The effects of some vaccines on the autoimmune system can
be far greater than the adverse effects of the infectious disease
itself. For example, live oral polio
vaccines have been shown to induce polio at a rate of 0.2 cases per
100,000. This has caused some
countries, including the U.S. to immunize with a killed polio vaccine instead
of the live vaccine.
In the case of the hemophilus influenza vaccine,
immunization may only prevent 30 to 36 cases of meningitis per 100,000 while
it may cause a rise in the incidence of insulin-dependent diabetes in
children (i.e., 200 cases per 100,000). On one hand, the vaccine is helping
a small number of potential meningitis cases, but on the other, is
contributing to a chronic disease for which there is currently no cure. In this case, the benefit does not outweigh the risk.
The Ministry of Health in France recently announced the
suspension of routine hepatitis B immunizations of school age children in
France. Routine Hepatitis B
immunizations given at birth would continue.
The reason for this decision was the increased risk of autoimmune
diseases associated with the vaccine when it is given to school age children
as compared to newborns.
Immunologist John B. Classen, M.D. originally published
papers linking the hepatitis B and other vaccines to the development of
insulin dependent diabetes, an autoimmune disease. At that time certain public health officials attempted to deny
an association between auto-immunity and immunization; however, two recently
published U.S. government studies have supported the association. One study linked hepatitis B immunization
to an autoimmune form of hair loss.
Another small study showed that when hepatitis B immunization was
given at two months and older, it was associated with a near doubling of the
risk of diabetes.
“The French decision to continue hepatitis B immunization
at birth while discontinuing immunization starting at school age suggests the
French Ministry of Health may believe that timing of immunization has a role
on the development of auto-immunity.
They appear to be accepting our findings.” Dr. Classen is referring to
his numerous publications indicating immunizations given at birth are
associated with lower risks of auto-immunity than immunization given later in life.
Long-term safety studies are typically not performed on
vaccines prior to them attaining government approval. “Without these studies we can not be sure
that the benefits of immunization exceed the risks of and thus we should not
mandate the hepatitis B or other vaccines,” adds Classen.
For more information about polio, hepatitis B, influenza
vaccine safety visit the Vaccine Safety Web site at www.vaccines.net.
As always, your questions and comments are welcome.
Talk to you soon and deepest regards,
Could Lack of Sleep Wear Down
Disrupted Hormonal Circadian Rhythms May
Trigger Brain Atrophy
who's ever gone through the whole night without a wink knows what a struggle
the next day can be. Eyelids feel like lead weights, muscles ache, and the
body feels trapped in slow motion. Just thinking clearly suddenly becomes an
insurmountable intellectual challenge.
What's happening in the body to precipitate these
responses? Mounting evidence suggests that sleep deprivation may upset the
normal secretion pattern of hormones, causing short term - and possibly even
longer term - effects on cognitive health.
In one recent experiment, researchers used timed salivary
sampling to measure hormone levels in military service personnel on the day
after they were completely deprived of a night's sleep. They found that
levels of melatonin in the sleep-deprived subjects were much higher the
afternoon after the subjects lost sleep, compared with controls. Surges of
this pineal hormone would be likely to induce more intense feelings of
At the same time, levels of the stress hormone cortisol
were also higher the afternoon following sleep loss. That may be because the
body pumps out more cortisol in the psychological stress that results in the
ongoing struggle to stay awake, the researchers surmised.
These and other hormonal disruptions are potentially significant
because they may underlie side effects of chronic sleep deprivation, such as
excessive fatigue, mood deterioration, and poor concentration. In fact, over
time, the resulting hormonal imbalances could even change the physiognomy of
According to a brief communications appearing in a recent
issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience, chronic jet lag can disrupt the
body's natural circadian rhythms and trigger cortisol elevations that may
“erode” the part of the brain that controls spatial learning and memory.
In flight attendants with only short recovery rest periods
between international flights (less than 5 days) higher levels of cortisol
(measured in saliva) were correlated with a reduced volume of the right temporal
lobe in the brain (measured by an MRI). This relationship was not found in
flight attendants with a longer recovery time between international flights.
Previous research has linked high cortisol with a
degenerative “wearing away” of the hippocampus, resulting in memory loss.
Ensuring that the body has proper rest and recovery time may be crucial for
preventing cortisol elevations associated with atrophy of the brain's
temporal lobe, the researcher suggested.
NOTE: Use the following timed, salivary endocrine
assessments to evaluate hormone activity that both influences and is
influenced by sleep patterns:
Melatonin Profile analyzes three saliva samples to determine the secretion
pattern of this critical circadian hormone. Melatonin levels have been linked
specifically with sleep onset, sleep duration, and sleep quality.
Stress Profile assays four saliva samples over a 24-hour period for
levels of cortisol and DHEA. Chronic imbalances of these adrenal hormones
have been linked with progressive deterioration of the hippocampal region in
the brain, possibly leading to accelerated brain aging and memory loss.
Goh VH, Tong TY, Lim CL, Low EC, Lee LK. Effects of one
night of sleep deprivation on hormone profiles and performance efficiency.
Mil Med 2001 May;166(5):427-31.
Cho K. Chronic 'jet lag' produces temporal lobe atrophy
and spatial cognitive deficits. Nat Neurosci 2001;4(6):567-568.
Nature's Platform for nature's call
By JOHN O'DOWD/Watauga
It's now official. Recognized by no less an authority than the U.S. Patent
Office, Boone has a resident who truly knows “squat.”
In July, local inventor Jonathan Isbit was awarded U.S.
Patent No. 6,256,800 for an invention that he claims can prevent some serious
health problems. The invention allows a standard toilet to be used in the
Isbit cites extensive medical research indicating that the invention could
help prevent hemorrhoids, colon cancer and other common gastrointestinal
“Doctors feel that fecal stagnation is one of the causes
of colon cancer,” Isbit said. “A lot of fecal matter is not evacuated in the
“It remains in the body and stagnates,” said Isbit. The
squatting position, “used by two-thirds of the world's population, is much
Isbit said that many medical authorities consider the use of the sitting
posture for elimination to be an unnatural and unhealthy development, which
has only existed for the past 150 years.
“I feel like I've been given a mission to expose 150 years
of an unnatural sitting position,” Isbit said.
Creating his invention was a labor of love. Protecting it
through the patent process was not nearly as difficult as he had been led to
According to Isbit, he carried out most of the patent application process
himself, without the use of a patent attorney.
“I had a professional patent writer prepare the
description but I didn't like the way he wrote it so I redid it myself.”
He said he had a friend do the engineering drawings and he handled the patent
protests when an examiner said that his Nature's Platform was similar to
another device. Isbit said he explained that the other device simply raised
the user's feet while seated on the toilet, relieving some, but not all, of
The important difference between the two devices,
according to Isbit, is that the Nature's Platform places all of the body's
weight on the feet and properly aligns the intestines and colon (see
The examiner was convinced and the patent was awarded.
“I hope that it (the Platform) will make itself obsolete.
I hope to sell thousands and then millions throughout America and Europe and
make toilet manufacturers redesign all toilets to allow squatting.”
This is not a new quest for either health or
enlightenment. Isbit said that he discovered this position 30 years ago after
reading a book on yoga. There was a picture of a yogi in this position with
“I've now been doing it for 30 years and wanted to
communicate this idea. In today's culture, if you don't have something to
sell, people don't listen.”
Isbit cites one study involving 20 patients with severe
hemorrhoids. According to his research, the patients had all used
conventional treatments with little or no results. Then they were told to
switch to the natural squatting posture, and within a few days to a few
months, 18 of the 20 patients were free of all symptoms of hemorrhoids.
“This is an area of life which no one likes to discuss,
for obvious reasons,” said Isbit. “But that's precisely why this ignorance
has persisted. Before the 1850s, everyone used the squatting position. Then
the Œporcelain throne' was created to allow aristocrats to use the more
Œdignified' sitting position. No one dared to oppose it for fear of being
ridiculed and being associated with an indelicate issue.”
So, like the Emperor's New Clothes, it was tacitly
accepted, leaving a legacy of health problems that haunt us to this day.
“The authentic squatting position, used throughout the
world, puts the body's full weight on the feet. Nature's Platform is the only
product on the market which allows the use of this posture on an ordinary
toilet. It can be used even by people who thought they were incapable of
After designing Nature's Platform, Isbit found a
manufacturer. The platform is made by Advanced Tube Forming in Mt. Carmel,
He said that he wanted to make the product light, convenient and easy to use
and was concerned that not all people in a family, or their guests, would
want to use the Platform.
The first engineering challenge was to make it easy to
assemble and store. The Platform can be taken down and put up in a manner of
seconds. It is thin enough to store next to a standard toilet and strong
enough to support a 300-pound man or woman.
Isbit demonstrated the proper position on Nature's
Platform, quickly and easily stepping up on the frame and, yes, the user can
read newspapers and magazines in this position.
The Nature's Platform receives orders on the Internet at
www.NaturesPlatform.com and ships the product to customers throughout North
Ovarian Cancer May Cause Symptoms
By Merritt McKinney
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Ovarian cancer is generally
thought to have no tell-tale symptoms, particularly in its early stages. But
New York researchers report that the disease may indeed cause some recognizable
symptoms, even early on.
The knowledge that ovarian cancer can cause identifiable
symptoms may lead to earlier detection of the disease, according to the
About 23,000 women in the US develop ovarian cancer each
year. With early detection, the outlook for women with ovarian cancer is
good. But the cancer is rarely caught early, in part because symptoms such as
bloating and abdominal discomfort can signal any number of problems.
Most women are not diagnosed until a later stage of the
disease, when the odds of surviving more than 5 years are small. Each year,
about 14,000 US women die from ovarian cancer.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often thought to be
“vague and nonspecific,” according to Dr. Sara H. Olson of Memorial Sloan-Kettering
Cancer Center in New York.
But a study conducted by Olson and her colleagues suggests
that even though the symptoms experienced by women with ovarian cancer are
common in healthy women, they are more common and slightly different in
nature in women with the disease.
The researchers asked 168 women with ovarian cancer and
251 similarly aged healthy women how often they had symptoms such as unusual
bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, lack of energy and lower back pain.
Both women with ovarian cancer and healthy women reported
having had these symptoms, but with the exception of nausea, the symptoms
were much more common in women with ovarian cancer, the authors report in the
August issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
And the nature of the symptoms varied a bit between women
with and without cancer, according to the report. In women with cancer,
bloating, fullness and pressure in the abdomen tended to be constant, rather
than intermittent, as it was in healthy women. These symptoms also tended to
develop shortly before the women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
And despite the belief that early ovarian cancer causes
few or no symptoms, there were few differences between the symptoms of women
whose disease was detected early rather than late. Almost 9 out of 10 women
diagnosed at an early stage had at least one cancer symptom before diagnosis.
The findings may be a wake-up call for women with these
sorts of symptoms to see a physician, Olson told Reuters Health in an
Unlike the mammogram used to detect breast cancer, there
is no feasible test for screening for ovarian cancer, she said. Doctors
identify cancer in women using ultrasound testing.
SOURCE: Obstetrics & Gynecology 2001;98:212-217.
Rainfall, Temperature Dips Linked
to Infection Risk
By Amy Norton
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - While it may not be possible
to “catch your death of cold,” rainy and chillier-than-normal weather can
affect the odds of contracting infections via water and air, according to two
In one study of waterborne disease outbreaks in the US,
researchers found that more than two thirds of outbreaks between 1948 and
1994 were preceded by heavy rainfall--which can overload municipal water
systems and help contaminants spread to the drinking water supply. More than
half of these outbreaks occurred shortly after an onslaught of “extreme
precipitation,” according to a report in the August issue of the American
Journal of Public Health, the Journal of the American Public Health Association
More than 50% of the 548 outbreaks studied involved
gastrointestinal infections. And although the US drinking water supply is
thought to be “high-quality,” there remains the risk of contamination from
leaking septic tanks and agricultural runoff, according to Dr. Jonathan A.
Patz of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues.
They note that it is possible for increases in rainfall
and runoff to usher infectious agents from animal feces into the water
In a second study reported on in the same issue,
researchers found that when the temperature dipped 5 degrees over several
days in two California cities, rates of hospitalization for viral pneumonia
among females rose sharply.
Like other respiratory infections such as the flu, viral
pneumonia has a “season,” with cases peaking in the fall and winter. But in
the current study, investigators found that, regardless of season, an average
dip of 5 degrees in the minimum temperature over 4 days was followed by an
upswing in hospital admissions for viral pneumonia in Los Angeles and San
The picture was different, however, in the inland city of
Sacramento. There, higher hospitalization rates were linked to a 5-degree
decrease in the maximum temperature difference--the gap between the high and
low daily temperature. In addition, in years affected by El Nino weather
patterns--which in Sacramento meant warmer autumns and colder temperatures in
the winter and early spring--pneumonia hospitalizations went up for women but
down for girls.
El Nino had little effect on the temperatures in San
Francisco and Los Angeles.
It is unclear what is behind the link between these
temperature change and hospitalization patterns, according to lead researcher
Dr. Kristie L. Ebi of the Electric Power and Research Institute in Palo Alto,
It could be that sudden drops in temperature send more
people indoors for longer periods, increasing the chances of transmitting viruses
person-to-person, she told Reuters Health.
On the other hand, rainfall, which would also keep people
inside, was not linked to increased hospitalizations. “There must be some
other components in weather” affecting infection rates, Ebi said.
“Changing weather variables do not cause pneumonia,” she
and her colleagues point out in their report, “but they may set up conditions
that facilitate increased or decreased viral transmission.”
Traditionally, Ebi said, researchers have looked at the
pattern between season and viral rates. But while her team found that
pneumonia hospitalizations peaked at the appropriate time of year, they also
found increases based on temperature dips no matter what the season. In other
words, it did not have to be cold, according to Ebi.
She said there should be more study of how short-term
weather changes influence disease risk, adding that she will next study how
temperature shifts affect heart disease. Heart attack deaths have been found
to rise slightly in the winter.
“Hopefully, this will encourage (researchers) to look at
weather changes and not just season,” Ebi said.
SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health
Snacking, Meal Skipping Can
Boost Calorie Intake
By Sara Kuzmarov
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Skipping meals may seem like a
sure way to cut calories and lose weight, but study findings indicate that it
may lead to increased snacking of sugary foods that can pack on the pounds in
the long run.
The study of more than 1,500 eighth-grade students found
that 20% said they ate just two meals a day, mostly lunch and dinner. These
meal skippers generally consumed more snacks than their peers did, the
investigators found. And these snacks were generally rich in simple sugars
and salt, and low in fiber.
Indeed, overweight students were more likely to skip
breakfast, suggesting that “eating breakfast is not necessarily associated
with increased weight,” Dr. Johanna Dwyer of Tufts University in Boston,
Massachusetts and colleagues write.
But nearly 80% of students ate four or more times per day
and the more often students ate, the more calories they consumed, according
to the report in the July issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic
The findings demonstrate the relationship between
adolescents' eating patterns and nutrient intake and suggest that efforts to
promote healthy eating should target snacking.
“If you want to change what you eat, look at both how
often you eat and the combination of meals and snacks eaten,” Dwyer said in
an interview with Reuters Health.
She said that healthy eating is learned at home and at
school. More than three quarters of students in the study ate their lunch at
school and 80% ate dinner at home. Therefore, better food choices by parents
and in school cafeterias can go a long way, Dwyer said.
“At dinnertime, parents have to be involved in food
choices,” Agnes Kolor, a registered dietitian, told Reuters Health. She said
adolescents should focus on eating fewer treats, smaller portions and at
least three vegetables and two fruits a day.
The study results are based on student reports of food
intake over a 1-day period. Students from 96 public schools in San Diego, New
Orleans, Minneapolis and Austin, Texas participated in the study.
SOURCE: The Journal of the American Dietetic Association
Why Pesticides May Increase the Price You Pay For Food
A global shortage of bees and other insects that pollinate
plants is destroying crops around the world and could lead to far higher
prices for fruits and vegetables, according to researchers at the University
of Guelph, Canada.
consumers are ultimately going to pay," said Dr. Peter Kevan, an environmental biology
professor at the university.
"Instead of buying an apple for 30 cents, you'll end up paying
$1.50 for it."
Pollinator populations have been hit hard by increased
pesticide use in recent years, and much of their natural habitat, such as
dead trees and old fence posts, have been destroyed to make room for more
farmland, Dr. Kevan added.
In their report, published recently in the online journal
Conservation Ecology, Dr. Kevan and
Dr. Truman Phillips say that
pollination systems in many agricultural areas today are threatened by an
inadequate number or complete lack of sustainably-managed pollinators, either
indigenous or imported.
Although concerns about pollinator shortages date back at
least to Biblical times, their report is the first one to quantify the effects in economic terms. Their research does not pinpoint exactly
how high food prices will rise, but rather presents a model for assessing the
economic ramifications if birds, bees and other pollinators continue to
Their economic analysis indicates that consumers of a
commodity affected by a pollinator deficit may suffer since the commodity will
likely cost more and become less available.
At the same time, producers of affected commodities may experience
crop declines but may also experience economic gains resulting from higher
prices. The amount gained or lost by
producers depends on the supply and demand curves.
Their research states that there is ample evidence to
suggest the existence of pollinator declines and that such declines are
affecting agricultural productivity.
They conclude that the adverse economic effects of pollinator deficits
on food prices must follow from on-farm considerations, but that the effects
could be much broader.
Although there is little data to work with, they state
that security, trade and the global food supply could be in serious jeopardy if "pollinator abundance,
diversity, and availability are not reversed."
The team's model, which is based on variables such as
individual products, trade situations and market conditions, adds another
level of clout to a long list of research that says deteriorating supplies of
pollinators are ruining billions of dollars worth of food.
Pollinators such as bees, bats, butterflies and birds play
a key role in agriculture, transferring pollen from one seed to another. It is a vital step in the production of
most fruits and vegetables, as well as a handful of nuts. An under-pollinated apple usually means a
smaller, less appealing apple.
Honey bees, which the Canadian Honey Council says are
responsible for CAN$1-billion worth of produce each year, are one of the most
In the province of Ontario in the mid-1980s, for example,
there were 115,000 honey bee hives, producing nearly 60,000 bees apiece. Today, there are barely 80,000 hives, said
Doug McRory of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
The amount of beekeepers who "rent" their bees
to farmers is also down from recent years, forcing farmers to pay heftier
fees for pollination. Cherry growers,
for example, may have to make better offers this summer to rent pollination
services, said Troy Fore, the executive director of the American Beekeeping
Dr. Ken Richards,
a researcher with Canada's Ministry of Agriculture, said the federal government is very aware of the shrinking
number of pollinators, and is now gauging ways to measure the decline and
find ways to halt it. "All sorts
of things could possibly happen if we don't look to start to take care of our
Ecology 5(1):8, June 2001