Recently we have seen health professionals and other people villifying the doctor who wrote this controversial (and now removed) article:
While I am not going to address every claim by this doctor, I am going to defend him for bringing attention to this important issue—vaccine safety.
The backlash is to be expected from people who have not critically evaluated all of the existing scientific literature. They continue to believe what they are told by the WHO, FDA, and CDC regardless of what science exists that contradicts studies and statements put forth by these (and many other) organizations. Many are saying what this doctor has published is “dangerous” because it can lead people to (God forbid) question vaccine safety. Scientists, doctors, and laymen have rightfully questioned vaccine safety because there are valid concerns. Clinical observation has time and time again shown the connection but the scientific data itself has proven the mechanisms behind vaccine-induced injury and the evidence is there for those willing to research laboriously.
Now, back to this article I am referencing. There is a plethora of ignorant comments in the comment section but I have chosen to write a reply to the comment made by Kevin Folta. I won’t go into his background as I am sure many of you already know who he is, but if you wish to look further you can make a quick Google search.
Here are snapshots of his comment:
Here is my reply:
I won’t reply to every part of your comment, Kevin, but I will point out the specific parts that are erroneous. First, let’s start with your comment that “It is well known that ethyl mercury has limited toxicokinetic properties and is eliminated from the body and poses little risk.” This assumption is false and based on pseudoscience that is pushed by the vaccine industry and many other health organizations. Ethylmercury is a mitochondrial toxin and especially injurious for those who have mild mitochondrial defects and are susceptible to its exposure. Thimerosal might be the pathogenesis of autism in this subset of children. (Sharpe et al., 2013; Sharpe et al., 2012). Disorders of the mitochondria are also not rare in the autism community and individuals can acquire mitochondrial dysfunction through environmental toxins lacking a familial link. (Frye et al., 2013).
Small amounts of thimerosal even induce changes in gene expression in the cerebellum. In the conclusion of Minami et al. (2010): “The present study helps to support the possible biological plausibility for how low-dose exposure to mercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines may be associated with autism.” It has also been long confirmed in animal studies that ethylmercury in doses from the vaccine schedule (or lower) causes damage neurologically. (Rodriques et al., 2010; Olczak et al., 2009; Qvarnstro et al., 2003; Burbacher et al., 2005; Magos et al., 1985).
Furthermore, glutathione is the most powerful anti-oxidant in the body and has been shown to be depleted in children with autism (Rose et al., 2012). Thimerosal is shown to cause glutathione depletion, which may demonstrate exacerbation of neurotoxicity (James et al., 2005).
There is a 2014 study (Rooney, J., 2014) that documented the half-life of inorganic mercury in the human brain, which can last “several years to several decades.” It was thought before that vaccines containing ethylmercury (which is in flu vaccines as a preservative) couldn’t be compared to inorganic mercury. Inorganic Mercury is extremely neurotoxic and we now know that thimerosal containing vaccines do uptake in the brain as inorganic mercury where it can accumulate and remain for the individual’s life (Burbacher et al., 2005). The inorganic mercury concentration in the brains of ethylmercury exposed monkeys in the Burbacher study is up to 4.6 times higher than in the blood at 2 days after the last injection. The ratio increased as sacrifices were performed at a longer duration from the last dose. Furthermore, the thimerosal exposed monkeys had higher levels of mercury in the kidneys when compared to the methyl mercury monkeys. Something that vaccine advocates are quick to point out is that the ethyl mercury clears the blood at a higher rate, which is true, but both mercury compounds uptake in tissues about the same (~4-7ng/g and ~10ng/g respectively). But the total inorganic mercury concentration is much higher in the brains of thimerosal exposed monkeys. Thimerosal is still (despite evidence that warrants caution) being used in flu vaccines which are recommended to children and pregnant women. I will provide further references at the end of this comment.
When it comes to the topic of vaccine safety, there are many logical errors people use and I am going to point out a few of them (albeit there are many others). One of the first ones is an appeal to scientific democracy which involves “the contention that if the majority of scientists believe something to be true, regardless of epistemological merit, then it must be assumed as true” (The Ethical Skeptic, n.d.). Then we have an appeal to scientists fallacy which is “an argument that is misrepresented to be the premise held true on the part of the prevailing group of scientists; or concludes a hypothesis (typically a belief) to be either true or false based on whether the premise leads to a more successful career in science” (The Ethical Skeptic, n.d.). Another commonly used argument and pseudo-skeptic tactic involves the use of a consensus appeal to authority. “Insofar as scientists speak in one voice and dissent is not really allowed, then appeal to scientific consensus is the same as an appeal to authority” (The Ethical Skeptic, n.d.). Consensus that is shaped by scientific obfuscation, conflicts of interest, and shoddy scientific studies that use poor methodology is consensus that is in error. If the “consensus” on such a topic is not in line with scientific facts or the proper usage of the scientific method, it ceases to be a consensus based on actual reliable science and thus poses major issues.
The precautionary principle is of utmost importance especially when dealing with a sub-population that is at an increased risk of an adverse reaction from specific exposures. Also, I agree with the statement “First, do no harm.” But you are making this statement from a position of ignorance on the topic of thimerosal. It turns out it is you that needs a lesson in biochemistry and an understanding of how to critically evaluate the literature (including many important studies of which you have never put an eye on, considered, or weighed the evidence for).
Further reading recommendations:
Rose et al. (2014). Increased susceptibility to ethylmercury-induced mitochondrial dysfunction in a subset of autism lymphoblastoid cell lines. Journal of Toxicology. Retrieved from http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jt/2015/573701/
“These findings suggest that the epidemiological link between environmental mercury exposure and an increased risk of developing autism may be mediated through mitochondrial dysfunction and support the notion that a subset of individuals with autism may be vulnerable to environmental influences with detrimental effects on development through mitochondrial dysfunction.”
Sharpe et al. (2013). B-lymphocytes from a population of children with autism spectrum disorder and their unaffected siblings exhibit hypersensitivity to thimerosal. J Toxicol. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23843785
“Cells hypersensitive to thimerosal also had higher levels of oxidative stress markers, protein carbonyls, and oxidant generation. This suggests certain individuals with a mild mitochondrial defect may be highly susceptible to mitochondrial specific toxins like the vaccine preservative thimerosal.”
Dorea JG. (2013). Low-dose Mercury Exposure in Early Life: Relevance of Thimerosal to Fetuses, Newborns and Infants. Curr Med Chem. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23992327
“Major databases were searched for human and experimental studies that addressed issues related to early life exposure to TCV. It can be concluded that: a) mercury load in fetuses, neonates, and infants resulting from TCVs remains in blood of neonates and infants at sufficient concentration and for enough time to penetrate the brain and to exert a neurologic impact and a probable influence on neurodevelopment of susceptible infants; b) etHg metabolism related to neurodevelopmental delays has been demonstrated experimentally and observed in population studies; c) unlike chronic Hg exposure during pregnancy, neurodevelopmental effects caused by acute (repeated/cumulative) early life exposure to TCV-etHg remain unrecognized; and d) the uncertainty surrounding low-dose toxicity of etHg is challenging but recent evidence indicates that avoiding cumulative insults by alkyl-mercury forms (which include Thimerosal) is warranted.”
Duszczyk-Budhathoki et al. (2012). Administration of thimerosal to infant rats increased overflow of glutamate and aspartate in the prefrontal cortex: protective role of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate. Neurochem Res. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22015977
“Since excessive accumulation of extracellular glutamate is linked with excitotoxicity, our data imply that neonatal exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines might induce excitotoxic brain injuries, leading to neurodevelopmental disorders.”
Sulkowski et al. (2012). Maternal thimerosal exposure results in aberrant cerebellar stress, thyroid hormone metabolism, and motor behavior in rat pups; sex- and strain-dependent effects. Cerebellum. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22015705
Our data thus demonstrate a negative neurodevelopmental impact of perinatal TM exposure which appears to be both strain – and sex-dependent
Sharpe et al. (2012). Thimerosal-Derived Ethylmercury is a mitochondrial toxin in human astrocytes: possible role of fenton chemistry in the oxidation and breakage of mtDNA. J Toxicol. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3395253/
“These mitochondria appear to have undergone a permeability transition, an observation supported by the five-fold increase in Caspase-3 activity observed after Thimerosal treatment.”
Dorea, JG. (2011). Integrating experimental (in vitro and in vivo) neurotoxicity studies of low-dose thimerosal relevant to vaccines. Neurochem Res. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21350943
“Thimerosal at concentrations relevant for infants’ exposure (in vaccines) is toxic to cultured human-brain cells and to laboratory animals.”
Hooker et al. (2014). Methodological issues and evidence of malfeasance in research purporting to show thimerosal in vaccines is safe. BioMed Research International. Retrieved from http://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2014/247218/
There are over 165 studies that have focused on Thimerosal, an organic-mercury (Hg) based compound, used as a preservative in many childhood vaccines, and found it to be harmful. Of these, 16 were conducted to specifically examine the effects of Thimerosal on human infants or children with reported outcomes of death; acrodynia; poisoning; allergic reaction; malformations; auto-immune reaction; Well’s syndrome; developmental delay; and neurodevelopmental disorders, including tics, speech delay, language delay, attention deficit disorder, and autism. In contrast, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that Thimerosal is safe and there is “no relationship between [T]himerosal[-]containing vaccines and autism rates in children.” This is puzzling because, in a study conducted directly by CDC epidemiologists, a 7.6-fold increased risk of autism from exposure to Thimerosal during infancy was found. The CDC’s current stance that Thimerosal is safe and that there is no relationship between Thimerosal and autism is based on six specific published epidemiological studies coauthored and sponsored by the CDC. The purpose of this review is to examine these six publications and analyze possible reasons why their published outcomes are so different from the results of investigations by multiple independent research groups over the past 75+ years.
Adams et al. (2013). Toxicological status of children with autism vs. neurotypical children and the association with autism severity. Biol Trace Elem Res. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23192845
Overall, children with autism have higher average levels of several toxic metals, and levels of several toxic metals are strongly associated with variations in the severity of autism for all three of the autism severity scales investigated.
Rooney, J. (2013). The retention time of inorganic mercury in the brain – A systematic review of the evidence. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0041008X13005644
Evidence from such studies point to a half-life of inorganic mercury in human brains of several years to several decades. This finding carries important implications for pharmcokinetic modelling of mercury and potentially for the regulatory toxicology of mercury.
Chen et al. (2013). Effect of thimerosal on the neurodevelopment of premature rats. World J Pediatr. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24235069
The negative adverse consequences on neurodevelopment observed in the present study are consistent with previous studies; this study raised serious concerns about adverse neurodevelopmental disorder such as autism in humans following the ongoing worldwide routine administration of thimerosalcontaining vaccines to infants.
Olczak et al. (2011). Persistent behavioral impairments and alterations of brain dopamine system after early postnatal administration of thimerosal in rats. Behav Brain Res. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21549155
These data document that early postnatal THIM administration causes lasting neurobehavioral impairments and neurochemical alterations in the brain, dependent on dose and sex. If similar changes occur in THIM/mercurial-exposed children, they could contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders
Olczak et al. (2010). Lasting neuropathological changes in rat brain after intermittent neonatal administration of thimerosal. Folia Neuropathol. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21225508
These finding document neurotoxic effects of thimerosal, at doses equivalent to those used in infant vaccines or higher, in developing rat brain, suggesting likely involvement of this mercurial in neurodevelopmental disorders
DeSoto, C. (2007). Blood Levels of Mercury Are Related to Diagnosis of Autism: A Reanalysis of an Important Data Set. J Child Neurol. Retrieved from http://jcn.sagepub.com/content/22/11/1308.abstract
We have reanalyzed the data set originally reported by Ip et al. in 2004 and have found that the original p value was in error and that a significant relation does exist between the blood levels of mercury and diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder. Moreover, the hair sample analysis results offer some support for the idea that persons with autism may be less efficient and more variable at eliminating mercury from the blood
James et al. (2005). Thimerosal neurotoxicity is associated with glutathione depletion: protection with glutathione precursors. Neurotoxicology. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15527868
Although Thimerosal has been recently removed from most children’s vaccines, it is still present in flu vaccines given to pregnant women, the elderly, and to children in developing countries. The potential protective effect of GSH or NAC against mercury toxicity warrants further research as possible adjunct therapy to individuals still receiving Thimerosal-containing vaccinations
Waly et al. (2004). Activation of methionine synthase by insulin-like growth factor-1 and dopamine: a target for neurodevelopmental toxins and thimerosal. Mol Psychiatry. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14745455
The potent inhibition of this pathway by ethanol, lead, mercury, aluminum and thimerosal suggests that it may be an important target of neurodevelopmental toxins