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The Violence-Inducing Effects of Psychiatric Medication

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This article is posted with permission from our friends at Greenmedinfo.comFor more news from them, you can sign up for their newsletter here.  It was written by Dr. Kelly Brogan.

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Psychiatric medications have some dangerous, often-overlooked side effects, which could include suicide and homicide. 

On May 17, 2017, we learned that Chris Cornell of Soundgarden had reportedly committed suicide by hanging. His family reports knowing a different Chris than one who would make this fatal decision, and suspect his anti-anxiety prescription in the altered state he was witnessed to be in the night he died. Perhaps an “addict turned psychiatric patient”, like so many, Chris Cornell seemed to have left the frying pan of substance abuse for the fire of psychiatric medication risks.

For reasons that remain mysterious, those under the influence of psychiatric medication often specifically choose to hang themselves in their moment of peak impulsivity. Some, like Kim’s husband Woody who was never depressed a day in his life but prescribed Zoloft by his internist, even verbalize a felt experience of his head coming apart from his body in the days before he was found hanged in his garage.

Then there’s 14 year old Naika, a foster child in Florida who hanged herself on a FB livestream after being treated with 50mg of Vyvanse, a drug treatment for ADHD that leads to a domino effect of diagnoses and psychiatric meds including a 13 fold increase in likelihood of being prescribed an antipsychotic medication and 4 fold increase in antidepressant medications than controls.[1]

Are these just rare anecdotes? Is this just the cost of treatment that is helpful for most? Are we blaming medication for what might have been severe mental illness that was undertreated and/or undiagnosed?

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Informed consent: the premise of ethical medicine

I believe first and foremost in informed consent. If you are informed of the risks, benefits, and alternatives to a given treatment, you will be empowered to make the best decision for yourself based on your personal, family, philosophical, and religious life context. But the truth is that prescribers are not in a position to share the known risks of medications because we learn only of their purported benefits with a short-tagline of dismissively rare risks that are thought to be invariably outweighed by the presenting clinical concern.

But what about serious risks – including impulsive suicide and homicide – surely we are informing patients of that possibility, right?

Wrong.

In fact, the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry have gone to great lengths to conceal multiple signals of harm so we certainly can’t expect your average prescriber to have done the investigative work required to get at the truth.

In fact, from 1999-2013, psychiatric medication prescriptions have increased by a whopping 117% concurrent with a 240% increase in death rates from these medications[2]. So let’s review some of the evidence that suggests that it may not be in your best interest or the best interest of those around you for you to travel the path of medication-based psychiatry. Because, after all, if we don’t screen for risk factors – if we don’t know who will become the next victim of psych-med-induced violence – then how can we justify a single prescription? Are we at a point in the history of medicine where random acts of personal and public violence are defensible risks of treatment for stress, anxiety, depression, inattention, psychosocial distress, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, and even stress incontinence?

Let the science speak

Suicide

Prescribed specifically to “prevent” suicide, antidepressants now come with a black box warning label of suicide risk since 2010. Multi-billion dollar lawsuits like the settlement of Study 329[3] have been necessary to unlock the cabinet drawers of an industry that cares more about profit than human lives. A reanalysis of study 329[4] which initially served as a landmark study in 2001 supporting the prescription of antidepressants to children, has now demonstrated that these medications are ineffective in this population and play a causal role in suicidal behavior. Concealing and manipulating data that shows this signal of harm, including a doubling of risk of suicide with antidepressant treatment,[5] [6] [7] has generated seeming confusion around this incomprehensibly unacceptable risk profile. In fact, a reanalysis[8] of an influential US National Institute of Mental Health 2007 study, revealed a four-fold increase in suicide despite the fact that the initial publication[9] claimed no increased risk relative to placebo.

According to available data – 3 large meta-analyses – more psychiatric treatment means more suicide.[10] [11] [12] Well, that might seem a hazard of the field, right? Where blaming medications for suicide would be like saying that umbrellas cause the rain.

That’s why studies in non-suicidal subjects[13] and even healthy volunteers who went on to experience suicidality after taking antidepressants are so compelling[14].

Benzodiazepines (like what Cornell was taking) and hypnotics (sleep and anxiety medications) also have a documented potential to increase risk of completed and attempted suicide[15] and have been implicated in impulsive self-harm including self-inflicted stab wounds during changes to dosage[16]. We also find the documented possibility that suicidality could emerge in patients who are treated with this class of medications even when they are not suicidal with recent research stating, “benzodiazepine receptor agonist hypnotics can cause parasomnias, which in rare cases may lead to suicidal ideation or suicidal behavior in persons who were not known to be suicidal”[17]. And, of course, these medications themselves provide the means and the method with a known lethal poisoning profile[18].

Homicide

Clearly murderers are mentally ill, right? What if I told you that the science supports the concern that we are medicating innocent civilians into states of murderous impulsivity?

When Andrew Thibault began to research the safety of a stimulant drug recommended to his son, he entered a rabbit hole he has yet to emerge from. After literally teaching himself code to decrypt the data on the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System website, he was able to cull 2000 pediatric fatalities from psychotropic medications, and 700 homicides. A Freedom of Information Act and a lawsuit later, he continues to struggle with redacted and suppressed information around 24 homicides directly connected to the use of psychotropics including the homicide by a 10 year old treated with Vyvanse of an infant. Another case, ultimately recovered, involved statements from a 35 year old perpetrator/patient, who murdered her own daughter, as directly implicating as “When I took nortriptyline, I immediately wanted to kill myself. I’d never had thoughts like that before”.

To begin to scientifically explore the risk of violence induced by psychotropic medication, a study sample needs to be representative, the reason for taking the drug needs to be taken into consideration, the effect needs to be controlled for, as do any other intoxicants. Professor Jari Tiihonen’s research group analysed the use of prescription drugs of 959 persons convicted of a homicide in Finland and found that pre-crime prescription of benzodiazepines and opiates resulted in the highest risk (223% increase) of committing homicide[19].

Relatedly, eleven antidepressants, six sedative/hypnotics and three drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder represented the bulk of 31 medications associated with violence reported to the FDA[20]. Now an international problem, a Swedish registry study identified a statistically significant increase in violence in males and females under 25 years old prescribed antidepressants[21].

Implicated in school shootings, stabbings, and even the Germanwings flight crash, prescribing of psychotropics prior to these incidences has been catalogued on https://ssristories.org/ leading me to suspect psychiatric prescribing as the most likely cause in any and all reports of unusually violent behavior in the public sphere.

Is Association Really Causation?

Beyond the cases where violence to self or others was induced in a non-violent, non-depressed, non-psychotic individual, what other evidence is there that speaks to how this could possibly be happening?

The most seminal paper in this regard, in my opinion, was published in 2011 by Lucire and Crotty[22]. Ten cases of extreme violence were committed by patients who were prescribed antidepressants – not for major mental illness or even for depression – but for psychosocial distress (ie work stress, dog died, divorce). What these authors identified was that these ten subjects had variants to liver enzymes responsible for drug metabolism exacerbated by co-administration of other drugs and substances including herbs. All returned to their baseline personalities when the antidepressant was discontinued.

Now referred to as akathisia-induced impulsivity[23], the genetic risk factors for this Russian Roulette of violence are not screened for prior to psychotropic prescribing. Akathisia is a state of severe restlessness associated with thoughts of suicide and homicide. Many patients describe it as a feeling-less state of apathy – and what I would describe as a disconnection from their own souls, their own experience of human connection, and any measure of self-reflection.

The genetic underpinnings of this kind of medication-induced vulnerability are just beginning to be explored[24] with identification of precursor symptoms to violence including severe agitation. In a randomized, placebo-controlled trial, healthy volunteers exhibited an almost 2 fold increased risk of symptoms that can lead to violence[25]. A 4-5 fold increased risk was noted in patients prescribed a generic version of the antidepressant Cymbalta, off-label, for stress urinary incontinence (a non-psychiatric indication)[26].

There is another way

Perhaps it’s as if we are offering the blade edge of a knife to those falling off the cliff of struggle and suffering. Because the idea of managing a chemical imbalance with chemicals seems to make sense. But at what cost? The laundry list of acute and chronic adverse effects is growing, and the unpredictable risk of medication-induced violence should lead to an urgent cessation of all psychotropics. Because it takes 17 years[27] for physician practice to reflect published science, we need grassroots level information sharing. We need to inform ourselves before we consent to engage a system that regards you as an impersonal statistic.

We live in a cultural context that makes no room for the relevance, meaning, and significance of symptoms – symptoms are simply bad and scary and they must be managed. We don’t make room for patients to ask why they are not ok.

If you knew that your symptoms were reversible, healable, transformable, you might consider walking that path instead of assuming this level of risk for placebo-level efficacy of psychotropic medication. We would only euthanize a “mental patient” if we felt their condition was lifelong and unremitting. In fact, every woman I have ever tapered off of psychiatric drugs into experiences of total vitality once believed that she would be a medicated psychiatric patient for life. If you knew that radical self-healing potential lies within each and every one of us, if you only knew that was possible, you might start that journey today. It’s side effect free…

References

[1] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0706743716689055

[2] http://meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_stats/download_data_files_results.jsp?cboDataYear=All&cboDataTypeY=2%2CHousehold+Event+File&buttonYearandDataType=Search&cboPufNumber=All&SearchTitle=Prescribed+Medicines

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11437014 

[4] http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h4320

[5] http://www.bmj.com/content/330/7488/396

[6] http://www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.i65?etoc=

[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12601224

[8] http://content.iospress.com/articles/international-journal-of-risk-and-safety-in-medicine/jrs0645

[9] http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=210055

[10] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15555028 

[11] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/26713983_The_Relationship_Between_General_Population_Suicide_Rates_and_Mental_Health_Funding_Service_Provision_and_National_Policy_a_Cross-National_Study 

[12] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160252713000587 

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2301661/

[14] http://davidhealy.org/articles/#Suicide_Articles

[15] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28257172

[16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2047018/ 

[17] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27609243

[18] http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303061

[19] https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-06/uoef-fsa052515.php

[20] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002271/ 

[21] http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001875

[22] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3513220/ 

[23] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27138119 

[24] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27324805 

[25] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0141076816666805

[26] http://www.cmaj.ca/content/189/5/E194 

[27] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22179294

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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Boy or Girl – Baby Gender Selection Issues

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Some parents have the possibility to opt for gender selection; however, being able to decide whether to have a baby boy or girl is a controversial issue.

Many couples expecting a baby do not think it’s a big issue whether they have a boy or a girl; however there are several medical, social, and personal reasons that could influence parents to recur to some form of gender selection.

Like many other controversial practices, the legality of gender selection, also known as sex selection, varies from country to country.

The Legality of Baby Gender Selection

The United States has perhaps some of the most relaxed laws regarding baby gender selection in the world. Most European countries and Australia, on the other hand, have bans on sex selection and only allow it for medical reasons. For example, if a parent is a carrier of a mutation or gene with more chances of manifesting itself in a certain gender, baby gender selection is valid. However, if parents simply wish to balance the ratio of boys and girls in their family, they are not allowed to recur to sex selection.

This has generated a form of medical tourism in which couples from countries where gender selection is illegal, like the UK, travel to the US in order to be able to choose whether to have a baby boy or girl.

On the other hand, sex selection is illegal in the two most populated countries on Earth, China and India. In these countries, baby gender selection has been performed clandestinely for many years and for reasons other than family balancing or avoiding genetic diseases. In these societies, having a baby boy is preferred mainly for cultural and economic reasons. Parents believe that boys have better chances of earning income and eventually support them when they reach an old age.

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Methods of Baby Gender Selection

There are two major types of gender selection methods: the first one is called sperm sorting, and involves separating X-chromosome sperm from Y-chromosome sperm by flow cytometry, a purification technique in which chromosomes are suspended in a stream of sperm and identified by an electronic detector before being separated. Intra-uterine insemination or in-vitro fertilization can then be performed with the enriched sperm. The success rates for this method vary from 80% to 93%.

The other method, called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, consists in generating several embryos through in-vitro fertilization, which are then genetically tested to determine a baby’s gender. The chosen embryos can then be implanted. This method has a success rate of almost 100%; however, it can be quite expensive, costing up to $15,000.

Issues Regarding Baby Gender Selection

While there are few objections against baby gender selection when it is performed for medical reasons, it has become a highly controversial issue when it is used for balancing the number of boys or girls in families. Some people raise the obvious ethical question of whether people who opt for gender selection are “playing God” by manipulating whether to have a baby boy or girl. Others believe that new parents will raise a baby more appropriately if he or she belongs to their preferred gender.

Gender Imbalance Caused by Baby Gender Selection

Gender selection has caused demographic concern in China and India since it has contributed to generate a gender imbalance in the populations of those countries. In some regions of China, for example, the sex ratio for newborns is 118:100, boys to girls. This phenomenon has in turn been associated with social problems such as an increase in violence and prostitution.

It seems like a logical solution for governments around the globe to legalize baby gender selection but to analyze the personal reasons why each couple intends to select a baby boy or girl. Gender selection for medical reasons should even be encouraged, since it could prevent serious genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, and Haemophilia A. Balancing the gender ratio of a family should be accepted if by doing this, a healthy family environment is created. On the other hand, China and India have shown that baby gender selection as a result of a bias towards a particular gender can not only create a gender imbalance in the population, but contribute to social problems as well.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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Organic Certification: What the USDA Organic Label Means

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Organic and natural labels mean different things, and various types of labels tells you what percentage of ingredients are actually organic. We'll explore what to look for.

  • Reflect On:

    Do you sometimes buy products thinking they are organic or fully natural based on their wording? Have you later found out that those products aren't natural or organic at all? Read labels more closely at grocery stores to be aware.

Don’t get conned by fraudulent claims of “natural” or “organic.” Learn what to look for, and why it’s important, to ensure you’re getting the quality you are paying for.

The industrial age of the 20th century brought about changing agricultural practices that have generated increasing alarm about the effects of these practices on the environment and health. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, irradiated and genetically altered food and fiber products has created a groundswell of rightful concern. It has led to the growing demand for non-toxic, organic products that many are willing to pay a higher price for to ensure the healthful purity of food and clothing provided for their families.

With such profit opportunities, it’s little wonder that the lucrative organic product market has suffered abuse with so-called “organic” labels being fraudulently placed on products that have not earned the right. As a result of pressure from farming and consumer groups, legislation for the standardization of organic certification was introduced in the 1980s. It has been updated to include more vigorous enforcement and control methods since, with the current standards established in 2002 by the USDA.

The Standards of USDA Organic Certification

Specific standards must be met in order to legally claim a product as USDA certified organic. Organic producers must utilize methods that conserve water, maximize soil health, and reduce air pollution. The specific standards to earn USDA organic certification include:

Free of synthetic chemicals such as insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, and additives

Free from irradiation and genetically modified organisms

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Agricultural products grown on land that has been free of prohibited substances for a period of three years

Animals used for meat, eggs, milk or other animal products must be exclusively fed foods that are organically grown, may not be given antibiotics or hormones, and must have access to outdoors.

Clean and sanitized harvesting and processing equipment throughout the process from harvest to finished, packaged product

Detailed chain-of-handling records from the field through final sales

Physical separation of certified organic products from non-organic products throughout the process of production

Regular on-site inspections from USDA-approved inspectors to ensure compliance

Understanding the Certified Organic Label

Once the rigorous process of certification has been completed, organic producers may place the USDA certified organic seal on their products. Currently, there are four levels of certified organic products, with a specific definition of the percentage of organic ingredients the final products contains. They are as follows:

• 100% organic: all production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic.

• Organic: at least 95% of the production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• Made With Organic Ingredients: at least 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• No organic wording or seal: less than 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic and no claims may be made on the front or back of the product.

Manufacturers or producers who knowingly label a product “organic” when it does not meet the USDA standards are subject to fines up to $11,000 per violation.

Why Organic Certification is Important

When you see the official USDA organic certification seal on food, clothing, and bedding products, you can be assured that these products have met the meticulous standards required and are free of chemicals, toxins, antibiotics, and hormones. When you see the USDA certified organic label, you will understand the value of the higher priced organic products as compared to non-organically produced products.

With the current stringent organic certification requirements enforced by regular inspections from USDA accredited agents, the USDA certified organic label has great meaning and importance to the consumer. Look for the label to know that you are getting the quality you are paying for.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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WHO Finds Global Lack Of Inactivity Rising Especially In Wealthier Countries — What You Can Do

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Inactivity is on the rise and it's the cause of a wide range of health concerns. Our population is only becoming more inactive, not less, and it's time to change that.

  • Reflect On:

    There are many factors of our modern world that make us less active. Our jobs, driving rather than walking/biking, too much screen time. What can you do differently to bring more activity into your life? What story stops you from starting?

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than a quarter of the entire population on this planet are not getting enough physical exercise, this number has barely improved since 2001. There are many factors that contribute to this, but just how much damage are we doing by failing to be active?

The lack of physical exercise raises the risk of many health problems, such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and various types of cancers.

Interestingly, according to their study published in The Lancet Global Health, higher income countries, such as the UK, were among the least active population. Women were also found to be more sedentary throughout the world, excluding two regions in Asia.

The study looked at self-reported data on activity levels from 358 population based surveys covering 168 countries and included 1.9 million people.

The populations of higher income countries, which include the UK and USA showed an increase in the proportion of inactive people and had actually risen from 32% in 2001 to 37% in 2016, in the lower income countries it remained at 16%.

Those who were classified as inactive did less than 150 minutes of moderate exercise and around 75 minutes of intense activity per week.

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It was found that women were less active than men overall, except for in South and Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and higher-income Western countries. The authors believe that this was caused by a few different factors including extra childcare duties and cultural perspectives that may have made it more difficult for them to exercise.

Why More Inactivity In Wealthier Countries?

According to the researchers, in the wealthier countries, many of the jobs have transitioned to more office or desk jobs, meaning a more sedentary type of lifestyle. On top of that much of the population of these countries drive automobiles or take public transit to and from work which in many cases accounts for a lot of their time.

In the lower income countries, many of the jobs require the people to be more active, are physically demanding and people often have to walk to and from their jobs.

The WHO has had a goal to reduce the global levels of inactivity by 10% by 2025, the authors of the study feel that at the rate we are currently going, this target will be missed.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Regina Guthold said, “Unlike other major global health risks, levels of insufficient physical activity are not falling worldwide, on average, and over a quarter of all adults are not reaching the recommended levels of physical activity for good health.”

Regions with increasing levels of insufficient physical activity are a major concern for public health and the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.”

Co-author, Dr. Fiona Bull added, “Addressing these inequalities in physical activity levels between men and women will be critical to achieving global activity targets and will require interventions to promote and improve women’s access to opportunities that are safe, affordable and culturally acceptable.”

According to the WHO,

Exercise guidelines for 19- to 64-year-olds

How much?

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles
  • break up long periods of sitting with light activity

What is moderate aerobic activity?

  • Walking fast, water aerobics, riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills, doubles tennis, pushing a lawn mower, hiking, skateboarding, rollerblading, volleyball, basketball

What counts as vigorous activity?

  • Jogging or running, swimming fast, riding a bike fast or on hills, singles tennis, football, rugby, skipping rope, hockey, aerobics, gymnastics, martial arts

What activities strengthen muscles?

  • lifting weights, working with resistance bands, doing exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups, heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling, yoga

What activities are both aerobic and muscle-strengthening?

  • circuit training, aerobics, running, football, rugby, netball, hockey

Final Thoughts

I was surprised to see that the WHO didn’t touch on inactivity due to too much screen time — watching television, Netflix, Facebook scrolling, messaging, texting, browsing etc. Certainly, the increase in screen time plays a roll with the amount of inactivity, especially in the higher income countries. If you are someone who spends too much time staring at a screen, then it is important to consider the above information. Can you limit your screen time and replace it with something active? Or would you consider jumping rope, or rebounding while watching the television? Our health is our greatest wealth and having awareness about an issue is the first way to create change and take responsibility for our lives.

Could you walk or bike to work instead of drive? What about trying a new sport? Could you commit to adding a few hours each week of physical activity? These small decisions could have a profound impact on your health, longevity and overall well-being.

Much Love

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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