Archive for October, 2009

Gardasil Researcher Drops A Bombshell

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Harper: Controversal Drug Will Do Little To Reduce Cervical Cancer Rates
By Susan Brinkmann, For The Bulletin
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Dr. Diane Harper, lead researcher in the development of two human papilloma virus vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, said the controversial drugs will do little to reduce cervical cancer rates and, even though they’re being recommended for girls as young as nine, there have been no efficacy trials in children under the age of 15.

Dr. Harper, director of the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at the University of Missouri, made these remarks during an address at the 4th International Public Conference on Vaccination which took place in Reston, Virginia on Oct. 2-4. Although her talk was intended to promote the vaccine, participants said they came away convinced the vaccine should not be received.

“I came away from the talk with the perception that the risk of adverse side effects is so much greater than the risk of cervical cancer, I couldn’t help but question why we need the vaccine at all,” said Joan Robinson, Assistant Editor at the Population Research Institute.

Dr. Harper began her remarks by explaining that 70 percent of all HPV infections resolve themselves without treatment within a year. Within two years, the number climbs to 90 percent. Of the remaining 10 percent of HPV infections, only half will develop into cervical cancer, which leaves little need for the vaccine.

She went on to surprise the audience by stating that the incidence of cervical cancer in the U.S. is already so low that “even if we get the vaccine and continue PAP screening, we will not lower the rate of cervical cancer in the US.”

There will be no decrease in cervical cancer until at least 70 percent of the population is vaccinated, and even then, the decrease will be minimal.

Apparently, conventional treatment and preventative measures are already cutting the cervical cancer rate by four percent a year. At this rate, in 60 years, there will be a 91.4 percent decline just with current treatment. Even if 70 percent of women get the shot and required boosters over the same time period, which is highly unlikely, Harper says Gardasil still could not claim to do as much as traditional care is already doing.

Dr. Harper, who also serves as a consultant to the World Health Organization, further undercut the case for mass vaccination by saying that “four out of five women with cervical cancer are in developing countries.”

Ms. Robinson said she could not help but wonder, “If this is the case, then why vaccinate at all? But from the murmurs of the doctors in the audience, it was apparent that the same thought was occurring to them.”

However, at this point, Dr. Harper dropped an even bigger bombshell on the audience when she announced that, “There have been no efficacy trials in girls under 15 years.”

Merck, the manufacturer of Gardasil, studied only a small group of girls under 16 who had been vaccinated, but did not follow them long enough to conclude sufficient presence of effective HPV antibodies.

This is not the first time Dr. Harper revealed the fact that Merck never tested Gardasil for safety in young girls. During a 2007 interview with KPC, she said giving the vaccine to girls as young as 11 years-old “is a great big public health experiment.”

At the time, which was at the height of Merck’s controversial drive to have the vaccine mandated in schools, Dr. Harper remained steadfastly opposed to the idea and said she had been trying for months to convince major television and print media about her concerns, “but no one will print it.”

“It is silly to mandate vaccination of 11 to 12 year old girls,” she said at the time. “There also is not enough evidence gathered on side effects to know that safety is not an issue.”

When asked why she was speaking out, she said: “I want to be able to sleep with myself when I go to bed at night.”

Since the drug’s introduction in 2006, the public has been learning many of these facts the hard way. To date, 15,037 girls have officially reported adverse side effects from Gardasil to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). These adverse reactions include Guilliane Barre, lupus, seizures, paralysis, blood clots, brain inflammation and many others. The CDC acknowledges that there have been 44 reported deaths.

Dr. Harper also participated in the research on Glaxo-Smith-Kline’s version of the drug, Cervarix, currently in use in the UK but not yet approved here. Since the government began administering the vaccine to school-aged girls last year, more than 2,000 patients reported some kind of adverse reaction including nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, convulsions, seizures and hyperventilation. Several reported multiple reactions, with 4,602 suspected side-effects recorded in total. The most tragic case involved a 14 year-old girl who dropped dead in the corridor of her school an hour after receiving the vaccination.

The outspoken researcher also weighed in last month on a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that raised questions about the safety of the vaccine, saying bluntly: “The rate of serious adverse events is greater than the incidence rate of cervical cancer.”

Ms. Robinson said she respects Dr. Harper’s candor. “I think she’s a scientist, a researcher, and she’s genuine enough a scientist to be open about the risks. I respect that in her.”

However, she failed to make the case for Gardasil. “For me, it was hard to resist the conclusion that Gardasil does almost nothing for the health of American women.”

Weil to Bioneers: Health is your responsibility, not politicians

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Paul Liberatore – Contra Costa Times

The annual Bioneers conference prides itself on presenting unsung “superstars” – “great people nobody has ever heard of,” founder Kenny Ausubel said during the weekend gathering at the Marin Civic Center.

But Andrew Weil, a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, is a superstar physician just about everyone has heard of from his books and appearances on “Larry King Live,” the “Today Show” and “Oprah.”

An avuncular figure with his neatly trimmed white beard, bald head and easy smile, Weil spoke about the contentious health care reform issue at the 20th Bioneers convocation on Saturday.

He was the headliner of the morning plenary session, strolling the stage in jeans and a gray T-shirt, speaking without notes to a large but not capacity crowd in the 2,000-seat Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

He wasted no time in framing the current debate as not about health care, but about health insurance, pointing out that our overly expensive health care system is 37th in the world in terms of quality, about the same as Serbia.

“There is something very wrong with this picture,” he said.

He noted that in his recent speeches on health care, President Barack Obama’s only reference to preventive medicine was to encourage people to get a colonoscopy. But there was no mention of health education or the lifestyle choices – diet and exercise – that are major factors in disease prevention and health promotion.

He blamed a corporate “disease management system” that is overly
dependent on expensive technology – the overuse of high-tech scans that themselves may cause cancer, and the over-reliance on prescription drugs for treating each and every disease.

“Americans are taking prescription drugs at 10 times the rate as when I was growing up,” he said. And without naming brand names, he got a big hand when he took aim at the proliferation of ads for prescription drugs on television, saying, “If I were king, I would ban direct consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals. If I were on a desert island and had to pick 12 drugs to have with me, I’d pick things like morphine and aspirin, not the stuff advertised on TV. This is a big problem we’ve got to solve.”

He advised his audience against relying on politicians to solve it.

“They only pay lip service to prevention,” he said. “They are too beholden to vested interests. The corrupting influence of money is overwhelming. The profits are outrageous.”

Instead, he placed the responsibility directly on the shoulders of the average person.

“It’s up to you to change the balance of political power,” he said. “Health is an individual responsibility. But we’ve got to make it easier, not harder, for people to make healthier choices.”

He brought up some novel approaches to help people do that. He cited the example of Alabama, which is looking at combating its high obesity rate with a fat tax that would cause people who don’t lose weight to forfeit some health benefits.

“That’s something to experiment with,” he said.

And he brought up a Swedish attempt to make exercise fun by turning a staircase into a piano keyboard, encouraging people to make music while taking the stairs rather than an escalator.

“I like that,” he grinned. “It’s a novel strategy that won’t give people the feeling of being coerced.”

The bottom line, Weil told the group, is that “you can’t afford to get sick.” And he offered some simple ways of staying healthy.

“It’s not that complicated,” he said. “When it comes to nutrition, stop eating refined, processed and manufactured foods. That’s it. Just stay out of the interior of supermarkets.”

He recommended more of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and in fish oil. He also suggested that Americans need vitamin D, which comes from the sun, saying that we suffer from a widespread deficiency of it in this country.

Within reason, “the sun is good for you,” he said.

Then there’s exercise. “You’ve got to move your body,” he said. “Figure out ways to move. You don’t have to run marathons or join a gym. Just try to walk. Walk a little more today than you did yesterday.”

And, lastly, “neutralize stress.” He said his favorite method was a simple breathing technique. “Try breathing deeper, slower, quieter and more regularly. Practice this. It’s very simple stuff.”

Despite the divisiveness of the health care debate, Weil said, “I’m optimistic about the future. If enough people demand change, maybe we can change things. But it’s only going to change if we get aroused enough and angry enough to make the change.”

Americans found to be deficient in Vitamin P

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Submitted by Heather Rudalavage of Intuitive Nutrition

What , you say- you never heard of Vitamin P?? Okay, so it’s not a real vitamin, but most of us are deficient in it. It’s called Pleasure. I heard this play on terms somewhere and it got me to thinking. Especially when a good friend of mine started to talk about how “the kids” were killing her marriage. “Honey, the Kids are Killing Us”- The Prequel to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. We both agreed that our marriages were in need of some romance, joy, fun, (you know, like in high school) maybe this lack of pleasure has something to do with the extra weight I am still trying to shed. Could it be that if I went out dancing or if my husband and I ran around the high school track and then collapsed in a fit of giggles and started making out under the stars, these last few pounds would budge?

It’s ironic isn’t it, that we Americans have more choices, more income, more food, more house, more car and more STUFF than any other nation on the planet and yet we are not the happiest or the healthiest. Could it be that we have begun to look towards food in an attempt to find pleasure? But, in a sad twist, have effectively taken pleasure out of our food and reduced it to numbers- how many calories does it have, how many fat grams, how many carbs, is it healthy, is it good or bad, should I or shouldn’t I. And now, we keep eating more food and still not getting any pleasure from it. Take for instance, wine. When we realized that the French have less heart disease, but eat more “rich” foods and drink more wine than we Americans do, we figured it must be the phyto -chemicals in the wine, if we could just bottle up the those chemicals in the form of a pill, we would have less heart disease too. Right?? Here’s the vital piece that may be missing. Maybe it’s not the chemicals in the wine, maybe it’s the fact that the French linger over their meals, sipping wine, chatting and laughing with friends. Over here, on this side of the pond, we are far too busy to linger over dinner. We rather shovel it in as fast as we can and then take a pill to make up for the rest. We have to take the kids to baseball, soccer, dance, spanish, piano…

What if we began to find more ways to add pleasure to our life, not in the form of accumulating more stuff, but working less and spending more time with our selves, our spouses our families our friends? What if we worked less and had less money to spend on after school lessons, but had more time to play a game of tag in the yard or go for a bike ride. What if we made a date night with our significant other at least once a month? What if we began to say grace and offer gratitude for our abundance? I wonder if these acts of attempting to add more pleasure to our lives would have an affect on our waistlines? I think it would, but even if it didn’t effect our waistlines we would still be better off.

Recently, I read about two different families who didn’t spend any money (other than necessities, groceries and entertainment) for a year. Both families saved about $10,000. As much as I would like to not see that credit card bill every month, I just don’t think I could do it. What about birthdays and Christmas how would I explain to my kids that Santa had to cut them off the list this year due to the recession? But, maybe it doesn’t need to be this extreme. Maybe I could find small ways to spend less and add more joy. Remember that friend of mine who said the kids were killing her, I mean, her marriage? She and I decided to swap babysitting services for an overnight. That way, we can each spend a night alone with our hubby’s and we don’t need to spend a dime, unless we wanted to go to dinner or something. Let the pleasure begin :)

Anyone have any thoughts they want to add? Anyone have any ideas on how to get off the hamster wheel?

Earth matters – Tackling the climate crisis from the ground up

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Some things have not changed much since da Vinci’s time, 500 years ago. For many, soil is a mix of dirt and dust. But in reality soils are one of Earth’s most amazing living ecosystems. Millions of plants, bacteria, fungi, insects and other living organisms – most of them invisible to the naked human eye – are in a constantly evolving process of creating, composing and decomposing organic living matter. They are also the unavoidable starting point for anyone who wants to grow food.

Soils also contain enormous amounts of carbon, mostly in the form of organic matter. On a global scale soils hold more than twice as much carbon as is contained in terrestrial vegetation. The rise of industrial agriculture in the past century, however, has provoked, through its reliance on chemical fertilisers, a general disrespect for soil fertility and a massive loss of organic matter from the soil. Much of this lost organic matter has ended up in the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the most important greenhouse gas.

The way that industrial agriculture has treated soils has been a key factor in provoking the current climate crisis. But soils can also be a part of the solution, to a much greater extent than is commonly acknowledged. According to our calculations, if we could manage to put back into the world’s agricultural soils the organic matter that we have been losing because of industrial agriculture, we would capture at least one third of the current excessive CO2 in the atmosphere. If, once we had done that, we were to continue rebuilding the soils, we would, after about 50 years, have captured about two thirds of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere. In the process, we would be constructing healthier and more productive soils and we would be able to do away with the use of chemical fertilisers, which are another potent producer of climate change gases.

Via Campesina has argued that agriculture based on small-scale farming, using agro-ecological production methods and oriented towards local markets, can cool the planet and feed the population (see Box 1). They are right, and the reasons lie largely in the soil.

Read The Rest…

Putting the Last First – The Organic Answer to Food Security For All

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, October 12, 2009

On the occasion of the World Food Day, agro-industry proposes a second green revolution based on genetic engineering. This suits their interests but does not contribute to feeding the poor. Organic Agriculture based on its encouraging concepts, experience and examples proposes a paradigm-shift in food security policies to ensure that hunger is history by 2050.

In 2009, the number of undernourished people reached one billion, three quarters of them live in rural areas . This is more than ever before. Despite the fact that the world produces 125% of the required food for all, 15% of people are hungry; and most of them are women and children. Global agriculture production today fails to feed the world’s poorest people since they lack access to income and resources such as fertile land, water, seeds and knowledge for a farming system adapted to local conditions and the demands of markets. The green revolution accomplished a lot but failed to combat hunger. It focused only on technology and relied on huge quantities of climate damaging inputs such as agro-chemicals.

Putting the last first IFOAM advocates for a paradigm shift in agricultural policies and offers its practices and systems to policy makers for adoption especially in the global south and for regions with food insecurity. Organic Agriculture puts the needs of rural people and the sustainable use of natural resources at the centre of the farming system. Locally adapted technologies create employment opportunities and income. Low external inputs minimize risk of indebtedness and intoxication of the environment. It increases harvests through practices that favor the optimization of biological processes and local resources over expensive, toxic and climate damaging agro-chemicals . Organic Agricultural practices bring land degraded by unsustainable farming practices, severe drought and soil erosion back into production . And in response to a frequently asked question: Yes, the world can be fed by the worldwide adoption of Organic Agriculture. The slightly lower yields of Organic Agriculture in favorable, temperate zones are compensated with approximately 10 – 20% higher yields in difficult environments such as arid areas .

For more information call Markus Arbenz, IFOAM Executive Director: +49 160 804 15 57