines, they would still be saying things like this:

It is the toxin, or germ, contained in the shot itself that causes the adverse affects on the immune system.

Dead-virus, or live-virus vaccine etc…who cares? The cultures for polio vaccines are grown in the kidney tissue of dead monkeys in third-world countries with little or no controls and the virulent pustule toxin is put in vaccines to be shot into you little kid’s arm. I wouldn’t go into a room where that putrid stuff is, let alone inject it into my blood stream! Would you?

Against such willful ignorance, the gods themselves, if they existed, would struggle in vain.

I’d love to get an antivaccinationist like Jenny McCarthy who makes the claim that she is not “antivaccine” but “antitoxin” or “pro-vaccine safety” into a discussion and ask her this hypothetical question: If formaldehyde, “antifreeze,” aluminum, thimerosal, and every chemical in vaccines circulating in all those lists on antivaccination websites that so scare you were somehow absolutely removed from the standard childhood vaccines so that not a single molecular remained (just like homeopathy), would you then vaccinate your child? The only thing that would remain is buffered salt water and the necessary antigens, be they killed virus or bacterial proteins, or whatever.

My guess is that she’d say no.

And that’s that–because it’s the “toxin” that makes vaccines work that really scares her.

Comments

  1. #1 Old Ari
    November 26, 2007

    “It’s dabbling in the dew , what makes the milkmaids fair!”

  2. #2 Ruth
    November 26, 2007

    But many washed up actresses have no problems with getting botulism toxin injected into their wrinkles. Do they know what’s in Botox?

    I’d rather get traces of formaldehyde than eat my own vomit.

  3. #3 ozzy
    November 26, 2007

    I wish they would use the proper term when refering to these “toxins.” The list contains many synthetic compounds so they should be call toxicants. Only natural “poisons” are toxins.

    That’s funny about the Botox comment. It reminded me of a “news” report on the local Boston NBC station, about five years ago. It was from their I-team and the report was about how some Botox preparations contained botulism toxin as a contaminant. I almost fell out of my chair laughing. They did have an interview with a doctor but it was obvious that they edited his comments. This is how the general public gets its scientific information so it’s not a stretch to see how these guys can get away with doing this.

    I’m sure our good lawyer friend has no problem having a beer or glass of wine with dinner. Is he aware that beer and wine both contain that harmful substance EtOH associated with neurotoxicity, liver toxicity, bad judgement and death.

  4. #4 Dave S.
    November 26, 2007

    Did you know that a 500 kg bag of sucrose dropped on your head will kill you instantly…that’s how dangerous sucrose is folks!!! :)

  5. #5 Ezekiel Buchheit
    November 26, 2007

    While I understand most of these “movements” aren’t new (anti-vaccine, ID, young-earth etc.) it seems as though the stupid has been gaining momentum. I can’t tell if it’s simply because I am more aware of it and I’m creating a confirmation bias for myself, or if more and more people are buying into simple explanations for complex issues they don’t understand.

    For instance, a friend at work who is a runner and was training for a marathon ended with an injury. Nothing overwhelming, but something to be concerned about: the precursor to a hip stress fracture. Her doctor told her to take it easy and to take ibuprofen regularly for the pain. She rejected the ibuprofen because of the warning label on the bottle and instead took the advice of the Masters of Woo that sell homeopathic tinctures and supplements in our “Healthy Living” department. She ignored the advice of a trained physician over the advice of a 19 year-old grocery store employee,

    I have conversations with people constantly that end with me going silent – do I keep the friendship or explain to them exactly why what they are doing is insane and stupid?

    Do other people experience this as regularly? Is it really more prevalent in the world today? Is it cyclicular? Should I just relax and take a deep breath?

  6. #6 Colugo
    November 26, 2007

    Quotes by all-purpose crank George Bernard Shaw:

    Letter to the Secretary of the National Anti-Vaccination League, 1906: “Nothing but the natural ignorance of the public, countenanced by the inoculated erroneousness of the ordinary general medical practitioners, makes such a barbarism as vaccination possible. … (V)accination is nothing short of attempted murder.”

    Letter to the Irish Times, 1944: “At present, intelligent people do not have their children vaccinated, nor does the law now compel them to. The result is not, as the Jennerians prophesied, the extermination of the human race by smallpox; on the contrary more people are now killed by vaccination than by smallpox.”

    I wonder how influential Shaw (who supported Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia and denied Stalin’s famine) was in fostering public sentiment against vaccination, and how much of that influence echoes to this day. In fact, some anti-vax websites quote Shaw.

  7. #7 DLC
    November 26, 2007

    These people exhibit a stunning denial of the truth.
    Woe be unto them that put their ordinary drinking water into a GCMS, and look at the trace levels. They’ll find levels of formaldehyde, iron, lead, mercury and a whole laundry list of things that’ll kill you if you take enough of it. (especially dHmO… overexposure to dHmO kills thousands annually.)
    I guess it will never occur to them that such concepts of quantity exist.

  8. #8 Prometheus
    November 26, 2007

    Wow! The stupid, it does burn!

    I suppose that their idea of a “toxin-free” vaccine would be a homeopathic vaccine…unless you consider lactose or dihydrogen monoxide to be “toxins”.

    There are times when I lament the gullibility of man (and woman).

    Prometheus

  9. #9 Barry
    November 26, 2007

    I posted a link to this post over at his blog:
    http://www.ageofautism.com/2007/10/fda-says-a-ok-v.html?cid=91214106#comments

    Let’s see if he accepts the comment.

  10. #10 Joe
    November 26, 2007

    Great post!

    For those in the USA, you may be interested in the (free) vaccination handbook in the UK:
    http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Policyandguidance/Healthandsocialcaretopics/Greenbook/DH_4097254

  11. #11 Liz D.
    November 26, 2007

    I wonder what a Venn diagram of the set of homeopathy true believers and the set of “it’s the toxins” anti-vaxxers would look like.

    As I was reading your post, the homeopathy dogma of “increased dilution makes the “active” agent more powerful was percolating in the back of my mind. So the dilutions you mention would make the danger greater…if you buy the dogma.

    A demon-haunted world, indeed.

  12. #12 Calli Arcale
    November 26, 2007

    Prometheus, if sucrose is a “toxin”, I would expect lactose to also be one. If they have any consistency (I know, this contradicts the observed evidence), they should be as repulsed by a homeopathic vaccine as a regular one. Maybe they just don’t like needles and are trying to justify their phobia? Dunno.

    I had a friend in high school who was faced with a test question asking how nicotine is harmful. He blanked, as happens to the best of us sometimes when facing a test, and couldn’t remember how it was bad. (He just remembered that it was.) So he wrote down that if large quantities were dropped on your head, it would be very harmful. :-P (No, he did not get credit for the answer.)

    I know a number of people who are deeply into woo. My mother-in-law, bless her heart, is one of them. She does trust and respect mainstream medicine, but she can’t resist trying every strange thing that comes along. She’s not stupid, but she is very trusting, and I think that’s the key to why so many people believe woo. They know they’re not experts, so they seek experts — and the purveyors of woo can seem very impressive to the uninformed.

  13. #13 Nana
    November 26, 2007

    On top of all this idiocy, the fact that Heckenlively is a “beloved science teacher” is downright frightening.

  14. #14 Scott Simmons
    November 26, 2007

    This is the one the killed me:

    “Hydrochloric acid: CAN DISTROY TISSUE UPON DIRECT CONTACT! Found in aluminum cleaners and rust removers.”

    Oh, and in your stomach. Don’t forget that one, you stupid *&#$@^&(.

  15. #15 Calli Arcale
    November 26, 2007

    In the stomach? Gadzooks! WE’RE POISONING OURSELVES NOW! WILL THE MADNESS NEVER END?

    On that note, I wonder how many people would be horrified at the kind of substances that make up a perfectly normal cell, and which therefore present in everything we eat (and of course ourselves)?

    I had to really shake my head when i read the comment about a TV news team being surprised to discover botulism toxin in Botox, apparently not realizing what the word “Botox” is short for.

  16. #16 Paholaisen Asianajaja
    November 26, 2007

    My lousy connection prevents me from watching that McCarthy interview, so could someone please write the quote where Jenny says she’s concerned about viruses in vaccines?

  17. #17 grenouille
    November 26, 2007

    I had some very serious concerns about my baby and autism and spent about a year checking a support site several times daily. Things are looking good now for the baby, but as a result of that experience, I can tell you that the stupid spreads like wildfire.

    Many posters come on there initially saying that they do NOT believe vaccines caused their child’s asd. Then I think they just get worn down by the true believers. It’s hard not to know what caused something and the vaccine folks dangle causation right in front of your nose.

    Plus, they say that they are doing XYZ protocol to remove the “toxins” and are seeing massive improvement. It’s hard to go against the grain, especially when other parents tell you you are not doing enough, that you don’t care about your child.

    I have seen one person go from saying, “No way, this is all genetics–you should see Uncle Fred!” to “We are thinking of trying HBOT and chelation to cure his vaccine injury” in less than a year.

    Dissent is not tolerated. I was called crazy, stupid, a liar, a freak, a bitch and asked if my meds needed to be adjusted when I commented once that the evidence was pretty slim that vaccines had any part in asd. I also observed that pretty much every person who did not buy in to the vaccine hogwash was eventually accused of having a false diagnosis for their child. If you want the support, you gotta buy the party line.

    Anyway, just thought you might be interested in one of the ways it’s spreading. Keep up the good work, Orac. I soooo wish that someone from the skeptic side would get on Oprah to explain some of this stuff to the lay public. I nominate you!!

  18. #18 ORK
    November 26, 2007

    A bit of nitpicking, diethyl ether is in fact a bit soluble in water, around 6% V/V, and if you think that DHMO is bad wait until you find out that vaccines also have hydrogen hydroxide, imagine what that could do.
    Like I always said:
    If you are not part of the solution you are part of the precipitate.

  19. #19 obscurifer
    November 26, 2007

    Ezekiel Buchheit:

    I have conversations with people constantly that end with me going silent – do I keep the friendship or explain to them exactly why what they are doing is insane and stupid?

    Do other people experience this as regularly? Is it really more prevalent in the world today? Is it cyclicular? Should I just relax and take a deep breath?

    My partner’s family is full of educated, intelligent people. A few weeks ago, we were sitting around the dinner table discussing the usual things, and a beloved aunt asked a niece about locations for good Reiki practitioners. I was speechless. Even more so when the conversation turned to theories about the nature and disposition of ghosts.

    Gah!

  20. #20 Ahistoricality
    November 26, 2007

    By the time the vaccine is made, these antibiotics are only present in trace amounts….

    Yeah, but if you buy homeopathy, then that’s precisely what makes them so dangerous.

  21. #21 Clare
    November 26, 2007

    “It’s hard to go against the grain, especially when other parents tell you you are not doing enough, that you don’t care about your child.”

    Grenouille’s comment captures much of what drives some of the relentless pursuit of woo. I think many parents get the message — explicit or implicit — that just getting a diagnosis, getting some treatment, trying to juggle the needs of all the family, waiting to see how the developmental process works its way out, simply isn’t enough. What many hear is along these lines: “Why not try this, or try that? A really good parent would never stop until they’d found a cure.” No wonder so many fall victim to extravagant promises to “fix” their child and spare them not only from the immediate challenges of caring for that child, but from the snipes and criticisms of other people whose standards are so very high.

  22. #22 notmercury
    November 26, 2007

    “Sucrose is used as a stabilizer. Over-consumption of sucrose has been linked with some adverse health effects.”

    Let’s not sugar coat it. Heckenlively is a complete idiot and has no place teaching fingerpainting to preschoolers let alone SCIENCE!

  23. #23 Dangerous Bacon
    November 26, 2007

    Regarding formalin as a TOXIN in vaccines, it is still not well established that this chemical is a significant cancer threat even in occupational exposures (something of significance to pathologists who may be exposed to it on a daily basis). From a new paper to appear in the International Archives of Environmental and Occupational Health (e-pubished in October).

    “Human studies fail to raise a convincing conclusion concerning the carcinogenicity of formaldehyde and are not helpful to delineate a possible dose-response relationship.”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=17955258&ordinalpos=3&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    And of course the amount of formalin in occupational exposures is vastly greater than whatever trace amount might be found in vaccines.

    But no TOXIN can ever be tolerated in even the minutest quantity in our PRECIOUS BODILY FLUIDS. Which is what the antivaxers’ obsession mostly boils down to (note that there is a high degree of correlation between being a diehard antivaxer and an opponent of water fluoridation).

  24. #24 Orac
    November 26, 2007

    My lousy connection prevents me from watching that McCarthy interview, so could someone please write the quote where Jenny says she’s concerned about viruses in vaccines?

    Actually, that was the wrong interview. My bad.

    However, because I can’t find the e-mail someone sent me with a link to a quote by her to that effect, I removed that segment of my post. Since I can’t at the moment find the original source of that quote, I removed the relevant two or three sentences from my post. Given that there was plenty of stupid in Jenny McCarthy’s interview without it, I’d rather make sure that I’m accurate rather than leave something in there the source of which I can’t track down. I think what happened is that it got deleted while I was cleaning out my Gmail account. Thanks for reminding me.

    Of course, I could have, if I wanted to, added the comment from Dr. Brown’s review of her book:

    It’s hard to trust Ms. McCarthy’s medical degree from the University of Google – she comments about the hepatitis C vaccine that wreaked havoc on a friend’s child. An inconvenient truth: There is no hepatitis C vaccine.

    It’s an unending well. Drop one comment because I foolishly appeared to have tossed the source while cleaning up my e-mail, and another one is easily found.

  25. #25 ozzy
    November 26, 2007

    Let us not stoop to the anti-vaxers level of scientific understanding. Formaldehyde is a TOXICANT not a toxin. A toxin is defined as “a poison produced by a living organism.” A toxicant is defined as “Any chemical that has the potential of causing acute or chronic adverse effects in animals, plants, or humans.” All toxins are toxicants but not all toxicants are toxins. Therefore, according to these definitions there are definitely NO toxins in vaccines just, potentially, trace levels of toxicants. Therefore, I have proven them to be big ol’ liars.

  26. #26 Dangerous Bacon
    November 26, 2007

    A higher calling to Truth obliges me to mention that the term “toxin” can take in poisons not produced by living organisms. Dorland’s Medical Dictionary, for example, defines toxin as “a poison, especially a protein produced by some higher plants, certain animals and pathogenic bacteria, that is highly poisonous for other living organisms.”

    A cytotoxin is a substance toxic to living cells, regardless of who/what makes it.

    Thank you, I’m here all day.

  27. #27 Ompus
    November 26, 2007

    Being around so much stupid can be dangerous. It breeds over-confidence and egotism and thereby risks infecting us with the same stupidity that afflicts the Jenny Mcarthys of this world.

  28. #28 Orac
    November 26, 2007

    Are you saying, then, that I shouldn’t take on the latest Deepak Chopra nonsense in the form of a multipart series of blog posts that I’ve been tempted to blog about? ;-)

  29. #29 Catherina
    November 26, 2007

    even more importantly, formaldehyde is a normal metabolite in our bodies with an estimated half life of 1 to 2 minutes. We metabolize milligramm amounts of it every day, while your typical vaccine contains 1.5 µg per 0.5ml (blood contains 0.5µl per ml, urine up to 4µg per ml – maybe someone should tell that to those homeopath who advocate urine treatments).

  30. #30 HCN
    November 26, 2007

    grenouille said “Dissent is not tolerated. I was called crazy, stupid, a liar, a freak, a bitch and asked if my meds needed to be adjusted when I commented once that the evidence was pretty slim that vaccines had any part in asd. I also observed that pretty much every person who did not buy in to the vaccine hogwash was eventually accused of having a false diagnosis for their child. If you want the support, you gotta buy the party line.”

    Yup, that sounds familiar. I left the support listserv for my son’s disability for pretty much the same reason. One member wanted me removed because I dared to mention that the MMR never contained thimerosal (she told the moderator that I was not up on the “science” of vaccines”). I was called closed minded because I posted the study from Health Policy group of British Columbia that cranialsacral therapy was worthless.

    Then I was called dangerous to children’s health because I wrote an email explaining my concerns over chelation therapy. I got so many nastygrams, and no support from the moderators… I just unsubscribed. Then two months later Kerry killed a kid with a push of EDTA in Pennsylvania, which just happens to be the state the listserv’s moderators live. I detailed my frustrations here:
    http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=21809&

  31. #31 daedalus2u
    November 26, 2007

    Actually, it is only that there is no FDA (or other evidence based medicine organization) approved hepatitis C vaccine.

    If Ms McCarthy’s friend’s child got such a vaccine, it was not from any pharmaceutical company licensed to produce such a thing.

    There are all sorts of woo-based sources of things, which could be the only source of a hepatitis C vaccine. No doubt Ms McCarthy has confabulated adverse effects from some of those with adverse effects of vaccines.

  32. #32 daedalus2u
    November 26, 2007

    I was just thinking how using things properly they can all be good for something. Take aluminum. Injected into babies it is a deadly poison. But wrapped around one’s head, it protects from the damaging mind rays from the government.

    Maybe vaccines should be administered in the scalp, where the aluminum will do some good blocking those mind rays.

  33. #33 Knight of L-sama
    November 26, 2007

    Calli Arcale, fear of needles needles may explain away some of it but that doesn’t hold up is they refuse the OPV (Oral Polio Vaccine). Doesn’t even taste all that bad, mostly becuase the dose is so small. I’ve tasted worse things on my dinner plate on occasion. They were called brussel sprouts.

  34. #34 Common Sense
    November 26, 2007

    As soon as you can give us good reasons for some of the most unnecessary and dangerous vaccines to be given… then we can certainly address the ‘toxins’ which are in each of these particular vaccinations. It would always be the best option to stay clear of injecting this crap into babies … that should be a given. Start by explaining why it would be necessary for a baby to be given the Hep B at birth (unless mother is positive), or a mercury containing flu shot? Or how about the Hep A vaccine? ProQuad? Prevnar?

    First Do No Harm….

  35. #35 Robin Peters
    November 26, 2007

    The stupid, yes, it does indeed burn. I had to explain to my daughter just what DHMO was – plain old drinking water, H2O. Your use of the term DHMO brought home your point in a way nothing else could have – that the dose is the poison. We all ingest a certain amount of DHMO daily, but it is toxic when taken to excess, which is why dialysis patients are given a fluid restriction.

  36. #36 PalMD
    November 26, 2007

    First, since outcomes are the most important fact, it doesn’t really matter what “toxins” may be in the vax; the data show them to be safe and effective. Jeez.
    And the point isn’t to argue with the anti-vaxers…they are insane or deluded or have had such horrible life experiences that they are broken. The idea is to keep the contagion contained by educating the educable.

  37. #37 PalMD
    November 26, 2007

    First, since outcomes are the most important fact, it doesn’t really matter what “toxins” may be in the vax; the data show them to be safe and effective. Jeez.
    And the point isn’t to argue with the anti-vaxers…they are insane or deluded or have had such horrible life experiences that they are broken. The idea is to keep the contagion contained by educating the educable.

  38. #38 Abel Pharmboy
    November 26, 2007

    Indeed, you are singing the old toxicologist’s (Paracelsus) song: the dose makes the poison. I took a look at a few prescribing inserts for vaccine formulations and was amazed to learn just how low the amounts/dose are for some compounds. For example, neomycin is present in the MMR vaccine at 25micrograms per dose. Certainly bacteriostatic but completely inconsequential with regard to renal injury.

    I recall you saying many moons ago that if anti-vaxers were proven wrong on the safety of thimerosal (as they have been), they would then object to other components in vaccines. Q.E.D.

  39. #39 notmercury
    November 26, 2007

    Grenouille,
    What about this study? :-)

    The effect of thimerosal on bullfrog sympathetic ganglion cells

    Yuka Shimazakia and Mitsuo Nohmia
    aAnalytical Research Center for Experimental Sciences, University of Saga, Saga, Japan

  40. #40 Deech56
    November 26, 2007

    Antibiotics in cell culture? Among cell culture aficionados, antibiotics are referred to as “training wheels.”

  41. #41 Ed
    November 26, 2007

    Jenny McCarthy.

    Complaining about foreign substances being injected into the human body.

    This is the definition of irony.

  42. #42 HCN
    November 26, 2007

    Ah, yes… Jenny McCarthy who smoked while pregnant!

    That reminds of a co-worker from years ago who was explaining why she would use organic food because of toxins while puffing away on her cigarette!

  43. #43 Orac
    November 26, 2007

    Antibiotics in cell culture? Among cell culture aficionados, antibiotics are referred to as “training wheels.”

    Maybe in a research laboratory, but not in a pharmaceutical manufacturing process.

  44. #44 tourettist
    November 26, 2007

    Apparently people must stop swabbing triple-antibiotic ointment on minor cuts and scrapes. It appears we unawares have slathering poison on our wounds (polymyxin, neomycin, et al). Besides, a few friendly little microbes wouldn’t want to hurt anybody, would they?

  45. #45 Alan Kellogg
    November 26, 2007

    Then you have the matter of phosphorous, a mineral chemically similar to the notorious rat poison, arsenic. And we all know the role of phosphates in algal blooms.

    [Leaking the vicinity very quickly :D ]

  46. #46 Rjaye
    November 26, 2007

    Hehehe…yeah, Ed, Jenny McCarthy and injected foreign substances. How does she know it wasn’t the silicone that made her son autistic? Or the cigs. Or the weird Hollywierd diets?

    And I’m sorry that sensible parents are blasted in groups pushing the stupid. That should never happen, but I get the idea that it’s a certain type of person who joins these groups. I hope that all parents who are looking for support and reasonable advice find it.

    Metta.

  47. #47 Orac
    November 26, 2007

    Ah, yes… Jenny McCarthy who smoked while pregnant!

    I was unaware of this. Yet she somehow knows it must be those evil vaccines.

  48. #48 Inquisitive Raven
    November 27, 2007

    I just recently had a discussion with some people on a craft mailing list about mercury in flu vaccines. I don’t know if I convinced anybody, but I did provide a number of links, including this blog.

  49. #49 sophia8
    November 27, 2007

    Since Jenny McCarthy is so against ingesting toxins, that presumably means she never touches chocolate, rhubarb, cabbage or strawberries?
    They all contain measurable amounts of oxalic acid, a known poison that has killed people and which is also used in insecticides, bleach cleaners and rustproof treatments.
    Ban chocolate now!

  50. #50 petri
    November 27, 2007

    When will people realize nature isn’t so kind and gentle. More “toxins” come from from nature than from anything humans produce synthetically.

    http://www.botanischergarten.ch/debate/AmesMisconc.pdf

    I wanted to link to “Dietary Pesticides (99.9% All Natural)” by similar author but couldn’t find a straight link.

  51. #51 Patience
    November 27, 2007

    I found a new clutch of the mercury moms, and thought you might be interested/disgusted/saddened.

    http://www.cafemom.com/groups/find.php?keyword=autism&submit=Find

  52. #52 Prometheus
    November 29, 2007

    Petri,

    I believe that a number of the mercury-obsessed mindlessly parrot the pseudo-factoid that mercury is the “second most toxic compound on the planet” (or variations thereof).

    They’ve never seen botulinum toxin, apparently.

    Which reminds me, there are traces of botulinum toxin in the widely used prescription drug, Botox.

    No kidding. At least 100 units in each vial.

    Prometheus

  53. #53 HCN
    November 29, 2007

    Patience, thanks for that link… I think. There is a group called “Autism, Mercury Poisoning and Everything in between”, now check this part out: Group Owner: widespreadpanic

    Wide Spread Panic seems very accurate!

  54. #54 Brian X
    November 29, 2007

    Remember, Jenny McCarthy is a comedian, and not a particularly original one. (I’d put her somewhere in the same category as Carrot Top’s spasticness and Larry the Cable Guy’s redneck blackface, but not as talented as either one.) Comedians are great at opinions, but not always on top of the facts. (I mean, for every Stewart or Colbert, you get a Bill Maher or a Dennis Miller with a talent for overstepping their bounds, and then probably a few dozen Mallard Fillmore wannabes. Jenny is somewhere in between the latter two categories.)

  55. #55 Mysterious Browser
    December 6, 2007

    “The only thing that would remain is buffered salt water and the necessary antigens, be they killed virus or bacterial proteins, or whatever.”

    See, that just shows what an evil vaccine promoting big pharma shill you are. Don’t you know that “salt” means “sodium chloride?” Another noxious chemical. Do you know that chlorine was used as a chemical weapon in world war one????? I’m not having some half-baked quack such as you shooting *that* stuff up my babies arm … ;)

  56. #56 Estellea
    December 12, 2007

    Jenny McCarthy’s lack of brain cells is not exclusive to her as evidenced by the dimwits on Mothering.com. This collective group of devolved women cannot fathom even the most basic scientific concepts let alone challenging their gray matter with the notion that dose makes the poison, an understanding of vaccine manufacturing and actually looking up a vaccine constituent’s compsition and function. They prefer to let themselves be spoonfed by various anti-vax websites and call themselves “educated” and “researched”. They are a sad lot, fortunately representative of a small percentage of the population albeit obnoxiously vocal.

  57. #57 Estellea
    December 12, 2007

    Jenny McCarthy’s lack of brain cells is not exclusive to her as evidenced by the dimwits on Mothering.com. This collective group of devolved women cannot fathom even the most basic scientific concepts let alone challenging their gray matter with the notion that dose makes the poison, an understanding of vaccine manufacturing and actually looking up a vaccine constituent’s compsition and function. They prefer to let themselves be spoonfed by various anti-vax websites and call themselves “educated” and “researched”. They are a sad lot, fortunately representative of a small percentage of the population albeit obnoxiously vocal.

  58. #58 Tony Bateson
    April 7, 2008

    This is a real education, it is absolutely the opposite for me as a vaccine CRITIC in the UK where hundreds of serious researchers asked one simple question never ever reply. In the States seemingly the pro vaccinists can’t stop talking mostly in high flown insult mode when confronted with what they describe as AntiVaccinationists. Is there really such a group? What do they get from it?

    But I can understand that a whole load of industry employees fearful for their livelihoods and perhaps feeling victimised and unappreciated for their contribution to public health via their chemical products could resort to longwindedness and invective in attacking their critics.

    I also could certainly understand if their employers were to spend millions of dollars to protect this lucrative trade by misinformation, diversionary tactics and by promoting fear and confusion amongst parents.

    In the United Kingdom vaccination is not compulsory nor mandatory for any purpose. As a result perhaps 10/15% of parents have chosen not to have childhood vaccines for their children since 1966. That means there are upwards of two million people in the population who have not had these vaccines. This is where the problem starts for the vaccination camp you see this group does not seem to include any autistic people!

    It’s not science, its arithmetic.
    No vaccines – no autism.

    The question no one will answer in the UK (nor US researchers) is what is the prevalence of autism in the unvaccinated population? Is it nought? I am bound to ask.

    My totally unscientific research in the UK and elsewhere (including Washington USA) has revealed only five possible unvaccinated autistic individuals in thousands of direct enquiries to parents and professionals.

    Conclusion Autism follows Vaccination QED

    And by the way if we are talking about groups how is it that more than two hundred and fifty disparate researchers and health officials etc., can respond in a manner that binds them together in the sameness of their unwillingness to respond at all? Now that’s a group!

    Tony Bateson

  59. #59 Natalie
    April 10, 2008

    “As a result perhaps 10/15% of parents have chosen not to have childhood vaccines for their children since 1966. That means there are upwards of two million people in the population who have not had these vaccines. This is where the problem starts for the vaccination camp you see this group does not seem to include any autistic people!”

    [citation needed]

  60. #60 HCN
    April 10, 2008

    Tony Bateson, with all the posts on this blog addressing the vaccine issue, why did you reply to one that was over FOUR MONTHS old?!!

    Are you clueless? Or are you just doing Google searches for certain phrases, and decided to not check out the rest of the blog?

    Well, that still makes you clueless.

    Just as Natalie noted: citation needed for your assertions.

  61. #61 HCN
    April 11, 2008

    Oh, sorry… I just noticed this “My totally unscientific research in the UK and elsewhere (including Washington USA)”

    Which Washington in the USA? There are several (you know, father of the country and all… lots of places named after him! From the center of federal government to an entire state!).

    By the way, have you seen this blog:
    http://notmercury.blogspot.com/

  62. #62 phantomreader42
    April 11, 2008

    Tony Bateson:

    In the United Kingdom vaccination is not compulsory nor mandatory for any purpose. As a result perhaps 10/15% of parents have chosen not to have childhood vaccines for their children since 1966. That means there are upwards of two million people in the population who have not had these vaccines. This is where the problem starts for the vaccination camp you see this group does not seem to include any autistic people!

    I don’t suppose you have any evidence to support this claim? Beyond the sworn testimony of the voices in your head of course.

    I’d guess it’s kinda hard to do a scientific study of a group that thinks all science is a vast global conspiracy to poison their children.

    More of Tony’s preaching for the antivax cult:

    My totally unscientific research in the UK and elsewhere (including Washington USA) has revealed only five possible unvaccinated autistic individuals in thousands of direct enquiries to parents and professionals.

    So, you admit that your own research, totally unscientific though it is, found unvaccinated individuals with autism. Therefore, either your research is worthless or the cause of autism is something OTHER than vaccines! That you draw such a certain conclusion from research that you admit is totally unscientific, and choose the conclusion in direct contradiction of the data, speaks volumes about your mental faculties, or complete lack thereof.

    Did you even consider the fact that autism is a rare disease, and the unvaccinated population is a very small sample size? No, of course not, why bother with base rates and all those boring rules of real-world statistics when you can cherry-pick garbage to support your conspiracy theory?

  63. #63 HCN
    April 11, 2008

    Tony Bateson said “including Washington USA”

    Was it this one?… http://www.washmo.org/

    Or… http://www.washingtonin.us/ ?

  64. #64 HCN
    April 11, 2008

    Tony Bateson said “including Washington USA”

    Or this one… http://www.washington-illinois.org/

    or http://town.washington.va.us/splash8.html ?

  65. #65 HCN
    April 11, 2008

    Tony Bateson said “including Washington USA”

    Or was it this one… http://www.washingtongeorgia.net/
    or http://washingtonme.govoffice.com/

    Come on! Be specific!

  66. #66 HCN
    April 11, 2008

    Tony Bateson said “including Washington USA”

    Or was it this one… http://washingtoncity.org/

    or was it http://washingtoniowa.net/ ?

  67. #67 HCN
    April 11, 2008

    Tony Bateson said “including Washington USA”

    or was it one of these counties: http://www.co.washington.or.us/cgi/home/washco.pl

    or http://www.co.washington.mn.us/

    Well… come on! Tell us!

    (I only have a couple dozen states to go!)

  68. #68 HCN
    April 11, 2008

    Okay, I guess you don’t really mean this one:
    http://www.mountwashington.ca/

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!