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The CDC’s Influenza Math Doesn’t Add Up: Exaggerating the Death Toll to Sell Flu Shots

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The flu shot is irresponsibly marketed, unnecessary and in some cases dangerous. This perspective comes from many people and health professionals, yet it's a narrative that's constantly ignored.

  • Reflect On:

    Is a flu shot really necessary? Are our immune systems suffering from a lack of real immunity? Are vaccines doing more harm than good?

Every year at about this time, public health officials and their media megaphones start up the drumbeat to encourage everyone (including half-year-old infants, pregnant women and the invalid elderly) to get a flu shot. Never mind that more often than not the vaccines don’t work, and sometimes even increase the risk of getting sick.

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To buttress their alarmist message for 2018-2019, representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health agencies held a press conference and issued a press release on September 27, citing a particularly “record-breaking” (though unsubstantiated) 80,000 flu deaths last year. Having “medical experts and public health authorities publicly…state concern and alarm (and predict dire outcomes)” is part and parcel of the CDC’s documented playbook for “fostering public interest and high…demand” for flu shots. CDC’s media relations experts frankly admit that “framing” the current flu season as “more severe than last or past years” or more “deadly” is a highly effective strategy for garnering strong interest and attention from both the media and the public.

If accurate, 80,000 deaths would represent an enormous (and mystifying) one-year jump—tens of thousands more flu deaths compared to the already inflated numbers presented for 2016 (and every prior year).

Peter Doshi (associate editor at The BMJ and a MIT graduate) has criticized the CDC’s “aggressive” promotion of flu shots, noting that although the annual public health campaigns deliver a “who-in-their-right-mind-could-possibly-disagree message,” the “rhetoric of science” trotted out each year by public health officials has a “shaky scientific basis.” Viewed within the context of Doshi’s remarks, the CDC’s high-flying flu numbers for 2017-2018 raise a number of questions. If accurate, 80,000 deaths would represent an enormous (and mystifying) one-year jump—tens of thousands more flu deaths compared to the already inflated numbers presented for 2016 (and every prior year). Moreover, assuming a roughly six-month season for peak flu activity, the 80,000 figure would translate to an average of over 13,300 deaths per month—something that no newspaper last year came close to reporting.

The CDC’s statistics are impervious to independent verification because they remain, thus far, unpublished—despite the agency’s pledge on its website to base its public health pronouncements on high-quality data derived openly and objectively. Could the CDC’s disappointment with influenza vaccination coverage—which lags far behind the agency’s target of 80%—have anything to do with the opacity of the flu data being used to peddle the unpopular and ineffective vaccines?

Fudging facts

There are a variety of reasons to question the precision with which the CDC likes to imbue its flu statistics. First, although the CDC states that it conducts influenza mortality surveillance with its partner agencies, there is no actual requirement for U.S. states to report adult flu deaths to the CDC. (In public health parlance, adult influenza deaths are not “reportable” or “nationally notifiable.”) In fact, the only “flu-associated deaths” that the CDC requires states and other jurisdictions to report are deaths in children—180 last year.

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…when actual death certificates are tallied, influenza deaths on average are little more than 1,000 yearly.

How did the CDC reach its as-yet-unpublished conclusion—widely shared with the media—that 79,820 American adults in addition to 180 children died from the flu in 2017-2018? The agency states that it relies on death certificate data. However, members of the Cochrane research community have observed that “when actual death certificates are tallied, influenza deaths on average are little more than 1,000 yearly.”

Other knowledgeable individuals have also noted that the death records system in the U.S. is subjective, incomplete and politicized, and have suggested that citizens should adopt a “healthy skepticism about even the most accepted, mainstream, nationally reported CDC or other ‘scientific’ statistics.” This skepticism may be especially warranted for the influenza stats, which are so inextricably intertwined with the CDC’s vaccination agenda that the statistical techniquesand assumptions that the agency uses focus specifically on “project[ing] the burden of influenza that would have occurred in the absence of vaccination.”

skepticism may be especially warranted for the influenza stats, which are so inetricably intertwined with the CDC’s vaccination agenda.

Notwithstanding its incessant use of influenza statistics to justify its flu vaccine policies, the CDC tries to have it both ways, cautioning that because “influenza activity reporting…is voluntary,” influenza surveillance in the U.S. “cannot be used to ascertain how many people have become ill with influenza during the influenza season.” A larger problem is that the vital statistics that form the basis of the CDC’s surveillance data conflate deaths from pneumonia and influenza (P&I). The CDC concedes that this conflation complicates the challenge of specifically estimating flu deaths:

The system “tracks the proportion of death certificates processed that list pneumonia or influenza as the underlying or contributing cause of death. This system…does not provide an exact number of how many people died from flu” [emphasis added].

Curiously, the CDC presented its cause-of-death data slightly differently prior to 2015. Through 2014, the agency’s annual National Vital Statistics Reports included tables showing influenza deaths and pneumonia deaths as separate line items. Those reports made it abundantly clear that pneumonia deaths (at least as transmitted by death certificates) consistently and dramatically outstripped influenza deaths. The table below illustrates this pattern for 2012-2014.

Starting in 2015, the annual vital statistics reports began displaying P&I together and eliminated the distinct line items. At present, only one tool remains to examine mortality associated with influenza as distinct from pneumonia—the CDC’s interactive FluView dashboard—which provides weekly national breakdowns. The dashboard shows the same general pattern as in the annual reports—that is, lower numbers of influenza deaths and much higher numbers of pneumonia deaths. Bearing in mind all the shortcomings and potential biases of death certificate data, dashboard reports for the first week of March (week 9) for the past three years show 257 influenza deaths versus 4,250 pneumonia deaths in 2016, and 534 and 736 flu deaths (versus over 4,000 annual pneumonia deaths) in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

When clinicians in outpatient settings do order testing, relatively few of the “flu” specimens—sometimes as low as 1%—actually test positive for influenza.

Semantic shenanigans

Semantics also play a key role in the CDC’s slippery communications about “flu.” For example, CDC’s outpatient surveillance focuses on the broad category of “influenza-like illness” (ILI)—an almost meaningless term describing general symptoms (fever, cough and/or sore throat) that any number of non-influenza viruses are equally capable of triggering. Cochrane lists several problems with the reliance on ILI to make inferences about influenza:

  • There is “no reliable system to monitor and quantify the epidemiology and impact of ILI” and no way of knowing what proportion of ILI is caused by influenza.
  • There are almost no reliable data on the number of ILI-related physician contacts or hospitalizations—and no one knows what proportion of ILI doctor visits and hospitalizations are due to influenza.

“Pneumonia,” too, is a catch-all diagnosis covering lung infections caused by a variety of different agents: viruses (non-influenza as well as influenza), bacteriafungiair pollutants and many others. Interestingly, hospitalization is a common route of exposure to pneumonia-causing pathogens, and mortality from hospital-acquired pneumonia exceeds 60%. In a plausible scenario, an adult hospitalized for suspected (but unconfirmed) “flu” could acquire a lethal pneumonia bug in the hospital, and their death might be chalked up to “flu” regardless of the actual facts, particularly because clinicians do not necessarily order influenza testing. When clinicians in outpatient settings do order testing, relatively few of the “flu” specimens—sometimes as low as 1%—actually test positive for influenza. Over the past couple of decades, the proportion of specimens testing positive has averaged around 15%—meaning that about 85% of suspected “flu” specimens are not, in fact, influenza.

Roughly four-fifths of the vaccine injury and death cases settled through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program are flu-vaccine-related.

Propaganda with a purpose

It takes little subtlety to recognize that the principal reason for flu hyperbole is to sell more vaccines. However, more and more people—even infectious disease specialists—are realizing that flu shots are fraught with problems. Roughly four-fifths of the vaccine injury and death cases settled through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program are flu-vaccine-related. A University of Toronto-based expert recently stated, “We have kind of hyped this vaccine so much for so long we are starting to believe our own hype.”

Pro-flu-vaccination studies—through their skillful placement in prestigious journals—tend to drown out other influenza studies that should be ringing warning bells. Published peer-reviewed studies show that:

  • Previous influenza vaccination, particularly in those who get a flu shot every year, diminishes or “blunts” the already low effectiveness of flu shots.
  • Getting vaccinated against influenza increases susceptibility to other severe respiratory viruses and also to other strains of influenza.
  • Mothers who receive influenza vaccines during pregnancy face an increased risk of miscarriages and their offspring face elevated risks of birth defects and autism.

A systematic review of influenza vaccine trials by Cochrane in 2010 urges the utmost caution. Noting that “studies funded from public sources [have been] significantly less likely [than industry-funded studies] to report conclusions favorable to the vaccines,” and citing evidence of “widespread manipulation of conclusions,” the Cochrane reviewers’ bottom line is that “reliable evidence on influenza vaccines is thin.” We should all keep those words in mind the next time the CDC and the media try to mischaracterize flu facts and science.

CHD is planning many strategies, including legal, in an effort to defend the health of our children and obtain justice for those already injured.  Your support is essential to CHD’s successful mission. Please visit our crowdfunding page.

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A Potential Solution To Reduce Snoring & Sleep Apnea

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I’d like to share with you a convenient alternative remedy that has helped all of my clients to reduce snoring and sleep apnea, and that is by wearing a tape to keep your mouth closed during sleep. A new study published this year also showed the efficacy of this treatment.

Snoring and sleep apnea not only represent a holistic health risk to an individual, the irritating noise at night can often create conflict in a couple’s relationship. I’d like to share with you a convenient alternative remedy that has helped all of my clients to reduce snoring and sleep apnea, and that is by wearing a tape to keep your mouth closed during sleep. A new study published this year also showed the efficacy of this treatment.

Major Cause of Snoring & Sleep Apnea

One major cause of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea is mouth breathing during sleep, especially when you sleep in the supine position. When you sleep in the supine position with an open mouth, gravity pulls down your jaw and tongue, which then compresses your throat. As a result, your airway gets suppressed and narrowed, leaving less space for the air to pass through.

Mouth breathing also introduces stronger air flow as you inhale and exhale, which exacerbates the airway soft tissue vibration, causing the loud snoring noise. Strong air flow during mouth breathing also induces strong negative pressure that sucks in the soft tissues around the throat area, further narrowing your airway and eventually causing it to collapse, resulting in obstructive sleep apnea.

The Quick Fix? Wear Tape To Keep Your Mouth Closed

As I mentioned earlier, one of the main causes of snoring and sleep apnea is mouth breathing. A quick fix to keep your mouth closed during the night is to apply a small piece of tape over it. When your mouth is closed and lips are together, it is harder for you jaw to fall back even when lying in a supine position. Keeping your mouth closed also forces you to breathe through your nose, which not only helps to regulate the airflow to reduce the negative pressure inside your airway, but also reduces soft tissue vibration

An otoralyngology study published this year in the American Academy of Otolaryngology Journal demonstrated the effectiveness of this technique, showing significant reduction in median AHI (Apnea-Hypopnea Index) score and snoring index [1].

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In the past few years, ENT specialist Dr. Hung Cheng Tseng and I have recommended wearing tape for all of our clients as part of our AirwayFit training program, and the feedback has been great. For some CPAP users, wearing tape on their mouth can help to eliminate the air leakage issue. In addition, if you often find yourself waking up with a dried mouth and throat, this method will also help you keep your mouth and throat moisturized throughout the night.

How To Apply?

In practice, wearing tape to sleep is actually a lot less daunting than it sounds.

Visit any drug store near you and pick up a small roll of medical grade paper tape. It should cost you no more than $10. I recommend ones that are hypoallergenic, porous, and non-waterproof. When you wear the tape, you want to roll your lips slightly inward so you don’t apply it directly onto your lips. Otherwise, your lips can really hurt when you remove it in the morning. Some people apply some lip balm or vaseline onto their lips first as a layer of protection.

You don’t have to wear the tape over your entire mouth. You can start by wearing it vertically, in the center, right beneath your nose, and that should suffice; as long as the tape keeps your jaw up, you should be fine. I also recommend you to pre-fold one of the corners of the tape, just so that there’s a corner you can grab onto easily in the morning to tear it off.  If you have sensitive skin and you find removing the tape hurts, you can wet it with water before you remove it in the morning. You could also reduce the stickiness of the tape prior to use by sticking it onto your forearm a couple of times before applying to your lips.

If you really are panicked by this idea, then as I mentioned before, you can try wearing it only at the center portion of your mouth. This will leave gaps on the two sides of your mouth but still keep your jaw in the upright position during sleep. Also, if it’s your first night trying this method, wearing the tape 30 minutes before you go to bed can help you adjust to the feeling.

Most people who have tried the tape method to keep their mouth closed find it convenient and more comfortable and cheaper than the alternative methods. However, I would caution against wearing tape to keep your mouth closed if you experience the following: nausea or epilepsy, or if you have consumed alcohol or any pill or medicine prior to sleep. Otherwise, give it a try today and you will find yourself waking up feeling much more energized and hydrated the next morning!

To learn more about your sleep trouble, visit www.AirwayFit.com

Source:

[1]    Huang TW., Young TH., “Novel Porous Oral Patches for Patients with Mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Mouth Breathing: A Pilot Study” American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery 152.2 (2015): 369-373. Print.

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A Simple Recipe For A Homemade Non-Toxic Fabric Softener

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Many fabric softeners are loaded with toxic chemicals that may cause harm to our health.

  • Reflect On:

    Have you looked for alternatives to make or to buy? There are plenty out there.

Fabric softeners are one of the most unnecessary dangerous chemicals that you may be using in your home, and it’s important that you stop right away. There are much better, safer, all natural alternatives that will keep you, your family, and the environment safe. The natural alternatives can also prolong the life of your clothes. Really, we have no reason to have ever invented such a toxic product in the first place.

Fabric softener is one thing, among many household items, that absolutely must go, and hopefully from the awareness that is raised from this article and many others that are exposing these harmful chemicals for what they are, we will continue to see the decline in their use as people continue to opt for safer, cleaner alternatives.

So, What Is So Bad About Conventional Fabric Softeners?

First of all, the majority of conventional cleaning and personal care products can essentially be thrown in the garbage as they are absolutely loaded with chemicals, many of which are completely banned in other countries. We have many safer, all-natural alternatives to these types of things and we simply do not need to be using these to clean ourselves, our home, or our clothes. People sometimes assume that our governments have our best interests in mind and wouldn’t allow ingredients that are toxic to our health into the products that we use on a regular basis, and while that’s a nice thought, it is a naive one.

Fabric Softeners are among the worst offenders in terms of toxicity and it really makes one wonder how these chemical pollutants were approved by the U.S. Environmental Agency in the first place. The purpose of Fabric Softeners is to free your clothes from wrinkles and static cling and of course leave them smelling mountain fresh or like a field of lavender, but at what cost is this “fresh” smell?

According to the Environmental Working Group, fabric softeners contain chemicals and fragrances that can cause skin irritation and respiratory irritation. The fragrance element alone can come from hundreds of different chemical compounds, and yes many of them are toxic.

Interestingly, according to what Anne Steinmann, Ph.D., professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia and a world expert on environmental pollutants and their health effects, said in an interview with New Scientist, “Most exposure to hazardous pollutants occurs indoors, and a primary source for these pollutants is our everyday consumer products.”

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New Scientist also has stated that there are no legal requirements that all the ingredients, including potential toxins be listed for most of the products we use every day. While the compounds they contain have been tested individually for toxicity, scientists admit it’s hard to say how dangerous they might become when some are mixed.

Conventional fabric softeners are either a liquid that you pour into the rinse cycle of your washing machine, or a sheet that is thrown into the dryer with your clothes. Both contain compounds that are especially harmful to children. Toxic chemicals can easily enter your body through the skin. One of the worst is phthalates, which are added to emit a fake fresh fragrance, the University of Illinois Cancer center had the following to say about phthalates,

“Phthalates [are a] synthetic preservative that’s carcinogenic and linked to adverse reproductive effects (decreased sperm counts, early breast development and birth defects) and live and kidney damage.”

Steinmann also noted,

“Using a liquid fabric softener? You are pouring these toxic chemicals into the ocean every time you use it. Even worse than liquid fabric softeners are dryer sheets, whose chemicals are heated and then shot into the air for you to breathe into your lungs.

That ‘fresh-from-the-dryer’ smell that fabric softeners impart to your clean load of laundry? Don’t breathe it in, if you like your lungs to function. That super floral smell is masking a seriously unhealthy chemical stench.

So, What Are The Alternatives?

Luckily, there are lots, which begs the question, why did we ever start using these horrible toxic products in the first place? Every chemical product that is in use today for personal care or home cleaning could essentially vanish from the Earth and you know what? We would make do.

A simple recipe for a homemade fabric softener is as follows:

Ingredients

2 Cups Epsom Salts or 2 Cups Coarse Sea Salt
20-30 Drops Essential Oil
1/2 Cup Baking Soda

Simply mix all ingredients together and store in a container with tight-fitting lid, add ½ cup directly to your load of laundry.

Some even more simple ideas are as follows,

One half cup pure baking soda added to your laundry.

One cup of distilled white vinegar and about 15 drops of your favorite essential oil shaken in a spray bottle, give your wet clothes a spritz after they are washed, before you put into the dryer.
Don’t worry the vinegar smell will go away.


A crumpled up ball of aluminum foil tossed in the dryer with your clothes can help to get rid of the static cling.

Another great alternative, that is simple, cost-effective, economical and environmentally friendly is the use of dryer balls. You can get the plastic kind that can cut your drying time in half and reduce the static cling in your clothes, but to be more environmentally conscious there are also wool dryer balls that you can purchase or easily make your own.

Final Thoughts

Here’s what it comes down to, as consumers we have been gravely misinformed and maybe we have believed that there are some kind of standards set in place by our governments, unfortunately, it seems that these protection agencies, for the most part, don’t have our best interest in mind. So, with that in mind, it is up to us to be aware of what we are purchasing, if we stop purchasing these conventional products which contain harmful ingredients such as phthalates and fragrances, then the big corporations will either change their recipes, stop using these chemicals or simply go out of business. As the consumer, we have a direct vote for the types of products that are being produced by how we are choosing to spend our money. If WE don’t want chemicals in our products, we must simply stop buying them and start making our own. We must take responsibility for our own lives and create the type of world we want to live in. It is up to each and every one if us.

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Awareness

Pamela Anderson Speaks Out Against Porn & Explains How It Can Ruin Lives & Relationships

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Pamela Anderson has called out the pornography industry and has provided a warning about the damage it can cause.

  • Reflect On:

    Think about the porn industry, it's origins, and what it has become today. How can porn impact us psychologically, physically, and what impact is it having on the younger generation and their overall perception of sex and sexuality?

Perhaps one of the most iconic sex symbols of our time, former Baywatch star and Playboy Bunny Pamela Anderson, has a warning for us all. In an op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal, entitles “Take The Pledge: No More Indulging Porn,” Anderson andrabbi-counselor Shmuley Boteach warn about how watching too much porn can ruin lives and relationships.

She’s been quite an activist as of late, the picture you see above was taken in her support for Wikileaks’ Julian Assange.

For those of you who may be thinking how hypocritical this sounds coming from a former porn star, (I can hear the comments now) just remember, people can change and often do. Who better suited to know about the porn industry than an insider? There was a lot of backlash for her article, but perhaps she is onto something here.

“From our respective positions of rabbi-counselor and former Playboy model and actress, we have often warned about pornography’s corrosive effects on a man’s soul and on his ability to function as husband and, by extension, as father,” the pair continue. “This is a public hazard of unprecedented seriousness given how freely available, anonymously accessible and easily disseminated pornography is nowadays.”

“How many families will suffer? How many marriages will implode? How many talented men will scrap their most important relationships and careers for a brief onanistic thrill? How many children will propel, warp-speed, into the dark side of adult sexuality by forced exposure to their fathers’ profanations?”

The Problem With Porn

I’m not here to demonize an entire genre and subculture, but there are a few things that we should all consider when it comes to porn. This topic is fairly taboo, even though it is extremely prevalent in our current society — just from a couple clicks of your fingertips a whole world of all kinds of sexual fantasies and fetishes are available. Online you can find anything you want, and the “selection” of what is offered has certainly ramped up in the digital age. What used to be seemingly innocent magazines and videotapes is now a whole underworld of anything you could imagine — often including crude and violent scenes of degradation and objectification of young women and men, too.

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Watching porn frequently is not only highly addictive, but overtime it can also lead to desensitization. This could be the reason that the porn seems to be getting more and more violent and grotesque over the past decade or so. Viewers are needing more and more to simply feel something.

It’s Okay To Play

When it comes to sex, we all have different desires, fantasies and wants and this information is not intending to shame anyone for their own. There is a whole subculture of people who are aroused by BDSM, and other fetishes, which is absolutely fine. However, this type of sexual play is often consensual, with strict rules in place. Some of the porn that is emerging is known as abuse porn and does not depict a consensual experience.

“The sensual revolution would replace pornography with eroticism—the alloying of sex with love, of physicality with personality, of the body’s mechanics with imagination, of orgasmic release with binding relationships. In an age where public disapproval is no longer an obstacle to personal disgrace, we must turn instead to the appeal of self-interest,” they write.

“Simply put, we must educate ourselves and our children to understand that porn is for losers—a boring, wasteful and dead-end outlet for people too lazy to reap the ample rewards of healthy sexuality.”

It’s Time To Talk About It

Of course in an effort to remain neutral we shouldn’t generalize the entirety of porn and judge those who watch it, but it is something that we should be openly discussing more often. Raising awareness of the potential consequences and effects of porn would be a great place to start. Especially because the younger people are likely accessing this type of material online and there is a good chance that what they are seeing is their first glimpse of sexuality.

Are the scenes depicted in porn how we want our children to be viewing sex? Do we want our sons and daughters to believe that this is what sex is all about and all there is to it? Or should we be teaching them that although it can be fun to play games that both parties should be respecting each other and consenting to the experience before engaging in this type of play? And that sex can be a beautiful, loving and sacred act. It’s time to open up the conversations and bring awareness to the consequences of watching too much porn and the potential for addiction.

There is an excellent movie about this very topic called “Don Jon” a young man who is totally addicted to porn and hooking up scores a “perfect 10,” unfortunately, even she is not enough to satisfy his desires and he actually prefers watching porn to being with her. I won’t reveal how this movie ends, but it is very enlightening around the topic and is an enjoyable film.

For more information on this topic, read, “The Problem With Porn: Something We Should All Consider”

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