Respectful Insolence

Some people should keep their “gut feelings” to themselves.

You know the type: People who have no knowledge about a topic or, even worse, just enough knowledge to sound as if they have a clue about it to people who don’t have a clue but who are at the same time easily spotted as utterly and completely clueless by people who do have a clue. These people often think they’ve discovered something that scientists, in all their blindness have missed, and have a burning urge to share their “gut feeling” about what they think they have discovered as though it’s some revelation, a bolt out of the blue if you will. Not uncommonly, they also often “beg” the authorities, be they the CDC, FDA, NIH, or CIA (in the case of particularly wild clueless wonders) to take a look at their amazing new finding. Even more commonly, their “gut feeling” is based on cherry picking the scientific literature without understanding it and linking things that have no scientifically viable reason to be linked.

I’ve found an excellent example of a clueless wonder who’s done virtually all of the above. Meet Cynthia A. Janak, who describes herself as:

…a freelance journalist, mother of three, foster mother of one, grandmother of five, business owner, Chamber of Commerce member. Her expertise is as an administrative professional. Her specialties are adoptee and genealogy research and research journalism. Hobbies: Writing prose, crocheting, Conservative Studies, and rehabbing houses.

Sounds like a nice lady, right? I’m sure she’s also a perfectly competent administrative professional and house rehabber. Too bad this nice lady has written what has to be the most amazingly convoluted and silly attack on Gardasil I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately for her, being a nice grandmother isn’t enough to protect her from a bit of the ol’ not-so-Respectful Insolence, I’m afraid. It won’t be as heapin’ a helpin’ as usual, though. On second thought, the article she wrote, Polysorbate 80 and Histidine, a marriage of disaster, is just so mind-numbingly ridiculous that I’m afraid it does merit the full Orac treatment, Mrs. Janak’s probable niceness notwithstanding. (Sorry about that, Mrs. Janak.) I’ll probably feel a bit guilty when I’m done, but I’ll get over it. If someone’s going to post such amazing ignorance about science (while admitting over and over that she doesn’t know anything about the science) and expect to be taken seriously, she should be disabused of that expectation as quickly and unequivocally as possible.

First off, longtime readers may have noticed that I never really blogged much about Gardasil, the vaccine against human papilloma virus (HPV) designed to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer caused by certain strains of HPV, until very recently, when I noted two depressingly bad articles about this particular vaccine in Medscape, of all places. The reason I rarely blogged about Gardasil is because I’m not fully convinced that it is such an essential vaccine that it needed to be added to the recommended vaccine regimen so soon after its approval, given that it’s expensive and that its value is greatest among women who don’t get regular Pap tests–the very women least likely to get the vaccine. I don’t doubt that the vaccine is safe and effective; it’s just in the overall context of the vaccine program, I wasn’t sure why there is such an emphasis on this particular vaccine. Worse, I don’t like how some advocates of the vaccine are so quick to characterize people who bring up questions about Gardasil or the other anti-HPV vaccine as “anti-woman” or “misogynistic” (as I explained here). It’s definitely true that the fundamentalists of the religious right most opposed to this vaccine probably fit those descriptions, given that they think that the vaccine will somehow free women to be promiscuous by greatly–sorry, I can’t resist for reasons that you’ll see in a moment–attenuating one of the potential adverse consequences of sex, but there are reasons to question the rush to approve this vaccine without being a fundamentalist.

That being said, regardless of whether one’s an enthusiastic booster of the vaccine or someone like me, who thinks it’s safe and effective but not convinced yet that it provides a sufficient benefit relative to its cost that it needs to be an essential vaccine for every girl, the debate about Gardasil needs to be informed by good science, and pseudoscientific fearmongering does no one any good. Too bad that’s pretty much all that Mrs. Janak brings to the table, along with a heapin’ helpin’ of hot burnin’ stupid. She wastes no time, either, in bringing the stupid home right from the very first paragraph:

Do you know how it is when you have a gut feeling that just won’t quit? It is like the itch you just cannot scratch that gets worse with time. It is very annoying. Well, I was finally able to scratch that itch and all my efforts have finally paid off.

I have been researching Polysorbate 80 for some time now because I had a gut feeling that there is something to this chemical. I have been doing the same for Histidine because Gardasil is the first vaccine that is using this chemical. I knew that the addition of Histidine had something to do with what we are seeing with Gardasil. Here are my findings.

A little anti-histamine would help that itch. (Sorry, couldn’t resist again, for reasons you will soon see.) Too bad Mrs. Janak decided to do a belly flop right into a pool of histidine, at least metaphorically speaking. It’s also too bad that she clearly doesn’t understand the science. Indeed, she freely admits that she doesn’t understand the science, but keeps trying to make connections between studies anyway, with a statement like this:

Now, as I said earlier I am not a research scientist and I can only base my opinion on what I know but I found something of great importance that further proves the causative factor of the infusion of L-Histidine in this vaccine.

Or:

I read this whole study and it is hard to understand the procedures and the different tests that they conducted to come up with their conclusions.

Yeah, science at that level is hard. That’s why it takes so many years to learn. Yet Mrs. Janak seems to think that she can learn it just by perusing some PubMed abstracts, Wikipedia (yes, Wikipedia), and a few research articles made available online for free. Silly me. I spent all those years in medical and graduate school. Had I but known, I would have bypassed all that and been just like Mrs. Janak.

Before I go on, though, let’s point out just how much polysorbate-80 and L-histidine can be found in a dose of Gardasil: 50 μg and 0.78 mg, respectively. Keep those numbers in mind. Also keep in mind that the the WHO-recommended daily intake of histidine is on the order of 10 mg per kg body weight. For a typical 40 kg 13 year old girl, that would be 400 mg, or well over 500 times the amount that is in Gardasil.

Never mind that, though. Apparently such a small amount of histidine is a deadly threat to our girls. After a brief description of polysorbate-80, in which Mrs. Janak can’t seem to find too much to complain about, she proves that she has just enough knowledge to be dangerous–to reason, that is. But first she has much to make over the definition of a word:

What I want to bring to your attention is the fact that Polysorbate 80 is a surfactant. This is very important to remember.

[...]

My source also explained to me in layman’s language what all this means so I am going to impart that information to you. What this does is helps to suspend chemicals or materials evenly in the product that it is being used. In regards to a vaccine this helps to keep all the chemicals and virus like particles evenly distributed. This way one syringe will not have more chemicals and another will not have more virus like particles. You have more uniformity in the vaccine which is very important.

Fair enough. Mrs. Janak then goes not to the medical literature but to a website hawking supplements for her “definition” of histidine, most importantly this:

Most often recognized as a precursor to the allergy symptom producing hormone histamine, both histidine and histamine have essential roles in the body beyond tormenting allergy sufferers.

Histamine is well known for its role in stimulating the inflammatory response of skin and mucous membranes such as those found in the nose — this action is essential in the protection of these barriers during infection.

Histamine also stimulates the secretion of the digestive enzyme gastrin. Without adequate histamine production healthy digestion can become impaired. Without adequate L-histidine stores, the body cannot maintain adequate histamine levels.

Based on which she asserts:

The addition of L-histidine in the vaccine Gardasil I believe was a bad idea. Here are my thoughts. You have girls that are suffering after receiving this vaccine and some of the symptoms are nausea, vomiting and irritable bowel. Without adequate histamine production healthy digestion can become impaired. This is the first clue in the puzzle that is besieging these families and doctors that are trying to deal with this new epidemic.

That’s right. According to Mrs. Janak, less than one milligram of histidine is going to cause nausea, vomiting, and irritable bowel syndrome. Mrs. Janak needs to learn some units before she embarrasses herself by posting such burning stupid to the web. But she’s just getting warmed up. She fixates on an observation that histidine is involved in the regulation of of trace minerals and concludes that getting all that histidine (remember, 0.78 mg worth, to be precise!) must somehow mess up the body’s metabolism of heavy metals and cause heavy metal poisoning.

But Mrs. Janak’s still just getting warmed up. She goes on to discuss joint pain reported in VAERS as a sequela of vaccination with Gardasil and then finds a thirty-three year old article reporting low levels of histidine in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). (No, there’s no evidence that Gardasil causes RA.) As is typical with such cranks, she neglects a more recent article (from 1981, anyway, only 27 years old!) that concludes that the low histidine levels detected in patients with RA are a consequence and not a cause of the disease, and that histidine levels provide zero prognostic value for predicting who is at risk for RA. Basically, from my reading of the literature, it’s a nonissue. Not that that stops Mrs. Janak:

So what is happening here? It is my opinion that low levels of histidine could be part of the overall problem that the girls are experiencing. Now my question to the medical research community is what could have caused this drop in histidine levels to cause all these problems?

I have my theory and that is that the immune response that was produced by the vaccine along with the infusion of histidine produced an unexpected reaction in all the girls that have a family history of allergies.

What happened is that because of this history it stands to reason that these girls already had a higher than normal level of histidine/histamine to begin with. Now we have just added more histidine into their systems therefore overloading and creating a dangerous situation. The immune system now has to deal with the dangerous levels of histidine along with the virus like particles and aluminum. Now we have a programmed immune response to the histidine and the immune system is going to attack it.

I love it when know-nothings like Mrs. Janak say “I have a theory.” When I see that phrase coming from such a woman, I know I’m entering what’s known in the skeptical blogging biz as a “target-rich environment.” Once again, we’re talking about 0.78 mg worth of histidine. Who knew it was so potent? Suffice it to say that Mrs. Janak’s understanding of immunology and pathophysiology is–shall we say?–underwhelming. But the pièce de résistance of stupid is yet to come. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Remember the title of her article, Polysorbate 80 and Histidine, a marriage of disaster. You know from that that we have to come back to polysorbate-80. Remember, it’s a surfactant, and leave it to Mrs. Janak to find an article that (she thinks) links surfactants and histidine to dire consequences, mainly blood clots, another alleged horrific complication of Gardasil. To this end, she demonstrates that she can’t even read. She takes an article entitled Surfactants Attenuate Gas Embolism-induced Thrombin Production. Remember the word “attenuate” and look at Mrs. Javak’s interpretation:

Now one of the things that we all know is that birth control pills can cause blood clots and anyone that is taking them should be aware of that fact. But were birth control pills the cause in some of the VAERS reports? I am no longer sure of that.

Now let us put this together with what I just gave you about surfactants and histamine you now have the possibility of a lethal, in my opinion, reaction of blood clots. According to the data that I have it proves to me that clotting does not necessarily happen because a girl is taking birth control pills during the time she received the Gardasil vaccination. This clotting has the real chance of happening because of the surfactant and histamine reaction in the body. Not because of the birth control.

I don’t even have to go into much detail to show just how silly this all is. Again, remember the word “attenuate” in the title. The entire point of the article, its main finding, is that surfactants attenuate thrombin production leading to clots. A-T-T-E-N-U-A-T-E. Look up the meaning of the word. It does not mean the same thing as the word “potentiate,” which is what Mrs. Janak seems to be claiming that surfactants do with respect to the action of histamine on inducing thrombin release. Indeed, the study concludes:

Thrombin production is shear rate and duration-dependent. Sparging increases thrombin production. Surfactants added before sparging attenuate thrombin production. Surfactants may have a clinical application to attenuate gas embolism-induced clotting.

In other words, the very point of the study was to investigate whether surfactants can decrease clot formation during gas embolism. Of course, what caught Mrs. Janak’s attention and made her thing this study had any relevance whatsoever to Gardasil is that one of the assays used to provoke thrombin production was to treat the blood with 10 μM histamine, apparently a standard assay to provoke thrombin release. Not having any idea of the units she’s dealing with, she has no clue that there’s no way in hell that treating a 40-70 kg teen with 0.78 mg of histidine is going to produce a 10 μM concentration of histamine–or anything within several orders of magnitude of a concentration adequate to provoke thrombin production and clotting.

But it doesn’t matter according to Mrs. Janak, because somehow, some way depletion of histidine also results in autoimmune encephalomyelitis. She bases this observation on a single animal study. Never mind that her “explanation” of how Gardasil might result in such a massive decrease in histidine is a load of scientifically ignorant rubbish. Never mind that she hasn’t clue one about how to read and understand the scientific papers she’s citing. Never mind that her interpretation of the previously mentioned gas embolism paper was exactly the opposite of what the paper actually concluded. Never mind that its results weren’t applicable to what Mrs. Janak was trying to prove anyway. It doesn’t matter, at least not to Mrs. Janak. Her article is one of the best examples I’ve ever seen of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing and the arrogance of ignorance. Indeed, that “knowledge” drives her to fits of concern:

Look at all this. I mean really look at this. We have the same symptoms that the girls are going through. How much more can I give to prove that we have the causative factor involved with this new epidemic we are experiencing with this vaccine.

Actually one hell of a lot more. Correlation does not necessarily equal causation, and in this case it almost certainly does not. Mrs. Janak’s ignorance of the basics of the field she purports to pontificate about is about as laughable as it gets, especially her self-righteous anger based on nothing more than ignorance:

I am begging the FDA, CDC and Merck to please please look at my findings. I am not a research scientist but I was the one to have to put the pieces of this epidemic together for you. Check out the dates of the studies that I have referenced. This information was available pre-licensure of Gardasil. Find out who was asleep at the switch to let all these findings be ignored.

Could it be because they didn’t have any relevance to the question of Gardasil’s safety or efficacy, perhaps? Not according to Mrs. Janak, who appears to view herself as a persecuted prophet:

Why did I have to be the one? Why were not these chemicals studied in a setting to see what they would do in a vaccine environment? WHY, WHY, WHY!!!!!!!!! We have girls dying and disabled and you are saying that there is no causative factor with Gardasil. Here it is! All the causation you need. Look into this immediately.

Oh, my dear God. I am sorry but I have to end this article here because I am next to tears and cannot go any further.

Mrs. Janak’s tears are our mercy, because they end our suffering far more effectively than taking the histidine and polysorbate-80 could relieve the suffering of all those girls in Mrs. Janak’s fevered imagination, but not before she writes:

NOTE: If I have made any mistakes because I am not a research scientist with what I have posted here today please feel free to let me know and I will check out your findings and post a retraction.

All I can say is that I’m happy to oblige. Not that I think that Mrs. Janak is capable of realizing just how hilariously, embarrassingly, over-the-top wrong she is about science, indeed about virtually everything she wrote in this particular article. In fact, her rant is about as excellent an example of how citing Wikipedia and studies that she can’t understand leads to a combination of hilarity and sorrow in those who actually have some training in science. For that purpose, it is very useful as a teaching tool. Yes, Mrs. Janak is proof positive that a little knowledge is more than just a dangerous thing. It’s the foundation of stupid so intense it’s painful to read. It’s also the way all too many anti-vaccinationists think.

I suppose I should just be grateful that Mrs. Janak didn’t discover the “polysorbate-80 causes infertility” nonsense that alarmists also like to rant about. Imagine how much more ignorance she could have polluted the Internet with if she were to find the study where this finding was reported. Given her difficulty with units in her first post, shed’ be almost certain to fail to realize that in this study neonatal rats were injected with 1 to 10 mg of polysorbate-80 (that’s 20 to 200 times the amount of polysorbate-80 in a single dose of Gardasil). Neonatal rats weigh approximately 5-8 g each and reach a weight of around 50 g by three weeks. Using the round number of 10 g for a rat that’s a few days old, we can see that, for a 40 kg teenager, the dose of polysorbate-80 used in this study was as much as 800,000 times greater than what a girl receives in a dose of Gardasil on a per-weight basis, 1 g/kg for the study versus 0.125 mg/kg for Gardasil.

My guess is that eventually she’ll find the study. I just hope she goes back and learns a little bit about the metric system and how to calculate doses before she does, although, given how often the Gardasil cranks cite the study above, it wouldn’t surprise me if she would believe that such a minuscule amount of polysorbate-80 is the deadliest of poisons, just as vaccine cranks mistakenly believe that the tiny amount of formaldehyde and aluminum are.

Comments

  1. #1 Nomen Nescio
    September 3, 2008

    nitpick: you confuse the dosages in a couple of places;

    …50 μg (that’s micrograms, folks) of histidine… then …we’re talking about 0.78 mg worth of histidine… then later …all that histidine (remember, 0.8 mg worth!)… — it gets to look inconsistent. but other than that, on target.

  2. #2 BGT
    September 3, 2008

    Orac, nice post. To paraphase Apocalypse Now, “I love the smell of burning stupid in the morning.”

  3. #3 Ranson
    September 3, 2008

    Wow. That’s a hunk of burningly bad free-associative “research”. Maybe she should research those evil surfactants that coat the insides of our lungs. Hell, I’ve handled polysorbate-80 in mass quantities, and actually managed to cover myself in it at one point. While I can’t recommend it, I was fine after a shower.

    Before I go on, though, let’s point out just how much polysorbate-80 and L-histidine can be found in a dose of Gardasil: 50 μg and 0.78 mg, respectively. Keep those numbers in mind. Also keep in mind that the the WHO-recommended daily intake of histidine is on the order of 10 mg per kg body weight. For a typical 40 kg 13 year old girl, that would be 400 mg, or well over 500 times the amount that is in Gardasil.

    That bit also just makes the burning worse. Sure, you’re supposed to have this stuff daily, in much larger quantities than the vaccine will ever deliver, but this one dose will KILL KILL KILL!!!!!!!!!!!!!*cough**sputter*

    Okay, so maybe she’s not calling it deadly, but the sentiment is the same. I think this warrants a polite response directly to the author, Orac. See if she will actually acknowledge the corrections. That’ll show the real difference between the misguided and the cranks, and to which camp she belongs.

  4. #4 T. Bruce McNeely
    September 3, 2008

    > I love it when know-nothings like Mrs. Janak say “I have
    > a theory.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOzVkSFnKxI

  5. #5 MiddleO'Nowhere
    September 3, 2008

    I think you meant milligram and not gram at this point

    That’s right. According to Mrs. Janak, less than one milligram of histidine is going to cause nausea, vomiting, and irritable bowel syndrome.

  6. #6 leigh
    September 3, 2008

    we’re talking about less than a milligram of an amino acid that people BUY AS A SUPPLEMENT in 500 mg doses! geez, those poor fools who buy the supplement must be suicidal! red alert!

    i’m not against gardasil as a voluntary thing, but i don’t see justification in making a mandatory part of vaccination programs. it’s not like you’re going to catch hpv through regular school activities.

  7. #7 Interrobang
    September 3, 2008

    According to Mrs. Janak, less than one milligram of histidine is going to cause nausea, vomiting, and irritable bowel syndrome.

    I have that anyway, most of the time. I guess instead of being parsimonious about it and guessing that my digestive system is probably affected by my spasticity (as it often is), I could simply claim that my histidine levels are too high. I see a vast potential for an entirely new field of woo here, not unlike that particular species of woomeister who claims that any and every health problem is actually caused by “acidification.”

  8. #8 tbell1
    September 3, 2008

    I suspect that what is at work here is that she is just ‘working backwards’ from conclusions to evidence. When I’m in uncharitable mood I like to call that lawyerly reasoning. None of the science you just debunked matters to her or her readership. Sex obsessed conservatives don’t want sex to be any safer. This means that any kind of muddying the waters regarding hpv vaccines is the lord’s work. I view her rants as completely disingenuous. She may not even be stupid, she just has to sound plausible to a bunch of people who aren’t going to look at the science anyway.

  9. #9 Scott
    September 3, 2008

    Ah, but the trick is that *this* histidine has been injected instead of ingested! And by having been in a syringe, it has resonated with everything ever injected with syringes, including heroin and the drugs used for lethal injections. So getting vaccinated is the same thing as taking heroin! [/sarcasm]

    Hey, it makes at least as much sense as homeopathy…

  10. #10 Calli Arcale
    September 3, 2008

    leigh, another reason to oppose mandatory HPV vaccines for girls is that there is zero chance of achieving herd immunity, since under current proposals males would not receive it, and they would comprise a pretty serious reservoir for the virus. I personally feel that vaccines should only be made mandatory if there is a significant public health benefit, and I just don’t see that for Gardasil, especially given the relatively high cost of it. Tetanus — yeah, get that. It’s way too easy to contract tetanus, and the consequences can be pretty immediately grave. Measles — yeah, get that. We stand a good shot of extirpating it from the US if we all work together on it. HPV — I’m not so sure it’s worth it from a public health perspective, at least not yet. From a personal perspective, it can be very worthwhile. But public health? I’m not convinced.

  11. #11 Abel Pharmboy
    September 3, 2008

    Great post, chief – hope you’re recovering well in the burn center.

    I know I’m preaching to the choir here but this example is the exact opposite of what we face with herbal medicine marketing: that supplements have positive benefits even when the doses (and resulting blood levels) are orders of magnitude below what is required in the lab for a beneficial effect (that’s without even getting into whether that beneficial effect can be translated clinically).

    Taken together, we have here a proposition that subtoxicological doses can be harmful – sounds to me like a case of anti-homeopathy!

  12. #12 Azkyroth
    September 3, 2008

    This is unfortunate, but I really think this sort of “research” needs to be taken more seriously by society. Since complications of Stupidity – especially in the tragic case of Secondhand Stupidity – are arguably the leading cause of preventable death in the First World, this sort of thing is a public menace. x.x

  13. #13 notmercury
    September 3, 2008

    Ah, but somebody beat her too it:
    http://recoveredfromautism.blogspot.com/2007/05/one-less-misinformed-parent.html

    The vaccine also includes aluminum, sodium chloride, L-histidine, polysorbate 80, water, and sodium borate – boric acid – (poison)! Boric acid, an insecticide and anti-fungal, is banned in the United States as a food additive. It is toxic to all cells. The negative effects of aluminum and other heavy metals are widely reported.

    As for the matter of dilution, have you forgotten the principles of homeopathy?

    Anyone familiar with the principles of homeopathy and “like cures like” knows if you highly dilute and potentize something and apply it to a well person, it can cause symptoms and ill health. This is how they prove homeopathic remedies – by giving the remedy to healthy people and determining the symptoms it produces. This vaccine could theoretically be the perfect formula for creating allergy and autism in healthy children. One has to ask, are the pharmaceutical companies really that devious or just that stupid?!

  14. #14 BA
    September 3, 2008

    I think her research is certainly worthy of a Medical Science Monitor publication, no? Maybe JAAPS?

  15. #15 Dangerous Bacon
    September 3, 2008

    Says Mrs. Janak: “Do you know how it is when you have a gut feeling that just won’t quit?”

    Sure do. I will never ever eat reindeer sausage again.

  16. #16 logos
    September 3, 2008

    Gardasil has “Gard” in the name, which is like “Guard”. What do Guards do? They protect money. Money is the root of all evil. Therefore, Gardasil is evil.

    If you aren’t capable of understanding the sources you qoute, maybe your should just keep your trap shut.

  17. #17 Bronze Dog
    September 3, 2008

    Just a minor note:

    Worse, I don’t like how some advocates of the vaccine are so quick to characterize people who bring up questions about Gardasil or the other anti-HPV vaccine as “anti-woman” or “misogynistic”

    To date, you’re the first person I’ve encountered to give out reasonable-sounding objections. The rest spoke like classical “avoiding the gods’ judgment” antivaxxers.

  18. #18 DonZilla
    September 3, 2008

    Orac, you always keep forgetting what country we live in. We live in a nation that elected Dan Quayle. And G. W. Bush. TWICE. Anti-intellectualism is an American tradition. I know people who are proud that they’ve never stepped foot in a bookstore.

    So of course, a warm fuzzy mom knows more about vaccines than nasty old Orac with his big elitist brain up in the ivory tower, who uses big words regular folk don’t understand. That’s the whole basis of the “Eureka” TV show on Sci-Fi. Regular “Joe” Sheriff Carter sees and solves problems using his gut and good ol’ Yankee common sense, that all those “fancy” scientists with their big brains and advanced technology can’t figure out.

  19. #19 Harry Eagar
    September 3, 2008

    Calli , I never thought about that. Why wouldn’t Gardasil protect males against contracting HPV?

    (Makes me a sexist, I guess.)

  20. #20 Sid Schwab
    September 3, 2008

    “…a freelance journalist, mother of three, foster mother of one, grandmother of five, business owner, Chamber of Commerce member. Her expertise is as an administrative professional. Her specialties are adoptee and genealogy research and research journalism. Hobbies: Writing prose, crocheting, Conservative Studies, and rehabbing houses.

    Sounds like a nice lady, right? “

    Actually, she sounds like a vice presidential candidate.

  21. #21 alyric
    September 3, 2008

    You can send comment via email. Given the low to no standards of production, perhaps her colleagues may not be so impressed, if they’re made aware that she’s more than your average twit. They should know how far along the stupidity scale this little think piece is.

  22. #22 sirhcton
    September 3, 2008

    “Too bad this nice lady has written what has to be the most amazingly convoluted and silly attack . . . ”

    If you examine her articles further and others’ on the site, I should expect you to not be surprised by the other equally silly attacks, including 9/11 conspriacies, antivaccination (causes autism, her gut tells her, I am sure). There seems to be the usual mixture of rightist, pseudo-populist drivel. She has fallen in with bad company.

  23. #23 question
    September 3, 2008

    Is there an advantage in keeping young people from contracting an STD over andabove the cancer? Considering how sexually active many young people are I would think that they’d want to avoid getting genital warts even if it wasn’t associated with cancer.

    Of course, older people would like to avoid it to but it may be too late for them if they are already infected.

    If I’m not mistaken males can get a kind of cancer via this virus, too.

    I think abstinence before marriage, and marriage to one person is the best solution, but not practical for many people given that they won’t go that route.

    I’m not sure it’s a good idea to vaccinate all young girls or boys with Gardasil, or if this is the best way to spend money that might go to something else in the public health sector, but preventing genital warts has to be worth something in itself.

  24. #24 Skwee
    September 3, 2008

    So wait, if RA patients have low levels of histidine, wouldn’t the histidine in Gardasil , by her logic, protect against RA?

  25. #25 Mary Parsons
    September 3, 2008

    If I have made any mistakes because I am not a research scientist with what I have posted here today please feel free to let me know and I will check out your findings and post a retraction.

    So, presumably that means that she isn’t open to correction on the basis of her misunderstanding of the meaning of attenuate or because she is not showing much evidence of skills in either reading comprehension or number-handling?

    In countries like the UK with readily-accessible screening programmes, it is far from clear that HPV vaccination represents cost-savings or clear financial benefit. This is unfortunate because there are many mundane conditions that would benefit enormously from that amount of money being thrown into them and result in a substantial improvement in quality of life. E.g., Lucentis for people with AMD or speedier access to hearing-aids than a 5-year waiting-list.

  26. #26 Orodriguez
    September 3, 2008

    I’m a dude, but I would love to get this vaccine just to shut up the naysayers.

  27. #27 IBY
    September 3, 2008

    Darn, that is a whole lot of stupid just for one article.

  28. #28 Lancelot Gobbo
    September 3, 2008

    Gardasil is given to boys as well as girls in Australia, the rationale being that it is better to break the chain of transmission in two places rather than one. In Canada anyway, the manufacturer judged that a license for use in both sexes would not be granted, so they only applied for use in girls. As things stand here, boys will get protection against HPV disease eventually, when there are only vaccinated girls to have sex with. In the meantime they will continue to get genital warts and some will get penile cancer (which you might all hope is rare, but I have two patients in my rural general practice who have had amputations for this cancer).
    But, consider two more things. Firstly, there is a group of men who will never get any protection, even when every girl is vaccinated – gay men. They too can get genital and anal warts, penile carcinomas and also a particularly nasty and aggressive form of ano-rectal carcinoma, that is even nastier in the HIV infected crowd. They might like to see some benefit coming their way too. Secondly, it is now recognised that a much larger proportion of oral carcinomas are related to HPV than previously thought (relative risk 32 versus 7 for smokers). I don’t know which strains of HPV are implicated in oral tumours, but since oro-genital contact is the likely mode of acquisition in this site, I’d think it a fair likelihood that the same strains might be involved. More people contract oral cancer, and more die each year from it than are affected by cervical cancer. It is a truly disgusting way to die as well.
    So, still no public health benefit? I hope someone is looking into these things.

  29. #29 Rogue Epidemiologist
    September 3, 2008

    If… she… weighs… the same as a duck,… she’s made of wood. And therefore … A WITCH!

    The “logic” is just the same. And funny you should mention histidine and histamine. I was just researching scombroid fish poisoning.

  30. #30 itazurakko
    September 3, 2008

    This is the first I’ve heard of polysorbate 80. I know about polysorbate 60 as it’s used in Twinkie filling.

    “Surfactant” brings to mind articles about babies born too young who occasionally die from not having enough surfactant yet working in the lungs.

    The free association of the paper quoted here – wow. Thing is, often the people who claim “I’m not a scientist, but…” many times in a piece are really hoping to hear that somehow THEY have managed to make the breakthrough when all the educated people cannot, because what success takes is not education, or experience, or practice, but rather a heart of gold, good plain people common sense, meaning well, and of course angels.

    It’s so… Gumpian.

  31. #31 Alan Kellogg
    September 3, 2008

    I remember when the first volume of the Gardasil rules were released, a number of people felt gastric distress at the lack of organization and the messing mechanics. Tons of sociological information, but dang little about character creation. Then the publisher had a snit and let the property lie fallow for a decade or so.

    We are talking about the RPG, right?

  32. #32 qetzal
    September 3, 2008

    Skwee asked:

    So wait, if RA patients have low levels of histidine, wouldn’t the histidine in Gardasil , by her logic, protect against RA?

    No, because she thinks the immune system will react to the ‘excess’ histidine, and then (I guess) attack all histidine everywhere in the body, lowering the leves even more.

    You know, just like all those other known cases where the body makes antibodies to individual amino acids.

    Sheesh.

  33. #33 A Regular Lurker
    September 3, 2008

    “This is the first I’ve heard of polysorbate 80. I know about polysorbate 60 as it’s used in Twinkie filling.”

    Oh my god, vaccines are fattening! No teenage girl will *ever* get vaccinated now!!2!!

  34. #34 Tsu Dho Nimh
    September 3, 2008

    Histadine? It’s in everything! 100 grams of roast pork has a gram of it!

    This is almosttoowierd to be woo.

    But what is the histidine doing for the vaccine? Adjuvant?

  35. #35 Tsu Dho Nimh
    September 3, 2008

    http://www.evitamins.com/product.asp?pid=656
    Product Description: L-Histidine is an amino acid which increases resistance to environmental allergens and aids in prevention of Anemia. A dilator to help increase blood circulation.

    The evil L-Histadine, in 500mg capsules for only $21.59

  36. #36 Bada Bing
    September 4, 2008

    I have a clue… a raging clue!

  37. #37 Narc
    September 4, 2008

    You know what else is one of those big scary surfactants? Egg yolk. (Well, the lecithin in them.) That’s why mayonnaise works. Guess we’ll have to avoid that, as well.

  38. #38 ChrisC
    September 4, 2008

    Surfactant! Oh Noes! Better stop washing my dishes. I’m sure the residual diswashing liquid left on the china will cause… well… something…

  39. #39 Woobegone
    September 4, 2008

    I wish I just had gut feelings about chemical compounds, it would have made studying chemistry so much easier. No need for textbooks, just follow your heart.

  40. #40 RedGreenInBlue
    September 4, 2008

    ChrisC said,

    Surfactant! Oh Noes! Better stop washing my dishes. I’m sure the residual diswashing liquid left on the china will cause… well… something…

    ZOMG, those ne-Fairy-ous big household products companies! I’d steer well clear if I were you – and remember, the gastroenteritis you get from eating off the plate on which you stored that raw chicken is natural, and therefore good for your immune system.

  41. #41 vlad
    September 4, 2008

    Wonder if she knows the polysorbate 80 is found in many dairy products? Now ice cream is evil too!?!

  42. #42 Kerry Maxwell
    September 4, 2008

    Hoo-boy! poke around that *renew america* site for some radioactive stupid. Here’s one about the LHC is going to cause a comet to collide with earth because TEH GAYS! It says so in the bible:

    http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/kovach/080903

    I’m pretty sure you would find nothing but lime jello covered in miracle whip inside that authors skull.

  43. #43 ringo
    September 4, 2008

    And we see here two factors at war:

    The danger of keyword-based research (she clearly searched for the vaccine ingredients, and then cherry-picked the results).

    And the danger of herd-mentality. No, not hers.

    As more and more previously privileged scientific information becomes available online, more and more gray-market science will be done as well. The winners will be those who can sift the gems from the dross, not those who reject the whole pile out of hand.

  44. #44 SteveM
    September 4, 2008

    Holy cow, that kovach article is so much concentrated stupid it threatens to form its own black hole.

  45. #45 martin
    September 4, 2008

    The good lady may be relieved to hear that histidinemia is a benign condition, although its hallmark are highly elevated histidine levels in blood (about 2-10 times normal levels). Histidinemia is a deficiency of histidine ammonia-lyase (due to mutations in the gene encoding the enzyme). No blood clotting abnormalities were reported to my knowledge.

  46. #46 qetzal
    September 4, 2008

    Tsu Dho Nimh asked,

    But what is the histidine doing for the vaccine? Adjuvant?

    No, it’s probably doing double duty as a biocompatible buffer and vaccine stabilizer.

  47. #47 Dawn
    September 6, 2008

    Hmmm…I am beginning to wonder. Anytime that someone has a valid point, people attack like wolves. Anytime that someone is ridiculous in their claims, the “jury” subsides. What gives people? Do the anti-vax have some kind of point at times that you don’t want to admit? (Your boss is looking the other way while you reply).

  48. #48 Hulda Clark must be one of the Illuminati
    September 6, 2008

    Found on curezone:

    From Hulda Clarks book I learned that taking L-Histidine,( bought from the health food store), the nickel would be chelated out of my system and the parasites would starve and I could sleep all night.

    Every time I forget and mess with dirt without wearing gloves I get to get up several times a night. It takes about three days of taking L-Histidine to get back to normal. I hope that this will help some one with prostate problems.

    This is my real name and the honest truth.

    Charles Bagley

  49. #49 qetzal
    September 6, 2008

    Dawn wrote:

    Anytime that someone has a valid point, people attack like wolves.

    Which of Mrs. Janak’s points did you think were valid?

  50. #50 Hulda Clark must be one of the Illuminati
    September 6, 2008

    Clarification. All of this is from the curezone BB. I didn’t format the blockquote right.

    ” From Hulda Clarks book I learned that taking L-Histidine,( bought from the health food store), the nickel would be chelated out of my system and the parasites would starve and I could sleep all night.

    Every time I forget and mess with dirt without wearing gloves I get to get up several times a night. It takes about three days of taking L-Histidine to get back to normal. I hope that this will help some one with prostate problems.

    This is my real name and the honest truth.

    Charles Bagley”

  51. #51 Dawn
    September 7, 2008

    Well, Hulda Clark must be one of the Illuminati, let us just hope and pray that you do not have a child affected by vaccines. If you do however, and the medical community refuses to accept it – we will be there for you no matter how much you torment us now. “We” will never turn our backs on you or “dismiss” your findings. Your voice will be heard LOUD and CLEAR despite the protest of the medical community. This goes for anyone reading this blog.

    If you are upset about the numerous hours and costly financial debt due to your medical career – please do not be dismayed. Use this for the good and start educating people. You have not only the power, but the “duty” to educate your fellow man. Whether it be a whisper to a patient in the hallway or an anonymous letter to their home – start educating them despite what your “bosses” tell you. Don’t you want to help your fellow man? Don’t you want to see people “well”? Stop promoting drugs that don’t work!! Find a way and make it happen!

  52. #52 snerd
    September 7, 2008

    I see Dawn hasn’t lowered the bar for spouting reams of quasi-intelligible gibberish. Chase that star, Dawn!

    Also, I still note that you seem to be entirely in favour of unborn children being killed or maimed by the rubella virus. Good for you, sticking to your guns.

  53. #53 Tlazolteotl
    September 10, 2008

    Very late to the party, but I just have to observe that “I’m not a scientist, but…” has to be the pseudo-intellectual version of “hold my beer and watch this!”

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