Before you begin...
In 2013, the Swiss Medical Board, an independent health technology assessment initiative, was requested to prepare a review of mammography screening. The team of medical professionals included a medical ethicist, a clinical epidemiologist, a pharmacologist, an oncologic surgeon, a nurse scientist, a lawyer, and a health economist. Two of those members, Nikola Biller-Andorno, M.D. Ph. D. and Peter Juni, M.D, opened up about the project in the New England Journal of Medicine.
They said: “As we embarked on the project, we were aware of the controversies that have surrounded mammography screening for the past 10-15 years. When we received the available evidence and contemplated its implications in detail, however, we became increasingly concerned.”
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In 2016, it is estimated that approximately 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States as well as 61,000 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer. Mammograms continue to be touted as the most effective screening tool we have today to find breast cancer.
However, these two doctors were shocked to discover that there is minimal evidence that actually indicates that the benefits of mammography screening outweigh the harms.
“The relative risk reduction of approximately 20 percent in breast-cancer mortality associated with mammography that is currently described by most expert panels came at the price of a considerable diagnostic cascade, with repeat mammography, subsequent biopsies, and over-diagnosis of breast cancers — cancers that would never have become clinically apparent.”
The Canadian National Breast Screening Study, which was conducted over the course of 25 years, concluded that 106 of 484 screen-detected cancers were over-diagnosed.
The doctors explained: “This means that 106 of the 44,925 healthy women in the screening group were diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer unnecessarily, which resulted in needless surgical interventions, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or some combination of these therapies.”
The fact that the benefits of this form of cancer screening are so overestimated seems worrisome for the medical community and patients at large. How, in this day and age, do we not have more awareness, more answers, and better technology?
Another review of 10 trials involving more than 600,000 women discovered no evidence that mammography screening was effective on overall mortality. This caused concern over the benefits of the medical practice. A survey of U.S. women’s views on the mammography screenings discovered that 71.5 percent of women think that it lessened risk of death from breast cancer by half, while 72.1 percent believed that 80 deaths could be avoided per each 1,000 women screened. Their perceptions were gravely over-calculated. In fact, when looking at the real numbers, mammography results in a risk reduction of 20 percent and only 1 death can be prevented per 1,000 women screened.
The Swiss Medical Board report became public in February 2014, provoking the board to advise that the quality of mammography screening ought to be evaluated and that women should be educated about both the benefits and the harms of the medical practice.
The report created controversy within the Swiss medical community, even though it supports a growing perspective around the world that mammography for breast cancer screening in asymptomatic populations is outdated and harmful at best.
When reviewing the data in regards to every breast cancer death prevented in U.S. women over a 10-year period of yearly screening starting at the age of 50, you will find that:
- 490-670 women usually have a false positive mammogram with repeat examination
- 70-100 women usually have an unnecessary biopsy
- 3-14 women were the victim of over-diagnosed breast cancer that would never reach clinical relevance
Furthermore, up to 50 percent of women have breast tissue that is dense. This makes it very hard to read mammograms correctly, as dense breast tissue and cancer both show up white on an X-ray.
Due to the lack of evidence in support of mammography and the clear potential risks involved with them, the board chose to recommend cancelling mammography-screening programs altogether. Although their recommendations are not legally binding, the report caused an uproar amongst Swiss cancer experts and organizations. The doctors on board reported:
“One of the main arguments used against it was that it contradicted the global consensus of leading experts in the field… Another argument was that the report unsettled women, but we wonder how to avoid unsettling women, given the available evidence.”
It’s clearly no mystery why the board become increasingly concerned about their researcher. The “evidence” simply does not back up the global consensus of other experiences in the field suggesting that mammograms were safe and capable of saving lives.
When it comes down to it, we are dealing with outdated clinical trials, the benefits do not clearly outweigh the harms, and women’s perceptions of mammography benefits do not match reality,
More Information On Breast Screenings
I believe that if you did have a tumor, the last thing you would want to do is crush that tumor between two plates, because that would spread it. – Dr. Sarah Mybill, General Practitioner (taken from the documentary trailer below)
I think if a woman from the age of 50 has a mammogram every year, or every two years, she’s going to get breast cancer as a direct result from that – Dr. Patrick Kingsley, Clinical Ecologist (take from the documentary trailer below)
In 2011, 220,097 women and 2,078 men in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer, and 40,931 women and 443 men in the United States died from breast cancer. It has become the most common type of cancer among women.
Below is a trailer to a documentary entitled, “The Promise.” The film interviews various researchers, scientists, doctors (and more), all of whom are hoping to shed light on a practice which is turning out to be not only useless, but harmful to those taking part. There is more information below the video, but I highly recommend you watch the documentary.
There is a wealth of scientific data concluding that mammograms are not, as the CDC claims, the most effective way to detect breast cancer. In fact, having a mammogram is likely the last thing you want to do if you have breast cancer.
A study published in The European Journal of Public Healthtitled “Trends in breast cancer stage distribution before, during and after introduction of a screening programme in Norway” found that breast screenings actually increase the incidence of localized stage cancers without reducing the incidence of advanced cancers. (source)
The study, which used a huge population sample of 1.8 million Norwegian women diagnosed with breast cancer from 1987 – 2010, found that:
“The annual incidence of localized breast cancer among women aged 50–69 years rose from 63.9 per 100 000 before the introduction of screening to 141.2 afterwards, corresponding to a ratio of 2.21 (95% confidence interval: 2.10; 2.32).The incidence of more advanced cancers increased from 86.9 to 117.3 per 100 000 afterwards, corresponding to a 1.35 (1.29; 1.42)-fold increase. Advanced cancers also increased among younger women not eligible for screening, whereas their incidence of localized cancers remained nearly constant.”
This study outlines how Norway’s breast screening program has actually increased the chance of being diagnosed with early stage breast cancer by more than 200%, as well contributing to an increased chance of receiving advanced stage breast cancer diagnosis by 35%. This is the opposite of what mammograms are supposed to do; if they were useful then the incidence of cancers would be lower and not higher.
The study concluded that:
Incidence of localized breast cancer increased significantly among women aged 50–69 years old after introduction of screening, while the incidence of more advanced cancers was not reduced in the same period when compared to the younger unscreened age group.(source)
It’s important to note that, “although the study did measure the impact of Norway’s breast screening programme, a comparison of trends between participants and non-participants in the age group eligible for screening warrants further investigation. Also the causal link between stage distribution and mortality needs to be investigated in the context of screening.”
A paper published in 2011 in the British Medical Journal set out to prove that breast screening by mammography is associated with a steeper fall in mortality cancer compared to other countries who were not offering this service. They did not expect to find the complete opposite; they found a drop in breast cancer mortality among women who were not screened. They concluded that the recent downward trend in breast cancer mortality had nothing to do with screening and everything to do with improvements in treatment and service provision. (source)
The new data published in the BMJ now suggests that none of the gratifying falls in breast cancer can be attributed to screening and that the very existence of a NHSBSP (national breast screening programme) should be questioned. Unless there is public pressure for an independent inquiry to challenge the status quo, it will be business as usual for the screening programme. Furthermore, the Department of Health has painted itself into a corner and it is no longer a question of scientific debate – the subject has become too politicized by those who like to avoid U-turns at all costs. – Michael Baum, Professor Emeritus of Surgery and visiting Professor of Medical Humanities at University College London, is a leading British surgical oncologist who specializes in breast cancer treatment (source)
This would be an asymptomatic woman walking along the high street, having a mammogram, and then two weeks later she’s told she has to have a mastectomy. This is so cruel that it should make you weep. (quote taken from the documentary trailer above)
As Sayer Ji, founder of Greenmedinfo.com points out, a National Cancer Institute commissioned expert panel concluded that “early stage cancers” are not cancer, they are benign or indolent growths. This means that millions of women were wrongly diagnosed with breast cancer over the past few decades and have been subjected to harmful treatment, when they would have been better off leaving it untreated or diagnosed; frighteningly, it is not uncommon for a breast cancer misdiagnosis to occur.
Another study that was recently published in the British Medical Journal concluded that regular mammogram screenings do not reduce breast cancer death rates. And they found no evidence to suggest that mammograms are more effective than personal breast exams at detecting cancer in the designated age group. The study involved 90, 000 Canadian women and compared breast cancer incidence and mortality up to 25 years in women aged 40-59.(source)
The study was conducted over a period of 25 years.
Many Studies Showing The Same Thing
The sheer number of studies that have been published on breast mammography examinations and their failure to produce a benefit in screened populations is overwhelming. What’s even more disturbing is the fact that these types of examinations have also been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer, and to have negative implications for both physical and mental health.
U-turns do not embarrass clinical scientists, unlike politicians: if the evidence changes then our minds must change. As the national programme began to run its course, two disturbing observations made me begin to question my original support. First, about 10 years after the initiation of the service, updated analyses of the original data set by independent groups in Europe and the US found that the initial estimate of benefit in the reduction of breast cancer mortality was grossly exaggerated. – Michael Baum, Professor Emeritus of Surgery and visiting Professor of Medical Humanities at University College London, is a leading British surgical oncologist who specializes in breast cancer treatment (source)
Other sources used not listed in the article.
For a database of published studies on this topic, you can click HERE
How Does Anesthesia Work? We Still Don’t Know: What Happens When Someone Goes “Under”?
Before you begin...
When patients ask anesthesiologists what we charge for putting them to sleep, we often say we do it for free. We only bill them for the waking up part.
This isn’t just a way of deflecting a question, it also serves as a gentle reminder to both parties regarding the importance of “coming to.” If we couldn’t regain consciousness, what would be the point in having the surgery in the first place? Nobody wants to experience pain and fear if it can be avoided. If the only way to avoid the pain of an operation is to temporarily be rendered unconscious, most people will readily and willingly consent to that, as long as we can return to our natural state of being alert and interactive with the world around us. We are awake and aware and that–rather than any particular conception of health–is our most precious gift.
How does Anesthesia work ?
From an Anesthesiologist’s point of view, we really shouldn’t charge for putting someone to sleep. It’s too easy. With today’s medications, putting someone to sleep, or in more correct terms, inducing general anesthesia, is straightforward. Two hundred milligrams of this and fifty milligrams of that and voilà: you have a completely unconscious patient who is incapable of even breathing independently. The medications we administer at induction are similar to the lethal injections executioners use. Unlike executioners, we then intervene to reestablish their breathing and compensate for any large changes in blood pressure and the patient thereby survives until consciousness miraculously returns sometime later.
In addition, those in my field have to contend with the reality that we really don’t know what we are doing. More precisely, we have very little if any understanding of how anesthetic gases render a person unconscious. After 17 years of practicing Anesthesiology, I still find the whole process nothing short of pure magic. You see, the exact mechanism of how these agents work is, at present, unknown. Once you understand how a trick works, the magic disappears. With regard to inhaled anesthetic agents, magic abounds.
Take ether, for example. In 1846 a dentist named William T.G. Morton used ether to allow Dr. Henry J. Bigelow to partially remove a tumor from the neck of a 24-year-old patient safely with no outward signs of pain. The surgery took place at Massachusetts General Hospital in front of dozens of physicians. When the patient regained consciousness with no recollection of the event it is said that many of the surgeons in attendance, their careers spent hardening themselves to the agonizing screams of their patients while operating without modern anesthesia, wept openly after witnessing this feat. At the time, no one knew how ether worked. We still don’t. Over the last 173 years, dozens of different anesthetic gases have been developed and they all have three basic things in common: they are inhaled, they are all very, very tiny molecules by biological standards, and we don’t know how any of them work.
Why we still don’t know…
If you have never closely considered how our bodies do what they do (move, breathe, grow, pee, reproduce, etc.), the answers may be astounding. It is obvious that the energy required to power biological systems comes from food and air. But how do they use them to do everything? How does it all get coordinated?
These are the fundamental questions that have been asked for millennia, by ancient shamans and modern pharmaceutical companies alike. It turns out that the answers are different depending on what sort of perspective and tools we begin with. In the West, our predecessors in medicine were anatomists. Armed with scalpels, the human form was first subdivided into organ systems. Our knives and eyes improved with the development of microtomes and microscopes giving rise to the field of Histology (the study of tissue). Our path of relentless deconstruction eventually gave rise to Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. This is where Western medicine stands today. We define “understanding” as a complete description of how the very molecules that comprise our bodies interact with one another. This method and model has served us well. We have designed powerful antibiotics, identified neurotransmitters, and mapped our own genome. Why then have we not been able to figure out how a gas like ether works? The answer is two-fold.
First, although we have been able to demonstrate some of the biological processes and structures that are altered by an inhaled anesthetic gas, we cannot pinpoint which ones are responsible for altering levels of awareness because inhaled anesthetic agents affect so many seemingly unrelated things at the same time. It is impossible to identify which are directly related to the “awake” state. It is also entirely possible that all of them are, and if that were the case consciousness would be the single most complex function attributed to a living organism by a very large margin.
The second difficulty we have is even more unwieldy and requires some contemplation. As explained above, western medicine has not been able to isolate which molecular interaction is responsible for anesthetics’ effect on our awareness. It is therefore reasonable to approach the puzzle from the opposite side and ask instead, “Where is the source of our awareness in our bodies?” and go from there.
We do know that certain neurological pathways in the brain are active in awake patients, but if we attribute consciousness to those pathways then we are necessarily identifying them as the “things” that are awake. To find the source of their “awakeness” we must then examine them more closely. With the tools we have and the paradigm we have chosen we will inevitably find more molecules interacting with other molecules. When you go looking for molecules that is all you will find. Our paradigm has dictated what the answer would be like if we ever found one. Does it seem plausible to think we will find an “awareness molecule” and attribute our vivid, multisensorial experience to the presence of it? If such a molecule existed, how would our deconstructive approach ever explain why that molecule was the source of our awareness? Can consciousness ever be represented materially?
A more sensible model would be to consider the activity of these structures in the brains of conscious individuals as evidence of consciousness, not the cause of it. To me it is apparent that, unless we expand our search beyond the material plane, we are not going to find consciousness or be able to understand how anesthetic gases work. Until then I know I am nothing more than a wand-waver in the operating room. And that is being generous. The magician is the anesthetic gas itself, which has, up to this point, never let us in on the secret.
What happens when someone goes “under”?
The mechanistic nature of our model is well suited to most biological processes. However, with regard to consciousness, the model not only lends little understanding of what is happening, it also gives rise to a paradigm that is widely and tightly held, but in actuality cannot be applied to the full breadth of human experience. We commonly believe that a properly functioning physical body is required for us to be aware. Although this may seem initially incontrovertible, upon closer examination it becomes quite clear that this belief is actually an assumption that has massive implications. To be more precise, how do we know that consciousness does not continue uninterrupted and only animate our physical bodies intermittently rather than the other way around, where the body intermittently gives rise to the awake state? At first, this hypothesis may seem absurd, irrelevant and unprovable. I assure you that if you spent a day in an operating room, this idea is not only possible, it is far more likely to be true than the converse.
Let us first consider how we measure anesthetic depth in the operating room. We continually measure the amount of agent that is circulating in a patient’s system, but as described earlier, there is no measurable “conscious” molecule that can be found. We must assess the behavior of our patients to make that determination. Do they reply to verbal commands? Do they require a tap on the shoulder or a painful stimulus to respond? Do they respond verbally or do they merely shudder or fling an arm into the air? Perhaps they do not even move when the very fibers of their body are literally being dissected.
There are many situations when a person will interact normally for a period of time while under the influence of a sedative with amnestic properties, and then have absolutely no recollection of that period of time. As far as they know, that period of time never existed. They had no idea that they were lying on an operating room table for 45 minutes talking about their recent vacation while their surgeon performed a minor procedure on their wrist, for example. Sometime later, they found themselves in the recovery room when, to their profound disbelief, they noticed a neatly placed surgical dressing on their hand. More than once I have been told that a patient had asked that the dressing be removed so that they could see the stitches with their own eyes.
How should we characterize their level of consciousness during the operation? By our own standards they were completely awake. However, because they have no memory of being awake during the experience, they would recount it more or less the same way a patient who was rendered completely unresponsive would. This phenomenon is common and easily reproducible. Moreover, it invites us to consider the possibility that awareness continually exists without interruption, but we are not always able to access our experiences retrospectively.
During some procedures where a surgeon is operating very close to the spinal cord, we often infuse a combination of anesthetic drugs that render the patient unconscious but allow all of the neural pathways between the brain and the body to continue to function normally so that they can be monitored for their integrity. In other words, the physiology required to feel or move remains intact, yet the patient apparently has no experience of any stimuli, surgical or otherwise during the operation. How are we to reconcile the fact that we have a patient with a functioning body and no ability to experience it? Who exactly is the patient in this situation?
What can Near Death Experiences (NDEs) tell us?
If we broadened our examination of the human experience to consider more extreme situations, another wrinkle appears in the paradigm. There are numerous accounts of people who have experienced periods of awareness whilst their bodies have been rendered insentient by anesthetics and/or severe trauma. Near Death Experiences (NDEs) are all characterized by lucid awareness that remains continuous during a period of time while outside observers assume the person is unconscious or dead. Very often patients who have experienced an NDE in the operating room can accurately recount what was said and done by people attending to them during their period of lifelessness. They are also able to describe the event from the perspective as an observer to their own body, often viewing it from above.
Interestingly, people describe their NDEs in a universally positive way. “Survival” was an option that they were free to choose. Death of their body could be clearly seen as a transcending event in their continuing awareness and not as the termination of their existence. Very often the rest of their lives are profoundly transformed by the experience. No longer living with the fear of mortality, life subsequently opens up into a more vibrant and meaningful experience that can be cherished far more deeply than was possible prior to their brush with death. Those who have had an NDE would have no problem adopting the idea that their awareness exists independently of their body, functioning or not. Fear and anxiety would still probably arise in their life from time to time, but it is the rest of us who carry the seemingly inescapable load of a belief system that ties our existence to a body that will perish.
What happens when we wake up from Anesthesia?
The waking up part is no less magical. When the anesthetic gas is eliminated from the body, consciousness returns on its own. Waking someone up simply requires enough space and time for it to occur spontaneously. There is no reversal agent available to speed the return of consciousness. I can only wait. In fact, the waiting period is directly related to the amount of time the patient has been exposed to the anesthetic. At some point the patient will open their eyes when a threshold has been crossed. Depending on how long the patient has been “asleep,” complete elimination of the agent from the body may not happen until a long while after the patient has “woke.”
By the time I leave a patient in the care of our recovery room nurses, I am confident that they are safely on a path to their baseline state of awareness. Getting back to a normal state of awareness may take hours or even days. In some cases, patients may never get their wits back completely. Neurocognitive testing has demonstrated that repeated exposure to general anesthesia can sometimes have long-lasting or even irreversible effects on the awake state. It may occur for everyone. Perhaps it is a matter of how closely we look.
Interestingly, it is well known that the longterm effects of anesthetic exposure are more profound in individuals who have already demonstrated elements of cognitive decline in their daily life. Indeed, this population of patients requires significantly less anesthetic to reach the same depth of unconsciousness during an operation. This poses an intriguing question: Is our understanding of being awake also too simplistic? Is there a continuum of “awakeness” in everyday life just as there is one of unconsciousness when anesthetized? If so, how would we measure it?
Does our limited understanding of awareness keep us “asleep”?
Modern psychiatry has been rigorous in defining and categorizing dysfunction. Although there has been recent interest in pushing our understanding of what may be interpreted as a “super-functioning” psyche, western systems are still in their infancy with regard to this idea. In eastern schools of thought, however, this concept has been central for centuries.
In some schools of Eastern philosophy, the idea of attaining a super-functioning awake state is seen as something that also occurs spontaneously when intention and practice are oriented correctly. Ancient yogic teachings specifically describe super abilities, or Siddhis, that are attained through dedicated practice. These Siddhis include fantastical abilities like levitation, telekinesis, dematerialization, remote-viewing and others. The most advanced abilities, interestingly, are those that allow an individual to remain continuously in a state of joy and fearlessness. If such a state were attainable it would clearly be incompatible with the kind of absolute psychological identification most of us have with our mortal bodies. It may be of no surprise that Eastern medicine also subscribes to an entirely different perspective of the body and uses different tools to examine it.
Certainly fear has served our ancestors well, helping us to avoid snakes and lions, but how much fear is necessary these days? Could fear be the barrier that separates us from our highest potential in the awake state just as an anesthetic gas prevents us from waking in the operating room? It is not possible to remain fearless while continuing to identify with a body that is prone to disease and death. Even if one were to drop the assumption that the source of our existence is a finite body, how long would it take to be free from the effects of a lifetime of fearful thinking before any changes that reflect a shift in this paradigm manifest? As long as we leave this model unchallenged we may be missing what it means to be truly awake.
Study: Organic Diet “Significantly Reduces” Urinary Pesticide Levels In Children & Adults
- The Facts:
A 2019 study published in the journal Environmental Research found that an organic diet significantly reduced the pesticide levels in children and adults. Their urine was used to measure pesticide levels.
- Reflect On:
Are the justifications used to to spray our crops actually justified? Are they really necessary or can we figure out a better way of doing things?
Before you begin...
What Happened: A 2019 study published in the journal Environmental Research titled, “Organic diet intervention significantly reduces urinary pesticide levels in U.S. children and adults” highlighted that diet is the primary source of pesticide exposure in both children and adults in the United States. It found that an organic diet significantly reduced neonicotinoid, OP pyrethroid, 2,4-D exposure, with the greatest reduction observed in malathion, clothianidin, and chlorpyrifos.
The researchers noted that all of us are exposed “to a cocktail of toxic synthetic pesticides linked to a range of health problems from our daily diets.” They explain how “certified organic food is produced without these pesticides,” and ask the question, “Can eating organic really reduce levels of pesticides in our bodies?” They tested four American families that don’t typically eat organic food to find out. All pesticides detected in the body dropped an average of 60.5% after just six days on an organic diet.
First, we tested the levels of pesticides in their bodies on a non-organic diet for six days. We found 14 chemicals representing potential exposure to 40 different pesticides in every study participant. These included organophosphates, pyrethroids, neonicotinoids and the phenoxy herbicide 2,4-D. Some of the pesticides we found are linked to increased risk of cancer, infertility, learning disabilities, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and more. (source)
The most significant drops occurred in a class of nerve agent pesticides called organophosphates. This class includes chlorpyrifos, a highly toxic pesticide linked to increased rates of autism, learning disabilities and reduced IQ in children. Organophosphates are so harmful to children’s developing brains that scientists have called for a full ban. (source)
A lot of the food we now spray on our food were initially developed as nerve gases for chemical warfare:
To understand this controversial issue it is helpful to look at the history of pesticide use. Prior to World War II, the pesticides that we use now did not yet exist. Some pesticides currently in use were in fact developed during World War II for use in warfare. The organophosphate insecticides were developed as nerve gases, and the phenoxy herbicides, including 2,4-D (the most commonly used herbicide in Canada), were created to eradicate the Japanese rice crop, and later used as a component of Agent Orange to defoliate large areas in jungle warfare. After World War II, these chemicals began to be used as pesticides in agricultural production, for environmental spraying of neighbourhoods, for mosquito eradication, and for individual home and garden use. – Ontario College of Family Physicians
It’s also noteworthy to mention that A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition carried out a meta-analysis based on 343 peer-reviewed publications that indicate “statistically significant and meaningful differences in composition between organic and non-organic crops/crop based foods.” The study found that
The study found that Phenolic acids are 19% higher in organic foods, Flavanones are 69% higher in organic foods (linked to reduced risk of several age-related chronic diseases), Stilbenes are 28% higher in organic foods, Flavones are 26% higher in organic foods, Flavonol is 50% higher in organic foods and Anthocyanins are 51% higher in organic foods.
Apart from nutritional content, the study also measured for concentrations of the toxic metal Cadmium (Cd), finding that in conventional foods, “significantly higher concentrations” were found. Conventional foods appear to have nearly 50 percent more of this heavy metal than organic foods. Furthermore, significant differences were also detected for other minerals and vitamins.
When it comes to pesticide residues on non-organic foods, the authors found that the volume of pesticide residues was four times higher in conventional crops.
Another study conducted by researchers from RMIT university nearly 5 years ago published in the journal Environmental Research found that eating an organic diet for just one week significantly reduced pesticide exposure in adults by up to 90 percent.
The Takeaway: At the end of the day, people are and have been voting with their dollar. More grocery stores and brands are offering organic options, and the industry is starting to recognize that it’s in demand. Furthermore, more people are growing whatever food they can. At the end of the day, sprayed food not only has implications for human health, but it’s detrimental to the environment as well. This is a big problem on plane Earth, we are constantly told that GMO food and the spraying of crops is the only way to combat world hunger and changes in climate, but this sentiment goes against a plethora of information showing that local organic farming/agriculture is the most sustainable.
Fact-Checker Claims No Causal Relationship Between 929 Deaths Reported After COVID Vaccine
- The Facts:
Data from the CDC's Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) shows, as of today, 929 deaths, 316 permanent disabilities and more than 15,000 adverse reactions reported after of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Reflect On:
Should private institutions/companies have the right to mandate this vaccine for people and employees? When it comes to vaccines, should freedom of choice remain? Why is only one perspective presented by mainstream media?
Before you begin...
What Happened: According to the CDC Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), as of today (February 20th, 2021) 929 deaths, 316 permanent disabilities and more than 15,000 adverse events have been reported from people after taking the COVID-19 vaccine. This mainly represents reports that are coming in from the United States. The data shows that 799 of the deaths were reported in the U.S., and that about one-third of those deaths occurred within 48 hours of the individual receiving the vaccination. You can look it up for yourself and/or see the screenshot below. I have not looked up, or attempted to look up reports from countries outside of the U.S.
Many articles have been using VAERS to claim that the COVID-19 vaccine is causing deaths & injuries, but according to Facebook Fact Checker Health Feedback, the adverse events attributed to the COVID-19 don’t demonstrate a causal relationship between the vaccine and the adverse events. They do acknowledge, however, that VAERS records adverse events occurring after vaccination.
Health Feedback highlights the following point:
Both COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration were thoroughly reviewed for safety and efficacy before approval. The U.S. Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) enables the public and healthcare providers to report adverse events that occur after they received a vaccine. While VAERS serves as an early warning system for potential problems with vaccines, determining whether there is a causal link requires further investigation into these reports. VAERS data only tells us that an adverse event might have occurred after vaccination; on its own it cannot prove that vaccines caused the adverse event.
VAERS themselves makes this point clear by stating:
A report to VAERS generally does not prove that the identified vaccine(s) cause the adverse event described. It only confirms that the reported event occurred sometime after (the) vaccine was given. No proof that the event was caused by the vaccine is required in order for VAERS to accept the report VAERS accepts all reports without judging whether the event was caused by the vaccine.
Keep in mind that approximately 40 million Americans have had at least one COVID shot thus far.
The VAERS data can also be perceived from another perspective. There is no proof showing that the vaccine did not cause the adverse events. The reports coming into VAERS are from people who believe the vaccine is indeed responsible for the adverse event. There are, as I’ve written about many times before, other important factors that have been noted about VAERS. For example, according to some, like this U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, VAERS is estimated to capture an estimated one percent of vaccine injuries, or at least reports by those who believe to be injured by a vaccine, because the majority of them are believed to be unreported. It’s not clear how many health professionals let alone people are even aware of VAERS.
VAERS has come under fire multiple times, a critic familiar with VAERS’ bluntly condemned VAERS in The BMJ as “nothing more than window dressing, and a part of U.S. authorities’ systematic effort to reassure/deceive us about vaccine safety.”
It’s also noteworthy to mention that, when it comes to vaccine injury In the United States, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) has paid out more than $4 billion dollars due to vaccine injuries. Since 2015, the program has paid out an average total of $216 million to an average of 615 claimants each year. Furthermore, those injured by the COVID-19 vaccine won’t be eligible for compensation from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) while COVID is still an “emergency.”
lyson Kelvin, a virologist and assistant professor at Dalhousie University, who is currently working on COVID-19 vaccines with VIDO-InterVac, told Global News that “there’s a difference between “adverse events following immunization” and adverse events “directly related to a vaccine…Just because it’s an adverse event, doesn’t mean it’s directly related to the vaccine. It just means that it happened after someone got a vaccination… In Norway’s case, we’re talking about adverse events following immunization.”
Below is a screen shot from of the DATA:
When it comes to science and determining whether or not a vaccine is the direct cause of an injury, there doesn’t seem to be, in my opinion appropriate systems in place to investigate this. Furthermore, the VICP protects pharmaceutical companies from any liability with regards to vaccine injuries. Vaccines are a liability free product.
The scientific method in general is quick to point out that correlation does not mean causation, but again, in some cases correlation may actually mean causation. The Bradford Hill Criteria is one of the most cited concepts in health research and are still upheld as valid tools for aiding causal inference. You can look more into that too see how it all works if interested.
Another factor one must consider, also, is the politicization of science. Kamran Abbas is a doctor, recent former executive editor of the British Medical Journal, and the editor of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. He has published an article about COVID-19, the suppression of science and the politicization of medicine, and the medical industrial complex.
Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health. Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science…The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines.
According to Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), Harvard professor of medicine and former Editor-in-Chief of The New England Medical Journal.
“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.”
It’s no secret that vaccine hesitancy is quite high in some places when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, and with vaccines in general. The Washington Post reported this week that nearly a third of military personnel are opting out of the vaccines, and ESPN reported that top NBA players are reluctant to promote the vaccine.
A survey conducted at Chicago’s Loretto Hospital shows that only 40 percent of healthcare workers will not take the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available to them. Riverside County, California has a population of approximately 2.4 million, and about 50 percent of healthcare workers in the county are refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine despite the fact that they have top priority and access to it.
At Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, one in five frontline nurses and doctors have declined the shot. Roughly 20% to 40% of L.A. County’s frontline workers who were offered the vaccine did the same, according to county public health officials.
Vaccine hesitancy among physicians and academics is nothing new. To illustrate this I often point to a conference held at the end of 2019 put on by the World Health Organization (WHO). At the conference, Dr. Heidi Larson a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project Emphasized this point, having stated,
The other thing that’s a trend, and an issue, is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers. We have a very wobbly health professional frontline that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. That’s a huge problem, because to this day any study I’ve seen…still, the most trusted person on any study I’ve seen globally is the health care provider.
A study published in the journal EbioMedicine as far back as 2013 outlines this point, among many others.
Drene Keyes, described as a “gifted singer and grandmother of six,” found herself unable to breathe and began vomiting within a couple hours of being vaccinated, according to media reports. She was rushed to Riverside Tappahannock Hospital, where doctors administered an EpiPen, CPR and oxygen. Keyes’ daughter, Lisa Jones, told WKTR: “They tried to remove fluid from her lungs. They called it ‘flash pulmonary edema,’ and doctors told me that it can be caused by anaphylaxis. The doctor told me that often during anaphylaxis, chemicals are released inside of a person’s body and can cause this to happen.”
Heidi Neckelmann, the wife of Dr. Gregory Michael from California, said that in her mind, her 56-year-old husband’s death was “100% linked” to the vaccine. Now, at least one doctor has come forward publicly to say he also believes the vaccine caused Michael to develop acute idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), the disorder that killed him. According to the New York Times: “Dr. Jerry L. Spivak, an expert on blood disorders at Johns Hopkins University, who was not involved in Dr. Michael’s care, said that based on Ms. Neckelmann’s description, ‘I think it is a medical certainty that the vaccine was related.’“‘This is going to be very rare,’ said Dr. Spivak, an emeritus professor of medicine. But he added, ‘It happened and it could happen again.’
Heidi made a Facebook post about the incident:
The love of my life, my husband Gregory Michael MD an obstetrician that had his office in Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach Died the day before yesterday due to a strong reaction to the COVID vaccine. He was a very healthy 56 year old, loved by everyone in the community, delivered hundreds of healthy babies and worked tireless through the pandemic . He was vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine at MSMC on December 18, 3 days later he saw a strong set of petechiae on his feet and hands which made him seek attention at the emergency room at MSMC…read the full post HERE.
Approximately one month ago, Norway registered a total of 29 deaths among people over the age of 75 who had their first COVID-19 vaccine. As a result, the country changed which groups to target in national inoculation programs. Steinar Madsen, medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency (NOMA), told the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that “There is no certain connection between these deaths and the vaccine.” Bloomberg Reported that the “Pfizer/BioNTech was the only vaccine available in Norway”, stating that the Norwegian Medicines Agency told them that as a result “all deaths are thus linked to this vaccine.” So, there seemed to be some conflicting information there as well, one piece of information stating that the vaccine was linked, and the other stating that it wasn’t, both from the same source.
Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist, Dr. Sunetra Gupta, professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School, a physician and epidemiologist were all the initiators of The Great Barrington Declaration. They recently announced that they are strongly in favour of voluntary COVID-19 vaccination.
It doesn’t seem like governments are going to mandate the vaccine. What instead seems to be the case is that private businesses and institutions may do so. For example, certain airlines may not allow people to travel unless they’ve had the shot. Some restaurant, entertainment facilities and other places of businesses might follow suit. Certain employers may require their employees to take the shot. All of this of course raises a number of legal and ethical concerns. We will just have to wait and see what happens. In all circumstances, I do believe the COVID vaccine should always remain voluntary, especially when it’s quite unclear if they can even reduce the risk of transmission and infection, and there does seem to be a number of concerns being raised with the vaccine.
Dr. Peter Doshi, an associate editor at the British Medical Journal published a piece in the Journal issuing a word of caution about the supposed “95% Effective” COVID vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. You can access that here.
A few other papers have raised concerns as well, for example. A study published in October of 2020 in the International Journal of Clinical Practice states:
COVID-19 vaccines designed to elicit neutralising antibodies may sensitise vaccine recipients to more severe disease than if they were not vaccinated. Vaccines for SARS, MERS and RSV have never been approved, and the data generated in the development and testing of these vaccines suggest a serious mechanistic concern: that vaccines designed empirically using the traditional approach (consisting of the unmodified or minimally modified coronavirus viral spike to elicit neutralising antibodies), be they composed of protein, viral vector, DNA or RNA and irrespective of delivery method, may worsen COVID-19 disease via antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). This risk is sufficiently obscured in clinical trial protocols and consent forms for ongoing COVID-19 vaccine trials that adequate patient comprehension of this risk is unlikely to occur, obviating truly informed consent by subjects in these trials.
In a new research article published in Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, veteran immunologist J. Bart Classen expresses similar concerns and writes that “RNA-based COVID vaccines have the potential to cause more disease than the epidemic of COVID-19.”
For decades, Classen has published papers exploring how vaccination can give rise to chronic conditions such as Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes — not right away, but three or four years down the road. In this latest paper, Classen warns that the RNA-based vaccine technology could create “new potential mechanisms” of vaccine adverse events that may take years to come to light.
Again, these are a few of multiple examples, I just wanted to provide some context. All of this warrants freedom of choice, does it not?
The Takeaway: One thing that seems to be quite evident, in my opinion, is the fact that mainstream media and the “mainstream” in general is failing at having proper conversations around controversial topics, like vaccines, for example. Instead of using terms like “Anti-Vax conspiracy theorist, as well as ridicule, it would be great if mainstream media advocates actually addressed the concerns being raised by those who are concerned about vaccine safety and effectiveness. Should private institutions/companies have the right to mandate this vaccine for people and employees? When it comes to vaccines, should freedom of choice remain? Why is only one perspective presented by mainstream media?
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