What comes to mind when you think of toxic waste disposal? Biohazard suits, lead-lined vaults, and burial deep underground? You might be shocked to learn that a dumping ground for these chemicals is a product that many people consume daily to ensure good health – and it may be in your medicine cabinet.
When it comes to dietary supplements, all products are not created equal. A label can identify the presence of a specific ingredient without indicating if it’s from a natural, bioavailable and biocompatible source, or from a synthetic, inorganic source. This is despite the fact that our bodies may not recognize these synthetic ingredients as food.
When a supplement contains an ingredient that is not bioavailable, the body either will not absorb or utilize it correctly. The best one can hope for is that the substance will pass, inert, through the body. But with certain ingredients, the material from which they are extracted is highly toxic, rendering a substance that can do more bodily harm than good.
Industrial waste products such as fluoride (a byproduct of aluminum manufacturing and known neurotoxin), and cobalt-60, a radioactive waste material culled from nuclear reactors, have been used for decades in broad-reaching applications to make our water “healthier” and our food “safer.”
With FDA-approval and cherry-picked, manufacturer-sponsored studies as “proof”, the unsuspecting public is lulled into a sense of safety regarding these practices. And these aren’t the only such hoaxes being perpetrated on the American people.
Hidden in Plain Sight
As with most things in our modern world, understanding this logic requires you to follow the money trail. The economics are simple: chemical byproducts and industrial waste are environmentally hazardous and in abundant supply. This makes them both difficult and costly to dispose of properly. Selling these waste products as cheap, raw materials is a BIG win for manufacturers. And repackaging them as health supplements can be extremely profitable.
One of the most popular health supplements by category is the multivitamin. Consumed by adults and children alike, multivitamins are sold as veritable health insurance. If you don’t get enough of the recommended daily allowance of essential vitamins and minerals, taking a quality multivitamin can fill this dietary gap.
But not all vitamins on supermarket shelves are actually good for you. Some manufacturers source “healthy nutrients” that are toxic to the body, even in small quantities. This confounding trend is not limited to off-brand manufacturers looking to produce cheap knock-offs of “the good stuff”. Some of the most trusted name brands use ingredients that show up on global watch lists of hazardous substances we’ve been instructed to avoid for health and safety.
Disguised as healthy nutrients, the following toxic imposters are listed on the labels of popular multivitamins Centrum, One-A-Day, and Flintstones for Kids. As you will see, some of the biggest dangers to consumers are hidden in plain sight!
Sodium selenate/Sodium selenite
Based on animal studies, we know that a mere 100 milligrams of the stuff are a fatal dose to most humans. The amount found in Centrum is 55 micrograms (mcg); that’s 5 mcg more than the EPA allows in a liter of drinking water before declaring it unsafe for human consumption!
Organically-bound selenium is the vital human nutrient that sodium selenate can not replace. Selenium is found in foods like nuts, seeds, and organic produce grown in selenium-rich soil. This naturally-occurring trace mineral is very different than the unbound, synthetic form being put into some multivitamins.
Organic selenium is known for its ability to boost the immune system, improve thyroid function, protect against heart disease, and even prevent cancer. Sodium selenite/selenate, on the other hand, has been shown to cause DNA damage associated with cancer and birth defects.
This mass market vitamin reveals a litany of toxic chemicals sold as “nutrients’
Cupric oxide is one of several derivative forms of “dietary copper”, a micronutrient needed to ensure proper growth and development of bones and connective tissues, as well as for maintaining the health of vital organs such as the brain and heart.
Organically, copper is found in a variety of foods, including dark leafy greens, organ meats, beans, nuts, dried fruits, nutritional yeast, as well as oysters and shellfish. The synthetic derivations found in many multivitamins are an entirely different kettle of fish!
For decades, cupric oxide was the principal source of dietary copper in supplements sold for livestock and companion animals. But an array of studies conducted as far back as the 1980’s on the bioavailability of cupric oxide determined it was not fit for animal consumption. This hasn’t stopped it from being fed to humans!
A summary of these studies published by The American Society for Nutritional Sciences ascertained that cupric oxide is not bioavailable due to it’s inability to permeate the gut wall. The fact that this form of copper is still being used in human health supplements and even baby formula, is particularly troubling since an estimated 61% of people in the U.S., U.K., and Canada have dietary deficits of this essential nutrient. Copper deficits are linked to heart disease, osteoporosis, and poor blood sugar metabolism, among other troubling disorders.
The dangers of this supplement go beyond the nutritional deficits caused by this deceptive masquerade. Cupric oxide is listed on the European Union’s Dangerous Substance Directive as a hazardous substance, for humans and the environment. Not surprising, considering its use as a chemical in industrial applications such as the production of rayon fabric and dry cell batteries.
Ferrous fumarate (aka iron)
With a list of side effects a mile long including nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal discomfort, constipation, diarrhea, blackened stools, tooth discoloration, and anorexia, it should come as no surprise that this is the one ingredient in Flintstones vitamins to precipitate the warning on the label:
Keep this product out of reach of children. In case of accidental overdose, call a doctor or poison control center immediately.
However, it might surprise you to learn that the amount of ferrous fumarate in one Centrum vitamin is six times higher than the maximum EPA allowed limit for 1 liter of drinking water!
Another tip-off that this isn’t the iron Popeye was getting from spinach, is the fact that it is impossible to die from too much iron obtained from food. But ferrous fumarate is so toxic that accidental overdose is “a leading cause of fatal poisoning in children under 6.”
Ferrous fumarate is an industrial mineral that is not found in nature as food. A byproduct of iron mining, ferrous fumarate has drawn even more criticism as a supplement due to its interaction with vitamin C leading to ulceration of the GI tract, chronic inflammatory diseases, and cancer.
Adding to these concerns are the high doses present in many health supplements. Studies found high concentrations of iron to be associated with several pathologies, including cancer, diabetes, liver and heart disease.
In addition to the offenders already mentioned, the following common multivitamin ingredients have disturbing toxic rap sheets, and are found in dangerously high concentrations in most multivitamins.
Stannous chloride (tin)
In a 1983 study, it was determined that stannous chloride was “readily taken up by white blood cells and can cause damage to DNA.”
In small doses, it’s known to cause side effects such as skin irritation, headache, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. In larger doses, severe growth retardation and cancer. While the EPA says a mere 4 mcg is the high-end limit for one liter of water to become undrinkable, you will find 10 mcg in one dose of Centrum.
Manganese sulfate is often promoted as a supplement to prevent bone loss and anemia. The organic form of this essential nutrient helps with blood clotting, the formation of bones and connective tissues, as well as hormone regulation. Found in nuts, beans, seeds, and leafy greens, manganese is considered an essential nutrient. Manganese sulfate’s other claim to fame is its pervasive use as a chemical pesticide.
Even low doses of this chemical present significant neurological risk over time, as evidenced by reports of workplace exposure. Affected field workers showed loss of coordination and balance, along with an increase in reporting mild symptoms such as forgetfulness, anxiety, or insomnia.
In high concentrations, this supplement becomes a neurotoxin, presenting with Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms, including tremors and permanent memory loss. So why is the standard dose in a single Centrum more than four times the EPA safe consumption limit?
It should be noted that even if there aren’t extraordinary large amounts of these metals and toxicants in the vitamins you are taking, the age old justification that small amountsof chemicals or heavy metals won’t hurt you, i.e. “the dose makes the poison,” is now an outdated and disproved toxicological risk model. For instance, recent discoveries indicate that exceedingly small amounts of the following metals: “aluminium, antimony, arsenite, barium, cadmium, chromium (Cr(II)), cobalt, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenite, tin and vanadate,” exhibit estrogen receptor binding and stimulating properties, which has lead to them being described as ‘metalloestrogens’ with the capability to induce hormone reponse related carcinogenicity. This concept that, in some cases, the lower the dose concentration, or the lower the energy state, the higher the damage, has also been demonstrated with x-ray mammography, toxicants like glyphosate, and nanoparticles, to name but a few examples.
Who is Minding the Store?
It may seem unfathomable that these harmful, toxic chemicals could be allowed into our food and drug supply. The truth is, no one is minding the store. Loopholes abound, allowable limits are questionable, and even our organic food supply is not safe from subterfuge. Even organic infant formula can skirt regulatory oversight thanks to the numbers game.
According to the USDA’s National Organic Programguidelines, any multi-ingredient product that contains 95% or more organic ingredients may be labeled organic. That means even the copper sulfate in Similac’s Advance Organicformula falls within the “contains less than 2%” ingredient list guideline, giving this noxious chemical a free pass.
The public has a right to expect that any substance that is suspected of being harmful will be held to a high-level of scrutiny before it is approved for mass consumption. This basic, precautionary principle would minimize public risk until all known toxicological data has been thoroughly examined. Only when a determination that no serious health risks are present can be made, should a substance be allowed into mass-market products.
However, it is essentially the reverse of this model that is in effect today. Only when a substance has repeatedly demonstrated harm in already exposed populations, is it subject to the level of scrutiny that can precipitate its removal from FDA-approved products on store shelves. This means lobbying and corporate interests often prevail through the off-loading of harmful substances that are considered “innocent until proven guilty.” Guilt, in this instance, means acute or large-scale sickness suffered by the public.
Currently, no law forbids the use of any of these questionable substances in dietary supplements, despite copious laboratory research demonstrating their toxicity in animals, and significant clinical data demonstrating their actual or potential toxicity in humans. Don’t wait for the fallout to affect you before you act. Look for high-quality, organic supplements with food-grade sources, and a proven supply chain. Also consider using whole food concentrates and focusing on improving the quality of your food instead of focusing on taking supplements to try to counterbalance a deficient diet.
12 Reasons Why Even Low Levels of Glyphosate Are Unsafe
- The Facts:
Decades of research have shown how Glyphosate is toxic in any amount, both for human and and the environment. This is not debatable.
- Reflect On:
Glyphosate is illegal in several dozen countries around the world due to health and environmental concerns. How can this product be approved for use when it's abundantly clear it's extremely unsafe, just like DDT was?
Proponents of GMOs and Glyphosate-based herbicides and staunch believers in the EPA have long argued that low levels of glyphosate exposure are safe for humans. Even our own EPA tells us that Americans can consume 17 times more glyphosate in our drinking water than European residents. The EWG asserts that 160 ppb of glyphosate found in breakfast cereal is safe for a child to consume due to their own safety assessments, and yet renowned scientists and health advocates have long stated that no level is safe. Confusion amongst consumers and the media is rampant.
Glyphosate is the declared active chemical ingredient in Roundup and Ranger Pro, which are both manufactured by Monsanto, the original manufacturer of Agent Orange and DDT. There are 750 brands of glyphosate-based herbicides.Glyphosate based herbicides are the most widely used in the world and residues of glyphosate have been found in tap water, children’s urine, breast milk, chips, snacks, beer, wine, cereals, eggs, oatmeal, wheat products, and most conventional foods tested.
The detection of glyphosate in these foods has set off alarms of concern in households and food manufacturers’ offices around the world. Lawsuits have sprung up against companies that make food products that claim to be “100% Natural” and yet contain glyphosate residues. These lawsuits have been successful. Debates, using the argument that “the dose makes the poison,” have been pushed by media. Speculation is that these media outlets are funded by advertisers that make or sell these chemicals or have sister companies that do, and threatening their profits would be unwise for all involved – except the consumers.
It is time to set the record straight
Here are 12 reasons why there is no safe level of glyphosate herbicide residue in our food or beverages.
- Babies, toddlers, and young children have kidneys and livers which are underdeveloped and do not have the ability to detox toxins the way adults do. Their bodies are less capable of eliminating toxins and therefore are particularly susceptible. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has stated that children, especially, should avoid pesticides because, “prenatal and early childhood exposure to pesticides is associated with pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems.”
- Glyphosate does not wash, dry or cook off, and has been shown to bioaccumulate in the bone marrow, tendons and muscle tissue. Bioaccumulation of low levels over time will result in levels which we cannot predict or determine; therefore there is no scientific basis to state that the low levels are not dangerous, as they can accumulate to high levels in an unforeseeable amount of time.
- “There is no current reliable way to determine the incidence of pesticide exposure and illness in US children.” -AAP Children are exposed through food, air, contact with grass and pets. How much they are being exposed to daily from all these possibilities is simply not something that we have been able to determine. Therefore no one is capable of assessing what levels are safe from any one modality of exposure because an additional low level from other modalities could add up to a high level of exposure.
- Ultra-low levels of glyphosate herbicides have been proven to cause non-alcoholic liver disease in a long term animal study by Michael Antoniou, Giles Eric Seralini et al. The levels the rats were exposed to, per kg of body weight, were far lower than what is allowed in our food supply. According to the Mayo Clinic 100 million, or 1 out of 3 Americans now have liver disease. These diagnoses are in some as young as 8 years old.
- Ultra-low levels of glyphosate have been shown to be endocrine and hormone disrupting.Changes to hormones can lead to birth defects, miscarriage, autoimmune disease, cancer, mental and chronic illness.
- The EPA Allowable Daily Intake Levels (ADIs) of glyphosate exposure were set for a 175-pound man, not a pregnant mother, infant, or child.
- Glyphosate alone has been shown to be chronically toxic causing organ and cell damage. Glyphosate herbicides final formulations, have been shown to be acutely toxic, causing immediate damage at low levels.
- The detection of glyphosate at low levels could mean the presence of the other toxic ingredients in glyphosate herbicides on our food. Until studies are done, one must practice the Precautionary Principle. The label on glyphosate herbicides does not specify the pesticide class or “other”/“inert” ingredients that may have significant acute toxicity and can account for up to 54% of the product.
- Regarding the label and low-level exposure: “Chronic toxicity information is not included, and labels are predominantly available in English. There is significant use of illegal pesticides(especially in immigrant communities), off-label use, and overuse, underscoring the importance of education, monitoring, and enforcement.” – AAP. Exposure to low levels of glyphosate herbicides can occur through pregnant wives or children hugging the father who is a pesticide applicator. The chronic health impacts such as rashes which can, years later, result in non-Hodgkin lymphoma, are often ignored, especially by low income or non-English speaking users dependent on their pesticide application occupation for survival.
- The EPA has admitted to not having any long-term animal studies with blood analysis on the final formulation of any glyphosate herbicides. The EPA cannot state that the final formulation is safe.
- For approval of pesticides and herbicides, the EPA only requires safety studies, by the manufacturer who benefits from the sales, on the one declared active chemical ingredient—in this case glyphosate. Glyphosate is never used alone.
- The main manufacturer, Monsanto, has been found to be guilty on all counts by a San Francisco Supreme Court Jury in the Johnson v Monsanto. This includes guilty of “malice and oppression” which means that the company executives knew that their glyphosate products could cause cancer and suppressed this information from the public.
Clearly, it is time for food and beverage manufacturers to have a zero tolerance for glyphosate residue levels and for the US EPA and regulatory agencies everywhere to stop ignoring the science and to revoke the license of glyphosate immediately.
Moms Across America is a 501c3 non profit organization whose motto is “Empowered Moms, Healthy Kids.”
Cannabis Oil Was Used To Treat Epilepsy 176 Years Ago
- The Facts:
Cannabis has been used to treat people with Epilepsy for more than 100 years. Numerous people including children have had tremendous success with it, but it's not disclosed within the mainstream as much as it should be.
- Reflect On:
The medicinal properties of cannabis have been known for a long time, so why is it so difficult for patients to access? Today, things are changing, but big pharma is taking it over for themselves. How will they grow it? What will they spray it with?
Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of a wide variety of oxidation associated diseases such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic issues such as strokes and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia. Non-psychoactive cannabinoids such as cannabidiol are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention. A particular disclosed class of cannabinoids useful as neuroprotective antioxidants is formula (I) wherein the R group is independently selected from the group consisting of H, CH3, and COCH3. (Source)
The statement above comes from a patent owned by the United States government, which was assigned decades ago. Since then, countless amounts of studies have shown how the active constituents within cannabis, like cannabidiol for example, completely obliterate cancer cells in the lab in vitro. As illustrated above, it has a wide variety of health applications, which begs the question when it comes to various diseases, why have we not seen any clinical trials? There are so many published studies warranting clinical trials when it comes to using cannabis to treat cancer, among several other diseases.
When the development of a drug shows even a quarter of the potential that cannabis has over the years, it seems that funding for clinical trials becomes instant. But when it comes to cannabis, which has obviously shown huge potential, we’ve seen nothing. I am more so referring to clinical trials with regards to cancer. Just imagine if we funded studies using natural remedies with the same amount of money we invest into pharmaceuticals. Would certain cancers be cured? Again, we don’t know, because the resources haven’t been adequately dished out, and if it did turn out that cannabis could obliterate multiple cancers in vivo (full living biological organisms), it would be against corporate interests.
However, this will likely change now that medical marijuana is being legalized across the world, the most recent example being Canada. This has brought up multiple concerns from citizens, as Big Pharma is now taking over the medical cannabis industry. How it’s grown, what pesticides are being put on it, and whether or not it’s genetically modified is still unknown. The truth is, pharmaceutical marijuana will not at all compare to marijuana that’s grown naturally in nature. If one were to study the medicinal properties comparing the two, I bet there would be a significant difference.
Big pharma is taking over the medical marijuana industry. Legalization in Canada and various US states was largely done in order to profit these big corporations who don’t really seem to care about our health at all. The main reason why cannabis has been illegal for so long is that powerful corporate interests have had a huge hand in keeping cannabis off the market. Cannabis can eliminate the need for many prescription drugs, for example, and these alone kill approximately 100,000 people a year, and that’s in the United States alone.
Cannabis & Epilepsy
Children and people with epilepsy have had a very hard time accessing medical marijuana to treat their condition. Again, this is largely because the use of it threatens corporate interests. This became even more evident a couple years ago when 12 year old Alexis Bortell sued Attorney General Jeff Sessions and The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). She needed access to clean, pure, natural cannabis for the treatment of her illnesses and medical conditions. The family had no choice but to relocate from Texas to Colorado and uproot their entire lives just to treat her severe epilepsy.
The crazy thing about cannabis and epilepsy is the fact that it works, and that’s something that has been known for a number of years. Sure, it might take a lot of time to find the right strand, make it into oil, and get the dosage amounts exactly right, but that’s only because parents and doctors who are actively engaged in using this as medicine don’t have the resources to figure this out in an efficient way.
Cannabis and its ability to treat epilepsy has been known for a long time, probably much longer than we are aware of. Prior to Rockefeller creating medical education, it was probably used a lot. Rockefeller and other ‘philanthropists’ played a large role in shutting down all medical schools before they began funding and building their own medical education and treatment methods. During this process, an enormous amount of knowledge was lost, and the treatment methods that were most profitable became mainstream.
The first detailed modern description of cannabis as an anti-seizure medication was published in 1843 by W.B. O’Shaughnessy, a physician in the Bengal Army and Late Professor of Chemistry and Materia Medica at the Medical College of Calcutta. A perfect example of what I just referred to above with regards to medical education.
After testing the behavioural effects of various preparations of Cannabis indica in healthy fish, dogs, swines, vultures, crows, horses, deers, monkeys, goats, sheep, cows, and military assistants, he investigated the potential value of extracts of the plant in patients with different disorders, and reported remarkable anti-seizure effects in a 40-days-old baby girl with recurrent convulsive seizures. These observations were taken up by other physicians, including Sir William Gowers, who described the effectiveness of Cannabis Indica against seizures resistant to bromides. (source)
In the twentieth century the use of cannabis declined somewhat because cultivation of the plant was made illegal in many countries.
Below is a graph of the number of articles retrieved in PubMed by using the search terms ‘cannabis and epilepsy’, grouped by year of publication.
One of Many Real World Examples
Alex Repetski, father of three year old daughter, Gwenevere, has spent a long time reading through studies and medical journals and researching CBD and its healing properties to help her with the tonic, myoclonic, and clinical seizures she was having — sometimes up to 50 a day. She was diagnosed with epilepsy and, as her EEGs revealed, was experiencing constant subclinical seizure activity throughout the day. It may not have looked like she was having a seizure from the outside, but at the brain level there were neurons firing constantly, and such activity can produce significant brain damage.
Gwenevere had a team of doctors that were trying an array of treatment methods to reduce the number of seizures she was having each day. At one point she was on 9 different medications. They kept hoping each subsequent medication would work, but nothing did. That’s when Alex decided to look into cannabis oil. “At that point, we really didn’t have anything to lose,” he said, as he recalled the struggle of trying to help his daughter achieve a better quality of life.
After acquiring the cannabis and reducing it down to its oil form, Alex proceeded with many rounds of trial and error, trying to find just the right dosage for Gwenevere. After five days, they noticed no seizures. Then another week went by, and then a month, and then two months of no seizures. Two Januaries ago, she went in for her 17th EEG after being on cannabis oil for 5 weeks.
This EEG was strikingly different from her previous ones. It seemed the cannabis oil had helped straighten out her brainwaves, working at the subclinical level. This was a huge moment for the Repetski family.
Corporations have amassed so much power that plants and natural substances with unbelievable healing properties are being made illegal. Furthermore, many doctors are brainwashed to believe that this is still a controversial topic. And with legalization comes the takeover of this medicine by big pharmaceutical companies. If you want to know about the healing properties of cannabis, you don’t have to look far. It’s also important to acknowledge that theses benefits typically do not include smoking the plant, since that completely changes its chemical composition.
It’s very hard to find pure, healthy, and properly grown cannabis today. It requires a lot of research and a lot of work to find, which is in large part due to government regulations and big pharma. Anything that threatens corporate interests, no matter how helpful it can be for humanity, is often hidden from us or made illegal.
Tylenol Damages The Brains of Children, Research Reveals
- The Facts:
Tylenol has a wide range of toxic side effects you should be aware of, especially if you are pregnant or use it with your children. Article written by William Parker, Ph.D for Greenmedinfo.com, published here with permission.
- Reflect On:
Why do we keep taking Tylenol and other over-the-counter drugs when it's unquestionable that they do more harm than good? Why don't we ever look into healthy ways to alleviate our symptoms?
A number of non-peer-reviewed articles have been written and published on the web claiming that there is literally nothing to fear from acetaminophen during pregnancy. There are two types of articles that fall into this category. First, reputable watchdog organizations have weighed in on the issue, declaring acetaminophen use during pregnancy and during childhood to be proven safe. In particular, the National Health Service of the UK and the Center for Accountability in Science have both strongly criticized the Spanish study from 2016 showing a link between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and ADHD/autism.
The second type of article is generally written by a science writer working for an organization that runs a website. Often quoting one to three experts who claim that is perfectly safe and that pregnant women and families should not be concerned, many of these articles are published by reputable sources that are generally trustworthy. Typically, an expert is being asked to comment on one particular publication showing a link between acetaminophen use (usually during pregnancy) and some sort of neuropsychiatric problem (autism, lowered IQ, hyperactivity, and/or social/behavioral problems, depending on the study). There are several important things to consider when evaluating these articles:
1. There are a number of University Professors who have studied the use of acetaminophen on the developing brain and who are keenly aware of the potential dangers. A partial list of these individuals is provided below.
2. Being an expert in acetaminophen neurotoxicity during development means that considerable time has been invested in studying the issue. Any true expert in this issue will be aware of basic facts regarding acetaminophen neurotoxicity. These facts include the following:
(a) Studies in animal models (both in mice and in rats) demonstrate that acetaminophen use during a sensitive period of brain development causes long-term alterations in the brain and is manifested as problems with social function.
(b) Margaret McCarthy, Chair of Pharmacology at the University of Maryland, has worked out the probable mechanism by which acetaminophen-induced brain damage occurs. Her research team has found that the male brain is considerably more sensitive to acetaminophen than the female brain, possibly accounting for the gender bias in autism.
(c) There are (as of January 2017) a total of 8 published studies evaluating the long terms effects on children of acetaminophen use during pregnancy or during childhood. Two of these (one in 2014, one in 2016) were published in JAMA Pediatrics, one of the most highly respected pediatric journals. All studies point toward acetaminophen use being associated with long-term problems with neurological function. Each study design has included some attempt to control for indication. In all studies, acetaminophen use rather than indication has been identified as the key factor associated with cognitive problems. A formal meta-analysis is not currently possible because of the varied outcome measures and study designs, but all 8 studies point in the same direction: Acetaminophen is neurotoxic to the developing brain. The studies are not “cherry picked”, selecting only those which find an effect. All studies point toward a neurotoxic effect of acetaminophen in the developing brain.
(d) Acetaminophen substantially alters brain chemistry and temporarily impairs awareness of social issues in adult humans.
(e) Testing of acetaminophen safety in children did not include any evaluation of brain function, and no long-term studies were ever conducted. The primary manufacturer of acetaminophen in the US acknowledges that the drug has never been shown to be safe for brain development when used during pregnancy or in childhood. All safety tests were performed with the assumption that any side effects would be acute in nature (e.g., bleeding or acute organ damage). This assumption was based on observations made with acetaminophen in adults and with aspirin in children. It was not based on any experience with acetaminophen use in children.
3. Having prescribed tens of thousands of doses of acetaminophen does not make anyone an expert on the neurotoxicity of acetaminophen, any more than eating thousands of pounds of chips makes somebody an expert in the effects of an inflammatory diet. Credentials and certifications that allow physicians to prescribe acetaminophen do not make them experts, and elevated positions in the medical community do not qualify anybody as an expert on the effects of acetaminophen. If somebody does not know those basic facts listed above, then they are not an expert on the neurotoxicity of acetaminophen. Usually, the experts will have published one or more peer-reviewed manuscripts on the topic. Those are the people to ask when an expert is needed.
4. It is tempting to point accusing fingers at physicians who say that acetaminophen is safe when they literally have no grasp whatsoever of the relevant scientific literature. However, this would be a mistake. I have tracked down a few of these individuals who were quoted in a very public format, and one individual, in particular, didn’t even remember having made a comment on the topic. The most likely explanation is that a reporter asked them if acetaminophen was safe, and their response based on their training (not on the knowledge of the literature) was that it is safe. After all, if they didn’t think it was safe, they would not be administering it dozens of times per day. So, if a reporter asks a physician if something is safe, and they provide their knowledge based on what they have been taught and how they practice, then it is hard to blame them. The reporter didn’t ask them to spend days or even weeks reviewing the literature in detail, but rather assumed that any physician administering something dozens of times per day would know the literature. (This is a false assumption. No physician has the time to study all current literature on every drug they administer.) So, in a nutshell, a tragic propagation of incorrect information is occurring despite the best of intentions of all parties involved.
5. Unless an organization such as the National Health Service has the time to review a topic thoroughly, they should remain silent on an issue. It took a team of us two years to put together our summary of the evidence, both direct and circumstantial, regarding the potential neurotoxicity of acetaminophen during development. It took the NHS only days to publish their recent criticism of the 2016 Spanish study. Offering questionable criticisms of a single paper without reviewing the literature to see how that publication fits into the big picture is a disservice to the public being served.
6. Reading the published quotes from many “experts” who exonerate acetaminophen, it is apparent that the logic falls into one of two categories.
(a) Everybody is doing it, so it must be OK.
(b) This single study is not perfect, so no change in practice should be made.
Neither of these criticisms is logically sound, of course. These two criticisms are often combined and were, in fact, part of the critical comments directed toward the first paper showing that acetaminophen probably has substantial neurotoxicity during development (published in 2008 by Steve Shultz). Further, the evaluation of study weaknesses is usually skewed and not entirely valid. Since the idea that acetaminophen is safe is being embraced, then any merit in the paper is often undermined to make the case. This is certainly true of the published (peer reviewed) criticisms of the 2008 Shultz paper.
7. Many on-line sources support the view that acetaminophen can be very dangerous to the developing brain. Probably the most reliable source, the FDA, is remaining silent on the topic until something more definitive is done. The FDA knows that this is extremely urgent, but unfortunately, our FDA is not linked well (in a practical manner) with our NIH, and thus they can’t dictate research priorities.
8. Here is a list (not comprehensive) of experts regarding the neurotoxicity of acetaminophen during brain development.
a) First, I’ll thank the wonderful team of individuals who helped put together our comprehensive review on this topic. Shu Lin, a professor with me in Duke’s Surgery Department, is a very dear and long-time friend of mine who has supported me through countless projects over the past 22 years. Staci Bilbo, director for research on Autism at Harvard, is a friend and collaborator who has helped me understand what causes inflammation and the role of inflammation in brain dysfunction. Chi Dang Hornik, a pediatric pharmacist at Duke, contributed greatly to our understanding of the frequency of acetaminophen administration and the available formulations of the drug. Many thanks to Martha Herbert. As a Harvard professor and clinician, she has a great appreciation for the clinical data obtained from patients with autism. Cindy Nevison, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, rounds out our team, providing critical information about the epidemiology of autism. (Thanks also to our interns (Rasika Rao and Lauren Gentry) and research analyst (Zoie Holzknecht) who were a tremendous help in compiling information and preparing that information for publication.)
b) Margaret McCarthy, chair of Pharmacology at the University of Maryland, it the most knowledgeable person I know regarding the biochemistry of the human brain and how that is affected by acetaminophen and other drugs in that class.
c) Chittaranjan Andrade, Chair of Psychopharmacology at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, India, has written a peer reviewed paper on the topic of acetaminophen induced brain damage. He nicely summarized a number of studies looking at the connection between acetaminophen and neurological damage. His final conclusion is that the drug is probably more associated with ADHD than autism, but the conclusion was limited to exposure during pregnancy and his work was conducted before some critical studies were published in 2016.
d) Henrik Viberg is a professor in the Department of Organismal Biology at Uppsala University in Sweden. He has studied how exposure of mice to acetaminophen during development can cause long term brain damage.
e) In 2015, a group of scientists working with Laurence de Fays at the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products in Brussels acknowledged the clinical studies and the studies in animal models which indicated that acetaminophen could be dangerous to the developing fetus, but concluded that paracetamol is “still to be considered safe in pregnancy”. At the same time, they state that “additional carefully designed studies are necessary to confirm or disprove the association (between acetaminophen and brain damage to children)”, and that “care should be taken to avoid raising poorly founded concerns among pregnant females”. We very strongly agree with the conclusion that more studies are needed, but very strongly disagree with the conclusion that women should be kept in the dark about the matter. It is important to point out that several more studies have come out since Laurence de Fays’ report. One of those is a 2016 manuscript in JAMA Pediatrics(see the next expert), a highly reputable peer reviewed journal, which addresses the concerns raised by de Fays, so it is possible that de Fays’ group may now have a different opinion.
f) A team of scientists and doctors working with Evie Stergiakouli at the University of Bristol analyzed data from a prospective birth cohort, and concluded that “children exposed to acetaminophen prenatally are at increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties”. They found considerable evidence indicating that the association was not due to the confounding factors that concerned de Fays’ group (previous expert).
g) Jordi Julvez at the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, Spain worked with a team of a dozen clinicians and scientists to publish their 2016 study linking acetaminophen with autism and ADHD.
h) Amany A. Abdin, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Tanta University, Egypt, wrote a review of the acetaminophen/autism connection and published it in the journal Biochemistry and Pharmacology: Open Access. Her conclusion in 2013 was that the drug is not safe and that the acetaminophen/autism connection should receive attention.
i) The original paper that identified a connection between neuropsychiatric disorders and acetaminophen was published by Steve Shultz while at the University of California at San Diego. Coauthors on the paper included Hillary Klonoff-Cohen, currently an Endowed Professor and Director of the MPH program at the University of Illinois.
j) Four scientists, including research scientist Ragnhild Eek Brandlistuen and professors Hedvig Nordeng and Eivind Ystrom in the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Oslo, coauthored a study showing a connection between adverse neurodevelopment and acetaminophen use during pregnancy.
k) Jorn Olsen, Professor and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology at UCLA, published one of the more recent papers (2016) showing a connection between autism and acetaminophen use during pregnancy.
l) Five professors (John M. D. Thompson, Karen E. Waldie, Clare R. Wall, Rinky Murphy, and Edwin A. Mitchell) from four different departments at The University of Auckland published their findings in PLOSone in 2014 which “strengthen the contention that acetaminophen exposure in pregnancy increases the risk of ADHD-like behaviours. Our study also supports earlier claims that findings are specific to acetaminophen.”
For evidence-based research on the dangers of acetaminophen, visit the GreenMedInfo.com Research Dashboard.\
Read their related article on Tylenol:
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William Parker is an Associate Professor at Duke University, where he has worked in the Department of Surgery since 1993. William is currently investigating a number of issues associated with inflammation and Western society, including vitamin D deficiency, heart disease and alteration of the symbionts of the human body (“biota alteration”). He has been interested in “natural” immune function for some time, which has led him down a path that includes the first studies of immune function in wild rats and the discovery of the function of the human appendix.
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