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A Complete Guide To Dopamine Imbalance: Symptoms & Reactions

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Are You Suffering From A Dopamine Imbalance?

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You know how it feels.

That unmatchable sense of satisfaction you get after you accomplish something that you had always wanted to.

Whether it’s breaking the weightlifting record at your gym, getting into an energetic mode and completing eight hours of work in five hours, or achieving a long-term goal that your friends (and even your Dad) thought you’d never do, that feeling can be highly motivating to take the next big step in your life.

That feeling is dopamine rushing down your spine.

What is Dopamine? It’s a chemical compound present in the body as a neurotransmitter. It acts as a messenger between brain cells. Despite being generated by just a handful of brain cells, it acts as a powerful stimulant for many major physical and cognitive functions, including memory, movement, motivation, and pleasurable reward.

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Because of its ability to control feelings related to pleasure and reward, it’s also called “the pleasure neurotransmitter.

However, it’s also the chief regulator of addictions related to food, drugs, gambling, sex, shopping, and many other behaviors.

If you wonder why certain drugs are so addictive, it’s because they stimulate the production of dopamine and create a long-term craving in the brain.   

How does Dopamine influence your behavior if you are not a drug addict?

Have you been too obsessed with something in your life? Like reading, playing games, achieving your goals… Well, that’s addiction too. You keep thinking about it the same way an addict thinks about drugs.

That thought can make you the most motivated and productive person you know!

The good news is, your brain is already tuned for greatness, because dopamine produces positive results too. It works in your favor when you work out in the gym, interact with someone you love, and every time you strive to progress faster towards accomplishing your goal.     

Dopamine boosts several aspects of cognitive functioning such as memory, focus, and motivation. Laboratory studies have revealed that dopamine is as critical for memory development as it is for motivation-based learning and goal-centered behavior.

In simple words, dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for long-term memory growth and motivating a person to “go after something” and accomplish a particular goal.

While having a good memory is going to be absolutely important for your success, it can’t be defined as the only ‘essential’ to make you a champion performer.

Your success is largely determined by your ability to learn from your past mistakes and apply appropriate solutions to similar challenges in the future. This is what we call distinguishing the ‘good from bad.’

In a study conducted by Nature, volunteers were fed with drugs that altered their dopamine levels. Each of them was asked to participate in a learning task that involved becoming familiar with different sets of currency symbols in which profit or loss was used as a metric to analyze the value of their total money.

At the end of the study, it was found that the winners had the highest dopamine activity in their brain. During the test, players were rewarded for choosing the best symbol pairs, and it turned out that their dopamine reacted positively and helped them remember and perform better in subsequent rounds.                

Another study proved that people with higher dopamine levels in their brain were less impulsive than those with lower levels.

These are clear evidences that dopamine has a strong influence on the mental functioning of a person. The more the amount of this neurotransmitter is, the better will be your memory, planning, decision making, and learning ability.

Nevertheless, the link between dopamine levels and mental functioning also follows an inverted U-curve pattern in certain circumstances. That is, anything in excess or lesser than the required level could lead to negative results. So finding the right balance in dopamine levels is the key to getting the best of this neurotransmitter.    

Effect of dopamine on your physical activities

When you’re trying to achieve peak physical performance, what do you think plays a major role?

Is it your muscles? Lungs? Heart?

Well, it’s none of the above.

The central governing authority of fatigue in your body is your brain. And dopamine is the neurotransmitter that drives the brain and elevates or lowers fatigue.

Have you tried to push yourself too far beyond your capacity and felt completely exhausted for the rest of the day? It always happens, right?

With less dopamine in your brain, your heart runs out of oxygen, and if you keep doing that for a long period of time, then you could even end up damaging your organs temporarily or permanently.  

The amount of dopamine in your body also has a huge impact on your physical activities. It alters results when you work out in the gym, perform yoga asanas, and participate in athletics.

Of course, mental functioning such as learning, memory, focus, and motivation has a significant effect on our physical performance naturally, but dopamine does more than that.

Laboratory studies on rats have confirmed that running boosts the activity of brain cells that produce dopamine. And the effect is even more pronounced in trained rats (that have been trained for at least 8 weeks) vs. untrained rats. (Eight weeks in a rat’s life is approximately two years in human life.)

It was found that rats that were nurtured for high-intensity running reacted better to dopamine than untrained rats. They had a higher percentage of dopamine and they were more active. Again, this study proved that having more dopamine in the brain results in better physical performance. So, if you wish to go from 100% to 110% (or maybe more) with your physical activities, then adequate quantities of dopamine is what you need.

Okay, what impact does dopamine have in humans?

Unfortunately, there is no strong evidence like the rat case to determine the effect of dopamine in humans. The results have varied from one study to another, mainly because, unlike the case with rats, there is no control over human environment. However, the men in lab coats believe that dopamine can boost an individual’s physical performance in certain conditions.  

Much like the case with rats, genetic differences determine the capacity of physical activity in humans. In one study, it was concluded that high levels of dopamine didn’t have a major impact in cyclists in mild weather but it boosted their performance and scores in hot weather. So, it worked in their favor under stressful conditions. This experiment reveals that dopamine activity may help increase the exercise capacity of humans under challenging conditions. Scientists claim that this increase in physical capacity stems from the fact that dopamine slows down the process of fatigue in the CNS during intense physical activity.       

The above studies suggest that even in average people, physical activities like exercise boost dopamine activity in the brain naturally, which is why we all feel fresher and more focused after exercising. However, over time, dopamine levels go down gradually and result in tiredness. That is exactly the reason why we feel tired after intense workouts.

In the case of best performing athletes, the process of dopamine depletion is slow, hence they have more endurance and stamina and go on for a longer duration than their counterparts. Increased dopamine activity in the brain also results in better focus and concentration in individuals.

The Worst Symptom Of Dopamine Deficiency

More evidence about the effect of dopamine on the physical and mental performance of humans comes from people with Parkinson’s disease.

Few people are aware that Parkinson’s disease is caused by the loss of cells that are responsible for producing dopamine in the brain. Because of low levels of dopamine, patients experience slow movements, muscle rigidity, stiffness of limbs, tremors, and poor cognitive functioning such as poor focus, planning, and memory.

Fortunately for people suffering from Parkinson’s disease, an increase in dopamine levels with medical treatment can improve their motor abilities and cognitive functioning and result in better movement, planning, focus, and memory.

Parkinson’s disease is the worst known symptom of dopamine deficiency. But there are other mild symptoms, too.

Other symptoms of dopamine deficiency:

  • Chronic Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Forgetfulness
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Low sex drive
  • Inability to concentrate
  • ADHD
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances

None of the above symptoms are caused just because of dopamine deficiency. But having a healthy amount of dopamine in the brain helps improve the condition. This is important because low levels of dopamine are caused by simple dietary and lifestyle factors such as stress, insufficient sleep, overtraining, drugs, and excessive intake of caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.        

“Dopamine imbalance is influenced by lifestyle and eating and drinking habits ranging from overtraining to alcohol abuse.”

It’s not so difficult to stay away from the common factors that cause dopamine deficiency, but there are others that are difficult to avoid.

Activities that alter dopamine levels

When it comes to dealing with dopamine imbalance, there is always a right way and a wrong way of doing it. Some of us try to improve our dopamine activity by meditating, exercising, and eating nutritious food. These are the right methods.

On the other hand, there are people who take several cups of coffee a day to fight sleep deprivation, eat junk food to tackle late-night hunger, and even work out until extreme exhaustion (overtraining), hoping to build muscle faster. These are the wrong methods of boosting dopamine activity.

People in the second category will see an immediate increase in their dopamine levels, but they will find themselves extremely tired and exhausted in the long term. In turn, they will start experiencing more stress, poor focus, and low productivity. That’s what dopamine can do to your physical and mental activities.

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Numerous experiments have revealed that dopamine affects the major aspects of human ability such as memory, focus, and stamina. The more the dopamine activity in your brain is, the better will be your physical and mental performance. Whether you’re looking to gain an edge over your colleagues at the office and produce an impressive performance or if you’re training for your next marathon, having adequate quantities of dopamine will help bring the best out of you and ultimately get the work done in the best way possible.

You may be interested to check out Dopamine brain foods.

These supplements contain a range of ingredients that help neutralize dopamine deficiency and improve its activity in the brain so that you can be your best at every challenge that you take on.

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Awareness

The Shocking Lack of Evidence Supporting Flu Vaccines

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Multiple reasons exist explaining why it makes more sense not to receive the flu vaccine. It makes more sense to focus on a strong and healthy immune system to combat the flu, yet the vaccine is heavily marketed every single year.

  • Reflect On:

    With so many concerns being raised every single year regarding the flu shot, why does the corporation still blast out mass marketing, propaganda false information and fear?

This article was written by Sayer Ji, Founder of Greenmedinfo.com. His work is reproduced and distributed here with the permission. Want to learn more from GreenMedInfo? Sign up for the newsletter here: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/greenmed/newsletter.”

As it presently stands, it is not sound medical science, but primarily economic and political motivations which generate the immense pressure behind mass participation in the annual ritual of flu vaccination.

It is a heavily guarded secret within the medical establishment (especially within the corridors of the CDC) that the Cochrane Database Review (CDR), considered by many within the evidence-based medical model to be the gold standard for assessing the therapeutic value of common medical interventions, does not lend unequivocal scientific support to the belief and/or outright propaganda that flu vaccines are ‘safe and effective.’ao-opts a natural process, generating a broad range of adverse unintended consequences, many of which have been documented here. Vaccine proponents would have us believe that natural immunity is inferior to synthetic immunity, and should be replaced by the latter (see our article on the vaccine agenda: Transhumanism/Dehumanism).  In some cases they even suggest breastfeeding should be delayed during immunizations because it “interferes” with the vaccine efficacy.

This warped perspective follows from the disingenuous standard vaccine researchers use to “prove” the “efficacy” of their vaccines. The chemical kitchen sink is thrown at the immune system in order to conserve the expensive-to-produce antigen and to generate a more intense immune response – a process, not unlike what happens when you kick a beehive. These chemicals include detergents, anti-freeze, heavy metals, xenotrophic retroviruses, DNA from aborted human fetuses (diploid cells) and other species, etc. Amazingly, vaccine researchers and manufacturers do not have to prove the antibodies actually have affinity with the antigens they are marketed to protect us against, i.e. they do not have to prove real world “effectiveness,” only a surrogate marker of “efficacy.”  Yet, recent research indicates in some cases no antibodies are required for immunity against some viruses, running diametrically opposed to the orthodox tenets of classical vaccinology.

Another point that can not be understated is that the trivalent (3-strain) influenza vaccines are incapable of protecting us against the wide range of pathogens which produce influenza-like illness:

“Over 200 viruses cause influenza and influenza-like illness which produce the same symptoms (fever, headache, aches and pains, cough and runny noses). Without laboratory tests, doctors cannot tell the two illnesses apart. Both last for days and rarely lead to death or serious illness. At best, vaccines might be effective against only Influenza A and B, which represent about 10% of all circulating viruses.” (Source: Cochrane Summaries).

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It is therefore exceedingly clear that it is a mathematical impossibility for influenza vaccines to be effective at preventing wild-circulating strains of influenza. Support of the immune system, then, becomes the most logical and reasonable solution.

Immune Status Determines Susceptibility To Infection

The fact is that our immune status determines susceptibility. If the immune system is continually challenged with environmental toxicants, nutritional deficiencies and/or incompatibilities, chronic stress, influenza is far more likely to take hold. If your immune system is strong, many infectious challenges occur, are met with an appropriate response, and often go unnoticed. In other words, it is not a lack of a vaccination that causes infection, rather, the inability of the immune system to function effectively. [Note: In some cases, we may become infected and the ultimate outcome is that we enjoy even greater immunity.]

Moreover, there is an ever-growing appreciation within the scientific community that influenza cannot be defined as a completely exterior vector of morbidity and mortality, as portrayed within the mainstream, but is actually comprised of many proteins and lipids derived from the host it occupies, and may even be more accurately described as a hijacked cellular microvesicle (exosome), i.e. it’s as much us as other.

Learn more by reading our recent articles on the topic, “Why The Only Thing Influenza May Kill Is Germ Theory,” and “Profound Implications of the Virome for Human Health and Autoimmunity,”and by watching the incredibly eye-opening NIH lecture by Dr. Herbert Virgin below on the virome and the potentially indispensable role that viruses play in establishing the baseline genotype-phenotype relationship within the human immune system:

Additionally, while there are a broad spectrum of natural substances which have been studied for their anti-influenza properties, vitamin D deserves special consideration due to the fact that it is indispensable to produce antiviral peptides (e.g. cathelicidin) within the immune system, and can be supported for pennies a day.

For instance, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010, revealed that children receiving 1200 IUs of vitamin D a day were at 59% reduced risk for contracting seasonal Influenza A infection. Moreover as a secondary outcome, only 2 children in the treatment group versus 12 for the control group, experienced an asthma attack. For more information on Vitamin D and immunity, visit the amazing research resource on the topic: VitaminDWiki.com.

Other preventive strategies that are evidence-based, and are available without a prescription include:

1) Echinacea Tea: J Altern Complement Med. 2000 Aug;6(4):327-34

2) Elderberry:  J Altern Complement Med. 1995 Winter;1(4):361-9.

3) American Ginseng:  J Altern Complement Med.  2006 Mar;12(2):153-7.

4) Green Tea: J Nutr. 2011 Oct ;141(10):1862-70. Epub   2011 Aug 10.

5) Probiotics: Pediatrics. 2009 Aug;124(2):e172-9.

6) Vitamin D: PLoS One. 2010;5(6):e11088. Epub 2010 Jun 14.

Learn more by visiting our Anti-Influenza Research Portal.

Sayer Ji is founder of Greenmedinfo.com, a reviewer at the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, Co-founder and CEO of Systome Biomed, Vice Chairman of the Board of the National Health Federation, Steering Committee Member of the Global Non-GMO Foundation.

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In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

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Author Of “How To End The Autism Epidemic” Reveals A Deep Truth About Autism

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Author, JB Handley has published a book regarding the link between vaccines and autism. It's full of information that's never acknowledged, presented or even known about by most Doctors.

  • Reflect On:

    With so many examples, lawsuits, and scientific evidence, not to mention hundreds of scientists and doctors speaking out, why is there never a platform generated for an open discussion between experts in the field? Why is one side always ridiculed?

Discussing vaccines and autism isn’t an explosive topic, it’s thermonuclear. Both sides of the argument feel, with great passion, that the health and welfare of children is at stake. Much of that passion is the product of several lies told repeatedly. These lies form a foundation for self-interested parties to deny, obscure, and misdirect the truth about what’s happening to millions of children. They pit well-meaning parents against well-meaning parents. Remove the lies and you’re left with a deeply disturbing explanation for why so many children seemingly have autism out of the blue.  JB Handley – Author of How To End The Autism Epidemic 

How To End the Autism Epidemic – with many people saying is the best book on the link between vaccines and autism – is already an Amazon best seller (it hit the list even before it was released) and has recently been sent to all of the senators in Washington.

Author, JB Handley, whose own son Jamieson, showed warning signs that very night after receiving his 6 vaccines given at his ‘well baby’ appointment at two months of age.  Handley shares that something was clearly very wrong after that visit to the trusted family paediatrician, and his once perfectly healthy baby quickly morphed into a very sickly child.

Jamieson quickly regressed into autism and was often in constant pain with severe gut issues, his future now ruined.  This tragedy, that has also become millions of other parent’s far too eerily similar nightmare, propelled Handley on a journey that has become his life’s mission and purpose. Nothing fuels a parents fire to do something, more than that of their own child’s suffering.  It also is the reason why parents of other injured children won’t go away, until something is done about this crippling crisis.

JB, who studied at the prestigious Stanford University, has a very sharp grasp and innate ability to interpret and convey science, which is truly impressive. The research gone into this book is meticulous.

The book is written in a way that is concise and incredibly compelling, but most importantly, it is easy to understand.  This is a very important factor when discussing vaccine topics, simply because much of the ‘vaccine science’  in the last few decades has been manipulated, and you usually need a very sharp mind to see how this has happened.

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The way studies are written actually go over most people’s heads, and this is why most don’t look at the studies themselves in detail, for they simply do not understand what things mean, or how to question the data presented, let alone to see how the statistics were manipulated.

The book enables the reader to clearly see inside popular studies which are repeatedly shared in the public to shut down further discussion on issues surrounding vaccine safety and efficacy.

Whilst JB writes only briefly on his own families experience with autism, the book relies mostly on information from science, emails from FOIA requests, court transcripts, and expert testimonials and shares some truly shocking things.  I won’t go into all of them here of course, but there is one testimony from a court case with a leading ‘vaccine expert’ Dr. Stanley Plotkin, that you should be aware of – so that it encourages you to question the ethics of the entire industry – and to purchase the book to find out what other bombshells it contains.

Whilst denying it at first, when questioned by Lawyer Mr. Siri, Dr. Plotkin admitted that he had conducted experimental vaccine tests on mentally disabled subjects (both adults and children), as well as babies born to mothers in jail.  Testing on the most vulnerable of people means that you can conduct studies where the results can easily be manipulated (for example, you won’t have to say in the study that vaccines cause mental illness if a test subject already is mentally ill).

This is highly disturbing to say the very least, but these sorts of ethics are not at all rare in the vaccine industry.

The book also exposes financial interests that many of the well-known vaccine proponents such as Dr. Paul Offit, Dr. Peter Hotez, Dr. Eric Fombonne and Dr. Paul Shattuck have.  Combined it’s many tens of millions.  It’s easy to see why they are used publicly (and so often)  to provide ‘expert commentary’ that vaccines are safe and effective.

For decades, the concern regarding vaccine ingredients was mainly around the neuro-toxic thimerosal, in recent years, there has been a switch to focus on aluminum, an adjuvant found in many of today’s vaccines at alarmingly high amounts. JB has written extensively about this in articles and information is also found in his book.

One expert who has been studying aluminum for decades is that of Professor Chris Exley who had this to say about JB’s book

I have been thinking about the toxicity of aluminum for thirty-five years. It is my life’s work. Before we completed our recent research on aluminum in brain tissue in autism, I could not see a direct link between human exposure to aluminum and autism. I certainly saw no immediate role for aluminum adjuvants in vaccines in autism. The missing link was a mechanism whereby the brain would be subjected to an acute exposure to aluminum, for example, as occurs in aluminum-induced dialysis encephalopathy. Pro-inflammatory cells, some originating from blood and lymph, heavily loaded with a cargo of aluminum in brain tissue in autism provided that missing link. We all tolerate the toxicity of aluminum adjuvants in vaccines. Unfortunately, some of us are predisposed to suffer, as opposed to tolerate, the toxicity of aluminum adjuvants, and this may cause autism.

Autism is a disease, and it is not inevitable. J.B. Handley’s elegant synthesis of what we know and what we need to know argues that autism could and should be preventable. I agree with him.―Professor Christopher Exley, PhD, fellow, Royal Society of Biology; professor of bioinorganic chemistry, Keele University

Like it or not, the subject of whether or not ‘vaccines cause autism’ is one that won’t go away, and if anything, becomes talked about more each day, simply because so many parents are sharing that they too, saw something happen to their own children that they can only put down to recent vaccines.

The Implications of Truth

Despite what we are told by the mainstream media and medical industry when it comes to vaccines causing autism, the science here isn’t anywhere near settled.  Some of you might perhaps realize this ‘parroted’ term is perhaps repeated on purpose, it’s used to ‘shut down’ further discussions.  And this should make you question why?  Why are we not able to ask important questions, regarding safety, ingredients and studies?  What other drugs, that you know of, are we not allowed to question?  Could it be down to money?

Imagine if it did come out that vaccines triggered autism in children.  Wouldn’t there be a tidal wave of court cases with hundreds of thousands of claimants wanting compensation?  I wonder how much money this would amount to? The US Government has already paid out close to US 4 Billion (with taxpayers money) and that is for vaccine injury, not for Autism claims.

It is already estimated that for the cost for caring for people with autism will surpass $1 trillion in 2025, and this figure is nothing to do with compensation.  It is a frightening future that we have and one that is headed our way very soon.

The Science is Not Settled…

Science is never settled because it is a field that should always be encouraging further research and critical questioning.  Science has become so corrupted over the last few decades that it is actually an area that should now perhaps raise suspicion, especially where big profits are involved, and especially if the companies who produce the products aren’t held responsible financially if something goes wrong.

Vaccines, unlike drugs, are protected by a 1986 law that gives protection to all vaccine manufacturers. They cannot be sued.  This is disturbing to most people when they discover this, and with very good reason.  Without liability, why would a company bother to change how something is made, to improve it, if no one is going to come knocking on your door demanding change and making you pay anyone that sues you for damage? It’s called the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.

It is particularly intriguing to see that vaccine research is an area that vaccine manufacturers and those that speak for them, staunchly seem to not want this to be looked into further – especially around the issue of vaccine safety, and it’s connection to autism.

Vaccines have not been tested adequately in relation to them increasing the rates of autism, you might be shocked to know that only one, the MMR  (and also only one ingredient, Thimerosal) has been studied by the CDC – with questionable results at that.  They never mention these other studies on Thimerosal toxicity or acknowledge the comments made by their longtime scientist Dr. William Thomspon, who blew the whistle on the MMR vaccine.

Thompson bravely told the world that it was “the lowest point” in his career that he “went along with that paper.” He said that the authors “didn’t report significant findings” and that he is “completely ashamed” of what he did, that he was “complicit and went along with this, and that he regrets that he has “been part of the problem.” (source)(source)(source)

Vaccines contain so many different ingredients and to have just studied one, seems beyond incredulous. With over 20 different types of vaccines (some which have multiple diseases in them) this is terrible ‘evidence’ that vaccines don’t cause autism.  The CDC (which, unbeknownst to the average person, actually owns 20 vaccine patents) cannot state that is true, because they have simply, not studied them all.

So the science here is most certainly not at all ‘settled.’

What does the US vaccine court say about vaccines causing autism?

Inside JB’s book is a chapter titled ‘The clear legal basis that vaccine’s cause autism’ is dedicated to how the vaccine court operates, and where it was admitted that a child’s injury, and subsequent diagnosis of autism, was because of a vaccine.  One case, which was leaked to the public, regarding Hannah Polling, whose family was given $20 million in compensation, under the condition they never speak out about the finding.  For those that want to deny there is a connection between vaccines and autism, this is a chapter they will have real trouble refuting.

Autism is predicted to affect a whopping 1 in 2 children by the year 2025. Yet nothing seems to be being done by the medical industry about the ’cause’, and certainly nothing effective for its treatment.  Many families are suffering in silence and are becoming impoverished looking after their sick children.

For those in countries like Australia and the UK, where people rely on the socialized ‘free’ health care system, many children are not being given the testing and the treatments that they need. Whilst genes are typically blamed for autism, yet there is no definitive gene for autism.  The money being put into autism research is just not going into the right areas, that would make a huge positive difference.  If it was, the autism rates would be going down.

I feel this is important to note, that the book is not about making the author money to line his pockets. 100% of the profits from How To End The Autism Epidemic are all being donated to several organizations, to help families dealing with autism.

We could do something about autism, and we could do it quickly if our Governments paid attention. The answers are found in this book.

If you are concerned about this issue, want solid science and to want to know the truth about how the vaccine industry operates, this book is for you.

To purchase the book in either paper back of kindle, please click here Remember, the proceeds go to helping other families dealing with autism.

Below is an interview with the author JB Handley

.

Vaccine Court has paid 3.7 billion in damages to families

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The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

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How the CDC Uses Fear to Increase Demand for Flu Vaccines

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The CDC continues to use fear of hospitalization & death to increase demand for flu vaccines. Their "Recipe" calls for encouraging medical experts and public health authorities to “state concern and alarm.”

  • Reflect On:

    Is the flu shot necessary? It's becoming hard to trust health professionals regarding this, especially given the fact their knowledge on vaccines isn't up to par. Independent research might be more effective. It's OK to question vaccines.

The CDC claims that its recommendation that everyone aged six months and up should get an annual flu shot is firmly grounded in science. The mainstream media reinforce this characterization by misinforming the public about what the science says.

New York Times article from earlier this year, for example, in order to persuade readers to follow the CDC’s recommendation, cited scientific literature reviews of the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration to support its characterization of the influenza vaccine as both effective and safe. The Times claimed that the science showed that the vaccine represented “a big payoff in public health” and that harms from the vaccine were “almost nonexistent”.

What the Cochrane researchers actually concluded, however, was that their findings “seem to discourage the utilization of vaccination against influenza in healthy adults as a routine public health measure” (emphasis added). Furthermore, given the known serious harms associated with specific flu vaccines and the CDC’s recommendation that infants as young as six months get a flu shot despite an alarming lack of safety studies for children under two, “large-scale studies assessing important outcomes, and directly comparing vaccine types are urgently required.”

The CDC also recommends the vaccine for pregnant women despite the total absence of randomized controlled trials assessing the safety of this practice for both expectant mother and unborn child. (This is all the more concerning given that multi-dose vials of the inactivated influenza vaccine contain mercury, a known neurotoxin that can cross both the placental and blood-brain barriers and accumulate in the brain.)

The Cochrane researchers also found “no evidence” to support the CDC’s assumptions that the vaccine reduces transmission of the virus or the risk of potentially deadly complications—the two primary justifications claimed by the CDC to support its recommendation.

The CDC nevertheless pushes the influenza vaccine by claiming that it prevents large numbers of hospitalizations and deaths from flu. To reinforce its message that everyone should get an annual flu shot, the CDC claims that hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and tens of thousands die each year from influenza. These numbers are generally relayed by the mainstream media as though representative of known cases of flu. The aforementioned New York Times article, for example, stated matter-of-factly that, of the 9 million to 36 million people whom the CDC estimates get the flu each year, “Somewhere between 140,000 and 710,000 of them require hospitalization, and 12,000 to 56,000 die each year.”

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…the average number of deaths each year for which the cause is actually attributed on death certificates to the influenza virus is little more than 1000.

On September 27, the CDC issued the claim at a press conference that 80,000 people died from the flu during the 2017 – 2018 flu season, and the media parroted this number as though fact.

What is not being communicated to the public is that the CDC’s numbers do not represent known cases of influenza. They do not come directly from surveillance data, but are rather controversial estimates based on controversial mathematical models that may greatly overestimate the numbers.

To put the matter into perspective, the average number of deaths each year for which the cause is actually attributed on death certificates to the influenza virus is little more than 1,000.

The consequence of the media parroting the CDC’s numbers as though uncontroversial is that the public is routinely misinformed about the impact of influenza on society and the ostensible benefits of the vaccine. Evidently, that’s just the way the CDC wants it, since the agency has also outlined a public relations strategy of using fear marketing to increase demand for flu shots.

In other words, the CDC considers it to be a problem that people are increasingly doing their own research and becoming more adept at educating themselves about health-related issues.

The CDC’s “Problem” of “Growing Health Literacy”

Before looking at some of the problems with the CDC’s estimates, it’s useful to examine the mindset at the agency with respect to how CDC officials view their role in society. An instructive snapshot of this mindset was provided in a presentation by the CDC’s director of media relations on June 17, 2004, at a workshop for the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

In its presentation, the CDC outlined a “‘Recipe’ for Fostering Public Interest and High Vaccine Demand”. It called for encouraging medical experts and public health authorities to “state concern and alarm” about “and predict dire outcomes” from the flu season. To inspire the necessary fear, the CDC encouraged describing each season as “very severe”, “more severe than last or past years”, and “deadly”.

One problem for the CDC is the accurate view among healthy adults that they are not at high risk of serious complications from the flu. As the presentation noted, “achieving consensus by ‘fiat’ is difficult”—meaning that just because the CDC makes the recommendation doesn’t mean that people will actually follow it. Therefore it was necessary to cause “concern, anxiety, and worry” among young, healthy adults who regard the flu as an inconvenience rather than something to be terribly afraid of.

The larger conundrum for the CDC is the proliferation of information available to the public on the internet. As the CDC bluntly stated it, “Health literacy is a growing problem”.

In other words, the CDC considers it to be a problem that people are increasingly doing their own research and becoming more adept at educating themselves about health-related issues. And, as we have already seen, the CDC has very good reason to be concerned about people doing their own research into what the science actually tells us about vaccines.

One prominent way the CDC inspires the necessary fear, of course, is with its estimates of the numbers of people who are hospitalized or die each year from the flu.

…many if not most people diagnosed with ‘the flu’ may not have actually been infected with the influenza virus at all, given the large number of other viruses that cause the same symptoms and the general lack of lab confirmation.

The Problems with the CDC’s Estimates of Annual Flu Deaths

Among the relevant facts that are routinely not relayed to the public by the media when the CDC’s numbers are cited is that only about 7% to 15% of what are called “influenza-like illnesses” are actually caused by influenza viruses. In fact, there are over 200 known viruses that cause influenza-like illnesses, and to determine whether an illness was actually caused by the influenza virus requires laboratory testing—which isn’t usually done.

Furthermore, as the authors of a 2010 Cochrane review stated, “At best, vaccines may only be effective against influenza A and B, which represent about 10% of all circulating viruses” that are known to cause influenza-like symptoms. (That’s the same review, by the way, that the Times mischaracterized as having found the vaccine to be “a big payoff in public health”.)

While the CDC now uses a range of numbers to describe annual deaths attributed to influenza, it used to claim that on average “about 36,000 people per year in the United States die from influenza”. The CDC switched to using a range in response to criticism that the average was misleading because there is great variability from year to year and decade to decade. And while switching to the range did address that criticism, other serious problems remain.

One major problem with “the much publicized figure of 36,000”, as Peter Doshi observed in a 2005 BMJ article, was that it “is not an estimate of yearly flu deaths, as widely reported in both the lay and scientific press, but an estimate—generated by a model—of flu-associated death.”

Of course, as the media routinely remind us when it comes to the subject of vaccines and autism (but seem to forget when it comes to the CDC’s flu numbers), temporal association does not necessarily mean causation. Just because someone dies after an influenza infection does not mean that it was the flu that killed him. And, furthermore, many if not most people diagnosed with “the flu” may not have actually been infected with the influenza virus at all, given the large number of other viruses that cause the same symptoms and the general lack of lab confirmation.

The “36,000” number came from a 2003 CDC study published in JAMA that acknowledged the difficulty of estimating deaths attributable to influenza, given that most cases are not lab-confirmed. Yet, rather than acknowledging the likelihood that a substantial percentage of reported cases actually had nothing to do with the influenza virus, the CDC researchers treated it as though it only meant that flu-related deaths must be significantly higher than the reported numbers.

The study authors pointed out that seasonal influenza is “associated with increased hospitalizations and mortality for many diagnoses”, including pneumonia, and they assumed that many cases attributed to other illnesses were actually caused by influenza. They therefore developed a mathematical model to estimate the number by instead using as their starting point all “respiratory and circulatory” deaths, which include all “pneumonia and influenza” deaths.

In his aforementioned BMJ article, Peter Doshi reasonably asked, “Are US flu death figures more PR than science?”

Of course, not all respiratory and circulatory deaths are caused by the influenza virus. Yet the CDC treats this number as “an upper bound”—as though it was possible that 100% of all respiratory and circulatory deaths occurring in a given flu season were caused by influenza. The CDC also treats the total number of pneumonia and influenza deaths as “a lower bound for deaths associated with influenza”. The CDC states on its website that reported pneumonia and influenza deaths “represent only a fraction of the total number of deaths from influenza”—as though all pneumonia deaths were caused by influenza!

The CDC certainly knows better. In fact, at the same time, the CDC contradictorily acknowledges that not all pneumonia and influenza deaths are flu-related; it has estimatedthat in an average year 2.1% of all respiratory and circulatory deaths and 8.5% of all pneumonia and influenza deaths are influenza-associated.

So how can the CDC maintain both (a) that 8.5% of pneumonia and influenza deaths are flu-related, and (b) that the combined total of all pneumonia and influenza deaths represents only a fraction of flu-caused deaths? How can both be true?

The answer is that the CDC simply assumes that influenza-associated deaths are so greatly underreported within the broader category of deaths coded under “respiratory and circulatory” that they dwarf all those coded under “pneumonia and influenza”.

In his aforementioned BMJ article, Peter Doshi reasonably asked, “Are US flu death figures more PR than science?” As he put it, “US data on influenza deaths are a mess.” The CDC “acknowledges a difference between flu death and flu associated death yet uses the terms interchangeably. Additionally, there are significant statistical incompatibilities between official estimates and national vital statistics data. Compounding these problems is a marketing of fear—a CDC communications strategy in which medical experts ‘predict dire outcomes’ during flu seasons.”

Setting aside pneumonia and looking just at influenza-associated deaths from 1979 to 2002, the annual average according to the NCHS data was only 1,348.

Illustrating the problem, Doshi observed that for the year 2001, the total number of reported pneumonia and influenza deaths was 62,034. Yet, of those, less than one half of one percent were attributed to influenza. Furthermore, of the mere 257 cases blamed on the flu, only 7% were laboratory confirmed. That’s only 18 cases of lab confirmed influenza out of 62,034 pneumonia and influenza deaths—or just 0.03%, according to the CDC’s own National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Setting aside pneumonia and looking just at influenza-associated deaths from 1979 to 2002, the annual average according to the NCHS data was only 1,348.

The CDC’s mortality estimates would be compatible with the NCHS data, Doshi argued, “if about half of the deaths classed by the NCHS as pneumonia were actually flu initiated secondary pneumonias.” But the NCHS criteria itself strongly indicated otherwise, stating that “Cause-of-death statistics are based solely on the underlying cause of death … defined by WHO as ‘the disease or injury which initiated the train of events leading directly to death.’”

The CDC researchers who authored the 2003 study acknowledged that underlying cause-of-death coding “represents the disease or injury that initiated the chain of morbid events that led directly to the death”—yet they fallaciously coupled pneumonia deaths with influenza deaths in their model anyway.

At the time Doshi was writing, the CDC was publicly claiming that each year “about 36,000 [Americans] die from flu”, and as seen with the example from the New York Times, the range of numbers is likewise presented as though representative of known cases of flu-caused deaths. Yet the lead author of that very CDC study, William Thompson of the CDC’s National Immunization Program, acknowledged that the number rather represented “a statistical association” that does not necessarily mean causation. In Thompson’s own words, “Based on modelling, we think it’s associated. I don’t know that we would say that it’s the underlying cause of death.” (Emphasis added.)

Of course, the CDC does say it’s the underlying cause of death in its disingenuous public relations messaging. As Doshi noted, Thompson’s acknowledgment is “incompatible” with the CDC’s “misrepresentation” of its flu deaths estimates. The CDC, Doshi further observed, was “working in manufacturers’ interest by conducting campaigns to increase flu vaccination” based on estimates that are “statistically biased”, including by “arbitrarily linking flu with pneumonia”.

…there are otherwise significant limitations of the CDC’s models that potentially result in spurious attribution of deaths to influenza.

More “Limitations” of the CDC’s Models

While the media present the CDC’s numbers as though uncontroversial, there is in fact “substantial controversy” surrounding flu death estimates, as a 2005 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology noted. One problem is that the CDC’s models use virus surveillance data that “have not been made available in the public domain”, which means that its results or not reproducible. (As the journal Cell reminds, “the reproducibility of science” is “a lynch pin of credibility”.) And there are otherwise “significant limitations” of the CDC’s models that potentially result in “spurious attribution of deaths to influenza.”

To illustrate, when Peter Doshi requested access to virus circulation data, the CDC refused to allow it unless he granted the CDC co-authorship of the study he was undertaking—which Doshi appropriately refused.

While the number of confirmed H1N1-related child deaths was 371, the CDC’s claimed number was 1,271 or more.

In the New York Review of Books, Helen Epstein has pointed out how the CDC’s dire warnings about the 2009 H1N1 “swine flu” never came to pass, as well as how “some experts maintain that the CDC’s estimates studies overestimate influenza mortality, particularly among children.” While the number of confirmed H1N1-related child deaths was 371, the CDC’s claimed number was 1,271 or more. To arrive at its number, the CDC used a multiplier based on certain assumptions. One assumption is that some cases are missed either because lab confirmation wasn’t sought or because the children weren’t in a hospital when they died and so weren’t tested. Another is that a certain percentage of test results will be false negatives.

However, Epstein pointed out, “according to CDC guidelines at the time”, any child hospitalized with severe influenza symptoms should have been tested for H1N1. Furthermore, “deaths in children from infectious diseases are rare in the US, and even those who didn’t die in hospitals would almost certainly have been autopsied (and tested for H1N1)…. Also, the test is accurate and would have missed few cases. Because it’s unlikely that large numbers of actual cases of US child deaths from H1N1 were missed, the lab-confirmed count (371) is probably much closer to the modeled numbers … which are in any case impossible to verify.”

As already indicated, another assumption the CDC makes is that excess mortality in winter is mostly attributable to influenza. A 2009 Slate article described this as among a number of “potential glitches” that make the CDC’s reported flu deaths the “‘least bad’ estimate”. Referring to earlier methods that associated flu deaths with wintertime deaths from all causes, the article observed that this risked blaming influenza for deaths from car accidents caused by icy roads. And while the updated method presented in the 2003 CDC study excluded such causes of death implausibly linked to flu, related problems remain.

As the aforementioned American Journal of Epidemiology study noted, the updated method “reduces, but does not eliminate, the potential for spurious correlation and spurious attribution of deaths to influenza.” Furthermore, “Methods based on seasonal pattern begin from the assumption that influenza is the major source of excess winter death.” The CDC’s models therefore still “are in danger of being confounded by other seasonal factors.” The authors also stated that they could not conclude from their own study “that influenza is a more important cause of winter mortality on an annual timescale than is cold weather.”

Once the CDC has its estimated hospitalization rate, it then multiplies that number by the ratio of deaths to hospitalizations to arrive at its estimated mortality rate. Thus, any overestimation of the hospitalization rate is also compounded into its estimated death rate.

As a 2002 BMJ study stated, “Cold weather alone causes striking short term increases in mortality, mainly from thrombotic and respiratory disease. Non-thermal seasonal factors such as diet may also affect mortality.” (Emphasis added.) The study estimated that of annual excess winter deaths, only “2.4% were due to influenza either directly or indirectly.” It concluded that, “With influenza causing such a small proportion of excess winter deaths, measures to reduce cold stress offer the greatest opportunities to reduce current levels of winter mortality.”

CDC researchers themselves acknowledge that their models are “subject to some limitations.” In a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, CDC researchers admitted that “simply counting deaths for which influenza has been coded as the underlying cause on death certificates can lead to both over- and underestimates of the magnitude of influenza-associated mortality.” (Emphasis added.) Yet they offered no comment on how, then, their models account for the likelihood that many reported cases of “flu” had nothing whatsoever to do with the influenza virus. Evidently, this is because they don’t, as indicated by the CDC’s treatment of all influenza deaths plus pneumonia deaths as a “lower bound”.

For another illustration, since it takes two or three years before the data is available to be able to estimate flu hospitalizations and deaths by the usual means, the CDC has also developed a method to make preliminary estimates for a given year by “adjusting” the numbers of reported lab-confirmed cases from selected surveillance areas around the country. The “80,000” figure claimed for last season’s flu deaths is just such an estimate. The way the CDC “adjusts” the numbers is by multiplying the number of lab-confirmed cases by a certain amount, ostensibly “to correct for underreporting”. To determine the multiplier, the CDC makes a number of assumptions to estimate (a) the likelihood that a person hospitalized for any respiratory illnesswould be tested for influenza and (b) the likelihood that a person with influenza would test positive.

Caveats such as that, however, are not communicated to the general public by the CDC in its press releases or by the mainstream media so that people can make a truly informed choice about whether it’s worth the risk to get a flu shot.

Once the CDC has its estimated hospitalization rate, it then multiplies that number by the ratio of deaths to hospitalizations to arrive at its estimated mortality rate. Thus, any overestimation of the hospitalization rate is also compounded into its estimated death rate.

One obvious problem with this is the underlying assumption that the percentage of people who (a) are hospitalized for respiratory illness and have the flu is the same as (b) the percentage of those who are hospitalized for respiratory illness, are actually tested, and test positive. This implies that doctors are not more likely to seek lab confirmation for people who actually have influenza than they are for people whose respiratory symptoms are due to some other cause.

Assuming that doctors can do better than a pair of rolled dice at picking out patients with influenza, it further implies that doctors are no more likely to order a lab test for patients whom they suspect of having the flu than they are to order a lab test for patients whose respiratory symptoms they think are caused by something else.

The CDC’s assumption thus introduces a selection bias into its model that further calls into question the plausibility of its conclusions, as it is bound to result in overestimation. In a 2015 study published in PLoS One that detailed this method, CDC researchers acknowledged that, “If physicians were more likely to recognize influenza patients clinically and select those patients for testing, we may have over-estimated the magnitude of under-detection.” And that, of course, would result in an overestimation of both hospitalizations and deaths associated with influenza.

Caveats such as that, however, are not communicated to the general public by the CDC in its press releases or by the mainstream media so that people can make a truly informed choice about whether it’s worth the risk to get a flu shot.

Conclusion

In summary, to avoid underestimating influenza-associated hospitalizations and deaths, the CDC relies on models that instead appear to greatly overestimate the numbers due to the fallacious assumptions built into them. These numbers are then mispresented to the public by both public health officials and the mainstream media as though uncontroversial and representative of known cases of influenza-caused illnesses and deaths from surveillance data. Consequently, the public is grossly misinformed about the societal disease burden from influenza and the ostensible benefit of the vaccine.

It is clear that the CDC does not see its mission as being to educate the public in order to be able to make an informed choice about vaccination. After all, that would be incompatible with its view that growing health literacy is a threat to its mission and an obstacle to be overcome. On the other hand, misinformed populace aligns perfectly with the CDC’s stated goal of using fear marketing to generate more demand for the pharmaceutical industry’s influenza vaccine products.

This article is an adapted and expanded excerpt from part two of the author’s multi-part exposé on the influenza vaccine. Sign up for Jeremy’s newsletter to stay updated with his work on vaccines and receive his free downloadable report, “5 Horrifying Facts about the FDA Vaccine Approval Process”.

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